My Baguette

A few months back I added to my cookbook collection the amazing Miyoko Schinner’s latest masterpiece The Homemade Vegan Pantry. The subtitle is The Art of Making Your own Staples. Make my own staples? Ok….yes. Yes I will try. I was honestly hooked by the “from scratch” romance of it because while I am a creative and fearless cook I have never ventured into making bread, or pasta or hot sauce or ketchup or cheese or jam or…ok you get it. Not because I don’t eat these foods but why make yourself when you can buy? Right? Wrong. Eating a vegan diet has changed this way of thinking for me because truthfully not much alarms and depresses me more than this over processed, chemical laden world we live in where making basics from scratch has all but disappeared. Remember we are talking about vegan staples. Those seemed even harder to wrap my head around. Until now. I have been rolling up my sleeves a lot lately in the kitchen (don’t panic…Netflix works in the kitchen too) and proving to myself that all these elusive staples are actually so incredibly gratifying to make that I may never look back. I can’t help but think about how silly my fears have been .. particularly around bread. Homemade bread is pretty much a miracle. A miracle made out of three, maybe four ingredients and nothing tastes quite like it. I have been a terrible blogger of late so it dawned on me the other day when a friend was slathering my (Miyoko’s!) vegan butter on my (Miyoko’s!) fresh out of the oven baguette and groaning “oh my god” and “this can’t be vegan butter” and “sorry I’m talking with my mouth full” while I bounced in my chair with pride and pleasure that I should share my successes (and possible failures) with you as I work my way through this book. Tonight I am making pasta…

Chives- because they are already pretty...

Chives- because they are already pretty…

This spring has been an unusual one so far in that my husband Jay has had very little time to help get our plants and seeds into the ground (thank you Urban Harvest Toronto- see information below). This may or may not be a good thing because Jay is quite an accomplished gardener, and truth be told, I just misspelled the word gardener to read like an expressway in my hometown of Toronto…maybe not a good sign, and while I feel deep down that in a former life I was a full on farmer…in this life?….well….

You see Jay reads instructions and follows rules. I on the other hand come from more of a “bigger is better”, “two is better than one” and “the more the merrier” type place. When it comes to throwing a party this is a fantastic attribute. Gardening? Who’s to say…

Outer garden- 1/2 way there

Outer garden- 1/2 way there

While I may not follow the rules I am freakishly protective of this garden…I am already considering an all out ball ban in our backyard this summer which would be considered extremely radical by our four kids. Perhaps by everyone? But the mere idea of their brave little stems being snapped brings up instincts that can only be described as maternal…or psycho, depending on which family member you are talking to.

Inner garden- half way there

Inner garden- half way there

Only time will tell if my slightly, although not completely, avant garde style is going to yield overcrowded and unhappy plants or a flourishing farmers market for the entire neighbourhood. I am a firm believer that anything you do in life with a happy heart and a skip in your step can only end well, so I will whistle and weed my way through this summer with that in mind.

How does our garden grow? It remains to be seen.

Here is what we have planted this year….

  • Ruby Red Swiss Chard
  • Dinosaur Kale
  • Vates Blue Kale
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Black Beauty Eggplant
  • Celery
  • Bronze Fennel
  • Luscious Lettuce Mix
  • Collard Greens
  • Arugula
  • Easter Egg Radish
  • Scarlett Runner Pole Beans
  • Chinese Five Spice Hot Peppers (our without question favourite hot peppers EVER- grow some in a pot!)
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Nasturtiums
  • Box Car Willy Tomatoes
  • Yellow Perfection Tomatoes
  • Olpaka Paste Tomatoes
  • Jaune Flamme Tomatoes
  • Marianna Peach Tomatoes
  • Zebra Tomatoes
  • Spicy Globe Basil
  • Sweet Basil
  • Genovese Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Mustard Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Greek Oregano
  • Patty Pan Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Lemon Cucumbers

All of our seedlings and seeds were purchased from Urban Harvest – 100% Certified Organic Seeds Since 1997

Pop up is located at 1604 Queen Street West

Being in yet another transition phase of my life is daunting, very confusing, hopeful and exciting.

Not having a “job” or school to show up for daily right now put me in a position this past week of being able to push aside all the “should do’s” with all the “want to do’s/need to do’s” around the outside of our house, leading up to my twins tenth birthday party yesterday (nothing like good old procrastination and having 40 people over to light the clean up fire).

Ingredients: spinach, dandelion greens, romaine lettuce, parsley, cilantro, celery, cucumber, kale, red grapes, ginger, peaches, lemon and lime

Ingredients: spinach, dandelion greens, romaine lettuce, parsley, cilantro, celery, cucumber, kale, red grapes, ginger, peaches, lemon and lime

Each morning started the same way with my daily dose of self mutilation over why I am not sitting down and taking care of my own personal business. Populating my beautiful new web site with business ideas, or heading into Toronto to school where my creative dreams lie dormant and my drawings are getting dusty. Or perhaps researching my secret project that will change not only my life but could possibly make the world a better place. Rather than giving into what I knew I should do or the noisy heckler telling me it was all for nothing anyway and I should just go for a run, I instead donned my work boots, my gardening gloves and attacked not only our vegetable garden but cleaned up our pool area, our garage and our lawns.

You might be wondering at this point what any of this has to do with green juice or coffee let alone Rich Roll. I am getting there.

I woke up this morning, exactly a week after all this laborious work began with such a bone deep fatigue I could hardly walk. I joked last night after finishing the party clean up that even my hands were tired (a feeling I haven’t had since tree planting 20 years ago). I tried eating a plate of yummy leftovers, all kinds of salads, some grilled tofu, olives…even some crusty bread, thinking all I needed was food. That I was simply at a deficit calorically from all the running around. Didn’t help. Actually made me feel like I had to lie down. As though the act of digestion was more than my body could handle. Next came a soy latte. This was going to be the game changer for sure. Not so again. Made me feel nauseous.

Now I am forced to admit that by noon I was back in bed finishing the last three chapters of Rich Rolls incredibly inspiring Finding Ultra. The book is a memoir about how it is possible to take your life back at 40 from addiction, bad food habits and a sedentary lifestyle to become arguably one the fittest and happiest men in the world. All powered by plants. All powered by plants. Light bulb moment. If Rich can power through 5 complete Ironman races in less than seven days eating a vegan diet…

“In fewer than seven days and on five separate Islands (Hawaiian), Jason Lester and Rich Roll successfully logged 12 miles of swimming, 560 miles of cycling, and 131 miles of running- 703 miles in total”.

…I can surely get my ass out of bed and make what I know will revive me. A juice.

Finished product

Finished product

I am happy to say that while I am not heading out for a run as I should be today (I have had one too many rest days from my training for a 5K) I am up, halfway through my green concoction and feeling much more hopeful and energetic.

Lesson is…juice is going to win every time. I love plants. Now if only I could trust the weather is going to stay warm so I could plant mine!

Outer vegetable garden- before

Outer vegetable garden- before

Outer garden- after

Outer garden- after



Kim-Chee Hand Roll

Long before I ate my last spicy tuna hand roll I found myself gravitating towards the avocado maki, the edamame, the age dashi tofu and the miso soup. What I began to realize organically (or naturally or without realizing it) was the experience was far less about eating raw fish and everything about the fresh ginger, the mirin, the soy and the nori.

I began my life as a non “meat eater” at the age of twenty. My life as a vegan evolved over the next two decades. The most powerful realization I have made about food to date is the fact that it isn’t the animal or animal product I am consuming that I crave but the comfort and the satiation I gain from textures and flavours. Textures and flavours that are woven into my DNA, into my memories, into my history…

Having the pleasure of living in New York City for a week this past April I discovered a restaurant called Beyond Sushi. Beyond Sushi indeed. Beyond Sushi has two tiny locations in Manhattan and although I have been home now for over a month I still think about what I ate there daily. A bright lightbulb went on in my head today when I realized a handroll made with Kim-chee, avocado, tofu, grilled haricot vert and six grain rice is so much more appealing and delicious to me than even the finest of sushi grade tuna ever was. Truly. And I really loved eating fish. I love eating compassionately more and my tastebuds aren’t the least bit sad or hard done by.

I have just returned home from one of the best weeks of my life, in NYC, studying to become a certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(VLCE) at Victoria Moran’s Main Street Vegan Academy. I don’t think since horseback riding summer camp age 10 have I been in a group of such like minded souls, but lets face it, 100 girls at a day camp, like minded or not is not going to be all trots and giggles…this was. This was magical.

Imagine for a minute walking into a room where after the initial nervous introductions and the normal human shyness dissipated everyones eyes and hearts begin to widen and open to the reality that it truly mattered not where one sat, because every face you looked into was like looking into a mirror.

I wouldn’t trade this experience for any other. Victoria herself could have taught us everything we learned in her graceful, funny, stunningly knowledgable and compassionately engaging style but no…instead she gathers around her a group of truly incredible educators, coaches, environmentalists, cruelty free fashion pioneers, nutrition experts, chefs and just simply astonishingly good people. It strikes me as I write, what I believe I already knew, that when I committed to this vegan life. Everything would feel better. And it does.


I have what I consider a very blessed life. A big boisterous healthy family, the finest husband and partner, friends like one only dreams of and yet I now I feel like a part of a new family too. It seriously can’t be worded any differently.  As I stare at the drawing I am trying to finish and down the mile long to do list I made on my journey home and try to prioritize my tasks, instead of being overwhelmed I feel focussed. Focussed on getting her done. Lifted up by the energy I feel from each and every one of both my classmates and teachers, by the belief I know we all feel, that indeed, what we set our minds to both individually and collectively, can and will happen in this nest of support.

I learned so many things this past week that would be impossible to summarize in a blog post.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ll share three personal revelations instead…

1) I learned that once a true intention is set there is very little to stop one from achieving a dream and changing the world for both the animals and the human animals. All at once. With a true heart.

2) I learned that for me there is no better motivator than understanding and implementing number one.

3) That asking for help is always the best course of action, and I say this sincerely because I have finally accepted the fact that I have absolutely no sense of direction (thank you NYC subway) and that asking for help when you are lost and needing to be found (writing down and following the directions is important to) is the only option. That old saying “you need to get lost to be found” is poignantly true.

I came home to spring here in my sunny suburb of Toronto in time to see all the brave little plants poking their heads out of the soil to warm their faces in the sun.

I feel just like them. Ready to bloom. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For more information on MSVA go to …there are still a few spots in the August program as well!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have a memory of a family trip to visit friends in Windsor one summer and while there, driving over the bridge to Detroit for a final lunch. On the way back along the freeway I spotted a dog on the median between the lanes of traffic running frantically back and forth as cars sped past. I remember what he looked like vividly. I recall twisting around in my seat and shrieking at my dad to stop…to go back. He was most certainly going to die. To say I cried all the way back to our friend’s house to gather our bags would be a lie because the truth is I cried all the way to Toronto. I cry as I type this.

Have you ever seen an animal get hit by a car and not stopped to try to save it? Have you ever passed by a baby bird at the base of a tree and not done everything within reason to get it back into the nest? Have you ever caught a fish and then regretted it when your hook took out its eye, and rather than the release you had planned you actually killed it?

Have you ever looked into an animals eyes and been humbled by the trust reflected there?

I know people choose Plant Based diets for a multitude of reasons, all of them are compelling and all slightly different in their flavour and colour. Mine was ultimately solidified, without my even realizing it until recently, to the timing of one big beautiful yellow dog coming into my life. His name is Tonka. I call this the Tonka effect. I call this the Tonka effect because now I have a living, breathing animal that I love more every day. I care for him and can barely imagine him hurt in any way. My instincts to protect him (and him me) from harm are so strong, and because I don’t eat animals I can see the unfairness of choosing to love one so deeply while frying up another for dinner. Another equally sentient and kind and loving animal. He kinda makes it all make sense.

Have you ever wondered why you call some Animals dinner and other ones for dinner? In Melanie Joy’s book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows I found so many answers I didn’t even know I was looking for, because according to her, until we understand her ideology Carnism we don’t even know to ask or question why we eat animals or how we can justify the atrocities we inflict on them to satisfy our taste buds. Her book is summarized beautifully in her Ted Talk. Please listen to this and share …. .

Going vegan has been one of the most fascinating trips I have ever been on. At times mind numbing, often heart breaking, definitely teeth grinding. I am not describing anything about the food I am eating or how I feel physically. That is a different post altogether. A healthy and happy post. What I am talking about is what happened to me when I opened the door and let in all the reasons future generations are going to look back at this point in time and say what on earth were they thinking and why didn’t they stop?

Well according to Melanie Joy we can’t stop until we make the invisible, visible. A staggering fact….Every week worldwide 1.2 billion farm animals are slaughtered….that’s more animals in one week killed worldwide than humans have died in all wars throughout history. This is an astonishing number of animals. So she asks the question “where are they?”…98% of them come from factory farms (or CAFO’S- Confined animal feeding operations); windowless sheds in remote areas that we rarely even see and most definitely will not gain access to. “From the moment they are born, these animals are kept in intensive confinement where they may suffer from disease, exposure to extreme temperatures, severe overcrowding, violent handling, and even psychosis”.

As with any business, the CAFO’S are designed to manufacture their product at the lowest cost for the highest profit. Again quoting Melanie Joy “from a business standpoint, animal welfare is a barrier to profit, as it costs less to mass produce animals and discard those who die prematurely than it does to care for them adequately. In fact, it is estimated that upwards of 500 million animals destined to become food die before reaching the slaughterhouse, a factor that is built into the cost production. It is these cost-cutting measures that make modern meat production one of the most inhumane practices in human history”.

Vegan activist and writer Colleen Patrick Goudreau writes about the stages one goes through while transitioning from eating animals to a plant based diet. She also has a podcast about each stage ( At first I found them a bit hard to listen to but eventually grew a bit dependent on them as they mirrored almost exactly what I was going through (and still am). I think I have listened to every one of her podcasts now and highly recommend.

If I stood up and spoke up every time I feel the volcano inside me erupting I would have no voice left at all. It isn’t just the animals I ache for, it’s the environment, it’s the people suffering everywhere, it’s for our planet earth staggering under the collective abuse (did you know it takes 2500 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef or that 1 gallon of milk equals 1000 gallons of water?). Check out for some eye opening facts about the impact animal agriculture is having on our environment. If you haven’t seen Cowspiracy yet it is a must see. There is a trailer in the above link. Check it out.

At the end of the day we all do our very best. None of us perfect that is for sure. Maybe striving to eliminate animals from our diets even one day a week, or one meal a day could be a starting point. Maybe when the time feels right, open the door a crack and stop being afraid to let a little of this in. It feels really bad but then I promise you it feels really, really good.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_0920Tossing the “do I or don’t I” get a flu vaccine question around in my head each year is crazy making. It doesn’t seem to matter how much or how little I educate myself the outcome is the same.

This is an emotional topic. Both sides equally passionate. I am writing this post to try to untangle the knots in my own head and come to terms with my decision to once again this year, not get the flu shot for myself or my kids.

For those of you that have already been vaccinated, or for those on the fence, this post is in no way meant to be inflammatory or self righteous. Any dialogue/response this stirs up is welcomed. I am searching for clarity in very muddy waters.

Of late, I have been back and forth on this topic with a trusted friend Glen, a Homeopath (and awesome teacher with the TDSB) and have to share the beginning of his first note to me when I asked him if he and his family got a flu shot this year…. “With flu vaccines, let me first start by saying that I’m not against vaccination; I’m against side effects and poor evidence”. Perfectly put and a great place to start.

In order to put a needle in my arm and the arms of my children I need to trust. I need to trust in the entire process. In the case of the flu vaccine there are simply too many red flags. Everywhere I turn in my decision making process I hit something hard.

Truth be told, I think I am more afraid of the vaccine than I am of the flu…..

In order for me to trust in this vaccine I would need to trust the pharmaceutical company that produced it, which I don’t.

I would need to trust the government agencies that supposedly inspected the plants in which it was manufactured and then approved it, which I don’t.

I would obviously need to trust it isn’t contaminated and that all the strange and suspect ingredients are in fact safe, which I don’t.

It’s hard to forget about the Thimerosol (ethyl mercury used as a preservative) and the formaldehyde and the aluminum which make up part of the vaccine. Even though all these additives are purposeful and apparently safe, again I simply don’t trust this to be true.

I don’t even believe that if I got a flu shot that I wouldn’t still get the flu.

When I canvas my friends and family about how they go about making their decisions around the “do we or don’t we” most say that how sick they got days after receiving the vaccine in the past has made them very skeptical and wary of the sense it makes. Or worse, that the years they got vaccinated were the years the flu hit them or a family member the hardest.

They say there are two weeks between getting the flu shot and it starting to work. I believe this time period is when a lot of people actually get sick. Not necessarily from the shot as lots of us think, but rather as a result of nuking your immune system at the beginning of cold and flu season when boosting it to bionic strength is the smartest path. Creating a vulnerable environment in which flu can take you down is so counter intuitive. Following are a few ways (there are many more…) to naturally build your immunity this winter….

  1. Drink your lemons. Lemon is the ideal food for restoring balance. Drinking freshly squeezed lemon juice in water helps maintain the body’s internal “climate” at a pH which supports healthy bacteria instead of the viruses and harmful bacteria which thrive in more acidic environments.
  2. Get a full night’s sleep. Everybody’s different: your body may need anywhere from 6 to 10 hours of sleep each night. Whatever your personal sleep requirement is, get it!
  3. Drink plenty of water. Headaches and thirst are both signs of dehydration. You should be drinking, in daily ounces, half your body weight in pounds. (i.e. Body weight in pounds, divided by 2 = number of ounces of water per day.)
  4. Stop drinking coffee (or limit!?). Drinking coffee is one of the worst things you can do for your immune system. Caffeine robs your body of minerals and vitamins, and it dehydrates you. If you drink coffee, make sure you add an additional two glasses to your water intake per cup of coffee. I am not even mentioning pop here because I like to pretend we live in a world where it doesn’t exist.
  5. Worse yet is the impact of refined white sugar. If you do only one thing to boost your immune system, eliminating sugar will do the trick. You will see noticeable results in your energy levels, weight distribution, immunity and your ability to think clearly when you break the cravings and stop eating refined sugar.
  6. Stock up on raw fruits and vegetables for their antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and enzymes. The nutritional content that you receive from raw fruits and veggies is unparalleled. Many vitamins, including C, are antioxidants and will protect cells – including those of your immune system – from damage by toxins in the environment. Dark-coloured produce (berries, kale, broccoli) tends to be higher in flavonoids, polyphenols and other antioxidants.
  7. Spend some time out in the cold. Snowball fight, anyone? Exercise can make a noticeable difference to your health and happiness by releasing endorphins. Most of us spend 90% of our lives indoors, inhaling dubiously filtered air and other people’s germs. Get outside…it’s fun.
  8. Nurture yourself. Make sure you take time to yourself, spend some time with friends, and indulge yourself with a massage, a hot bath, or just curl up with a book once in a while. Our bodies respond to our emotions- if you’re feeling harassed and anxious, it can manifest in a sore throat or a cold. Take a mental health day!
  9. Note how you feel about your food choices each day. If something doesn’t bring you pleasure check it and change it. You won’t believe the results in both your mind and body.
  10. One last one that seems obvious but I am really focussed on this year…wash your pillow cases, towels, hand towels and scarves more often than usual. Especially your kids…I see so much suspect nose wiping. It can’t hurt.

A scary fact for the vulnerable (arguably all of us) that surfaced last week is that the predominate strain of flu this year is a particularly nasty one, H3N2, and while it is in the vaccine, this strain has “drifted” or mutated, as these wily bugs do. So from what I understand in a lot of cases, this strain will not be recognized by our immune systems, and as such we could not mount an attack against it anyway, even if we were vaccinated.

I could share the multitude of articles and reports I have been pouring through but I think we all do our own soul searching. Or do we? Maybe it is more black and white than I think. Maybe more of us trust the system than I think. I have talked to only a handfull of people who chose to vaccinate this year though and most are hard pressed to say why….just a feeling they had. Others who did say if it wan’t so convenient to do so they likely wouldn’t have.

“Flu season’s barely starting, but most cases are being caused by a strain called H3N2 this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a health warning issued to doctors Wednesday night.

 The flu vaccine protects against three or four strains of flu — there’s always a mix of flu viruses going around — and H3N2 is one of them. But the strain of H3N2 infecting most people has mutated and only about half of cases match the vaccine, CDC said.”
NBC News

When I asked my friend Glen about the flu shot he volunteered a homeopathic flu remedy that he and his family use preventatively. I am going to try this with my family as well. For more information get in touch with Glen at

In closing I need to get out there that I have never been one to say things out loud that are better left in my head, and if I do I usually respectfully whisper them. Saying things like “I never get sick” or “the baby is finally asleep, let’s have dinner” or “as if it will rain” all seem like invitations to this big eared universe to show me who is boss. Writing here about the flu feels super dodgy. Hopefully I’ve been diplomatic enough to be spared an ass kicking.

What now? From here I will forge through this flu season the way I always do and try to stop second guessing myself. I will feed myself and the ones I love healthy whole foods packed with immune boosting nutrients, encourage sleep, hydration and give lots of snuggles.

I will put my trust in my own instincts and hope for the best.

I seriously urge you to watch this youtube video for a great giggle on a serious topic…..





cool_peace_sign_card-r0816231e95604f1f931c4de32a3bba72_xvuat_8byvr_512Dear Jennifer,

I can’t tell you how excited I was last night to finally steal a few minutes to read the Vanity Fair cover story about you.

Ever since your wipeout at the Oscars and your incredibly humorous reaction to it I have been an admiring fan.

On a darker note, the recent invasion of your privacy left me cold and feeling very sad for you. Your brave and thoughtful response to this crime has been inspirational.

I haven’t even mentioned yet that I love your movies. You are an amazing actor.

I thought, until last night, that you couldn’t possibly disappoint me.

As a huge Woody Harrelson fan (his book Go Further sits on my bedside table), I was thoroughly enjoying reading, in the Vanity Fair article, about how much he loves and respects you, when—BAM—the fact that you are the “anti-vegan,” “anti gluten-free” consumer hit me like a Mac Truck. It goes on to say that Woody is the only vegan to whom you’ll “give a pass.” Give a pass? What does that even mean? I am vegan and it is exactly this kind of comment that makes my head explode. Not eating animals is a choice. Eating animals is too. What is the difference?

I have to state at this point that I am not actually writing this letter to you. I am writing it to everyone everywhere who says things like that relating to personal choice. Of course, I obviously hope that you will read it. Because you’ll probably get it. You might say sorry, and in doing so give others pause. You might actually say, “hell, that was a really thoughtless thing to say”—hopefully realizing that there are likely lots of vegans that you have offended, plenty of other vegans in your life that you might also want to “give a pass to,” or better yet, that maybe you should retire that line all together.

Perhaps you might give your head a shake while you do this, and have the foresight to recognize that one day you too might choose a plant-based diet, for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that it a compassionate and incredibly healthy way to live.

Choosing not to eat animals is really, really okay. For me it’s better than okay—it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. For people like your friend Woody, it’s a crusade. He uses his celebrity to educate. The more of us vegans the better; we might just help save the planet.

For fun, I am going to assume that somehow this note does get to you. And if it does, I hope we can still be friends, because I really do like you. The way someone like me likes a celebrity. We get a feeling about the person, we read the odd thing and watch all their work. We get imprinted, the same way we do with tangible real-life friendships.

All of that said, I should stress that I recognize I have had the luxury of getting to my 43rd year without the world’s scrutiny. I sympathize with your lack of anonymity very much and I honestly don’t make a habit of pointing out others’ mistakes. I guess being in the spotlight is a sort of trade off for doing what you love to do. Still, it must be incredibly hard. I have said a ton of shit in my life that I wish I could take back. Lucky for me I have a very small audience.

You have experienced what I can only imagine has been a life altering intrusion into your personal life. For that I know we are all truly sorry. I always look for the silver lining in situations, and here there are two. First, perhaps you (and a gazillion others) will stop separating people into categories and seeing one way (or your way) as better than the other. Second, I think the grace you have shown through your recent ordeal has likely helped countless others stand up and speak their truth about how it feels to be a victim. My kids are too young to understand fully what happened to you but I can tell you, you have great influence over your young fans.

If you ever find yourself in Toronto and craving a vegan meal, please look me up. And bring Woody!


Margie Cook




I don’t know whether it was the version of Sarah McLachlan’s Angel that I listened to last Sunday morning or the fact that I was drinking my last coffee with cream that had me in tears.

Thinking back, I’m going with the cream.

I have never referred to not eating a certain food as ‘giving it up’. If there is something my body asks me to eat, I eat it.

The trick is to make sure I am listening.

When it comes to consuming dairy, my last frontier has been cream in my coffee. For years I have been plugging my ears rather than listening to the whistle screeching in my head every time I take it out of the fridge.

The time came for those earplugs to come out.

Over the past few months I have forced myself to learn about the dark side of much of the dairy industry. It is not a bedtime story. In fact, what I am learning is giving me nightmares.

I have never been a milk drinker. From the time I was old enough to push back, I did. For this I am grateful. I see this now as the first example of me listening to my inner voice. So why have I chosen to turn a deaf ear to that generous serving of cream in my coffee every morning?

I don’t like black coffee. Coffee with cream is one of my top ten comfort foods. It would seem that the simple answer is to stop drinking coffee. Really, the simple answer is to stop drinking cream. Yet there is nothing simple about this…and oddly nothing hard either. It just is.

Last Sunday I opened the door to my future of not eating animals, their eggs or their milk. And there is no closing it now.

Welcome to Mixed Green.

greenGrassI used to think that because it was possible to milk a cow without hurting it, that dairy products were cruelty free. I was wrong.

I picture the nutrients in conventional cows milk drowning…drowning in sadness.

“Cruelty free” dairy products might exist somewhere but this post isn’t about small family run dairy farms. This post is about the “product” that comes from huge factory farms and about the millions of dairy cattle in North America who endure impossibly inhumane living conditions; it is also about the brainwashing of all of us by huge industry into believing we can’t thrive without consuming their secretions, no matter what the cost.

We need to consume cows milk for health about as much as we need to consume the milk of our lactating dogs and cats. Why is it then that most of us believe we can’t live, or grow without it?

It’s because the dairy industry is powerful and has a ton of money. Influencing both Government and us the consumers every single day. It begins at a very young age. All you need to do is glance at the Ontario Food Guide to guess who the driving forces are advising on and providing content. It’s so outdated.

A celebrity who has posed with a milk mustache on their face will, I believe, in the future, probably not be placing it at the top of their ‘proud I did that list’. I can only imagine the money they get paid for those ads. What a farce. Even when I was still consuming dairy those ads made me squirm.

A dairy cow’s life expectancy is around 25 years. But most of them go to slaughter at age 4 or 5 because they are “spent”. Spent means that often they can no longer stand up because they are so calcium deficient. Spent means they are worthless to the dairy industry (but perfectly fine for hamburger which is what they mostly end up as).

If you believe the food you cook tastes better when you prepare it in a good mood (and I hope you do!) then you believe food has energy and your energy can affect your food. Tune in then for a second with that in mind to the hazards of eating the flesh of an animal that barely lived. Many believe the cells of the animal are imprinted with fear and that this fear ends up in it’s flesh and or secretions (milk), and then ultimately, in the flesh of those who eat or drink them. Hard to chew or swallow isn’t it.

This sad meat and milk idea isn’t so hard to imagine when we learn a female cow has up to four (sometimes even five) calves in her short lifetime. In order to be able to produce our milk she must be kept continuously pregnant. All her young are taken away from her, never to taste a drop of it. She carries these calves for nine months. Think about it. If it’s difficult to empathize with a calf and his or her mother then picture a brand new litter of puppies instead, being ripped away from their mother. People would go crazy.

For those of us who think animal parents don’t feel love for their young on much the same level we humans do…I have no words. It is such an arrogant concept that we could possibly corner the market on maternal and paternal love. I learned at the age of 8 the power of an animal mother when my friend Belinda and I accidently dropped her hamster cage down her basement stairs. It split apart sending Momma and at least 10 newborn babies scattering across the floor at the bottom. She went completely mad. Running frantically around picking one after another up and attempting to hide them, often in plain sight though she would mime covering them up. We watched in utter amazement.

So if calcium and getting enough of it is at the heart of why we drink milk, and most people I ask say this is the only reason (other than liking it of course), then lets dissect this a bit. Calcium is a mineral and minerals come from the ground. In order for cow’s milk to be calcium rich the animal would need to be grazing on grass. As much as we would like to believe that that is the case, there are very few dairy cattle that ever see grass let alone graze on it. In order for factory-farmed milk to be calcium rich then their feed must be supplemented. What? How did this happen? How did a cow become the “middle man” for calcium?

Cows get their calcium from eating grass…fish are so rich in Omegas because they eat algae. We don’t need to eat the animal that eats the nutrients we need. We need to eat what the animal itself eats. Plants…lots and lots of plants.

Until I learned our physiology and the physiology of most mammals actually supports why mothers wean their babies at a certain age, I am not sure the enormity of this snow job would ever have sunk in so well.

At around the age of five we all but cease producing Lactase, Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down the sugar in milk known as Lactose. Not a big stretch to connect the dots here and understand why almost everyone you know has some kind of negative reaction to consuming dairy products (whether they know it or not). I don’t know anyone who has gone off dairy and not marveled at the changes in their digestion, skin, hair and over all health and energy. You know the person with the perma cold? Dare them to go off dairy for even a week…

I can’t help but ponder now that I am teaching myself how to live without dairy products why as a mother myself, I weaned my twins off my own breast milk. Milk perfectly customized for them, to begin feeding them another perfectly designed milk…perfectly designed for baby cows.

Plant based calcium rich foods include broccoli, kale, cabbage, calcium set- tofu, tahini, almond butter and figs just to name a few and almost all of the nut milks and several brands of orange juice are fortified with it.

If some part of you is thinking you are ready to let in the atrocities inflicted on animals day in and day out so we might continue to consume them, I encourage you to watch the documentary Earthlings. From the homepage it’s described as…

EARTHLINGS is a powerful and informative documentary about society’s treatment of animals, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix with soundtrack by Moby.

I cried myself nearly blind watching this film. Truthfully I haven’t finished it yet. I got to the section entitled “Whaling” and gave myself a time out. If you watch it be prepared. You can’t unlearn this stuff. It certainly brings home a lot of what I am struggling to write about here.

I also recently watched Cowspiracy. It’s is a powerful documentary, mostly about the devastating effects of animal agriculture on the planet. It is also about all the people who refuse to talk about it. You won’t be sorry you watched this, particularly if you consider yourself in any way an environmentalist. Go to to either rent or buy it.

We as human beings stand alone consuming another species milk and drinking sadness has a cost. I wonder how long before we all stop paying the bill?










OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI make a lot of salads. My salads are very good, very simple and very fair.

First off I really am that person who takes the time to wash and chop vegetables and greens immediately after shopping…in fact I often fill the sink and throw them in water as I am putting away the rest of the groceries. Once they are in the sink there is no getting out of it. It takes five minutes to quickly chop, spin (invest in a salad spinner if you don’t have one…one of my favourite kitchen tools) and bag. I have some washable mesh bags but admit sheepishly I also use large zip locks (I reuse them but even so I feel a bit icky about it). The weeks I don’t do this are the weeks we eat far less salad.

The veggie content in the fridge is large and a varies but we always have the following staples (if the organic option is to expensive we don’t buy it that week)…I am also adding a few other favourite salad ingredients here…

  • LEMONS (truthfully if I run out of lemons I can’t make a salad…I can’t really make anything)
  • Limes
  • Tomatoes (this time of year usually grape or cherry)
  • Red onions
  • Green onions (scallions)
  • Avocados
  • Spinach (I go through a ton of spinach)
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Romaine
  • Iceberg (I love the crunch of iceberg in the mix)
  • Purple cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Bell peppers (yellow and red)
  • Hot peppers (love)
  • Mushrooms (all kinds- whatever catches my eye)
  • Potatoes (make it into dinner salads sometimes)
  • Green or yellow beans
  • Sprouts (I am on a bit of a sprouting kick again- mung beans are so good and dead easy to sprout)
  • Any kind of legume (love chickpeas in a salad)
  • Organic hemp hearts (they add a great nutty flavour and a protein hit)
  • Nutritional yeast (a great addition- adds kind of a cheesy flavour and it’s full of B vitamins)
  • Capers
  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Pickled beets
  • Garlic (fresh)
  • Ginger (fresh)
  • Herbs (I always want cilantro)
  • Olive oil (The best I can afford)
  • Salt (anything but iodized table salt- I love salt and have a bunch of options- chunky sea salt is a front runner, especially for salads)
  • Pepper

Ok so here is where the simple comes in. I don’t make salad dressing anymore. I put all the greens into a big bowl and toss them with fresh lemon juice, sea salt and a tiny drizzle of olive oil. In the photo above it’s kale, spinach, chard and romaine. I then grab all the other veggies etc..I want to include and chop them equally into as many bowls as there are customers for the salad (usually two- wish I could say my kids were eating these but they are not…they love the lemon and sea salt but just on romaine…it’s a start).

So this is where the fair part of my salad story comes in. I’m certain my dedication to equal salad ingredient distribution is both mocked and admired by those who watch me meticulously count out carrots rounds, but I truly enjoy eating and serving to others more, a salad that has been prepared this way. Knowing that every bowl has exactly the same amount of every ingredient gives me pleasure.

The finished product is also beautiful and I love beautiful.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Next grab your favourite bowls. Serve out the greens at the bottom and top off with all the other ingredients. Once tossed together add hemp hearts, fresh garlic, herbs…sprinkle with nutritional yeast. The sky is the limit. I love capers, olives or even chopped dill pickles in a salad (nice salty additions..especially if you are missing cheese).

You get the idea and I am really not telling you anything you don’t already know but I remind you to keep it simple. Don’t drown your salads in dressing and make them fair. Your family, friends and every cell in your body will thank you profusely.



As with every January for as far back as I can remember I am filled with hope, and thinking lots about the coming months. I’m setting goals in all areas of my life…not just health. My first full year as a vegan lies ahead and my dedication, interest and excitement just keeps growing.

Here is a quick recap of the last three months since I made the switch to a 100% plant based diet.

  • firstly…it wasn’t as hard as I expected- the benefits both mental and physical far out weigh any sense of deprivation or added challenges around feeding myself
  • speaking of out weighing I am giddy to report that I not only made it through December not gaining the usual few pounds but I actually managed to lose a few- eating mindfully is incredibly rewarding…I can’t stress this enough
  • I had some blood work done as part of a regular yearly physical (I was really nervous about results) and blew my doctors mind…she literally flipped out…this test was done two months into my becoming vegan- both myself and my doctor cannot wait to retest a year or so from now to see if anything changes. To quote her “I can’t imagine you can top this but am very excited to see you do it”
  • I have been cooking and experimenting as I always do and am NEVER bored or disappointed…in fact the opposite is true….I am buzzed by every meal (as is Jay- for real)
  • I enrolled in a course to become a Certified Vegan Educator at The Main Street Vegan Academy in NYC (oh my god am I excited)…the course is just under a week long in early April…I am diligently working my way through an extensive and intensive reading list and am obviously very excited to add this experience and knowledge to help me find my voice as a Vegan Nutritionist…

There is so much more and I will begin blogging again hopefully on a by-weekly basis. That is one of my goals anyway!

To finish this up I made cheese last night…Almond cheese. It took all of 10 minutes. Today I baked it and we ate some for lunch. Warm on crackers and then just scooping it into our mouths like infants. Trust me on this. There is life after animal based cheese…

If interested .. go to for recipe(s)

BTW- the photo is of my cheese