Tag Archives: Vegan

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

“Good Morning!” Granola Bars

9 Apr

Hello, little blog – I have neglected you! I just noticed my last post dated back to October 2011! Ugh.

Let’s get back into the swing of blogging with a killer breakfast recipe! VEGAN GRANOLA BARS! EEEEK!

(Adapted from: http://www.blogher.com/recipe-vegan-granola-bars )

You will need:

1 1/4 cups of puffed brown rice cereal (I use Nature’s path brand, it has no added anythings!)

1 cup quick cooking oats

2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds or hemp seeds

1 tsp ginger (optional)

½ cup ground / crushed nuts (we use cashews, but any nuts will do. I tried it with almonds and it was delish. Just make sure they’re unsalted nuts.)

¼ cup of pure maple syrup

2 tbsp water

½ cup natural peanut butter

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Mix puffed rice, oats, flax/hemp and nuts in a big bowl.

On the stove top, melt peanut butter, maple syrup and water on medium heat. Stir constantly until the peanut butter has melted and looks incorporated into the maple syrup. Once you have a creamy, smooth consistency, take off heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour the creamy mixture into the granola mixture and mix well. It gets super sticky, so I mix with my hands to get the dry fully incorporated into the wet. Once everything is mixed, pat into a baking dish or muffin tins. Pat really firmly so the granola will condense and take the shape of the tin. If you don’t pat firmly, it will crumble when you unmold or cut. Cover the dish / tin and refrigerate. Give them a night to harden in the fridge before you try to cut or unmold.

This recipe makes approx. 10 muffin molds or 1 8×8 baking dish. They’re optimally good for 1 week refrigerated, then they start to go hard. They’re still edible, but more crumbly. (the perfect consistency to crumble over fruit!) The fiancé likes vegan chocolate chips in his – if that’s your thing, add the chocolate with the dry ingredients.

These granola bars sustain me until lunch – they’re packed with healthy fats and nutrient-dense foods. If i have both on hand, i like to put 1 tbsp flax and 1 tbsp hemp instead of one or the other. Both flax and hemp are great vegan sources of omega 3s!

The Compassionate marathon runner? T-88 days…

29 Jun

About a year and a half ago, i came up with this crazy idea that it would be really cool to run a marathon. I’m not sure what i was thinking; as a long-time asthma sufferer, i sometimes can’t even walk up a flight of stairs on a humid day without gasping for air. Endurance is a concept that is as foreign to me as bacon cheeseburgers. (yuck!) But for some reason, the idea has stuck, and months later, i still have the desire to be able to say “Ya, i ran a marathon, no biggie.” As luck would have it, a week or two ago, PETA sent out a call for all runners to sign up to their PETA Pack, an international team of runners competing in half marathons in the fall of 2011 throughout the world. I felt this was the perfect opportunity to set out on accomplishing my goal, seeing as i should probably start with running a half marathon before tackling the mother of all races. As part of PETA Pack, I can now run with a purpose, for a cause greater than just patting myself on the back at the finish line… though i will pat myself on the back at the end, i can assure you! I felt the opportunity was perfect, so i signed up to run the Montreal Oasis half marathon on September 25th, as part of the PETA Pack. PETA will set me up with a complete training schedule, a t-shirt, and a fundraising page, and i can train and raise money for an awesome cause!

This whole half marathon idea scares the living daylights out of me. I have a feeling this undertaking will push me to some scary limits, both mentally and physically, seeing as i have never really been a runner. But there’s no time like the present to push your limits, right? I’ve decided, as a newbie half-marathon runner, to document my weekly progress and training here, so i can share my accomplishments, my failures, my roadblocks and awkward first-timer stories for the next 13 weeks.

And what would a blog post be on this page without the mention of FOOD! I aim to fill my plate and the pages of this blog with awesome vegan recipes for energizing, delicious food to keep me going throughout my training.

If you’ve got some extra change lying around and would like to sponsor me in my efforts to end animal cruelty, you can do so here: http://www2.peta.org/site/TR/Events/PETAsOnlineCommunity?px=2909955&pg=personal&fr_id=1081

If you are a runner and are looking for a friend in the Montreal area to run with you, let me know!

Wish me luck, everyone! Training starts Friday!

The Compassionate Glutton meets the Compassionate Shepherd.

10 May

When i was a child, my mother would make the dish to end all dishes. Sweet, crunchy corn, mushy peas and perfectly mashed potatoes, burnt to a light crisp on top came together to create scrumptious Shepherd’s pie. (Ground beef was also in there, but really, this blog post is about eliminating that component, so i am not listing it as a yummy ingredient. Take that, ground beef.) I  remember dousing my portion in ketchup, delighting in the mix of different textures and flavors coming together to form one. I haven’t had Shepherd’s pie in over 3 years, since giving up meat. This weekend, Shepherd’s pie was brought up in conversations with different people i crossed paths with at least 3 times. I  already had this dish in the back of my mind after an extensive conversation with the B, comparing our mothers’ versions (Peas NEED to be in there!!!), when i went to visit my parents on Sunday evening. My pops had come across a recipe for Shepherd’s pie with lentils, and had thoughtfully bookmarked it for me. I initially got really excited; i had been toying with replacing the ground meat component with lentils for some time. After a quick scan, i realized the recipe was not vegan (why add veal to the lentils? That’s just silly!), and was inspired to create my own version.

The Compassionate Shepherd’s Pie

You will need:

1 9×9 inch square pyrex pan

1 1/2 cups lentils (any color will do, i mixed 1/2 red and 1/2 brown)

2 1/2 cups of water

1/2 a veggie bouillon cube (optional)

4 medium sized sweet potatoes (or white potatoes, but sweet potatoes are healthier!!)

1 can corn

1 can peas (not optional! My mother, Suzie, says peas are an essential part of Shepherd’s pie. Suzie’s word is gold.)

1 small onion, chopped in small pieces

A couple of slabs of vegan margarine (i love Earth Balance)

Directions:

Put lentils, piece of veggie bouillon cube, water and onion in a pot, and heat on high heat. Once lentils are boiling, lower heat to simmer, and cover. Stir frequently so lentils do not stick to bottom. Simmer for 35-40 minutes, or until hardly any liquid is left.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the potatoes. Peel and chop sweet potatoes into bite size chunks. Throw into a pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt if desired, and boil potatoes until they are soft enough to mash.

To assemble pie:

Mash sweet potatoes with a bit of vegan margarine, until no lumps remain. Pour lentil-onion mixture into pyrex pan. Make sure the bottom of pan is completely covered. Pour can of corn on top of lentil layer. Por can of peas on top of corn layer. Scoop up mashed potatoes and spread on top, as the final layer. Use a fork to get the potatoes all over the top, so that it completely covers the top. Cut 2-3 thin slabs of margarine, and place on top.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes, until a fork placed in center comes out piping hot throughout the middle. For last 5-10 minutes, place your oven to broil, and broil the top of the pie so the potatoes develop a crispy top layer.

Oh Compassionate Shepherd, you complete me.

This dish easily made 4-5 portions,  enough to bring for lunches this week! The lentils pack lots of protein, while the sweet potatoes give the dish a hearty feel without being too heavy. This is the perfect dish when you’re looking for comfort food, without the unnecessary calories!
Every family seems to have their own version of Shepherd’s pie, especialy here in Quebec. This version lends well to alterations and additions. Your mom adds paprika to the top? No problem, go for it!! Your grandmother sprinkles cheese on the potatoes? Grab yourself some vegan cheese and throw it on! Your maman adds spices to her ground beef? Add those spices to the lentils! Seeing as i am biased to my mother’s recipe, i will leave you with this one last tip for creating amazing vegan Shepherd’s pie: Dont forget to add peas! (Happy Mother’s day, Momma!)

Kale, Cookies, Battlestar Galactica.

5 May

As i departed work on this gloomy, rainy Montreal evening, it dawned on me that tonight would be the perfect night to fill my cozy apartment with the warm smell of chocolate chip cookies, stuff my face with said cookies, curl up on my couch and lose myself in Season 3 of my new obsession du jour; Battlestar Galactica.

However, not one to eat sweets before a proper meal, i decided to whip up a batch of one of my favorite “Mommy makes it better” dishes; spaghetti with rapini. Every time i have tried to make this dish, my efforts have always ended in me calling The Suze, whining that my rapini was too soggy, or that my pasta was too hard. I could never get the timing right. Tonight, i was determined to master this simple dish, a dish one might say has been the bane of my culinary existence for 5+ years. As i scoured the vegetable aisles of my local fruit market, all i could see was kale. Rows and rows of kale took up the place where rapini should have been. Now i am no stranger to kale. I have sauteed and chipped kale with the best of them. (I live for kale chips. No joke, i actually do…) In a moment of inspiration, it dawned on me; why not use kale instead of rapini? The flavor is milder, the cooking time might potentially match that of pasta, and the texture is sublime!

What can i say, my experiment in substitution turned out a million times better than any spaghetti and rapini dish i have ever tried to make. While kale does not have the same bitter taste i adore from rapini, it has a chewy, leafy texture that rapini does not. It also takes well to being boiled, while rapini sometimes tends to fall apart in the boiling process. Kale is super good for you; it’s packed with loads of anti-oxidants, AND it’s anti-inflammatory!

Next time you see a beautiful, lush bunch of kale at the grocery store, pick it up and try this recipe!

Spaghetti with Kale

You will need:

1 bunch of kale, the stems cut off, washed

Enough spaghetti for 2 people – or enough for one supper and one lunch for you, if you live alone like me!

1 lemon

3 fresh tomatoes, cut into chunks

2 cloves of garlic

A pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions:

Fill a LARGE pot with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, throw in a pinch of salt, the spaghetti and the kale. Keep the heat on high, and boil, stirring VERY frequently.

While the spaghetti is cooking, cook the tomatoes. In a frying pan, heat oil over med-high heat. Add garlic, minced, and stir for a minute or 2. Once the garlic is aromatic, add the tomatoes, and lower heat to medium. cook for a few minutes, stirring. Once you see the tomatoes getting a little mushy, lower the heat and add the juice of 1 lemon and the chili flakes. You want your tomatoes to get really mushy, and you want the juices to come out to create the “sauce” for the pasta. Let the tomatoes cook on med-low heat until the pasta is ready.

Once the pasta is to your desired texture, turn off heat, strain the pasta and kale, and return it to the large soup pot. Throw in your tomato mixture, and toss to coat all the spaghetti and kale. Add pepper and enjoy!

I realize not everyone shares my love and pure excitement for all things vegetable, though i don’t understand why. I’d pick a head of kale over a chocolate chip cookie anyday, but for all those who would go the chocolate chip cookie route, please get in your kitchens and make the following chocolate chip cookie recipe NOW. This recipe kicks all other CC (that’s chocolate chip, for you amateurs) recipes to the curb. It’s chunky, it’s sweet, it’s got oats and cinamon, and it oozes chocolate. What more could you ever want from a cookie?

This recipe comes from Jae Steele’s awesome cookbook “Get It Ripe”. Jae Steele is a Canadian vegan cookbook author who has published 2 excellent books i would highly recommend. “Get It Ripe” was somewhat of my introduction to vegan cooking, and was a sort of Bible for me througout my introduction to veganism. Jae Steele always favors natural sugars and sweeteners, and is very health conscious when it comes to desserts. Her recipes are easy to follow, and her approach is very user-friendly. I recommend her cookbooks to beginner and professional vegans, and carnivores alike, just because she’s awesome!

Cowgrrrl Cookies (Get it Ripe, p. 225)

You will need:

2 cups spelt flour (Trust you me, it’s better for you than all-purpose!!)

2 cups rolled oats (not the quick cooking kind)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

11/4 cup non-dairy chocolate chips (make sure to read the ingredients and choose the kind with no dairy!)

1/2 cup nuts (i used peanuts, but walnuts are delicious)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 scant cup of sunflower oil (i used canola, but sunflower is better for you…)

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup room temp applesauce

1 tsp pure vanilla extract (artificial = gross, pure = YUM!)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Mix well. Add chocolate, nuts and cinnamon and mix throughly. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, blend oil and sugar until throughly combined. Add applesauce and extract and blend. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until all flour is absorbed. Form into tablespoon sized balls in your hands and drop on a cookie sheet. (I always line my cookie sheets with parchement paper, it makes for less clean-up!) Flatten balls a little with your fingers, making sure there is ample room between each cookie. I usually cook 6 cookies at a time, to be on the safe side. Bake in the oven for 13 minutes.

Once the cookies are ready, take the cookie sheet out of the oven, and let the cookies cool on the sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Eat. Share. Give to friends. Spread the cookie love.

20110504-081340.jpg

(Food porn…)

To all you lucky cats who are scoring yourselves a bag of these babies tomorrow, i hope you love them. And for all you bakers who feel like the recipe makes way too many cookies for your own good, you can freeze the cookies in an airtight baggie, and pull them out to thaw when you get a craving. Which is exactly what i’m doing for my awesome man B’s visit this weekend.

Now, enough about food, the Cylons await…

So say we all.

When i was 18…

15 Mar

The past week has brought about a wave of nostalgia to my daily life. I’ve spent time with High School friends, spent lots of time with family members I absolutely adore, and recently reconnected with an old friend from my very early 20s. This old friend and i have been talking music, and he helped me rediscover some awesome bands from my youth; bands that i completly forgot existed, bands whose music would make the hairs of my arms stand straight. Music that would send butterflies straight to my stomach as i listened to their CD in my discman, hanging out in the halls of CEGEP. These songs, these lyrics, bring me back to a period where music was associated with first kisses, nights out at punk rock shows, meeting cute boys, and spending countless hours on mIRC. Listening to a certain song reminds me of my first pair of Etnies, or a specifc moment where nothing in the world mattered except getting tickets to the Less than Jake show.

This wave of nostalgia has brought on an urge to cook my favorite comfort foods from that period of my life. When i was in CEGEP, my mom was still making my lunches. (Props to the SUZE!!) She would make these delicious veal cutlets battered in italian bread crumbs, and then fried to crisp perfection. She would then layer 2 pieces in between italian bread, with a bit of lettuce. It was the sandwich of champions, it was so good. In my house, we called it Fattini. When i knew i was getting fattini for lunch, i would anticipate biting into the delicious fresh bread, and tasting the crispy, perfectly cooked goodness of those fried pieces of heaven. Now that i’m a vegan, veal is not part of my diet. Therefore, i have successfully recreated the awesomeness that is fattini with tofu. Sa-weeeet!

Now before all you carnivores quickly dismiss this blog with a look of disgust and a roll of the eyes, let me assure you that even my meat-eater friends and family have devoured breaded tofu, proclaiming: “wow, this is incredible!” I swear, it tastes awesome, especially layered in sandwiches, with a little hummus spread on the bread. It’s also super easy to make, and lends itself well to dipping.

First, take your block of tofu. Rinse it well, and wrap it in a tea towel. Find the heaviest book you have and put it over the tofu to press out all the water. (That encyclopedia i used to pretend to use in College really comes in handy here…)Press the tofu for 30 minutes-1 hour. Once it is sufficiently pressed, cut it into slices width wise, so the slices resemble rectangles.

Prepare a bowl with tamari, and a dish with bread crumbs. First, dip the tofu in tamari, letting it sak for a couple of seconds. Then, dip it in breadcrumbs, coating both sides. Place the tofu on an oiled or parchement paper covered baking sheet, and place in oven. Set your oven to 375, and bake for 30 mins on each side. The result is a crispy, delicious slab of tofu. Great for sammies, dipping in hot sauce, slicing on salads, the choices are endless!

As i sit in my living room, listening to the Ataris, Thrice and Fenix TX, devouring my breaded tofu, i realize that i have come a long way from 18-year-old me. However, i’ll always have the music to remind me of those nights at Hatter’s where my biggest worry was if i had the guts to buy the cute boy sitting next to me a beer…