What’s not vegan about wine?

Whenever the topic of veganism comes up with friends and family while we’re enjoying a glass or two of wine, many are surprised to learn about the use of animal products in wine-making. “I don’t get it. Why aren’t all wines vegan?” they ask.

It is a confusing and often overlooked issue for vegans and non-vegans alike. Winemakers Jason Robideaux and Cheryl Murphy Durze of Vegan Vine, an entirely vegan vineyard in California, have written a guest post for ADC readers that I thought was super interesting. They’ll explain the wine-making process, the alternatives to animal ingredients, and why they ceased the usage of any animal products in their own vineyards. Sadly, Vegan Vine wines are not available in Canada (yet), but I’m happy they’re willing to share their knowledge.

In doubt about your favourite wine? Check out Barnivore.com. Or call the winery directly!

Simple staple foods you can make at home

One of the main messages I try to convey on this blog is that homemade, plant-based meals and snacks are worth the time and effort you put into making them. Today, you’ll find a new article on VegNews.com that highlights six simple staple foods you can easily make on your own for a fraction of the cost you’d typically pay at a grocery store.

For those who read VegNews.com frequently, you may have noticed a few articles co-authored by Lisa Pitman and yours truly. The “6 Kitchen Staples You Can Make at Home” article is just one of them. We’ve also shared:

Wellness Reboot review and special offer

It’s almost two full months into 2013 and I’m feeling pretty great. How about you?

The first day of January started off like any other—with the promise to improve my eating habits and fitness regime—but this year, I had a little help from a friend. Christy Morgan, otherwise known as “The Blissful Chef,” invited me to join her brand new Wellness Reboot program. Despite the fact that I lead a pretty healthy lifestyle, I’m not perfect and I do occasionally overdo it on the late-night snacks and recipe taste-testing. So I was excited to check out what Christy’s program could do for me.

The Wellness Reboot is a 28-day online wellness program that includes more than 15 videos on cooking techniques, a 28-day meal plan of whole food, plant-based recipes (no oil, no processed foods, no refined sugar and mostly gluten-free), a “Getting Started Guide” that explains everything you need to know about eating healthfully and living a plant-based lifestyle, continual support and motivation from Christy through a private Facebook group, and bi-weekly conference calls.

I’ve been a longtime fan of Christy’s work (you can read my review of her cookbook here), and I know she has poured her heart and soul into this latest project. Christy has been working in the community for a long time, and she describes the program as an accumulation of all she’s learned in both culinary arts and in over 10 years in the health and wellness field. For the program, she also partnered with vegan personal trainer Chad Byers of Beyond Fit for the fitness element, so you get a workout that’s easy to do at home, along with workout videos. You can check out a sample live workout with Chad here (be sure to skip to 5:40 for the start of the workout).

Beetroot falafel with tahini dressing

I have a very limited history with beets. As a child, they rarely landed on my dinner plate except, it seems, when we went to my grandmother’s house. Hers must have been either canned or boiled because, after one bite, I declared they were not for me. I grew up thinking I hated them, and I steered clear until I was in my late twenties.

Maybe my taste buds have changed but since then, beets have been a part of my regular rotation during the fall and winter along with most other root vegetables. I juice them, shred them for salads and sometimes roast them to bring out their flavour. Last week, I happened to buy a gigantic bunch of organic red beets, but since I was getting a little tired of adding them to my salads I decided to go another route and throw them in a batch of falafel. Call it an early Valentine’s Day meal if you wish, since red is everywhere this week.

I wish I had snapped a photo of the inside of these babies to show the beautiful specks of deep red throughout, but I didn’t, so you’ll have to trust me on this one. Underneath the crispy exterior, they are beautiful. I promise.

They are also super simple to throw together in your food processor. With these, you have the option to fry them like traditional falafel, or bake them if you wish. Then place them atop a luscious plate of greens and smother them in my favourite homemade tahini dressing.

Toronto’s Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off

Before I get to the subject of this post, I need to announce the winner of my Vegan Eats World cookbook giveaway! According to Random.org, the winner is #19…

Amanda of Hungry Vegan Traveler! Congratulations!

Now on to other exciting news…

Yesterday was a pretty fabulous day in Toronto. It was the 5th Annual Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off, which also just happened to fall on my birthday.

I was one of the close to 50 volunteers of the Toronto Vegetarian Association who helped pull off the event, and what an event it was.

About 45 amateur and professional vegan bakers put countless hours of work into their entries for this very tough competition. At 2 p.m., a hungry mass arrived at the event space on Bloor Street West, ready to sample treats and deliver their judgment on the best in nine dessert categories, including professionally crafted classics, raw desserts and gluten-free sweets.

After just a couple of hours, well over 5000 samples disappeared, each taste tester added their vote to the ballot box to be tallied by a trusted team of volunteers, and the celebrated titles were ready to be awarded. A panel of judges, who included co-owner of Fresh restaurants Ruth Tal and owner of vegan bakery LPK’s Culinary Groove Lesia Kohut, rated the culinary confections for Best in Show and Best Pro in Show.