Keep Being Awesome

It can be tough to live a vegan lifestyle; watching everyone around you become sick because of what they are eating but being unwilling to change for their health, the contradictions of people who are so upset about a cat who was abused or a barn fire that kills 40 cows but then they go home and eat their beefy burger or some other carcass. Then there are the environmental “activists” that speak on the pollution of transportation and factories but ignore the fact that factory farms are the primary source of methane emissions, deforestation, water pollution, and so on.

How frustrating it is to listen to these people complain about their health or become passionate about a world issue and only touch on a very very small part of it.. and when you try to provide friendly information in a non-threatening, approachable manner and the door is slammed on your face regarding those topics – it’s no wonder activists experience burn out.

There are ways to affect others without having to go through all of that.

1. Set a great example!
This one is by far the easiest way to influence people around you. If you are a beacon of shining health and fitness, you have amazing colorful appetizing food, and are friendly and open to questions then you will go far.

This is something that I am personally having success with, especially at work. The store I work in is very small, and when I heat up my food (double baked potatoes, masala wraps, rice dishes, etc) in the microwave the fragrant scent wafts through the entire store. As I sit there eating my lunch I can hear customers and coworkers alike discussing how great my food smells. Several coworkers have been drawn to the lunch room to see what it is that I am eating and if they can try some, too! They see that I am healthy and have the energy to get the tasks at hand done, and they often ask me what they can do for their own state of health.

2. Share. 
With so many people curious about what a vegan eats and all of our delicious food, it’s a good idea to bring extra. I do this a lot right now and it feels really good to share a dish that I made and everyone love it, or to see my coworkers eating fresh foods that are so healthy for them. So when I want to bring some grapes in my lunch, I will bring the entire bag and let everyone pick away at them. If I have some vegan candies to make the day a little sweeter, I bring extra to pass out – especially for the boss ūüėČ

3. Be social.
No, I don’t mean you have to stop random people on the street and become the worlds most obnoxious extrovert. Just be open to others. So many times in the grocery store somebody will ask me about a vegetable or fruit that I am buying that they have never tried before. These can lead to really meaningful and eye opening conversations if you remain approachable and let the other person guide the conversation.

Another way to be social is to get together with other vegans or even the veg-curious through potlucks or hosting a dinner at your house. If you give people an opportunity to learn on their terms, it will happen.

And realize that it is okay to take a break. Sometimes walking away and giving yourself the time to recharge is the best thing you can do for yourself and for others; because a burnt out, frustrated vegan is not nearly as effective as a happy, patient vegan.

It’s another (cupcake) Sunday..

It’s another Sunday, and let me tell you; it’s a good one.
Not only is today going to be beautiful (a high of 9 degrees, yay!) but it is also my oldest sons 9th birthday party; to which 9 children will be attending. Are you seeing a pattern here?

Last night we made really simple cupcakes for his party using this recipe. It took all of five minutes to throw together. Then I tossed on some chocolate icing and let my son decorate them for his friends.

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It’s been a weekend full of cupcakes, honestly. My four year old son was having cupcake day in his classroom so I had written it on the calendar, and when the older two went to school that day they were expecting cupcakes too. So when their Grandma picked them up they shared their disappointment as they realized only their little brother got cupcakes that day. Being the freaking cool Grandma that she is, my Mom decided she would do cupcake day with them on Friday after school while I was at work.

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So on top of some really great cupcakes this weekend, we’re taking a layered chip dip to the party and some veggie dogs. The chip dip was a can of Amy’s refried beans, a layer of salsa, tofutti sour cream, and daiya cheese shreds. It’s so easy and so fantastic. I was even able to make an extra dish of it with the left over ingredients for work tomorrow!

We’re off to party!

It’s Christmas!

Just a quick to message of love to everyone on the holidays.

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In all the hustle and bustle it’s easy to lose sight of the true meaning of whatever it is that you celebrate. There’s enormous pressure to give the best gifts, prepare a fantastic feast, give and give until you have run dry both in your wallet, your energy and your time. It can be overwhelming.

So here I am to remind you to be thankful, have gratitude for everything in your life that is great! The holidays aren’t happy or magical for everyone. There are people out there struggling to feed their families, battling illness both physically and mentally, losing loved ones or missing them dearly, there is war and destruction and slaughter. Santa doesn’t visit everyone you know. So be thankful. If you are reading this, you have access to the internet via your home, a phone, a library, or some other amazing resources. Chances are, you have a roof over your head. You are warm. There is food in your belly.

I am thankful for all of this. I have loved ones around, even though the holidays can be bittersweet. We have everything that we need and more, and access to resources for things that we sometimes don’t have. We are healthy. We are safe. And that is enough.

I am also thankful for you, readers. It means the world to me that I can sit here and type whatever is in my heart in that moment and share those words with you. In every post I am putting a little bit of myself on the page. And you, lovely souls, are paying attention.

So Merry Happy Blessed Yule Holidays and all of that. For those that I left out, it’s not intentional. That’s just how I celebrate. You’re free to do your thang. Let love in, radiate love out, and be compassionate and kind.

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My Three Top YOUTUBERS!

Just a quick post today about my three favorite youtubers. With so many people turning to youtube for information or income, to share their knowledge, and just for fun, it can be overwhelming to sort through which ones are right for you. Many times I have subscribed to people and after a few weeks realize that their content just isn’t for me.

Here’s my top three youtubers and why I love them.

1. Brittany Taylor.
I can not tell you how much I love her channel. She is so inspiring in that she is not afraid to chase after her dreams and lives life simply by following a minimalist lifestyle. Truly beautiful inside and out, Brittany Taylor will take you through her journey of a life fully lived. Her channel covers travel, minimalism, and life improvement including a raw vegan diet. She inspires me to be the best version of myself.

2. FruitAndFamily Natalie.
This channel speaks directly to my life! Natalie is from my corner of the world, has three children and a husband and is living her own vegan path. Follow her journey while she inspires her own family to eat healthier, talks about pregnancy and weight loss, and is always very positive in her message. I love this channel because it is a no judgement zone, understanding that often vegans can be harsh in their passion to change the world and that can easily backfire. A wonderful Mom and person, FruitAndFamily Natalie is a great channel for women, Mom’s, and anyone curious about the vegan lifestyle.

3. Bite Size Vegan.
Super cute, with a fun personality and no BS attitude, Bite Size Vegan will tell you what is up in the world of veganism. With motivating interviews and a great sense of humor there is something here for everyone. Even kids! The new series of kids videos are to the point, interesting, but not graphic or disturbing. After all, the goal isn’t to scare the poor children and cause permanent psychological damage! So weather you’re young, old, or somewhere in between I’m sure you can find inspiration and useful information from Bite Size Vegan. An entertaining vegan encyclopedia in video form for extra convenience.

*Note* These are just my top three vegan channels; there are a lot of wonderful youtube channels out there about several topics! It’s up to you to explore them and find what fits you best.

Let’s Talk Kale Chips

Call me crazy, but I’ve never been into kale chips. The taste was something like that between fish food flakes and bitter greens, or so bland that I might as well just grab a fresh bunch of kale and start munching.

In my food haul post, you will have seen that I did buy some kale chips. A new brand of kale chips is being sold at our health food store and my official review is: Edible!

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Solar Raw Food¬†Ultimate Kale Chips in the Red Peppercorn Ranch flavor is all they had. The packaging is bright and fun, and (bonus!) they’re made in Canada!
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While the cashews make these a little high in fat, these kale chips pack a nutritional punch. Vitamin A alone is at 70%.. most of the ingredients are “sustainably grown without herbicides or pesticides.” Everything is air dried below 118F (47C), preserving the nutrients with minimal loss. They definitely pack a ranch punch of flavor, and occasionally you get a rare treat of some whole cashews in the mix. The chips themselves are also very pretty!
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Overall, these are the best kale chips I have tried thus far. I would love to try some other flavors though, such as “Better than Cheddar,” “Spicy Curry Lime,” and especially “Hemp Cream and Chive.”

Recreating the Childhood Meal of My Dreams

I’m not a well traveled person, having never left Canada and only once my own province. However I will always remember my trip on the plane to British Columbia when I was twelve. While I have no memory of the flight itself or the views below, two things stand out; they were playing Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (much to the embarrassment of my parents) and the food. I had never had anything like it before. I felt pretty classy when a woman brought a dish of food and presented it in front of me as though I were in a fancy restaurant. I took a tentative bite and my mind was blown! I whispered to my Mom and asked her what was on this plate because it was delicious! She informed me that it was rice and chicken with cream of mushroom soup on top. It became one of my favorite dishes that day and my parents started making it for me at home.

Now of course I don’t eat chicken anymore or cream of anything, but tonight I was set on making a creamy sauce for noodles of some kind. I turned to the big wide web of recipes and no matter how many I found nothing seemed quite what I wanted. Then I came across a vegan cream of mushroom soup recipe and thought about the vegan “chicken breasts” I had in the freezer. It was time.

The recipe I used was this Best Ever Mushroom Soup¬†only I did adapt it a little. We’re out of Braggs Soy Sauce so I used a scoop of miso and corn starch instead of tapioca flour.

My kids helped clean the mushrooms with a fresh dish towel while I did the chopping and as a team we made garlic seasoned rice, dreamy mushroom soup and I cooked one single “chicken breast” in the oven to be sliced for garnish and flavor.

I wasn’t sure if my kids would eat it, especially my boys who adamantly despise mushrooms but I was surprised when my boys loved it and my “eat all the raw mushrooms” girl wasn’t keen. I put it in sample sized bowls on the chance that they wouldn’t eat it.

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This recipe was a big hit with my most finicky eater and I went back for seconds!

Bake Sale Adventures (And Food Porn!)

I won’t say “Happy Valentines Day” because let’s face it, Valentines Day is based on consumerist hype and who wants to celebrate the real meaning of St Valentine anyway?!

But it was a wonderful day. Another vegan friend and I braved the snow drifts to support our local Farm Sanctuary in their bake sale. It was a lot of fun!

First, we got stuck:

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Then we went inside, to realize that (woops!) we were a little early, and the vegan bakers were a little late. But it was no problem, because it gave us an opportunity to sneak out to the barn and visit the residents. Unfortunately, I didn’t snap any pictures. It was quite dark in the barn and most of the residents were snuggled up to keep warm, but we were happily greeted by Eric the goat, who is an attention whore if you ask me. He happily offered us his snout to caress and closed his eyes blissfully at the stroke of my hand across his course hairy cheek. We were also greeted quite loudly by a little lamb, who I first met as a tiny wee thing and has now developed a fluffy cloud of wool around her mid section. The ducks and chickens, geese and other flighty folks welcomed us with squawks and honks.

We headed back to the events barn to buy our sweets and were greatly rewarded! For a donation of $20 (CAD) I filled up a container!

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As you can see, it didn’t take long to dive in! While we were waiting for the tow truck to come and give us a pull, we were content to munch. Look at some of the beauties (but please refrain from drooling on your keyboard!).

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Are you jealous? Damn right you are. But that’s not all. Since the wait was over an hour long, I had plenty of free time to scour the pages of this fabulous book, also purchased at the fundraiser..

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I am thrilled to start preparing the recipes in this book! At a glance, the recipes are all made with natural whole foods, easy to prepare, and familiar enough that even my kids could get into them. I am truly excited. In the years that I have been vegan, and the many cookbooks that I have purchased, I would have to say that this one is my favorite. And not just because it’s all brand new and shiny! It can be a real struggle to find cookbooks that don’t rely on processed food or expensive specialty, imported type of ingredients.

And that was only the beginning to an amazing day.

– Peace and love.