VEGAN IN THE CITY

Twenty-something. F. Toronto. Vegan exploring fitness, healthy eating & raw foods, on a busy schedule in a busy city ♥

OJ Cravings + Being Grossed Out By Spring Rolls

So, I never thought it would happen – I tried to eat some gourmet vegan spring rolls tonight for dinner and I could only get through two of the three that came in the package – and even that was a bit of a challenge. They tasted disgusting, and made my skin feel greasy. I’m completely amazed. I used to LOVE spring rolls and have them at every opportunity. It’s been a while since I’ve had them, but I was at The Big Carrot buying some Tooth Soap (which I LOVE by the way), and I thought I’d grab a few groceries – treat myself to something nice, and grab some spring rolls. I think the company is from Quebec – I’ve had the same brand before, which I bought at The Sweet Potato in the Junction – and don’t recall them being gross or greasy. I remember quite liking them. So, this means my taste buds are changing – exciting!

I’ve already noticed I’ve started to crave that stuff a lot less but it’s cool to see myself actually repulsed by the taste of it. This will make the whole ‘raw’ emphasis thing a lot easier. I want to hit up a bunch of farmers’ markets this week and grab some produce. The past few days I’ve bought a lot of non-veggie stuff, like bread, wraps, spring rolls – but I’m noticing that my taste buds aren’t really into it. It sucks that I wasted the money on it, but at least I won’t make that mistake a second time. I’m eating a lot of fruit and vegetables and I’m still craving lousy non-nutritious food, which will hopefully subside now that I tasted it and it tasted like shit. Five points for me?

In other news, I’ve been totally craving fresh-squeezed orange juice lately. It sucks that my juicer broke, so I have to go buy a new one – til then I have just been buying the fresh squeezed stuff from Fresh & Wild – it is delicious! I still can’t wait to get a new juicer and start making my own again. I just have to find a juicer that will fit in my backpack so I can go bike ride to get it! I find OJ is a great solution when I’m not in the position to peel a fruit or make a smoothie, like if I’m out and about, or about to work out or am working out or something (especially since I’ve been doing hot yoga lately!). Healthy calories & energy, in convenient drinkable form.

I also saw Brendan Brazier speak tonight – and he signed my book! Yay! Also got a few Vega free samples. I do have the Vega Health Optimizer powder, which I only use a little bit of in each smoothie. I find the taste is too bad/strong for the kind I have (berry flavour – next time I am totally going with something different) to use any more than a little bit – but it does make me feel great.

Tomorrow: fruit, veg, & yoga!

Photo credit: Flickr.

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Cravings for Pear + Kiwi

So I’ve been seriously craving kiwis and pears lately. Like, a LOT. I’ve always liked kiwis but until recently I hardly ever ate pears (blueberries used to be my thing), so the craving kind of took me by surprise. Yesterday I Googled what the health benefits of pears and kiwis were – guess what? Helping colon health (and I have IBS). How perfect, right? It’s crazy how our bodies let us know what they want. Just thought I’d share. :)

Something else that’s been on my mind lately – I’m planning on taking a Yoga teacher 200 level training in the fall. I’m super excited! I just have to figure out which studio I want to learn from. I have a pretty good idea where will be the best fit for me! I also did hot yoga for the first time today, and I don’t think I liked it as much as all of the hype I’ve heard about it – I was sweating, but only from the room temperature, not exertion. I would rather be sweating because I’ve just had a super intense workout!

PS: Photo is not mine! It’s from Flickr.

Filed under: Fitness, Nutrition, , , , ,

Raw Food Class!

A lot has been going on since I last posted! I made raisins with my dehydrator, as well as some raw donut holes filled with jam! Tons of pictures to share, I just haven’t had time to upload them yet. They’re coming soon, I swear!

Yesterday I took a raw food cooking class with Nathalie Lussier at her home. Her and her boyfriend Robin were gracious, kind hosts! The class was really fun, and while some of it was just a helpful refresher on some raw information (for me anyway), I did learn a lot of new stuff. The main thing I walked away with was confidence that raw food is easy and delicious, which was important for me – I’ve always been a-okay with smoothies and juices, but it’s been the dinner, savory options that were overwhelming and confusing (I loathe salad). Nathalie’s class taught me that raw savory dinners are super easy to make, and far exceeded my expectations in yum and simplicity! I am the pickiest eater ever, and I liked everything. I brought some tupperware to take some of it home to enjoy later!

Here’s what we learned to make:

1. Green smoothie

2. Almond milk

3. Sprouts

4. Marinated mushrooms/green beans

5. Nut/veg salmon patee in collard green wrap

6. Zucchini pasta with pesto/tomato sauces

7. Brownies

Everything was yum! I had some of the pasta, mushrooms, and green beans for lunch, and brownies and some of her blueberry cake for dessert.

Nathalie’s explanation of food combining also was the simplest I have heard, and is as follows:

1. Fruit alone

2. Starch alone or with veg

3. Dried fruit/nuts/seeds alone or with veg

4. Banana/avocado can be combined with dried fruit/nuts/seeds

5. Apples/pears can be juiced with veg

6. Leafy greens can be combined with anything

7. Wait 2-3 hours between categories

I liked that Nathalie totally did away with the random and ever-confusing ‘protein’ category. I was always trying to figure out if chickpeas were starches or proteins, and that seriously stressed me out. I think her way of breaking it up is really easy to understand – there’s no confusion about what is what.

I bought a spiralier, zucchini, and mushrooms to make some of the dishes we learned, as soon as I run out of leftovers (which will be SOON!). Also bought a few books – Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen by Ani Phyo, Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food by Wendell Berry, and 12 Steps to Raw Foods: How to End Your Dependency on Cooked Food by Victoria Boutenko. I’m pretty excited – I love reading and I haven’t had as much time to do that lately as I would have liked; the internet is great but limited.

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Swept Up In Life (MIA)

Between exhibitions, school, and a multitude of projects I’ve been so busy I’ve taken some time away from my health journey to get back in touch with ‘the real world’ – getting stuff done and fulfillig obligations. I’ve gone back on Metamucil and have been a bit more regular, and a lot of the good habits I picked up during my detox weeks have been (unfortunately) dropped, which has made me feel worse. I’m going to try to pick them up again, make them last. I have so little time, and I’m always tired, and so busy. Hopefully I’ll be less busy this summer and be able to take some time for myself, to keep up with the food blogs and try out some healthy, delicious recipes. Time has been so low lately that I haven’t been eating very well.

One thing I want to try to do is spend my Sundays planning the meals for the week, and basically have a full day of cooking. That sounds fucking awesome. I think I’m going to try to do that maybe this Sunday? In one month from now, at the absolute latest. One school is over I’ll be able to focus – I’ll have run out of projects, haha.

I’ve also been courting gym memberships – if you are a member of a gym, which one? How much do you pay? I’m going to look around and see which is the best fit for me. School yoga finishes in the summer and I don’t want to stop exercising, so a gym might be the way to go. One way to motivate myself is spending money – then I HAVE to go!

I’m going to try to update more regularly – I know no one reads this thing, but it’s something I’m going to have to force myself to do, for me. Just getting caught up with life isn’t working for me.

Filed under: Lifestyle, Personal, , , , , , , ,

Here and There

The past few days have been really rough for me. I’ve been feeling really awful, and have been getting headaches, been lightheaded and dizzy, and my digestion has been out of whack – all of which has totally KO’d my yoga routine. Today I am going to try to go back on Metamucil, and see what happens. The year that I was on Metamucil was the best year of my life digestively, so maybe going back on it (while still experimenting with raw vegan foods) will be good for me. Who knows!

I’ve been a bit dejected after making a bunch of recipes that I really did not like. I am sure there was nothing wrong with the recipe, but I’m the pickiest eater ever, so who knows. I got a dehydrator (feeling a bit depressed about this & not sure if it was a good decision, and I refuse to take pictures of it until it helps me make something nice) and made some onion carrot bread, which turned out awful and made me sick for two days. It didn’t taste too bad, just a little strong on the onion for me, but after I ate it I almost died, it was awful, I felt like a lump! Then yesterday I tried to make my first nut pate, made from hemp seeds and walnuts, and it was disgusting. I tried to eat some of it with a spinach salad, and managed to eat a bit of it, but it made me feel like gagging so I gave it a rest. And then I overate on spinach and had a stomach ache and just felt heavy overall. Bummer.

So, this week despite feeling like total shit I have learned some things about myself.

1. Do not eat too big of a salad.

2. Eat salad at the END of the day, not for lunch.

3. I need grains in my diet! They make my belly happy!

4. Raw onions do not agree with me.

5. Raw tomatoes do not agree with me.

6. There is a such thing as a too sweet smoothie

7. Smoothies are a good way to start the day, as is fruit

The smoothie pictured above is my second green smoothie – and for me I think it is a bit too sweet, which I guess is bound to happen because it’s a recipe I just made up. I’ve popped it in the fridge and am going to try watering it down to enjoy at a later date, but right now it’s just not what I want. TOO SWEET. But here’s the recipe for all you out there with a big green sweet tooth:

1. 1 banana

2. 1 1/2 cups of almond milk

3. 1 avocado

4. 3 dates (mine were soaked overnight)

5. 2 handfuls of spinach

Filed under: Lifestyle, Personal, Pictures, Recipes, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Overwhelmed

The past few days I haven’t posted much because I’ve been in the throes of health forum oversaturation. The raw forums, the 811 forums, the LFRV forums, and then there’s the raw blogging community. The first few days focused on reading up in the blogs, and I felt amazing and full of energy! And then the days after that I devoted my time to reading the forums, where most of my days were not as good as the ones before, and today I had a flare-up for the first time all week. After some thought I think it might have been due to a B12 supplement I took in the morning without realizing that it had lactose in it. Hello! Lactose intolerant right here! Yes it is that severe!

Regardless – when I first started reading about raw, I was nothing but inspired. Blogs like Gena Hamshaw‘s in particular, since she was a fellow IBS sufferer who healed after changing her diet. And reading other blogs, all of which are on my blogroll, I was so excited about raw and bought all this stuff to make some awesome yummy food. I was feeling so full of energy and full of life! Then, I found the forums, where I read so many conflicting opinions that made my head spin. A lot of people were talking about 811 (80% of calories from carbs, 10 and 10 from protein and fats respectively), or LFRV (low fat raw vegan for those who don’t know). Some people survived on nothing but fruits. Some people were paleo. All had pictures, and they all looked great – healthy, strong, and full of energy. They all said their way of doing things was the best, and I read the arguments behind everything.

This got to be sooo stressful. I wasn’t sure and still am not sure who to believe anymore. Gena cured her IBS with what I consider to be gourmet raw, and a bunch of people on the forums cured their colitis/etc by eating fruits all day and then salad for dinner. What should I do? This question ran around in my mind for the past few days. Whose way was the best way? It got to be so stressful I almost didn’t want to try anything, and at a few points I convinced myself I would be able to live only on smoothies.

Smoothies are great and all, but I need to go back to why raw started interesting me in the first place. Digestion, and getting rid of my digestive issues! I’ve for the most part felt pretty good all week, except the past few days I have been really dizzy, lightheaded, and have gotten headaches. This from a girl who NEVER gets headaches, ever!

I also really love the supportive anything-goes non-dogmatic, laid back vibrant energy of the raw blog community. When I read the blogs I feel so revitalized and happy, optimistic and healthy. When I read the forums I just am the biggest worry wort ever, and get bogged down with theory. I think the theory I need to apply is of my body. What feels good? What digests well? What tastes good? I don’t want to deprive myself, I want to enjoy the amazing tastes of fresh whole foods.

I swear – my boyfriend’s mother is a dietician, and if she knew I was even considering doing the 811 mostly fruit thing she would be floored! I had mostly fruits today, and a small salad, and I’m feeling like shit. This can work for some people but at this point in time I don’t think it’s necessary for me! I think some part of me needs nuts or something. Expect one of Brendan Brazier’s raw nut pate recipes this week, I’m going to try one out!

But I have to ask – has anyone else gone through a similar crisis of ideologies? What has your experience been? Sorry for the long-winded post but I had a lot to get out, lol. I feel a lot lighter now.

Also, some giveaways are happening right now!

The amazing Averie is having one! Check out her blog if you haven’t, it’s amazing!

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Newbie Pancakes + Fridge/Pantry Makeover!

So, I didn’t end up buying the dehydrator today – I’m going to try to find some time to go tomorrow. Instead, I went on a serious grocery trip and overhauled my fridge & shelves! No more processed food, hello fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, pseudograins, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices (and tea)!

I looked so confused at the grocery store, squinting at all the racks of nuts, seeds, spices, and herbs, trying to figure out what was what. It is amazing that my whole life I have never known what a walnut actually looks like, until today when I bought them! It’s a really amazing feeling to start learning about real food rather than just accept whatever comes from a package. No top-secret ingredients with ten syllables!

Before I went grocery shopping, I made a list of the ingredients of 3 of the recipes in Brendan Brazier’s The Thrive Diet book. I decided to pick one smoothie, one pancake, and one burger! It took me like 2 hours to find everything, shopping for real food can be confusing when you don’t know what anything looks like.

Anywho, the recipe I decided to make tonight was for his Buckwheat pancakes! However, when I got home I realized I totally wasn’t able to find 2 of the things on the ingredient list: hemp flour, and barley flakes. So, I took those out and readjusted the amount of buckwheat flour, and they turned out amazingly anyway! I am still full and the sweet taste is still in my mouth. Yum!

Here are the ingredients:

1 1/2 cup buckwheat flour

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 banana

2 cups water

Begin by mixing the banana and the water in a blender. Then mix the remainder of the ingredients in a bowl.

Once you have done this, slowly add it to the banana and water smoothie, bit by bit, and blending as you go.

Put a bit of coconut oil on a frying pan and put the heat on one of the lowest settings. Begin to drip the batter onto the frying pan. Wait until the pancake starts to bubble, and then flip. This should be about 3-5 minutes per side. My first attempt turned out super super ugly, as you can see below!

It looked so ugly I wanted to be sure it tasted good, so I put it on a plate and drizzled some raw agave nectar over it (my first time having this). OH MY GOD, SO DELICIOUS!

It was sooooo good! I felt really guilty eating it since it was sooo sweet with the agave nectar, I felt like I was eating some sort of candy bar or something. I can’t believe it’s 100% natural ingredients – real, whole foods! Yummy! I was a bit unsure since it isn’t raw, but it’s in Brendan’s book and I trust that guy. If it’s good enough for him to eat, it’s good enough for me to eat! Definitely not every day, though, and I think next time I’ll cut back on the agave nectar. But overall, a huge success! (PS: This makes 6 medium-sized pancakes!)

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Reflections on Slight Change

Lately I have been starting my days with warm lemon water – the juice of 1 lemon, freshly squeezed, with some warm not quite boiled water. It’s been working out pretty well, and is supposed to gently awaken the digestive system. Apparently cold water is the worst thing to have in the morning, and can freeze up the stomach and intestines. This is a definite change from my routine a week ago (I used to start the morning with a cold Vitamin Water) and I am pretty sure my body likes this better!I also had the energy yesterday to do yoga twice! Once before dinner, and once before bed. Lately I’ve been doing yoga at home via Yoga Yak on Youtube, and yesterday I did the same session twice, which was this one. I’m looking for something a bit more challenging lately though, so if anyone has any suggestions for that please link me! I am finding since I have started cutting out processed food and including more whole fruits & veggies in my diet, I have more energy. I also have noticed that I feel full a lot longer, and I have to eat less to feel full. The only problem so far is that at night time I tend to feel hungry while I am trying to get to sleep, so I might start having miso soup as a night time snack, or a bit of sliced cucumber.

Today is also a big day – I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy a dehydrator. I want to get a 9-tray Excalibur, and there’s this great store I found, that the owner says he will deliver it to my house! Awesome! Now I just have to organize all of the recipes I want to make and pick one to try out first! I think getting a dehydrator will cause me to be a lot less overwhelmed about incorporating more raw foods into my diet. Fruits and veggies are obviously easy but that does get boring after a while, and it’ll be cool to have the tool to make some more interesting meals. If anyone has any great recipes that require a dehydrator, that are pretty easy, let me know!

Do you have a dehydrator? What was the first thing you made with it?

Filed under: Personal, Pictures, Recipes, , , , , , ,

Fresh Film! + Food Combining

Went to U of T tonight to watch a screening of a film called Fresh, about food production. It was really nice to be in a small room with maybe 15 people max, rather than a large movie theatre. I thought it was a better executed film than Food, Inc (whose book supplement was actually a more worthwhile contribution, IMO). I really enjoy learning about food production, and it has inspired me to seek out some locally grown food in Toronto – I also think it will be cheaper than certified organic, which is what I have been buying lately, and it sounds like fun to buy local in general. I have been checking out Local Food Plus, a Canadian local food directory. I’m going to try to find some food cooperatives in TO.

I’ve also been thinking about food combining and generally trying to decode it. I must be doing okay so far – my digestion has been totally regular/awesome so far.  It seems like the general rules are:

1. Eat fruit alone & on an empty stomach

2. Veggies can be eaten with anything (non-starchy)

3. Do not mix starch, protein, or nuts

Would chickpeas be considered a protein? I am SO bummed about the not mixing starches and protein thing, bummer! One of my favourite taste combinations. I am going to try to find some sort of recipe that fills the craving for that kind of taste combo. Also wondering how long the wait is between food groups – I’ve seen anywhere between 2-5 hours posted around the net. I like to snack and I don’t want to just have the same snack combination all day! I guess I’ll just have to try it out and see what works for my body.

Does the fruit by itself thing mean that having soy milk or almond milk in a smoothie is a bad idea? Is it safer to just mix smoothies with water? Kind of curious if anyone has any ideas about this, since I’m kind of trying to figure out what the specific rules are, it’s a bit foggy to me right now! I’ve been really stressing out about ‘getting it right’ and planning meals, and consequently losing some sleep. My thoughts go so fast I just can’t keep up. If anyone has any good links on food combining (explained simply, preferably for vegans or raw vegans), please link me!

Kris is having a giveaway! :)

Filed under: Media, Nutrition, , ,

Green Juice!

This is the second time I’ve made this green juice, and this time I decided to make it far less watered-down. The first time I made it my vegan diet was highly processed and the idea of making something green to drink was a bit weird, so I mixed it with enough water to fill like 5 water bottles – it was more of a light green lemonade flavour. Drinking it again now but more concentrated definitely resulted in a trip to the bathroom (with good digestion, yay!), so if you are like me and not very used to having concentrated green juice, have a bathroom handy (this juice inspires the bowels, lol)! Here’s the recipe, it made about 3/4 of what you see in the picture, and then I filled the pitcher with water. Slightly modified from something I saw on Natasha St Michael’s video blog series Raw Radiant Health:

Juice:

2 stalks of celery

1 bushel of kale

1 apple

1 2/3 cucumber

1-3 cups homemade lemonade

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