Sunday, April 26, 2009

Free Vegan Cupcake Day at the Resource Centre!

On Saturday, April 25, John, Liam, and I hosted our first ever Free Vegan Cupcake Day at the RC. It was a beautiful day in Toronto - sunny and about 28C - and so people into trying delicious vegan eats were out in full force.

To make sure people could find us easily, Liam made a little sign for outside on the sidewalk which you can see him shyly displaying here, as he hides behind it. As you'll see below, however, Liam's shyness dissipated in the face of eating one of his own delicious vegan cupcakes (which, incidentally, his girlfriend made - but he watched, so it amounts to the same, right? Just kidding, Diane!).

Liam's cupcakes, like mine and John's, were from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's and Terry Hope Romero's fabu book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. He chose the marble cupcakes, in a mini-version so there would be more of them, and they were so delicious and cute that they required no icing at all.

Liam menaced one before eating it and that was pretty much the same intensity with which all of our visitors consumed these delicious little morsels.

(In case you're wondering why I'm writing Lisa-style, the answer is, I don't know. Except that she's awesome.)

We made a total of about 55 cupcakes and they were all gone by 4pm, when we closed and recorded a late podcast. It was definitely a good day, getting to talk to a bunch of cupcake loving people - especially Elliott and friends who were not only appreciative of our baking efforts but also hilarious and charming.

John, whose fantastic idea this cupcake day was, made the super-fantastic looking Coconut Lime Cupcakes.

(I say only that they looked amazing because I didn't get the opportunity to try one!! They were just too popular with our visitors!)

The aesthetic of his cupcakes was a little different than Isa and Terry's, but no less beautiful and appetizing for all that.

There was some discussion about whether or not one should be eating the lime slices, or if yes, with or without the rind. John left that up to our guests to decide but I would have eaten it; I like cupcakes that make it feel like the top of your head is being blown off.

Finally, there were my cupcakes, the Peanut Butter Cupcakes with the quick Melty Chocolate Ganache. As chocolate and peanut butter together form pretty much the most perfect taste combination, I was fairly confident they'd go over well and they seem to have done so, in spite of not being nearly as pretty as either John's or Liam's cupcakes.

We'll be hosting other free vegan vittles tasting events in the future so we'll keep you posted on that, once we figure out what the vittles in question will be. In the meantime, I'll be dreaming about putting the lime in the coconut and eating up those delicious cupcakes...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hummus, Hummus Everywhere

If you are a fan of chickpeas this post is for you.

Imagine, if you will, a state where everyone walks in dewy meadows holding hands and singing the praises of the chickpea-garlic-tahini combination. My friends, this state was not a far-off place, or the figment of someone's imagination. This was the reality a few of my colleagues and I shared in a couple of weeks ago...although the "dewy meadow" was actually a condo on The Esplanade.

The Humm-Off was an event where nine different hummuses were thrust into battle to decipher who would go home with the title of "All Supreme Hummus". There were many valiant entries ("The Incredible Hulk-mus", "The Hummus of a Thousand Suns, El Conquistador"), but none proved to be as popular as the "Healthy Hatha Hummus" - none of the judges seemed to be capable of withdrawing from HHH's siren song.

I did however take the silver medal (if medals were actually being distributed - the "gold medal" in reality was an old fashioned juicer). The recipe for "Garbanzo Caliente" is below:

- 1 540 ml can of chickpeas
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp. tahini
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- as many hot peppers as you can handle

Put ingredients into a food processor and process.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Enter John Stage Left

Hello, I’m John.

Like Lisa and Colleen, I’m a Resource Centre volunteer. I guess I’m the senior statesman of the group and that means I’ve got the most seniority – I’ll get a fancy gold watch when I retire.

I went vegetarian “cold turkey” in September of 1996 and vegan in May of 2000. It’s easy for me to remember these dates because a couple of my friends also share very similar vegetarian and vegan anniversaries. I view these dietary and lifestyle changes as some of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. My diet tends to be always evolving for the better – I’m eating almost entirely whole foods and since my purchase of a juicer a couple of months ago I’ve been drinking a lot more green juice. It has a powerful psychologically component…after drinking green juice I feel amazing and strong enough to be able to beat up Muhammad Ali in his prime (not that I would do that). Maybe I just watched too many Popeye cartoons when I was a kid.

I also take my running pretty seriously. I find that my diet gives me some great fuel…it also gives me the power to levitate (as demonstrated in the below picture).

The best resource at the Resource Centre in my opinion is the people. You want to know how to make a vegan cheese fondue? Ask Lisa, she has 15 different recipes. You want to buy cosmetics that are eco and vegetarian friendly? Ask Angeline, she’ll even point you towards brushes that don’t have horse hair for bristles. You want to know where to find vegetarian restaurants in Prague? Ask Colleen, she knows her vegetarian restaurants from Toronto to Seoul.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Message from Liam to meat: A long time ago, we used to be friends, But I haven't thought of you lately at all

My Name is Liam and I am a recovering Meataholic. Seriously. Well sort of.

Prior to kicking meat in the behind with a frozen synthetic moccasin, I was a disgustipating consumer of the 'M' word. A trip to Wendy's (sicK) would load my innards with a 1/4 lb single combo and two junior burgers. Taco Bell would have me running for the toilet after consuming a soft taco supreme combo with two extra soft tacos. On any given Sunday I could be found moaning on my Grandma's couch overfull with steak and kidney pie, roast beef, roast pork, fried chicken, turkey, ham, etc. etc.. Remarkably, Grandma lasted 94 years!

When I finally kicked the habit, I very quickly lost 25 lbs and gained a healthy sheen to my pasty skin. In the beginning it was all about the animal welfare but clearly health benefits were realised. Additionally, the environmental pros take the envy out of feeling green.

At first, I often had meat on the mind, especially when I was stuck eating a garden salad while others were enjoying a t-bone steak, but I never wavered. I, and my friends and family, have all learned how wonderful vegetarian food can be and their support coupled with my beliefs greatly eased my transition to my current animal-free ways.

Now-a-days I almost never crave meat. At the same time I am not really grossed out by it, fish and fast-food excluded, and while I won't handle, cook or buy it, I have no issues with sitting at the same table as it. Maybe it's because I am its master rather than the other way around. I also don't admonish those who consume it. If they are curious or abusive about my lifestyle then I am happy to inform or abuse them. I know that before I was the way I am I would not have responded well to someone being in my face about it. Zealousness is next to ungodliness.

I aim to inspire, through my actions, others to a more peacful, less impactful life. I would like to invite everyone who is interested in learning to come down to the RC. Whether you are considering reducing the amount of meat you consume and looking for tips, a long time vegetarian looking for some re-inspiration or anything in between we welcome your visits.

Bye bye, meat.
Hi hi, happiness.
Hello, meatlessness.
I don't think I'm a-gonna cry-y.

Monday, April 6, 2009

I am the Eggman...coo coo cachu...wait, no, I don't eat eggs and I'm a lady (Lisa).

Hello out there! I'm continuing the RC crew introduction posts, thanks for getting the ball rolling Colleen.

My name is Lisa and I have been volunteering at the Resource Centre for just over a year. I love when people stop by looking for new resources, recipe ideas or restaurant recommendations. I also look forward to reviewing the interesting spam we get in our inbox, while I respond to our legitimate email questions on Wednesday evenings. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff?
Last year, along with a number of the other RC volunteers I got to host the First Annual Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-off to celebrate World Vegetarian Day. I had a lot of fun hanging out in a park downtown Toronto admiring the culinary creativity of all the entries. Lately, ideas for this year event have been keeping me up at night-I'm pretty excited.

Toronto Vegetarian Association members probably know me best for the cookbook reviews I write for Lifelines. I have a very strong affection for cookbooks. My cookbook collection was the second box I unpacked when I moved across the country (clean clothing came first). So, you shouldn't be surprised that my favourite resource at the resource centre is a book.
Becoming Vegan by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis is a comprehensive nutritional resource for anyone who wants to be healthy on a plant-based diet. I use this resource often in helping to answer questions from friends and family members about calcium, iron, protein, calorie density, essential fatty acids, etc. It is full of information about nutritional needs for different phases in a person's life (infants, toddlers, pregnancy, athletes, and more). I also love the liquid gold dressing recipe that fulfills a vegan's requirements for B12 in a very delicious way.
I am really looking forward to hearing Brenda Davis speak in person at this year's Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair.
You can find this resource and many, many more at the Resource Centre. I often find myself flipping through new cookbooks or borrowing a few of the extensive library offerings during a Wednesday shift at the RC. I like to buy cookbooks but I really enjoy borrowing topical books that I will probably only read once. I borrowed John Robbin's Healty at 100 last year. It was a fantastic read, and inspired me to refocus on the importance of creating supportive social networks in my own life.

Allow myself to introduce...myself (Colleen)

Our fearless leader, Lisa, has suggested that everyone associated with this blog and the TVA resource centre do a bloggy introduction of ourselves (including photo) and our favourite RC resource and so here I am.

I volunteer at the resource centre on Saturday afternoons, helping out people who either call or come in to check out our store, our library, or just to chat. I'm also one of the co-hosts of the Toronto Vegetarian Podcast, which you'd better be listening to or I'll send John after you.

As for my favorite resource, I think it would have to be TVA's vegetarian directory. Toronto is a vegetarian mecca with over 50 veg restaurants and I think that's worth celebrating - especially because so many recognize the TVA discount card (which I use a lot).

You can pick up a veg directory at the Resource Centre, at many health food stores and restaurants around the city, or check out the online version here.

That, or Liam's beard. Both it and the veg directory are great resources.

And here's a photo of me, in case you're a TVP listener and want to put a face to the voice. I had botox done just for this glamour shot.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I Like Vegan Pizza!

This is the first post on this blog, and as such we need to take care of some housekeeping. Namely, vegan pizza is a godsend.