Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June Books of the Month

Champion professional Ironman triathlete and Vancouverite Brendan Brazier discusses his nutritional and fitness research in the area of largely raw, whole foods, and explains how his unique plant based diet propelled him to his amazing degree of success in sport and in life. I saw him speak last night in Vancouver, and wow -- what an inspiring example of how it is so important to look beyond myth and tradition when learning about what truly fuels our bodies. The books are amazing and life changing. Required reading for people interested in nutrition, professional or amateur athletes and anyone who wants to feel great. That's everyone! Thrive has over 100 easy, delicious recipes, too. I have been eating this way for two weeks now, and have lost weight, gained muscle, recover faster from my workouts and feel awesome. It's important to note, though, that this is not a diet - it's a lifestyle. You could just as easily gain or maintain weight eating this way. You could bulk up with muscle, or maintain long lean muscles -- it is totally about how you work it. I can't imagine going back to how I was eating before, and with such amazing food, why would I want to? Keep checking back here for more cookbooks that complement this way of eating, and pick up these two today! 

Want to learn more? Sign up for thirty twice weekly free videos sent to you from Brendan by signing up on for his Thrive in 30 program.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Room for Improvement...

So, a few weeks ago I posted a list of ten things that I have started doing in the last few years to try to help the environment. At the time, I said that I would next post ten of the things that I hope to change to become even more helpful in this regard. Here is the list...

1. Stop bringing so much packaging home. I have curbed the whole plastic bag thing, and I reuse my bulk plastic bags, but there is still the pesky matter of the plastic, non-recyclable tofu packages and the potato bags and such. In Toronto, I knew of places where you could buy tofu from a big vat, but I know of no such place here, especially not in Langley. I could make my own, but have pretty much maxed out my cooking time budget. Anyway, I am committing to trying to vastly reduce how much packaging I bring home. I would love to eliminate it altogether. 

2. Gifts. I like buying presents for people, but I am thinking about starting to gift almost totally experiences and charitable donations. As my family tree and those of my friends branch out and out and out, the amount of waste my gift giving is creating is starting to get pretty gnarly. I am starting to enjoy gifting things like outings, lessons, tickets to events, massages and such because it creates a memory for the person that will likely long outlive any material present I may buy them, and it eliminates waste while stimulating the services, tourism and educational economies that tend to be a bit greener than their goods counterpart. 

3. Computer. It kind of scares me how many things I am "dependent" on my computer for. I'll catch myself booting up my computer to google a phone number that is sitting in the Yellow Pages under my sink. I will sit on the computer for hours sometimes reading things that I could as easily learn about in a book from the library. All of this takes power, and no small amount, judging by how often I have to recharge my Mac. I am going to try to really curb my use of the computer from now on.

4. Baths. Oh man, this one hurts. I probably take at least five baths a week. Hot, deep ones. It has always been a thing that has helped me stay sane under stress, it's gotten me through cold Ontario winters, breakups and bad colds. But, I need to pare it down. I am wanting to switch to all showers except for one bath a week. Baths take up WAY more water than showers do. Sniff.

5. Letter writing. They say that politicians take people a lot more seriously if they send a letter or a postcard than they do if a person sends an email or signs an e-petition. I am going to try to get in the habit of sending at least one original, hand written letter per month to an MP, MPP or cabinet minister, company owner, whathaveyou. It really makes a difference, and takes so little time to do. 

6. Yoga. I have noticed that when I do yoga regularly, like every day, that I become much more earth friendly in general. That simple act of connecting to the universal energy really stimulates my consciousness in the direction of the earth, and so I am hoping to really stick to an every day practice, even for twenty minutes, to try to keep those channels open.

7. Switching to all cloth diapering. I have actually just achieved this one! It was a bit scary to give up our naptime and bedtime paper diapers, because we worried he would notice the wetness more, but it is going great! We have not bought a single paper diaper for a month now, and all is well.

8. Local travel. I used to fly quite a lot back and forth across the country, but I am now committing to learning about all the fun regional things there are to do and see before booking a trip that is far away. I am looking into ways to green my touring, too (music related.)

9. I am reading almost all library books now, rather than buying them new. I am totally into supporting the book trade, but I know that there are enough serious book buyers out there that my reading only library books won't exactly cause the collapse of the book industry. Plus, I am a major word of mouth person who tells everyone I know when I love a book, so I support the authors that way!

10. I am looking into setting up a clothesline/drying rack thing so I can not use my dryer. I would say that the dryer is probably our biggest energy vice right now, and it is so unnecessary when I can dry my clothes outside or on a rack in the house. 

So, that's it. Those are my goals for the next little while...

What goals are you going after in the hopes of being more green?


Monday, May 11, 2009


First yoga class in TWO YEARS today! 
I do yoga at home, but you know -- this was an hour and a half, and was not as wimpy as my home practice is. 
Lord, am I sore.
This is where I went. It's in Langley. It was so wonderful to be back among yoginis and bolsters and chants. I totally value my home practice, and home practice is considered an extremely important discipline in yoga, so I am glad to have had this time to develop it, but I think I'll be going to classes regularly again. It's just nice to have the community.

BTW: In Toronto, I used to go here, here and here. 
In Vancouver, I want to go here, because it's the studio started by Deb Swan, who I used to take classes with the last time I lived here. This is where I used to go back then, and I'll still go there -- I believe Deb is still teaching there, as well, but they have a lot of great teachers.

Namaste, yos.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

May Book of the Month...

The Sacred Balance, by David Suzuki
buy it here

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mother Who?

Mother Earth has taken a bit of a backseat to Wall Street in the press this year. I certainly have been spending a little bit less time reading about, thinking about and volunteering time/money for the sake of the planet. I want to kickstart myself back into more serious action on this front, though, so I thought I would list here ten of the big changes I've made in my daily life for the sake of the environment since starting this blog, and then list the ten changes I would like to make next. Here we go...

Changes I've Made.

1. I went vegan. Well, I actually did this a few months before starting this blog in 2007, but I'm still going strong. I'll admit that I previously loved, LOVED eating meat, cow and goat cheese, etc. but here I am, still tofu-y after all these years. I believe that the secret to my success was the fact that a bunch of things came together at once for me -- a lot of reading about animals and what they go through, reading about the positive impact that veganism has on the planet, and on our health, becoming a mother and feeling more acutely the old mammalian bond that animals used for food are almost always denied...the list goes on. No, even if I wanted to, I don't think I could turn away from veganism again (I was a vegan from 2000-2002, but only for health reasons back then, which were easier to push aside.) *side note, I DO purchase organic, locally produced honey/beeswax now -- I know this is controversial, and makes me a "Beegan" technically. I have been meaning to do a post on why I am doing this, and will get around to it, I sweeear. Do you still love me? :)

2. I only use reusable shopping bags at the store. You know, this seems like such a no-brainer, but the number of people I see in Langley walking around with armloads of half full white plastic bags is truly staggering. I have been known to stock up on reusable bags and offer them for free to people in line with me at the store -- I am ALWAYS turned down -- what's with that?

3. I (almost) only buy organic food, largely local produce-wise, with very few exceptions. Having to eat gluten free, sometimes I am between a rock and a hard place in terms of convenience food, but for the most part I make everything from scratch and use all organic. Ways I have saved money have included buying a share in a CSA and sourcing out food from other farmers or finding stores with a crapload of local produce. And oh yeah, I freeze stuff when it is in season. I'd say my grocery bill, rather than going up, has if anything gone down because making a vat of organic hummus at home, for instance, costs about the same as one of those rinky-dinky non-organic containers of hummus that you can get at the store. Yes, this means I spend more time in the kitchen, but there are worse things in life, like baby polar bears dying and monoculture, so WHATEVS.

4. I volunteer for Suzuki. They are great, and the perk of volunteering for DSF in Vancouver is that he's around humming and working, so it's inspiring. There are a million amazing, worthy environmental orgs out there, many that are looking for volunteers. It's fun and it feels like doing something bigger than just recycling. Try it! Since getting back to music, I haven't been in as much as I would like to, so this one is still a work in progress. My goal is to get in at least four hours a week.

5. I turn off the lights at every possible opportunity. Okay, I get that there's a recession and that there is a bit of a conservation backlash because people are like "well, before I felt like a rich person doing my part, but now...oh, I don't know...conservation feels so PO" -- well get over it! Just get the Louis Vuitton symbol tattooed on your face if you must and turn off the fucking lights, okay?

6. I grow food. Lots of it. You can, too. On your porch, in your yard, community garden, whatever. Don't forget to plant flowers to stimulate the bee community and encourage pollination. 

7. I walk EVERYWHERE. In Langley. Where walking is illegal. I almost get run over by a suped-up pickup truck every single day. I get waved across streets when I have the walk signal by harried looking moms as if I am a goose trying to cross a freeway. Sorry that you paid so much for your car and that we are asking you not to drive it so much, but please don't drive it so much. Share it with someone if paying the full insurance and not driving it constantly bugs you.

8. I don't buy new mass produced clothing anymore. Ever. Period. Okay, except for socks. Well, who would buy second hand socks (ew)? And who sells locally made socks? Anyway, I buy second hand or I buy local. For the most part this means that I don't really have any clothes these days, because the Value Village here in Langley is all boxy church dress suits all the way, but when I move to Vancouver in the fall...Main Street, lock up your Victorian blouses and old Levis.

9. I bug people about stuff. Like my mom, I always bug her about leaving all her lights on at 2PM when she is not even home. And I bug Adam about not recycling recyclable things. Bugging people is fun and surprisingly productive.

10. I do not EVER  buy CDs anymore. Until they can be made to be 100 percent recyclable, I think they suck. Digital music all the way. Audiophiles can buy in no-loss format and print off the artwork, too, if they want. There is really no excuse to fill up our landfills with CDs. I still will print them trusting that if people buy a CD, that they are true collecters and will not be just tossing it after uploading it to their ITunes, but I hope I sell a hell of a lot more digitally. 

So that was a lot of me patting myself on the back! The next time I will get into the top ten things I want to change in 2009 to make myself more eco-friendly. 
What changes have you made that are not listed here? What changes do you hope to make?


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Just So Good One Bowl Gluten Free Beegan Skillet Cornbread.

Commercially made gluten free vegan/beegan baked goods generally suck. HARD. That's because all the glorious goodness of home baked de-yums can not be replicated. So get edumacated! DIY!
All my dry ingredients are Bob's Red Mill -- I like the way they keep gluten from contaminating stuff, I like their GMO policy. I like the fact that they are widely available and good folks to boot. If you are serious about baking gluten free, skip the (largely cross contaminated) bulk aisle and give BRR a spin. This corn bread is redunculous. If you make it and don't love it, post here and I will contact you and talk you through it, because there must be some terrible mistake. In other words, this recipe has convinced me that God has put me on earth partly to make cornbread for celiacs.

1 1/4 cups of organic corn flour (not corn meal)
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
4 Tablespoons of arrowroot powder
2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
just over 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

3 Tablespoons of hard honey
1/3 cup hard (but soft enough to scoop out)  refined, organic coconut oil (the kind with no coconut smell -- i like spectrum -- widely available at health food, grocery stores.) 
2 cups unsweetened soymilk

Preheat oven to 350

with a small amount of the coconut oil, grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or a non stick baking pan if you insist on not owning the best kitchen tool in the world) -- throw this in the oven as it preheats. 

in a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
add coconut oil and honey, and use a pastry cutter (or your own very cold fingers - but work fast!) to work it all into a medium fine meal
add soy milk and whisk (with a whisk) everything for about 30sec to a minute -- until it looks more like batter, less like sad, watery lumpy soup. medium small lumps are encouraged, though -- they will make the bread fluffy like how shortening works in pastry, but without the vileness of shortening for your health.
when your oven is preheated, let the pan sit in the hot for a minute or two more
USING AN OVEN MITT THROUGHOUT (bold is in relation to my own idiocy) take the pan out and pour the batter in the hot pan, return to oven, and bake for 35 minutes (if the edges are turning quite brown at 30, take it out then.)
test with a clean knife, if it comes out clean, she's done.
let sit for about 20 minutes or longer.
you're welcome, chili lovers.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My (and Kai's) allergy test results...

So, I am going to flesh this post out later, but for those of you who wanted to know what my Meridian Valley Allergy Panel shaped up to look like, here are the most significant results.

Allergic to the point of having to cut it out...

All dairy (um, vegan, so who cares.)
All gluten (already cut out because it makes my eczema explode.)
Almonds - OUCH
Sunflower seeds - Meh
All shellfish (again, vegan...)
Pineapple - what the? random!
Strawberries - sigh. 
Celery - Um...okay?
Kidney beans - Whatever.
Coffee - I KNEW it!
Brewer's Yeast - therefore, ALL ALCOHOL, VINEGAR and ALL FERMENTED PRODUCTS, including TOFU AND TEMPEH. DAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMNNNNNNNN! The good news is that soy is not the problem. I thought it was because I got super puffy after eating tofu, but soymilk, edamame are fine -- just not fermented soy. 

There were 95 foods tested, and some came in at borderline (ie. cranberries, asparagus, garlic, mushrooms) so I will eat those in moderation and cut them out if cutting out the biggies doesn't get rid of my major symptoms (though external symptoms are usually the last sign a body gives of internal trouble.) 

I think everyone should do this test. It was covered by Adam's benefits, but I think I would have saved up the money to do it anyway if it was not. I never would have guessed half the things I was allergic to, which would have kept me on this thing of thinking I wasn't allergic to things I am because all my symptoms did not go away when I stopped eating it (as in "hm...I thought I was allergic to gluten (which I am) but I still have eczema all over my body, so I guess I can eat gluten (which I can't)...anyway, pass the coffee.") The cost at my naturopath is 395 for the test. Again, totally worth it in my mind. 

So, am I going to cut out alcohol totally? Yes, actually, for two reasons. One: I am still nursing, and the naturopath says that whatever I am allergic to, it is highly likely that Kai is as well, and I feel so sorry for him when he is covered in eczema. Two: I am tired of feeling like crap, and alcohol came back very high for me. It's just not worth a month of allergy symptoms to have one glass of wine. 

The good news. NOT allergic to chocolate and raspberries (raspberries came back a zero, which is funny because they are my favourite fruit!) Avocados, also a zero. The doctor said that the coffee allergy is very rare, but I kind of knew it going in because, well, I feel insane when I drink it and my throat burns and gets itchy for the rest of the day. Allergy symptoms are not the same for everyone, though -- if you can swing it, get this test! Most naturopaths will offer it. 

OK. I am off to eat and chocolate and...hold on...let me check...walnuts!