Yes, Vegan Women DO Get Wrinkles

This past week I did a brief interview for, about vegan parenting.  With some of the controversy that arose with the “Vegan Is Love” book, I was asked a few questions.  They posted the piece yesterday.

Today I read this comment that was posted to the article. This person said:

“What I have noticed most with all the vegans I have met or seen (including the photo of the author of this article) is their skin always looks prematurely wrinkled, extremely thin or exceedingly pale, usually with dark undereye circles, probably from iron deficiency.”

Can I speak to this, folks?  I did leave a comment on the article, but really want to elaborate here.  That photo was taken as part of a family photo shoot just 2 or 3 weeks after our third baby was born. 3 WEEKS! Anyone that has had children knows that 3 weeks pospartum, you look and feel like crud. And, not only was our baby up about 5 times through the night (and had reflux), I had two other children to take care of during the day – and also had in-laws visiting at the time. So, forgive me if I have dark circles under my eyes and some age-appropriate wrinkles, I had a lot on my proverbial plate.  And, I was 39 at the time.

And, I had a few wrinkles. What 39 woman doesn’t? I don’t mean women in Hollywood. On that topic, when Jennifer Lopez was named “the most beautiful woman in the world” last year, I thought “wow, now 40 year old women have that standard to live up to“.

She doesn’t look 40 on this cover. I would like to see Jennifer without the special make-up and lighting and photoshop work.  I know she is still beautiful, because she IS a beautiful woman.  Here, however she looks more like a beautiful 28 year old than 40 year old.

I just need to say this because I’ve been “out there” for more than 10 years now.  I know that being a visible spokesperson for living vegan, and being a vegan mom, I will always be judged on my appearance – because my photos are on the internet.  It’s very hard, and like I said in my comment, I try to judge my health by how I feel.  And most days I feel pretty damn good.  Most days.  I am a mom of 3 with no extended family support, that is also running her own career without much assistance.  So, my days are full-on, and there are no vacations or weekends.

I work hard because I am passionate.  But, alas, I am 41, so I won’t look 30.  I think I look pretty good for my age, but also I feel very good for my age.  (Excepting these occasional judgemental comments, that is.)

As women, we are judged FAR more on our appearance than are men.  It is unfortunate that women take so much judgement for how they look – rather than being judged for what they contribute.

Finally, to address the issue of iron.  It is a gross misperception that vegans are anemic.  It has been shown that “iron deficiency anemia is no more common among vegetarians than among the general population“.  If you are eating foods like dark leafy greens (kale, collards, bok choy), beans and nuts and seeds and other varied whole foods, it is not at all difficult to obtain the iron you need on a vegan diet.

(p.s. I write this today not to seek compliments or reassurance – we all enjoy such positive feedback, but that is not my intention.  Rather, I want to speak to the unreasonable and unattainable expectations for women as they age – and the equally unfair judgements placed on vegans.)

Let Them Eat Vegan: Special Promotion!

Let Them Eat Vegan is coming!  In May, my new cookbook will hit stores*.  And you, my readers, can get a little something special if you order Let Them Eat Vegan between Monday, April 30th to Sunday, May 6th!

Read on, and please help me make this promotion a success.  I can do so much on my own, but there are thousands of you out there (that’s some plant-power)!  So, please share this ad on facebook, twitter, pinterest (you can use the buttons at the top of this post) or you can share old school – on your blog. 😉

This is very exciting, I cannot wait to get a copy in your hot little hands!!   And, thank you for supporting this book and my marketing efforts.  It means a lot.

*For those of you that bought the first printing of LTEV and would like a replacement, please e-mail me for details on a no-hassle exchange.

A Story of Vegan Friendship, Gratitude, and one beautiful Quilt

Yesterday I was plucking away at my keyboard when the doorbell rang.  I thought “ugh, another door solicitation”, because we’ve had a lot of that lately.  I make my way to the door to find a box.  Thought it might be a gift for our daughter, as it was her birthday last week – but no – it was for ME!  Don’t you love that?  How exciting to have a letter or box addressed to just us, unexpectedly!

The box was from a vegan mama and friend, Michelle Bishop.  Now, I have come to now Michelle from the early days of blogging.  Back in the “good ol’ days”, of ’05, when cooking blogs were just emerging.  Some came and went, but other blogs stuck around for a while.  Michelle and I came to know each other through our blogs, and she regularly posted recipes from my first two cookbooks at the time.  We both had two children, and were both vegan moms.  Over the years, we stayed connected, and celebrated each other’s growing families as we welcomed our third babes.

Michelle is an especially remarkable vegan mom, because not only does she cook vegan for her children, her eldest is type 1 diabetic and celiac.  So, this lady works extraordinarily hard to plan and prepare meals that are not only wholesome, but suitable for her boy.  I have always thought that “if this mom can manage all that she does to cook for her children, everyone should be able to cook vegan”!

And, Michelle was also one of my fabulous testers for Let Them Eat Vegan.  She likes to think that I have taught her a lot about cooking, but truth is she has shared a great deal with me about gluten-free baking.  And, I greatly trusted and valued her opinions on my gluten-free recipes in LTEV, because, well, she knows the score!

So, I open this box from Michelle and find this beautiful handmade quilt!  I was floored, and thought I was in some kind of dream, because – who does this for someone else??  Apparently Michelle does!

I started to cry.  Look at this beautiful creation.  The colors, the patterns, look at these artichokes, carrots, peas, and more!…

And, she enclosed a note, which made me cry more.  In addition to a note just for me, she wrote this to our girls:

“I’ve hidden some words in this quilt – they are tricky to see – can you find them all?  It’s like a quilty word search!”

She sewed these words into my quiltHummus, TEV, Vive, ED&BV, LTEV, Tea & Cookies, Ratatouille, Plant Powered, Wholesome, PB Ice Cream, Tofu, Kale

Again – ???!!!  I had Rudolph nose most of the day looking at this quilt and thinking of all the thought and effort she poured into this project.

If you look close, you can see the outline to some words here….  on top here you can see the beginnings of “Plant Powered”, and right underneath is “Hummus”:

did you see it?  And, here’s “ED&BV”:

Here is “Vive”:

Here are some busy feet while I try to snap photos:

& the “PB” in ice cream is here, just above some little fingers:


I e-mailed Michelle straight away – well, as soon as I cleared away some tears!  I thanked her so sincerely for this heartfelt gift, to which she replied:

“I am so glad you like it.. i’ve been so nervous, i have no idea what colours you like, but when i saw this fabric, it just screamed “Dreena!” and all sorts of veggie goodness.  The kids helped me come up with the words.  I have so much to thank you for!!  My parents taught me… let’s see here, very little about cooking, and absolutely nothing about *healthy* cooking.  I feel like i’ve learned the majority of what i know from you, your cookbooks, your blog, etc!  You’ve been so patient, answering my questions over the years, and chatting about ingredients.  Because of all your work, I can now teach *my* kids about healthy cooking!   And while I truly hope they stay vegan forever, even if they don’t, I know that they will have a solid foundation, and lots of great recipes to see them through the years.  I don’t think you really understand that what you do … well it’s more than writing recipes!  You help feed families and teach us all.”
More waterworks!  And, I have pasted this for you to read, not just for her kind words about my work.  But because with all the nonsense about vegan parenting in the press recently, Michelle echoes my own feelings as a mom.  Michelle, you have touched my heart with this gift, and with your words.  Truly, I will cherish this gift for the rest of my life, and will always feel gratitude, friendship, and love when I snuggle up with it.
Soon after, Michelle posted this photo to her facebook page:

Michelle's cutie pie plant-powered kids!

As I said to Michelle, her children embody everything that is good, and healthy, and life-giving about being vegan. And Michelle – you embody all that is compassionate.  And, as I write this post, I have your quilt on my lap keeping me cozy…

Motherhood, Vegan Parenting, and “Imposing Your Beliefs on Your Children”

I’ve been thinking a lot about being a mom lately. Partly because our eldest is turning eleven this week, and I cannot believe she is growing so quickly (don’t all moms say that? It’s true). And, partly because this Pregnant Chicken piece brought me back to those ‘new mom’ emotions and experiences – again timely with our daughter’s birthday approaching.

Motherhood, Vegan Parenting, and "imposing" your beliefs on your children

And then today this Should Kids Go Vegan? article is circulating. There is a quote in the article, which brings back that tired assumption about vegan diets:

“The main problem I have with this book is that children are impressionable, and this is too sensitive of a topic to have a child read this book,” Nicole German, a registered dietitian in Atlanta, writes on her blog. “It could easily scare a young child into eating vegan, and, without proper guidance, that child could become malnourished.”

Yes, I suppose without proper guidance a child eating vegan could become malnourished. But so could a child on a meat and dairy-centric diet. Or, that “well-rounded” SAD approach to eating. How much fibre are they getting on that diet? How much vitamin C? What about phytonutrients? And antioxidants?

Let’s flip that and talk about what most kids ARE getting a lot of on the standard diet. Cholesterol. Saturated animal fats. Refined sugars. Refined flours. Empty calories. Probably trans fats and artificial colors and flavorings. Wait, you say that they can also get the sugars, white foods, and artificial junk on a vegan diet. True. Except…

Most people eating vegan embody a certain consciousness about their food. They typically become attentive to the nutritional value of eating vegan. And even if they don’t personally, that typically changes when they have a child. Because when you have a child, everything changes. It’s not just about you anymore.  All of a sudden, there is a small, innocent, vulnerable baby looking up at you. That baby is completely dependent on YOU for their survival and growth… to make choices in their best interest, for their health and well-being. It is an awesome responsibility, one that I did not take lightly.

And, to move away from that one quote in the aforementioned article. I’ve often read, and heard people say: “Aren’t you imposing your beliefs on your children as a vegan?”

Yes. I am. Aren’t you imposing your beliefs as a meat-eater? Don’t we impose all our beliefs on our children, particularly in early, highly developmental years? From how much tv they watch, which songs they listen to, what school they attend, which activities they are in, what manners they display around the home and in social situations, whether they go to McD’s or some other nutrient-empty fast food joint. Don’t we all impose our beliefs as parents? At least in early years we do, until they gain more independence to make some of their own judgements and decisions. The only difference is which beliefs and values we are instilling, or imposing.

So, YES, I want to impose my beliefs in eating a whole-foods vegan diet on my children. After all, I chose it for myself out of health, why wouldn’t I want my children to similarly benefit? Of course I researched the suitability of a vegan diet for children once I became pregnant, and was prudent in making healthy food choices for them. And I continue to do so.

And you know what? Our three girls value real food. They love our meals, and have often thanked me at mealtimes saying “I am thankful mommy decided to eat vegan and feed us this healthy, yummy food”. I am not kidding. And my kids are not angels. (I’ll save that for another post.) 😉

But I am telling you, as a kid that grew up eating junk it took years to retrain my palate. Food habits – and preferences – start early. I started with whole-foods plant-powered diet, and am optimistic that our girls will continue on this health- and compassion-promoting diet. So teach ’em wisely, teach ’em early, I say.

What about you – are you a parent raising vegan children?  Or, were you raised eating vegan or vegetarian foods?  What is your take on this article and the notion of “imposing your vegan beliefs”?

Cookbook Giveaway: Let Them Eat Vegan!

Well guys, we are getting close to the new release of Let Them Eat Vegan! For those that have been wondering, I will indeed be offering a new “buy-on” promotion (this time it will be a week-long promo, details forthcoming, stay tuned).

For now, I think it’s fine time to start getting excited again, and to celebrate! Don’t you?! To do so, I am offering an early giveaway – to one you! And, yes, this will be one of the newly printed copies of Let Them Eat Vegan.  So you will have to wait a couple of weeks, but it will be hot off the press!

To enter:

1) Hop over and “Like” my fb page.

2) Hop back here (I’m giving you some finger exercise today!) and comment on this post, tell me YOUR favorite plant-powered food or ingredient!

For a SECOND entry, follow me on twitter and then retweet this post (you can use the tweet button on this page). Then, you can comment back here with the word “tweet”. (I know, quite the finger workout!)

Contest open to residents of the US and Canada. One comment per person (with the exception of retweeting, for that second entry).

Recipe: Pumpkin Lentil Curry with Apples

Any of you have cans of pumpkin getting lonely in your pantry, from when you stocked up over the holidays?  I do!  I bet you do too.  This recipe will come in handy for you.  And, not only will it use up that can of pumpkin in a (likely welcome) non-dessert form, this dish is  – as my friend Matt likes to say – it is one of my  “all healthied up” recipes.  Indeed, it’s pretty much chock full of high-fibre, low-fat, nutrient-dense plant-powered goodness!

About a month ago I was scurrying to make dinner (ok, I’m often scurrying to make dinner, but this one dish was created this particular night)!  I wanted something soul-soothing, but with a kick.  I was feeling like doing a more elaborate Indian curry, but really did not want to pull out my pantry stock of spices.  Truly, curries made from scratch – with spices and aromatics like cumin seed, mustard seed,  turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, ginger, and garlic – have the best and most authentic flavors.  But, sometimes you just want to throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and be done with it!

This is your curry quick-fix!  Yes, it uses generic curry powder, which doesn’t quite stand up to original curry blends.  But, it works in a pinch.  And, when your toddler might be pinching your butt while you’re cooking.  You get the idea.  Plus, the other additions in this lentil curry bring it to life – the addition of the pumpkin, apples, and a little hit of lemon juice.  When you’re in a hurry, this is your curry.

Pumpkin Lentil Curry with Apples

This is a dish I made on the fly.  When I literally had about an hour to get dinner together, had some rice in the fridge and wanted to pair it with a tasty, wholesome legume dish.  It was a cold night, and the feeling of a warm curry was on my mind.  This dish comes together in a snap, and gives you the chance to use up any cans of pumpkin hanging out in your pantry!

splash of water

1 – 1 1/4 cups chopped onions

1 tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 – 1 1/2 tbsp mild curry powder (see note)

1 tsp ground coriander

1 1/2 cups dry (uncooked) green/brown lentils, rinsed

3/4 – 1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix!  see note)

2 3/4 cups water (or more if desired)

1 bay leaf

1 cup chopped apple

1 1/2 -2 tbsp lemon juice (optional, but perks up flavor nicely)

lemon wedges for serving

extra salt/pepper to season, if desired

In a large pot, add water, onions, salt, pepper, curry powder, and coriander over medium/medium-high heat.  Cover and let cook for 4-5 minutes, removing cover to stir through once.  If onions are sticking, add another splash of water.  Add lentils, and stir through for a few minutes, then add pumpkin and water (starting with 2 3/4 cups, and reserving apple) and bay leaf.  Increase heat up to high to bring up to a boil, then once at boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 30-35 minutes, or longer, until lentils become tender and water is absorbed.  If they aren’t tender and the water is all absorbed, add a little extra water, about 1/4 cup (some batches may need more water), and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes or more.  Once tender, add the apples, stir through and let cook for another 5 minutes, just to heat the apples through.  If you’d like a moister curry, simply stir in a little extra water.  Add lemon juice, stir through, and serve, with lemon wedges for individual portions (see serving suggestions). Season with extra salt/pepper to taste.  Serves 4.

Curry Note:  Curry powders can differ in heat and intensity.  Most generic mild curry powders are not too spicy, so I find anywhere from 1-1 1/2 tbsps adds very good flavor without too much heat intensity.  You can add less/more as you like, and knowing the brand of curry powder you have and use.

Pumpkin Note: I give a range for this recipe, simply because when I use a can of pumpkin myself, if I use the full 1 cup, I have about 3/4 cup left.  I refrigerate or freeze that remaining 3/4 cup, and next time I make this dish, I use that amount!  Or vice-versa… so, you can use whichever amount you like.

Serving suggestions:  Serve with brown rice or another whole-grain, along with a chutney (mango chutney is nice), and/or whole-grain rotis (or whole-grain tortillas) and a big hearty fresh salad!

Plant-Powered Foods: Hemp Seeds

We often hear the term “super food”, and often it seems it might be some food that is exotic and too expensive to use.  The term is used to label foods that are particularly nutrient-rich.  So, while some super foods might be more obscure, there are many that have become quite common – for instance leafy greens like kale and chard, chia seeds, quinoa, dark chocolate, and – hemp seeds.

I began experimenting with hemp seeds soon after they broke out in the Canadian market, around ten years ago.  I was writing my second cookbook, Vive le Vegan!, and began using hemp seeds in my recipes for that book.  I learned that hemp seeds are mighty little things, delivering: complete protein, essential fatty acids, chlorophyll, antioxidants, and other vitamins and minerals, an almost perfect balance of the essential fatty acids!

Fine with the stats.  But how do they taste?.. and what do they look like?  Hemp seeds resemble sesame seeds, but with a rounder shape, greenish tint, and with a much softer texture.  They taste somewhat like sunflower seeds, but with a slight earthier and sweeter flavor.  From hemp seeds, hemp nut butter can be made (just as almond butter is made from almonds).  The nut butter has a distinctive greenish color (from the chlorophyll), and again has a taste somewhat similar to sunflower seed butter.  Hemp oil, flour, and protein powders are also produced from the seeds.  I’m personally not a fan of the protein powder straight up, and haven’t experimented much with hemp flour.  While I have used (and like) hemp seed oil, I prefer consuming hemp in their whole seed form (or as nut butter), since the protein from the seeds is lost in oil form.

Hemp nut butter also makes a simple substitute in nut butter/jam sandwiches, and is particularly helpful for school lunches where nut and peanut allergies are present in schools (hemp has a very low allergenic risk).  Since hemp butter is not as naturally sweet as a nut butter like almond or cashew butter, try stirring a few shakes of cinnamon into your jar of hemp butter as well as a drizzle of maple syrup.  Then, it is already sweetened to add to sandwiches. While I use hemp nut butter occasionally (and also in recipes), I use hemp seeds quite regularly since they can be conveniently added to our daily foods.   Some of the simplest ways you can add hemp seeds directly to your foods include:

  • stir into non-dairy yogurt
  • add to cold cereals and granola
  • stir into warm oatmeal
  • add to batters for pancakes, muffins, quick breads, and even cookies!
  • sprinkle on salads and soups
  • blend into shakes and smoothies
  • toss into cooked grains and/or grain and bean salad mixes
AND, one of my other favorite ways to eat hemp seeds is in – “Spicoli Burgers“.  Have you tried these yet?  I think it’s time!  They’re easy to make, and a definite favorite with my readers.  Give them a try!

From "eat, drink & be vegan"

What is YOUR favorite way to eat hemp seeds?

Welcome to Plant-Powered Eating!

Hello friends!  Welcome to my new home, my Plant-Powered Kitchen!  

Many of you have been with me for years on my blog, and I am thrilled to introduce you to my new site!

Here you will find healthy and delicious recipes, video links, and in coming months – even more (such as plant-powered tees and aprons)!

I welcome your feedback on my site and its developments, my recipes, and my new cookbook – Let Them Eat Vegan (due out May 1st)!  You can e-mail me here.

So, grab a tea, some fine dark chocolate, have a browse, and get Plant-Powered!