Friday, 5 August 2011
Thursday, 21 July 2011
- half a can of diced tomatoes
- a generous handful of fresh spinach (vitamin A, folic acid!)
- half of an onion, peeled
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
- selection of houmous (what is the plural of houmous?)
- goat's cheese (mix into plain houmous for extra points!)
- rice crackers
- cassava crisps
- celery, cut into sticks
- cucumber, cut into sticks
- more extra points: peach puree and Prosecco for Bellinis
- head of cauliflower, cut into florets no bigger than 2 in (speeds up roasting)
- 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp dried coriander
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- pinch salt
- half can of diced tomatoes
- 1/4 c chopped fresh coriander
- lime wedges to garnish (if you're fancy that way)
- veg oil for cauliflower roasting and spice-reviving (maybe 1 tbsp)
- meat & fish, obviously
- soy beans (thankfully soy sauce is okay!)
- cow's milk
- cow's feta
- macadamia nut
- brazil nut
- sunflower seeds / oil
- corn (fresh / dried / flour / oil)
- white short grain rice (brown, basmati, and jasmine all okay)
- wheat, in all its evil forms
- green and red peppers (and yellow for good measure)
- winter squashes (butternut included *single tear*)
- potatoes red & white
- tomato (though I seem to get away with small amounts of throughly cooked ones)
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
- what was the underlying cause for these (seemingly random) symptoms?
- was my conversion to vegetarianism having a detrimental impact on my health? Was I getting the nutrients my body needs?
I debated going to see my GP. Don't get me wrong, he's thorough, listens and approaches healthcare collaboratively, but my appointments are ten minutes long. I wasn't sure I was going to get what I needed going that route, and others' experiences of nutrition issues and GPs have been less than glowing. I did a bit of research and decided that I needed to seek someone with less of a medical angle - and discovered that there are wonderful people called Registered Holistic Nutritionists. In particular, I arranged to meet with Jennifer Trecartin, who is the RHN behind myedibleadvice.com. Her practice is based at Bar Method, which almost put me off when I arrived, surrounded by a bunch of ballet bunnies in Lululemon gear!
The first thing that struck me about Jennifer is that she is radiant - if this girl was drinking her own Kool-Aid, I wanted some too. After a friendly and animated case history, I submitted to a fairly exhaustive round of non-invasive food sensitivity testing, which resulted in a report of foods my body likes and does not like (a bit of an oversimplification, but you get the drift). The end of the report also summarises which essential nutrients I am lacking, and how my major organs are functioning. The good news? I'm alive and my approach to nutrition is overall quite good. The not-so-good news is that my system isn't processing a lot of foods I've been relying on to fill my vegetarian plate.
Not surprisingly, wheat products (especially beer) are true no-go foods. Dairy is largely out, except for some of the harder cheeses (goat's milk / cheese appears to be okay). Among the surprises: white rice (jasmine / basmati are okay), corn in all its many, delicious forms (hasta luego Mexican), eggs, and most of the nightshade family of vegetables including potatoes red and white. Ironically, the results showed that while my heart and soul have trouble digesting meat, my body certainly doesn't (with the exception of duck, salmon and halibut). Even more ironic? I should avoid tofu and soy products. There goes the name of this blog, then.
The test results showed a lack of vitamins B5, B6, and folic acid - nothing surprising for a new vegetarian who is just learning to love lentils. Liver, kidneys and gall bladder are reported to be in a 'compromised' state. Insert drinking joke here, but the end result is that I should be downing a whole lot more kale, spinach, and brown rice. Yay.
If I am to live by these results, I will be a wheat- and corn-free almost-vegan. In my mother's words, 'Well what the hell are you going to eat?!" Thing is, I've been feeling (sporadically) like absolute crap for the better part of a year. Despite loads of exercise, I'm not shifting excess weight. Symptoms I have never had before in my life have become a daily occurrence. I don't sleep more than three hours without waking up (and as an early riser than can sometimes mean getting less than 5 hours' sleep a night). Bottom line - a lot of what this test had to say MADE SENSE. Maybe there's a reason I have hated raw tomatoes since I was a small child. Or that I didn't eat eggplant until I was in my 20s. At any rate, I thought I owed it to myself to go with the results of this test and evaluate how I felt after a given period of time. Jennifer and I agreed that three months was reasonable.
It has now been just under a week. With the exception of some vodka (tee hee), half a tin of tomatoes and an accidental-hidden-wheat incident, I have stuck to the plan religiously. And you know what? I FEEL FANTASTIC. My body is working properly. I am 100% asymptomatic. My brain feels like it's running on overdrive - memory, sensory perception. I keep checking for a magic spider bite. That the change is so dramatic in so little time has me wondering if I'm starting to feel vegan powers up in here.
In answer to my mother, I'll post separately to show a couple of the recipes I've been digging into to 'keep me alive'. In truth I'm loving every f***ing minute of this, grinning a mile wide. You are what you eat, apparently.
Saturday, 16 July 2011
Sunday, 1 May 2011
A friend of mine is cycling the Ride to Conquer Cancer, from Vancouver to Seattle. Please visit her page, find out what she's about, and throw in some cash!
Sunday, 20 February 2011
Thursday, 17 February 2011
I've been working a lot lately. Working a lot means not having a lot of time to plan, shop for, cook, and experiment with recipes, which in turn means relying on the plethora of restaurants in and around the office in Yaletown. Tough life, I know.
Sunday, 30 January 2011
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
I started 2011 on a bit of a mission: live consciously and kindly (Yes, that's where the vegetarianism comes in). But it goes beyond that - putting others' needs before mine, and being aware of how my actions impact the world around me. Sort of a bass-akwards self-centered approach to life, I guess.
It's easy to be kind somewhere like Vancouver. People smile, make eye contact, and generally engage with others. What happened to me this week has been sort of extraordinary, even still...
After a long day, I stopped by the bank to get some money out of the machine, then headed to the bus stop (I usually walk, but it was raining and I was feeling tired and pathetic). As the bus drew up, I folded my umbrella and prepared to board, only to be met on the step by a young guy in an obvious hurry somewhere. He shot off, and I found a seat. Well, to be precise, I found a wallet on a seat. He had been the only one on the bus apart from the driver, so it had to be his. A cursory inspection revealed this to be the case. When I asked what the protocol was, the driver actually told me it would be more likely that I would find its owner than Translink, whose lost property process is "very slow" (good PR, bus driver man!). Urged on by my fellow passengers, I had a quick dig through the pockets and discovered a bus pass, bank card, cash, gym membership, an ID card from Venezuela, various mementos and a card to a local language school, but no telephone or address details. I resolved to call the school in the morning and try to track him down.
Arriving home, I realised that the $120 I had withdrawn from the bank machine was not in my bag or my coat pockets. Retracing my steps, I couldn't recall removing the money from the machine, as I could my card. In all likelihood, I had left the sodding cash in the sodding cash machine. Palm, meet forehead.
Here's the philosophy bit.
There have been times in my life where I have had no money. Like, $10-to-buy-a-week's-food no money. Thankfully these times have been very few, and more than balanced with times when I haven't had to think about money too much. And, standing at my kitchen counter swearing to no one, I realised that it's my own stupid fault. My attitude to money (for better or worse) has always been a bit easy come, easy go. So, I didn't get any more upset, and although it nagged at me that $120 represented a nice new pair of shoes or jeans, it wasn't a life-changing sum of money for me. But it could have been for someone else - or indeed me, at a different point in my life. The conclusion I drew was that someone might have taken it, ultimately because they needed it more than me, and it was the universe's way of balancing things out. Or, by some tiny miracle, it would come back to me. Don't ATMs suck the money back in if it's not taken after a couple of minutes? Not one to dwell, I fired up Netflix and put my feet up.
On Tuesday morning, I called the language school and reported the found wallet, and was told that the message would be passed on. I kept meaning to pop down to the bank to ask if any cash had been returned, or at least check my statement to see if the money had been magically returned to my account by the ATM. The day got away from me, and just after lunch, my phone rang. It was Jose, the owner of the wallet, calling from the lobby of my office building. I met him and returned the wallet, met with profuse thanks and blessings. He said that I had saved his life, as that was all he had to live on. Then, he left - my part in helping another human being was over.
Several hours later, an ATM statement revealed that the original $120 withdrawal had indeed been subtracted from my balance. Dang it. I made a mental note to avoid book and shoe stores for the next few weeks to counteract the hit on my chequing account, and withdrew another $120.
Home, sleep, new day at work. My phone rang at around 10.30am. It was the bank (CIBC, who have never done anything except ROCK, imo). Apparently, $120 was left in an envelope by 'a middle aged woman', who had found it sticking out of the ATM. She left no contact details. The bank had looked through the ATM's history and narrowed the withdrawal down to my transaction immediately before hers.
The cash is back in my account, and there's a smile on my face. There's also a smile on Jose's face. There's probably a smile on my Good Samaritan's face. Not even a month in to this new way of thinking, result! Everybody wins!
Okay, so my decision to be nice may have had nothing at all to do with that cash coming back to me. But it did profoundly affect Jose's. And that kind lady's decision to be nice made my week. So, here's to being, well, nice...which brings me back to the vegetarian thing.
I read an article this weekend which gave me pause to think about my decision to go veggie. The argument is essentially that by going meat-free, I am opting out of the conversation around the improved treatment of farmed animals. After careful thought, I have to disagree; surely it's a matter of supply and demand on the largest scale? Yes, choosing ethically reared meat is a better option than eating cheap, factory farmed meat - for all involved. I wholly support the decision to eat 'happy meat'. But in reducing total demand, fewer animals are needed as 'supply' (a horrible thought). I used to comfort myself with the thought that the delicious steak on my plate had a good life. These days, I like the idea that it's still running around somewhere. Nice thought, no?
Saturday, 15 January 2011
Like anyone, I get into my little ruts with meals, especially when I'm short on time. Part of my decision to stop eating meat was driven by my desire to eat a wider variety of higher quality food. That's why I wrestled with the idea of vegetarian 'convenience' foods, or meat replacements - it wasn't the point.But I was picking up my weekly shop on the way home one night and Choices Market were giving out free samples of these little guys. They look and feel like any chicken nugget I've ever eaten (the breading is more crumbly than fast food ones, but similar to comparable cook-at-home varieties). A tip of the hat is deserved for the thought put into their shapes - oblong and "the boot" (or, as it was noted on the web, "Minnesota", which is just delightful).
Taste-wise, they're somewhere between a chicken nugget and a mozzarella stick with the cheese missing. Crunchy on the outside, tender in the middle, they're a great alternative to any processed chicken product of dubious or fast-food-chain origin.
Nutritionally, we're on to a winner... I compared the nutritional info available on Yves, McDonald's and Bell & Evans websites and calculated that Yves is appreciably lower in fat and cholesterol, and higher in fibre than both of the chicken varieties. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Yves Veggie Nuggets contain more protein per 100g than McDonald's "all breast meat" nuggets do (curious, considering Bell & Evans "all breast meat" nuggests had considerably more).
At this point I'm still enjoying the novelty of veggie cooking, but it's safe to say that may wear off in time, or at least on occasion. Having a few 'cheater' items is a sort of insurance policy, especially after a night of G&Ts.
Thursday, 6 January 2011
I've made two references to going veggie on Facebook in the last week, both generating a flurry of comments from friends on both sides of the meaty fence. I'm sure commenters' intentions were nothing more than lighthearted jest, but it didn't take long for my omnivore friends to incite the rage of their herbivore counterparts.
One comment hit a chord - "politics has no place in the kitchen". Is vegetarianism political? I suppose it depends on someone's reasons for it. I'm not sticking it to The Man here. I don't have any immediate urge to hold up a placard outside the Art Gallery or an abattoir, or lobby the Legislature to ban burgers. As a proclaimed vegetarian, am I putting up my tent in the patchouli-scented, tie-dyed section of the political landscape? Nonsense. Using that logic, as a woman who expects equal pay, I should be burning my bras.
I have not done this to set an example or make people feel guilty for eating meat. I have control over my impact on those around me, human and animal, and I want to do better by my fellow beings, as well as my own body. My decision is, well, mine. That's the beauty of where and when we live. It strikes me as odd, therefore, that people should get so riled up about the choices of others.
I'm through the looking glass here, suddenly very aware of the pressure placed on someone who doesn't fit the norm. Don't get me wrong - I'm not stupid enough to suggest that this is anywhere in league with actual discrimination. I mean instead that I have a newfound respect for those who have forged the path that I am now walking. And a little more perspective on the knowing looks that long-time vegetarians give me when I say I've been veggie... for a week.
So, a call for respect on all sides. Meat-abstaining friends, continue to show patience to the meaties. Vegans, long-time and occasional vegetarians: we newbies thank you and need you. There's strength in numbers, and we're only trying to join in the fun. Meat-eating friends, be tolerant of us veggies. We're not hurting anyone. In fact, that's kind of the point.
Tuesday, 4 January 2011
I never thought I would say that, let alone commit it in writing. I've been a happy omnivore for my 30 and a half years. But as of 31 December 2010, I am gonna try really, really hard not to eat meat.
"Meat" being beef, pork, poultry, game, and fish. I'm still clinging rather desperately to the dairy-and-egg lifeboat, reasoning that shocking myself into veganism will be at best unsuccessful, at worst potentially unhealthy. I'm still learning to love legumes, for Pete's sake.
I've met a lot of vegetarians. The subject usually rears its head at meals with colleagues or new friends. When someone casually mentions that they abstain from meat, you can count the seconds before someone (usually me) asks "Why?". A lot of people would give a lot of different answers, and for a long time I would nod respectfully and then order the steak, 'rare enough that a good vet could save it'. I mean, we have canine teeth for a reason, right? I suppose you could define my opinion of vegetarians as somewhere between really missing out and just plain sad.
I'll probably get into my reasons for making the switch at a later point. Suffice it to say that it's a combination of things, ethics and health being the two main ones.
I know it's not always going to be as easy as the first few days have been. I will face temptation and (most likely) willpower reduced by the consumption of a beer or two. It's early days, I've already faced my first few jibes and jokes, and for the most part, incredulity. I am, after all, the girl who started Meat Club at work.
Why blog about it? Blogging is kind of 2008. I'm going to use this as a support mechanism for weak moments, or maybe a confession booth for when I do give in (I can't imagine I won't). It might give my friends and family a chance to understand why I would make such a heinous decision. Heck, maybe someday it just might inspire someone to eat less (or no) meat! Alas, a lofty goal. In the meantime this'll be somewhere to hang my interwebs hat, share recipes and cool Vancouver veggie finds, and occasionally moan about really wanting a burger.
Thanks for reading :)