Tag Archives: vegan

Exclusionary vs Inclusionary Thinking Within Social Groups.

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I don't need a thneed.

I don’t need a thneed.

I’ve been struggling to find the words to write about this for months, and although I don’t quite feel that I’m there yet I need to open this dialogue and address it. I have been really interested in animal-free and whole foods eating since I was sixteen, and two years or so ago I finally took the plunge and became vegan. This was such an exciting time period for me and I felt so centered and so within my truth for the first few months, and then I started becoming active in the assorted vegan groups on Facebook and things started to change for me.It stopped being exhilarating, empowering, joyful and celebratory and started to feel like the same old group-think I’ve always fought against.

People have their own ideas about what a vegan is and does, and most of us are excited to share this with the world HOWEVER, it stops being sharing when people begin thinking that their path is the only path, and that everyone else needs to change and follow that path. This is not how a healthy, vibrant and empowering community grows, this is how exclusion, cliques and wars start. I’ve had to take a step away from most of the Facebook groups because I get really frustrated with all of the judging and condemning I was experiencing and it was infuriating me to the point that I wanted to give up on living in my truth.

I don’t always see things the same way that other vegans do, and as a result I often call myself a “strict vegetarian” or tell people “I only eat plants” or well, avoid the topic entirely to avoid having to explain why my 16 year old coat which once belonged to my grandmother is made of wool, or why I still wear the leather Doc Martens I bought in 1992.

I suspect that the best route for me is just to continue sharing my joy of cruelty free cooking, eating and living and just refrain from trying to define myself with labels which other people have created. I have known for years that by adopting labels and stories to define who I am I’m really ego identifying rather than celebrating the connectedness of all living things, and even in something as simple as choosing a less cruel life style ego clashes, judgments and battles begin when one person’s (or more than one person’s) egoic identity feels threatened or encroached upon.

I’m really struggling to leave my desire to fit in and be accepted as exactly who I am and how I live behind and just accept myself unconditionally and free of labels. On a spiritual level it makes sense to me to just BE and forget about defining myself as part of a man-made grouping, but my social conditioning bucks against my desire to free myself. I wish I could figure out how to just let go of the mental traps I’ve laid for myself and just fully, 100% embrace The Great I am and stay here.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.

Bob MarleyRedemption Song

My truth as far as lifestyle goes is quite simple and straight forward:

I believe in living as simply, ethically, beautifully  and harmonically as possible. This includes being a cyclist instead of driving, buying most of what I consume used, bulk, or with very little packaging, avoiding animal products and chemical ingredients as best I can (which means I still use my old things which are usable because I believe in waste reduction as strongly as I do in animal rights). I believe in education in place of indoctrination, and in progress rather than perfection. I believe in treating my fellow Earthlings (both human and otherwise) with respect and dignity and in learning about our differences rather than attempting to force myself or others into uncomfortable hive-mind situations.

I believe in walking the middle road in my relationship with the planet and the Universe. I strive to be as non-dualistic as possible, and I often fail miserably, and get back up and try again, and I believe in applying these same principals in all of my relationships.

I think it’s time to increase my meditation practice again, as I feel things birthing within me and meditation will help ease my labor pains.

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Vegan Good Things: By Popular Demand: Coconut Bacon!

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I don’t know about you, but none of the commercial “faux bacon” does a damn thing for me , but his stuff on the other hand is amazing and satisfying as a bacon substitute.  I also enjoy making my own faux bacon bits using TVP and liquid smoke etc. I find actual bacon to be pretty revolting these days, but sometimes a dish or a craving really does benefit from the salty, smokey flavour profile which these faux bacons provide. Nothing beats cruelty-free and healthier options for old favourites, like my Grandma’s Ukrainian Chinese Food recipe (weird family favourite which formerly involved fried white rice made with egg, bacon and diced dill pickles, which I’ve now veganised using brown rice, organic smoked tofu, coconut bacon and dill pickles. I’ll post the basic recipe soon for those of you who are brave enough or curious enough to try it)

Vegan Good Things: By Popular Demand: Coconut Bacon!. (original article)

A couple notes about this recipe first – the original recipe says to bake it at 400, until it gets crisp. It doesn’t say how long it will take to get crisp. A few other people who made it advised baking it at 400 for up to 30 minutes. I will tell you that the first batch I made, I put it in the oven at 400 and in 10 minutes it was burnt to a crisp. I don’t think that baking pan will ever recover. So I’m printing the recipe below with the time and temperature that I used for my second batch, which came out successfully. If anything, the next time I make it, I might bake it at an even lower temperature, for a longer period of time. My suggestion for you is to just check it every 5-10 minutes or so to make sure it’s not burning, and take it out of the oven when it is just crisp. It will continue to crisp as it cools.

Many of my twitter followers have been requesting this recipe, and I am very excited to share it with you, so without further ado:

Coconut Bacon
makes about 3 cups (enough for 4 – 6 sandwiches, depending on how big you make ’em)

3 large handfuls of large flake, unsweetened coconut
1 Tbsp. liquid smoke
2 Tbsp. tamari
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. maple syrup (optional, but recommended)

Preheat oven to 300. Place coconut in a shallow baking pan. Combine other ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle over coconut. Use your hands to mix and make sure the coconut is evenly coated. Bake at 300 for 20 minutes, or until crisp. It will continue to crisp as it cools, and is best eaten at room temperature.

Vegan Oatmeal Pancakes With Sautéed Fruit

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Oatmeal pancakes with peanut butter and stewed fruit.

Oatmeal pancakes with peanut butter and sautéed fruit.

 

Pancakes are the perfect “brunch” Item for someone like myself who has a bicycle commute between home and work. I bulked these up a bit by adding half a cup of oatmeal, some extra brown rice milk, a splash of apple cider vinegar to my usual Vegan Banana Pancake Recipe and then smearing a tablespoon or so of peanut butter on under the sautéed fruit prior to serving.

How to Make My Fruit Topping:

This is such a great way to use up fruit which is needing to be used up quickly. Today I had four apples which were just verging on being over-ripe, so I decided to mix them into a pancake topping.

What you need:

  • 1-2 cups of fresh fruit  and 1/2- 1 cup of frozen berries
  • 1/8 cup water
  • Agave nectar to your taste (you can use whatever sweetener you usually use, or even add a spoonful of jam or skip the extra sweetener)
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • A splash of lemon juice
  1. Chop your fruit up and throw it in a small saucepan with the water and other ingredients.
  2. Cook over medium high heat until the fruit is cooked to your liking
  3. Enjoy over top of pancakes, waffles, vegan ice-cream, stir it into your coconut yogurt, toss it into muffin batter, dump it in your oatmeal etc (the possibilities are endless)

This is a painfully simple way to save a few dollars by using what you have for a purpose other that what you bought it for. I so often buy more fruit than I can eat and I really dislike throwing food into the compost bin if I can avoid it.

 

Vegan Lentil Stew, Urban Cycling and Cultivating Peace.

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lentilstew

 

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
e. e. cummings

Today was pretty darn awesome for me. It was my third shift at my new job and it’s really feeling good for me being there. The staff and the customers are just plain easy to be around, and my shifts just fly by painlessly.

The hour or so I spend on my bike on the way to and from work is seriously just glorious freedom for me. I really don’t understand why so many people become slaves to their cars; they’re just missing out on so much exhilaration, freedom and gym-free exercise. I’m probably quite the ridiculous sight when I bike home (and truthfully the though of how ridiculous I am makes me happy) because I bring music with me and sing my heart out while I peddle home. Today I was jamming to Van Morrison, drumming on my handle bars and basically just sucking up the sunlight and my freedom. I’m studying to get my learner’s license, and then my driver’s but truthfully, I think I’ll always bike in the warm months, it just brings me so much peace. I’ve moved into biking in a harder gear now that I’ve gotten a bit more used to the commute, and my legs and thighs are REALLY feeling the workout.

Tonight for supper I just made a really simple curried stew using tinned lentils, onions, celery. carrots, potatoes,  zucchini,  a chunk of broccoli, herbs, tamari, curry paste and a handful of leftover romano beans. I ate it with some toast and it was really satisfying and I feel good. I love how easy it is to turn PLANTS into a good, fulfilling, healthy meal in no time at all. Most likely I’ll just warm up the leftovers tomorrow and have them with a scoop of brown rice and a small cabbage salad.

I’m reading Being In Balance by Dr. Wayne Dyer currently and I’m really learning a lot about living in a peaceful vibratory state, and about changing my thinking/feeling. This book is really helping me own and release  the anxiety and stress that I usually carry around in me. It’s refreshing to read about stress/anxiety management in this new way. Thinking on a vibrational level rather than an intellectual level seems to really bring some new insight for me. My intellectual understanding of “choosing my feelings” just plain wasn’t doing much for me, but broken down this way it just seems to be more easily applicable. I’m ready to let go of my anxiety and stress and embrace being the peace I know resides at my core. This book really resonates with my current meditation work, and my current focus on balancing my life out wholistically.

I’ve officially decided that I’m much happier, more balanced and more grounded now that my ex isn’t in my life. I’m not blaming him for the fact that I wasn’t happy, or that my life was lacking while I was with him, but I am celebrating my newfound freedom. It’s hard making a life with someone else and truthfully, I’m just really not into the idea of being tied down to keeping house and caring for someone else’s needs at this point in my life. I haven’t yet mastered self-care and balance, and having someone else who needed me to meet their needs really threw me off balance. I’ll always love things about our time together, and I learned a ton about what I do and do not want in a partner and my life.

This song always reminds me to be grateful for my ability to support myself and to love working, even if my job isn’t always what I want to be doing. Something as simple as preparing a nourishing meal and providing a bright moment in someone’s day is a service to humanity, if done with a humble spirit and good intentions. Hating my job isn’t something I need to do today. I’m working in the direction of creating the life I dream of for myself, and where I’m at right now, is just fine. Music is sure a beautiful way to celebrate life.

Crispy Baked Tofu

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crispytofu

I love tofu and I try to eat it between one and three times per week. There is a fair amount of anti-soy hype, which much like the anti-gluten hype, I mainly just ignore. I believe in listening to how our individual bodies respond to what we feed them and following that “internal advice” first and foremost in all things. Of course, I do read assorted health and nutritional studies, and I am very careful to buy non-gmo and organic as much as possible.

I’ve been eating tofu since I was 16 and have found a ton of really satisfying ways to prepare it. This crispy baked version is one of my favourites. I used to use an egg bath prior to applying the coating, but eggs aren’t something I consume anymore, and I now use a chickpea batter in their place.

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Marinaded tofu, chickpea bath, breading mixture.

Marinade:

  • Vegan BBQ Sauce, teryaki or other sauce you enjoy
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Agave Nectar
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • Liquid smoke (optional, but delicious)
  • Water
  • Any other flavours which appeal to you (be creative, it’s your mouth that’s going to be eating this)

How to Marinade:

  1. Cut some pressed tofu (pressed under a heavy object for 20 minutes to remove extra water) into slices, cubes, triangles or whatever shape most appeals to you, then place in a container with a lid.
  2. Mix the marinade ingredients together until they reach a flavour profile and texture which appeals to you.
  3. Pour the marinade over your pressed tofu and leave marinade for a minimum of twenty  minutes (I usually marinade overnight)

Coating:

  • Chickpea flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Wholewheat flour
  • Cornmeal (optional)
  • Brown rice flour (optional)
  • Sea salt
  • Seasonings/herbs
  • Water

How to Make the Chickpea Bath:

  1. Add chickpea flour to one cup of water  and whisk until it is the consistency of runny pancake batter or whisked egg. This usually takes about 1/8 of a cup of the chickpea flour, but it’s really an intuitive process and you should be able to tell by feel how you’re doing.
  2. Add any seasonings you with to the bath (I used a touch of sea salt and a touch of Chinese Five Spice in mine).
  3. Set aside.

How to Make the Breading Mixture:

  1. Add equal parts of wholewheat flour, and bread crumbs to a bowl, mix in  your cornmeal and brown rice flour if you’re using them.
  2. Add any seasonings you wish. I just added some fresh ground pepper and a touch of sea salt.
  3. Pour well mixed ingredients onto a plate and set aside.

How to Put it all Together:

Pre-baking breaded tofu. I make the cubes for supper, and the slabs for making sandwiches during the upcoming week.

Pre-baking breaded tofu. I make the cubes for supper, and the slabs for making sandwiches during the upcoming week.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment.

  1. Drain tofu of marinade.
  2. Dip each tofu piece into the chickpea bath, shake off excess bath.
  3. Dip and roll each piece in your breading mixture.
  4. Place pieces one by one onto cookie sheet.
  5. Spray each piece with a fine mist of cooking spray or oil (I have a refillable oil misting bottle).
  6. Cook in oven 15 minutes, turn over, spray again then repeat cooking for an additional 15 minutes.

As you can see, my cooking process is usually quite intuitive, which makes recipes hard to share, but once you figure out the basic techniques, there is so much fun to be had with creating new meals.

I served this with brown rice steamed with both dried and fresh diced mushrooms, a vinegar marinaded cucumber salad (marinade is 1/8 c rice vinegar, a splash of agave, a touch of sea-salt, 1 cup water and a bunch of dill), and a pile of stir-fried carrots and zucchini. A very simple but very satisfying meal on a summer day. Tofu prepared this way is reminiscent of baked chicken, without the cruelty and cholesterol.

Tofu is rapidly becoming one of the things I cook which my mom looks forward to trying. A year ago she would run the other way if I told her I was serving tofu.

EZ Tofu Press (Wow, DO I EVER Want one)

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Japanese silky tofu (Kinugoshi Tofu)
Japanese silky tofu (Kinugoshi Tofu) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pressing really does make such a great difference in tofu’s texture and ability to absorb flavours (Dear spell check, that’s how we spell it here in Canada, relax, have a cookie). Pressing and freezing both really help to make it have a more “meaty” texture, which is really nice for some dishes.

This is such a great and simple little gadget, and at such a reasonable price. I tend to press my tofu with a crazy and precarious group of plates, a big rock and a drain board – this would make things so much more simple.

Many people are anti-soy, I’m not one of them. I find that my body processes it very well, and I tend to feel really balanced when I include it in my meals a couple of times a week. I am very careful to only buy the organic, non-gmo varieties however.

The ad is pretty cheesy, and I’m pretty sure I can make one of these on my own, but I sure do love the idea.

EZ Tofu Press. <-click to view website

My Favourite VEGAN Pancake Recipe and, My Best Friend.

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Why yes, I AM THE Banana King!

Why yes, I AM THE Banana King!

So, one of the very first things I learned how to make vegan was these simple, yummy whole wheat (I’ve made these with lots of different types of flour with decent success) banana pancakes. I was absolutely blown away by how light, fluffy and simple these were to make, and how much better they are than any of the omni whole wheat pancakes I’d tried in the past. These are so tasty, that I usually have to make extra, or my mom will eat my share too.

Fluffy Vegan Banana (optional) Pancakes.

(People will NOT guess that these are vegan).

  • 1 cup flour (I use whole wheat most of the time, but sometimes buckwheat ).
  • 2 tsp baking powder.
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (normal salt will do, but I don’t use it often).
  •  1/2 tsp cinnamon.
  • 1 tbsp sweetener of choice (original recipe called for 3 tbsp, but that was overkill for me).
  • 1 tsp vanilla.
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I make my own brown rice milk, or almond milk usually, but in a pinch I use my mom’s soy).
  • 1/2 large ripe banana or one whole small mashed banana (you can substitute *flax or chia gel here if you hate bananas).
  1. Combine all dry ingredients well in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Pour all wet ingredients (including banana) in your blender and blend for 15-25 seconds.
  3. Pour all wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and combine just enough to moisten.
  4. Cook in a frying pan, as you would cook any pancakes (I use an unoiled Teflon one)
  5. Serve and enjoy

(Makes 4-6 standard pancakes)

To make a chia “egg” just soak 1 tbsp of chia seed in 3 tbsp of water, to make a flax “egg” just soak 1 tbsp ground flax in 3 tbsp of water.

I often poke berries or apples, or even vegan chocolate chips into each pancake while cooking them (prior to turning over) and also often serve them with steam sautéed fruit in place of syrup, but basically, these are really good served any way you like them, don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with personalizing this recipe.

The little monster at the top of the page is my 13 year old dachshund, Bjorn who is basically the coolest person I know.