Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Solstice and Christmas Holidays

We all have a choice to make around the holidays: enjoy or be grinch/scrooge. This year I've chosen to celebrate and that decision was partially encouraged by the movies and Christmas specials on TV.

So when I tried my hand (again) at vegan baking...let's just say beware. I made these snickerdoodles but unfortunately, I had no soy flour and used oatmeal instead. :S Obviously, I'm not a baker. Let's just say they didn't turn out so well...I got to the 'rolling them into balls' part and the dough just wasn't sticky enough so I added some almond milk and additional Earth Balance butter. Yeah.... it didn't make it work really... I rolled the dough into balls and baked them but they were so incredibly dry...just ugh! Yuck.

Tonight I made a delicious vegan pizza and that turned out so well I didn't even take a photo before it got gobbled up by my mum, dad and myself! My sisters were not interested since it had vegetables and no cheese.... c'est la vie, I guess.

Now the order of the day is coming up with a couple of vegan dishes for Christmas Eve. My family does this big party thing on Xmas Eve and well Xmas Day too... Point is, the food on the table is not vegan, besides potential side dishes (i.e. steamed broccoli and roasted carrots, etc.). One of my sisters is vegetarian so we're trying to find something both of us can enjoy for the holidays. :) I will write another entry on what we finally decide on! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Readers, what are you doing food-wise for the holidays?

On a random, unrelated-to-veganism note, did anyone see the lunar eclipse on Monday night? The moon turned red!

It was a late night but pretty historical, or so I read. And it was beautiful. Happy Solstice!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

new restaurant experience!

Hello internet-world! :)

I hope you are well and enjoying the change in season. Here in Toronto it's flip-flopping between -2 and 5 degrees (approx.), grey and rainy. Ick. At least there are still leaves on the ground.

So I went on a date (eeeee!!!! I squee!), and we went to this fabulous vegan gourmet restaurant called fressen. Wow. Just gotta say, wow. It was seriously one of the best meals I've eaten in...gosh, I don't know how long. And best of all, no unpleasant stomach pains or anything else that comes with eating dairy when one is lactose intolerant!

Since there are no pictures available on the website, here are descriptions of what my date and I had.

  • Appetizer: "Sliced shiitake and crimini mushrooms mixed with shredded spinach in cashew cream wrapped in a filo pastry puff."
  • Main course: "Rice flour wrapped squash ravioli with basil and creamed sesame butter, sautéed with leeks and basil in a tomato and olive oil sauce."
  • Dessert: It was basically chocolate mousse surrounded by chunks of chocolate and fruit.
  • Drink: A lychee martini.

The presentation was absolutely beautiful; very rare for me to see! :) So I highly HIGHLY recommend checking this place out.

Also, on a personal note, my date went amazingly well.
<3

So if you're on Queen Street West, check out fressen. You won't regret it. And lastly, smile and enjoy life readers!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

new vegan products....

So I've been dying to re-try miso soup in hopes that I would learn to like it... Turns out while it's now awful, I really don't care all that much for it. So much for that! I liked the miso itself and even the tofu (I really like tofu) but the "sea vegetables" aka seaweed (in my case, wakami) was really hard to make myself eat. Now I've got all this sitting in my fridge and well, not much else at the moment. I have to go grocery shopping.

The other 'vegan'--and well to be honest, it's not a specially made vegan product, I don't think, but it work for vegans because it's animal-free!-- thing I've tried is agave. Now, I've tried agave before but it's expensive so I don't buy it. Honey, though not vegan, is cheaper I've found, and easier to find at most stores. At least at the little cheapie market around the corner and down the street from my house. :P So maybe there is some laziness there at times, but really, sometimes public transit just doesn't appeal. But since I just got paid and my school loan, I finally feel free! I went on a grocery trip last week to celebrate! And one of the things I bought was a small container or agave. Can I just say: nom nom! It's lovely in coffee! So that's my story! :) But I still can't let go of honey... I truly believe it's a healthful food item. One side note on agave...I have read conflicting articles about how healthful it is...the one I've linked is of particular interest, though I am not a raw foodist. Thoughts?

Also! Before I forget, I made petit fours for my family's Thanksgiving dinner! It was sort of outshone by the richer, more decadent chocolate and caramel cheesecake and non-vegan pumpkin pie. But they were pretty good, I gotta say. Although, if I made them again, I'd probably put them in smaller muffin treys; I used the big ones and they just looked like cupcakes that didn't rise. :/ That is my epic failure as a baker! Sad, sad day for vegan everywhere; they're crying now. But I looooved the ganache! Oui mes amis, I made vegan ganache. I will show pictures when I get them (my uncle took those photos for me seeing as my camera's rather useless at the moment); just gonna say, ganache = heavenly. I highly recommend! And it was a simple recipe I found online involving semi-sweet dairy-free chocolate chips, Earth Balance buttery spread and soy milk.

Well, 'til next time!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Food! Food! Glorious Healthful, Food!

Makes me sound like a glutton, doesn't it? I swear I'm really not that bad! I just get so excited when I discover something new that connects with my veganism. In this case, a fabulous supermarket called The Big Carrot. No, it's not as phallic as the name might imply...perverts.

So what's so great about this place? Well imagine floors made out of organically grown, cruelty-free diamonds, windows made of the finest European glass and shelves made out of solid gold! Okay, that's not so much true...BUT it's almost that good. Like any supermarket you have your deli and meat section, dairy section, alternative dairy and meat section, dry foods, fruits and vegetables and other stuff (including but not limited to: cleaning supplies, toilet paper, personal hygiene products, etc.) But this place is even better! They have a macrobiotics* food section. Ever seen one of those? ... Me neither. But this place has it. Also, everything they sell (according to the Greenpeace Shopper's Guide to GMO-Free Foods, which The Big Carrot can take partial credit for assembly) is Genetically Modified Organism(GMO)-Free and they have one of the largest selections of organic foods I have ever seen. I will later be posting more about GMOs as I do more research into such an important topic (really, what's more important than something you put in your body every single day?). But moving on, if you're in Toronto, The Big Carrot located on Danforth Avenue is, one of many places, you need to see. Mere words cannot describe how wonderful this place is... did I mention there was an organic juice bar next to it? Or how about a fairly large area dedicated to personal hygiene products, homeopathic remedies and other natural remedies, make-up, shampoos, lotions, conditioners, natural deodorants, etc.? Or that there is also a hot food sit-down area? Plus if you're stumped about what the heck GMOs are or are curious about natural remedies, there's both a well-stocked (for a grocery store!) book section and a desk where you can go and ask an expert questions to your heart's content. I guess you'll know where I'll be chilling out now. Check out their website, The Big Carrot's mission statement pretty much covers what they're all about, but it's no substitute for visiting the real thing.

"The greatest strength of The Big Carrot is the accumulated knowledge and experience of its Members and Staff. Our broad based, co-operative approach to research into healthy, organic food production and the implementation of exacting standards within the store has evolved over 26 years of searching for nature’s finest. A vital element to our continued success is our commitment to education. We believe in sharing our knowledge and experience with our customers and providing them with the tools they need to make informed, healthy choices. To further these goals we direct your attention to our policies regarding these issues of concern; Genetically Engineered Organisms (please visit nongmoproject.org), Social Justice, Fair Trade, Sustainable Seafood and Animal Welfare. "



*Macrobiotics are defined as "...a practical approach to diet; it has philosophical richness; it is scientifically sound; it is socially responsible; it is humanly compassionate, environmentally sound. A diet centered around whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit benefits our personal health and the health of the environment. Planetary ecology begins in the kitchen."

From the Psychology of Health: In Pursuit of Wellness by Sean Egan
Professor at Ottawa University, Brown & Benchmark Publishers"

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Losing Faith in Humanity

Now I just watched the documentary film Food Inc. and I feel incredibly disheartened and pretty much helpless. I'm pretty sure the creators didn't intend on depressing me...or maybe they knew it would because that's the sad thing about being enlightened to the grim reality of the food business. I suggest that EVERYONE watches this film; it's extremely important because honestly, I can't see myself being able to walk down the streets of Toronto, ask a random bystander where their food comes from and get the sad but truthful answer. We just don't know. It's not our fault; the blame falls upon big business and the government as they keep us in the dark. I know the film is an American produced one but I suspect that it applies up north as well seeing as the FDA approves much of our food. Anyway, I can't really say because I don't know. So educate yourself, become more aware of where your food comes from and stay away from the things that don't make sense or don't seem right. Natural, real food makes sense. Awareness is the first step, after that maybe things won't feel so hopeless.

Sorry for the emo-ness of this entry but this very important film is a portrayal of a very grim reality that needs to change and in order to change, everyone needs to become aware of the problem.

Friday, August 13, 2010

What happens when you cross a vegan diet with an omnivore diet?

Long title much? Maybe, but it gets the point across. Partied with friends and then went on holiday with my family over the past few days (about a week actually)... and oh my goodness, holy stomach pains, erm... unpleasant smells and other gastrointestinal issues... if you know what I mean, and just overall feeling bloated, tired, sniffly and overall ick. Moral of the story? Never compromise your vegan diet for 10 seconds of flavour unless of course you don't care if you feel nasty for the rest of the night/day(s).

So now that I've gone back to eating much more normally which typically includes favourites like: tomatoes, lettuce and veggie meat on toast; baked sweet potatoes; veggie burger; tofu and veggie curry on brown rice; oatmeal; etc. Besides the fact that I really need to expand my menu, I'm so glad to be away from junk like chips and milk chocolate--which admittedly draws me like a moth to a flame but ultimately ends in my...well, not demise but it sure feels like it! The thing I really notice is the lack of sniffles at night after getting back to my normal vegan eating. I pledge to read all labels and stay away from anything that 'may contain milk products'. So dear readers (if there are any)... what has your body been telling you post-shoving-whatever-smells/looks-good into your mouth? Do you listen? If not, start; become mindful and listen carefully to what your body is responding to, both the good and the bad and then adjust accordingly. I remember in Weight Watchers we used to be told: Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels... obviously that's only a small part of it, but that's sort of the gist. Even in Alicia Silverstone's Kind Diet book promotes the idea that eating cruelty free is best because not only are you being kind to animals, you're also being kind to yourself. Your body says thank you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

why I love green smoothies and Alicia Silverstone...

OK, so I was following the raw food diet last year from January to April. The main reason I allowed myself to stumble off the bandwagon and slip into just veganism is tooth issues. I suspect the tooth issues had to do with (in part, anyway) my teeth cleaning regime which wasn't as strict as it is now, plus the fact that I wasn't using proper toothpaste. Anyway, it also probably didn't help that I wasn't diligent in drinking water after every green smoothie. No matter what kind of sugar you're consuming, you've gotta wash it away with a glass of pure water and then brush and floss properly.

So now that I am simply vegan, I have had the occasional green smoothie as a detox. I think I like eating green smoothies better for that reason alone; sure it gives me tones of energy and makes me feel light and happy, but they're so sweet I think it's better to consume them as a treat and/or for brief detoxing along with lots of water. Since I stopped the raw food I've definitely not felt as energized so I have been incorporating green smoothies as often as I can (every couple days or so). I've referenced this site because they send some great, informative emails that talk about the green smoothie challenge and follow up with recipes and other relevant information. During the time I was diligently %75-%80 raw my anxiety decreased as well, which was quite a relief. Diet really can affect things like panic disorder, anxiety, depression and other mood issues many of us suffer from.

Another great thing I've noticed about being raw and even just vegan in general is that I can eat as much as I want. When I ate dairy and meat and eggs I would have to exercise like crazy if I wanted to keep my weight at least the same if not drop some, but since eating a vegan diet and ridding my pantry of most processed foods, my weight's stayed neutral without any effort. I can choose to consume more raw foods in a week if I want to drop weight but I have a tendency to get obsessive about weight if I weigh myself (this is just a personality defect, methinks) every week. Though I have to be honest, since eating this way, more people have commented that I look slimmer and on a physical note, my clothes have become looser.

There are some fantastic books out there to introduce the everyday person to this gentle, green and loving way of eating and one of my very favourites is Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet. This book is great for noobs who just want to "flirt" with a plant-based diet and after trying that you can move into deeper levels of veganism and even become what Alicia calls a "superhero", which is sort of a macrobiotic lifestyle (minus the fish). It's all very good for you and the planet, so if you're really green, consider this: to produce one 16 oz. steak, the amount of water used in this process is about 6 months worth of daily showering! That's one insane statistic and only one of the many facts you'll learn from Alicia's book. To find out more about the book and gain a greater sense of the following community check out Alicia's website, as well. The best part is, you don't have to move past flirting part of the diet if you don't want to, and there's no pressure when you slip off the bandwagon-- it's easy to get back on with all of the support and encouragement available.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Soy GOOD!

So I was just thinking about soy products and I don't know about you, but when articles came out a while ago saying how bad soy was for you I attempted to eliminate it from my diet. Of course, if I'd been smart, I would've researched the SOURCE for many of these claims. Now that I know proper researching methods, I am aware that whenever I find some information ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS check the source. Who provides the info? And what do they have to gain from it- directly or indirectly? If it's a pharmaceutical company dissing natural medicine well obviously they want you to buy their products, not the natural medicine. If it's the dairy industry telling you that dairy consumption leads to weight loss...well they also have something to gain from telling you that. Everything these days seems to be about how a company can persuade you in order to profit from you and that includes your health. Compassionate Cooks (a blog) inspired this topic and has some more information.

Speaking of which...my good friend Dessy has a website about marijuana advocacy and introduces various articles which actually come from credible sources. So you'd be surprised about how many untruths there are regarding this specific illegal drug.

And as for my restaurant comments for the week... at The Live Food Bar I enjoyed a raw Teriyaki salad dish called Teriyaki Vibe which was quite delicious-- an Asian hint of taste alongside a mixture of salad greens, sea kelp, seeds and almonds. I ate my meal with chopsticks and it took two hours for me to finish half of my bowl after which I was quite full. Either way, I highly recommend Torontonians or visitors to Toronto to check out this place. They have many nut-free and gluten-free options as well as some cooked vegan food choices. So take a chance, you'll be glad you did.

Also notes from last week, I was given this website for anyone interested in having fresh, organic produce (and other grocery items if requested) delivered right to your door. Check out Front Door Organics Inc. for more details!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring has sprung!

Yes, it is the time of year when the birds come out to sing, the bees come out of hiding and the people dance in the sun-- at least when it isn't raining. So what about the vegans and vegetarians...and raw foodists, for that matter? Well, we come out too because the farmer's markets are open for business and we can't wait to savour the divine tastes of spring and summer of our favourite produce.

Since school is out (or almost is for us uni and college kids), jobs are in high demand and finding one that coincides with our values can be a daunting task. Luckily, veg.ca has some great suggestions for job-seekers with gentle souls.

Okay, so you've got a job...but now you're dying for some of that fresh, local, and preferably organic produce...mmm strawberries... Where to go? Why the farmer's market of course! Veg.ca comes once again to the rescue with some great, easily accessible locations for our favourite spring and summer foods. But hey, spring is also the season of rebirth and newness...so if you just broke up with your love interest or are looking to renew that spark, look no further than your favourite veggie restaurants. Toronto provides many vegetarian restaurants where you and your new (or old) love can find that love connection most of us innately seek with one another.

Personally, I haven't gotten the opportunity to visit many wonderful vegetarian restaurants in Toronto outside of York University. But I will be going to the The Live Food Bar on Friday. I will share my eating experience with you all and perhaps, some of you would like to share your favourite veggie restaurant experiences. Even if your favourite restaurant isn't a strictly veggie place but possesses a wonderful veggie dish or several, let me hear all about them! Until then, I will be seeking out some of my favourite veggie places and sharing them with you.

On another note, while coffee isn't strictly a spring/summer "veggie food", it holds a special place in my heart. For those of you who enjoy a good, strong cuppa' joe without an enormous amount of fixings...which actually throws my view of good coffee off, let me know! What's your favourite place in Toronto? In Ontario?

Til next time! Happy Spring!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Animal Cruelty

I just wiped the tears from my cheeks while watching the hour and a half long documentary film Earthlings narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. It's really intense, just heart-breaking really... I never really gave a huge amount of thought to animal suffering, of course being a vegan, I know it exists and I've certain read quite a bit about it. I've also seen some of those short PETA films about the suffering but I've mainly gone vegan for health reasons. I stopped eating red meat when I was 14 and I stopped eating all meats all together at the age of 21. I stopped eating dairy and eggs over a year ago. I certainly do feel compassion for the animals and object to eating them as well as purchasing their skins and so forth. In general, I do whatever I can to avoid contributing to their suffering although being a student with very little money and being given an old pair of leather boots or whatever... well I think it's worse to throw the boots away which contributes to harming the environment. However, when it's time to get a new pair of boots, I look for ones that are cruelty free.

Anyway, my point being, no matter what I thought I knew, after watching this film my heart just aches with the tragedy that has befallen the wonderful creatures that share the earth with us. The horror that befell the Jews during the Holocaust, the sexism and racism that has existed for centuries (and still exists today), homophobia, and every single other prejudice that humans have for their fellow beings, are at the same damn level that animal cruelty exists on. Species-ism. I wish that everyone would watch this video, I wish that everyone knew what they unknowingly or knowingly participate in. Most people are ignorant about how they get their food, clothing and entertainment and many will never know, but even if just one more person learns of the horrors that animals suffer through for human beings, then at least that is something. Some very powerful words echoed from this film, 'We reap what we sow' and 'what comes around goes around'. People are killing themselves and we don't even know it. Read something, watch something, learn something; everyone should watch this film. Don't turn away because you feel guilt or horror because we've all contributed knowingly or unknowingly, the least we can do is feel sorrow for what we've done. Then we should resolve to change our ways, to speak out, and to be empathetic and compassionate towards the creatures that share our planet. And then, when we can do that, stand up and fight for their rights because don't we all have rights? Even if we're not all at the same intelligence level animals still feel pain. It's our job to protect them as caretakers of the earth.

This is a graphic film but very important. Watch it and tell your friends to watch it.

http://www.earthlings.com/earthlings/video-full.php