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Burgers, Poutine and Coleslaw – OH MY! A review of Copper Branch

30 Sep

I get so excited when new vegan restaurants open up in Montreal. I love eating at vegan joints – knowing that the whole menu is up for grabs is such an exciting feeling! When i heard that a restaurant named Copper Branch was opening its doors in the Downtown core, I contact my favorite vegan pal Melissa and we made a date to check it out. We were NOT disappointed.

Upon first glance at CB’s menu, I was happy to find staple comfort foods like poutine, burgers, coleslaw and brownies. They also have rice bowls, smoothies and a small breakfast menu, which i must come back to try. Melissa and I decided to each take a different burger, and split it. We also shared poutine, baked fries and a brownie.

The first burger i bit into, the Copper Burger, was INCREDIBLE. Copper Branch’s take on the beet burger was a huge hit. The burger itself was robust, and not too messy. The bun was delicious, and the condiments complemented the whole sandwich incredibly. It was definitely my favorite of all the food we had ordered.

CopperThe second burger, the black bean burger, was also delicious. However, it was EXTREMELY messy. A yummy black bean patty topped with a generous helping of guacamole gave the burger a delicious taste, but the amount of napkins i needed for cleanup was embarrassing. This was definitely not a date night burger. Luckily for me, i have no shame, so i savored every bite.

Black BeanAnother of my favorites was the poutine. The gravy is miso-based, the cheese is delicious daiya and the fries are oven baked. I loved it. The miso gave the whole dish a salty, “junk food” taste without the unhealthy side effects of traditional poutine. Love at first bite. I also ordered a side of oven-baked fries “sans” gravy and daiya, and loved the seasoning.

PoutineThe cherry on top of this lunch of Champions was the delicious chocolate-zucchini brownie. Decadent, creamy frosting and a sprinkling of hemp seeds cover a moist and delicious cake that kind of reminded me of McCain Deep and Delicious freezer cakes of my youth.

All in all, the general consensus between the table was a million thumbs up. I will definitely be coming back for the Copper burger and poutine, and would like to check out their rice bowls in the future. I urge you all to check out Copper Branch, and support this local vegan establishment!

S+M

Happy Vegan Friends!

On another note, the beautiful Melissa pictured above, who joined me in this epic lunch, is an incredible wedding and event videographer. Check out her work here!

COPPER BRANCH

1245 Rue Bishop
Montreal, QC H3G 2E2

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Stillness – Breath – Space

15 Sep

Stillness - Breath - Space

“An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.” – Gandhi

4 Jun

Forgiveness. Non-violence. Acceptance. Unity. Love.

Activism is a new bag to me. I went vegan not too long ago, in November 2010. Before then, I was always inspired by stories of people who would raise money for charities, complete extreme feats in the name of a cause, go on hunger strikes, etc. But I never thought that “little ol’ me” could make a difference. It wasn’t until late in my adulthood that I realized that every little bit helps. I made the decision to become vegan because of animal welfare issues. I watched “Earthlings”, a movie that shook my world. I was angry. I was angry that my fellow man could treat living beings so poorly, just because they were not humans. I was angry that humans could beat animals in circuses, shove chemicals in dogs’ eyes and shoot innocent beings all in the name of entertainment, “beauty” and sport. I was angry. I wanted to do something extreme, I wanted vengeance; I wanted to channel that anger into some extreme action to get back at humanity for treating innocent beings in such horrible ways. I judged. I couldn’t even talk about my veganism without instigating an argument or debate about meat.

Gradually, at some point, a shift happened. I’m not sure when, or how, (though I suspect my yoga practice played a huge part in this…) but my anger and judgement and hate started to dissipate. In its place I welcomed the notion of spiritual, nonviolent activism. I’m not even sure when the shift happened, or how to explain it, but at some point I realized that leading by example, being accountable for my own actions, and spreading positivity into the world might be a better option for the cause, the planet and my own spiritual well-being. Attending protests with a smile – ready and open to speaking authentically to people about veganism – was so much more successful in my case then arriving angry and ready to scream at people who disagreed. Spreading love was so much more peaceful than spreading hate, and seemed to resonate much more with the very cause I was fighting for. I started searching for positive ways to make a difference – sharing vegan cookies and treats, taking friends to vegan restaurants, running a half-marathon for the animals and donating the money I raised to an animal rights organization, etc. Sharing my truth, my ethics, and my beliefs, through positive actions is so much more peaceful, and so much more rewarding.

I discovered spiritual activism in my late 20s. My cousin, Kayla, discovered spiritual activism in her first year of high school. Kayla is my inspiration, my spirit animal. In October, Kayla will be shaving her head and donating her beautiful locks for cancer research. She will be raising her goal amount of 2,000$ over the summer and donating this to cancer research as well. I have offered to teach a yoga class by donation this summer to aid her in her goal, and will share the details here once location and date are confirmed! What I realized late in my 20s, that love, positive action and the insane impact that one person can do, Kayla realized in Grade 6. This is actually not the first time that Kayla will be donating her hair to cancer. Last year, while she didn’t do the big shave, she did cut off most of her hair to donate to the cause. Her high school has also noticed Kayla’s incredibly huge heart and awesome impact on her community by bestowing her with a Citizenship award at her school’s awards ceremony. She is an inspiration, and proof that one girl can have a hand in changing the world, one strand of hair at a time.

“Spiritual Activism is the coming together of spirituality, and activism. It is not about religion, it is not about any form of dogma, it is activism that comes from the heart, not just the head, activism that is compassionate, positive, kind, fierce and transformative. Being a spiritual activist means taking our part in creating change, with a spirit of positivity, compassion, love and a balance of interdependence and self-determination. Nothing could be more inspiring and more rewarding than being the change we want to see in the world, within and without.” – fiercelove.wordpress.com

Kayla is the definition of a spiritual activist. If Kayla’s actions have touched your heart as they have mine, please donate, share the below link, attend our fundraising events, do anything in your power to help her reach her goal. What a gal!

https://www.imakeanonlinedonation.org/rubanrose/frm_detail.php?FrmUID=97

Practicing Gratitude. (Or the quest to avoid staining my white shirts…)

18 Mar

I’ve noticed that when I’m having a “bad day”, a case of the Mondays, a day where I trip on everything, bang my hip on table corners, drop my tea mug and stain my favorite shirt, lose my favorite hoodie, realize that part of the outfit I was going to wear that day is dirty and I need to rethink my whole ensemble, I seem to attract bad energy, negative vibes and generally disgruntled people. I also seem to approach my day with a negative outlook, adopting the “glass half empty mentality”. However, I’ve discovered that when I take a moment on these days where things seem a bit “off” to concentrate on all I am grateful for, my mood and energy seems to shift out of the blues to a place of happiness and contentment. It’s easy to be reactionary when you drop your green smoothie all over your new white tank top, but instead of yelling out a curse word and letting it take over your whole day, taking a second to go over a couple of things you are grateful for can shift your whole perspective. Going from “$%&^*%^^#$!$#@! What am I going to do now! I can’t believe I ruined this shirt! I’m such an idiot!” to “It’s not the end of the world. I have my family, my health, and a cute cardigan that I can button over the tank top so no one is the wiser!” can make all the difference in setting the tone for the day ahead. When we come from a place of positivity, gratitude and peace within ourselves, we attract these same feelings and states of mind around us.

Let’s be honest, though. It’s not always easy to see rainbows and sunshine all the time. So, I’ve taken up the practice of listing 5 things I am grateful for when I wake up every morning. Some days, I will list them in my meditation journal, and some days, I will simply list them in my head as I’m brushing my teeth or getting ready to leave the house. I’ve noticed that this practice sets the tone for my day, gives me an extra spring to my step, and prepares me to face the world head-on armed with an open heart, a receptive body and a smile on my face. I’ve noticed that this has helped me avoid being reactionary in negative encounters that might surface. Taking a deep breath, telling myself that the person in front of me is paving their own path today and living their own journey, and then coming back to that place of gratitude helps me stay grounded and collected. Many times, it also helps diffuse the negative encounter instead of adding to the fire! Reminding myself that I choose what to put out into the world, and in doing so I choose what will reflect back has changed my whole perspective on happiness. Choosing to live from a place of gratitude and feeling the positive energy that surrounds you when you do, is infectious.

Today’s list of things I am grateful for (in no particular order…)

  • KALE
  • MY HUSBAND
  • MY MOBILITY
  • MY MOMMIES
  • MY FRIENDS
  • MY JOURNEY TOWARDS HANDSTAND

What are you grateful for today?

Namaste, friends.

Thirty Day Challenge Week 1 – I love myself today (?)

8 Nov

As we come to the close of Week 1 of the 30 Day self-love and yoga challenges, I realize that a couple of small hurdles have pushed me to practice self-love in completely different ways. Lots of rest, yin practices, candlelit meditations, warm chili and cornbread and nesting under warm blankets wearing fuzzy socks were on the menu. While a small cold kept me away from the studio at the beginning of this week, I’m fully planning on recommitting myself to the challenge of daily in-studio practices for the rest of November! I’m missing the warmth, hugs and smiles of the wonderful Viveka community!

Tonight, I’ll be guiding a workshop at the beautiful Viveka Yoga, focused on Pranayama, or conscious breath. In my 3+ years as a yoga teacher, this will mark my first ever workshop. I’m so excited to share my fascination with the breath, and all the wonderful practices we can engage in to deepen our connection. I’m also nervous – will students want to listen to me talk for close to 2 hours? Will I succeed in sharing and conveying all the wonderful aspects of conscious breathing? Will I crack a [breath] joke that will be met with blank stares? (Worst. Feeling. of. Life.) Building and writing out the workshop this past week has been the best  – I’ve revisited books and guides from my YTT days that i haven’t opened in a while. Throughout the process, i’ve tried to write and construct from a student point of view – as a student, what do I want out of a Pranayama workshop? It’s been really exciting to try my hand at building a workshop for the first time, and i hope the response is positive! The challenge of writing a workshop brought a very interesting aspect to my 30-day self-love and asana challenge. The excitement and challenge of being asked to do the workshop, and the energy surrounding the process have made me nervous and doubtful of my inner voice, my ability to convey my passion. My self-love practice has been put to the test this week, and has helped immensely. The power of positive affirmations is awesome. Instead of falling into the trap of my inner voice becoming my own worst enemy, kicking me when i’m doubting myself, i’ve practiced positive self-speech, and lots of meditation. These practices have made me feel confident, present and excited for the evening ahead. If you’re in the Lachine area at 7:30PM tonight, come join in the breath!

On the topic of meditation, I am so excited that Oprah and Deepak Chopra have released a new free 21 day meditation challenge program! This program is a favorite of mine – both their voices are so soothing, and Deepak’s guidance is incredibly mind-blowing. The challenge starts November 11th, and you can register for free here: https://chopracentermeditation.com/

Also on the meditation front, i’ve fallen in LOVE with Canadian company Tiny Devotions. Their malas are stunning, their jewelery is drool-worthy, and their blog is adorable. They have an incredible post on how to choose a mala, which i found super informative. I own the Amazonite Mala, and i feel like when i wear it, i can take my intentions with me wherever i go. And conquer the world, of course. I love placing it in front of my mat during practice so i can have it in view during particularly challenging asanas, or when my focus is drifting. Check them out, support such a cool company, and send them some love!

Day 21 – Challenge: COMPLETE!!!

1 Oct

Well friends, the challenge is over. I’m happy to say that my hair looks and feels great! The greasy phase is over, and surprisingly, i’m going to stick with the baking soda and ACV indefinetly! Throughout the challenge, i encountered some pros and cons to the method –

PROS:

1. Cheap, cheap, cheap. Wow, baking soda is cheap. Like, for real, this method costs next to nothing. Starving student? Strapped for cash? Lost your money at the track? This is the method for you.

2. Frequency of washes. I washed my hair every 4 days, which i loved.

3. Smell. My hair was odorless. Weirdly, it seemed that odors didn’t cling to my hair. Previously, when i was using regular shampoo, if i would make indian food or go to a particularily sweaty yoga class, my hair would smell bad. Now, it seems like my hair smells neutral all the time. (I’ve asked for a second opinion on this one, and i swear it’s true!!!)

4. Moisture rich hair! My hair never felt dry, itchy of flaky. On the contrary, it feels thick, soft and clean all the time!

CONS:

1. Worst con of all time: no lather. It’s really hard to figure out if i got all the parts of my scalp with the baking soda because there is no lather to tell me every spot has been hit. It’s a little annoying…!

2. Odorless. This is a pro as well as con. I kind of a little teensy bit miss the smell of shampoo in my hair.

3. By day 4, my hair looks dirty. It’s a really extreme transition. Day 3 – i’m looking awesome. Day 4 – i’m looking like a hobo.

The cons do not detract me enough to stop this method, as i really feel like my hair and scalp are healthier. I love the fact that my switch from commercial hair products to natural products diminishes my reliance on processed products packed with yucky chemicals. Baking soda and ACV are also naturally cruelty-free and vegan, so yay to that!

Challenge – SUCCESS!!!

The “no shampoo” challenge – Day 1, or “What have i gotten myself into?” – a shower manifesto

11 Sep

Yesterday marked my first day into my self-imposed 21-day “no shampoo” challenge. Inspired by a challenge undertaken by teachers at a local yoga studio, and many articles and posts i have read about the dangers of commercial hair products, I’ve decided to undertake a 21-day challenge of my own. For the next 3 weeks, i will be ditching all hair products, and using homemade shampoo and conditioner! EEEEK! Through my research, i have realized how much i have come to depend on commercial hair products. Even though the products i use are “all-natural” and not tested on animals, they still create a dependency, either drying my hair and scalp, forcing me to either wash very frequently, or use conditioner on a more frequent basis. All that product can weigh a girl’s hair down!

What I’ve come to learn is many people have switched to using baking soda as shampoo, and apple cider vinegar as conditioner, with great results! They reported going from washing their hair with commercial shampoo every 2 days, to washing their hair with baking soda twice / once a week! I’ve read that they saw a difference in the health and quality of their locks, ranging from no more frizz and static, to disappearance of dandruff and flakes.

When i first started reading all this baking soda business, I have to admit i was skeptical. It all sounded a little too dirty to me. But i figured i might as well give it a try. I’m counting on my network of friends and family that i see on a daily basis to tell me if i start to look a little grimy.

Last night was my first attempt at trying this home concoction. I took a Tupperware and filled it with baking soda. I also took a plastic bottle and made an apple cider vinegar concoction. I poured 1 tablespoon of ACV for every cup of water i filled the bottle with. I closed the bottle and gave it a good shake. I was ready.

Firstly, i wet my hair in the shower. I took about 2 tablespoons of baking soda in the palm of my hand, and added a bit of water. I made a paste with my fingers, and started massaging into my scalp. I’m not going to lie, it felt gross. The posts i read instructed to massage the paste into the scalp, and then work your way to the ends. I tried my best, but it was hard to tell if i got my whole head because of the lack of foam and suds. Once i felt like my whole head was covered (hopefully…), i rinsed well.

I then flipped my head to the front, took the ACV mixture, and poured some over my scalp. I flipped my head back and poured a bit more towards the back, trying to get my whole scalp. (Make sure not to get any in your eyes. She stings, this one.) I let it sit on my scalp for 3 minutes, then rinsed. I towel-dried my hair, and brushed it out.

The first thing i observed was the lack of tangles. There were NO tangles in my hair, at all. I also felt like my hair was a bit softer than usual. While i was pouring the ACV on my head, the bathroom smelt like a salad bar, but as i towel-dried, i noticed that my hair did not smell at all. I got my hubs to smell me as well, and he couldn’t distinguish any weird smells either. Success!

I keep reading that the first week or 2 is quite challenging, because your hair goes through this transition of going from chemically weighed down to natural. It’s kind of like a detox, but with your hair and scalp. Many have reported having a hard time sticking with the challenge because of that first week, but I’m going to try to last the full 21 days, and report back as i progress. I feel this challenge can go both ways. I can either love it, thus saving money on shampoo and becoming even more of a tree-hugger than i already am ;), or i can realize I’m losing friends due to my dirty hair, start to develop dreads not by choice (though let’s be honest, dreads are cool!) and go back to spending large sums of money on toxic shampoos and conditioners. Let’s hope it’s the first choice, as i don’t think i have the face for dreads…

Stay tuned!

 

Original article that inspired me: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8040/why-i-will-never-go-back-to-using-commercialized-hair-products.html