Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Let's Have A Sushi Party!

Happy to say one of the goals of my summer has been fulfilled! The directions I followed to make sushi were helpful but fairly vague so I am glad I was given advice from the woman working at Enchie Mart! Rice vinegar must be added to the "sticky rice" (when unseasoned add sugar and sea salt). I definitely did not cook the rice properly because it ended up fairly mushy but it worked! Here are the other steps I followed:

First prepare and chop preferred veggies into long strips.

Place one sheet of seaweed on bamboo sushi mat, shinier side facing up! Then wet fingers and spread out a little less than one cup of sticky rice. The thicker the rice the bigger your sushi roll will be! Remember to smooth the rice out, packing it all the way to the side but leaving at least a half inch space of seaweed on the side of the sheet closest to you. Leave at least a one and a half inch space at the other end, leaving room for the rice to spread as sushi is being rolled.

Lightly wet the space of seaweed closest to you and begin to use the mat to roll the sushi with a forward motion. Gently push down on the top of the mat with a flat hand occasionally during the rolling process. Try it out, you kind of get the feel for it once you are doing it yourself! As pictured below, my friend Jessie helped me out and we were pretty proud of ourselves for finally giving this a try. As you can see we made quite a bit!

Slice the sushi roll with a sharp wet knife. Garnish with roasted sesame seeds on top and you have just made some form of sushi! We dipped ours in peanut sauce and soy sauce with wasabi (Japanese horseradish).

What I used to make sushi:
-rolling mat
-sticky rice
-rice vinegar
-sea salt
-seaweed papers
-orange pepper
-snap peas

Saturday, April 25, 2009

An Eco-Action Day

The weather around here has been such a treat, there is a warm breeze with partly cloudy skies - gorgeous! Yesterday was sunnier yet and my friend Craig and I went park hopping! Began the day with a matcha smoothie at Cafe Mondo and then ended up at Malden Park picking up garbage. Yes, that's right my goal has already been fulfilled - most likely motivated by keeping that Gandhi quote in mind. It reminded us that it is hypocritical to complain about the state of things without at least trying to improve them yourself.

Later we made a trip to Ten Thousand Villages on the West end of Windsor. This non-profit fair trade organization has stores accross Canada. They operate on principles of fair trade offering a variety of handmade goods where the individuals who made them receive fair compensation for their labour. It always surprises me to find out how little people know about this wonderful place. I want everything in that store! It is always the perfect place for buying gifts aswell. The coffee there is absoultely my favourite to buy around here and you get a free cup of whatever delicious roast they have chosen for the day. I am almost finished a dark roast from Peru so I picked up another dark roast but this time chose to support Ethiopia. Ten Thousand Villages has a number of recycling initiatives. For example alot of the products come from recycled materials and you can also do things like bring back the bags you bought coffee beans in.

"Fair Trade supports practices that minimalize environmental impact by using reclaimed or recycled materials, encouraging organic production, and limiting shipment of product by air"

At least go check it out and see what they have - give and be given to!

The Underlying Principles of Ten Thousand Villages:

At Ten Thousand Villages, we stand behind IFAT and have also added a few principles of our own:

  1. We honour the value of seeking to bring justice and hope to the poor.
  2. We trade with artisan groups who pay fair wages and demonstrate concern for their members’ welfare.
  3. We provide consistent purchases, advances and prompt final payments to artisans.
  4. We increase market share in North America for fairly traded handicrafts.
  5. We market quality products that are crafted by otherwise underemployed artisans.
  6. We build sustainable operations using a variety of sales channels, including a network of stores with a common identity.
  7. We choose handicrafts that reflect and reinforce rich cultural traditions, that are environmentally sensitive and which appeal to North American consumers.
  8. We encourage North American customers to learn about fair trade and to appreciate artisans’ cultural heritage and life circumstances with joy and respect.
  9. We use resources carefully and value volunteers who work in our North American operations.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Hope that everyone's earth day was productive! I rode my bike (in the wind!?) instead of driving my car to a coffee date. I noticed alot of garbage in the ditches and want to get out there with my friends this summer and bring some garbage bags. I hope no one drank water out of a bottle yesterday especially!


-mahatma gandhi

Later on I tye-dyed some tshirts green with friends. The weather was "sunny-rain" as my friend Craig informed me is often the case in Vancouver. However around here it is a rare occasion! We were greeted with a lovely rainbow - possibly the biggest one we've ever seen. It was a cosmic earth day, nature was encouraging/awarding our eco consciousness with it's beauty.

How to Tye-Dye T-Shirts

-select a clear white tshirt, preferably mostly cotton

-put elastics all over it! Search the internet for specific patterns if you want one

-fill buckets or medium-large sized containers with hottest water available (fill as many seperate up as colours you have)

-empty each fabric dye powder package into each container and stir

-get your gloves on! this stuff stains

-place the tshirt in the colour you prefer or hold the portions you want dyed in each specific colour - get creative, even leave a bit white..

-the longer the tshirt stays in the colouring the darker it will be and remember that the dye on the tshirt actually looks darker when wet

-let the tshirts drip dry for a bit and then rinse them

-afterwards take off the elastics and hang to dry, washing by hand or on gentle cycle with other items that any excess dye has no danger of bleeding onto


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Eco Chewing Gum

Wanted to share this article in March 9th's Windsor Star. For all of you who enjoy chewing gum, you now have an eco alternative! Check out the Chicza Rainforest Gum and see how it comes from the earth and returns to the earth.

"Chicza is not only a top quality chewing gum, but also an outstanding example of sustainability, active conservation of rainforests and fair exchange between humans and nature."

This argument says that making Chicza preserves the rainforest by extracting a natural and sustainable substance that contributes to the nurturing of rainforest grounds and the economic opportunity for the people who have been living there and taking care of forests in Mexico for centuries. Chicle is obtained by boiling the sap of the trees into a thick paste. This process makes me think of Canada's own maple syrup industry! At first I suspiciously thought "what exactly does this mean for the rainforests?" in the wake of hearing about the soy farming/rainforest issue. However once I thought about it as compared to making maple syrup, I realized that it is a healthy thing because harvesting sap is not clearing forest land to make room for farming. Also that the people who are involved in this process are performing it witihin the rainforest that they have to take care of even if they didnt want to because their product depends on it's health. Like any commodity, there is a danger that its popularity could change or effect the method or quantity of production. Interestingly, this product is only recently being heard about on a global level and is not sold in many places outside of Mexico. I hear the first place otherwise that it is or will be available is in the U.K.

What happens to Chicza once you spit it out? In other words, why is it biodegradable? Well Sustainability explains that Chicza is an eco-friendly chewing gum because it contains no petrochemicals like synthetic chewing gum which is why it doesn't stick to things and why in about 6 weeks it will completely discintigrate. Keep an eye out for this product in the future because it is not currently being sold in Canada or the U.S.

Mayans Sell Natural Gum

"Street cleaners in Britain may spend less time scraping gobs of chewing gum from the pavement after indigenous farmers from Mexico launch their own brand of natural gum harvested by hand in the rainforest.

A co-operative of over 50 Mayan communities in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, where Sapodilla trees have been tapped for their sticky latex since before the Spanish conquest, will start selling biodegradable chewing gum in British stores this month.

Unlike common chewing gum made of synthetic rubber, which can take years to break down, the cooperative's "Chicza" brand is made from chicle, a natural substance that degrades quickly, Jesus Manuel Aldrete, the co-operative's director, told Reuters.

"Chewing gum made from synthetic polymers sticks easily to asphalt because both contain similar components," Aldrete said. "Chicle is organic."

Ancestors of the Mayans making the gum near the Cancun beach resort munched on chicle to help their digestion and clean their teeth, said Aldrete.

Modern manufacturers originally used chicle to make gum but eventually switched to cheaper polymer ingredients.

Japanese and Korean companies still demand the natural chicle -- extracted from the trees by crisscrossing cuts into their bark in a method similar to rubber harvesting -- but the Mayans say the market for their product has shrunk dramatically since synthetic gums were invented.

Chicza is producing its gum in red fruit, orange and cinnamon flavors, and plans to launch first in London and later in other European countries."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Southwest Veg Dip

I seem to want to put pictures and recipes of most of my meals on this blog! Ex. I just had some yummy lettuce wraps. This is a dip I made for my family during the holiday weekend festivities. I encourage you to use as fresh and local ingredients as possible. Today's Windsor Star included a comprehensive guide and map to buying local produce in Windsor Essex County so check it out!
Southwest Veg Dip

This recipe only requires layering! Start with a layer of 1 can of refried beans. Then add another of red and/or black beans. Mix sour cream with red sauce or salsa in a bowl and use this as the next layer. Finish with guacamole (made with fresh avocado and lemon juice) and finally coat the top with chunks of tomato!

Ingredients I used. Quantity depends on how much dip you want to make!
-refried beans
-red beans
-sour cream (low-fat)
-red sauce or salsa
-avocado (guacamole)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Power Pancakes

Thought I would share my pancake recipe - I made these this morning before an exam and they have me a stomach full of healthy yumminess! My mom called them my veg super pancakes and that really is exactly what they are. However they are not vegan so replace with a substitute at your discretion. I've heard bananas used as a replacement for this kind of thing and I have those in there anyways so it is possible to skip the egg content altogether. I had already sized down to one egg from the two that was called for on the recipe box. They turned out great! Hope you try the recipe and enjoy them as much as my friend and I did.

Power Pancakes

2 cups pancake mix
1 cup rice milk
1 egg (free run)
1/4 of a mango, sliced into thin strips of lovely mango mush
1 scoop of vanilla soy protien powder (a raw food tisc tisc)
1/2 tsp of matcha

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Meatless or Veggie?

Another question that I've been asked many times as a vegetarian is where to buy some decent veggie burgers. My recommendation is usually from PC's Blue Menu whose cartons are made from recycled and post-consumer materials. The 9-Vegetable Vegetarian Patty can be cooked in various ways including only three minutes in the microwave which I take advantage of my busy schedule. And its when I make this recommendation that the person asking specifies: "I want the one's that look and taste like real burgers!" Then I let them know that they are looking for what are not called veggie burgers but meatless burgers.

The difference is that veggie burgers taste like and are visibly made up of various vegetables which is most usually preferred by vegans and many vegetarians. Why eat simulated meat when you have lost the taste for it? Meatless soy-based options are definitely not raw food but they are still a popular choice. Meatless products try to mimic the look and taste of meat and veggie products do not. I sometimes eat both but I prefer veggie meat replacements over meatless meat replacements! This is especially true as of late with my raw food initiative! So if meatless burgers are what you prefer and are looking for the look and taste of authentic beef burgers then I recommend PC's World's Best Meatless Burgers.
There are countless meatless options, most of which are made from wheat or soy protien. With consuming any soy products, one should be aware of how much soy they are consuming and what the effects are. Soy is a highly processed food stuff and as The Whole Soy Story points out it is not a miracle food. For example, women should be aware of how it effects their system, especially while pregnant. And men watch out because it apparently lowers your sperm count. From what I understand, soy farming is also doing its part in destroying rainforests. To sum up the issue in my mind there are alot of good things about soy and it makes going veg easier as it was in my case. Sometimes it takes a while to loose the taste for certain meat dishes and soy based meat replacements helped me along. Though it seems to be a less harmful product than meat, soy has alot going against it aswell. Soy is not the answer to every meat replacement problem but it can be a relatively healthy and decent solution for alot of food items in particular situations. For example, compare this information to the meat and agriculture indisutry as touched on in a previous post.

Some Canadian companies offer meatless options and most are surprised to find out that almost all meat products can and are simulated, available in meatless form. President's Choice offers alot of options especially on their Blue Menu as linked above. PC is owned by the Canadian company Loblaws which actually has a green initiative, now offering such products as Green toilet paper, unbleached coffee filters and green cleaning products. Compliments which is owned by Sobeys also has quite a few choices as well. If you are wondering if someone has created a meatless replacement for one of your fave meat dishes then you are probably right. There is literally not one meat item that I can think of which has not been translated into a meatless alternative. The story is different with veggie choices however but if that is what you are looking for then the chances are you do not find meat simulation desirable. Hope this was able to clear up the veggie and meatless paradigm!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What Is Eating Green Exactly?

You may have wondered "What do vegetarians eat anyway?". I know I've been asked that question enough times to realize that people are often curious. Others trying or attempting to make the switch to going veg are often left frustrated - variety in a veg diet does take effort but more so it just takes knowing what is available to you! I present to you a comprehensive window into my diet as a vegetarian in hopes of answering questions and generating ideas.

Theory behind being veg is about awareness but for me that also translates into keeping mental track of what I put into my body every day. This includes the terms of coordinating meals to ensure that I get nutrients from a variety of veg food groups which basically boil down to fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, legumes and beans (including soy). In all of these categories are food sources that are not widely known or incorporated into mainstream Western diet - whatever that is! This includes amaranth and quinoa which was addressed in a previous post.

Starting off my day with a Green Smoothie allows for a morning protien source and fruit serving. I usually use a soy protien powder and soy or rice milk base then add what ever fruit I happen to have at the time (today it was mango). Then I add probiotic yogurt but I really have to go out and grab some soy yogurt soon! More about this in a future post on the veg dairy issue. Once and a while I will throw in some green tea icecream but sometimes I make my smoothie green by adding avocado or cucumber. Almost always I use a small scoop of matcha (start with 1/4 tsp). Matcha (green tea powder) contains its maximum antioxident effects when steeped as a tea but is still good for you to add in food and smoothies of course! Begin adding this to your diet in small quantities and work your way up because your system will not be used to this substance.

Granola Museli Mix is a well-rounded breakfast staple that is easy to throw together but if you want some specific ideas, this is my recipe! Fill a bowl with mixed fruit: I recommend banana, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, kiwi, starfruit, avocado, mango and/or papaya (most of which are great in salads!) Add granola (this you can buy in cereal-box form or from a bulk or health food store), yogurt or soy yogurt and finally some crushed walnuts and a few raisins. I also like to add hemp seeds which contain lots of protien. As pictured here, they are also known as "hemp hearts" and can pretty much be used in anything. Finally I add a light sprinkle of matcha before I delve in.

So of course, veggies are a large part of a veg diet! Salads area great way to diversify a veg diet, despite the assumption that the opposite is true. It allows for an opportunity to add alot of protien and nutrients to your day. A dressing I like right now is soy based with organic ingredient which I purchased at Enchie Japanese Food Mart where I often shop. In terms of raw snacking I am really enjoying snow peas right now! My absoulte favourite is avocado (which is technically a fruit but I think of it as a vegetable lol). Be careful though because they contain a higher fat content. However this isn't often a problem because veg diets are most often low in fat and also because fat and protien sources in a veg diet are usually the "good fats" (including avocado). Avocado is a constant mainstay in my diet and I used it it many recipes. I put it in salads, green smoothies and the granola museli mix. Most often I enjoy avocado for breakfast or lunch, perhaps on a toasted flax seed bagel or croissant with hemp seeds and tomato! Guacamole is something I make as often as possible and there are so many different recipes for it. Lately I have been making it a little chunkier by not fully mashing up the avocado and using lettuce to eat it with as part of my raw food initiative! However low sodium seasalt red chips by QuePasa are my absolutely favourite! They are stone ground, hand-cut Tortilla Chips cooked in pure pressed canola oil, quite healthy and taste great! They actually bring out the flavour of whatever you are eating because they are subtle enough and a salty coating or extra preservatives dont interefere.

My Guac Recipe: Start with 2 whole avocados and get your hands dirty! Add fresh squeezed lemon juice. I use about 1/4 of a lemon but leave out this option if you are are concerned about acidity or striving towards an alkaline diet. At this point you can add any vegetables you want but I recommend tomato chunks and/or quartered cucumber slices. Guacamole mix powder adds spices and a lot of flavour but remember it makes your guacamole a non-raw-food item! However I recommend Guacamole Mix by Concord Foods. Stir and let sit for a few hours in the fridge if you choose to use it.

Hope you enjoy these suggestions and recipes and with luck some of your possible confusion over veg diets has been quelled! My next post will include issues of protien and meat alternatives specifically. Leave a comment if you have any questions :)