All Hallows Eve Marks the End of Vegan Mofo

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Happy Halloween! Today also marks the end of Vegan Mofo. I’ve had a lot of fun going through the ABC’s of Vegan Goodness with you!! I hope you enjoyed this series of posts and perhaps leaned a little somethin’ somethin’ along the way. I’m a wee bit behind on my blog reading, but I’m so happy to have encountered so many fantastic vegan bloggers this month! I’m going to cover some of the last few letters in this final post.

W is for Weight Watchers + Veganism
I think my posts in the last few months can speak for themselves. vegan_goodnessWeight Watchers and vegan food can really live in harmony together. I think that we can all benefit from more
fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy fats and animal-free sources of protein. Vegan or not, by choosing these Filling Foods, you’re making a conscious effort towards a healthier lifestyle and that is what it is all about!

Someone was asking me earlier this week if I still count Points and the answer to that is YES! Am I better at it some weeks than others? Absolutely. In general I try to choose the Filling Foods whenever possible, because I know that due to the good stuff they contain (water, fiber & sometimes protein), they’re going to be wholesome, nutritious choices that are going to fill me up and satisfy me longer. If you are a vegetarian or vegan who is following the program and attending meetings, we do have an additional worksheet for you with some guidelines to ensure that you’re getting everything that your body needs.

X is for Xanthan Gum
Joey and I were having dinner last night and he asked, “What the heck are you doing for the letter X?” To which I replied “Xanthan gum”. He then burst out laughing. I guess he didn’t expect me to have something good??

SANY2518Xanthan gum helps bind everything together in gluten free baking. Hooray! I used it this week in some mini banana chocolate chip cuppins for our office Halloween potluck.   They were a big hit! I also brought some black bean & lentil salad which also went over quite well and a bunch of the gals in my office were looking for the recipe.

SANY2519 Gluten free vegan food is accessible for everyone!! Amongst the meatballs, chili, and other fare, there weren’t a whole lot of options for me so I was happy that I brought what I did. One of my coworkers made these really pretty cookies which I shared with the kids at rehearsals because there were so many left over.

SANY2516 Spooky!

Y is for Yams… aka sweet potatoes
Yams, sweet potatoes,
whatever the heck you call them, are delightful. This week I enjoyed some sweet potato goodness in some kugelSANY2512 (along with some baked falafels, tahini dressing, greens and a chocolate chewy bar from Sweets from the Earth) and in fry form

SANY2539They were oh-so-delicious! I usually prefer to make my own at home, but I couldn’t resist a few with my dinner on Thursday night. Definitely a yummy decision on my part!!

Z is for Zombies
Of which I have none. I do have a reluctant kitty dressed as a princess though?

Before:SANY2554After:

SANY2543Isn’t Iris precious?? While she was a pretty good sport about her princess costume, she absolutely knew that something was wrong and that she didn’t feel happy or comfortable. She was much more content playing with the string ties after I took it off. You can’t say I didn’t try!

Tomorrow is the beginning of November, which means only 61 days until the new year (and only 19 days until Annie)!! I’ve got some really exciting stuff coming up this month and I’m looking forward to getting back into my usual blogging flow. This week I’ll be talking about making November count as well as sharing some exciting news about my posts for the week of November 9th – so stay tuned!

Happy Halloween!!

...To keep your balance you must keep moving

november

Smart man, that Einstein...

With November 1st on Sunday, it means there are 61 days left until 2010. Wow!

What do you hope to accomplish before we say goodbye to 2009?

What are you going to do this month to make that happen?

Is that something you can do? Will you do it?

I can't wait to hear what you're planning!! I'm going to detail my November goals in a post early next week along with my October results. Send me an email if you would like your activity chart for October to be included.

Truly Unbelievable Vegans

See what I did there?

vegan_goodness With the objective of getting through the entire alphabet by Saturday, I’ve combined the next three letters to talk about some vegans I adore. I thought it would be fun to spread a little link love to vegans who inspire me through their blogs, cookbooks and initiatives on this planet, so here we go! (I’ve created an Amazon Store that features many of the lovely authors I’ve highlighted in this post, so be sure to check it out!)

Sarah Kramer truly is a “vegan cookbook superstar”. She is the author of 4 cookbooks including the first vegan cookbook I ever bought “How it All Vegan”. She’s cute and funny and the recipes are lovely for vegans and non-vegans alike. I made the black-bean & lentil salad from “La Dolce Vegan” for a potluck at work today!

Gena from Choosing Raw needs to get going on a cookbook, or maybe just a book about life and eating in general. Her posts are thoughtful, passionate and accessible for all. I love her simple approach to food. The day frozen bananas were introduced to my blender, creating banana soft serve was pure heaven and I have Gena to thank for that! Want a taste of Gena’s point of view? Check out her fantastic post from earlier this week called What Food Is Not; it will absolutely get you thinking.

I first encountered Jae Steele when I borrowed her cookbook “Get It Ripe” from my local library. I fell in love with the recipes like the gluten free blueberry buckwheat muffins and really enjoyed her culinary point of view. This summer I had the pleasure of testing recipes from her upcoming cookbook Ripe From Around Here which focuses on the importance of local food. Conveniently Jae lives in Toronto, which meant whatever was local to her, was also local to me! Recipes like the phad thai (to feed an army), curried split pea soup, roasted ratatouille, and pear ginger amaranth crumble brought joy to my kitchen and I can’t wait for the book to come out so that I can easily access all of the recipes whenever I want.

Some of my other favourite vegans include:

  • Dreena Burton – I probably make a recipe from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan nearly every week
  • Lazy Smurf – and not just because I won her recent giveaway! She has some awesome food pictures and I love hearing about life as a vegan in Texas
  • Angela – Oh She Glows is just a beautiful site, period. I didn’t even realize for the longest time that Ange was actually vegan!? She loves food and is incredibly sweet, what’s not to love?
  • Isa Chandra Moskowitz – How could I make a list of vegans and not include the creator of Vegan Mofo herself? Veganomican is a staple in my kitchen. I also recently enjoyed a copy of Vegan with a Vengeance that I borrowed from my local library. It’s going on my wish list because it was full of amazing recipes and inspiration! Such yummy vegan goodness!
  • Hannah Kaminsky – Bittersweet is such a gorgeous blog. Hannah is such a talented gal behind the camera and in the kitchen and her book, My Sweet Vegan is a fantastic resource as well.
  • Lisa – Another Torontonian vegan I found as a result of the recipe testing. Her blog is an awesome resource full of recipes, links and pictures of fabulous vegan (and sometime raw) goodness.
  • Meghan – Although not strictly vegan, I use more of Meghan’s recipes that anything else in my kitchen including those from my time in her cooking classes as well as from her blog (banana –chocolate cuppins are also joining the pot luck party today). She’s another one who needs to get on with writing a cookbook!!

I could go on and on here folks, but I’m going to leave it at that. I’m constantly updating my blogroll with blogs I love and will continue to add books to my Amazon Store as I come across them.

I have to thank all of these bloggers and authors for providing me with daily inspiration in my kitchen. I learned awhile back that focusing on the foods I can (and want to) eat, makes meal time a lot more fun. These lovely ladies ensure that there’s a lot of love in my kitchen and fantastic food on my plate at every meal!

Which bloggers or authors do you look to for inspiration?

What Will You Do Today?

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An important reminder courtesy of our friends at Lululemon. I’ll be back tomorrow with some Vegan Mofo goodness! I want to end the month with a bang so we’re going to talk about some good stuff…

Finding a Grounded Place

Between a full time job, part time job, 2-3 shows/year, choir, Joey, friends, family, cooking, eating, sleeping, dancing, yoga, exercising and blogging, it’s a huge understatement to say that I’m a busy gal. And I’m not going to lie – it’s not always easy.

I always feel like I’m on the go, checking my calendar and figuring out where I can ‘squeeze’ in time to see Joey or friends or have a nap. Last weekend before having brunch with Lori & Joey, I had a bit of a mental breakdown because I had brunch, zumba, grocery shopping, and cooking on my to-do list before rehearsal, but realized I didn’t have enough time for everything, yet didn’t know what to cut out. There were tears before I decided that I wanted to hang out with Joey & Lori, that I needed to grab some food and make some dinner and that unfortunately my favourite classes (zumba and BodyFlow) were just not going to make the cut.

Time management has a lot to do with prioritization – what is going to be best for you in this moment? This question has been seemingly challenging for me to answer lately because I feel like I’m running around like around in circles. For example, here’s this week:

Schedule This weekend was super busy so I feel like I’ve been going non-stop since Monday October 19. As a result, there are things that are definitely slipping, like housework, laundry and Joey time. So what is right for me now??

Rehearsal ended up being cancelled tonight which has meant some extra ME TIME!! I’m hanging out with the kitties, watching So You Think You Can Dance and plan to do a little journaling before going to bed early.

On the days when I feel like it’s never going to end I’m taking time to smell the flowers and enjoy the beautiful sights of fall….SANY2491laughing with these beautiful gals who I’m spending a lot of time with as we gear up for our big show….SANY2509

and talking to Joey who tells me that it’s all going to be okay. I love that. 

I feel like my posts are following a pattern of time management, balance and taking care of yourself – but it’s a huge focus for me right now! I’m sorry if I seem like I’m repeating myself. Writing this blog is something that I do because I love to connect with all of you and reading your comments brings me down to a grounded place.

S is for Soup, Salad, Simplicity and Sleep

Soup (a staple in our house)SANY2484

Salad (mixed greens, carrot, cucumber, celery, avocado, sunflower seeds, sundried tomatoes, & marinated tofu with agave-grape seed oil-apple cider vinegar-mustard dressing)

SANY2483The pair made for a delightful on-the-go dinner. 

Simplicity and Sleep
It has been such a busy weekend between
all the Weight Watchers excitement on Saturday (thank you for all of congratulatory remarks!!), gym on Sunday (mini run, BodyFlow and Zumba) and then Annie rehearsal. I spent Sunday afternoon chopping veggies for the soup and salad whilst singing along to Annie karaoke tracks in preparation for my evening rehearsal.

With everything that has been going on lately, I’ve really been trying to keep things simple with my eats. Soups, salads and snick-snacks that are easy to grab have been amazing because they require very little thought on my part. I’m trying to find a good balance of work and play and really making the effort to take care of myself. I also spent the day in comfy lululemon cropped pants, tank, hoodie and hairband – no thinking required!SANY2490 And even though I have a million things I could do as I write this (10:34 on Sunday night) I am heading to bed because I need as much sleep as I can get! It’s another busy week ahead!

What are some of your favourite simple things in life? Fav soup and/or salad?

Celebrating at the 2009 Weight Watchers Celebration Meeting

Saturday was very exciting.

I started off my morning with 3 fantastic meetings. The topic this week was the Good Health Guidelines and we had some great discussion on how to incorporate them into our meals each day as well as their importance. I also had a member reach their goal weight, 2 reach their 25 lb milestone, lots of other losses and non-scale victories and another member getting to Lifetime (after losing 42 lbs on the program).

Achieving Lifetime membership is a very exciting milestone with Weight Watchers. As you go through your journey, you eventually set an ultimate weight goal. When you reach that goal we celebrate in the meeting room, discuss the maintenance phase and the member is awarded a silver star for their keychain (bling!) After at least six weeks of maintenance, if the member is within 2 lbs of their goal weight they are awarded Lifetime membership, which has a ton of benefits including only having to weigh in officially once each month, a gold key for their keychain, being eligible to become a Weight Watchers staff member and not having to pay for meetings (as long as they continue to maintain) Getting to Lifetime is hard work and as I always tell my members “there is no save button at goal”. It is a pretty exciting time in the meeting room and it is incredibly inspirational for other members to see people getting to Lifetime.

On Saturday afternoon I skipped over to the the 2009 Weight Watchers Celebration Meeting for my Territory with some amazing friends. SANY2478Avra and Lindsay (on my left and right) both became Lifetime members this year at my meeting and both made the decision to become staff members. I met Jess through Weight Watchers and watched her become Lifetime earlier this year. She knew right away that she wanted to become a staff member and recently completed her leader training. Lindsay T and I did our Leader training together back in 2007. Since then, we’ve attended 2 of these meetings together and it was thrilling to be celebrating together once again with these newbies. I am also thankful for the amazing friendships I have made as a result of Weight Watchers! It is such a pleasure to work with others who share a passion for this program and believe in giving their members the best experience possible.

The objective of the Celebration Meeting is to celebrate (duh). There’s a lot of amazing things happening within the Weight Watchers organization and this is an opportunity for staff to get together and celebrate the year in our territory.

I was incredibly pleased that Lindsay and I were both recognized for our efforts as Leaders. We both received awards for having members in our meeting rooms who have lost over 100 lbs. SANY2468 So pretty!! It’s been my honour to lead members to all amounts of weight loss, and to have a 100 lbs loser at my location has been so inspiring.

Lindsay was awarded the Diamond Leader award which is given to a Leader that meets a ton of criteria and I was incredibly proud of her. Lindsay is a fantastic Leader and it shows because her members are incredibly successful!

I received an award for having the most members in my meeting reach Lifetime. This year, I helped 23 members reach Lifetime!!!

SANY2470 (2)

I was so excited!! I actually started to tear up a bit. My team celebrated with me and I thanked them for letting me do what I do and not have to worry about any of the behind-the-scenes efforts. My team recognized me for my enthusiasm and passion in the meeting room.

SANY2482 I want to carry this around with me all the time.

I absolutely love what I do and find such joy in attending and leading my meetings each week. I have the best members and am so proud of all that they have accomplished. I always so that I have the best “job” in the world and yesterday’s festivities was really icing on the cake. I couldn’t be happier!!

I’m looking forward to another fantastic year ahead with Weight Watchers and celebrating with my staff, peers and these 4 lovely ladies again next year!

R is for Restaurants

I generally prefer to eat at home (because I’m in charge of the menu and the price), but it is fun to go out once in awhile. Toronto is full of restaurants and prior to doing Weight Watchers I used to frequent many of them. Since doing WW, and going gluten free and vegan, I’ve changed the establishments I frequent but have found some amazing eats along the way and I thought it would be fun to share them with you in honour of Vegan Mofo.

Camros Organic Eatery
So happy that Meghan introduced me to this place! Everything is organic, vegetarian and usually gluten free. All of the ingredients are listed for every dish, the prices are great, the portions are generous and the flavours are pretty incredible. I’ve liked everything.

I can’t wait to try some of their juice at the newly opened juice bar. I’m also excited because my frequent customer card is filling up and I’ll be eligible for a free meal very soon!!

Fresh
I’ve talked about my love of Fresh many times on this blog. I remember the first time I visited Fresh, back when I was in college. This was before WW, when my eating was pretty terrible. I had no idea what half the things on the menu were and went for the simplest bowl I could find. Now I feel like I could work there with all I know about their menu items!

The Big Carrot
Not only my favourite health food store in the city, but they have a pretty awesome take away counter and a great little juice bar and cafe. I often stop by after my meetings to grab a juice or a little lunch. I love that all the dishes in the take away are clearly listed as gluten free and vegan (or not) which makes my life a lot easier. The beet-pear-carrot-ginger juice at the juice bar is awesome too.

Live
After going for the first time on my birthday, I’ve had two awesome subsequent visits. I love trying a little something different each time I go. I still stand by my claim that their cake is probably some of the best I’ve ever eaten!

Honourable mentions go to Wild Earth Bakery for their awesome gluten free, vegan treats and wonderful teas, Mocha Mocha for their yummy avocado salad plate and warm brown rice salad, Lady Marmalade for their fantastic brunch and Vi Vetha for their delightful gluten free pastas.

I’m dying to get to NYC one day so I can do a foodie tour and visit Pure Food and Wine and Babycakes. (I also need to get there to do some shopping and see some Broadway shows!)

If you’re looking for tips for dining out, check out the guest blog I did over at Carrots n Cake a few months ago.

What’s your favourite restaurant in your city? What’s the best restaurant you’ve been to while travelling?

Q is for Quinoa & Quotes

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I was going to make a joke about kumquats, but I realized that there’s only a q in the middle and that it actually started with k… oh dear.

Hello quinoa.

quinoa1 [source]

Joey says that quinoa reminds him of little bugs, but I like it! Quinoa is an awesome gluten free seed that is actually a complete protein (meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids). It tastes a bit nutty, fluffs up like rice and has a wee bit of a crunch – talk about complex texture. I love that quinoa takes less time than rice to cook (usually about 15-20 minutes with 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water/broth) and I only need a small amount to feel full.

Quinoa is incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed at all meals! Most health food stores sell quinoa flakes, which is an awesome alternative to oatmeal in the morning. It cooks very quickly and is a great vehicle for all of your favourite toppings.

Quinoa makes a great side dish or salad for lunches and dinners. I recently made a yummy red quinoa salad from the Gluten Free Vegan cookbook.SANY2311

Such a filling lunch! I usually have some sort of refreshing quinoa salad when I visit Camros. SANY2255Delicious! Quinoa also works well in baked goods, like in these healthy cookies filled with love. SANY1757 If you’re a quinoa newbie, have a look in the bulk section of your local health store and pick up a little bit to try. It comes in a variety of colours, with the most popular being the yellowy-beige one. Be sure to rinse your quinoa very well before cooking. You can use it in any of the above ways, as a simple side dish cooked with some veggies in broth, or utilized wherever you would normally use rice. If you enjoy it, you can also find quinoa pasta, quinoa bread as well as quinoa flour.

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In other news, how is it going with the taking care of yourself business? What have you done for yourself this week?

I’m happy to report that after going to the dentist and an appointment at Red Tent Sisters I came home and had a nap, made some amazing pasta sauce, went to an awesome dance class and had tea with my best friend. Cooking, dance and good friends makes for the best therapy ever.

Q is also for quotes, so here’s one I have posted at my desk at work:

As you move towards the dream, the dream moves toward you. 
–Julia Cameron

I am holding this close as my mantra as of late. And this is the song we danced to tonight…

What’s your favourite quote?

P is for Pumpkin

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P is also for punching, which I would do to my laptop if I were a violent person since it just lost the post I just spent the last 30+ minutes working on.

Pumpkin and squash are quintessential fall foods. Ever since Thanksgiving I’ve been eating a lot of pumpkin especially at breakfast! It snuck into my bowl in the form of pie…SANY2392as well as at the bottom of the following mess:SANY2434

~3 tbsp pumpkin
1/3 c. Whole-O’s (gluten free Cheerios)
1/3 c. almond milk
1 tbsp cranberries
1 tbsp pecans
drizzle of agave
dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger

I then proceed to turn this glamorous looking bowl into a disgusting mess of orange goo, that tastes like heaven!! I also love that it takes less than 90 seconds to throw together, but is a lot more exciting (and filling!) than your average bowl of cereal. Pureed pumpkin or squash also makes a great addition to oats or rolled quinoa.

One of my favourite ways to indulge in some beta carotene (a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory), fibre and Vitamin C is by indulging in some of the other winter squashes that are abundant in produce aisle at the moment. I love that I can find organic winter squash for .69-.79/lb right now!

My favourite is probably the spaghetti squash (otherwise known as spaghetti marrow in the UK) Once cooked, the innards of this squash can be separated into spaghetti-like strands making it a great substitute for spaghetti or just a lovely addition to dishes like spaghetti squash mexicana (Veganomican) or roasted vegetable ragout (Gluten Free Vegan)SANY2356

This dish was so simple, just lots of awesome veggies with some herbs, oil with a large helping of spaghetti squash to tie things together. It had fantastic flavor and texture and thanks to all the fiber, was incredibly filling.

Do you have a favourite squash? What is your favourite way to indulge in this festive, fall treat??

Nuts, Oils and Fats That Used To Scare Me

vegan_goodness At the beginning of Weight Watchers, I didn’t realize that Points were not created equally. I feared fats because I thought they were “bad” and definitely did not see the value in spending my Points on these little enemies.

My thinking started to change when I went on a hemp seed kick. My voice teacher had been talking about the benefits of utilizing hemp seeds each day because of their omega 3’s. I started to sprinkle some on my breakfast each morning and while I cringed for the first little while at the Points I was spending on these little guys, I did notice that I started to feel fuller longer after breakfast and I started to see consistent losses on the scale. It was awesome!

Now, I’m not suggesting that all of you run out and buy a tub of hemp hearts, because I don’t think that it was just the hemp hearts. Rather, it was the healthy fats in the hemp hearts that my body needed. We need some healthy fats in our diet, as it is the only way that we can get alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid, both essential fatty acids that provide a number of physiological functions in our bodies.

I’m no longer afraid of fats and use them in a variety of ways in my meals.

  • I try to have at least 2 teaspoons of healthy oil each day, usually in salad dressings, mixed into a smoothie, or drizzled onto toast.
  • I love nuts like almonds, pecans and cashews on their own as a snack, incorporated into raw desserts and treats, or sprinkled onto cereal or salads for extra crunch.
  • I think my favourite healthy fat may come in the form of avocados. I used to look at people who would just eat half an avocado as weird, but I’ve been caught in the kitchen digging into one with a spoon and a smile on more than one occasion. Avocados are also a great source of folate (for heart health) as well as potassium.

Like with anything else, too much fat in your diet is not a good thing. Use high quality sources of fat in moderation. But do not be afraid of the F word'; we need some healthy fat in our diet each day. Your body will thank you for it!

How do you incorporate healthy fats into your meals and snacks?

I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here

Thanks for all of your awesome feedback on my make up and beauty stuff post – so many new products to try out! One of my good friends works in the Body Care section at the Big Carrot and is always pointing me in the direction of fun new products. I will remember to post details when I find something good! And please keep sending your suggestions and recommendations my way.

The last few days have been super busy and I have only a few pictures to show for it! I will say again, if you are in Toronto and you haven’t bought tickets for Annie, you need to get on that! I had an amazing 7 hour rehearsal yesterday and I’m absolutely thrilled with the progress we’re making. The Annies are adorable, the kids know their lines better than I do, Warbucks is perfect and I have a kick-ass dance partner who lifts me across the stage like it’s nothing. You’re going to kick yourself if you miss it!!

Yesterday morning before rehearsal, Joey, Lori and I went back to Lady Marmalade for some brunch-y goodness. SANY2428We waited about 15 minutes for a table but it was absolutely worth it. I started off with some hot apple cider. SANY2426AH-mazing. Such a lovely way to put a stressful week behind me start my meal. I followed up with a vegan “huevos migas”

SANY2429 Scrambled tofu with tomatoes, scallions, corn tortilla chips, brown rice n beans and pico de gallo salsa. It was incredibly delicious and gave me great fuel for a long day ahead! I think Lady Marmalade might be my new fav for brunch…

Other yummy eats this week included an afternoon smoothie from Sadie’s Diner, spaghetti squash mexicana, and a yummy plate from the Big Carrot. (including kale!)

I had 3 awesome meetings on Saturday where we talked about the importance of taking care of yourself. I’m always amazed when the WW topic reflects what I need to be working on for myself. It’s like the WW gods know exactly what I need!! I’m really taking my own advice and working to take time for myself this week. Remember that by taking care of yourself, you’re in a better position to do all of the jobs in your life and take care of the other people in your life and overall just be the best you that you can be. Do something nice for yourself this week by having a hot bath, making time to do yoga or take a class at the gym, taking time for a proper breakfast, going to bed an hour early or just turning off your blackberry (Yes, blackberries and iphones do come equipped with off buttons. Shocking, but true).

What are some ways that you put yourself first?

Check back later today for the continuation of the ABC’s of Vegan Goodness with the letters N & O. Any guesses??

M is for Make Up and Other Girly Things…

…and proof as to why Ashley should only make videos when she’s well rested.

While not directly related to food, I have really started to think about what kinds of products I’m using on my face, skin and hair. While we may be putting wholesome, delicious foods into our bodies, we also want to be nourishing them with natural products on the outside. I wanted to share some of my favourite products that make me feel amazing!

Living Libations, Best Skin Ever – Such an amazing product made from pure pressed plant oils. My skin feels soft, moisturized and happy when I use this product! “One bottle to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize” – love that! A little bit goes a long way and the subtle scent is beautiful. Love love love this stuff and I really believe that it helps to make your skin its best ever! Purchased at their booth at the Vegetarian Food Fair.

Peaches and Cream Ultra Moisturizer – Yummy all over body moisturizer (Details on vegan and gluten free products in their FAQ) Available at The Big Carrot or Shoppers Drug Mart

Burt’s Bees Herbal Blemish Stick – My “zapper” (which I found in the couch after I finished the video) Tea tree and juniper oils combined with calendula helps to improve your skin naturally. Available at The Big Carrot or Shoppers Drug Mart

Bare Essentials – I started with the Get Started Kit (how fitting) in fair, which gives you two shades of foundation to work with and blend. It also comes with the mineral veil, warmth, brushes and the ever-important dvd! I also recently picked up eye shadows in Queen Tiffany and Blush shades  which are really pretty and neutral and make me feel glamorous. All of their products make you feel like you’re wearing nothing on your face and give you a natural glow with great coverage. Available at Sephora and Shoppers Drug Mart.

Korres B5 and rice bran mascara – Lovely product line from Greece. The mascara contains B5 which is said to strengthen and improve the quality of your lashes. I got a whole starter set at Sephora, but this product was my absolute fav!!

There are others I could have talked about, but these are definitely at the top of my list I’m also a huge fan of natural feminine care products, like the Diva Cup. I’ve been using mine for a couple of years and it’s such an amazing products. I love not having to use tampons anymore, it’s cost effective, you can leave it in all day and I swear it reduces my cramps. I would add the Diva Cup to my top five favourite girly products because it rocks! If you’ve been thinking about giving one a try, Meghan is currently giving one away.

If you’re looking for some more ideas on natural beauty products, be sure to check out Ange’s Project Natural Glow and  Meghan also has some classes coming up on Natural Body Care – and creating your own is as natural as it comes!

As I said in the video, I’m still learning about animal-free products and would love any suggestions that you have regarding your favourite brands. What do you look for in make up, skin products and other girly goods? What are your favourite products and which do you use every day?

L is for La La La Lentils

So while this song may not have anything to do with lentils specifically, I couldn’t help but find myself singing it when I realized I had gotten to L. (The la la’s kick in around 1:04 so you can sing along too!) I also think that the song has a beautiful message:

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things not bad
Sing of happy not sad.
Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

written by Digby Diehl

Sesame Street will always have a special place in my heart.

Now, onto the letter L…

vegan_goodness As we’ve talked about before, there are a ton of non-flesh sources of protein and lentils are an amazing choice packing 19g of protein in every cup. Lentils are chock full of fibre, magnesium and folate making them great for your cardiovascular system and blood sugar levels.

Lentils are super easy to prepare since they don’t need to be pre-soaked. Just give them a good rinse and pick through them and toss any sad looking ones. They come in a wide variety of colours, but the ones I use most commonly are the red and green/brown kinds.

Some of my favourite lentil recipes include the lemon-lentil soup from my first cooking class with Meghan (you can also find it in her 5 days Vegan tutorial), snobby joes and the lentil black bean salad from La Dolce Vegan. I also like to include substitute them in recipes where meat is called for, like in this soup inspired by last year’s soup extravaganza!

Lentil Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

1 c dry lentils, rinsed (or 1 can lentils, rinsed)
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt

3-4 tomatoes, chopped roughly
1 lb tomatoes, pureed in blender or food processor

2 cups chopped green peppers
3 cups water
1 cup cooked brown rice

Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 2-3 more minutes. Place in a slow cooker with the remaining ingredients on low for 6-8 hrs or place in large soup pot and simmer 1 hour.

I also love lentils’ cousins, the other members of the legume family! (It just dawned on me that I could have called this post la la la legumes as not to exclude anyone… what can I say, it’s been a long week!) They’ve all got a lot going for them being low in fat and calories as well as high in fibre, iron, protein, a source of B vitamins and they’re very inexpensive to purchase. What’s not to love? Legumes, including lentils can contribute to a well-balanced healthy vegan (or not) lifestyle.

Do you enjoy lentils, legumes or Sesame Street?

K is for Kale. Kooky, kaleidoscopic, Keener Kale

I never used to eat kale and now I can’t get enough of the stuff…

SANY2408 Blended into soup

SANY2409 SANY2308SANY2173 In a saladSANY2227Juiced

SANY1355SANY1470SANY2356Or any other way I can get it (stir fried, chipped or ragout-a-fied)

How do you like your kale?

I is for Ice Cream and J is for Junk Food and Other Things I Thought I Would Miss

vegan_goodness

Months ago when I first cut out dairy, gluten and a lot of other things, I felt like I was going to be “missing out”. I definitely maintained a positive outlook on all of the changes and knew that I was working to heal my body. but it was still sad to say goodbye to some things that were “staples” in my fridge and pantry. I put staples in quotes because I’ve come to realize that they were only staples because I made it that way.

As a result of changing the foods I eat regularly, I’ve cut out a lot of the processed food in my life. I talked about this paradigm shift very soon after I altered my eating habits and realized that I wasn’t alone. As a result of cutting out gluten, dairy (and more recently, meat) I started to place much more emphasis on wholesome, nutritious foods from the earth. Gone were the diet pops, 100 calorie packs, bagels, cheese and other stuff that I was focusing on heavily. As I’ve pointed out before, my eating is constantly a work in progress and I work to do what is best for me in this moment. When talking to people who are in the beginning of their journeys with Weight Watchers, I often say that it’s really about awareness – awareness of how you’re treating your body by what and how much you’re eating and your physical activity as well as managing your thoughts and feelings.

Awareness has been key for me in this journey and I know it will continue to be a recurring theme. Every day I am learning more and more about food and nutrition collectively, as well as what works and doesn’t work for me. After people ask me “what do you eat?” and I give them the answer, they usually follow up with something like “Oh, I could never eat that way, I like _______ too much”. I take the perspective of “would eating ______ make me feel better or worse?” In the case of items containing gluten, dairy or other things that don’t agree with me, eating ______ would probably make me feel bad so I avoid it. I’ll take feeling good any day!

With all of that being said, some people still look at the way I eat as something foreign and think I’m depriving myself. Last week on my fruit and veggie post, I received the following comment via facebook: I'm glad u like fruit and veggies, but eat a little cake! Today may not be your b-day, but hey what the hell. u can live, a girl must have her cake and eat it too. Smile and stop over thinkin' everything. Relax, enjoy life and be free of what u should weigh, eat, and look like...........you’re great! My response was I live the best life I know how - fruits, veggies and cake included! I definitely still have treats, but they’re just different than they used to be.

And that is fine by me. I love enjoying fresh juice, gluten free baked goods, smoothies, dairy-free ice cream, dark chocolate, raw treats, pudding and tea. All gluten, dairy free and vegan, and absolutely delightful.

I’ve really embraced my gluten free, dairy free, meat free living as a lifestyle rather than a diet (just like I did with Weight Watchers) and I really believe that I’m eating better now (both nutritionally and enjoyment-wise) than ever before. I was tweeting last week about how I was making sounds during dinner, something that I can’t say that I did a whole lot before. Food mosiacMissing out? I think not.
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In other news, the poster for Annie is out and tickets are now on sale!

annie_poster Doesn’t it look awesome? Tickets are available at www.ticketweb.ca, just search “T3 Productions”. No I’m not playing Annie (I’m a wee bit too old…),but rather I’ll be in the role of Grace Farrell, Mr. Warbucks’ secretary. Tickets are selling fast, so if you’re going to be in Toronto between November 20 and 28 be sure to buy them ASAP!