Monday, 31 December 2012

Hello 2013!

2013 has arrived! I hope you had a wonderful night of celebrations.  We had a rather quiet night that involved the Hobbit and later counting down from the couch. I am still fighting bronchitis so I didn't want to risk passing it on to any of our friends or family.

I have already shared a lot of my resolutions with you all, and am ready to meet 2013 with new energy and excitement for the year ahead.  There's some big things happening. We are listing our condo in a few weeks now and will begin the house hunt. This is going to be tough for a few reasons. Right now we have about a 10 minute walk to our offices downtown. Moving will likely = commuting unless we decide to move to a bigger condo. We are avid cyclists and runners and would really love to be close to the river valley and trails system too, so certain parts of the city are a no go for us.

I am super optimistic that we will find the perfect home though. My wish list is as follows: a newer kitchen because we just reno's ours, a walk in closet (which likely equals a newer home), walking distance to a coffee shop and grocery store, and a fenced backyard so we can finally rescue a bully from Alberta bulldogs.  My nice to have list includes space to garden, upper floor laundry, and 2.5 bathrooms (for when my family visits).

Have any of you moved recently? Were there any big items you had to compromise on in the name of affordability etc.

Do you have anything really big happening this year? Weddings, moves, graduating, new babies perhaps.

I really do wish you all a splendid year. I have a feeling it will be a great one!! (p.s. the image is from Chinese New Year last year in Hong Kong)

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Bricks, Mortar and Big Hearts

I am a month behind in posting this, but I thought this lazy Sunday afternoon would be a good time to write about our recent trip to El Salvador.  I mentioned in my last post that J and I have been blessed with the ability to travel.  While he has seen almost all SE Asia now, I had the memory making experience of working in Edinburgh, Scotland for 18 months after graduate school.  From there, I traveled to Germany with my roommate and through most of the UK.

Our recent travels to Laos and the Philippines left me with feelings of guilt. In Vientiane, we were lucky to add a bike tour into our itinerary that took us into the back roads of Laos.  We visited and elephant sanctuary, which felt oddly, geared more to tourism than to animal welfare. We saw sign after sign left by World Vision and other humanitarian organizations as we passed through small villages where clothes are washed by hands, well water is scarce and satellite dishes balance precariously on metal clad roofs.  In Manila last winter, I was shocked by the amount of children on the streets.  I felt gloomy as we toured through historic sites wondering if this is truly what travel was about.

Who does it benefit? Do the dollars we spent on our activities and food benefit the wider community? In most cases, the hostels and guesthouses we stayed in were owned by ex pats. Our tour guides were local, but we never asked them about their wages. These are countries with a greater portion of their GDPs supported by remittance payments than by local economic development.  I left those trips with a feeling that we needed to do more, or if nothing less we needed to gain a better understanding of what it actually meant to grow up there, to raise a family, and to live (or survive).

I began to search for opportunities to travel and give back. I wanted to spend time immersed in culture. I wanted to understand the political systems. I wanted to do something to help, and selfishly, I wanted to do something for me.  I ended up at Habitat for Humanity's Global Village website, sharing all the info with J and Emailing team leaders to ask questions (mostly about my veganism and whether it might be considered insulting if I turned down meat).

In two short months, we had applied, completed phone interviews with our amazing team leaders (Ray and Dawn) and booked our flights to San Salvador.  We stayed for two weeks and the build itself was 8 days including orientation, 5 build days, and R&R together at the end of the build. It has taken me a while to figure out how to put into words what the experience was like, but I will do my best.

After a rocky start and flight delays, we arrived in Sal Salvador to be greeted by a driver that took us to our hotel. We stayed outside of Sonsonate Province on a hillside and were driven to the build site each day in 2 vans.  Our build site was in Quo Mango, a small rural dispersed village.  We built a 400 sq. ft. cinder block home with two bedrooms, a den and a bathroom.  A team of masons were on site and gave our team various tasks each day to make their work go faster and make more progress on the house.  From mixing mortar, to hauling bricks, laying bricks and filling in ALL the cracks with mortar - our days were full, tiring and rewarding.  We had guides provided by Habitat that answered any questions we had. While we sifted sand, I had the chance to talk with Jesus about the political system, the civil war, the gang activity (and recent truce), healthcare and so many other topics. He answered my questions with the honesty of an 18-year-old who had just begun his first full-time job as a translator. Those talks we had are probably among my finest memories.


We learned Spanish and the universal value of a smile. We learned to be patient when we didn't understand. I confronted my arachnophobia ever day including a scorpion that crawled out of a brick that I had lifted one morning. I learned how blessed I am to be able to choose what I eat every day and to be so selective.  We saw the pride of a grandmother and the backbreaking work that it takes to run a household without modern conveniences. We shared laughter, hugs and tears at  when it was time to leave. As clichéd as it may sound, that trip changed me.


I recently contacted our team leads about how I can go about becoming a team lead.  I have always had the travel bug but now I might just have the habitat bug.  When we returned home, we received letters from Habitat encouraging us to keep our good works going in our own communities.  It is true. Until my next trip, I will continue to be involved in my City.  To pay attention to what is going on around me and to be thankful for all I have been graced with.

If you have any questions, I would LOVE to answer them. If you have had a similar experience, I would love to hear about that too.

Much Love,



Saturday, 29 December 2012

Dream Destinations

In my last post, I made a resolution to travel more in 2013, which sent me into traveler's dreamland thinking about all the wonderful places I would like to visit.

We are in the process of making a traveler's wish list of little trips we would like to take.  Winnipeg will be a mandatory stop. My little nephew is turning 2 on May 1 and last year I only made it home once. I have aunty's guilt from missing out on so many milestones.  But aside from that, there are a few places on my list that I would love to make it to this year.

  1. Portland, OR - I hear it is like Mecca for Vegans.  It would be awesome if we could take a trip there during the Portland Veg Fest, which I am pretty sure will take place some time in September. I have been a devout follower of Peas and Thank You for some time now, and Mama Pea's posts on Portland (like this one) always make me want to book a flight ASAP. 

  2. Austin, TXWe have friends that go to Austin City Limits almost every year (except this year because they are having a baby and I am pretty sure that will change some of their travel plans).  There are so many things about Austin that appeal to me: the weather, the food, the cycling (Mellow Johnny's)

  3. Asheville, NC - This one probably seems a little off the radar, but I really, REALLY want to go to Moogfest in 2013. We couldn't make it in 2012 because it was smack dab in between the wedding and our honeymoon (it's a hard life I know) but the lineup looked amazing.

  4. Quebec City - four years ago I fell in love with Montreal (it was the first trip we ever took together) and have wanted to travel to Quebec city ever since.  I think it would make a great summer vacation to travel to Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec this summer.

  5. Antalya, Turkey - this is one of the big ones. Every year we take a 2-3 week trip somewhere great.  So far, we have traveled together to Thailand, Laos, Philippines, Hong Kong and El Salvador. Turkey in on my dream list.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="613"] Konyaalti Beach Antalya[/caption]

So that is my list (so far) for 2013. Tell me, where do you hope 2013 takes you??

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Looking forward

It is December 27.  The Christmas celebrations are mostly finished and we are (sadly) heading back to work today.  I know a lot of people experience post holiday blues, but I often get more energy at this time. Now that I can get back to my routine and prepare to welcome a new year with new challenges and surprises.

I am not really one for sweeping new year's resolutions, but I can certainly acknowledge there are things in me that need to change.  I also look to 2013 for new goals, new races, new travels and seeing my niece and nephew grow and change.  So, in no particular order here is my hit list for 2013:

  1. Stop swearing at home.  I don't swear ever, at all, anywhere but at home when we are arguing. And I really hate that.  So my resolution is to not swear when we are arguing.  I have no idea how to action this yet so advice is welcome.
  2. Run faster not further.  I am super excited to be taking part in the Edmonton Run Project this year. Starting in January I will be working with 4 coaches (1 former Olympian) to work at improving my 10k pace. More on that in a later post!
  3. Kick the aspartame habit.  I have been doing really well for 4 weeks now.  I can go days and days without a diet Pepsi and I brought Stevia to work to avoid putting a splenda in my coffee. What I need now is to keep the momentum going!
  4. Bi-monthly travels.  4 years ago, when J and I first started dating, we used to go on 4 day trips.  We saw Montreal, my home town a few times, Victoria, and the ski hills in a matter of months.  We lost those little adventures along the way and this year we vow to bring them back. 
  5. Less Soy. I can be a lazy vegan and turn to veggie burgers and processed products more often than I would like to admit.  By going soy-free for a while I think I can curb this habit. 

There you have it! The top 5 for 2013.  Have you made any resolutions for the new year, or are you more a year long goal setter and change maker? I would love to here them!

For those of you heading back to work this week, we will make it through this 2-day week together : )

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you all a merry and delightful day spent exactly as you love to.  I started the day off as I start all days, with a smoothie and my coffee waiting for JJ to wake up. Someday, I hope to host a vegan brunch at our home. Who knows, maybe in 2013 when we have room for more than 2 guests : )

May your day be full of love, vegan goodness and the warmth of friends and family.

Much Love.



Saturday, 7 July 2012

Hydrating Foods

It's going to be a very hot week in Edmonton folks! As someone who lives on the 10th floor without air conditioning, I know how hard it can be to stay cool. You know the mantra: drink lots of water and clear fluids.  But what about your food choices??  There are fruits and vegetables that are extremely hydrating and replenish electrolytes just as good as those vivid hued sports drinks.  Here are a few snack ideas to keep cool this week:

  1. Cucumbers: cucumbers are primarily composed of water but also contains vitamin C (who knew!) and caffeic acid, both of which help soothe skin irritations and reduce swelling.  I often eat a whole bowl of cucumber with balsamic vinegar as a side dish.

  2. Zucchini: With 95 percent water content, Zucchini is one of the most hydrating vegetables you can eat. Just one serving is an excellent source of folate, potassium, and vitamins A and C.

  3. Cantaloupe: Melon is 90 percent water and rich in Vitamin A.

  4. Watermelon: A super hydrator with 92 percent water content and essential salts: calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. Frozen watermelon can be blended with a little stevia and lemon juice to make a tasty lemonade.

  5. Oranges: Oranges are a juicy 87 percent water and deliver more than 100 percent of the daily recommended value for vitamin C.  The benefit of the fruit over juices is the additional fibre.

  6. Grapes: If you haven't tried frozen grapes yet you are missing out! They are like mini Popsicles that melt in your mouth.

  7. Tomatoes: 95 percent water and rich in lycopene! Snack on grape tomatoes or slice them on your sandwiches and veggie burgers to boost the water content and cut back on the Vegannaise : )

  8. Coconut water: It took me a while to get on board with coconut water but now it is one of my go to drinks. The high potassium content (almost twice as much as a banana) will replenish electrolytes that you sweat out in the summer heat.

There are many more but these are a few of my favourites! Stay cool and wear your (paraben free) sunscreen.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Revisiting Recovery

So this weekend was probably my highest volume training weekend yet: 45km ride on Saturday and 20km run on Sunday. The two things I noticed today were I felt super tired at my interval/strength class and I was ravenous all day.

I think that I probably should have taken today as a rest day but I tried to power through. The end result was about a 75% workout and rest day is now delayed until Thursday.  I also think I need to pay more attention to recovery nutrition.  If, like me, you simply aren't hungry after a long run there are some easy things to do to get much needed fuel back into your system to assist in that valuable recovery phase.

On a queasy stomach here are a few of my go to snacks/mini meals:

Next weekend I plan to up the bike kms a bit more but the run will be scaled back for my taper before the May 6th half I am running.  I would love to hear your favourite post run/bike fuel! Please leave a comment!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Myth Busting

This week the New York Times printed what ended up being a quite controversial article titled "The Challenge of Going Vegan".  A lot of people read it. In fact people in my office read it and asked if I had seen it too. Why was it controversial? Here are some of the articles main points:

Fact 1: "the switch from omnivore to herbivore is fraught with physical, social and economic challenge".  

Was I fraught with these challenges I thought as I read it? I certainly don't remember the transition being difficult.  Nor did I consider my shift to veganism to be "extreme", strict or hard-core. On the contrary, I often feel meat-eating is an extreme measure to get protein in ones diet.

Fact 2: Substitutes like almond milk and rice milk can shock the taste buds.

I suppose this is true. But that is like switching from coffee to tea, or from diet pop to perrier.  Sure there is an adjustment period, but I think all dietary changes will come with a period of getting used to new foods.  For example, my omnivore dad switching to 'skim' milk was a terrible shock to his tastebuds too.

Fact 3: vegan specialty and convenience foods can cost two to three times what their meat and dairy equivalents do.

I plan to do a follow-up post on this after a trip to the grocery store. I am assuming they mean meat analogs such as veggie burgers and tofu dogs.  I will admit that sometimes I pay more for a dark, vegan, fair trade chocolate bar, but in my mind that is paying a little extra to avoid the corruption associated with cocoa.

Fact 4: The people who want to shift to a more vegetarian diet find they face physical constraints and mental constraints. 

I don't think I have had physical constraints. I have run a marathon as a vegan and did just fine. I have co-instructed an entire clinic group to take them to their half-marathon goal. I think this is one of those broad-brush statements that unfortunately gets applied to all vegans. My best response is to follow a healthy vegan lifestyle and lead by example.

Fact 5: Vegan ingredients and cooking techniques can be overwhelming for beginners, even if the changes are relatively small.

This may be true in baking (goodness knows I have had my own mishaps), but is it more difficult than other methods of cooking?  I'm not sure. Vegan cookbooks are proliferating and it is easier than ever to find one to suit your needs be it the single college student, first time mom or weekend gourmet.

Concluding thoughts
Despite these so-called challenges, between 4% and 10% of Canadians are vegetarian or vegan (2003 Canadian-American dietetic association position paper).  This article on Fooducate discussed the article as well, and the comments section is particularly interesting. Here are my favourite quotes:

Being vegan is hard because of social ridicule? Seriously? Should we all change anything about ourselves others don't like?

Challenges? None dietarily.  Just getting past the misperceptions and misconceptions many people have of how hard it is, and trying to convince those who've been drinking the Kool-Aid all their lives that most people don't need all the protein the meat, dairy and egg industry have been brainwashing us about. 

Why do we have to be labeled? So we can be considered a statistic?

Feel free to share your thoughts. Did you find the transition to veganism as challenging as the article suggests? If so, what were (or remain to be) your biggest hurdles??

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Enter to win a Canopy Verde clutch!

The places I ate

I realize I have been MIA for a bit so I thought I would give you  just a quick recap of some of the places I dined this week.

First off, I am so thrilled that I finally got to try Noorish on Saturday night.  I had the treeo-of-life salad sampler and loved it all, but the kale salad was definitely my favourite. I also had a cranberry kombucha and a raw mint chocolate.  I went with my non-vegan friends, which while I am so happy they were willing to give it a try, may have defused the excitement a bit. I am a firm believer that vegans have different taste buds than non-vegans. We also sometimes have different opinions about spices too.  For example, I hate cilantro. Put it in salsa and I won't eat it. Regardless, a good time was had by all and I will definitely be going back.

Today at lunch I went to the buddhist temple (actually called Fo Guang Tea House) on 102 street for the first time too.  I am not a fan of mock meats so I may have made a bad ordering decision.  I also don't really like sticky rice. It's a texture thing, But if you are looking for a quick, $6 lunch in a bright basement hall this is your place. The people were so sweet so that is always a star in my books.

Have you been anywhere new this week or want to share your favourite spot/dish. Please leave a comment!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

On your mark!

May is a big month for running races in and around Edmonton. What better way to celebrate clear sidewalks than to train and register for a friendly race with your friends!  Here are just a few events worthy of lacing up your running shoes:

  1. What - Run Wild Leading Edge Marathon
    When - May 6th, 2012
    Distances - 1/2 and full marathon
    Where - St Albert
    Charity - Zebra Child Protection Centre and St. Albert Senior Citizens Club

  2. What - 2012 Sport Chek Mother's Day Run and Walk
    When - Sunday, May 13th, 2012 (Mother's Day)
    Distances - 5k, 10k, and little legs children's race
    Where - Foote Field, Edmonton
    Charity - Stollery Children's Hospital

  3.  What - 2012 Community Action Dash
    When - Sunday, May 20, 2012
    Distances - 5k and 10k
    Where - Santa Maria Goretti Community Centre: 11050 90 Street Northwest Edmonton
    Charity - The Action for Healthy Communities Society of Edmonton

If there are any other events on your horizon please share! I hope that gives you a reason to get out there over the next month or so ; )

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Do you do Chlorella?

This Sunday I was participating in #runchat on twitter and one of the questions was "What do you do to recover after a hard run?"  The responses were the usual:  rest, ice bath, compression socks etc. I was intrigued when one poster mentioned that she swears by Chlorella.

I quickly responded asking why Chlorella? She replied that it speeds cell regeneration, enhancing healing, quicker muscle recovery.

I had to know more! After some online investigation here is what I found:

 Brendan Brazier chooses Chlorella as a daily body detoxifier. In this excerpt from, The Thrive Diet(Thrive in the US), Brendan states that “Directly enhancing the immune system at a cellular level, chlorella treats the cause of any possible breach – as opposed to fighting the onset of sickness (as is all too often done with pharmaceutical drugs).”

Here are just some of the nutrients found in Chlorella:

  • More than 20 vitamins and minerals

  • Beta- Carotene- a powerful antioxidant known for its ability to eliminate free radicals

  • 19 amino-acids

  • Higher content of fatty acids than Spirulina or wild blue green algae

  • 60% superior protein

  • B complex vitamins, especially B12.

Health benefits of chlorella include:

  • Enhances immune function

  • Encourage the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria

  • Eliminates heavy metals and toxins from the body

  • Assists in keeping the body in an alkaline state

  • Protects you from infection due to its anti-viral properties

  • Keep your breath fresh!

  • Assists in cleansing the bowel and maintaining a healthy digestive tract

Where to find it?

  • Vega Health Optimizer contains 2.5 grams of ChlorEssence.

  • Also available in powder or tablet form - I found several kinds on Upaya Naturals

NOTE: When selecting a brand, look for one with a high level of protein (about 65-70% is considered high) and chlorophyll (6-7%)

I also found this amazing recipe from Choosing Raw

Chlorella Pudding with Chia Seeds (raw, vegan, gluten and soy free) - Serves 2

1 1/4 cups almond milk
1/4 cup hemp seeds
3-5 pitted dates (or stevia to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 tablets Sun Chlorella
1 tsp kelp granules
2 tbsp lucuma powder (optional)
3 tbsp chia seeds

 Do you use Chlorella?? Please share your experiences with me! And I would welcome some additional recipes.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Getting Technical

Gone are the days when people go for a run/hike/workout wearing cotton T's and shorts.  Stores are full of different mixtures of polyester, lycra and Lululemon's infamous Luon blend.  The more  readily available eco-friendly of these products tends to be smartwool, but for vegans who obstain from wearing/buying wool this is simply not an option.

Thankfully, hemp and bamboo clothing lines have come a long way and advancements in the science of fashion means that we can all go for a run in a t-shirt that is good for our skin and good for the environment.

Using their very on Eucalyptex and recycled polyester fabrics, Modrobes make functional clothing.  I want to run in these T-shirts!

Who can argue with a statement like this:

"If you can do something that's better for everyone wouldn't you do it? We have the technology to make garments that don't use pesticides and toxic chemicals that kill us so why wouldn't we do it. We may be just a small clothing company but if we can make the world a tiny bit better then I'll feel like I did my part as a designer and human." -Steven Sal Debus, -founder/designer

Chick'd Athletic Apparel
Manufactured in Southern Ontario, Canada, Chick’d offers apparel made from environmentally sustainable fabrics; eucalyptus lyocell, organically grown cotton, recycled polyester,and Eco-charcoal (made from ground-up coconut shells and bamboo).

A tried and true brand that is dedicated to sustainable practices.  It is quite interesting to read through their  footprint chronicles.  The steps they are taking as a company to conserve the environment seem limitless.  Read about them all here and then drop by MEC to browse the latest Patagonia lines.

I tend to wear a lot of different brands when I run, but majority of our technical/outdoor gear does come from MEC.  Would love to know where you shop for your workout gear.

Hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Easter weekend!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Spring Shoes!

It would not be April without new shoes! Here are four of my favourite spring picks to kick you into shoe shopping gear!

Starting from the top left and clockwise:

  1.  Zahra - Indigo Flowa (Neuaura) $85

  2. Love is Mighty - Koel $235

  3. Native Shoes - Women's Jericho $44.99 and made in BC!

  4. Bell - Silver (Neuaura) - $99

I know it's hard to think about cute flats with the recent instability of the weather here.  But a girl can dream! Oh and FYI, MooShoes just brought in a new line of Brooks.  I posted a while back on the Green Lightening shoe which I am still planning on splurging on when my shoes hit their max km mark.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

On my bookshelf

I have a confession. I am not a particularly good book club member.  Although I love to read, the books I enjoy usually don't make book club lists.  It would be a hard sell to get my old book club to read the time crunched triathlete, and try as I may, J has no interest in many of the vegan books that line our books shelves.  That said, as I organized our shelves and cleaned in preparation for my parents visit this weekend I thought it would be a great idea to share my favourite reads:

Crazy Sexy Diet - Truly life changing. My goal is to complete the full 21 day cleanse to reap the full benefits of this read.

The Conscious Kitchen by Alexandra Zissu
Zissu walks readers through every kitchen-related decision with three criteria in mind: what’s good for personal health, what’s good for the planet, and what tastes great

The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, had such a lasting effect on me that I don't think I will ever change my vegan ways.  Read more about Masson here.

The Locavore Way: Discover and Enjoy the Pleasures of Locally Grown Food by Amy Cotler (2009)
This friendly guide to eating locally gives readers everything they need to buy, cook, and eat food grown, raised and produced close to home.

The Happy Hebivore Cookbook - one of my favourite vegan cookbooks/blogs/people! Check out her Easter Recipe ideas for an extra dose of inspiraation.

Skinny Bitch - Ultimate Everyday Cookbook
I prefer this over the original Skinny Bitch books.  It's all cookbook and less swearing.

There are many more cookbooks that I really need to crack open. What are your favourite books?? Please share because I need to add some to my must-read list.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Shapes and labels

You know that timeless red plastic baby toy full of different shapes and corresponding holes on the outside.  I bet when you were a toddler you spend hours fitting those shapes in the right space and celebrating your success.  Maybe that is where our obsession with shapes begins.  We are taught about squares and triangles and octagons.  We name them and memorize how many sides they have. We label them so we can identify them and we know when a squares a square.

Then you grow up and a funny thing happens.  You learn about pears, and apples and triangles again but this time they are body shapes.  We agonize about which shape we are, "what to wear" to suit that shape, and in some cases how to work to change it.  In fact, most magazines will have some sort of feature on all of the above every month that they hit the stands.  Why the obsession with our shapes and everyone elses? Is a pear more attractive than an apple? And how ridiculous is a 'spoon' shape?

We are so shape conscious that shapeism finds its way into so many aspects of our lives, and we publicly criticize other shapes for not being the 'ideal'.  Adds like this one are supposedly meant to motivate people but aren't they a little harsh? Sure unhealthy norms for skinny in our culture are shocking, but there truly is a percentile of the population that has been and always will be 'skinny'.  I hate that word.  I am not a fan of this add either.

I want to see more ads (maybe like the Dove one below) of women of all shapes and sizes standing together and saying we are ALL healthy.  Health comes in all shapes and sizes.  Sometimes it is 'skinny', sometimes not.  Let health be your label and let go of all the others that aren't adding to the strength of who you are.

Sorry for the rant but spending hours on pinterest will do that to you (it is shocking how many people pin ads as "inspiration").

Training Count Down!

Happy April Fools Day! Thankfully nobody played any big pranks on me today, but I did fall for the west jet tweet about new flights with no children. I thought it was a good idea for business travelers lol (I did not watch the ridiculous video).

What else does April 1 mark?? Exactly 3 months out from the half ironman!! On that note, I have decided to do more dedicated posts to my training and more importantly how to train as a vegetarian/vegan athlete.  There are a few things that you need to be conscious of as a vegan, and as a woman too (iron is one).  I would love to hear from others training for events.  It seems from the VVOA facebook page that our Edmonton community is very active!!  I am dedicating this post to athletes that inspire me and bloggers with an amazing array of nutrition and health info.

Vegan runners & nutritional gurus

  1. Rich Roll - ultra marathoner and an 'active advocate on behalf of plant based nutrition for athletes'.

  2. Brendan Brazier - you may be familiar with the VEGA products and Thrive diet.

  3. Rip Esselstyn - Founder of the Engine 2 diet, Rip is teaching people the connection between what they put in their mouths and their ability to reach their health and fitness goals.

Vegan/vegetarian health bloggers

  1. Angela Liddon - Oh She Glows (Canadian!)

  2. Caitlin Boyle - Healthy Tipping Point

  3. Brittany Mullins - Eating Bird Food 

  4. Lori & Michelle - Pure2raw

  5. Gena Hamshaw - Choosing Raw

  6. Vegan Lisa - Vegan Culinary Crusade (Also Canadian!)

Please make suggestions for what you would like to see training-related posts cover!



Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Getting to know: Tessa Lee (The Clever Rabbit)


Welcome to the first in a series of posts featuring Edmonton's finest who are helping to promote the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle in our city.  The premier post is brought to you by Tessa Lee from Clever Rabbit - Edmonton's newest veg-friendly dining experience.

What motivated you to become vegetarian/vegan?

I am not a Vegan, I have been a vegetarian since I was 12, I grew up on a farm and once I figured out that we were eating our animals I stopped. But I do eat dairy, no eggs or honey but I do eat yogurt and some cheese.

Edmonton’s vegan/vegetarian community is abuzz with the news of the café opening. How did the café come about?

I have always loved to cook for people and I have almost always cooked vegan so it was always a dream of mine to open a restaurant.

What kinds of foods can diners expect?

Almost everything on our menu is made from scratch, I have even been working on doing my own cheese. So hearty home cooked food and super fresh!!

What are the main misconceptions you think people have about vegan food?

That it is bland and all we eat are salads. So many people couldn't wait to come for a "salad" when I opened.

What is your favorite vegan food?

I love TOFU! I really don't think that a meal is a meal without it.

What do you think could improve Edmonton's vegan scene.
I think the best thing that could improve the vegan scene in Edmonton is more vegan/vegetarian options that aren't falafels and chilli, it is easy to make food taste good without meat or animal products.

Here here Tessa! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer the questions.  For readers who haven't yet checked out Clever Rabbit you can find them at 10724-124st.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

One Bowl Challenge

Despite spending hour after hour perusing vegan cooking blogs, I am not a very good cook.  I am constantly on the go and I tend to grab easy dinners.  Hummus is a food group around here, right below slow cooked oats.  There is one thing I love to make though because there are seriously endless varieties and you can use up all the odds and ends ingredients kicking around in your fridge.

The All-in-one bowl.  The idea is really quite simple:

  1. 1 part grain (rice, quinoa, barley, etc)

  2. 1 part protein (tofu, tempeh, beans, etc )

  3. 1 part vegetable (or several)

  4. 1 part garnish (fresh herbs, nuts, seeds, etc)

  5. 1 part sauce (anything will do!)

Today's bowl is an ode to the Dragon bowl I had at Fresh in Toronto almost 2 years ago!!  If you have ever been to Fresh you most likely left thinking Edmonton NEEDS a Fresh.  Luckily, we are starting to see more vegan and vegetarian restaurants popping up so maybe there is a Fresh somewhere in our future.

  1. Brown rice

  2. Tofu cubes a la Healthy Tipping Point's Perfect Baked Tofu

  3. Grilled tomato and zucchini

  4. Green onions

  5. Miso gravy (I use the NAAM variety that you can find at Saveon Foods, but I am sure the more adventurous could make their own)

You can use whatever quantities you like which is why I love it!  My challenge is to come up with one new Bowl recipe a week.  I welcome you to submit your own bowl recipes!  If you have a picture even better.



Saturday, 24 March 2012

Wonderful world of Etsy

There are many reasons to love Etsy.  Their support for small business, local economies and small-scale artisans has changed the way people shop.  They have made it possible to buy local without leaving your home.  In February alone:

  • $58.3 million of goods (after refunds and cancellations) were sold by the Etsy community

  • 2,240,945 new items were listed

  • 654,501 new members joined the Etsy community

  • 1.3 billion page views were recorded

Those are impressive stats signalling that people are slowly changing the way they buy. What's even more impressive, is the ability to drill down to Canadian, Albertan and even Edmonton based sellers.  In fact, there is even an Etsy Alberta Team! You can find them by:

Here are just a few of my favourite vegan finds:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="760" caption="This ones in Calgary"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="760" caption="This one is in Calgary too!"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="760" caption="Vegan mineral eye shadows in Edmonton!"][/caption]

Please feel free to share your favourite vegan Etsy finds.  The more we can support these great businesses the better.
Happy Saturday!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

I'll drink to that

It comes as a surprise to many new vegans that many beer and wine varieties are not vegan.  How can that delicious Merlot made of grapes not be vegan??

One problem is that beer and wine labels rarely post ingredients.   In Canada, under the the Canadian food inspection agency

Standardized alcoholic beverages (those with compositional standards in Division 2 of the FDR, such as beer, wine, and rum) are exempt from the requirement to show a list of ingredients on the label.

The reality is, Breweries, wineries and distilleries may include animal ingredients in their products directly, or in the processing and filtration.  Wine is clarified, or cleared, after fermentation with a number of not so animal friendly and vegan ingredients including:

  • edible gelatins (made from bones)

  • isinglass (made from the swim bladders of fish)

  • casein and potassium caseinate (milk proteins)

  • animal albumin (egg albumin and dried blood powder)

Guinness is also not suitable for vegans. Most spirits are vegan except for Campari (contains cochineal) and some Vodkas (passed through bone charcoal).

Luckily, there is an amazing resource that you can check before you het to your favourite wine bar or watering hole.  The Barnivore Vegan Alcohol Directory contains 6140 entries have been checked and often double or triple checked by the Barnivore community and are gathered for you to enjoy.

I double checked and Ninkeberry is vegan! One more reason to go to after work drinks night tomorrow night!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Brunch Poll!

[polldaddy poll=6060084]

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Review: Clever Rabbit

We finally made it to Clever Rabbit today for a post run brunch.  I have been hearing so many good things about it on facebook and twitter that I had to pop in.  I ordered the tofu scramble, which while not very adventurous, was what I was craving post 10 miler.

The interior itself is very clean and welcoming! Especially love the little pink rabbit hooks on the wall inside the washroom.  The coffee was delicious and with your choice of mimicreme or silk creamer as add-ins it is a welcome change!  I think they serve Karma Coffee because you can buy it at the till but I forgot to ask.

The scramble was great.  Quite spicy with turmeric and cumin seeds and the grated carrot, broccoli and mushrooms added a nice vegetable splash.  It also came with the cutest little biscuit.  I would have preferred mine without the spread but I will know for next time.

We held off on the vegan donut  because we both agreed it was a good reason to come back.  All the baking looks delicious! Especially the double layered cake and the whoopie pies.  Let me know if you have sampled one, I would love to know if they are as divine as they look.

Added bonus: you can watch the pets come and go next door and the cats perched on the play structure through the little window connecting the stores.  Also, does anyone else think their rabbit logo also looks like peace fingers? So cute!

Here is a shot of the full menu. So many reasons to be back!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


As a disclaimer for this post, I should share with you that for the past 3 years I have volunteered my time with the CBCF Run for the Cure.  It has been an amazing experience, and I believe that the CBCF is taking great strides in the field of breast cancer research to advance early detection, promote access to treatments, and hopefully will one day find a cure.

Now, with that out there, I do find the pinkwashing debate quite interesting.

Pinkwashing: a term used to describe the activities of companies and groups that position themselves as leaders in the struggle to eradicate breast cancer while engaging in practices that may be contributing to rising rates of the disease.

The range of pink products is extensive.  From ballpoint pens, to coffee mugs, lipstick and sadly pink buckets of KFC, you could paint your whole day pink if you really wanted to.  The concern arises from the ethics of pink labeling products that include well know carcinogens.  This article highlights just some of the ingredients pink pushing companies like avon, estee lauder and revlon include in their satin pink lipsticks and glossy nail polishes.  Proctor and Gambles brands, including Cover Girl, Max Factor and Infusium (among others), contain ingredients we should all be careful to steer clear of.

  1. Phthalates endocrine disruptors. Used as softeners for oily substances in perfumes, and additives to hairsprays.

  2. Formaldehyde This preservative is common in everything from toothpaste to shampoo.  It is also a known carcinogen.

  3. Parabens we talked about these here!

  4. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate These foaming agents found in soaps and shampoos are skin irritants and can enter the heart, brain and liver through your skin, where they accumulate in your organs.

  5. Toluene Generally found in nail polish and hair dye, Toluene is toxic to the nervous system, and breathing it in can cause dizziness and headaches. High exposures can lead to birth defects and miscarriage.

  6. Triethanolamine TEA has been known to cause allergic reactions, irritations and drying out of the hair and skin. With consistent use, TEA is absorbed into the body and accumulates, where it can become toxic.

  7. Hydroquinone linked to cancer and the unsightly skin condition, ochnronosis. and other cosmetics products.

Further attention was brought to this issue on the big screen in Pink Ribbons, Inc.
a feature documentary that shows how the devastating reality of breast cancer, which marketing experts have labeled a “dream cause,” has been hijacked by a shiny, pink story of success.

The debate rages on as multi national companies are questioned about how much money they are actually contributing to breast cancer charities? And most importantly, why do they continue to use chemicals linked to cancer in their pink ribbon products?

What can you do?

  1. Avoid toxic pink ribbon products, not only to send a message to the companies, but also to protect your own health.  There are plenty of pink ribbon items that won't come without health risks.

  2. Make direct monetary contributions to breast cancer or cancer charities in general where you can ask questions upfront about where your money is going.

  3. Search out ethical pink products. This Ecofabulous guide to eco-friendly pink ribbon purchases is a great starting point.

  4. Help out in non-monetary ways.  Spend time volunteering, helping canvass for early detection screenings, or sometimes even calling up survivors to check-in and see how they are doing.

Do I think we should still be involved in pushing the agenda to find a cure? Absolutely! I just think we need to move to the next step in this journey of making sure all the hard work that has been put into these campaigns continues to advance ,and we demand the promotion of health and awareness for everyone involved.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Meet the Parabens

In continuation of March being the month of all things beauty, lets take some time to look at the not so pretty side of cosmetics.  The topic of the day is Parabens.

What are Parabens? They will show up in many of your loved brands as:

Why are they there?
This class of chemicals is most often used as a preservative and antimicrobial.  While the intent for a longer shelf life and fungal free lip gloss is good, they have been linked to causing hormonal disturbances by mimicking estrogen, and have been found in low concentrations in breast cancer tumours.  Parabens can also cause an allergic reaction and skin conditions in a small percent of the population.

Why do we still use them?
In a word, they are cheap.  Parabens are like the high fructose corn syrups and trans fats of the food industry.   Until there is enough consumer momentum, manufacturers will continue to add them to their cosmetic products to keep prices down, preserving both your lipstick and their bottom line.

What can you do?
I am approaching paraben-free living day by day.  No new products find their way into my makeup bag containing them, and in some cases I have tossed/recycled the old ones that do.   You may recall from this post that I have some MAC eyeshadows kicking around from 2007.  Last week when I took them in for the recycle program the MAC girl informed me that "eyeshadows never go bad". Hmm perhaps this is the problem!

I promise to share with you every paraben free find that I come across and hopefully we will all change the beauty industry one paraben free lip gloss at a time!  Read more about cosmetics Dirty Dozen here.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Let's Talk Smoothies

I want to love smoothies. I really do.  I read blog post after blog post about other bloggers smoothie creations but until the temperature outside hits above zero I find it really hard to get motivated.  J on the other hand has a smoothie every morning and I am happy to say over the past year and a bit they have become much healthier.  And by healthier I mean I lovingly convinced him that Carnation instant breakfast and frozen yogurt fell more into the desert than smoothie category.  Now he is an orange juice and frozen fruit man, which I can 100% get behind (we will work on healthy additives over time).

So why smoothie? How else can you pack a nutritional power house of all your nutritional super foods into one frosty glass?? From chia seeds to kale you can blend it all with a little trial and error and taste testing. I myself am a chocolate girl, so here is what goes into my most simplest creation:

  • 1 scoop Vega shake and Go chocolate for an extra health kick

  • 1 cup of almond milk unsweetened chocolate

  • 1 cup of ice

  • 1 frozen banana.

So simple!! So delicious.

Looking for more inspiration? Angela from Oh She Glows has her very own Green Monster Movement where you can find recipes a plenty for your own frozen delights.  I have even seen layered parfait creations on her blog that are swoon worthy.  I also love Mama Pea's creations, especially this genius Sugar Cookie mix.

Please share with me your favourite recipes and how you get over the chill factor when it's chilly outside.  My goal this week is to bring smoothies back with a one-a-day for a week challenge. Join me if you like!!

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Run the World

Or at least try to in these shoes! If you are looking for a vegan and environmentally friendly shoe, you can't really get any better than Brooks Green Silence shoes.  At first glance they are a little quirky compared to the standard ultra white running shoe with a splash of colour here and there.  I know I am not the only runner who has picked shoes solely on their accents colour.  I have also had some pretty nasty bouts of Plantar fasciitis .  Those two are not related, and I am sticking to that.

The main vegan concern in running shoes is often the glues.  They are rarely vegan and manufacturers will often use the cheapest available to them.  So while the components of the shoes are easy to identify, the glues are a bit trickier.  Brooks use of water based adhesives is a guarantee that any vegan can walk (or run) away happy with.

Key Green Features:

  • The world's first-ever biodegradable midsole for running shoes

  • 75% of the shoe’s materials are post-consumer recycled

  • Biodegradable insole and collar foams

  • Laces, gillies, and reinforced webbing are 100% post-consumer recycled

  • Water-based adhesives are used throughout

  • All dyes and colorants are non-toxic

  • Packaging is 100% post-consumer recycled

As soon as my current shoes hit 500k I am ordering a pair! Now just to narrow down my colour choice.
What shoes do you run in?? Do you try to pick Vegan or eco-friendly models where possible.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

The great egg debate

I answer a lot of questions on my eating choices from friends, family and coworkers.  It comes with the territory of being a vegan.  But sometimes I get questions that stump me and I give fuzzy logic replies.  One of those comes with our cities discussion over rewriting the bylaws to allow residents to raise their own laying hens.  I have been asked "would that be vegan?".  I usually reply, Vegans don't eat any animal products so the easy answer is no.  But the question has me thinking.  If I had my own hen would I eat her eggs? Wouldn't it be better for the environment than say, a processed soy product??

There is quite an interesting discussion on the Vegan forum on a similar topic: eating the eggs of rescued chickens.  I side most clearly with this response:

First, there's the issue of whether eating eggs from rescued hens is vegan. I think we all agree that it clearly isn't. However, the second question addresses whether or not eating these eggs corresponds with the ethics behind veganism. Here is where I feel the issue could be open to debate. If you feel that non-interference is an important aspect to veganism, then you may be feel eating any eggs is unethical. However, if you feel that no-harm/reducing animal suffering is the underlying ethics of veganism, then you may feel that while the consumption of these eggs is not vegan, it isn't unethical either.

The non-interference aspect was new to me, but I suppose it is the same belief behind some of the issues with honey.  I eat honey.  Not directly in tea or in my own baking, but I am pretty sure I have had it in other items inadvertently.  I guess this makes me less vegan, or perhaps not vegan at all.

This leads me to a new discussion on why we need the labels anyway.  See how one question can lead into a hot debate with even my own internal thoughts. While I am not condoning my own less than perfect choices, I do believe that Veganism is about acceptance.  And the constant labeling of our dietary choices is really a disservice to the broader goal to spread the ideology that many of us support.  I would love to hear your thoughts on the egg question! And please, let me know how you approach the continuum of veganism and vegetarian diets.  I mean why have we become a culture that feels a need to describe our eating habits like "I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian that sometimes eats fish but only if it's sustainably farmed".  Really?!

Enjoy the last night of your weekend!


Saturday, 25 February 2012

Coming clean about un-clean eating

I eat about 80% clean.  Sometimes more, sometimes less.  And by that I mean I try to eat whole, unprocessed foods with minimal additives etc.  There is more about that in this post.  I thought it might be a good idea to share some of my less than perfect food choices.  While I think balance is important, I have felt guilty lately indulging in these foods.  Maybe that is a good thing, but I want everyone to know upfront that I have my vices, and it's probably a good idea to get everything out in the open before they pop up in a post ; )  So here it goes...

The things I need to let go:

  1. I drink too much coffee.  My barista knows that I like a tall soy coffee misto with SF cinnamon dolce, extra hot.  Actually everyone in my office building might know my order.  At least I am predictable right??  This is one of the things I need to change.

  2. I also drink diet pepsi (hangs head in shame).  I know, I know! So bad for me and the environment.  But I actually am in the process of cutting it out completely (AGAIN).  I have shifted to Zevia to transition.  It's not pretty with the headaches let me tell you.  What scares me is I think it might be more aspartame withdrawal than caffeine.

  3. Whenever I go to the grocery store with the bulk bins I buy a bag of those pretty, shiny, wasabi rice crackers.  You know the ones? They have sea-weed wrapped around them and are likely full of all kinds of bad things including MSG.

The things I am ok with:

  1. Dark chocolate.  In particular endangered species dark chocolate with mint.  I LOVE it, but only buy it for special occasions because I will demolish the king size bar in one sitting.

  2. Barbara's Cinnamon Puffins.  Me and J eat them as a snack sometimes, and while not the healthiest cereal choice, I feel they are a better option than microwave popcorn that has a shelf life longer than my own.

  3. Hummus.  While not unhealthy per se, it probably shouldn't be it's own food group.  For some reason I will never tire of hummus and carrots.

Those are just a few that I can think of off the top of my head.  Do you have any less than healthy food habits that you would like to share?? I certainly won't judge!

Shopping on a Snow Day

I am from Canada, Alberta to be exact.  Which inevitable means we get snow days.  Today is one of those blustery days when it's just not worth venturing outside in the car.  I might bundle up to walk to the store later, but for now I am killing some time reading and window (or computer screen?) shopping online.

As part of my quest to become more green and eco conscious, I am trying to avoid my usual shops and online stores.  I am also trying to make purchases matter more and have instituted a new 'get one give one' rule.  This way when I make a purchase, I consider what I am replacing, what I can donate etc.  While not perfect, it is a good first step for a girl who loves to shop and finds it really hard to turn down a good deal.  The gap 40% off clearance sales racks are going to miss me.

I have also stopped all inbox notifiers of group sales a la groupon and dealfind and instead added VeganCuts to my Facebook page so I see what's new when I'm checking in on all my friends happenings.  EthicalDeal is another great one that features local green companies in your own city.

Actual stores are tougher.  H&M has a COnscious Collection coming out in April that looks promising (if you consider only the  clothing line).  I am in love with this adorable dress.

One of my all time favourites ASOS has an amazing Green Room that features brands with 'environmental and social ethos'.  It includes clothing, shoes and skin care.  Think Toms, and People Tree.

Matt & Natt have their new Spring 2012 line online too.  As usual they never disappoint! I am loving the grass-green hue.

That's all for today! Enjoy your Saturday however you choose to spend it!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Our Simple Wedding: Part 1

Welcome to the first of many wedding planning posts.  As we began to plan our special day we knew two things for certain: we wanted to keep it small, and we wanted to hold it locally.  Let me tell you what I have found.  The wedding planning business is a monster and it is easy to get sucked in to the commercialism of what should be a very simple day of exchanging love and vows surrounded by your family and friends and great food.  I was quickly overwhelmed by the amount of waste and needless spending.  While eloping seemed like an attractive option, we both really wanted our families present and had to appreciate that traveling to some far off locale is just not within everyone's means.  Not to mention the carbon footprint to even get there!!

Here is what I have chosen so far:

  1. Location location! - Our wedding will held literally across the river from our condo at a heritage house on campus.  The fee for the space goes back into the heritage fund and our guests get to enjoy the old age charm of the space.

  2. Eats - we looked at a lot of options and settled on a cocktail reception.   Mainly because I hoped there would be less waste and we can specify to a lot of tastes and favourites.  It is also a great way for me to sneak in Vegan items without people really knowing.  You know, my sly way to walk around after and say "yes, weren't they delicious! And Vegan too!"

  3. Drinks - I plan to get organic sodas and place them in old stainless washing tubs filled with ice.  Because we are buying our own alcohol we can source organic beer and wine, and even a local brewery for the beer.

  4. Invites - we are going with postcards on recycled card stock  to minimize paper waste and will ask for a phone call or email RSVP.

  5. Cookie Bar - Even thought it is probably a bit over done now, I loved the idea of a candy bar.  But instead of loading our guests up with high fructose corn syrups I am opting instead for a vegan cookie bar.  Watch the blog as I try out cookie recipes over the coming months!

  6. Favours - we agreed to go with a charitable donation but want a keepsake too so we are printing off little cards with the charity name and details in case guests want to make a future donation on their own.

That is all we have for now but watch this space for more detailed posts in the coming months.  Please share with me your ideas and inspiration! Right now I am on the hunt for vegan shoes in a teal or jade colour.  I may let up on that wish though ; )

Happy Friday!