Monthly Archives: May 2015

Tips for a transitioning vegan

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My 26th birthday is coming up soon, and I’m pretty excited, because 25 was the first year of my life in which I was fully vegan (I went fully vegan shortly after my 24th, but had a small lapse when I was forced to move home with my parents). Transitioning to veganism is something I don’t feel like I talk about enough on this blog, and I sometimes worry that the way I talk about ethical veganism makes people fear that I don’t have respect for the transition process. Trust me, my transition to veganism was slow and deliberate. There were all sorts of factors at play — learning to cook more, learning more about nutrition, discovering new foods, working out a budget, etc.

I feel like it would be a mistake to not share what I learned about transitioning with my followers. I know for a fact that a lot of people who follow me are currently transitioning or curious about starting their own journey to veganism. While it is entirely possible to go from an omnivore to a vegan overnight (I know people who have done it), it’s also a struggle if you don’t already know how to cook a lot of things, if you rely on take-out for a lot of your meals, etc. It can also lead to some physical withdrawal symptoms for some, because any major change in your diet will do so. Transition at your own pace (as long as you have an end goal of being fully vegan) and follow some of these tips for how to do it smoothly.

  • If giving up meat before all other animal products, don’t simply replace meat with eggs for protein. This was a mistake I made during my transition which made me dependent on eggs for far too long. The egg industry is just as cruel as any other aspect of the meat and dairy industries, and if you end up putting more money into that from giving up meat, you’re not doing anyone any favours. If I’d made a vow to cut back on eggs right away, I could have easily gone vegan months before I did.
  • Learn to like (and cook!) tofu. While many believe that soy is best enjoyed in moderate amounts, there’s also a lot of misplaced soy-phobia among non-vegetarians (I’ve seen people say “soy is bad for you!” with regards to tofu or tempeh, but ignore that most livestock is soy-fed, and many pre-packaged foods such as chips contain soy). Tofu is a great, adaptable protein to have on your plate, even if you’re not going to make it into a fake meat.
  • Don’t try to replicate meats. While everyone loves a good veggie burger, re-creating complex things like breaded chicken and hot dogs are really, really difficult (and buying the pre-made stuff is expensive and not exactly nutritious). Instead, focus on creating new, interesting foods and combinations, like quinoa porridge or mushroom fajitas!
  • Find a new milk as soon as possible. While I continued to use other milk bi-products for a little while (like sour cream, yogourt and cream cheese) as their replacements were harder to find, I switched milks pretty much right away (soy first, then almond). For something as simple as an ingredient in your morning coffee, smoothie or cereal, milk is not going to be that much of a game-changer, flavour-wise, and most non-dairy milk is no more expensive than dairy milk.
  • Try adopting a “cook vegan, eat vegetarian” policy as quickly as possible. What does this mean? It means that soon after becoming a vegetarian, everything I made for myself at home — like muffins, mayonnaise, sauces — were vegan. If I got something pre-made at a coffee shop or out with my friends, it might not have been vegan. But learning to cook vegan before going fully vegan helped me avoid a huge learning curve when I finally made the leap (also, I was amazed at how easy it was)!
  • Hold yourself to account with your friends. Let them know that you’re planning on transitioning to veganism so that they can have time to adjust and accept this (and if they don’t, find new friends!) and also so they (at least, the good ones) can help you get/stay on track.
  • Always try the vegan option. If you’re at a restaurant and you have a choice between a vegan option like a curry dish and a cheese pizza, even if you’re not fully off cheese yet, try to give the vegan option a try as much as possible. The point is to try and learn that it’s possible to have fun and thrive without animal products.
  • Try things without cheese. I’m surprised how many people tell me cheese is their one “could not give up” item when it comes to animal products, but there was once a time when every burger I got was a cheese burger and I loved a good cheese pizza. A lot of people don’t find vegan cheeses particularly tasty (I’m not even 100% sold on Daiya), so why not try your burger/pizza naked, without cheese? Then go nuts on all the other toppings!
  • I say this in every advice post I create, but I’ll say it again: Don’t feel like you have to shop at Whole Foods/The Big Carrot/Organic Garage for EVERYTHING. While there are some novelty foods that are harder to find at regular grocery stores (like a good coconut yogourt, yum!) honestly, your best destination is the produce section. Better yet? GO TO A FARMER’S MARKET! As much as possible, try to buy locally-grown or made food, so that you can give some love to humans while you give love to animals!
  • Don’t try to live like a vegan food blogger. Green smoothies and lentil tacos may seem intimidating and hard to make, but trust me, most people don’t live like that every day. If they do, it’s because they make a full-time living off of blogging. Not every meal has to be fancy. For example, last night, I spent so much time making my mains that my side was a bunch of cucumber slices. You’re human and no one cares how fancy your food is.
  • Transition your toiletries ASAP. There’s really no “transition” required here other than “buy a new thing once the last thing has run out.” There’s no excuse to continue buying products tested on/containing animals, so once that bottle of Pantene runs dry, grab a vegan brand and get going!
  • Adopt a replace-as-you-run-out policy with staples. Once I discovered things like Daiya, Toffuti, Veganaise, etc., I decided to adopt a replace-as-you-run-out policy. My fridge gradually went from a vegetarian fridge to a vegan haven.
  • Track your hunger and how you feel. This is really, really important. As you transition your diet away from animal products, no matter how careful you are, your body may react in unpredictable or unpleasant ways because, well, it was used to something different. Keep track of things like headaches, dizziness, energy levels, etc. I found that I needed iron supplements at first, but eventually as I worked more greens into my diet I didn’t need those. For the most part, my journey was quite healthy, but it’s important to always keep yourself fed. Regardless of what you eat, when you make a major change in your diet you’re probably going to be cutting out a few calories, so it’s REALLY important to adapt and eat a little more than you used to, especially if you’re an active person. You don’t want to end up on a calorie deficit.
  • Keep positive and stay inspired. Don’t feel like you need to make your transition a competition with anyone else, but connect with other vegans who can tell you their stories and share their reasons for going vegan with you. Take hold of as much physical and emotional strength as you can and never be afraid to turn to someone for advice (hey, like me!)

Pan-seared polenta picante

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Polenta. So cheap. So versatile. So easy. And yet, I never fully knew what polenta was when I was younger. Actually, when I looked at some pre-made polenta, I always thought it was some sort of cheese or egg dish.

It was my partner who first got me into polenta and helped me see that it was so much more than a strange yellow sponge. With how delicious and unique it was (I’ll have to make a note to share our polenta pizza bites!) I thought, “This shit has to be off-the-chain expensive.”

Nope. You can buy it in bulk for pennies.

I prefer my polenta in solid form, which is when I find it’s most versatile. You can use it in a healthy vegan take on a capreze salad, or cube it up and toss it into a big bowl.

Now, if there’s one thing that always makes a plant-based food delectable, it’s a good pan-searing. Polenta is no exception.

(Sigh. Dear browser: “Polenta” is a real word, not a typo. Stop trying to correct it to “tadpole.” Seriously, how do you get “tadpole” from that?!)

Anyway, I combined this seared polenta with a homemade sauce inspired by my mom’s signature dish, “Chicken Picante.” Chicken Picante was always a hit in university because it was so easy to make, I once even made a whole batch for my friends on my floor in residence and we had a “dinner” together (which was, like, a BIG deal, having “a dinner” in residence). I’ve wanted to do a vegan take on chicken picante pretty much since I started getting into vegan cooking, but couldn’t think of what would be the best base. Tofu seemed boring and plain. Tempeh didn’t seem like it would be complimented by the sauce. And I couldn’t think of any veggies hearty and thick enough to stand up to this thick, creamy sauce.

Polenta. It was perfect.

A general warning that this can seem like a bit of a high-maintenance dish, especially if you’ve never cooked polenta before. Polenta is a long process, but not a complicated one. It takes about 20 minutes of near-continuous stirring (you can’t just let it cook and leave it). Then the cooling/hardening of the polenta takes several hours. Since the sauce cooks up quite quickly (maybe 15 minutes), I’d recommend preparing your polenta in the morning, going out and having some fun in the afternoon and then coming home to a meal that’s ready to just throw in a pan!

Pan-seared polenta picante, serves 4

Ingredients — polenta

  • 1 cup polenta/yellow corn meal
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, garlic powder and ground cumin, to taste

Ingredients — mustard salsa

  • 2.5 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3-1/2 cup diced red or white onions
  • 1/2 cup dijon mustard
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced into medallions (seeds optional)
  • A dash of salt

Instructions

  1. Bring your four cups of water to a boil in a large pot and then gradually add in the cornmeal, stirring as you go
  2. Stir until the polenta has thickened, about five minutes
  3. Reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to cook for another 15-20 minutes, stirring often (this is the high-maintenance part).
  4. Turn off the heat and add your nutritional yeast and spices.
  5. Pour your polenta into a 9″ medium pie dish and wait until it cools slightly (the steam coming off should reduce) and then cover and place in the fridge for several hours.
  6. Go take a bike ride or something.
  7. Now that you’re home and all tuckered out from that bike ride (right?) let’s start the sauce. Warm a tablespoon or so of EVOO in a large pot over medium heat. Add in your chopped garlic and onions. Woot, fragrant!
  8. After a few minutes, once your home is filled with the perfect, infallible smell of garlic and both the garlic and onions have softened, add in the tomatoes.
  9. Cook the tomatoes for about five minutes, mashing a little bit (an actual masher works so much better than a wooden spoon, and you can find one at a dollar store) as you go.
  10. Add in the jalapeno, cilantro leaves, lime juice and mustard. Stir to incorporate.
  11. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer as you move on to searing your polenta. Stir it occasionally to avoid major grossness.
  12. Cut the polenta into four even pieces and then slice down the thick side so everyone gets two nice triangles. Dredge the triangles on some flour (use GF flower if your poor body cannot handle zee glutens, of course).
  13. In a medium skillet or cast-iron pan, warm a small amount of oil on high heat (EVOO not recommended as it has a low smoke point and you will have one smokey kitchen). You’ll get the best results in a cast iron pan, but it will also absorb your oil very quickly (check out my recent post on cooking tofu for a sandwich to learn a bit more about oil in cast iron pans).
  14. Toss in your polenta triangles two at a time, turning when one side gets crispy and slightly browned.
  15. Let the triangles cool slightly and top them with your mustard salsa!
  16. Thanks, Mom.

On life as a journalist, my side blogging and how I turned my career around (twice)!

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When I was 21, I decided that I wanted to be a full-time journalist. Actually, I first developed the dream at seven years old, but as a teenager — even pre-recession — I was cautioned against becoming a journalist. I was told it wasn’t lucrative, I’d end up working as a freelancer making pennies for years, and I’d have no job security. So I went to school majoring in English to become a teacher, but my foray into student journalism gave me the guts to just give it a try. Somehow, I beat the odds and got a job about six months after graduation — but not just a job, a full-time, salaried job. My former student colleagues often pressed me for details about how to get their foot in the door, and the words “I’m a journalist” never failed to impress people. I was living my dream.

And then I gave it up.

Now, the story of how I even got to that point is a whole story in and of itself, and I will touch on it a little bit, but the main point of this post is to talk about why I left my job as a full-time journalist at 25, how I got back in the game, and what I’ve learned from it.

Why? Well, quite frankly, I’m asked about it a lot — about how to even become a journalist in the first place (sadly, my advice still isn’t that concrete as a lot of it revolves around “be naturally amazing at it” and “be in the right place at the right time”), but also about why on earth I would give up a career I worked so hard for (although I get a decent number of questions about why I gave up my subsequent job, a better-paying and far easier job).

Also, I want my readers to get a sense of who I truly am. This blog is all about honesty, and though it’s true that the focus is on food, I believe that loving your life and loving yourself directly translates into how you treat yourself (which obviously involves how you feed yourself, duh)!

So here it goes. This story is really personal and parts of it are equally fun and difficult to tell, so read on with great interest, because I put a lot into this.

A  journalist is born

I’d always considered myself a writer. I’m not sure what age I was when I discovered my parents’ old typewriter in their garage, or how old I was when they got rid of it, but between those years, I would write stories and pretend articles on it until my fingers were smudged deep black (while I’m sure I was told not to touch the ribbon, did you really think I would listen)? Once I was old enough to use the computer, my favourite “game” quickly became Microsoft Word. Every chance I had, I was writing a story.

In high school, I started to develop a strong purpose to my writing. I became more enamoured with writing about popular culture or political subjects going on in the world than I was with writing journal entries or fiction. I started a few blogs, though they were never really read by anyone (and I would be embarrassed to even read them back now), but the point was, I was practicing. Writing was the one thing I could do that I would seriously never get sick of. Some kids stay up late surfing the Internet or playing video games — but I’d put hours into writing, writing that no one would ever even see.

At 17, I became an editor for my high school’s paper, The Banner. How did I get the job? Well, a passion for English was a part of it, but the biggest factor was simply that I was brave enough to ask. I learned from a young age that I would never get anywhere waiting for something to fall upon me, but if I took something into my own hands, I’d have a good shot at it. I learned to do interviews and lay out pages at The Banner, but I mostly considered it a resume builder. After all, there was “no money” in journalism.

A couple years later, the summer after my second year of university, my at-the-time boyfriend decided he wanted to start writing film reviews for our university’s school paper. I gave it a bit of thought and decided that I, the self-declared “writer” in the relationship, should give it a whirl, too. I had no idea what I wanted to write about, so I checked off every section. The editor-in-chief liked my enthusiasm, and put me in the news section, where they could always use more hands.

I found that I actually loved news, and hustling around campus and beyond to gather interviews felt more rewarding than getting mailed a CD and writing a review or chasing down interviews with up-and-coming indie musicians. Though I had no idea how good I was (I assumed I was good, because I got the job done), my section editor saw potential in me and promoted me to lead reporter after only a few months. This meant becoming a member of the editorial board.

That was when journalism became my life. I got press passes. I attended national conferences. I was critiqued by the best. I was part of the press crowd on our federal election night. I was in “the industry.”

The next year I continued work on the editorial board, this time as features editor. As the deadline came to apply for teacher’s college, I made the decision to pass on it. My parents were cool with me living at home, and if I did happen to fail at a journalism career (I knew there was a big chance I would), I could always re-apply.

The period between graduation and getting a job seemed long and arduous, working random contract jobs, writing click-bait for pennies and working an internship with no end date. I even took a job as a door-to-door scamperson (oops, I mean salesperson) out of desperation for cash before deciding to not even show up for my first day (I have a little pride).

But November 9 was the day that all changed. I’d been on a hot streak of interviews, and though they hadn’t been successful, I’d received some great, honest feedback and was feeling more confident than ever. I was offered an entry-level editorial job for a local magazine in Toronto — and while I’d been nervous and flustered in my interview (I even wore my sweater backwards), my writing samples were strong, and the publisher and editor seemed to see my potential.

Then the fun part started.

The worst best job ever

My first job was hard. I can tell you that without a doubt.

Now, it wasn’t hard because I was running around buying lattés for my editors, shouting until I was hoarse to get a comment from Mayor Rob Ford and staying up all hours, crashing under my desk to ensure that I beat our competitors to a story. I was a real editor, not an intern. I also worked for a monthly, so the heavy workload would come in waves, while I’d have weeks of lulls. It was supposed to balance out, but it took awhile for the stress of our monthly “production” to feel manageable.

I spent more than my first year struggling with what others call “imposter syndrome.” The work environment was ridiculously critical, and not one where I’d be patted on the back for simply doing a good job. While that’s a normal thing to have to get used to, my personality is one that tends to internalize criticisms, and fails to internalize accomplishments. I sometimes thought of speaking up for myself to point out times when I had actually taken on other people’s work loads, but that felt like I was bragging or throwing others under the bus. I hadn’t gotten to a point in my life where I accepted that just because someone didn’t say I did a good job didn’t mean they didn’t think so.

I was never considered “bad” at my job by higher-ups — I was actually told a couple times that I was quite good at my job. But when I say “a couple times” I really do mean only a couple times, fewer than I could count on one hand in my tenure.

I also felt like I didn’t fit in. I was the youngest person there, and even though the editorial and art crowd generally attracts a lot of misfits, I never felt like I was the right “kind” of misfit. I didn’t have a quirky fashion sense or a great knowledge of Toronto’s arts and culture scene. I was an in-bed-by-ten kind of girl who spent to much time on the Internet and had a hard time making friends. I had a couple good friendships that I formed, but for the most part I felt alone at work.

Never once did this make me question my love of journalism. I was always able to tell myself, “You’ve wanted this job since you were seven” and make myself feel better. Every time I would do an interview, I would just fly to another planet, I was so happy.

But I did start to crave a different environment. I applied for job after job with dailies, monthlies, weeklies. My uncle would send me job alerts for government jobs, but I kept saying, “I don’t want to be a communications officer. I want to be a journalist.”

Then, around the two-year mark, I noticed a job for a local media company looking for a copywriter. They presented the role as an editorial role, so I applied with a great deal of enthusiasm. They liked me and started taking me through the interview process, but during that process I realized that I wasn’t going to be a reporter — I would be a blog writer for a production company.

The job suddenly appealed to me far less. But the CEO seemed cool, and he informed me that the salary would be far higher. I started to sway, and before long, I was offered a new job. Handing in my resignation was easy. Saying good-bye four weeks later was way harder.

Giving up

I think it may have taken me about four hours to know that I did not not want to be at my new job.

I hated the way the company was run, and I hated the work I was doing. I remembered looking at the duties I was given on the first day and thinking, “This is it?”

Yep, that was it. Writing blogs, editing proposals, occasionally writing a white paper or creating an infographic. No interviews, no research, no fact-checking, just “rah-rah, our company is swell!”

Worst of all, I still didn’t feel like I fit in, and “imposter syndrome” was replaced with an entirely different crisis. It didn’t matter how good at the job I was. I wasn’t meant to do the job. My brain felt like it was dying a little bit every day, and that’s not an exaggeration. The clock ticked so slowly and I failed to ever really get “into” the role. The founder told me he thought I got too good too fast, but I didn’t take that as a compliment. I saw zero challenge and didn’t have the motivation to keep pushing myself.

I started looking for a new job after a week, keeping it quiet of course.

When the editor who replaced me at my previous job asked me to write a freelance piece, I jumped at the chance. Keeping my byline alive became of the utmost importance to me if I ever wanted to get another journalism job, and I was eager to give myself something to do that actually sparked my interest. I took job after job for her and usually did a couple stories every month.

In the meantime, I started Urban Garlic. Originally, I grabbed the blog because I wanted to put something down under “website” when I applied for writing jobs. I wanted employers to get a look at my personality, and I wanted to have somewhere to dump my random thoughts. It quickly turned into a food blog, and honestly, food was the one thing in my life that I could still challenge myself and have fun with.

Still, it wasn’t journalism. And there weren’t a lot of journalism jobs out there, and I never even got a call back from most that I applied for. I realized that two years of experience (at a monthly, to boot) still wasn’t that great on a resume, and I started to feel trapped. I remember crying to my boyfriend over and over, “I pulled myself out of the journalism game after two years. I ruined my own career.”

He was comforting, but we both knew that the only thing I could do was hustle. Keep writing the stories, keep applying and hope that something would stick, and go in and fake it every day at my new job. Sometimes I would sit at work trying not to cry just out of hating my job, but I kept telling myself, “You can do it.”

It was all I could do.

The light at the end

You know how I said I didn’t get a call back from most of the jobs? I did have one interview early on in the game. In December, only three months after I’d started my new job, I was brought in to a publication for a news editor interview. The interview went really well, and I found I hit it off with the interviewers. I waited and waited for word back, and then to my sadness, weeks later I saw the job ad re-posted.

Suddenly I had a flashback to my high school self, the girl who had the guts to ask to become editor of the school paper. I sent one of the interviewers an email asking for feedback, and to my surprise, the feedback didn’t upset me. She simply said that I didn’t have enough senior experience. At first I thought, “Well, that sucks, I can’t help that.” Then I realized that, hey, everything had gone really well — they obviously liked me. But there was nothing I could have done differently. It’s not like they liked me and I went in and blew it.

While I still fell into despair at my job quite a few times, I kept trying. I knew I could make a good impression, and if one person had called me back, someone else would have to eventually.

Four months later, the same company contacted me. They had a couple more junior positions open, and they were really interested in being on board. I’d hate to sum it up simply with “the rest is history,” but, well.

Nevertheless, the conclusion of my story is that I spend every day pretty much typing constantly just as I did when I was seven (can you believe I actually get a tear in my eye as I write that?) and calling people up for interviews. I have my confidence back, and I have something to look forward to every single day when I wake up.

And I get paid for that.

What I’ve learned

The biggest thing I’ve taken away is that internalizing your accomplishments is absolutely necessary for emotional survival.

A lot of people — especially women — have a tendency to downplay their own accomplishments because they don’t want to be perceived as arrogant. I also find a lot of millennials avoid thinking they deserve better than what they have because they don’t want to be regarded as “entitled” (since we’re already told enough that we’re entitled).

The thing is, if you don’t say to yourself “I did it!” every time you achieve something (even if it’s small), you’ll never have the basis to believe anyone who says “You can do it.”

But remember this: you can do it. So you need to start noting the proof. Every job interview you have, ask for feedback. Every assignment that gets reviewed, note the patterns of what you do well and what you don’t do well. You need to know your worth, and understand your skills.

Keep your hunger high (figuratively and literally, because hungry people <3 my  blog). Don’t be afraid to be bold and ask your friend if you can contact one of their connections (that’s how I scored a freelance gig for Vice). You may be in the trenches, but it’s in the trenches where you get shit done.

And more than anything, tell yourself over and over that if you’ve done it before, you can do it again. One company took a chance on me when they hired me, a 23-year-old with no experience outside of student journalism, to become an editor. Another was bound to do the same.


“Schrute Farms” strawberry smoothie

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Processed with VSCOcam

Just take a minute to check out the pink of that smoothie. I’d even call it fuchsia. I never imagined that something so bright and vibrant could come out of my dingy Scarborough kitchen, but here we are.

You might say this smoothie is un… beetable.

Now excuse me while I dodge your hard-picked fruits and vegetables to get off the stage. I’m sorry.

I should actually inform you as a sort of impartiality disclaimer that I normally am not a fan of beets. Sure, I’ll eat them if they’re served to me (if it’s not an animal product, I’ll eat anything that’s been served to me), but I’m never like,  “Oh joy, beets!” And when I’ve been given fruit/veg juices that have a beet in it, I can always taste the beet hardcore. And no, I’m still not like, “Oh joy, beets!”

But this? This had me going, “Oh joy, beets!” Even as I was wiping the uber-pink stains from my hands.

Beets, of course, always make me think of Dwight Schrute, particularly the quote from Jim about Andy and Angela’s children: “He’ll figure it out. When their babies have giant heads and beet-stained teeth.”

This smoothie will NOT stain your teeth, but it will give you a mix of fruits and vegetables that does not taste like vegetables (I mean, veggies are awesome, but they’re better when they taste like candy). Especially when you don’t need to do it with the help of added sweeteners, amirite ladies?

(I promised I’d stop saying that so much, but promises of such a silly variety are made to be broken).

So here’s the Schrute Farms Strawberry Smoothie!

Schrute Farms Strawberry Smoothie, serves one

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries, hulled
  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup beets*, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup almond or other non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup pink guava juice
  • 1 tbsp flax meal, chia seeds or hemp seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Peel and cube your beets. *You may have to steam your beets if you don’t have an uber-powerful blender. I steamed mine for about five minutes or until a fork could easily pierce them.
  2. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high until pureed.
  3. Garnish with a strawberry if you please, because you’ve earned that.
  4. Get married standing in your own graves, as is tradition in the Schrute family.

That’s it for today’s recipe. Be on the lookout for two great things this week: One is a collection of tips I learned from my vegan transition on how to safely, responsibly and successfully transition to veganism. The other is one of the best savoury recipes my partner and I have concocted together yet — so you really will not want to miss it.

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Processed with VSCOcam


Minty melon cocktails

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Accommodating my fructose malabsorbtion has been surprisingly easy thus far. Even though I’ve alway loved apples, I’ve been pretty dandy surviving on citrus and berry fruits to grasp at some natural sweetness without the horrid after effects in my tummy.

One thing driving me crazy now that summer is pretty much in session? Watermelon. I used to love eating watermelon so much, I would eat until my face was stained pink and the inside of my mouth felt fuzzy. I’ve always felt that watermelon is a really simple, pleasurable snack that lent itself well to “grown-up” drinks. What’s better than pureed watermelon with some mint sprigs and rum?

Well, cantaloupe has been a real pal this spring. I’d never been keen on cantaloupe when I was younger, but lately I’ve come to appreciate just how naturally sweet and juicy it tastes. I guess I never gave it a chance when I always had watermelon as an option, but now that I’ve come to appreciate cantaloupe, well, to quote Michael Scott, it’s like “the ugly girl in the movie who takes off her glasses and she’s hot. And you realize she was always hot she was just wearing glasses. And that you were the blind one… [It’s] the most important thing in my life right now.”

That’s right. I can’t(-aloupe!) get enough.

(Even my dad thinks that joke is bad, I bet).

Here’s a cocktail that’s sweet without being so sugary your teeth feel fuzzy, one that you can just have a good balcony chill-out sesh with. Don’t drink alcohol? You don’t need the rum, but I’d advise throwing in a bit of water to help things loosen up. Don’t be turned off by the colour, either — mint and cantaloupe might not make a great colour pairing when blended, but the taste’ll win you over!

Minty melon cocktails, makes two

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cantaloupe, sliced/cubed
  • 2 cups ice
  • 3 oz white rum
  • About 6-8 medium-sized mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp coconut nectar or maple syrup (agave if you’re not sensitive to high-fructose foods)
  • An ounce or so of water, as needed

Instructions

  1. In a high-speed blender, blend the cantaloupe and rum first, adding an ounce or so of water if you find it’s a real struggle to puree.
  2. Once it’s smooth, add your mint, syrup and ice. Pulse until the ice is evenly crushed.
  3. Pour into two glasses, cover and shake if needed to stop the melon puree from settling, and garnish with another couple pieces of cantaloupe and/or mint, if desired.

What is “extreme veganism?”

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Sometimes when people use the term “extreme vegan,” I start picturing someone rocketing down a hill on a skateboard with a bunch of kale in their hand yelling “LET’S GO SURF THE INTERNET!”

(Clone High reference, anyone?)

Unfortunately, usually it means “a vegan who was mean to me once.”

Okay, maybe I seem like I’m exaggerating already. I’m sure for many non-vegans out there, there are some vegans whose devotion, attitudes and convictions seem, well, extreme. It seems extreme for a few reasons: 1) It’s an aggressive stance against something that most people have thought is normal their whole lives. 2) It politicizes food, something most people don’t think of as politicized. 3) It’s unapologetic in its nature.

When I published my post about Angela Liddon of “Oh She Glows” no longer identifying as a vegan (despite apparently still eating an animal-free diet) because she felt “too much pressure to be perfect,” one of the things that annoyed me the most was the comments supporting her saying things along the lines of “I don’t identify as a vegan anymore either because vegans are too extreme,” or “Moderate voices are the ones who make progress!”

There’s a lot of, I find, strange misconceptions around what makes a vegan “extreme.” I wanted to publish a list of what, in my opinion, does and doesn’t constitute extremism. I think non-vegans and “moderate vegans” (whatever the Hell that means) will find my opinions quite shocking.

What is extreme (to me):

  1. Physically attacking someone or intentionally causing someone bodily harm. I mean, I think that’s a pretty obvious one.
  2. Refusing to sympathize with someone who feel that extreme health or financial troubles prevent them from being vegan. Now, a lot of people BS on this or don’t even try, and I always like to point people to resources that try to point out how to healthily live vegan on even a shoestring budget. However, I also know people who live in extreme situations of unsupportive parents or partners who end up having to consume animal products despite their beliefs. I don’t know a single vegan who doesn’t attempt to understand their situations (and in a lot of cases, they try to help them).
  3. Co-opting human experiences. While it is important to look at animal oppression through the same social justice lens that we look through at other issues, I don’t feel comfortable comparing animal oppression to specific examples of human oppression, like the Holocaust, Ferguson, etc. It is extremely hurtful to those who have been affected by the experiences. Keep in mind that comparing oppressed people to animals is something that has been done in the most hurtful ways for centuries. Even if we see humans and non-humans as equal, there’s far too much baggage for me to go around comparing a human to another animal.
  4. Using gore without warning. Now, don’t confuse gore with “generally disturbing images.” I think it’s hella important to show what the world of factory farming really looks like. It’s simply that I don’t advocate for blood and/or gore being sprung on people without warning because, well, I hate the idea of triggering or scaring someone.

Now, here’s the important part:

What isn’t extreme (to me):

  1. Attending a protest or demonstration. Not all vegans attend protests, but these are merely examples of people demonstrating their feelings on the subjects of animal cruelty. It doesn’t affect you (the non-vegan), so why are you upset by it?
  2. Knowing the facts about the animal industry. Remember, if you don’t want to hear this conversation, you can always choose to walk away. The thing is, vegans don’t just make these things up, and they won’t stop believing in them because they make you uncomfortable.
  3. Actually sticking to your beliefs 100%. I believe that there is no such thing as “a 90% vegan.” You’re either a vegan or you aren’t. Now, that said, I respect the transition process (my transition from carnivore to vegan took about a year). I would usually say I was “on my way to becoming a vegan” or “eliminating non-vegan foods.” However, when you actively identify as a vegan but qualify it with “But occasionally I’ll eat eggs from my friend’s farm” or “Except for special occasions,” well, you’re not a vegan. And it doesn’t make those of us who actually stick to our beliefs “extreme.” It just makes us vegans.
  4. Not wanting to have close relationships with non-vegans. I don’t actually follow this — my partner is not a vegan, my roommate is not a vegan, and I am close with my family, all of whom are not vegans. But I respect a vegan’s decision to not want to be close with non-vegans. It takes a lot of discipline. Remember that vegans see animal rights on the same level that other people see all sorts of social justice issues such as racism, misogyny, transphobia, etc. If you identified as a LGBT ally, you’re probably going to feel pretty uncomfortable hanging out with someone who uses slurs, right? It’s the same for a lot of vegans, who often just don’t feel like being around someone whose beliefs contradict theirs so drastically.
  5. Refusing to bow down in an argument someone else started. A lot of people associate vegans as being argumentative. The thing is, I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in a group situation where someone else has brought up my diet and then expected to have a debate on it. Personally, I can’t stand it, because people are seemingly daring me to be this argumentative vegan. It’s also like they’re tenting their fingers, waiting for me to fall into some sort of trap — contradicting myself, admitting defeat, etc. If someone else starts an argument with me that I didn’t want in the first place, I’m certainly not going to pussyfoot out of it because I want to look nice and friendly.

Essentially, veganism is a belief. It’s a strongly-held belief that people hold for reasons related to animal rights, the environment and the economy. For someone to be called an “extremist” for nothing more than actually sticking to a belief is an unfair standard. While I’m always going to be a friendly person because, well, that’s just who I am, I’m not one to water down my own beliefs so people won’t think I’m “extreme.”

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Hummus Noir

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What’s a summer’s day without some apps, dips, chips, sides, snackables, all those little things? Honestly, I feel like summer is better comprised of a series of small, bite-sized snacks rather than three plain ol’ meals per day. What’s more relaxing than a book on the balcony listening to Mac Demarco? A book on the balcony (listening to Mac Demarco) with some chips and dip.

I’m a guacamole girl through and through, but guac can be high-maintenance. You have to make sure the avocados are just right. And because avocados go bad pretty much the second they oxidize, you have to basically make sure you eat it all at once (I mean, this has never really been a problem with me, but still).
I actually didn’t discover hummus until I was in my first year of university (I feel like this blog is a big collection of “I actually had no idea [food] existed until I was in university” which goes to show how much of an under-exposed, picky eater I was growing up). I think nothing quite beat Wilf’s hummus, but that might have been the greasy, deep-fried chips they served it with that made it great (Wilf’s, if you’re curious, is the campus pub at Wilfrid Laurier University). Since I left ol’ Wilfy, I’ve since been experimenting with different kinds of hummus (you may recall one of my first recipes on this blog, my pizza hummus — one of my favourites) and I’ve found that homemade is always better!
This Hummus Noir is that because, well, it’s made from black beans. But also, it’s a little spicy, a little mysterious, a little sinister. You can swap out the Sriracha for something a bit milder (or even a third tbsp of tahini) but the overall effect isn’t mouth-burning. Just enough for you to go, “Hmmmm” and keep dipping. It would also make a great sandwich spread. Not that I would know, because the dude and I ate it all.
Hummus Noir
Ingredients
  • One 19 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha
  • Two cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp olive oil (I added gradually as I processed the mixture)

Instructions

  1. Pre-chop some of the ingredients such as the garlic and the cilantro to allow for easier processing
  2. Add all of the ingredients to a large food processor and pulse gradually until the mixture begins to get pasty. Keep scraping off the sides if you must. The mixture should only take a couple minutes to become a nice, hummus-y texture.
  3. Enjoy on a balcony, porch, in a yard or by an open window somewhere, but protect it from squirrels and other jerks.

How to cook perfect tofu for a sandwich

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Well! If you’re wondering why I haven’t been dropping by the blog over the past few days with my seemingly habitual between-recipe posts about why juice cleanses suck and the fact that — breaking news! — there are other grains out there besides quinoa, well, I’ve gotten a little busy. Nothing too unusual. Work has been hectic. This is the kind of job that doesn’t allow me that mind-numbing “down time” like my last job, the job which allowed me hours of spare time to pour into my blog but still left my uninspired and cranky. Now, I’m spritely, inspired, I live in daylight hours and feel lively. And yet, the whole “time” thing is giving me a bit of a “crunch” feeling. I’m going to have to start queuing blog posts or at least pre-writing them in part a lot sooner, weekends perhaps. While I do have a few extra posts half-complete here and there, I haven’t put a great effort into finishing those.

Still, I was all ready with a great post for today — okay, so, I hadn’t written up the post yet, but that would just roll out of my fingers, right? Anyway, everything was correct in my head. Except for the past where my phone needed a re-format, and I forgot to back up my pictures before formatting.

My pictures, which included the pictures of the luxurious and unique [REDACTED] I was going to show you how to make today, the summery, pub-style [NO WAY MAN] I was going to post on Monday, and the scrumptious, unique twist on [HAH YEAH RIGHT] I had planned for next Thursday.

And yet, I’d say this accidental deletion is a sign that I’m probably doing a bit better, mentally, because I didn’t have a breakdown over it. I actually contemplated not doing a post at all, but while tearing into my sandwich at lunch, I thought, why not share a little bit about my love of tofu?

I want to start out by saying that I don’t understand why non-veggies make a total myth out of tofu. It’s like it’s the kind of food you would never touch if you weren’t a vegan or vegetarian, and it’s associated with rubbery dupes for “real” meat (chicken fingers! So real!) and overall seen as a flavourless, strange block.

I too was once a tofu dunce.

I was always willing to give tofu a chance, though my first experience with it hadn’t been that great. Actually, my first few hadn’t. It wasn’t until I’d had it in a pad Thai convinced (by no one, mind you, I came to this conclusion on my own) that it was chicken that I realized, wow, tofu did have the potential to be something great.

I’ve never been one to use tofu to try to recreate meat (in fact, I don’t really use anything to recreate meat) but it’s great for a simple lunchtime sandwich. You can go deli-style with mustard and onions (I call this “Grandpa style” because anywhere my Grandpa goes, he gets his burger/sandwich/probably tacos too with “just mustard and onions”) or you could perhaps get fancy and throw on some greens, apple slices and a thick slice of vegan cheese. Maybe you want to make it into a club. Either way, if you’re a sandwich eater on your work days (I am), here’s an easy as hell way to prepare tofu for a lunch sandwich.

This can make enough for 5-6 sandwiches if you slice it properly!

How to cook perfect tofu for a sandwich

  1. Use extra-firm tofu. I seriously cannot think of a reason why anyone would ever cook soft/medium/even regular-firm tofu.
  2. Press your tofu. One of the most basic reasons why you probably didn’t like tofu that one time you tried it (yes, I’m mocking you) is because it wasn’t pressed and drained well enough. Wrap your tofu in paper towels or a clean dish towel and hold it under/between something heavy for at least 20 minutes. Books are a great choice. Lately, I’ve been using my lamp. Once you’ve removed your tofu, give it a little squeeze and see if a lot of moisture is still coming out. If it’s dry (ish), you’re set (or you have a tofu press and you don’t have to worry about rigging up a crude, DIY tofu press)!
  3. Coat your pan evenly with oil and heat to just slightly higher than medium. You’ll want an oil with a high smoke point like canola or coconut oil. Keep in mind that if you’re doing this with a cast iron, it will get even hotter and the oil will dry up quicker (only bring a cast iron as high as medium). I wouldn’t recommend doing this with a cast iron your first time.
  4. Seriously, when I say coat evenly, I’d recommend pouring your oil in the centre and using a paper napkin or, if you’re like me and will go to all lengths to avoid being wasteful, a clean hand to simply coat the pan evenly. Uh, this is obviously BEFORE the pan is heated.
  5. Slice your tofu width-wise. In doing so, I had about 18 rectangular pieces (I use three per sandwich). You can also cut these rectangles in half and they make pretty perfect little squares, which might make them more versatile for different shapes of bread.
  6. Do NOT go crazy with flavour. Yes, tofu is great for absorbing the flavours around it. The problem? Often, all you can taste is spices trying to compete with each other. Here’s my perfect blend for achieving a savoury/(sigh) “meaty” taste:
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
    • A pinch of sea salt
    • A pinch of smoked paprika
    • (I’ll usually add a bit of fine-ground pepper later)
  7. Press down on the tofu when it first hits the pan to assure that all of the moisture has escaped. Listen to the tofu scream. Muahahahaw! (“Hey, Bree, I thought this was cruelty-free!”)
  8. For the most part, you can leave the tofu alone until you flip it, but if you’re using a cast iron pan I’d recommend giving the tofu a few nudges before flipping.
  9. 5-7 minutes a side will give you perfectly crisp tofu on each side.
  10. Let cool before storing — this will keep in the fridge for several days now! Hooray!

Anyway, apologies for the inactivity on the blog this week. But I’ve got some good news — it’s a long weekend coming up! This means three long, beautiful days for us to cook and get creative and take lots, and lots, and LOTS of pictures! Have a great long weekend, garlic lovers!


Peanut butter and banana cream pie

Another weekend, another fun series of adventures to talk about. And by “fun series of adventures” I merely mean one very fun dinner with my sister and her husband (and my partner, of course!) where we ate tons of yummy food (my sister is the queen of appetizers), played fun board games and laughed at her silly cats.

I was in charge of bringing the dessert (for the record, my sister is not vegan, but had fun making some vegan mains and apps for me — for the record, she found all of the vegan food delicious too) and wanted to REALLY impress the crowd. At first I was just going to make some banana soft-serve, but obviously the logistics of that were a bit too stressful. Then I started to think of one of the pie recipes from my various vegan cookbooks.

But then, I thought, if there’s ever any time to try something new, it’s now! Especially because my sister will have NO CHOICE but to be polite about my dessert.

(Just kidding, she’d be rather blunt).

I love peanut butter and banana. When I was a kid, it was my favourite sandwich. Unfortunately, I was always heartbroken when I couldn’t bring them to school because the bananas would go brown. So PB&B was a “weekends only” thing.

This pie is DEFINITELY a weekend kinda pie — perfect for now when our days are getting longer and warmer, and you just want to chill out (hah!) with a nice, cool pie that is a hybrid of creamy/comforting with fruity/fresh.

It actually didn’t end up taking all that long — a combined 40 minutes for the crust from the start of making to the cooling, and maybe 20 minutes to actually make the filling. Add a few hours for freezing (during dinner will do ya) and you’ve got yourself a peanut butter and banana pie!

Peanut butter and banana pie, makes one medium pie

Ingredients – nut and seed crust

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup whole flax seeds
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup or other liquid sweetener (I wouldn’t recommend using coconut nectar or brown rice syrup as you want something with a runnier consistency)
  • 3-4 tbsp softened coconut oil
  • Pinch of fine-grain sea salt

Ingredients – creamy banana filling

  • 2-3 medium-ripe  bananas (I used two large)
  • 8 oz silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup (you can use maple syrup or agave, but it will be a lot thinner)
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, Earth Balance or vegan margarine
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

Ingredients to assemble

  • 1 large banana
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
  • 2-3 tbsp powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a pie tin.
  2. In a food processor, process your hazelnuts (aka filberts!) to a fine crumble.
  3. Add the nut crumbs, flax seeds and sea salt to a bowl. Mix in the coconut oil and the maple syrup. Add more if needed to get the mixture even and consistent, and pat it firmly into the tray to make a nice, even crust.
  4. Bake the pie for 10-12 minutes or until the moisture of the oil has evaporated. Once removed, allow the pie crust to cool for up to 20 minutes before adding your filling.
  5. While all that’s going on, make your filling by combining all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blending until smooth. Pour into the cooled pie crust and let freeze for several hours.
  6. Remove from the freezer for about 20 minute prior to serving (or else cutting the crust will NOT be a fun experience).
  7. To assemble, adorn with another sliced banana (we sliced them into medallions) and some whipped coconut cream. To make the coconut cream, remove your chilled can (it has to be chilled in order to get the fat and the liquid to separate) and scoop out the top, thick layer. Add to a bowl and mix (it is far easier to mix with an electric beater than by hand). Add a little bit of powdered sugar as you go so it can penetrate the thick cream more easily and really fluff it up.
  8. Eat it and love yourself for it.

Eight mantras to help you break free from diet culture.

IMG_4482After I published my post, “Eight things vegan bloggers won’t tell you,” I received a lot of praise from many people I have a lot of respect for. It felt great that something I’d just whipped up in a few minutes’ time on a whim (and motivated by just the right amount of frustration) had actually reached out to people. I think that’s a sign that what I wrote was real and genuine, not just filler to improve my SEO, and that people want to read what is real and true.

One of the best compliments I got was from my partner, who said something I’m not even sure he realized was all that powerful: that it felt like I was finding my niche with this blog.

I think he’s right; I know I’ve been looking for something to set myself apart from all of those vegan recipe blogs out there. I’ve said before that I don’t see myself as someone who uses flowery words and wants everyone to sing around a camp fire, but I’m also not going to around using AAVE “ironically” in order to make my food seem edgy (I’m looking at you, Thug Kitchen). What I’ve realized my blog is a great platform for is calling out diet culture, or “health culture” (which is really just diet culture in a better disguise). I feel really adamant about fighting against this because not only was I a slave to this for many years, but there are still so many in the vegan community who perpetuate this culture and pretend (or are even convinced themselves) that it’s not the same as regular ol’ diet culture.

You know, I have a few friends who have been part of AA or other addiction programs, and they’ve all said to me (or others) that becoming a sponsor helped them in their own recovery even more. I kind of feel that same way with my blog, that being someone who motivates and inspires people who say no to diet culture and be wary of the tricks played on us will help me do the same. It makes me hold myself accountable.

Anyway, here are eight mantras that I have used in the past six years to help myself move away from my obsession with food, that help me stay away from “clean” eating trends, and most importantly, that help me love my body for what it is and what it can do.

  1. There is no universal definition of “healthy food.”
  2. Do not let anyone profit off of your quest for happiness.
  3. Measuring your self-worth by how much you’ve deprived yourself breeds self-hatred.
  4. Every second you second-guess yourself, you have lost one second of joy, one second of freedom and one second of spontaneity.
  5. Give your body more credit.
  6. Your journey is your own. There is no standard.
  7. Set the bar higher for inspiration.
  8. Don’t love yourself because you eat the food you eat. Eat the food you eat because you love yourself.

I feel a need to elaborate on a few of these (but you know me, I’m a rambler) so I wanted to explain some of the reasoning behind them, so hopefully you see where I’m coming from on all of these.

  1. There is no universal definition of “healthy food.” What is “healthy food?” Well, food that a) contributes to your overall health and b) does not detract from your overall health. The problem is we have a tendency to deem one kind of food as unhealthy or healthy because they affect certain people certain ways. For example, the war on gluten started basically because more attention was drawn to celiac disease, a really serious and painful illness. For this people, gluten is very, very bad. The thing is? Not everyone has celiac disease. While a slice of bread is dreadfully unhealthy for a celiac person, it’s not going to be inherently unhealthy for you and I. The same goes for nightshade vegetables: just because it irritates some doesn’t mean it irritates others. I, as an example, have a fructose malabsorbtion and eating apples and pears and dates and raisins and other wonderful things is terrible for me, but I’m not going to go advocate for anyone else to give them up, because for not fructmal people, they’re great things to eat!
  2. Do not let anyone profit off of your quest for happiness. This is a big one. Food is an industry. Dieting is an industry. So is “health.” The same bloggers and alternative “news” sites and product lines and book authors that tell you to live a certain way are making money. Maybe not as much money as major pharmaceutical companies, but they’re still. Making. Money. The ironic thing is, they’re trying to tell you to question everything while expecting you to not question them. Regardless of who’s doing it, there’s a very clear model to be aware of: someone will tell you that you’re not living as good of a life as you should be, and the quest to achieve that good life involves spending money. And as you go further down the road, instead of spending less money, you spend more. More on specialty foods, supplements, workout equipment, kitchen gadgets, sportswear, etc. This is because that happiness that you’re seeking is not really attainable, and that’s the way they like it. They want you to never feel fulfilled because that way you keep spending money. Self-love cannot be bought. Once you realize that you are not someone’s profit to be had, it’s up to you to cast off this eternal quest for perfection.
  3. Measuring your self-worth by how much you’ve deprived yourself breeds self-hatred. You wouldn’t measure your self-worth by how little you’ve slept, how long you’ve gone without brushing your teeth or how few showers you’ve taken. On the other hand, you also wouldn’t measure your self-worth by some arbitrary achievement like how many birdhouses you’ve built in a day. While you should of course be proud of an achievement like how much you’ve lifted or your improvement at a yoga pose, stop judging your character based on it. You start to become competitive with yourself. It teaches you to hate yourself, which is the opposite of self-worth.
  4. Every second you second-guess yourself, you have lost one second of joy, one second of freedom and one second of spontaneity. This is pretty straight-forward. When you spend your time thinking “I shouldn’t eat this” or “I wonder how many calories that was” or “I should work out now to burn that off,” you’re removing yourself from the moment and preventing yourself from enjoying something. Don’t lose out on those times!
  5. Give your body more credit. Your body is smart! While no two bodies function the same and no body is perfect, for the most part, your body is great at telling you what it wants, what it needs and what it doesn’t like. If you’re full of fluid, your body will tell you to pee, right? So if you feel hungry, that’s your body telling you to eat! If you still feel hungry after you’ve eaten, your body isn’t lying to you. If you feel shaky and weak after a workout, your body isn’t trying to say it’s proud of you! Stop second-guessing your body.
  6. Your journey is your own. There is no standard. You know how everyone was amazed at how Chris Pratt lost a bunch of weight (and then gained it back, then lost it again) and got totally ripped for some of his movie roles? While that’s noteworthy for Chris Pratt, remember that Chris Pratt is a professional actor who was paid a ton of money for those roles, was contractually required to lose weight for them and was given essentially a full-time schedule to work out. You do not have the same life (probably. If you do, lucky you! What are you doing on my blog?) and you do not have the same schedule… or, for that matter, the same contractual obligation to look a certain way. There’s no way you can compare yourself to some actor who dropped a ton of weight for a lucrative role because you’re not them, you don’t have the same goals, the same incentives or the same money. (It’s also worth noting in the case of Chris Pratt that both he and his wife have been very public about preferring him being chubby).
  7. Set the bar higher for inspiration. I really hate that “-spiration” has become the coolest new suffix. When the problematic, pro-anorexia concept of “thinspiration” (or “thinspo”) gave way to the seemingly less problematic “fitspiration” (which still idealized one particular body type, but was seen as “okay” because it wasn’t limited to skinny bodies), it all just came back to one thing: we’re inspired by people who look a certain way. But when will there ever be “nicespiration?” How about “givespiration?” “Funspiration?” There are so many more things to be inspired by, like how loving someone is, how funny they are and how much they contribute to their community. Let yourself be inspired by things other than a body.
  8. Don’t love yourself because you eat the food you eat. Eat the food you eat because you love yourself. Self-explanatory. Let what you eat fuel and comfort you (even if it’s not determined to be “good for you”). Be able to look at yourself at the end of the day and love yourself no matter what it is you ate.