As September comes to a close many of us are busy getting back into the swing of things with our new routines and schedules. It’s a busy - albeit productive time of year for everyone.
This month also marks the one-year anniversary of Vegup London - the local meetup group for vegans, vegetarians and healthy foodies in and around London, Ontario. I started going to the monthly meetups about this time last year in hopes of finding some friends and to connect with a few like-minded folks. Over the past twelve months I have met some seriously amazing and inspiring people who share my passion and obsession with healthy, plant-based foods. Not only that, but I’ve discovered a whole community of friends and foodies in the area to share recipes, resources and advice with! A few months ago the founders of Vegup (Krista & Katie) recruited myself and two other ladies to help out with some of the event planning and organization and I’m thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful team of compassionate go-getters!
We have a number of exciting events coming up, including our one-year anniversary celebrations at The Root Cellar Organic Cafe on September 29th (for more details click here) - but one event that stands out from the rest is ‘VegFest' - London Ontario's first ever vegan festival happening Saturday October 25th at the Western Fair District - and it's FREE!
The festival started as an idea that Vegup co-founder Krista Kankula had after attending Niagara VegFest and the Toronto Veg Food Festival last year: "I wanted to bring something similar to London. I loved how these festivals created a community - whether you are vegan/vegetarian or not - you are welcome." Krista was blown away by the vendors and products at the other festivals and says, “I can’t not mention all the yummy vegan food! Often when people think ‘vegan’, they immediately think of the limited options they might have when it comes to food or various products.” Krista believes these festivals are an excellent opportunity to show and feature the best of what plant-powered living has to offer! "I encourage everyone to come out, even if you’re not vegan, vegetarian or don’t see yourself changing your diet or lifestyle. Come with an open mind, try the food, learn about the products and organizations that are out there, listen to the speakers, check out the cooking demo. If you are already vegan or vegetarian, invite a friend to join you who’s not, and come see what it’s all about!"
There will be vendors set up all day from 10:00AM - 6:00PM featuring some tasty food from local restaurants including Veg Out, Zen Gardens and Organic Works Bakery and a few speciality out of town shops like Rawlicious will be there as well!
Kids are more than welcome to come out and enjoy the Children’s Activity Area sponsored by Rebirth Wellness and try their hand at some crafts or 30-minute family yoga taught by instructor Lisa Weir. In between yoga classes there will also be hula-hooping fun and games provided by Wholistic Hall.
There will also be a number of guest speakers to hear from, including Marty The Health Guy, Lauren Toyota and John Diemer of Hot For Food and Jo-Anne McArthur of We Animals. And don’t miss out on the cooking demonstration by the chef’s at the best vegan restaurant in town: Veg Out! Click here for a full festival schedule so you can plan your visit!
"VegFest London is about that change that we wish to see in this world - more compassion, sustainability, connection and community. Oh, and more plants too!"
Whether you’re simply interested in green living or if you want to learn more about animal activism and how you can directly get involved - there will be booths available all day from local community groups and organizations that work in the area to promote healthy, sustainable and ethical living.
For next year, Krista says she hopes to add more interactive elements and a “Go Veg Challenge” for those who are interested. “I see the festival growing and evolving in many ways. I’m eager to get feedback from everyone that attends this year and use that to make the festival even better in the future. Making VegFest London an annual event and fixture on the London events scene would be fantastic.”
If you’re really excited about this event and want to show a little extra support - buy a ticket and come out to the Pre-Festival Party happening Friday October 24th from 6:00-9:00PM at Organic Works Bakery. There will be a full specialty vegan menu available - including wine and beer, also live acoustic music, games, door prizes and talks from special guests. I’ll be there discussing my own involvement in the vegan community, locally and on the web, and how living as an example is a beautiful way to inspire others toward a more compassionate and healthy way of living.
Also with your ticket purchase you’ll be supporting two amazing local animal rescue organizations: $15 from each ticket sold goes to support Animal Outreach and Cedar Row Farm Sanctuary. You can also enter to WIN your ticket to the party from now until September 30th by taking a photo of a plant-powered meal and sharing on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag '#vegfestldn'!
Needless to say, I’m really excited about this festival and I hope if you’re in the area you’ll come out, taste-test a few items, have a little fun and if you see me out and about while you’re there, feel free to say hello! :) I’m always happy to talk about veganism and if you have any questions I’d love to try and help you out, or steer you in the right direction.
If you’re in Ontario but can’t make it to the London festival, there are lots of other Veg-themed festivals in the area to check out for this year and next:
It’s hard for me to say it, but the summer feels nearly over and I’m still craving those tropical zesty flavors. Since moving from London to Dorchester in June, Cam and I have been busy working on a new project called ‘The Food Box Project' - an all-organic food buyer's group for local friends and foodies to get convenient and affordable access to organic produce. This recipe is made from a few of this past week's Food Box ingredients - and a handful of herbs from my back porch.
The key to making a truly delicious and nutritious green-smoothie is to keep the fruit to veggie ratio at about 60/40. Smoothies that are too heavy on the dark leafy greens can taste a tad bitter, especially if you’re not used to the taste - but by adding a little vitamin-packed zest from flavor-filled fruits, we can trick our taste buds into loving our greens!
- 2.5 cups of chopped pineapple
- 1/2 cup of spinach
- 1/2 cup of swiss chard
- 1/2 cup of chopped cucumber
- handful of ice cubes
- a small nub of ginger - for an added flavor kick and anti-inflammatory boost
- handful of your favorite fresh herbs - in this version I used pineapple sage and lemon balm
- orange juice/lemon juice/lime juice - not only will citrus juice add a refreshing zesty flavour but a potent dose of Vitamin C as well
Throw the ingredients into your blender - with your greens on the bottom to ensure they get pulverized first - add as much or as little water as you like until you get your desired consistency. Serve cold and enjoy!
Mix it up! Instead of pineapple, try adding in some mango chunks or your favourite citrus fruits! Toss in a green bell pepper instead of cucumber or add a jalapeno if you’re really feeling adventurous!
If you’re visiting this page from The Food Bod Project - try out the recipe and let us know how you like it. Remember you can always freeze the remaining chopped pineapple for future smoothies and pour any leftover smoothie into ice-cube trays for a smoothie later in the week. Cheers!
We seem to have stumbled into a warm spell over the last few days. The weather keeps calling for rain and thunderstorms but we’ve yet to have more than a light morning drizzle to quench our thirst. And the humidity remains. I’m not really complaining; after all, this past winter in Ontario was one of the most brutal that I can recall in my 25 years and I’m happy to be back in the sunshine. My uncle from the Shillington area was around for a visit over the weekend and even he and my father - two cold-hardy Canadian men - were commenting on the brutality of this winter season; not so much the temperatures (though 20 or 30 below zero is nothing to scoff at in my opinion) but the length and darkness that can really affect your overall mood.
So to say the least, I’m soaking up the sun when I can and enjoying the perks of the season. I’ve been adventuring to the markets and local farms a lot more and this weekend I picked up a flat of some gorgeous strawberries from Heeman’s Strawberry Farm and have been putting the delicious lil suckers to good use!
Last night’s dinner spread was a light combination of a few local flavours and some personal favourites. On Saturday I picked up some local asparagus and onions from the market, and so I chopped and lightly sautéed those together with some lemon juice and pepper to pair with some organic brown rice. But the best part of the meal - in my humble opinion - was the Seasonal Strawberry Salad and Sweet Orange & Basil Tea!
Sweet Orange & Basil Tea
It’s like the nectar of the gods! You can have it chilled on ice to ease the humid effects of these hot summer days - or hot and freshly steeped for getting cozy by the camp-fire! The recipe is simple: just brew a fresh pot of your favourite organic tea - for this particular round I chose a hibiscus and blood orange blend - then toss the following ingredients into your cup for added zest and flavour!
- 1 valencia orange, thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 handful of fresh basil leaves
- 1 handful of fresh mint
- 1 tsp of raw agave
I put one bottle in the fridge for an hour or so to cool and tossed in a few ice cubes before serving.
If you’re not a tea drinker or just simply want to switch it up in a healthy way - you can opt for water instead of tea and have a refreshing vitamin-infused glass of H2O!
Seasonal Strawberry Salad
This is why I love eating seasonal foods! By narrowing the distance between the farm and your plate you’re not only helping the environment by reducing the carbon-emissions via the transportation of the food, but the freshness of flavour is undeniably superior! I mean, who in their right mind can say no to fresh local spinach and strawberries picked the morning of?!
Thanks to the spinach and strawberries, this meal is packed with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits! As with all my recipes, feel free to opt in or out any particular ingredients you wish - food is meant to be thoroughly enjoyed after all! ;)
- 4-6 cups of red stemmed spinach
- 1 cup of romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1-2 cups of strawberries, halved
- handful of cherries, pitted and halved
- 1/4 cup of diced dried apricots
You can blend up some cherries and lemon juice for a simple, light and refreshing dressing. Or top it off with your own house favourite.
What are some of your favourite seasonal, summery meals? Do you like to venture to your local farms or farmer’s markets? Let me know what you think in the comments below! <3
Love is a lot like a green smoothie. You bring all your raw ingredients to the table and hope that by somehow uniting it all together in a big blended mess you can create something amazing! Since the weather’s been warming up a little, Cam and I took a trip to my family’s cabin last weekend to dust and air the place out a bit. It was a nice little escape from the city life. We’re in the process of moving (more details on that HUGE adventure soon) and so with most of our belongings in boxes or stashed away, we took full advantage of the opportunity to stretch out and enjoy the open space and sunshine.
My boyfriend’s blender is unique in that it has the option for one big 2L jug or two removable and portable mini mugs. It’s a Hamilton Beach model and while I can’t say I have much experience with their other kitchen tools, this blender seriously packs a pulverizing punch! It has two power settings and a pulse option to reduce oxidization while you’re blending.
His Smoothie:Since my man enjoys a bit of a kick to his healthy meals, I like to add a bit of ginger into his smoothies and juices. You can increase the amount of ginger you throw in if you really want to sweat and detox. Ginger is great for clearing up the sinuses and eliminating mucous. It’s anti-inflammatory properties can also aid with joint pain.
- 2 cups of chopped pineapple
- 2 handfuls of spinach
- 1 cup of chopped cilantro
- 1 apple, chopped
- 1/4 inch nub of ginger
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
Hers:I’m a tropical soul at heart and I absolutely love mangos! My first time throwing a mango into my blender with some kale and it was love at first slurp! Mangoes are a great way to sweeten up a smoothie and add some Vitamin C, Vitamin A & skin cleansing power to your morning routine. The lemon also aids in elimination and flushing those unwanted toxins from your body.
- 2 cups of chopped mango
- 2 handfuls of kale
- 1 cup of chopped parsley
- 1 small orange, peeled
- 1 cup of chopped romaine lettuce
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
In my experience, the best way to prepare for the routine of morning smoothies is to clean, peel and chop your staple fruits ahead of time and pop them in the freezer. This saves you dishes and clean up time in the morning and makes it easy to keep all your favourites on hand. You don’t have to worry about having over-ripe or un-ripe fruit either because they’re always ready to go! I like to keep at least a few bags of frozen pineapple, mango, bananas and LOTS of berries in my freezer. You can also buy or store your own chopped frozen greens, like kale, spinach or herbs etc.
Get ‘Er Done
It’s always a good idea to put your leafy greens at the bottom of your blender to ensure they get pulverised first and foremost. In fact, if you have an older or weaker blender it might be best to blend up your greens and liquid base first. Sometimes the low-powered blenders have a hard time with greens and occasionally you might end up with small chunks of kale in your teeth. That’s okay. It happens to the best of us. ;) When in doubt about what ratios to add or how much of this or that, just follow the 60/40 rule: use 60% fruit and 40% greens to ensure a sweet and juicy green drink.
Play around with a few flavour combinations and see which ones really tantalize your taste-buds! For more info about making delicious & nutritious green smoothies check out the following links:
About a year ago I decided to join Instagram to see what all the buzz was about. I wanted to try to find and connect with other raw foodies, vegans and healthy peeps. At that point, none of my ‘real life’ friends cared much about nutrition or ethics in the way that I was exploring and so I was really searching for some like-minded folks who were passionate about the same things as me: I was looking for some cruelty-free conversation to fuel my creative fire. It turns out that taking lots of smoothie and juice pics was enough to draw out a few fellow fruit-fiends and veggie-lovers. So I started posting ‘smoothie selfies’ and the recipe combos to my favourite juice blends and before long I was developing great friendships with people all across the globe, who like me just wanted to chit chat and learn more about health!
Many of my friends and family members don’t really understand the ins and outs of social media, and while I definitely don’t claim to be any kind of expert on the subject, I thought I should give some sort of explanation for my curious camera habits and why I take time out of my daily life to like, comment and post about something so simple as food.
1. It helps spread the message. As a health activist, my biggest goal is to help people become more aware of the impact their food choices can make not only on their bodies and minds but on our world and environment as a whole. When you think about the amount of natural resources (not to mention suffering) required to sustain the Standard American Diet, compared to a plant-based diet it’s a no-brainer! A single picture on a social media feed might not directly cause any drastic change, but it can spark inspiration in someone to make small, little changes to their day-to-day life that, when you think about it, seriously add up!
2. Meal Inspiration! There is such a lively community of healthy foodies out there - if you’re ever in need of a meal ideas or searching for a plant-based alternatives to your junk-food favourites, browse through the popular hashtags to see what other people are coming up with! And what better way to show off your latest and greatest green-juice recipe than broadcasting to the world your creation? You can help inspire others to try something new and the seasoned foodies are more than willing to give feedback or suggestions for improvement.
3. Discover and review restaurants, clothing & products. Whenever I visit a vegan-friendly spot or find a cruelty-free product, I let my followers know. It’s a great way to connect with local vegan foodies and see where the best flavours in town are. If you’re visiting a new or unfamiliar city, you can ask around and get a feel for what restaurants to try out and what places to avoid. Many vegan-friendly companies are getting hooked on Instagram too - you can find and follow your favourites - more often than not they’ll offer exclusive sales, deals or discounts to their loyal followers! Some of my personal favourites to check out are Dr Bronners, Lush Cosmetics, Blood Tight Apparel & Simply Straws.
So, yes - it may be kinda silly to post a picture of my blended breakfast in a jar while grinning like a mad fool next to it, and some people may think I’m nuts - but I’m going to tell you a little secret: I don’t really care. I’m passionate about living foods and I’ve seen first-hand the amazing benefits that can come from getting a little goofy about greens! This is who I am. I’m not a photographer and I’m not a model. I’m just a girl who loves clean, wholesome food and sharing it with the world!
Let’s be foodie friends! If you’re someone who’s also interested in health and fitness - let’s connect! Feel free to add me on instagram or search for other people posting smoothie selfies like the fabulous ladies featured above (Kristina, Loni, Rawvana, Nina & Betty) - I guarantee you’ll find lots of delicious and nutritious recipes to try out AND you’ll meet some awesome folks along the way!
Hey guys! Apologies for the lack of updates recently, all I can really say for myself is that I’ve been busy! Life has thrown a lot of curve balls my way over the past few weeks and months and I’ve been spreading myself a little too thin trying to manage it all. There’s soo much to catch up on and share with you guys!
If you were to ask me a year ago what my ‘dream job’ might be, I would probably have told you something involving copious amounts of fruits and veggies, clean food and helping people get healthy! Somehow, through the power of intention and a little personal magic, I found a way to make that a reality. Without even realizing it! I found two amazing ways to fuel my passions; volunteering with a local organic food distribution company called Globally Local (more info coming in the next post!) and working at the brand new, 100% raw, organic & cold-pressed juice shop; Pulp & Press Juice Co.! Life is so juicy sweet and I am very thankful for these opportunities that are so in line with my passions and allow me to fuel my creative fire.
My studies, personal goals and relationships had taken a back-seat to the madness and excitement of it all for a while there, but things are settling into a new pattern of organization now, and it feels refreshing. This winter was especially long, hard and drawn-out and now that the warmer weather has finally started springing up here in London, Ontario, I’m excited to start fresh with my healthy habits.
And my writing habits for that matter! I began writing an ebook
several months ago, but have neglected it quite a lot since. So in a mild effort to get some work done on the project, I’m committing myself to writing a page a week - which should be easy enough to sneak in, even when I’m feeling lazy or uninspired. Slow progress is better than no progress, the way I see it. I also promise to post on the blog at least once a week from now on, even if it’s just a quick little blurb like this one letting you know what I’m up to. :)
Three links I love week:
- Be Social Media Savvy in Rural Ontario via Ruralist
- 50 Ways to Stop Letting Food Waste Happen in Your Kicthen via the Organic Authority
- Why You And Your Family Need to Avoid Chemicals by Megan Elizabeth
Hope the weather is clearing wherever you are in the world too! What are some fresh habits you’d like to start up now that Spring has sprung?
The two words that seem to be on everyone’s mind (and social media feed) this week are ‘Valentines Day’! And while I can’t say I’m a particularly big fan of the holiday per se; I believe that actions speak louder than Hallmark Cards, I still couldn’t help but throw together a simple but fun & romantically inspired dish - perfect for nutritionally spoiling your loved ones and your taste-buds! ;)
This is another example of my spiralizing skills gone wild in the kitchen! I can’t help but marvel at the veggie-noodles every time I use my spiralizer! It’s just fun to watch them thread their way through! This dish is a basic melody of:
- 3 rainbow carrots (purple, white & orange)
- 2 small red beets
The ends needed to be fairly flat to work with my spiralizer - but my arms appreciated the mini-workout and got the job done quick. There are a million different types of spirlaizers on the market - you can check out Amazon for a few cheap varieties - mine is the ‘Asian-Spiral Slicer’.
The sauce can be done raw with almost all the same ingredients*, but for this round I chose to include a couple cooked ingredients as well. It’s completely up to you how you wish to treat your taste-buds and your body. <3 And always know that you can throw in any flavours that you prefer over my suggestions at any time!
- 3 roma tomatoes
- 1 handful of fresh basil
- 1/2 a chopped red onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 spoonfuls of cinnamon
- 1 small chopped beet
- chilli flakes
- 3 spoonfuls of tomato paste*
- 1/4 cup of chopped sun-dried tomatoes*
It makes for a rich, creamy and a little spicy dressing for your crunchy pasta! Alternatively, if you’re not catering to a raw foodie, you can bring a small pot of water to a boil, place your spiralized carrots and beets into a strainer and dip into the water for 15-30 seconds or until tender. Some folks who prefer cooked pasta dishes, or just want something hot in their belly will enjoy the warm and familiar texture.
Let me know what you think! I always love a hearty pasta dish and I think there’s something about beetroot that’s just deliciously romantic! ;) Whatever your plans are this Valentine’s Day, I hope you have a great love affair with yourself and with your food! <3
These days it seems like there’s a lot of different opinions as to what the term “healthy” means. If you browse through some tagged photos on instagram or briefly through your twitter feed, you can easily find some recipe that claims to be ‘healthy’ and ‘clean’, but contains overly processed and nutrient-deficient foods! I guess my definition of clean eating might be a little extreme for some people - and that’s fine, but I believe we simply need to set the bar higher when it comes to our health.
We’ve all had those moments of fried-food self-sabotage, where we re-learn the lesson: "you are what you eat". Our food is our fuel and what we eat can have such a drastic impact on not just our physical bodies, but our mental state as well - why WOULDN’T we want the best for ourselves?
Clean food is natural food; it comes in the perfectly designed package of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fibre. It is easily and readily digested and absorbed into the body with little to no effort. Intuitively we can already determine which foods are the best for us to consume: they’re usually brightly coloured, naturally attractive and easy to collect or harvest. Clean food leaves you feeling light, energized and vibrant.
- leafy greens
- whole grains
- nuts & seeds
It’s also important to keep in mind the source of your food. Organic is obviously preferred over conventional and local foods are generally higher in micro-nutrients.
I don’t really like to think of any foods as good or bad in such black and white terms, and limiting or eliminating all or any of these foods from your diet may or may not be right for you. But it is important to realize that there are many food items on our shelves that do not promote health in the body and many in fact cause dis-ease.These foods generally require a great effort to digest and are lacking in absorbable vitamins and minerals. They are difficult to obtain by natural means and require more natural resources from our planet to produce. These items may also cause a number of minor physical side effects including bloating, weight-gain, dehydration, fatigue, headaches, constipation, phlegm & mucous build up to name a few.
- oils & salts
- packaged & processed food items
- beige or bleached foods
- heavily fried foods
Balance is Key
I’m not about perfection, or restriction - I treat myself and thoroughly enjoy it and I encourage you do to the same. I just try to re-asses my idea of what a treat is for my body. Is it just about the temporary satisfaction of flavour or is there a pleasure in treating your body to a health buzz as well?
Personally, I chose a vegan lifestyle because of ethical reasons, but I eat a plant-based diet for health. I have seen and experienced first hand the benefits of a cleaner body and mind and for me, it’s just not worth it to go back. I think there’s a lot to be said for the type of satisfaction you get by treating yourself to a clean-conscience too! ;)
Wherever you are on your health journey, becoming more aware of your food and in-tune with your body is ALWAYS a positive thing. You don’t have to change anything overnight. I find it best to take it one meal at a time and seize the opportunity to create a healthy body with each and every bite! It makes for a very rewarding and exciting experience! Your taste-buds and your waist-line will thank you! <3