Vegan, Month 1!

Well it’s been over a month now of my vegan life change and I know I’ll never be able to go backwards from this. Living cruelty free means a great deal to me as I truly feel that humans are not above other creatures and should not use them for our own personal gain. I’m dedicated to this cause and really embracing the new food choices available to me 🙂 Of course I have always loved ice cream, cheese, etc my whole life and rather than think about never having them again, I think of all of the things I can have, the other yummy alternatives, and keep on smiling! 

So far I have discovered a delicious vegan cream cheese brand called Tofutti and a mouthwatering vegan yogurt brand called Amande! They both taste just as good if not better than normal dairy kinds I have had in the past. As for hard cheese I have only tried 2 kinds, one was a rice based kind that I found really gross and the other is Daiya and it isn’t that bad. I have tried the mozza shreds, cheddar wedge and spicy havarti wedge. When mixed with other food it tastes good as a replacement for cheese but on it’s own it is a bit weird after only eating real cheese for 27 years. It will take some getting used to but I am committed to not having dairy anymore so really enjoying checking out what my other options are! 

As for milk substitutes I am still making my own nut milk (mainly almond) all the time and occasionally buying other types when they’re on sale, just to see what they’re like. The most tasty kind I have bought yet is a brand called So Delicious Organic Vanilla Coconut Milk 🙂 It’s the only kind (besides my own home made nut milks) that I could actually drink a glass of and enjoy. All the other kinds I have tried so far were more suitable for adding to coffee/tea, baking and cooking. 

Below are a few pictures of some vegan-licious creations that I thought up. I hope you enjoy and if you want more, here’s a link to my facebook album of vegan dishes 🙂 

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This is my MEAN GREEN salad! Sweet (with green apple and honeydew) and zesty with lemon and cilantro! 

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Here’s my “Cream” of Broccoli soup! I used broccoli, potatoes and a few other veggies as the base of this soup with some veggie stock and soy milk. 

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Here is my favorite breakfast/lunch! Organic vegan flakes with vegan french vanilla yogurt, bananas, chia seeds and a few other goodies. YUM! 

Merry Christmas & New Years Resolutions!

Well it’s been almost a year since I started this blog and this journey and I’d love to thank every one of you that’s come along with me! I am really looking forward to 2013 as my first FULL year of living in an aware and cruelty free state of mind.

Our “Nothing New” Christmas was fairly successful and I was able to find mostly everything on my list for everyone either used, home made or from local vendors. I thoroughly enjoyed this Christmas and how challenging yet eco-friendly it was and look forward to doing even better next year! 

After spending the Christmas holidays with family and being forced out of my plastic free, organic, vegetarian household and forced to defend myself over and over for my choices, being put in situations that are less than comfortable and not able to live to the standard that I’ve become used to… I have become re-dedicated if nothing less. I am hoping to make even bigger changes in the New Year to make a difference in the world, my life and my health. 

Going vegan is #1 on my list. I realize this will be very hard for someone like me who has always loved ice cream, chocolate, cheese, and egg products… but after watching enough documentaries, realizing that there’s no real “humane” and “sustainable” way of farming these products on a large scale… I just don’t want to support it anymore. I also realize that it isn’t really possible to put my 2 children on a totally vegan diet until they are older and I’m ok with that… nor do I expect my hubby to go vegan. But I’m going to do my best for myself as the guilt is just getting worse and worse! 

I might also try going gluten free as well as starting some kind of yoga/breathing to increase my well being 🙂 I am lucky enough to have a few friends who are knowledgeable in the gluten free world as well as the yoga world, so I’ll be good to go on that front. 

Anywho! I am still on holidays right now and having a hard time focusing on writing but wanted to at least do a little update. I’ll leave you with some pictures of a few of my home made gifts and one of my favorite videos of a song that has lots of fantastic quotes from famous people. Enjoy! Image

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Grmhh8i4UCA&feature=share

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Going nutty and milking my nuts!

LOL I could not help it. I have wanted to make nut milk jokes for so long… I apologize for the long stretch of no posts! Busy busy! 

So I have not bought any cows milk in probably close to a month and a half… and I don’t think I will buy any more anytime soon. I am becoming very fond of my home made nut milks, how much more eco-friendly they are and how it is actually saving me some $$ as well! 

One 1ltr glass bottle of local, organic cows milk costs me over $4. It is, of course, worth it to have a less cruel, chemical free milk BUT it really does add up quickly so I think switching to hand made nut milks is going to be my newest life change 🙂 

It’s so easy to do, I wish I had taken a chance and done it sooner in my life! I have tried a few packaged varieties of milk alternatives and some were OK, but really I would rather make my own, save on the packaging, money and appreciate every drop I consume since I made it myself! The kinds of pre packaged milks I have tried so far are soy (my least favorite), hemp (my second least favorite), rice, coconut and almond. It’s nice to buy a container or two of organic milk alternative when it goes on sale just to have in the cupboards for cooking/etc, but it doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as home made! 

All it takes is 1 cup of whatever nut you want to use, so far I have done Almond, Pecan and Hazelnut, soaked for a day in water, rinse, then put in the blender with 4 cups (or more/less depending on your taste preferences) and blend on high for 2 minutes. You can add a bit of sweetener if you wish, I have used agave nectar and maple syrup in the past and both tasted good, as well as some vanilla extract if you want too. After you blend it, strain it through a cheese cloth and you’re done! Should make about 1 ltr. I can easily buy many different kinds of organic, raw nuts in the bulk bins at the grocery store and it is much cheaper per 1ltr of the nut milk versus cows! 

One of the other awesome things about making your own nut milk is the left over nut crumbles in the cheese cloth do not need to be wasted! You can keep them (fridge for a week or so or freeze indefinitely) and add it to your cooking/baking. I love to add them to oatmeal, use them like breadcrumbs in cooking, add it to any kind of baking… there are so many ways to make use of the left over nuts! 

Next on my list of milks to try making are flax, walnut and coconut. I will hopefully post about them and let you know how they turn out 🙂 The bottom two pictures are my almond milk and pecan milk. My old glass bottles from the organic cows milk have come in handy! 

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Deliciously Vegetarian Thanksgiving!

Well I pulled it off with minimal complaints from hubby & daughter 🙂 Lots of compliments too, so I guess I did a good job!

Every year of my life the Thanksgiving dinner was centered around a big chunk of meat. It makes my stomach turn just thinking about that now. The dinner we had on Monday night was not only healthier, less environmentally damaging and cruelty free, but it was just as delicious as any other traditional Thanksgiving dinner I’ve ever had! On the menu was: stuffing, baked acorn squash, cauliflower with cheese, whipped potatoes, steamed green beans, buns, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and whip cream! MMMM ❤

I, as always, sourced out as many local and organic ingredients as possible and made my gravy and cranberry sauce and stuffing from scratch. I even used some festive looking cobs of corn that I received in my CSA box last week as decoration 🙂 We almost bought a “tofurkey” but (luckily) the hubby was unable to locate one and so I dodged that tofu-processed bullet! I am not a fan of tofu products for many reasons and I think the dinner was not lacking at all without it.

The only things I feel like I could have improved on, and will strive to do better at Christmas, were that my buns were not home made (but were at least whole wheat and purchased in the bulk section, so no plastic!) and neither was my pumpkin pie or whip cream. I didn’t think far enough ahead about those things and let hubby go do the shopping so ended up with (in my opinion) low grade, processed products. But, all in all, it was a great learning experience and I am excited for doing it even better next time. 🙂

I love autumn, it’s my favorite time of year and it is then followed by my second favorite, Christmas! We’re really looking forward to playing in the leaves, taking fall pictures, going to the pumpkin patch with friends & the school as well as carving pumpkins and trick or treating! Thanks for reading ❤

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Shopping “Green”

I’m just an ordinary person trying to do the best I can. I make choices on what I buy according to what I think is best for the planet and my family. Trying to make a small amount of negative impact isn’t always easy, but I believe it is worth it. It’s definitely not doing anyone any harm, so why not do our best? Here are some tips on how I shop and things to buy/not buy.

#1. Leave the car at home if you drive. Scary thought? Sure, if you’ve never had to go shopping without one. But think, how far is the grocery store from your house? If you’re like most people, it’s probably not that far and you’d be able to either walk or bus there. Just by not taking your vehicle your carbon footprint is considerably greener already!

#2. If you’re thinking that you won’t be able to carry all of your purchases home with you without your car, you are wrong! Part of society’s problem today is living in excess. Time to get back to basics and take only what you need. Also, when you’re eating a more whole foods, fresh produce diet you will be going shopping more frequently so can do smaller trips. Once I stopped buying meat and most processed foods that belong in the cupboards and freezer and started to make my own things from scratch, I started to lose weight, felt better and again, carbon footprint totally minimalized!

#3. If you don’t have a small child in a stroller (I love having one because my stroller is my shopping cart), bring a backpack with you and a rolling suitcase or metal collasable cart. You should be able to carry about 100$ worth of groceries home without much trouble at all. Also, never forget your re-useable bags and containers! You can avoid plastic so easily by bringing your own bulk bin bags, bread bags, cheese containers, etc. Don’t ever leave the house thinking that you don’t need them. Pretend it’s your phone, since that is what most people seem to be attached to, and you’ll be fine 😛

#4. Besides the “whole foods/organic isle”, if your grocery store has one, stick to the outer rim of your store. That’s usually where the most fresh foods will be. If you need to buy dried/frozen/canned goods, try to find BPA free cans but better yet, buy as much as you can in glass jars and cardboard boxes. Keep in mind that lots of things that come in boxes still have a non-recyclable plastic bag inside. I find that by shaking a box, I can usually tell. Things I have found with no bags inside have been: noodles, baking ingredients like soda/powder, flour, salt, sugar, as well as beans and some kinds of crackers/cereals.

#5. Try going right to the deli for your cheeses, meat alternatives, etc. Bring your own container and they can print off the label of whatever you are getting and give it to you for the checkout. You can also do the same with fabric bags and the bakery section. Some bakery areas have bulk bins as well. Keep an eye out for those as they are another great way to avoid plastic, pre-packaged breads. I’m sure a lot of you are thinking “my bread won’t keep if it’s not sealed in plastic”. Again, you are wrong. I keep my bread products in the freezer, either in just a closed fabric bag or a paper bag, or both, and it’s always fine once I defrost it!

#6. Read labels. Re-read them and then read them again! I can’t stress this enough. If it has more than 10 ingredients and you don’t know what half of them are, it’s probably bad for you. If you are buying something that has tomatoes in it, do NOT buy it in a can. Only buy them in glass as the acids from the tomatoes make the BPAs in the lining of the can leech out into your food. Avoid “diet” items as the fake sugars are much worse for you than the real ones. Avoid artificial flavors and colours… you don’t even want to know what’s in those!! Also, avoid MSG and Palm Oil. You’ll be doing the planet and yourself a huge favor by not supporting products that have those ingredients in them.

#7. Think to yourself always, do I need this, is it good for me and the planet, can the package be recycled? If the answer is YES to all of them, it’s probably ok. Mindless consumerism is completely what is wrong with the world. People need to remember that every time they spend money on a product, they are voting for what kind of world they want. Vote wisely!

#8. Ask yourself: Can I make this at home? Could I find this used at a thrift store or online? If the answer is YES then DON’T BUY IT! Remember that you have a computer at your disposal and can look up natural recipes for almost any beauty, healing or cleaning product. Making things yourself is totally eco-friendly as it saves on packaging, emissions and chemicals. Also, if you have to buy something that is not grocery related, you can most likely find it used. Buying used before new is EXTREMELY important in living green. Check out facebook for buy/sell pages locally as well as craigslist/kijiji and ebay!

OK that’s enough for today 🙂 I hope some of the info is useful and if you have anything to add, please do! Suggestions and questions are always welcomed.

Is Your Laundry Crunchy?

Mine is… well as much as it can be for now! But there are a few things that will be changing soon enough like buying an inside wooden/metal drying rack for the winter months to cut back on dryer use as well as getting some wool dryer balls to eliminate the plastic one we have now and cut down on drying time 🙂

Have you heard of soap nuts? You haven’t?! That’s a shame 😦 Prepare to have your eco-friendly mind blown!

Soap nuts are a natural, affordable, organic and completely awesome kind of laundry detergent (and can be made into many other types of cleaner as well) that you can buy in some stores or online. Sounds too good to be true, right? Wrong. It’s just as awesome as it sounds. What they are in all actuality is the shell of a fruit that grows in Nepal. A friend (thanks again Carrie!) introduced them to me awhile back and I’m so so thankful to have a replacement for the huge, plastic, fragrance/poison, chemical crap that used to be our “normal” kind.

Want to hear the most bad assed thing about them yet? I am able to get them in a 100% PLASTIC FREE package! No plastic in the shipping at all makes it worth paying a lot extra, for me… but still it’s totally affordable and comparable to whatever else you’d buy in stores. I got 300 loads worth for around 40$ (shipping included!) and can feel 100% great about it since there is no waste, no chemicals going onto my clothes, on my skin or into the environment and it still gets everything clean!

Now as some of you may remember, I switched to cloth diapers quite a few months ago. These soap nuts even work great for cleaning them 😀 so that is a huge testament to how powerful they are when it comes to getting out the smells/stains! Cloth diapering is going fantastically, by the way ❤ I love how much my carbon footprint has reduced by switching over to cloth as well as how cute my baby looks with her fluffy butt! I used to worry about how much extra laundry I’d have to do and how hard it would be especially when we’re out and about… but there are really no issues at all! It’s so easy since when you have a family you are already doing laundry all the time… what’s one more load, really? And I just stick the dirty diapers in a bag if we’re out and put them in the wash when we get home. We’ve also switched to cloth wipes (well half of the time since we’re still using up the old packages) and they work fine too. Less waste and chemicals and packaging is always going to be the way to go for me 🙂

Here’s a few pics of the soap nuts & cloth diapers. Thanks for stopping by and reading!

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Excited for our “Nothing New” Christmas!

So yah it’s only September but I always plan ahead. This year is going to be more special, more memorable and more important than any year before! Not only will we have 2 kids instead of one to wake up with in the morning, but we’ll be doing the planet a solid by not being crazy consumers like usual! 

The idea, for anyone who has not heard of this concept, is that you will only give/receive used or hand made items for Christmas. We are taking it to the next level and not buying any new decorations or wrapping paper either as well as incorporating the “nothing new” concept to our yearly family gift exchange game, so everyone else will have to get eco-friendly and creative as well! 

I know we have a bunch of traditional wrapping paper left in our storage from last year, as well as some tags/ribbons/bows, but once that’s gone, that’s it! We will be re-using gift bags, probably colouring some paper up to use as wrapping and possibly using some Christmas flyers from the recycling bin. I have some really crafty and fun ideas planned for how to make things look really funky/fancy and can’t wait to take pictures. 

There are lots of used stores to shop at like Value Village, Salvation Army, Goodwill and other smaller ones… as well as craigslist, kijiji, ebay and the facebook swap sites that I happen to love so much. In the past I have always tried to incorporate as many used items into Christmas and holidays as I can, but now it has a whole new meaning and I have an even bigger appreciation for it. 

Christmas has been my favorite time of year my entire life. I love the festive smells, tastes, music, movies, family time, giving, decorating and snow! I really look forward to adding new memories and traditions this year that are totally eco-friendly and won’t break the bank ❤ 

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