Monday, October 29, 2007


World peace, or any other kind of peace, depends greatly on the attitude of the mind. Vegetarianism can bring about the right mental attitude for peace.

In this world of lusts and hatreds, greed and anger, force and violence, vegetarianism holds forth a way of life, which if practiced universally, can lead to a better, juster, and more peaceful community of nations.

U NU (THAKIN NU) 1907-1995
Former Prime Minister of Burma

Until he extends the circle of compassion
to all living things,
man will not himself find peace.

Albert Schweitzer, MD, PhD 1875-1965

As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer
of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace.
For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other.
Indeed, he who sows the seeds of murder
and pain cannot reap joy and love.

6th Century BC

People often say that humans have always eaten animals,
as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times.

Isaac Bashevis Singer, 1904-1992
Author, Nobel Laureate, Holocaust survivor

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Depression & Essential Fatty Acids

The Todo Institute Newsletter (current issue) contained contained an interesting piece about depression and Omega 3 and 6 in the diet. We have all heard about EFA's or essential fatty acids, and in particular Omega 3 and Omega 6. EFA's cannot be produced by the body, hence we need to ingest them from our food choices. The recommended ratio by dietitians is 1:3 (Omega 3 to Omega 6). The typical diet in this part of the world is the reverse, 15:1 (Omega 6 to Omega 3). Apparently, this is to due to our consumption of meat, animal products and common cooking oils.

And what does all of this have to do with depression you might ask? The writer continues, referring to the April 07 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, that researchers looked at people whose diets were high in the Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio and found that these people manifested more depressive moods. These scientists felt that diet does have an effect on the body and even more so, for people living with depression.

You will often read that eating fish is a sure way to make sure you are getting proper EFA's, but here is an interesting point made by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine . The Omega 3 found in fish oil is not as stable as the Omega 3 found in plant sources. Fish oils tend to decompose and in doing so can release those dreaded "free radicals".

If you are following a vegan or vegetarian pyramid here are some sources of both Omega 6 and Omega 3:

OMEGA 3: flax seed (contains twice the amount found in fish oil); mustard seeds, pumpkin seeds, soya beans, walnut oil, green leafy vegetables, grains, spirulina, flax seed oil (or linseed oil) canola oil, soya oil

OMEGA 6: vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, hemp seed, safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soya oil

One of my favourite sources is hemp seed hearts which I sprinkle on my cereal in the morning. I also use ground flax seed as well. Fortino's sells Manitoba Harvest Hemp Oil and Seeds. My son has also purchased hemp hearts in bulk at the Horn of Plenty in Dundas

If you are interested in reading the in depth details, click on the highlight links above.
I'm repeating myself here, but I highly recommend the PCRM website for interesting and useful information about a plant based diet.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Kung Pao Tofu with Broccoli and Peanuts

The Hamilton Spectator ran this recipe on Sept. 27th and I prepared it to take to my niece's Thanksgiving family dinner. The ingredient list might look rather daunting but this dish went together fairly quickly and was quite tasty. In hindsight probably not the best choice to take out (i.e. potluck), as it should be taken from stove top to table immediately. In any case, I was happy with the result and will definitely make this again.

Ingredient List

  • 1 lb (450 g) extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch slabs
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) scallion, white part only, plus 2/3 cup scallion greens, cut into 1-in (2.5cm) lengths
  • 1 1/2 tbsp (22ml) minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp (22ml) minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp (2ml) hot chilli paste
  • 1 c (250ml) sliced water chestnuts
  • 2/3 c (160ml) chicken broth (vegetarian brand)
  • 2 tsp (10ml) low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 tbsp (37ml) rice wine or dry sherry (I used rice vinegar)
  • 2 tsp (10ml) sugar
  • 3/4 tsp (3ml) toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp (10ml) Chinese black vinegar or Worcestshire (I used Bragg's Liquid Amino)
  • 3/4 tsp (3ml) cornstarch
  • 3/4 lb (340g) broccoli, ends trimmed, stalks peeled
  • 1/4 c (60ml) canola or corn oil
  • 3/4 c (180ml) dry-roasted peanuts
  1. Press as much moisture out of tofu block as possible (wrap tofu in paper or cloth towel and place weight on top like a cast iron pan). While tofu is pressing, prepare the seasonings and sauce.
  2. In small bowl - mix the minced scallions, garlic, ginger and chili paste. In another bowl - place the scallion greens and water chestnuts. Set both aside. In medium bow - mix the broth, soy sauce, rice wine or vinegar, sugar, toasted sesame oil, black vinegar and cornstarch. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces, cutting the stalks into 1-inch slices, on the diagonal. Boil the broccoli for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander under cold running water and place in medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Slice the tofu into pieces about 1/2 inch (1.3cm) thick and 2 1/2 inches (6.3cm) long. Using heavy skillet, heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil on high. Place half the tofu in the pan and sear for 3-4 minutes each side until golden brown. Remove and drain. Add another 1 1/2 tbsp oil to pan and repeat with remaining tofu slices. Remove final slices and drain.
  4. Add remaining tbsp of oil to pan. Add scallion-ginger mixture and stir-fry for 15 seconds. Add scallion greens and water chestnuts and cook, stirring about 1 1/2 minutes. Add broth mixture and stir until it thickens (about 1 minute). Add the broccoli, tofu and peanuts. Toss lightly. Serve hot.
Some tips - use a really large skillet for this if you are using a couple of stalks of broccoli as I did (probably more than the recipe suggested). Also, when frying at high heat, this combo really spits - make sure you are wearing an apron and stand at arms length away from the stove!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Middle Eastern Nut Cheese

I found this recipe on the Vegetarians of Alberta website and made it as one of my contributions to our family's Thanksgiving dinner. I was expecting it to be creamier, maybe because of the word "cheese" in the recipe name, but after blending the ingredients at various settings for several minutes and fearing I was going to burn the clutch on my blender, I stopped the whirring and turned the "cheese" into a bowl. The texture, even after all this blending, was still crunchy and a bit lemony for my taste. As well, I thought it lacked body in some way. Most of the family tried it and found it good - but some suggestions were: add more garlic, try adding a bit of red curry paste. So I leave this for you to try. My opinion: interesting texture but needs more garlic and possibly a curry or chilli paste to. (I might also try blending this in a food processor to get a creamier consistency.)

This makes 1/2 cup of dip.

3 Tablespoons pine nuts, 3 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts, 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, juice of 1 1/2 lemons, 1/3 cup fresh parsley (or more) chopped, 1 clove garlic minced, 7 dashes Bragg's Liquid Amino, dash Nama Shoyu soy sauce.
Blend all ingredients in blender or food processor.
Serve with crudites, crackers or in sushi.

Friday, October 5, 2007


It is 7:26 A.M. and I have been up an hour and a half this fine Friday morning. Got up at 6ish to have breakkie with my husband before he left for work. It is also the Thanksgiving weekend - which means I'll be on my usual crusade to clean the house, get some groceries in, make some nice meals. Both my sons are home with their partners, and on Sunday we will join my extended family for a lovely dinner. While surfing the net, I found a lovely recipe for "Middle Eastern Nut Cheese" which I am going to try out. I will also be making a Kung Pao Tofu with Broccoli and Peanuts entree - both of these will be my contribution to the traditional turkey feast that my niece (a chef) is sure to have.
In the course of this last hour, I have visited some interesting sites but the last contained a most inspiring piece which I thought I would share with you. I believe I was on the Vegan Freak blog which is run by a married couple who are teachers at (in their words) a liberal arts college in New York state. The wife stated that in preparation for one of her classes she had found a quotation from Victor Jara, a Chilean human rights activist. I found the same quotation, as she had done on Wikipedia. Here are Victor's words about what love means...

Love of my home, my wife and my children.
Love for the Earth that helps me live.
Love for education and of work.
Love of others who work for the common good.
Love of justice as the instrument that provides equilibrium for human dignity.
Love of peace in order to enjoy one's life.
Love of freedom, but not the freedom acquired at the expense of others’ freedom, but rather the freedom of all.
Love of freedom to live and exist, for the existence of my children, in my home, in my town, my city, among neighbouring people.
Love for freedom in the environment in which we are required to forge our destiny.
Love of freedom without yokes: nor ours nor foreign.

Jara was brutally beaten, tortured and then executed for his activism. Strange isn't it how things come into our path, our view. I had never heard of Victor Jara until this morning, but when I read these words, I thought how appropriate on Thanksgiving, on this day in our lives when so many people on this globe are not free to love, to live and exist without fear.
I am thankful that this morning I was free to have coffee with my husband, that my son is free to sleep downstairs on the couch, that my other son is free to drive home today, that I am free to earn enough money to feed us all, and free to live my life surrounded by good people, loving family and friends.
May your weekend be a peaceful and joyful one. Be thankful.