Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Healthy vegan eating = Not a given

I'm trying desperately to find this blog that I was reading yesterday but the internets aren't giving it up! In it, she challenged readers to take a hard look at their diets, and truly up their game for February. She was talking about a nutritional upgrade. Being vegan doesn't necessarily mean healthy. I can't tell you how many times times someone has told me that they used to be vegan/vegetarian but had to start eating meat because they got sick/didn't feel well/weren't healthy. Many times, this lies in the fact that whole nutrition isn't a given, and one can still find vegan options in most mainstream places that are devoid of anything good for you. The following things are vegan: French fries, potato chips, Oreos, pretty much all sodas, sour peaches, watermelons, cherry blasters, lots of dark chocolate, etc etc. The first time I went vegetarian as I teenager, add diet coke and you have just covered all my food groups. I am completely guilty of non nutritive eating still-I have a sweet tooth that rages inside me like a cracked out junkie. I'm constantly making sweets or thinking about making something sweet. I do try to give them away where possible and only eat things I make myself, but still. I keep making better choices as I learn how-and see my kids picking up both my positive and negative eating habits. Bean very much likes the analog products -fake meats, burgers, hot dogs and cheeses. Many new vegetarians use these products often for convenience and to continue cooking foods you and your family are familiar with. Over time, we generally learn new cooking techniques and rely less on these products which are both expensive and processed. For Bean's birthday this month, we had tacos made of fake everything. Turns out they made me feel awful. So I'm going to do it, February I'm getting serious. Whole foods, less packaging and eating foods with ingredients I can pronounce!

Where are you at in your food journey? Do you think you're where you'd like to be to look and feel your best? Where do you start? Where would you put yourself on a scale of one to ten? (One being: fast food frequently, soda, chips and packaged sweets are almost always on your grocery list. Five being: Pretty good. Indulge frequently and don't really pay much attention to labels/nutritional stuff. Ten is: Completely whole foods. You eat while levitating.)

My friend Tricia is a high raw vegan, which means she eats very little food that is cooked. This preserves it's nutritional integrity, and much to my surprise is really delish! I'll post more on raw eating at another time, maybe Tricia can even stop by some time soon. She calls eating raw a nutritional upgrade, and I think that's perfect. Every time you take steps to change your diet for the better-be it learn a new technique, choose to learn more about whats in your food, or try a new X-you've just upgraded baby! February for me means change and challenge! What does it mean for you?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Vegan Travel

People are always very curious on the nuts and bolts of a vegan lifestyle. What do you eat? What do you do when you travel? I was born in Thailand, and that pretty much set the stage for my life. I've lived in Bangladesh, have been on four round the world trips, traveled extensively in Asia, lived in all Canadian provinces west of Quebec, plus Idaho, Washington and Texas. When I'm not traveling, I'm dreaming about traveling. In 2010 alone, I (we) were on four airline trips, two of which were across North America. Not great for the environment, but good for scratching the itch. One might think that being a vegan while traveling might be the world's biggest pain in the ass. Turns out that one of my biggest fears has become one of the very best things about this lifestyle. Here's why!

Christina, circa 2004

Road trip! When hungry, we'll stop at a fast food place off the highway. Mmmm. When we stop
for the night, we enjoy a fine dining experience at East Side Marios. Not that great, but lots food and an atmosphere that says "you know what to expect". It's close to the hotel, and we don't have to worry about any uncomfortable situations like getting lost or having to dig out the high school french! Road snacks include gas station hot dogs and packaged cheese and pepporonis.

Please note, photo is not of an actual road trip. I just like to shamelessly plug my self and friends looking cute in our early 20s.

circa 2010

I'm a mother! There are two little children along for the journey. I've finally found my sense of adventure and my ability to be prepared! I cook healthy food the day before that travels well. High protien sandwiches, tofu nuggets, tabbouleh salad, fresh fruits and nuts, and cookies or muffins. Before I left, I visited and wrote some addresses of veg friendly restaurants in the cities we'd pass through. We program our GPS and in we go! Great chance to stretch our legs and explore a new place. We have eaten at some truly incredible restaurants and drove through the most amazing neighborhoods. One of my favorite things to do is check out architecture in other locations. House porn!
One of the standouts for me was Beets cafe in Austin Texas. Beets is a totally raw menu, and I was able to try some fancy and delicious new cuisine. Even if you don't eat vegetarian, I urge you to go out of your comfort zone more often when travelling! I lament often on my things I've missed out on because I was afraid to try.

I wanted to share with you a clip from the cooking chanel. I found it through the, which is also pretty awesome. This episode features Austin Texas and Beets cafe! Ch-ch-check it out, and poke around while you're there. I love the blog about being Vegan in a zombie apocalypse!

Weddings *siiiiiigh*

When I met Bean, I was but a high senior with no idea who I was or what I stood for. We dated for five years before becoming engaged-then eloped to Thailand while he was deployed and we were on vacation. It was wild, and like all the craziest things you've ever done-makes a great story. Our dinner reception featured fish head curry, and the entire ceremony was in a language we didn't understand. After the reception, the entire wedding party goes up to your room with you, and your elders "show you what to do" if you get my drift. By drift, I don't mean a live sex show-but horrifying all the same. They then wait to see you start the fun (kiss etc.) before they leave. I couldn't even make this stuff up! Our room shared a door with a room full of drunken Asian business men (and my limited Thai didn't serve me well in rural Thailand trying to explain the situation), so our wedding night consisted of episodes of dubbed McGyver and getting drunk. Since our Thai wedding wasn't legally binding, we had a second wedding on Vancouver Island where my grandfather married us beside the ocean. It was lovely and non traditional, and so us.Despite going the non traditional route, I was and still am obsessed with weddings. I adore wedding dresses and to this day cause near accidents each time I the window of the bridal salon. Is it the crinoline? The sparkles? The opportunity for everyone you know to be in one place to eat/drink/dance/celebrate(which happen to be my favorite things in all the world)? I'm not sure. Most likely, it's the societal ideal that's impressed upon us since the dawn of Disney princesses. Not even kidding, there are already plans in place for April 29th at 6 am when Prince William gets married. Royal Wedding!!! Double sigh!
So you can imagine my excitement when wedding season rolls around, and I get to revel in some vegan weddings...Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeal! Nothing in the world gets me more excited than extravagant vegan food, eco friendly wedding decor and cake! Woot! Check out some wedding porn here! And for the love of God, if you have a vegan wedding-invite ME!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Book Review: Appetite for Reduction

I've been a bit of a slacky blogger as of late, so to make it up to you- I'm going to sift through some food porn, write up some of my favorite dishes and hopefully blow your ever loving mind with vegan goodness. Before I do that, I have to gush about my favorite Christmas present. I've been an obsessive fan girl since I picked up Isa's first book "Vegan with a vengeance". At that time, I was a new vegetarian with the cooking skills of a seventh grader. A lot of the recipes sounded amazing, but had weird ingredients that required some searching and a lot of trying strange things. They also required skills and time management in the kitchen that I didn't have yet. So I made lists, went on ingredient treasure hunts and dove in feet first. I had so many delicious results that I had to have each book as they came out (many were co-authored by the awesome Terry Hope Romero, who me and Jules got to see in person at the Toronto Veg fest) :Veganomicon, Vegan brunch, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, and Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar. I couldn't even begin to choose a favorite. Veganomicon is a vegan Bible, with basics like how to cook rice and beans plus recipes for just about every veggie or occasion under the sun. Vegan brunch has the best tempeh bacon in the world. As for cupcakes and cookies, I use these about every other day. Certainly not healthy, but amazingly delicious! When I want to show people how fantastic vegan food can taste, I look no further than these two. Appetite for Reduction doesn't have deserts, but it makes up for it with incredible, fast and easy recipes. All are under 400 calories and many are under 200; if you care about that sort of thing. Our favorite so far has been the Caesar Chavez salad with eggplant bacon. It's creamy, it's smokey, it made me weep with happiness. We also loved the blackened tofu with butternut squash coconut rice. Epic win! Isa started off in Brooklyn, and an international flavour in her cuisine really shines through.Check out some food porn from the book here. If you are just starting your vegan journey, are veg curious, or just looking for some great new cookbooks-I highly recommend picking up one of these bad boys. You might start a novice, but you'll leave a pro!