Monthly Archives: October 2011

Vegan MoFo #20: Where do we go from here?

 

 

Well, Vegan MoFo is over, and after a month of blogging every week day (except the last 3 days, stupid work getting in the way of my blog!), I started to think about what I am going to do next.  Writing everyday can be difficult, I squeeze it into my lunch hour, swearing at my ancient computer that takes forever to upload photos. I’m not at all technologically inclined: there’s so much I’d like to do to make my blog prettier! I don’t strive to be a chef or a photographer, so neither my cooking, nor my photos are in any way above average. Over the weekend, I began to resign myself to the fact that maybe I’m just not cut out for this blogging thing.

 

Except…This past month I have been happier and more confident in my choices than I have since I first said “no” to the Easter lamb back in 1995. I feel like words and ideas that I didn’t even realize were building up inside me, have been flowing out. I think (I hope) that I have maybe even been able to inspire a few other people too. I have been able to vent, the share, to create, and most importantly, to vocalize what it’s like to eat differently from the mainstream.

 

Now, as I type this, my work colleagues are off at a Halloween pizza party, I will be joining them shortly. Last week when everyone was signing up for pizza, I decided not to. I felt the pressure to just go along with everyone else, but I also knew that I wouldn’t feel good eating pizza. I’m about to go warm up my left over chilli with vegan cornbread and daiya cheese. This is part of my journey.

 

So here is my promise to you, blog world. I’m in if you’re in. Who knows where this will lead me.

Here is some of what you can expect in the future:

 

Snacks: I’m a snacker, I love to nibble. My personal challenge is to do this healthily.

Kale chips! I'm still perfecting them, but I know I'll get there one day. Even the fails taste good.

 

Lunch: I work a 9-5 job, so look for lunch experiments.

A fancy lunch (trust me, they're not all like this!): Creamy kale salad, hemp seed hummus and juice pulp crackers. That is SERIOUSLY healthy.

 

Dinner: More Fast Food, Good Food dinners! I hope to have some more in depth dinners to share too, but if you’re like me, there’s not much time in the day for dallying.

Another curried chickpea dinner. Legumes and a salad just go so well together. Even through in a grain if you're super hungry. Mmmm...so fast, so good.

 

Words: I am a writer first and foremost, so you’ll probably be hearing a lot more of my views on the world, from plant-based issues, to yoga, to just things on my mind.

 

Thank you for the past month, I am overwhelmed and grateful for the response to my little corner of the internet!

 

So many thanks,

Sarah

 


Vegan MoFo #19: Posts from the road

Hi friends, it may be more difficult to post from my work conference than I thought, so don’t be too disappointed for the next few days. I am still thinking about you, and my diet, and I will have many insights when I return.

As an example, I will give you my experience at an IHOP where I asked for a tomato instead of bacon, and was told I would have to pay $2.50 extra. Because, you know, tomatoes are like gold.

I made sure to bring some vegan muffins with me for breakfast, and I made some kale chips last night for snacking on (which started smelling like broccoli half-way through my flight. I pretended I didn’t notice…).

Be good my friends, I will try and update as I can…Don’t forget about me!!!

Love,

Sarah


Vegan MoFo #18: My Coffee Story

Vegan MoFoDisclaimer: There is lots of contradictory information out there about whether or not coffee will contribute to good health, and about the amounts that are safe for consumption. Since I am not a scientist, I will tell you my story and leave it up to you to experiment with what works best for your body.

 When I was 4 years old my babysitter would give me coffee. She would only fill the cup up with a drop or two, the rest was milk and sugar. But my love affair started. I loved coffee. When I was 16 I asked for a coffee maker that I kept in my room and set on an automatic timer as a way to get me out of bed in the morning. I remember my first caffeine overdose at a high school event where I’d probably had four or five cups, my heart was racing, but I was laughing and having so much fun. I felt like coffee gave me the strength to be an outgoing, life-of-the-party kind of person. In university, my roommate and I always had a full coffee pot on the warmer, and as I became snobbier about my coffee I moved to freshly ground espresso pressed in a bodum.

The first time tried to stop drinking coffee, I was floored by a 3 day headache that was unlike any headache I’d ever had before. That was the point when I thought, oh, I AM addicted to coffee! I walked around in a fog for a week, hardly being able to see anything. It didn’t take long to start drinking it again. After all, I reasoned, everyone did it. And I was really only having one or two cups a day. That was considered a safe amount by anyone’s standards.

The problem was, after that first time that I’d stopped drinking coffee, I became aware of the fact that a) I was addicted and b) coffee had a huge effect on me. I already know that if I had a coffee in the afternoon or evening, I would not be able to sleep at night (this was new, in high school and university I could drink it 24/7). Then I started noticing how fast my heart would beat after the first cup, how I would get a little sweaty and over-excited. I had a picture in my head of the grumpy morning-person who hasn’t had their first cup of coffee, but to be honest, if any approached me after my first cup I was more likely to overreact or get agitated.

Then I started doing some research. A lot of what I found said the same things we always hear, one or two cups a day shouldn’t affect your health. But it WAS affecting me. So I kept looking. I started to learn about how caffeine affects hormones (I’ve always had horrible cramps during my period) and it affects the absorption of other minerals and nutrients. I started putting the information together in a way that made sense to me. If caffeine wasn’t letting me absorb the nutrients I needed, in particular calcium, magnesium and iron and it was releasing too much estrogen, then it made sense that my period was so intense.

I made a choice last January to stop drinking coffee. Luckily I didn’t have as a bad a headache as the first time I stopped coffee. I was definitely a little foggy, and very very sleepy. I switched to green tea in the morning (which also has a bit of caffeine in it, but not nearly the same amount) and after a week or so I switched entirely to herbal teas. I allowed myself to indulge in all the herbal tea I wanted. I bought some fancy expensive teas and some medicinal teas. I dusted off my old teapot and made a ritual of boiling the water and steeping the tea. After a week or so, my energy levels rose, and I started noticing the benefits. I didn’t crash after lunch anymore. I didn’t get the cold sweats that I used to get after my second cup. I didn’t find my heart beating out of my chest. I’m still working on my menstrual issues, but I did notice that my period is shorter and more manageable (sorry if this is TMI, I’m just trying to be honest!).

In my experience, I can’t have caffeine on a daily basis. Not even as recommended by Internet doctors. If I have a piece of chocolate past 9pm I lie awake in bed well past midnight.  

I should mention that every other Sunday or so, I indulge in a decaffeinated soy latte. I will always love the taste of coffee. But my thinking has changed. If I know I have a long day ahead of me, I make sure I don’t have any caffeine, because I know that the effects will hinder me, not help me.

I know, you’re raising your eyebrows at your computer and thinking, “yeah but at least allow me this one pleasure! I eat right, I exercise, does a little coffee really hurt?!” It might not hurt you. Maybe I’m hyper-sensitive to it for some reason. But maybe it does hurt you. Maybe it is inhibiting all the good things you are doing from really having an effect. It’s like trying to put up beautiful expensive wallpaper in a house that has no walls. What is the wallpaper going to stick to? Putting organic vegan whole foods into your body but maintaining a caffeine habit could be stopping your body from actually reaping the benefits of your diet. I’m just puttin’ it out there!

Do some research, make your own decisions, and experiment with what works for you. I have been caffeinated-coffee free since January 2011, and I’ve never felt better.  

Tomorrow I will be writing to you from beautiful Niagara Falls.

Also, still no new baby in the family, C’mon little one, I promised you brownies, what more do you want?!

–Sarah


Vegan MoFo #17: Monday Mish-Mash

Vegan MoFo

Today I have so much to talk about, that I’ve created a whole new category of posts: Monday Mish-Mash. First up, I am featured in a guest post for the lovely Tania Frechette, yoga teacher extraordinaire. You will note that it is my first guest post ever, so not really knowing what on earth to write about, I started at the beginning: how to start down the path of a healthy lifestyle. Tania has a great blog, full of healthy living and yoga tips. Check it out!

Next up: Our family is currently on baby watch, as The Husband’s cousin Katie went to the hospital this morning to be induced. This is the first of the next generation, and everyone is so excited. Good luck Katie and Aaron, I’m sending good thoughts for a speedy and healthy delivery!!!

Saturday I attended a reading as part of the Ottawa Writer’s Festival with my friend Karen at our old hang-out spot, The Manx. The Manx is known for their great food, and while their vegan options are limited, they are very accomodating. I ordered the Chicken Wrap, with tofu substituted and minus the mayonnaise, and half fries, half salad.

 

Inside the wrap (which I had already taken a bite of before I remembered to take a picture of it) was their delicious smoky tofu, baby greens, guacamole, tomatoes and sesame dressing. Mmmmmm…..

Finally, I just had to show you last night’s dinner because it was so good and so fast (anyone seeing a pattern here?). Steph made a tasty stir fry using basmati rice, broccoli, fried tofu, carrots, onions and tons of ginger.

 

Then I decided we needed a little treat since it was Sunday night and all (why do I always need to justify my sweet tooth?!). So I used my old go-to cookbook, How it all vegan, and whipped up some vegan brownies. The recipe in that book is amazing, so fast and only one mixing bowl! They did take a bit longer to cook because I didn’t have the right pan, but other than frustrating Steph, it was worth the wait!

 

 

 

Don’t forget to lick the bowl clean after making brownies.

Dear new neice or nephew: I promise to make you these brownies if you come out soon, Love Auntie Sarah.

xoxo


Vegan MoFo #16: Technical difficulties lead to another post!

I originally had this post in with the last one, but for some reason wordpress was only publishing one picture. So I decided to split it up. This is another Fast Food, Good Food entry, one of my weeknight go-to meals. You know my criteria, it’s gotta be fast and it’s gotta be good. Without further ado, I present Curried chickpeas and kale with an arugula salad (doesn’t that sound gourmet?!).

A fast meal is not complete without a salad. This one has arugula, tomatoes and red peppers. Look at all that vitamin C!

 Enjoy!

–Sarah

This is kale with some lemon and salt. I massaged the kale to make it wilty and delicious. Massaging kale is easy, first cut out the hard stem, and then chop the leaves. Add the salt and lemon and use your hands to mush it up for a couple minutes.

I opened a can of chickpeas, rinsed them well, and mixed them in with some olive oil, curry paste and nutritional yeast. A little salt and pepper to taste and you're laughin'!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Mmm, the finished product. Whip up a quick salad dressing (this one looks like an olive oil/vinegar/tahini/mustard combination) a few chopped olives on top, maybe some chopped walnuts or hemp seeds if you're feeling ambitious, and voila! A gourmet meal in less time than it probably took me to write out the recipe. Note that the chickpeas are resting on a bed of the kale. Cause I'm fancy like that.


Vegan MoFo #15: More on Relationships

Vegan MoFoI was thinking about my Omni/Herbie relationships post. I realize that I am lucky enough to be in a relationship where my food choices are respected, but what if you’re a vegan who is not supported by your significant other? Or what if the fact that your partner eats meat around you really turns your stomach, or makes you upset? So I came up with some tips more so for those who have recently switched to a plant-based diet while in a relationship. Below are a few different scenarios and some examples of ways to deal with them – or at least ways I would deal with them. If anyone else has any suggestions or stories of how they explained it to their significant other, please share!

If you have recently changed your diet for health reasons:

Introduce your partner to some vegan athletes, like Brendan Brazier or Rip Esselstyn.  You may want to start by reading the books yourself, and pointing out any interesting facts you find. Sometimes it seems like my husband isn’t listening to me when I blabber on about cancer rates vs. milk consumption,  but every once in awhile I overhear him re-telling the same statistic to someone else, so I know it’s getting in there!

If you haven’t had the conversation yet, maybe your partner is worried that the way you are eating is not healthy, so information is key! Even if part of your reasons for eating a plant-based diet are for animal/environmental reasons, try focussing on the health first.  I know my husband relates to the health aspect more than the other reasons. For now at least.

If you have recently changed your diet for animal rights/environmental reasons:

If you have switched to a plan-based diet for these reasons, you need to make this clear to your partner as well. The most important piece of advice I can give you is to be strong and confident in your decision. Your partner may want to blow it off, or laugh about it, but you need to be clear right off the bat about what is or is not acceptable to you. Here are some lines that may help you:

“I know that this is different from how we were eating before, but now that I’ve made the connection between my food and animals, I just can’t pretend I don’t know anymore. I’m scared about this change too, but I know it is right for me.”

“I am not asking you to change the way you eat, but it makes me uncomfortable to have meat products in the house, the same way you were uncomfortable when…(using a comparison may help him/her to understand). What you eat outside of the house is up to you, but it would make me really happy if we did not have meat (or animal) products in the house.”

“Just because I have changed my diet doesn’t mean the way I feel about you has changed. I am doing this for myself, and I would really appreciate your support.”

Be kind, clear and direct. If after all this your partner is still not respecting your decision, well, you may need to do some meditating and decide if this relationship is serving you. One thing I haven’t talked about yet (I’m saving it for an upcoming post on raw food), is how changing your diet may affect your life. Eating cleanly can sometimes allow you to see things with more clarity, and this may mean recognizing when a relationship (significant other, friend, family member, teacher) is not working in your life. That’s been my experience anyway. Of course it’s more complicated than just saying sayonara to someone, I’m just sayin’ you need to respect your choices and know your limits on what you will or will not tolerate.

Next week I will be at a conference in Niagara Falls, so there will be some posts on eating well while travelling, and I’m also preparing a little something about coffee, a contentious issue I know, but one that maybe we don’t talk about enough.

Have a great weekend!

–Sarah


Vegan MoFo #14 – Surprise!

Vegan MoFoGreat response to Omni/Herbie relationships. It sounds like we all have different ways of dealing with the issues that come up. Relationships are full of change and growth, and it is up to each of us to decide what does or does not work for us.

So guess what was left on the counter for me this morning? The Vegan Shepherd’s Pie recipe from Monday! Yay! The Husband had thoughtfully written out the recipe, and I have it here for you. It’s a delicious cold weather meal, and great for feeding a lot of people. This version uses tons of fall vegetables, so much so that we were going to call it “Seasonal Shepherd’s Pie,” but The Husband, who’s name I will now tell you is Stephane, has aptly renamed it “Stepher’s Pie.” I agree.

Vegetables

Chop:

  • 2 cooking onions
  • 1 leak
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 medium peeled carrots
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 – 1 macintosh apple
  • handful of mushrooms
  • 3 cloves of garlic (we like it garlicky around our house!)

Pan fry the ingredients until they become semi-soft (about 8 minutes), then add:

  • 2 tbsp dried savory (or whatever herb makes you happy)
  • salt and pepper to taste (the original recipe reads: lots, but I’ll leave that to your discretion)
  • 1 1/2 cups of good apple cider
  • Simmer all vegetables and cider until the liquid is gone, about 20 minutes or so.

Potatoes

  • boil 5 large yukon gold potatoes (or whatever you have on hand)
  • save 1 cup boil water
  • smash potatoes (I’m not sure why it’s smash and not mash, but I beleive it works out to be the same thing)
  • add a little Earth Balance margarine
  • add the 1 cup of boil water to the potatoes which will help to cream them up

In a casserole dish:

  • Bottom layer: vegetables
  • top layers: smashed potatoes

Top with breadcrumbs and a little honey or agave

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes without a lid. Finish off by broiling on high for 5 minutes.

Whip up a gravy of your choice, and pair it with a fresh coleslaw. Mmmmm…..

Thanks Husband!

The Husband made a really tasty coleslaw by shredding carrots, beets, parsnips and apple in the food processor and dressing it lightly with a citrus dressing

 

One more work day before the weekend. I’m hoping to test out a few more recipes this weekend to share with you, I’ve been craving lots of baked goods, so I’ll see what I can do!

–Sarah