Making my Way Through The UnDiet Cookbook + Giveaway

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Almost exactly seven years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease. It feels like a lifetime ago.

My doctor told me to eat a "healthy, well-balanced diet" and to avoid things like nuts and seeds that might cause problems. He offered traditional medicinal options including medication, surgery and hardcore, experimental medication -- none of which sounded like great options to me. I made the decision to see a naturopath, made major changes in my diet and saw incredible improvement.

Before my diagnosis, I knew nothing about Crohn's Disease and didn't know anyone who had it - so I did what any good person does and took to the internet! I searched for blogs and other folks who also had Crohn's. While reading the comments on a random blog post one day, I discovered the blog of a Toronto nutritionist who also had healed herself from Crohn's Disease.

Her name was Meghan Telpner.

I started religiously reading her blog and decided to treat myself to some of her cooking classes for my birthday. Gluten free, dairy free cooking was all new to me, so I needed all the help and inspiration I could get! I documented our weekly classes here on the blog and the recipes I learned from Meghan became staples in my new way of eating.

Meghan Telpner and Ashley Gibson

After the cooking classes ended, Meghan continued to be an important person in my life. I followed her blog, helped out at events, cheerleaded for her programs, took a life-changing adventure to St. Lucia and beamed with pride when her first book, UnDiet came out. While it was awesome that I could finally stop using the duotang of recipes and had them in proper book form, it was mostly so inspiring to see someone I admired so much reaching their goals and doing awesome things in the world.

This past March I was taken down with that horrific godzilla flu and was pretty much confined to bed for over a week. After a nap one day, I checked Facebook and saw that Meghan had posted a job description for an 'Executive Assistant and Director of Outreach and Customer Happiness'. I eagerly read through the job description and when I got to the bottom of it I thought to myself - that is the perfect job for me. I applied. I interviewed. And a few weeks later I had my first day in the kitchen, working with Meghan (and her small but kick ass team).

I knew that the UnDiet Cookbook was going to be coming out in the fall and Meghan and I discussed some of the plans leading up to the release of the book. Because of things that we were working on, I actually had a manuscript of the book (in a word document) on my computer before the book even came out. I started to peruse recipes and got really excited for what was to come.

The book included 130 gluten free, dairy free recipes including some old revamped favourites (from the duotang days) and a whole bunch of brand new, shiny ones! The first recipe I made from the Word doc was the Banana Berry Oatmazing Muffins - Corbin joked that they were muffins from the future since the book hadn't even been released.

The UnDiet Cookbook

He also said they were some of his favourite muffins ever.

They were incredibly easy to make, adaptable (depending on the type of berries you used) and didn't taste "gluten free" - they just tasted like a delicious muffin!! I brought them into the kitchen for Meghan and Maeve, and Maeve declared it one of her favourite muffins as well. Success!

However cool it was to have the word doc version, it was even better to get my hands on the actual book. The recipes themselves are amazing, but when you couple the recipes with the beautiful photography from Catherine Farquharson and Miya Visneyei and incredible food styling, it really is something else. Every photo is amazing, and that visual appeal is so important to me in a cookbook!

The book starts with an introduction to Meghan's story, what it means to live the UnDiet Life and provides some guidance on how to get started in the kitchen. From there, the recipes are broken into 8 sections, followed by an awesome Lifestyle section including beauty care recipes, entertaining, travel tips and some thoughts on how to live the very best, most vibrant life.

I have peppered my book with stickies, highlighting the recipes I want to make and have had a blast cooking my way through it. 

gluten free has brizzles

Gluten free pancakes from The UnDiet Cookbook

Gluten free dairy free quiche
I'm obsessed with the 'Begin with Brekkie' section. The Sweet Potato Zucchini Hash Brizzles are absolutely delicious and so easy! I paired them with poached eggs and it was the perfect combination. I also loved the Chocolate, Chocolate, Say it Twice Pancakes (which are like eating cake for breakfast) and the Vegalicious Quiche complete with millet crust!

Everything in the book is vegetarian / vegan friendly, and there are also options to make many recipes in the book nut-free, grain free or protein-powered. Meghan's UnDiet philosophy is all about breaking the rules and leaving the labels for tin cans - and advocates for people to eat what works for them while remaining open to the evolutionary nature of what our bodies need at different times in our lives.

Gluten free pear tart

Gluten free crackers
Everything I've made has been a success so far! Favourites include the Creamed Mushroom Love Soup, Flourless Ginger Pear Tartlets, Balsamic Roasted Vegetables, Golden Girl Citrus-Spiced Tempeh and the Let's Stay Together Crackers (which impressed Corbin immensely "you're making homemade crackers?!")

Even though I've gotten a pretty good head start with the recipes, with 130 in total, I still have a ways to go! I haven't even dipped into the beauty care section (homemade toothpaste? yes!!) and want to try my hand at making some of the condiments from scratch, like the Spicy Mango Chutney.

This book is beautiful.
The recipes are awesome.
And it's already a staple in my kitchen.

I may be a bit biased, but I truly mean it. Even if I weren't working for Meghan I would have bought this book on release day and be cooking through it just the same (just without the bootleg word doc preview maybe...)

Meghan was a person I needed to meet seven years ago and her recipes, enthusiasm, passion, drive and philosophy have played a huge impact on my healing and my life. Her story reassured me that I was on the right track with my own healing and everything else that has followed has been a big beautiful bonus! I'm grateful that I now get to go to work in the kitchen where so much changed for me and work alongside someone who has been such an incredible mentor, cheerleader and friend.


The UnDiet Cookbook is all kinds of awesome and I'm really excited to be able to give away a copy to one very lucky reader! (And since I see the author on a pretty regular basis, I can probably even get it signed for you!)

Congratulations to Faith!! I'll be emailing you to get your details so I can send the book out to you ASAP. 

To win your very own copy of The UnDiet Cookbook:

Leave a comment below with your name, email address + the recipe you'd want to make first from the UnDiet Cookbook (you can take a peek inside the book to get some ideas or see what other folks have been enjoying on the Virtual Book Tour!)

Contest closes at 11:59pm Thursday November 12. I'll pick a random winner from all comments received and notify the winner by email. Contest is open to US and Canadian residents.

Good luck!!

Lego Movie Costume DIY

Monday, November 2, 2015

For Hallowe'en Corbin and I were invited to a Will Ferrell themed party and it seemed like doing a costume together would be the most fun. I scoured Will's IMDB and found a lot of strong contenders but based on our mutual adoration for a certain movie, there was one clear winner:

Lord Business and Princess Unikitty from The Lego Movie.

This seemed perfect for us and a fun opportunity for some arts & crafts. I picked up some paint, brushes and bristol board and Corbin helped secure the right sized cardboard boxes and a 72 hour marathon of building and painting began!

DIY crafty fun

Corbin and I make a great team (probably because everything is awesome when you're part of a team) and it was a joint effort to bring both costumes to life. Princess Unikitty was outfitted with a hockey helmet inside to keep everything stable, while Lord Business had a fedora strapped to some cardboard to stay put. My tail was made from cardboard and bristol board and then attached to a belt for wearing. After building the structures we painted the faces and pieces and added costume pieces to bring everything together. The end result was pretty fantastic!

Princess Unikitty costume DIY

Lord Business costume DIY

Taking public transit in our costumes was maybe not the best choice (having peripheral vision comes in handy while trying to hold on on the bus), but we got to the party safely. Everyone loved our costumes and later it was funny to chat with people who didn't know that it was us inside. It was also humorous to observe people checking us out without realizing that we could fully see them doing so from inside the masks. 

There's more footage of Corbin dancing out there, but this will suffice for now. Side note: Part of the hilarious...

Watching Corbin dance as Lord Business was pretty epic and hilarious.

Lego Movie costume DIY

All of the work was definitely worth it and we had a fun night at the party. The walk home was also pretty great (we decided that taking the bus a second time was a bit too risky seeing that it would likely be even more crowded and by that time people would be more intoxicated and we weren't sure that we'd fit in an Uber with our giant heads + my tail) Folks who hadn't seen the movie would shout things like "LEGO MAN" and people who were familiar with the movie started losing their minds over Princess Unikitty, even singing to me about Cloud Cuckoo Land. Totally made my night!!

It was definitely a Hallowe'en to remember and I had such a blast creating our costumes with Corbin! That being said, I'm going to appreciate taking the bus this week without a massive head complete with 18 inch horn. So. Much. Safer!

I hope you had a super fun and creative Halloween!!

PS - If you haven't yet seen the Lego Movie, you should make that happen. 

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