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!!