Tag Archives: Vegan

The Dapperdame goes Raw?

Hardly. Don’t worry, raw is still too extreme for me.  Plus I would never give up hot chocolate.  Lukewarm chocolate is infinitely less appealing.  Some things are just tasty, though.  A few weeks ago Earth’s General Store had a surprise 15% off of everything in the store and I stumbled across it and right into the raw food aisle.  Although I wasn’t lured by dehydrators there were some bars recommended to me by a friend (Alive Bars).  And they were not lying – super tasty! And filling. And at almost $6 for a little box that is unfortunately where the sellers will now have customers saying “I can do this at home”.  Know why? Because it is all just raw stuff from the bulk barn put through a blender.  So I made my own.  Yes, it is likely that something I bought at the bulk barn was at some point heated above that magical enzyme-destroying temperature but I think I’ll live.

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Just how easy was it? Ingredients: 1/3 nuts (I used walnuts and cashews – unsalted) and 1/3 dried fruit (apricots and dates) + a bit of unsweetened and shredded coconut + a dash of peanut butter

Soak the nuts beforehand for about an hour.
Pat them dry with a towel.
Put all of the lovely ingredients into a blender (I used a ninja) and blend until it is a paste.
Spread paste on a cookie sheet between two layers of parchment paper.
Let sit in fridge for a few hours.
Cut up and store.

They are just as good as the others and about half the price.  Next time I’ll try to ramp up the health factor (chia seeds?) or the richness factor (cocoa?) but overall they work just how they are.

And a fun little find at the farmers market became a hit at the work ice cream party as stewed rhubarb topping. That and a couchsurfer I hosted from Mexico had never heard of this strange but edible plant part.

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The Dapperdame Deserves

Last week I hung out with the lovely Bethaf in her hood in Toronto.  While exploring the neighbourhood we wandered into a Goodwill in which she explained to me that she had challenged herself not to buy anything new (or, if it had to be new, it would be ethically produced) for a whole year. A few days later she blogged about it (here) and explained that the decision came partially from this feeling of entitlement to new things that is so pervasive to Western culture.

Reading her post helped me more eloquently think about my recent self-challenge of a plant-based diet (aka a less-than-completely-ethical vegan) and my motivations.

Do I (we) deserve to eat meat?

Meat is tough on the environment.  Well, not meat exactly, but raising animals for consumption uses much greater resources than plant-matter.  We put resources (water, land, grain, etc.) into raising animals to eat instead of just using that material to feed ourselves.  Meat is resource intensive and very inefficient to produce.  This is a figure from eateco.org (the percentages represent amount of energy available for human use divided by the amount of energy it took to produce).  We are getting negative returns from meat and dairy products.

Food Item Energy
Efficiency %
Chicken 18.1
Milk 20.6
Eggs 11.2
Grain fed beef 6.4
Lamb 1.2
Salmon farmed 5.7
Shrimp 0.9
Corn 250
Soy 415
Apples 110
Potatoes 123

The lower the figure the more inefficient the process, requiring higher energy inputs.

This isn’t even mentioning the environmental impact of all the manure created by these animals and the horrific living conditions almost all of them endure. As other countries like China and Brazil move to match our meat/dairy consumption it puts even greater demands on the environment and these countries have massive populations.  These massive populations are becoming richer and realizing that they too “deserve” a chunk of this dietary high-life we have experienced for decades.

All of this info can be found with a quick google search (and I encourage you to do so) but the point is always the same:  animal-products are not a sustainable way to feed the planet.

So do I deserve to eat meat more than others in our world?  Do I deserve to eat meat if it means others will go without food? Do I deserve to eat meat if it will have a much more negative impact on the environment than a plant-based diet?

The answer I have come up with to each of these questions is no.  So I’m going to try very hard not to.  I’ll probably slip up sometimes or choose to eat the occasional treat with dairy but, for the foreseeable future, I’m plant-based.  I’m on a slippery slope to hippie-ism.

Plus, does this make you want to eat bacon? (No, it isn’t a sad peta video)

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The DapperDame Counts Down

3 more sleeps.  3 more 640am alarm clocks.  3 more days of work.  Then cheese, glorious cheese.  And possibly ice cream.  The meat part I’m not too worried about either way.  Right, and family.  You don’t realize how much you miss those crazy nuts until you haven’t seen them in FOREVER.  Since august for the parentals and since MARCH OF 2012 for the sibsters.  Friday evening flight to be reunited with JSLPA and then a fun-filled day wandering Toronto – my favourite city.  Sunday (mother’s day, how apt) and I’ll be in my hometown for 8 days.  The land of gnocchi and pizza and this girl isn’t going to let a little bit of veganism stand in her way.

Yes, I think I’ll continue eating plant-based at home (and out of home as much as possible) when I get back but no, I’m not going to obsess over it on my mini-vacation.  But to get me through this last week I finally experimented with some of my goal foods.

1) Ratatouille.  Not only does this dish have the most pleasing name but it also allows me to check off eggplant.  Boom, roasted.  Actually, baked.  It isn’t awful but I won’t be running around to three grocery stores again to pick a peck of the perfect aubergine.

2) Nutritional yeast.  It just sounds sad, doesn’t it?  Prior to this experiment I hadn’t heard of any yeast that isn’t for making dough rise but it is a vegan staple for imparting “cheesy” flavour onto various dishes.  This time it was added as a final texturizer in some very tasty tofu courtesy of Tyler (husband of ShanWow).  You honestly didn’t know tofu could be this good.  I’ll make it for you.

3) Weirdo vegan baking.  Check check.  Last week I baked a batch of beautiful black bean brownies that consisted of only 5 things:  black beans, dates, cocoa, vanilla and peanut butter.  No jokes.  Unless you count my made up icing of peanut butter, coconut oil and brown sugar.  The recipe is here and (assuming you have the right equipment) is just a tad time consuming and totally worth it.  I don’t have photos of my brownies but they actually looked almost identical to those on the link.  Bonus:  if you have a gluten free friend then offer these as a treat.

4) I-can-totally-believe-its-not-ice-cream. AKA dairy-free-coconut-ice-cream-substitute.  I’m a fan of Marble Slab (currently off-limits).  But companies will fight for my ice cream dollars and there are all kinds of alternatives from soy to hemp to this – coconut.  It seemed like the most promising choice (and had the prettiest packaging).  I had been eyeing this in the case at the organic grocers but, at $8 a pop for 476ml, it was difficult to justify.  Except yesterday – when it is 30 degrees out and $1.50 off I can easily be sold.  I went with my gut and got the cherry dream. Verdict:  not bad.  Not ice cream. The thick coconut flavour hits immediately and the texture is just a little too on the icy side (read: melted and refrozen ice cream).  If you’re serious about no ice cream ever again (ever) this might be enough to get you by.  Maybe I need to try the mocha fudge to be sure.

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You’re so coy, coconut bliss.

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Hipster radio cameo with my hippie dietary choices

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Sad looking ratatouille.

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Yam fries and tofu to round out the meal(s)

New Food Goals:

1) Use avocados.  Start with chocolate avocado pudding.

2) Daikon.

3) Vegan mac n’ “cheese”

4) Vietnamese salad rolls

Ankle news:  My physio is an old dude with an accent that places electrodes on my foot and leaves the room.  Oh well, it is Albertan tax dollars paying for it.  I do plan to find someone new who will actually give me things to do with my foot.  It is looking like 4 more weeks of no climbing, maybe 2-4 of no running.  This gal is feeling a little blue about it all.  At least I can be lazy at home!

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Cheese and a Cheat

I cheated.  A small stain on my month of veganhood.  But you know what?  Who cares.  Besides, it wasn’t out of inability to resist cheese or bacon – formidable tempters though they are – but in celebration.  Last night we stayed out until 530am celebrating the dietish’s 30th birthday.  The dietish is one of two other people I share a small broom closet with at work and it has been great to have her to commiserate and collaborate with, to do some gossiping with and to occasionally drink good coffee with.  A big group hit up The Common (the local hipster dance bar) for some drinks and tunes after an uproarious dinner at MRKT.  The time called for shots and, not knowing any good ones I asked the bartender to recommend something good but forgetting to specify “no creamy/dairy booze”.  The result was jagermeister with Bailey’s.  And it took me about 2.5 seconds to decide that living a little is more important than meeting a goal to the exact letter.  It hasn’t changed anything, today I continued with my plant-based diet.

Meals for the week:

Breakfast:  oatmeal (unless I sleep in this will pretty much always be the plan)

Lunch:  the yam and peanut stew is cooling on the stove now.

Supper: salad fixings (including baby kale!), pita, hummus

Treats:  a new dark roast decaf coffee from Ethical Bean.  It is YUMMY!  I always avoided dark roasts assuming it would create a bitter brew however it isn’t.  It is smooth and nutty and rich.  Plus a chocolatey treat that I’ll post about later.

NEW FIND OF THE WEEK:  Fake cheese.  Daiya mozarella to be more precise.  This is one substitute I had been avoiding because it is a bit pricey and my expectations were low.  It turns out that I shouldn’t have waited so long!  Or that I waited precisely the right amount of time to allow my taste buds to forget what real cheese is like.  This is perhaps more realistic.  Regardless of the reason it passes.  Maybe not as a cheese but as a suitable alternative.  I think a pizza is in order!

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The DapperDame is Walking a Little Slower

And is a little more plant-based.  At least that is what I’ve decided to call it.  Vegan is such a touchy word.  Touchy-feely, too.  I don’t feel ethical enough to call myself “vegan” because I’m not going to totally cut things out of my diet for ethical reasons.  If something is dairy, egg, and meat free but may have been processed in a factory that used to process cow meat well…I’m probably still going to eat it.  And I’m still going to wear the leather jacket I bought in the fall.  And, while I do like the idea that, by choosing not to eat meat or dairy, I won’t be eating animals who suffered in terrible factory farms I am even more interested in the health benefits of a plant-based diet and the the philosophy of sustainable consumption for which it allows.  

I said it:  I’m not as compassionate as a true vegan.  I recently read the China Study by T. Colin Campbell.  The book is at least 10 years old and it makes some claims that it doesn’t quite have the research to back up (or didn’t at the time) but it does show some compelling evidence for a plant-based diet over animal proteins for prevention of almost all “diseases of affluence”.  These include type II diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.  The premise is a study that examined the diets of people all over China and found that those who ate the least animal protein had the lowest rates of these diseases – even to the point of being almost non-existant.  All of that to say that he was writing from a perspective of what he believed to be the healthiest diet available not the most compassionate and therefore referred to his diet as “whole foods, plant-based”.  He may very well be vegan but he took the ethics out of the equation for the sake of the book.

You know what?  So far I really like eating this way (save a few cravings) but perhaps I feel a bit more comfortable considering myself as a plant-based eater.  

The other slight development in the story of my plant-based intake is my decreased mobility.  I decided to spend Saturday night at the climbing gym but quickly found myself chatting on the floor with a staff member while icing my ankle:  I had fallen off the wall while bouldering and rolled my right ankle inward and was treated with a beautiful “POP!” sound.  I drove myself home after 30 minutes of icing but found myself pretty immobile (and it was my driving foot, if you’ll recall) the next day. I’ll try to post a photo later but I only took one today so the swelling isn’t as impressive – I just have a uni-cankle.  

Big shout out to Baumer and her friend “C” for very kindly escorting me to and from emerge on Sunday. They even acted as my personal grocery shoppers and got me all kinds of tasty plant-based treats to get me through the week.  Because of them the experiment continues it just includes less elaborate preparations than anticipated and includes a lot of hummus, pita, fresh salads, spirulina juice and oatmeal.  And bags of frozen peas.

Many people have offered to pick up groceries for me and for that I’m very grateful.  I’ve taken a few days off work to ice the ankle, take ibuprofen and rest it in an elevated position.  Thank baby jesus for netflix and books about Mount Everest.  One more day off and then back to work on Thursday.

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The DapperDame is (Hopefully) a Little More Prepared

Week one in veganhood recap:  I feel pretty good.  Of course, the fact that I started the week with a terrible cold and have now ended it with just a hint of a cough means I was going to feel better in general.  It ended up being easier to say no to the usual temptations than I thought.  I read a quote in “Mainstreet Vegan” that basically said they read labels but not in public.  What they meant was if they were out at a party or at a friend’s house and something wasn’t definitely vegan they just preferred to decline politely instead of asking repeated questions about everything (did you cook it with butter? what brand of sugar did you use?) or asking to read labels.

That leads me to the most difficult food experience of the week:  the work potluck.  Bowls and bowls of scrumptious looking food and most of it made up of things I have decided to forgo.  I brought my own lentil dal and a friend offered some quinoa salad that she listed off the ingredients for without my asking.  Another lovely office-mate who knew about my recent dietary preferences even made some yummy date-cocnut balls so that I could partake in dessert as well.  Overall, I left without that heavy feeling of over-indulging and only a bit of regret at all the delicious-looking dishes I didn’t get to try.

How vegan was I?  I’ve allowed myself a few things at home that I had already purchased and had honey in them.  On my first trip to the grocery store I found that I’d often get through the ingredient list thinking:  yay!  No eggs, no sneaky milk products, safe!  Only to find that so many products have warnings of “may contain eggs, milk, etc”.  Since I don’t have an actual allergy I was going to allow those items but decided that they were mostly things I either don’t need or for which there is a brand or substitute that doesn’t have the warning.

Week 2 Food Plan

Breakfast:  banana bread is currently being baked.  When that runs out it is back to oatmeal with sugar, cinnamon, ground flax and almond milk

Lunch:  there is a giant pot of Moroccan Tagine with Spring Vegetables on the stove, a recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance.  That plus an apple will do just nicely.  It is an aromatic mix of red lentils, spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and spices.

Dinner:  kale was on sale (rhyme!) so kale salad with apple, sunflower seeds, tomatoes and coconut curry tempeh.  I’m a bit afraid I’ll tire of all the kale.

Treats/snacks:  right now I’m simmering a pot of hot chocolate to stifle my cravings for a hot beverage.  I have pita and babaganouj for the munchies.

Surprisingly, after just a week I find my tastes already changing to prefer naturally sweet things.  Date rolls and raisins suddenly look so good.  Even raw zucchini, something I thought I abhorred, was pleasantly tangy.

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The DapperDame is Unambitious

Starting my one month of veganhood experiment on Monday, April 8th was intended to be strategic:  it would ensure that I had a free weekend prior (ie not Easter) in order to plan my meals and prepare some interesting and experimental dishes.  Then the fever started Thursday night.  And thus ensued a Friday and Saturday on the couch not moving in order to suppress the cough storms.  I was an entirely pathetic mess.  Thank goodness for wonderful friends like ShanWow who kept me alive with covert, masked deliveries of soup, ginger ale, popcorn, popsicles and a slushie.  But my incapacitation wiped out my glorious plans for trying elaborate new recipes with new foods like stuffed artichokes and ratatouille.  Instead I’ll be relying heavily on salad, apples, and beluga lentil dal.  Don’t judge me.  I’m going to try really hard not to be a vegan that doesn’t eat vegetables which, in fact, is entirely possible.

The big new experiment for the week is going to be tempeh.  They had it on sale so I stocked up with a few different kinds and will use it to power up my salads.  The B12 and Vitamin D have been dug out of my medicine cabinet and placed on the counter to remind me to take them as part of my morning routine.

Tomorrow is also the first day of my level up climbing class to learn the skills to climb outdoors.  But I’m afraid of real rocks so we’ll see what happens.  At least helmets are coming back in terms of sports style.  Preventable brain injuries are so out right now.

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The DapperDame is not Vegan Yet


It is official.  I have challenged myself to one month of veganhood from April 8th to May 9th, 2013.  I’ve probably given reasons and, while cruelty-free eating and the environment are important, it is mostly just for my own interest and health.  I get bored – I try something new.  When I first lived on my own without a meal plan in second year of undergrad it was then that I discovered a love for grocery shopping.  There was always something new and interesting to try, labels to read, nutrition to contemplate.  At the time I was extremely budget conscious (think $20-25 a week) so mostly I perused and occasionally treated myself to a fancy new pesto or pomegranates on sale.  Those days are over for the good and the bad:  I no longer stick to such a tight budget but I also don’t revel in the process of selecting each grocery item carefully like a prize or an adventure.

Perhaps I’m hoping for veganism to bring a challenge and a feeling of adventure back to eating and preparing food.  I am hoping it will help me to refocus and try new things.  Every nerdy vegan-wannabe needs their own library of animal-protein free literature so I took to amazon and today I received my first bundle of green-eating goodness:  Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran, Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and The Daily Vegan Planner by Jolinda Hackett.  The first is a how-to guide of veganism in the real world (I’m hoping there is such a thing…) and the second two are cookbooks.

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Reading online can get depressing because the more serious you get about eating “right” the more you find out that you can’t eat anything at all.  Palm oil is a big oil and fat replacer in vegan diets because butter and lard can’t be used.  Except – guilt trip from a veg website – orangutans die during its harvest.  How about quinoa (a great source of protein)?  Nope.  Us evil richies are pricing Bolivians out of the market for their own crop.  It can all get extremely overwhelming so I’m going to stick to the basics:

1. no meat or animal-derived proteins
2. no dairy (eggs, cheese, butter, milk, whey, or casein)
3. switching sugar brands because Rogers uses bone char to whiten their sugar
4. no honey…I think…I’m undecided on this one
5. no gelatin

Just because I haven’t totally transitioned yet doesn’t mean I can’t get a head start.  I explained in my last post of this nature about trying almond-based dairy replacements with good results.  This week I’ve grabbed almond coconut milk in both the sweetened and unsweetened varieties to compare.  Since butter will soon be on the shun list I decided to try the veg-blogger obsession buttery spread Earth Balance.  Apparently it holds its own in baking and spread on toast (yes, yes it does) but the difference between this option and margarine is still a bit blurry for me.  Initially I thought it avoided transfat that ends up in margarine from the hydrogenation of oils (what makes the vegetable oils firm) but that turned out to be false:  EB has 0.1 g transfat for every 10g serving (or 1%).  Not huge but all transfat is bad fat.  I went for the original anyway but might try one of their alternatives without the trans next time.

Earth Balance: if you had 0 transfat it would be an unequivocal switch – it really is a creamy, tasty spread and fills in for butter like a jealous understudy.

Mountain veggie burgers:  There is clearly crack in these things (crack is dairy-free, right?).  Seriously – I would pick this over a real beef burger any time. Ever.  That isn’t to say it tastes like the ground and seared muscle of a dead cow because it definitely does not but you wouldn’t miss that taste if you could have a Mountain burger instead.  BEST. FIND. YET.

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Vega one:  right on the metaphorical heels of my best find yet was something way less impressive.  It is a shake to help those nutrient-deficient vegans bulk up on vitamins and I decided to do it in vanilla chai flavour.  I’ll have to admit that I cheated because I mixed it with milk instead of soy or almond milk because, well, I have milk to finish!  Regardless, the package recommends mixing it with 1 to 1.5 cups of the fluid of your choice and then shake.  While the taste is pleasant and less vitamin-y than anticipated I’d do at least 2 cups of liquid if not more.  It starts off a bit grainy and, if you let it sit for 15 minutes, it takes on a pudding-like texture.  I only got through about half.

Vegans:  2 yum points of a possible 3

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The DapperDame Contemplates Vegetables

I love cheese.  I also like a challenge.  Although I’ve lived the last 10 years as a more-or-less vegetarian I’ve always resisted going the “whole hog” har har.  And, thanks primarily to my hearting of fermented dairy products and buttery baked goods veganism always seemed way too out there.  A life without hamburgers does not a sacrifice for me make.  A life without cheese curds and croissants is another thing entirely.  Of course, because I think that I couldn’t do it now I find myself wanting to try; it is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now but it would need to be a finite period of time.  A month, perhaps.  Long enough to see if it makes a difference in how I feel and how I eat but short enough that I don’t become a vegzilla.

Instead of jumping right in I’ve started to trial some animal-free alternatives to some of my favourites.  Yesterday I brought home three things:  coconut milk-drink, almond milk and creamy cultured almond aka almond yogurt.  I needed to know if some of my favourite things could be adapted or would need to be entirely replaced.  Verdict?  Coffee is great with coconut creamer.  Better, in fact.  Vegans 1.  Oatmeal with almond milk instead of cow’s milk?  I could transition for sure.  Vegans 2.  Almond-yogurt surprise?  It looks like a translucent yogurt and tastes pretty good.  The texture of regular yogurt has always bothered me so it wasn’t exactly a dietary staple to begin with but I could definitely stand a little Amande with berries and granola for a quick breakfast.  Vegans 2.5.

Could I do without milk?  Probably.

After doing a bit more research, though, I discovered that my diet will require more adjustments and label reading than I thought.  Aside of the obvious no meat, eggs, milk, cheese or gelatin there are a few others.  No casein or whey which is added to quite a few processed products including bread.  No honey.  Watch out for omega-3 products because it was likely added via fish oils.  AND no refined white sugar.  At least not without researching which companies use bone char (ew?) to help get sugar than white colour.

I haven’t been scared off yet.  In fact, my next goals are:  try agave and/or stevia as a sweetener; learn how to cook with tempeh.

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