Monthly Archives: December 2015

PSA: Urban Garlic is on vacation for Christmas!

Put your laptop away and spend some gosh-darn time with your family.


A look at 2015 and how Urban Garlic (and Bree) have changed

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Perhaps it’s just because I work as a journalist reporting on the entertainment industry, but I feel like I’ve really been inundated with year-end reviews these days.

I first started Urban Garlic in the fall of 2014,  but for the first couple months it kind of sat around as a blog where I mused about my life and occasionally talked about food. The start of 2015 was when it transitioned into more of a blog dedicated to veganism and recipes.

2015 was filled with big “turning points” for my blog when it came to my supplementary content. The first big one I can recall was when I discussed my journey with ED-NOS — I received a lot of positive feedback from the post. I’ve since followed up with a couple posts on EDs, both with a lengthy discussion on Orthorexia Nervosa and on a recent post on bullying and the way we talk about EDs. These posts helped me feel empowered because I was taking such a big risk. I’ve never talked so openly about my own eating issues, but I found it surprisingly easy.

Another big distinction I made in my blog this year came as part of the fallout of Angela “Oh She Glows” Liddon dropping her “vegan” label. I was one of those who was extremely disappointed and went into a lengthy post that I’m sure not that many people actually read or cared about, but it was important to me. I still feel the way I felt when I wrote that post, probably a little harsher, in fact (since coming back to my blog in September I’ve somewhat abandoned my “play nice in the sandbox” philosophy). I, like many others, saw this blogger’s journey with veganism as one that exploited the popularity of veganism as a health trend for so many years, then abandoned the label when people finally started getting too critical. I call it hash-tag veganism — knowing that that “#vegan” tag can take you a long way in terms of popularity, but dodging accountability within the actual vegan community.

Since then the focus of my blog has shifted a little bit because I want to make sure that I’m creating content that speaks mainly to ethical vegans and have not shied away from taking a blatant vegan-for-the-animals approach. I’ve realized that even if it doesn’t make people like me, I’d rather stand for what I really believe in. You know, that whole be-hated-for-who-you-are-not-loved-for-who-you-aren’t thing.

I’ve grown in terms of my recipe development thanks largely to my amazing partner, Jarrod, who worked in restaurants for most of his youth and has a huge passion for cooking (he isn’t vegan — yet — but almost everything in our apartment is plant-based. I’ll admit I started a huge, overdramatic fight when he first brought feta cheese into the fridge, and we’ve since compromised that I’d rather keep it minimal, and would generally prefer that it be kept in a separate drawer than my food). Anyway, Jarrod and I recently moved in together, which I wrote at length about, and despite him not being vegan, he is highly respectful and has never expected me to respect his decisions to eat animals. I know non-vegan partners can be a bit of a divisive issue among vegans, but I’ve simply looked at Jarrod’s decision as something I have to live with. He’s a grown man and all I can do is lead by example and hope that one day he comes to the right side of things. In the meantime, his support and his enthusiasm for helping me develop cruelty-free recipes has helped me grow as a vegan and as a recipe creator (bonus: I’ve also drummed up his enthusiasm for cruelty-free soaps and personal care products).

Did I mention Jar is also a pretty good photographer? Between him and my sister, who is the founder and owner of Ten2Ten Photography, I’ve learned a lot about photography. While I did purchase a secondhand Nikon in the spring, I’m sad to say I haven’t really had the chance to learn a lot with it. Taking photos on my mobile device and editing them has become such a quick process that I’m not sure how I could balance that process with my full-time job (I mean, my sister manages to do it, but she’s superwoman). Can you believe how bad some of my old pictures were? I now have a far better handle on the process of photographing my food. I generally test a recipe at least once before I take a picture (some, however, turn out great on the first take!) and take a lot of photos on beautiful weekends when I can actually get the best natural light. I’ve learned that deep bowls are the absolute worst for making it look like your quantities are hella tiny, and that editing isn’t magic (okay, I do love my VSCO app for easy edits on the go, but as they say, garbage in, garbage out. A filter or action isn’t going to fix crap). I’m by no means advanced, but I’m advancing — learning how to use my light, set a backdrop, get the colours working together.

In July I started experiencing a lot of burnout after overloading myself with work and dance commitments, and the blog was an easy commitment to drop. I took a near two-month hiatus while I re-thought and re-planned business. Since coming back I’ve dialed it down to one recipe per week and far more personal posts, which I’ll admit I still sometimes struggle to come up with (when it rains ideas, it pours, the problem is even when I write them all down and map them out in bullet points, if I don’t basically write the whole thing at the moment my passion and interest and, well, attention span for the topic is gone). Nevertheless, these have been some of my most engaging posts — my posts on dealing with your friends when you first go vegan was a great success, as was my post on the lessons I learned from being an unpopular blogger and my recent post on the myth that going vegan will make you pretty (even though I was called a “compliment fisher” by the occasional reader who failed to see that “x didn’t make me pretty” is not the same as “I don’t think I’m pretty.” I’m hot as fuck, happy now?). Perhaps my biggest success (I guess the word is “viral?” At least in the context of my still-relatively-unpopular blog) was my post on mistakes I made when I first went vegan.

I think more than anything I’m amazed at the food I’ve come out with lately. I’ve managed to really figure out what my niche is — food that is fun and creative without being overly trendy, and still managing to be practical. I’m through with trying to focus on “healthy” versions of things and have instead turned to food that makes me happy (most of which is healthy, but I no longer feel bound to that requirement). Jarrod and I really struck gold with our seitan recipe, and have gotten quite a bit of mileage out of it.

It only seems appropriate to look at what’s in store for 2016. Well, my e-book is coming (I’m currently in the recipe testing phase and writing the actual body copy). But my blog will undoubtedly face challenges. The whole reason I started my blog was because I hated my boring day job. Now I love my day job and it’s demanding, and that demand isn’t going down. I may look at scaling back to two posts per week, but that won’t be without giving it the ol’ college try. I’ll definitely continue to focus on vegan food that is tasty and bursting with flavour (duh? What am I gonna say? I want to make vegan food that tastes like shit. Fuck you), but I have to come up with recipes that will actually make people look at my blog, since there’s a million blogs like mine out there. I’ll be going more seasonal with my selections for sure, and focusing a bit more on practical, quick recipes for people with schedules like mine and Jar’s (nine-to-fivers who like to keep active at night).

Anyhoo, that’s just about it. Wubbalubbadubdub! Okay, I’ve kind of been watching a lot of Rick and Morty lately. But how has (this current timeline of) 2015 gone for you? Maybe you went vegan, started your transition or celebrated yet another year of living a cruelty-free lifestyle! Maybe you adopted a doge or a kitty, learned something new, got a new job or found a moon rock in your nose. Tell me all about it in the comments — I’d love to hear.


Veganism didn’t make me pretty (and I don’t &$^%! care)

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One time while I was working at my old job and desperate to get out of the office (seriously, I hated it) I volunteered to go pick some supplies up at Walmart. I sped a little bit on the way there and spent the time I saved sauntering around the Markville shopping centre, and was (naturally) lured into Lush by the smell of handmade cosmetics and beautiful, complimentary cashiers. When one of the cashiers recommended a product with honey to me, I quickly said sorry, I was vegan.

She smiled and told me, “I should have known — you know why? The whites of your eyes are so bright. That’s what I find about vegans.”

I smiled, thanked her, paid for my impulse purchase and waited until I was 20 feet away from the store to let my bright white eyes roll into the back of my head.

Bright whites of my eyes? Really? They’re eyes, how much could the shade of white honestly differ? I’ve looked at my eyes against my  boyfriend’s eyes in the mirror when we brush our teeth in the morning and I don’t notice a damn difference in the shade. In fact, just this week after months of increasing irritation with my eyes I finally found an optometrist who gave me some pretty frank news: I have deep scarring in both my eyes and shouldn’t wear contact lenses for the next year (which is why, for those of you who follow me on social media, you’ve been seeing me in my specs lately).

So what I’m saying is, I don’t think there’s a damn thing that’s special about the whites of my eyes.

But that’s not the first thing I’ve been told about my physical appearance that’s  been attributed to my veganism. A few weeks ago, a barista at Starbucks told me I had beautiful skin. My co-worker who was in line with me said “It’s probably because she’s a vegan.” They then both started gushing over my apparently flawless complexion. Joke was on them. First of all, that wasn’t my natural complexion, I was wearing Kat Von D’s tattoo effect foundation, which is basically spraypaint (but, like, awesome, fabulous, cruelty-free spraypaint). Secondly, my skin’s condition is such a roller coaster. My last period, I had zits the size of marbles pop up all over my forehead and chin — and I’m 26.

Dark circles under my eyes? I got ’em. Hair? Comes out in my brush. Only reason I don’t have split ends anymore is because I keep it short. Bloated belly? All the time, man. Dry shins and elbows? Over heeeere. They’re all over here.

Oh, my super white teeth? Been that way since I was a kid. Helps that I don’t smoke and rarely drink coffee. Soft-looking lips? I  keep myself well-hydrated and am addicted to lip balm. Everything else I credit to makeup and genetics. It’s not veganism that did it.

But why is there such a strong connection between veganism and our physical appearance? Plant-based diets have already been zealously embraced as a path to a svelte physique (assuming you also ditch those delicious, delicious grains and survive on a 1000 calorie diet of cucumber juice and plain zoodles). But why don’t we talk about this total myth that veganism makes you pretty?

Books like Eat Pretty make us believe that we can actually become physically flawless specimens from eating the right things and avoiding all the wrong things (yes dear, I eat a ton of avocados, my hair still sucks), and a certain I’m-not-calling-myself-a-vegan-anymore-because-vegans-are-so-mean blogger has basically built her entire brand on pushing a diet that supposedly makes you a radiant child of the Earth.

Look, I’m not going to knock anyone for making steps to improve their lives in ways that they see fit. Even if something turns out to be a placebo at best and a coincidence at worst, we’re all reducing harm, right?

But then again, what’s probably more troubling than the myth itself is this continued emphasis on pretty, that something has to make us thin, clear-skilled and all-around lovely in order to be a good choice.

As much as I was thrilled with Kat Von D’s recent decision to go vegan (largely because I cannot wait to not have to check her brand’s vegan list before plopping down my hard-earned coin for something), the emphasis she placed on being “healthy” (read: thin) but still having boobs and a butt made me uncomfortable. Congratulations, you’re hot, that makes you more valid!

I worry sometimes that when I go on these types of tangents I come off like a bitter ugly girl who hates on the pretty girls. Rest assured, I’ve (for the most part) made peace with my totally average appearance.

The worry is that there’s a lot of ideas floating out there that make it really, really hard for a lot of us to make peace with our appearances.

We often talk about the sources of overt negativity in our online interactions. But a lot of times it’s those seemingly positive sources of light and inspiration that can leave us feeling so empty. We see things that we aspire to be, and in some cases we might make drastic changes to do that (like going vegan — which is great, but let’s not pretend that it’s a simple thing for a lot of people to just do).

It should come as a surprise to no one that most big (and by “big” I mean big enough to have released a book, to have six to seven figures of subscribers, to have struck ANY sponsored content deals) bloggers, YouTubers, Instagrammers and other online influencers aren’t just hanging out making movies in their bedrooms with webcams, even if they’d like you to believe it. Don’t believe me? Should I mention I work in that industry? (Yup, that’s my name on the byline). Again, this isn’t me being pissy over my mid-range income and the fact that influencers are making more money than me (trust me, most of the YouTubers I’ve had the pleasure of speaking to are some of the hardest-working, most business-savvy young people I’ve ever met). But what I am saying is that they are business people. They’re conscious of their brand, they’re paid money to do what they do and they look good because they need to. You can be seen as a Luddite to say anything vaguely critical of social media, but it really needs to be said: stop thinking this shit is real life. It’s no different than other media.

Well, practically 1100 words later and I’m unsure if I’ve really said anything, so if you’re going to look at anything, look at this: I don’t give a shit that veganism didn’t make me pretty. I never went vegan to become pretty. I’m perfectly happy being a normal-lookin’ girl, and if my physical appearance was a factor in changing my diet and lifestyle so drastically, I’d have some other issues to address.

I went vegan because I was sick of being complacent in a system that exploited other living things. Whether you’re the type of vegan who survives off Daiya and Oreos or a kale-and-quinoa type of vegan, compassion and care for our earth (and those we share it with) should always be priority numero uno.

Not the whites of your eyes.


French Toast with the Vegan Egg

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Have you ordered your Vegan Egg yet? When I saw that Follow Your Heart created a vegan egg product, I wasn’t skeptical in the least — I’ve often thought that if anyone could do it, it’s them! I’ve generally liked everything FYH does: Veganaise, salad dressings, cheese. They’re not a blog sponsor or anything, I just love them. Don’t question it. My cat doesn’t sponsor my blog and I still love him.

I’ve never had any other vegan “egg” products (the only one I really know of is the Vegg). I’ve always loved tofu scramble and have never had a tofu scramble I didn’t like (save for the awful tofu scramble I had in Hamilton a couple months ago — why anyone would use silken tofu for a scramble I have no idea. Blech. The memories.) so I didn’t really miss eggs that much. But hey, I’m always up for a good vegan dupe.

The taste is basically bang-on. You can tell they use black salt very liberally in this mixture because it has that distinct sulfur-y smell. Once you pour the water in with the powder you get an instant egg smell throughout your kitchen. Trust me, it’s pleasant.

As for texture, I didn’t quite go crazy with my first vegan egg. It took quite a long time to cook down and solidify, very different from a real egg. I mean, keep in mind, it’s half a cup of water per two teaspoons of powder, so it’s a very different texture than a gel-like egg. If you’re still waiting for your Vegan Egg in the mail, let me give you a tip for your first scramble: make sure your pan is really good and hot before you put it in — I’m not talking hover-your-hand-over-and-wow-that’s-kinda-warm-hot, I mean drop-a-teaspoon-of-water-and-watch-it-go-wooooosh-into-steam-hot so you can get it nice and firm as soon as possible.

Anyway, I have no interest in using the Vegan Egg for things like muffins or burgers because I am perfectly happy using flax eggs and other replacers, but another thought occurred to me on Sunday morning: French toast.

I’ve never identified with a minor movie character so intimately as I have when Leslie Mann’s character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin drunkenly slurs, “Let’s get some fuckin’ French toast.” Guys, I love this stuff. Like, REALLY love it.

My dad was more into pancakes growing up, but my best friend Katelyn’s dad would always make us French toast after sleepovers. Damn. Nothing beats it. And what I’ve always longed for was something that gave the toast that nice singe on it that was so distinctly eggy. I’ve thought of using silken tofu, but, well, here we are.

You have to do this. I’d say do it before you make a scramble/omelette/Western sandwich.

Vegan Egg French toast

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10-20 minutes (I guess this depends on the size of your pan and how many toasts you can fit in)
Yield: About 4-6 pieces
Dietary specs: Vegan, soy-free, nut-free option, gluten-free option, fructose-friendly

Ingredients

  • Two slightly thick Vegan Eggs (4 tsp vegan egg powder with about 3/4 cup cold water)
  • 2/3 cup almond milk (or rice/flax/whatever milk for a nut-free option)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar or brown sugar (optional)
  • 4-6 pieces of bread, preferably slightly stale sourdough bread (use GF if necessary, of course)
  • 2 tsp vegan butter or coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Mix your vegan egg. Make sure your water is cold! Whisk incredibly thoroughly to get out all clumps. Marvel at the eggy smell.
  2. Add in your milk, vanilla, cinnamon and brown sugar if using (this gives it a more caramelized texture, but I personally prefer a less sweet French toast since I drown mine in maple syrup). Whisk, whisk, whisk.
  3. Heat your oil/butter in your pan on medium-high (like I mentioned, VE takes longer to solidify than a “real” egg, so make sure your pan is good and hot).
  4. Soak your bread slices in the mixture for a couple minutes, until good and soggy but not falling apart.
  5. Fry up in the oil until crispy and golden on each side, about five minutes per side.
  6. Serve with whatever you like — real Canadian maple syrup (support our economy before we all end up moving into Peter Mansbridge’s garage), coconut whipped cream, berries, bananas, whatever. Maybe even some vegan bacon!

I still have a whole bag of Vegan Egg left and I have no idea what else to make besides just scrambles. I mean, scrambles are awesome, but any other ideas? What have you made so far with your Vegan Egg?


Don’t quit.

Dont Give Up Idiot

Hey you. I’m not sure where you’re reading from, how old you are or whether or not you’re a Taylor Swift fan, but if you’ve ever or are currently having doubts about staying on the vegan train, this is for you.

Maybe you’ve come home wasted and chowed down on your significant other’s pack of turkey slices. Maybe you were out with friends and caved and had a cheese pizza. Maybe that McDonalds over on Pape lights up like a holy church in the middle of the hell that is East York and you can just taste those fries on your tongue.

I’m here to tell you that you can do it. Do not quit. And if you lapsed once, twice, three times, there’s no reason to do it a fourth or fifth time.

I know it’s hard socially. Trust me, we all go through it. It’s a mean eater’s world? But you know what? The more of us there are, the easier it will be, socially. Restaurants and food companies are increasingly making vegan options because there’s now a significant demand for it. There are little steps made every day and it’s because of us (okay, yeah, it’s because people are trying to capitalize on us, but still).

Give that pizza place a reason to start using Daiya. Give Guinness a reason to take the isinglass out of its beer. It’s hard to see your place in the movement when you’re just a small part of it. But as much as it stings or feels embarrassing every time you ask, “Do you have a vegan option?” you’re giving them something to consider. Every time you choose to buy cork leather over real leather, you’re sending a message.

You have to remember why you did it in the first place. You knew there was a point when you couldn’t turn a blind eye to what was really going on anymore. You knew there were injustices in the world and you took a stand for it.

Those injustices didn’t go away. They’re still happening.

I’m not going to say veganism can be easy 100% of the time, because I’ve never thought that there’s a single thing on this earth that is worth fighting for where you’re not likely to encounter, well, a fight. But we can find ways to make it easier. If you’re the type to want to eat your roommate’s Pepperettes while you’re drunk, fill your cupboard up with Oreos and vegan crackers and always have a giant bag of carrot sticks in the fridge.

If people are judging you because you’re a vegan, that’s on them. Why should anyone on this earth have the power to make you feel bad for something that is your choice, a choice that you made because of the morals? It’s like someone making you feel shitty for not smoking. Call those people what they are: mean-spirited losers. Do it to their face. Seriously. How dare they? You rock, even if you don’t think it right now.

You know why you rock?

Because every year, that’s an estimated 30 land animals, 225 fish and 151 shellfish you aren’t eating.

Just by not eating meat for a year, you’re abstaining from releasing 1,600+ lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere.

While you’re at it, you’re also discovering new foods and tastes, saving money on meat and cheese, and of course you’re allowing yourself the opportunity for sweet, sweet moral superiority.

Just kidding.

But not really. You know that what you’re doing is right. If you’re falling off the wagon, first of all, understand that you live in a meat eater’s work and that temptation is always going to be there. You’re not an awful person. Find a supportive community that can give you a boost. Look up some stats on the good that veganism does. Check out those numbers. Have a nice tall glass of almond milk. You’ve got this.


Spread the love: November edition

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Did you guys really think I’d forget about Spreading the Love? No way, bro! In fact, I’m super excited about everything on this list, so I want to just jump right in! But before I do, since I’ve gained a lot of new readers recently, I wanted to emphasize that none of the products or brands featured in STL are sponsored products or advertisers — just plain ol’ things I like!

  1. I’ve sung the praises of Pacifica Coconut Kiss Lip Butter before (perhaps in my very first “things I’m loving lately” post) but this year I’m drifting back to more natural colours. Lip Butter in Shell is that really nice kind of muted pink, the classic “your lips but better” style that is really understated and goes with everything. The lip butter itself is super moisturizing but not goopy, and best of all, no fucking shimmer. No, seriously, why do lip balms and butters created for women in their 20s still have shimmer?!
  2. Sunflower seed butter. Okay, so I’m a girl who loves her PB. The problem? My editor, who sits right behind me, is allergic (she’s not allergic to tree nuts, but I’m still worried about cross contamination with almond butter). I’ve since come to actually really love sunbutter, and I find its taste really unique and salty (which is awesome for me. Sweet ‘n’ salty? Hell yeah). It’s actually playing a big part in my upcoming recipe, which may or may not be ice cream for breakfast and may or may not be cookies and cream flavoured.
  3. Can we talk about periods? Can we talk about my period? IT’S AWFUL, OKAY?! I’ve recently found out from my doctor that I probably have endometriosis which explains why things are SO AWFUL. But anyway, because of my issues with pain, menstrual cups have never worked for me, and I hate the idea of filling landfills with pads and tampons. I recently started using Thinx period underwear and it’s a way better solution. It feels a little different at first, but puts way less pressure on mah’ stuff. Best of all, Thinx is a totally trans-inclusive company and recently started a campaign to acknowledge trans men and other DFAB people who still get their periods (when I got my shipment they had just made some changes, so one of my pairs said “For women with periods” and another said “For people with periods” — it was awesome). Highly recommend for anyone who has aversions to a menstrual cup but wants a more eco-friendly option.
  4. Because I now have underwear dedicated to soaking up my vaginal castaways, I’ve decided to start hand-washing more. I don’t hand-wash everything (living in a small-ish apartment in the winter, drying is a pain in the ass, but carrying wet laundry down to the dryer 11 floors down is an even bigger pain in the ass) but I do hand-wash underwear and sometimes blouses. My personal favourite soap for hand-washing is Soak, and boy does a little bit go a long way with this thing. Bonus — if you can’t find Soak in stores (it was hard for me until I found it in a tiny shop on the Danforth) my pal Jordanna at House of Muses carries it in her shop)!
  5. Grishko vegan ballet shoes. Yup, they exist! The dance world is one of the hardest to find vegan accommodations for (jury’s still out on a quality tap shoe) but fortunately I’ve found a soft ballet shoe that is completely free of leather, silk and any animal products in the glue or dye. I found the pair I’m currently using through Big Tent Vegan, which details vegan ballet and pointe shoes in this informative posts.
  6. My Vegan Essentials package just came in and it included a product I’ve been wanting to try for ages: Choco No-nos. Needless to say, they did not disappoint. I’ve missed things like Smarties and M&Ms (note to my American followers: “Smarties” in the land of the North does not refer to those chalky sour hard candies — Rockets — but to a bite-sized, candy-coated chocolate candy that’s kind of like an M&M but not at all and I can’t explain it). The one thing about Choco No-nos is that because the dye is all natural, a lot of it is made from fruit juices and so there’s kind of a fruity taste to some of the dyes, but I actually like it that way.
  7. Cork “leather.” Okay, so I don’t actually own any products in this yet, but, you know, Christmas is coming and I need a new messenger bag. Hey guys? Guuuyyys? IT JUST LOOKS SO COOL.
  8. My new Pantone Universe credit and business card holder. I’ve officially abandoned my wallet (too bulky) and have switched to this, which is totally sleek and cool and fits anywhere (even a woman’s pant/jacket pocket, which is a total unicorn). Amazon doesn’t currently have the shade I bought in, but these make great stocking stuffers!
  9. When I first started working at my new office (in early May), I saw that there was a Kupfert & Kim coming to a nearby corner (Spadina and Richmond) “this spring.” Well, after many delays and glancing through the windows literally every day, it’s finally open! K&K has been around in Toronto for awhile but this is its first standalone, sit-down location (its other locations are sprinkled in various buildings throughout the Financial District). The food is amazing (naturally) and the staff is just great — super enthusiastic and kind. Bonus: K&K is also gluten-free, so if you’re avoiding gluten for whatever reason you’re covered! (My personal pick for lunch is the Oaxaca bowl).
  10. K’s NRG Bars. I have been known to wolf down an energy bar at the speed of light when put under the gun. It is, however, difficult to find one that isn’t date-based and wreaks havoc on my digestive system. These are fantastic for that gooey, sticky quality without dates! I can’t eat the cherry kind, but the original rocks my socks, and the chocolate coconut is *kiss* FUCKING AMAZING.

This “Spread the Love” was a lot more vegan-specific than most other ones I’ve done, but  I’m just really feelin’ like a vegan cheerleader these days. Perhaps it’s because the community at Reddit’s r/Vegan has got me so jazzed about it right now.

Just a few notes as well:

A few people have asked me on social media (following my tattoo post) for some info about my tattoo artist. I’ve been going to Darryl Wiebe in Kitchener for two years now and we have a great relationship. He’s done four pieces on me: the CBC logo, the Jack Layton quote, the Grigri and the ballerina. He’s a great guy and a wonderful artist, and I especially love his line-work. He actually recently opened his own shop with the equally talented, kind and amazing Anabela Fansher and can be found at Luz Marina Studios in Kitchener! You should also check him out on Instagram.

My two weeks without Starbucks and my month without buying clothes went fine-diddly-ine. I don’t really drink that much Starbucks anymore, but like I said, it wasn’t so much about breaking an addiction as it was finding more productive things to do with my time. I’ve found a few new lunchtime routines that I like way better. I was going to go two months without clothes, but with the seasonal change that seemed unwise. I’ve just started doing the seasonal change-over for my clothes and am currently evaluating what to donate. It’s a bit hard because I genuinely like all my clothes, I just have too much for one person, so I’ll let you know how that goes.

Also, my hair is back to brown, and thank goodness for that. I look/feel like myself again! Unfortunately I really, really have fried my hair from the experience, so I’m trying really hard to treat my hair’s dryness and frizz. Almond oil? Coconut oil? Whatever, man, throw it at me.

What are some of your best stocking stuffer and gift exchange ideas this season? What’s the one thing a friend could get you that would drive you wild? Let me know in the comments!


Snackable green smoothie

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I went on a bit of a smoothie hiatus with the blog, I’ll cop to that. I’ll have you know I still eatdrink approximately one smoothie per day. It’s just that I was starting to run out of ideas, and also, I want my blog to be a little more than just smoothies. Vegans do eat solid foods, after all.

But trust me, I’m still a smoothie-operator, and I have a delightfully bright green smoothie to share with everyone. This green smoothie is deemed “snackable” because it’s not quite as filling as a banana-and-milk kind of smoothie. It’s best enjoyed with something light on the side like toast and PB, or some chia puddin’, or in a lunch with your sandwich.

All week last week when I was on vacation I enjoyed this as my breakfast along with some granola and milk, plus usually a cup of tea (my favourite white tea is Buddha’s Blend from David’s Tea). I felt so earthy and cool, all I wanted to do was go sit in upward-facing dog for, like, ever. Instead I ended up playing with my cat, listening to Supertramp, swearing, riding my bike, making fart jokes, you know, all those things. But for the tiniest moment, I felt all peaceful and stuff.

Anyway, enjoy this smoothie that’s light enough that you can have it on the side, but is still packed with flavour and good-for-you ingredients. Of course, nothing’s stopping you from having this with a big slice of vegan cake for breakfast. And if I am correct, vegan cake is practically a vegetable.

Far be it from me to tell you how to life your life.

Snackabe green smoothie

Prep time: <5 minutes
Cook time: n/a
Yield: One smoothie, about 1 3/4 cups liquid
Dietary specs: Vegan, fructose-friendly, gluten-free, raw/no-bake, nut-free*

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks (or pineapple)
  • 1 generous handfull kale or spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup coconut water (plain water will do but won’t quite give the same taste)
  • 1″ piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp avocado flesh (optional for a slightly more filling and thicker smoothie)

* Coconut is defined as a tree nut by some sources but as the seed of a fruit by others. You’re making this for yourself so if you have a nut allergy I hope you know to trust your own doctor and medical history more than you trust me.

Instructions

  1. (Optional) Slice and freeze your banana overnight to give the smoothie a nice chill with no added ice.
  2. Blend all ingredients on high speed until it reaches your desired consistency.

On Monday my blog saw more traffic than it’s ever seen — actually, Monday’s traffic was roughly six times what it normally is. The community on Reddit’s r/Vegan subreddit are the most amazingly supportive users and I just really wanted to shout out to them (as well as r/Veganrecipies for always being so receptive to my recipes). Things are really looking up here at Urban Garlic and I am so thankful. Getting to keep this up as a side project while working a job I love (not to mention teaching dance!) is nothing short of a dream.

For my American readers, I’d love to read about how your Thanksgiving went. Family gatherings can be so hard when your lifestyle is so fundamentally different than the rest of your families. My Thanksgiving was back in October and I brought my own food courtesy of Toronto vegan stalwarts Bunner’s — and it was awesome to see my sister, brother-in-law and partner try some of Bunner’s amazing tomato and kale pie.

Jarrod’s parents are joining us for dinner on Friday night. His mom has to adhere to a low-FODMAP diet because of some recent health issues, so I’m going to flex my very creative cooking muscles and hopefully share some of the best results with you guys. What are some of your favourite low-FODMAP recipes? I’d love to hear about that — or your Thanksgivings, or just how cool your cat is or something — in the comments.