Name: Annie Forman
Age: 2 years, 10 months
Aliases: Tugboat Annie, Annabelle, Poodle, Baby, Sweetpea, Angel Face, Fur Face, Furry Butt, The Mad Pooper, Turkish Delight
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Brown
Likes: potato chips, ear scratchies, and trying to french kiss everyone she meets
Dislikes: other dogs invading her space, not getting her required daily amount of belly rubs
Last seen: pooping outside like a good girl
Approach with caution… and with a treat.
It has been awhile since I’ve posted so I thought I would check in. I am getting really excited- in about a month and a half I will be New York City bound! This trip has been in the works since last year so it is hard to believe that the wait is almost over.
My reason for visiting the most exciting city on this continent is to participate in Victoria Moran’s Mainstreet Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator Program. I first heard of Mainstreet Vegan through a post in one of the vegan Facebook groups I belong to. Its a fantastic organization and the woman behind it all – Victoria Moran – has quickly become a shining example for me to follow.
My vegan journey has been going great. I have almost none of my old cravings for animal-derived products, and when I do get a pang for something all I have to do is think of where it comes from and then there’s no more yen for the verboten. I have cleaned out any clothing and personal care products containing animal products or that were tested on animals. My home feels so much better already. And my body feels amazing!
But, I have to admit that there is something missing. I am tired of being a mere witness to what is happening in this world – I want to focus my life on actually doing things, making a difference. I just don’t know where to start. Most vegans who are making a living based on a compassionate life have something special to offer. There are nutritionists, chefs, raw foodists, bakers, cake masters, life coaches, fitness experts, bodybuilders and fitness models, smoothie mixologists, motivational speakers and writers, artists, musicians… and I am none of these things. I’m praying that being a part of the VLCE program will help me find my niche, a way to make a living by doing work that aligns with my moral and ethical beliefs.
Other than preparing for my trip I’ve just been working, enjoying the summer weather with my dog Annie, and trying to get fit. I am thankful for every day that I wake up, I am thankful for my body, my senses, everything good in my life. And every night I pray for a sign to let me know what I can do to contribute to changing this world for the better.
So, I’ve been absent from the blog for a little while; I sincerely hope I haven’t lost any regular readers. You know that saying, life gets in the way of life? Well, that’s how things go. One good thing to come out of the last couple of months is my new favourite lunchtime, freezable and keep-for-later-able, meal. I looked everywhere and I could not find the original recipe that I based this veggie rice bake on so my apologies, but it is such an adaptable collection of ingredients and techniques found in a zillion different rice casserole recipes that I don’t feel like I’m stealing from any one person.
The vegetables, which make up the majority of the dish, can pretty much be whatever veggies you have available at hand. I diced an onion, five stalks of celery, a green pepper, and a red pepper, and sautéed them for a few minutes in olive oil.Then I threw in as many fresh sliced mushrooms as I could fit in the skillet. Mushrooms mushrooms mushrooms!!!
Once everything was soft and slightly glistening I added a cup of rice and browned it just a bit. Then, I transferred the whole jumble into a glass baking dish, and added about two and a half/three cups of water (I just eyeballed it). I also threw in some salt and pepper, a shake of red pepper flakes, and some basil, but you could literally put any spices you wanted in – it’s all a matter of taste! After stirring things up a bit to make sure everything was moistened and the spices were evenly distributed, I covered the dish with a sheet of tin foil and then popped it in the oven at 350 degrees for just a touch over an hour.
The result was a tasty, hearty, damn good meal. I pan-fried some tempeh strips and put a few in each of my lunch containers along with the rice, just to get a little more protein in there. So, so, so good. It’s all I’ve been eating!
One of my clearest memories of spending time with my mother when I was a little girl is sitting at the kitchen table with what (at the time) seemed like a gigantic silver bowl, a sturdy fork, and a pile of bananas that needed mushing. While my mom puttered around the kitchen taking care of a hundred other things that needed doing, I would sit there and press the tines of that fork into chunk after chunk of over-ripe banana, as gleeful as if I’d just been given a hundred quarters and dropped in the middle of an arcade. Finally, my mom would have to take the fork away from me before a) the bananas were turned entirely into soup and b) the table was covered by any more flecks of banana flesh that had spattered across its surface due to my over-exuberance. My mom would turn my handiwork into a delicious loaf of banana bread using a classic recipe from the Joy of Cooking cookbook her sister Karen had given to her as a wedding gift in 1980. That Joy of Cooking was a staple in our kitchen as I was growing up, and after, and when my mom passed away in 2012 it was the one possession of hers that I was almost desperate to make sure I reclaimed.
Now that I’ve gone vegan, the Joy of Cooking recipe for banana bread is off limits. Sure, I could try to adapt it on my own but I am not experienced enough in the kitchen to try that level of master cookery. Instead, I kept my eye out on the internet for a simple but tasty-looking recipe to try. Thank heavens for One Green Planet, whose Green Monster newsletter dropped the perfect recipe right into my inbox! The recipe (and the picture just below) is from the vegan maestro at iheartcrapkitchen.com, and be warned – visiting her site is like going down a rabbit hole of ridiculously tempting vegan yumminess! My tummy still won’t stop growling.
You can view the recipe as I first saw it in its entirety here on the One Green Planet site. I only made a couple of alterations. Firstly, I used plain all-purpose flour. Then, I did not include the desiccated coconut that the original recipe calls for, simply because I did not have any in my kitchen at the time I fancied baking this up. And lastly, as you can see from the pictures, I opted out of making the chocolate ganache. Instead, I simply sprinkled vegan chocolate chips across the top of the banana bread, and I found that just doing that made the banana bread extra chocolate-y enough for me! Just a note: I found the cooking time was spot on – I kept my bread in for the full fifty minutes and it turned out perfectly. And, using a little vegan Becel to coat the loaf pan before pouring the batter in allowed the bread to slide perfectly out after I’d let it cool down completely.
After cutting off and savouring an end piece just to ensure quality control I brought the rest of the banana bread loaf to work for a snack day in honor of a couple of departing staff. It is the first time I actually brought something homemade, and boy was I proud of myself. While I didn’t announce to all that it was vegan, I was happy to have brought something that a couple of my coworkers who have specific dietary restrictions could eat and enjoy. And the reviews from the omnis that were present? “Yum!!!”
When listening to an advocate speak with passion and conviction about animal rights, it is impossible for me to remain dry-eyed. I have always been emotional, but there is something inimitably poignant about the fight for the freedom of animals; it is this ‘something’ that has resonated with me to such an extent that I have been moved to go vegan and to live the most compassionate life I possibly can. When Melissa, the surprisingly young founder and chief caregiver behind Farm Animal Rescue and Rehoming Movement, first took the stage to speak at the FARRM Laughs for Lives fundraiser last Friday March 20th, her voice shook with palpable emotion. Yes, some of it may have been the nervousness of speaking in front of a very full house. However, as she moved through the lines on the piece of paper she held, it was obvious to all in attendance that the words this young woman was speaking were not just from her heart, but pulled from the ethers, from the voiceless plight of the animals she battles on behalf of. By the time Melissa was finished her speech, I was not the only one wiping tears from my cheeks; even the most stoic spectator was touched.
When it comes to veganism it is very easy to get caught up in the more palatable concerns of the movement. We like to talk about what to eat, what recipes we should try, what vegan substitutes are available to satisfy any lingering omnivorous cravings. It can be easier than it should be to forget about the true root of veganism, which is the abstention from non-vegan products and materials as a form of activism in defence of the billions of animals brutally slaughtered for human consumption every year. Yes, there were long banquet tables laden with delicious vegan foods to savour at the fundraiser on Friday. There was fantastic music and comedy to help us all relax and enjoy ourselves after a long workweek. A cash bar was also available for those wishing to indulge in Friday night drinks. But, it was Melissa’s impassioned calls for mercy and compassion towards all living creatures that continue, days later, to echo in the chambers of my heart. Those selfless and full-of-heart people like Melissa who work so tirelessly to protect the vulnerable inspire me, and I am so thankful for them.
I wouldn’t exactly call this a recipe… more like the throwing of various yummy things into a blender together just to see what might happen. It turned out tasty, though, so I thought I would share :) This is my easy Friday morning smoothie.
1 heaping cup chopped kale (no such thing as too much)
2 ripe bananas
1 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup frozen strawberries
1.5 cups pineapple juice
¼ cup almond milk
1 tbsp. of agave nectar
Optional: 3 tsp of chia seeds
Peel kale leaves from their stalks; either rip or chop the leaves into smaller pieces. Put all ingredients into blender. Blend, starting on lowest setting and then gradually increasing speed, until you have a beautifully smooth concoction. This makes enough for two big smoothies, so save half in a mason jar for the next day and enjoy the other one instantly!
Just a note: I add 3 tsp of chia seeds, but that might be too much crunch for you when combined with the raspberries. I just like to add the extra protein.
Approximate Nutritional Info Per Serving
As some of you may or may not know, I started my very own Seed page on Facebook in order to better interact with others of the veggie community. To celebrate the people who take time out of their busy days to make compassionate choices, to live mindfully, AND to read my ramblings, I am having my very first giveaway. To be entered in the draw, all you need to do is like Seed on Facebook before March 30th, 2015 – its that easy!
Now for the good part – the prize!
I came across Rescue Chocolate several months ago and knew that they would be a fantastic company to support. Not only do they donate all their profits to charity, they make VEGAN CHOCOLATE. Yes, please! So, my first giveaway will be for the 4 Paw Collection of Rescue Chocolates, wrapped all nice with a pretty red bow.
As per the Rescue Chocolate website, “Our delectable hearts, bonbons, and organic chocolate bars are all vegan-friendly, kosher, and handcrafted in Brooklyn.” Sounds pretty darn good to me. And again, all you need to do is like Seed on Facebook before March 30th and your name will be entered in the draw, which will take place March 31st.