Sunday, December 22, 2013

Grenada so far

We arrived in Grenada a week ago and are staying at the marvellous Vegan Lodge. Each morning we start the day with a big bowl of lovely local fruits; banana, star fruit, mango, passion fruit, etc, toast, smoothie, and muesli. Each evening we enjoy an inspiring meal of homemade soup, salad, a creative main dish and finish with sorbet!

After breakfast, we depart for the day on a local mini bus which is about $1.00 each to St George's. Once in St George's we either stay there or take a second bus to the Grand Anse Beach area. So far in St George's we've wandered the streets taking photos of boats and buildings, sipped a piƱa colada by the waters edge, had a vegetable stuffed roti, and toured the tiny museum. Other days we head to the beach area and laze about under an beach umbrella and float in the ocean. We pick up snacks at the nearby IGA at the Spiceland Mall and grab lunch of either vegan sushi or pasta at restaurants next door. 

We took a special trip to the Grenada SPCA and dropped off the medical supplies we hauled from home and a cash donation. They were happy to receive it all. They have a very caring and clean facility. They provide spay and neuter to the homeless dogs and cats as well as low cost vet services for pets. A common surgery is leg amputation for dogs who have broken legs from accidents. While we were there we saw one dog post this surgery, a litter of abandoned pups, and a few other dogs and cats. 

Today we went on a snorkelling trip aboard a beautiful catamaran. It was crewed by three wonderful guys who took us to Flamingo Bay and the underwater sculpture garden. The sea was not kind to J so tomorrow we shall enjoy the water from the shade of our beach umbrella. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Off to Grenada, Caribbean!

We are about to embark on a 2 week stay on the lovely Grenada Island in the Caribbean. A little background from wikipedia "Grenada is an island country and commonwealth realm consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. Grenada is located northwest of Trinidad and Tobago, northeast of Venezuela, and southwest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Grenada is also known as the "Island of Spice" because of the production of nutmeg and mace crops of which Grenada is one of the world's largest exporters. Its size is 344 square kilometres (133 sq mi), with an estimated population of 110,000. Its capital is St. George's. The national bird of Grenada is the critically endangered Grenada Dove." 

Obviously the Caribbean is a lovely place to visit in the depths of a Canadian winter but why did we pick this island? We first became aware of Grenada via the media coverage of the unique Vegan Lodge, a vegan bed and breakfast located in the interior jungle area of the island. This lovely oasis is run in a very ecological manner including carbon offsetting (a tree is planted for every guest), onsite fruit orchards, harvested rain water (for drinking and the small pool), solar heated hot water, and vegan meals etc. We look forward to relaxing in the jungle and walking or taking the bus to the beach and town areas. Check out some lodge photos here; Grenada was also named a top spot to visit in 2013 by National Geographic!

Grenada is known for it's spices and chocolate and also offers some exciting activities. We are looking forward to hiking to the many waterfalls, visiting the picturesque town of St Georges, relaxing, and snorkelling from the many shore accessible sites. We have our gear all packed and ready to go. Grenada is also home to the world's first underwater sculpture garden, which we look forward to snorkelling through!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

More vegan adventures in Calgary

This week I tried out the new raw, vegan, gluten free Healthy Delights Living Foods, that just recently opened up at the Calgary Farmer's Market. I picked up the dehydrated 'cheezy' tomatoes, made with nutritional yeast and they were very savoury. I also picked up the lovely raw chocolate cheesecake picture below. It was nice to stumble upon the booth as I was at the market visiting a favourite vegetarian vendor, Hearts Choices. They have many vegan items and my favourite is the frozen lemon grass faux soy product. I use it to make Banh Mi Vietnamese subs. Yum!

Also opening this week is the new organic market, Mrs Greens. It is located in the far South, 130 ave SE off of deerfoot. I won't likely make the trek very often as I am very fond of my close by Community Natural Foods Market. However, it was a fun field trip. The store is bright, clean and the staff are friendly. The space is a bit sterile but that may change as they settle in. Some areas were not yet open, such as the salad bar. One staff stated that they would be clearly labelling vegan items with a special colour, which is a great idea. I did pick up some vegan snack foods that are not commonly found elsewhere (shown in the photo below). 

I tried the Daiya pizza for the first time and I was underwhelmed. It was ok but small with scant toppings. I prefer making my own or ordering from a few spots that have vegan pizza such as Famoso or the newly opened Gordo's Pizza. (Both of these pizza spots offer daiya cheese, and Gordo's also has a vegan gluten-free crust option.) My favourite at Gordo's is the veganized pizza bread sticks, called cross bones.

Back to Mrs Greens; I did take advantage of the opening special coupon for $15.00 off your purchase of $50.00 which was available in the in store flyer. Below you will see a few snaps of some other vegan offerings. Mrs Greens has the largest variety of Gardein vegan foods as well as several Sol Cuisine items I have not seen elsewhere. If you are in the far south Mrs Greens is a good bet for vegan staples and offers a full grocery.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Road trip!

We left Calgary the evening of August 1, 2013 and made our way to Golden, BC. We spent the night at the decent and affordable Rondo Hotel. The next day we went on to Kamloops. We thoroughly enjoyed Beat Nation a wonderful contemporary Aboriginal exhibit at the Kamloops Art Gallery. The exhibit was a eclectic mix of artists and medias; music, video, dance, clothing, neon, painting, carving etc. After Kamloops we spent a night in Chilliwack before heading over the border.

We spent Sunday in Seattle and checked out the vegan diner; Wayward Vegan Cafe , Vegan Haven; a lovely vegan store who's proceeds support a pig rescue, and Araya's Place. At the vegan store we picked up delectable snacks including Go Max Foods chocolate bars, and Earth Balance cheddar flavour popcorn. We spent the rest of the day walking through the surrounding neighbourhood.

Everything in Seattle was booked or super expensive so we opted for a campground in the nearby town if Kent. Big mistake. We spent a night that sounded like we were continually about to be hit by a semi, in our freeway ditch camp site, So we moved a little further out from Seattle, to Tacoma, and are staying in a cheap and cheerful motel.
Prior to heading to Tacoma we went into Seattle and enjoyed an amazing lunch and dinner at the vegan Plum Bistro. A sample of their menu:

CHIPOTLE PEACH TEMPEH & TOFU charred French beans, avocado puree, vino butter sauce G/F

In between we wandered down the waterfront, checked out Pike Place Market, and browsed antique stores. We got a bit lost on our way out of Seattle but we made it back to Tacoma safely.

We were pleasantly surprised with Tacoma! We stopped initially for the affordable lodging and the Lemays Car Museum. The museum is housed in a spectacular building and showcases a wonderful collection of vehicles.

We also enjoyed wandering around Tacoma looking at the buildings. We enjoyed the yummy raw vegan meal at AmeRAWcan Bistro.

Today we headed back to Seattle for a final trip (and more lovely dining at Plum Bistro). We checked out the Seattle Art Museum.

We enjoyed special Japanese fashion exhibit. The museum also had selected works of the phenomenal collection of Herb and Dorothy Vogel, who amassed their important modernist collection on their modest salaries as a postal clerk and librarian. The selected works at the Seattle museum were not my favourite but I am mesmerized by their story. It was appropriate that I stumbled across this statement, by Craig Damrauer, in the gift shop:

"Modern Art = I could do that + Yeah, but you didn't"

The couple were also the topic of the fascinating documentary, Herb and Dorothy;

After the museum we visited the Sea Shepherd Gallery and Educational Centre. "Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species.

Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations."
Sea Shepherd is also featured on the popular show; Whale Wars. It was great to speak with the supporters and purchase a new hoodie, t-shirt, decals and a flag!

To check out our photos so far go to; Tomorrow off to Portland!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Vegan field trip around Calgary

We had a fun filled day that started at the Eat Real YYC Food Festival, outside of the Casel Marche Market. The market also stocks plenty of vegan staples. The event was chock full of Calgary Foodtrucks. I was pleasantly surprised to find some good vegan options. We had amazing chickpea fritter naan tacos (hold the cheese) from The Naaco Truck  (check out the photo below) and indulged in rich raw vegan desserts from Healthy Funky Foods. Healthy Funky Foods also has a stall in the Cross Roads Market, full of all sorts of raw vegan delights including mains, sides, drinks and desserts.

For supper we headed over to Anejo for great mexican eats. We had fire roasted salsa, fresh guacamole (both hand mixed table side), a quinoa side dish and black bean tacos. 

After dinner we thought we'd head over to Bridgeland and check out some of the new developments. We first visited the Bridgeland Market, a boutique grocery store with many vegan staples. Afterwards we checked out Luke's Drug Mart. I was blown away by the awesomeness packed into this little gem. I enjoyed a delicious espresso from the Stumptown coffee counter, browsed, vinyl records, interesting gift items, and a post office! Then we headed downstairs to the well stocked market area complete with assorted hardware items. I was very impressed with the great vegan food items, and natural cleaning products as well! They even had two Gardein products that I haven't seen anywhere else in Calgary (plus organic pizza sauce which I have also not found!)

My vegan cosmetic regime

I've struggled lately to find cosmetic products that are vegan, not test on animals, perform well and are not filled with really toxic ingredients. Sometimes I would find a vegan product that worked well but I later found it was high in heavy metals etc. 

These are the current products I am using most: Kiss My Face Underage moisturizer , Body Shop Extra Virgin Minerals compact foundation, Lush liquid eyeliner, Pacfica Lip Tint, & Zuzu Lipstick (in Starlit shade). I've chosen these items as they; perform well, are vegan and not tested on animals and seem to have decent ingredients. I use Good Guide to check for products with healthy ingredients etc. (GoodGuide is free and provides the world's largest and most reliable source of information on health, environmental, and social impacts of consumer products.)

What are your favourite products?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Top 10 Vegan Eats in Calgary

Calgary may lack an exclusively vegan restaurant but there are still some great vegan dishes available. The only way we will increase the vegan options is by letting restaurants know we want them and celebrating those who already provide them. If the Wynn restaurant and hotel empire in Las Vegas can provide a vegan menu at each dining establishment, surely we can increase the options in Calgary! So if you find a great vegan dish let the owner know you appreciate it and tell your friends too! If you want a venue to add some vegan options send them an email or message them on twitter.

Here are the top 10 things I've eaten lately:

1.) The Treehouse Sandwich from Calgary's wonderful vegetarian eatery The Coup, is a staple of weekend brunch (or weekday lunch). The vegan version of the sandwich is smoked tofu and an amazing basil pesto mayo on hearty fresh bread. It comes with soup, salad or hash browns. I always opt for the hash browns with a side of garlic aioli.

2.) The flavourful  Gado Gado from Kaffir Lime, is a great weekend meal when checking out the Kingsland Farmer's Market. (It is located in the market food court).

3.) We were very spoiled by the NYC all vegan sushi place; Beyond Sushi, and have been on the hunt for a Calgary spot with decent vegan options. We recently checked out Sushi Motto and were very happy with the five different vegan rolls offered. They included; avocado, cucumber, vegetable, shitake  mushroom, and Inari (bean curd pouches). There are some vegetarian soups listed as well that could potentially be made vegan (ask your server).

4.) The tofu parma sandwich from Community Natural Foods Cafe is delightful. They veganize the normally vegetarian sandwich by using Daiya vegan cheese. The sandwich is pared well with the  moist, in-house made cupcakes, complete with decadent frosting. The cupcakes are sold in 4 packs in the cooler by the Cafe and flavours include vanilla, chocolate, lemon blueberry and carrot cake. You can also special order vegan cupcakes and whole cakes.

5.) Who doesn't love a critter free hot dog? Check out the great vegan hotdogs from Fat City Franks. I top mine with cilantro sauce, fresh cilantro, hot peppers and the homemade relish. 

6.) We were pleasently surprised to learn that Brulee Bakery often has vegan options on hand (and can do special orders). Check their facebook page to hear about specials. We indulged in the morning glory muffins, chocolate chestnut cakelet, and orange almond lavender cakelet. Beautifully presented and delicious! 

7.) The new kid in town is Tutti Frutti Yogurt. We checked them out on opening weekend and were pleased to see four vegan options; soy based peanut butter banana, soy based chai latte, blueberry sorbet and lychee sorbet. You fill your own bowl and then visit the topping centre to add your extras. There were several vegan friendly toppings including fruit, nuts, fuzzy peaches candy, Oreos, and the agar based bubbles (similar to the ones in bubble tea but these ones kind of pop). Plus they had Ghirardelli chocolate sauce, which appears to be vegan. 

8.) We managed to secure a table at Anejo, the very popular mexican restaurant. We thoroughly enjoyed the fresh, table side made guacamole and fire roasted salsa, plus the black bean burritos.

9.) One of the difficult things to find as a vegan is decent pizza. Famosa delivers great vegan pizza topped with Daiya cheese. (Apparently Avatara Pizza also offers vegan cheese and I look forward to checking them out soon). 

10.) The salty, spicy faux dry ribs from Buddha's Veggie Fusion Cuisine.

And a bonus entry! It is well worth the drive to nearby Cochrane to check out the Thai all vegetarian paradise, Thai-Onzon. I particularly like the peanut satay appetizer. They have a great selection of appetizers, noodle dishes and curries. Many of their selections are gluten-free as well. Plus they have vegan desserts.

So what are your top vegan-friendly eats in Calgary? You can also check out other reviews of vegetarian/vegan friendly spots in Calgary on HappyCow.