When I was growing up as a lonely vegetarian kid in rural Ontario, the idea of an entirely vegetarian restaurant was unheard of - let alone a completely VEGAN one! I was always ‘the odd one out’ when it came to social gatherings and dinning at restaurants; I asked the waiter one too many questions and was just a little too picky to make eating out a truly satisfying experience. Now in my home-town of Owen Sound, there are plenty of veg-friendly locations and plant-based options. There’s even a new juice bar called 'The Bleeding Carrot' that recently opened up on the main strip! It’s wonderful to see healthier trends becoming so high in demand! People are no longer simply eating out to spoil their taste-buds, but we’re becoming more conscious of our food choices and how they affect us AND the world we live in!
Now I’m lucky enough to live in a bigger city, where there are lots of choices when it comes to cruelty-free dinning. Since moving to London about a year ago, I’ve discovered a few solid smoothie spots, juice bars and vegan-friendly locations. But the place that takes the dairy-free cake has got to be 'Veg Out' - London’s only 100% vegan restaurant! I’ve been there more than just a handful of times and I keep coming back for their spectacular menu and commitment to quality.
This week we choose a rather blustery night to make the trip downtown, but it was well worth suffering the sub-freezing temperatures - not long after our arrival we were offered complimentary hazelnut hot chocolates to help warm us up! In my opinion, it’s that kind of added touch that makes the difference between a regular meal and an eating experience!
I can quite honestly say I’ve ordered just about everything on the menu at one point or another and their weekly specials are always a delight. They’ve had a hard time putting a meal in front of me that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy - everything is top notch with very fair prices and delicious seasonal ingredients. This particular evening, for our appetizers, we ordered the spicy tempeh wings and poutine with daiya cheeze and shiitake mushroom gravy. This is the kind of meal that I indulge in with gusto! I went vegetarian at such a young age that there are some more traditional dishes that I simply never tried; like chicken wings and poutine.
Even as a proud Canadian girl, I had never experienced traditional poutine with the cheese curds and gravy, so when I found these vegan versions here, I of course HAD to see what all the fuss was about! And I was NOT disappointed! Definitely not the most nutritious selections but absolutely packed full of flavour! :)
For the main course, it was a sunflower seed pate sandwich for him…
And a raw zucchini pesto pasta salad for me! This is currently my favourite dish on the menu. It offers lots of greens and healthy veggies with sprouts and sesame seeds for an added crunch and protein punch!
If you live in London, or ever find yourself in the area, I highly suggest you check this place out. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or just trying to eat a bit more consciously, this joint is a gold mine of flavours and you’re sure to find something that truly satisfies your body and soul!
You can Find & Follow Veg Out here for the latest news & specials:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Veg-Out/456098631124308
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/VegOutLondon
- WWW: http://www.vegoutrestaurant.com
Please Note: Veg Out is a fur-free restaurant. If you drop in for a visit, please refrain from wearing fur.
Do you have a favourite vegan, vegetarian friendly or all-organic dinning location you like to visit? :) Let me know in the comments below! I always LOVE finding new spots to check out - even if I might not live close, we can share our love of plant powered foods by supporting the businesses that support our lifestyle! <3
This week I was very fortunate to have been invited to not one, but TWO vegan pot-lucks here in London, Ontario! One was a raw holiday feast hosted by Jon from DoubleOrganic.ca and the other was a vegan get-together at James’ house, from the organic food co-op GloballyLocal.ca! It was so wonderful to meet up with other fruit & veggie lovers, talk about compassionate living, clean eating and delicious recipes! Not to mention the food was absolutely divine!! I brought bottled juices to both events, but one recipe blend really was a hit and I just have to share it with you guys!
- 2 tangerines
- 2 clementines
- 1 orange
- 1/2 a mango
- few chunks of pineapple
- 1/2 a red beet
- 2 apples
For this recipe I opted out of using my high-powered Breville juicer and used a hand powered citrus juicer for the orange, tangerines and clementines. I added them into the bottle first after straining the seeds and some of the pulp with a metal sieve. Then blended up the mango and pineapple, removed the pulp with a cheesecloth and poured it in with the citrus. Finally, I blended the apples with the beet, strained through a cheesecloth and very carefully and slowly added it to the top of the bottle.
Alternatively if you have to travel with your juices, to prevent the colors from mixing prematurely, put the citrus and pineapple mango blend in one bottle and the beets and apples in another, then you can colourfully display the sunrise as you pour them separately into a glass.
At a house full of vegans, two bottles was not nearly enough to satisfy so be sure to come prepared with ample supply in case you get a similar reaction! ;)
My family has always gathered at Christmas time, no matter what the weather; outside or in our hearts. We’re an interesting crew to say the least, having changed a lot over the years and though our eclectic attitudes may clash loudly at times, we always come back to that big wooden table to laugh it out and celebrate the season.
My family is very supportive of my dietary and lifestyle choices and they do extremely well at accommodating me and encouraging me to share with them my thoughts, ideas and recipes too! Especially now that they’ve witnessed the results unfolding in and around me on this crazy "healthy food kick". As a lot of my readers will know, I really believe that special occasions and holidays are the PERFECT opportunities for sharing healthy and clean food with friends and family! But I think there’s a lot to be said for healthy gift-giving mindset too!
Far too many of us get into a stressful whirl of shopping and budgeting that we forget what the season really is all about. Depending on your beliefs you might have specifics that differ from me or the next guy, but when you get down to the real nitty-gritty of it, under the packaging, decorating and frosting of it all, the real reason for the season is just simply: love. Gathering together with family and friends; giving, receiving and acknowledging the love that connects us.
Here are a few alternative holiday gift-giving ideas that can help us get back to the root of what Christmas is all about; so you can spend more time with your loved ones and less time in the malls!
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! A lot of people have hidden talents that even they might not immediately be aware of. If you stop and think about it for a minute, I bet you can think of at least two or three things that you’re really good at! If you get a little creative you can come up with all sorts of innovative ways to share your gifts with others over the holidays!
- If you’ve got a skill for web design, does a friend need help with their business?
- Can you crochet, knit, sew and/or stitch? I bet there’s a friend or family member who would seriously LOVE handmade warm mittens, a scarf or socks this season - my father’s face still lights up every time he gets a pair for Christmas!
- Handy in the kitchen? Try out some new recipes and find some cute box or bag to keep them in - people are always grateful for tasty treats this time of year.
- If you know your way up and down the piano keys or guitar strings, why not write a song to commemorate the occasion? Something funny about the family? Or a love-song for a sweetheart? There’s something about music that brings people together! Perfect for the holidays!
For more DIY inspiration check out www.instructables.com, especially their ‘Homemade Gifts' section. You can also look on handmade websites like my personal favorite: www.etsy.com for unique hand-crafted items AND you can use the ‘Shop Local' option to find sellers near you to keep the love close to home!
Experience vs Gifts
A great way to steer the focus away from senseless spending and back onto each other is to share memories! Instead of necessarily exchanging a bunch of gifts this year, you could ask your partner, friend or family if they’d want to go for a sleigh ride, a hiking trip, visit an animal sanctuary, or if you really want to be traditional: go caroling! There are so many ways to show you care that don’t have to be quite so material.
- Fill a photo album with a series of photos that tell a story and maybe write captions below. Parents and grandparents love gifts like this - especially if you can get children or pets involved, it really ups the cute-ness effect!
- Create a coupon book full of IOU’s and freebies that the receiver may exchange for various acts of kindness, favors or outings. This makes a great gift for lovers and spouses; we all know everyone could use a ‘get out of jail free’ card every now and again! ;) Use things that your partner might not expect: coupons for date nights, we-time or ‘Dishes Cleaned - No Questions Asked' usually get a positive response.
- Use money that might otherwise be spend on gifts and decorations to take a family trip or weekend away. Visit some relatives, friends, or just escape to the country for a few days!
Give To Others
Giving to others who might be less fortunate than we care can be so rewarding! Find ways in your area to help out where it’s needed or even make small gestures in your social community that help each other out.
- Donate your time and/or finances to a charity or organization of your choice.
- Ask a lonely friend over for your festive celebrations, make someone feel welcome and appreciated.
- Shovel snow for your elderly neighbors.
- Showcase your musical or theatrical talents at the local retirement home or hospital.
- Adopt an animal from your local shelter to save a life.
- Donate your blood to save more.
- Sponsor an animal or endangered species, or organization that preserves our natural lakes and parks.
Even just small acts of kindness; the simplest thing like re-connecting with an old friend over Facebook and wishing them the best in the new year can be enough to put a spark in someone’s day. And that little gesture, however so small, is a gift that truly keeps on giving. <3
Other Ways To Simplify The Season:
1. When it comes to home decor and lighting, go for the minimalist approach. Choose natural trimmings, like clippings from local evergreens and holly bushes. Use candles and incense scents like: pine, frankincense, myrrh, cedar, mug-wort, rosemary and lemongrass to create a cozy and festive atmosphere.
2. Cut back on paper by using alternative gift wrap and DIY Greeting Cards. Wrap gifts in reused paper and bags, newspaper comics (kids can color them in), old maps, or other used paper. Reuse magazine photos, old postcards and past holiday cards to make new ones!
3. Prepare and enjoy sustainably made meals. Use as many seasonal, locally grown and organic foods as possible.
However you choose to spend your holiday season, I wish you lots of love from my heart to yours! <3 Let me know what alternative Christmas ideas you’re getting into this year to keep the spirit in season! :)
I’m a big lover of lunch-time! I feel like a hobbit some days because I don’t just eat once in the middle of the day. Usually I have 2 or 3 small meals between 11am and 2pm. I might have a few servings of fruit and then a salad and a smoothie, or a raw pasta, or something a little bit different like below: a cute & colorful display of power-packed phytonutrients!
- purple cabbage leaves*
- 1 zucchini, spiralized or thinly sliced
- 1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved
- 4 cups of mixed garden greens; spinach, arugula, chard, kale etc.
- handful of sprouts
- red & orange bell peppers, sliced
- 1 cup of mushrooms, chopped
- handful of fresh basil
*as many as you can eat: one person could gobble down 2 or 3 quite easily
- 3 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 cup of basil leaves
- 1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes
Toss the ingredients into a food processor (or blender) until it’s as chunky or smooth as you like. For a bit of extra flavor you can cover and let sit in your fridge for about an hour or so to marinate.
This is one of my juice & banana combos that’s really creamy as far as green smoothies go (I posted it on Instagram a few weeks ago)! Some people take a while to warm up to the bitterness of certain greens like kale, and this can be a great way to introduce them to it and chug it back without even realizing!
Throw the following into your juicer:
- 1 bunch of kale, chopped
- 4 sticks of celery
- 1 apple
- 1 kiwi
- 1 lemon
- 4 oranges
Blend with 3-5 bananas & a few handfuls of fresh basil, and that’s it! Enjoy it as its own meal or with the Rainbow Salad Bowl featured above! Use your lunch time as an opportunity to feed your body and love each and every one of your cells with healthy, clean & natural goodness for a healthy, clean & natural body & mind! ;) <3
These days when you mention the word ‘salad’ most people think of the classics; Greek, Caesar and
(God-forbid) Garden. These boring and lack-luster displays of GMO greenery are not only aesthetically deficient, they’re in desperate need of some nutrient variety! Cucumbers, tomatoes and ice-burg lettuce is just not how I roll when it comes to getting my greens in. Tonight I threw together what I would say is a solid salad. It doesn’t involve anything too complex or detailed, but it offers more flavor and variety than your usual side dish.
As always there’s plenty of wiggle room with the recipe and I invite you to play around with the ingredients and figure out what you like best! For example, I know a lot of folks don’t like grapefruit (I absolutely HATED it until just a few months ago) so feel free to swap it out for a preferred citrus fruit such as oranges, clementines, tangerines, blood oranges, tangelo etc.
- 1 chopped apple
- 1 grapefruit, cut into 8ths
- 1 cup of dehydrated apple slices
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup of red grapes
- 1 cup of celery greens
- 4 cups of mixed organic greens; spinach, arugula, romaine, red leaf etc.
For the dried apple slices, I pulled out my mom’s old dehydrator; an rustic looking thing with 5 round trays and two settings - on and off. No idea what temperature it may or may not reach. I just chopped up a few granny smith apples and left the slices in the trays for about 8 hours or so rotating the trays twice. Dehydrating is a great way to preserve tasty fruit for the colder months when it might not be available in your area; mangoes for example are one of my favorite dried fruits!
And yes you can eat your celery greens! The leaves are packed with five times more magnesium and calcium than the stalks! They’re also a rich source of vitamin C and potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. I like to mix them up with some parsley usually, but tonight I was fresh out.
For a dressing you can do as you wish, though this time I blended up:
- 1 small chunk of grapefruit
- 1 cup of grapes
- a few raspberries
- 1 medjool date, pitted
And the end result was a chunky fruit concoction that really hit the spot! I love it when my dinner tastes like desert! Haha! If you try this recipe out let me know what you think! Thanks for reading! Here’s to never having to eat another ‘garden salad’ again! ;) <3
If you’ve never checked out Etsy.com, then I highly suggest you go take a peek at a few things! There are some really unique artists and stores in their handmade sections - you can literally browse the categories for hours! I’ve found a lot of my favorite pieces of clothing on etsy! Like the pants featured today!
One late evening when I was lazily browsing for a new pair of leggings, I found and fell in love with the ‘mermaid II yoga leggings' by purushapeople! For starters they looked uber comfy and the design was just perfect for my water-loving bod! I did a lil reading and found out that the company was founded by dyer and screen-printer Hayley Elliot in 2009. Purusha focuses on what they call “fashion for freedom” - remaining super passionate about the ethical and humane production of their clothing, using organic and natural fibers, low impact dyes, and water-based paints.
”We firmly believe that a clothing brand existing in 2013 must be sustainable, transparent, and of course fashionable. Our ultimate goal is to manufacture clothing from field to factory to wearer in the most beautiful respectful way possible, protecting all people and life involved. Fashion for freedom is a right not a privilege!”
Purusha is also part of the 1% campaign to fix fashion, pledging to donate 1% of all sales to the clean clothes campaign. The clean clothes campaign works to improve working conditions in the global garment industry. To learn more visit : http://cleanclothes.org/about-us.
With commitment to quality and a bottom line like that I couldn’t resist! And to be perfectly honest with you they are fantastic pants! Totally worth it! They’re stretchy but not clingy in all the wrong areas like some yoga pants can be - I don’t feel like the pants are ‘holding me in’ or impacting my movement. They’re like a second layer of skin. A nice silky layer that happens to be part mermaid - even as the chilly weather sets in, my mind is on the beach! ;)
For more info or to take a look at their line you can check out Purusha @:
'Tis the season to stay warm! Whether that be bundling up with a good book and a pet curled up on your lap or throwing on a toque and gloves to hit the road
despite the winds & sub-freezing temperatures, having a nice meal at the end of the day to warm your soul can really be just what you need! Here are two recipes that I have tried, one I just threw together for Thanksgiving this year and the other is a favorite from Kristina Carrillo-Bucaram that I think you’ll very much enjoy! :)
The Gratitude Salad
This recipe was a little, shall we say, accidental. It was a sunny Saturday morning on Thanksgiving weekend and I was in a hurry to make a salad to share for dinner at my boyfriend’s parents’ place that evening. I had just gotten back from a trip to the Western Fair Farmer’s Market, where I had spent entirely too much time browsing the local fare and picked up several heads of kale - among a plethora of other things. I was busy trying to wash and store my heaping bags of produce while worrying about what to make for dinner (and let’s be honest - what to wear)!
I set aside 10 minutes for myself to de-stress and enjoy the meal-making process while I diced & sliced my favorite, pretty-looking fruits and veggies! I find chopping to be very relaxing, almost therapeutic if you take the time to savor the smells and colors of each ingredient.
As I placed each handful of bounty in the bowl, I thought about something in my life I was thankful for. I breathed it in & savored the moment & the memory, then sealed the affirmation with a delicious crunch of freshness! A good chef always taste-tests after all! ;)
Try this recipe, or your own version of the Gratitude Salad! Take a pic and tweet or instagram it with the hashtag ‘#GratitudeSalad’! I’d LOVE to see what you come up with! :)
- fresh figs, quartered
- handful of raspberries
- 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
- purple bell pepper, sliced
- handful of fresh basil, purple & reg
- 1 kiwi, sliced *with the skin*
- 1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
- 4 cups mixed organic greens; arugula, romaine, red leaf, spinach etc.
- 3 cups kale; tuscan, purple & reg, chopped
Garnish with lemon wedges, or blend a few raspberries with 1 fig & 1 date for a deliciously sweet dressing that will have everyone’s mouth watering! Purple veggies, like the ones featured here, are pack with phytonutrients and antioxidants to help keep the winter colds at bay.
Fully-Raw Pumpkin Pie
If you’ve been following Kristina on YouTube for a while then you will definitely remember this recipe! Her deliciously date-filled raw pumpkin-pie with oooeyy-gooey persimmon-y goodness! ;) Who could resist trying out a raw version of a holiday favorite?!
I made a few alterations to the recipe, just because that’s how I roll in the kitchen, but you may wish to start with her original recipe for guaranteed success!
- 2-3 cups of raw pie pumpkin
- 3 lbs of dates
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups pecans
- 1 persimmon
I also added:
- 1/2 cup of almonds
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- dash of liquid stevia
What are some of your favorite cold-weather recipes that warm the heart & soul? Wherever you are this week, I hope the snowflakes stay out of your eyes & your socks stay dry! Peas & Love!
The snow has arrived here in Ontario and with it the chilly weather and winter woes! If you’re new to a raw vegan or high-raw foods diet, you might want to consider the following when prepping food over the next few weeks or months! In a less than tropical environment, there can be many challenges when it comes to eating clean, so here are a few tips that have helped me cope with Old Man Winter in Canada! :)
1. Eat More Food - Generally speaking in colder climates you’re going to need more calories. It’s different for each individual but I find even an extra 100 or 200 calories early on in the day can make a big difference! Focus on eating lots calorie dense fruits like bananas and dates in unlimited amounts.
2. Stay Warm - Protect your skin from the chilly weather and bundle up! Find some cozy socks and that old sweater grandma knit (tis the season after all) and learn to love the layered look! Check out donation stores and thrift shops for cheap winter wear.
3. Get Moving - Even though, like me, when you see the snow your first instinct might be to crawl up into a ball and hibernate for the next six months, you gotta get your body moving! Getting the blood pumping is an excellent way to warm your body up! If you’re a cardio lover, the winter can actually be a beautiful and magical time of year for running - if you’re prepared. Invest in some warm running gear and possibly some attachable ice cleats if you enjoy the trails. Keep your hands and your head warm and don’t neglect your hydration just because it’s cold.
4. Have a Back Up Plan - If you find it hard to eat enough raw foods during the day in the colder months, there’s no shame in having some potatoes, rice or cooked veggies to help get more calories in and warm you up - especially if you’re new to this lifestyle! Keep it low fat and low sodium and you’ll be set! The winter is also a great time of introspection and reflection, and you might find it beneficial to keep a journal (if you don’t already) of your thoughts and feelings as they relate to your food habits - this is also a great tool for seeing ‘what went wrong’ on days where you don’t eat enough fruits and veggies!
5. Eat Warming Foods - Stock up on warming foods like cayenne pepper and ginger. Enjoy hot beverages like decaffeinated herbal teas or even just warm water with lemon can be wonderful ways to heat up from the inside out! If you have a juicer, toss in a nub of ginger for your next recipe and see if it brings a sweat on. ;)