Recent social hullabaloo at the NCVA

Don’t you just love that word… hullabaloo? It sounds like an exotic vegan dish that creates a lot of fuss. I’m into it, as I’m sure were the attendees at the past pub night at the Arrow & Loon in the Glebe (Thurs. May 12) and the NCVA monthly potluck (Sat. May 14), an event to say farewell to the Jack Purcell Community Centre location. While, truth be told, we had a slightly smaller turnout at both events compared to previous similar events, the atmosphere was pleasantly intimate and conversation was overflowing. Indeed, the pub night peeps conversed passionately about interesting issues relevant to themselves, their lives, and particularly vegetarianism and animal rights. Similar interesting tidbits of conversation were snatched up by my prying ears at the potluck dinner. Among the diners were familiar and new faces, and the food at the event was excellent (although that goes without saying). What a great way to share a hearty vegan meal with friends for only $1 for members (and $3 for the rest of ya)! In my NCVA-induced reverie, I foolishly neglected to snap any photos at either event and in consequence, I have nothing to show of it, except my word that good times were had. Anyway, no one uses the word hullabaloo without meaning it.

See you at the next one?

The NCVA to Participate in Next Weekend’s Great Glebe Garage Sale

Photo by Mike Gifford
The National Capital Vegetarian Association is proud to announce that we will be participating in the Great Glebe Garage Sale on May 28, 2011 from 9am – 3pm.

The NCVA will be hosting a yard sale/vegan bake sale to support Project Jessie and the Ottawa Food Bank.

75% of proceeds will be donated to Project Jessie, which works to protect companion animals that must be legally surrendered to research facilities after 72 hours in a shelter in Ontario.

25% will be used to purchase and donate healthy vegan food items to the Ottawa Food Bank. Items that can’t be sold will be donated to local non-profit thrift stores.

The NCVA’s tables will be set up east of Bank St., either on 5th Avenue or Clarey Avenue. An an annoucement of the final location will follow in a day or two.

We welcome ALL donations though, for obvious reasons, we won’t be able to sell things like fur coats. We have no strict definition of what is and is not appropriate for an NCVA sponsored yard sale – just use your own best judgement when deciding what to donate.

Note that all baked goods must be vegan (i.e. free of all animal products including meat, eggs, dairy and honey). If possible, please provide an ingredient list with your baked goods.

Photo by Neil Harvey

DROP OFF DATES FOR DONATIONS:

Please bring baked goods and yard sale donations to 38 Clarey Ave (see directions below) on Thursday May 26 or Friday May 27 between 6 and 10pm. You can also bring your donations right to the sale site on Saturday, May 28 between 8 and 11 am.

If you can’t make one of these drop off dates please email us at NCVAyardsale@yahoo.ca and we can try to arrange another pick-up or drop-off time.

DIRECTIONS TO DROP-OFF LOCATION:

Note that Bank Street in the Glebe (Isabella to Holwood) will be closed from May 24-Dec 30. You can access Clarey Ave by turning right on Holmwood as you head North on Bank Street from Ottawa South. Once you turn on Holmwood, make an immediate left into the dirt road and drive straight for approximately 50 meters until you reach Clarey. Turn right on Clarey. Number 38 will be halfway down the block on your right (the house with the big tree).

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

We will be pricing donations and making signs for the sale from 6-10 pm on both Thursday and Friday (may 26-27) at 38 Clarey Avenue during the donation drop-off. We’ll also need volunteers on Saturday from 7am-4pm to set up, take down, and run the sale. If you can come for even part of the time, that would great.

Also, if you have a truck and are willing to pick up donations anytime, please let us know!

Please spread the word among your family and friends and feel free to email us with any questions or for directions to the drop-off location.

THANK YOU in advance for your generosity!

Whole versus Processed Foods: A Reply to Joe Vegan

This is a response to a recent post on Joe Vegan’s Salad in a Steakhouse blog.

He asked readers to weigh in on the whole versus processed foods debate. I was going to just post a reply in his comments section, but I thought the issue was interesting enough that I should post it here too.

Here’s my response (do read his post first)….

Dear Joe:

I think there three things one must look at when assessing the healthiness of any particular food: Nutritional density, presence of bad stuff, and whether the nutrients used to “enrich” processed foods are as “good” as the nutirents that naturally ocur in whole foods.

Assuming a nutrient is a nutrient (e.g. the B12 added to soymilk is equivalent to the B12 naturally occurring in meat), then which of two foods is healthier depends how many nutrients each provides per calorie, versus how much/many “health detractors” they contain and how bad those health detractors are.

Whole foods tend to contain little bad stuff (though the pesticides etc. that coat alot of our delicate produce make me wonder at their advantage over an organic fruit roll-up) and tend to be pretty nutritionally dense. Processed foods tend to contain a lot of bad stuff (preservatives and the like) and less of the good stuff – though of course a lot of common processed foods are “enriched.”

Consequently, looking at things from a statistical point of view, one who eats a whole food diet is going to be eating healthier than one who eats a processed food diet. This does not necessarily mean, however, that every whole food is healthier than every processed food.

I actually find the same flawed logical leap by those who advocate vegan diets. Vegan food does tend to be more healthy, ergo following a vegan diet is more likely to promote health than the standard American diet is. It does not follow, however, that all meat is inherently unhealthy or that veganism is inherently healthy. A diet that is rich in whole foods but contains small amounts of meat is certainly healthier than a vegan diet that consists of potato chips and oreos.

The bottom line is, stop trying to draw artificial boundaries around your diet. Take the time to read the ingredient list and actually think about where your food comes from. And accept that all bread (even whole grain gluten free bla bla bla) should be consumed in moderation and there is no such thing as a healthy cupcake.

A couple of points to end on – First, there is a lot of debate over whether “artificial nutrients” in “enriched” foods are equivalent to “naturally occurring nutrients.” I would be interested in a collection of “hard facts” on this issue. Have many studies been done comparing the two types of nutrients?

Second, my statements above suggest that the “health argument” does not unequivocally support veganism. The moral argument, of course, does.

Erin’s (almost) Award Winning Cupcake Recipe

So, despite my prediction, I did not win the recent VegFest Cupcake contest. I came in second. Now, I could be gracious and accept that my opponent and author of the awesome It Ain’t Meat Babe blog simply bested me with her dark chocolate almond cupcake.

But of course that is crap. What actually happened was that the 0.5 point she edged me out by was somehow rigged by bloodthirsty mafiosos who have a problem with oranges. Or else it was divine intervention by God or Satan or some other jerk just to punish me for being cocky.

But a promise is a promise….So, without further ado, here is the recipe for my Orange Chiffon cupcakes with Raspberry Coulis and Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting.

By the way, I’ll be bringing mini versions to Saturday’s NCVA potluck for those who’d care to try them 🙂

Whoops - I'd already started peeling that front one before I thought to take a photo

CUPCAKES:

Ingredients:

1 cup thawed frozen concentrated (you know what I mean) orange juice
1/3 cup neutral oil like canola or safflower
1/3 cup raw sugar
1 cup pureed sweet potato (I always make my own but canned does exist)
1 cup flour
1/2 cup corn flour (not corn meal, not corn starch – corn flour is yellow but has the consistency of flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line your cupcake pan with paper liners. Using a hand blender (or a regular blender if you are crazy and do not own a hand blender), blend the orange juice, oil, sugar, and sweet potato for about a minute. The mixture will lighten in colour. Make sure there are no lumps of potato!

Whisk the remaining dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. When you’re sure the oven is preheated, pour the wet mixture into the dry and fold together until just combined. The key to fluffy cupcakes is minimal mixing (use a rubber spatula – it helps). When you’re using baking soda (rather than powder) it’s equally important to get the cupcakes into the oven as soon as possible after the batter is mixed.

Spoon the batter, which should be very “poofy,” into the cupcake pan and bake for 20 minutes. Ovens vary, so keep an eye on them. If you see even a hint of browning, take them out sooner. These cupcakes look and taste best when they are bright orange!

Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before removing them from the pan to continue cooling on a rack.

RASPBERRY COULIS

Ingredients:
2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
pinch salt

Directions (you can do this while the cupcakes are baking):

Puree all ingredients with hand blender. If you don’t like raspberry seeds, put the mixture through a fine sieve. Otherwise, just put the whole thing in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the mixture does not burn. Remove from heat.

COCONUT CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Ingredients:
I/2 container Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
5 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch salt

Directions:
Beat the cream cheese and coconut oil until light and fluffy – it may take a while since the coconut oil likes to stay chunky. Stir in the sugar and salt and beat again until light and fluffy (again, it’ll take 5 minutes or so). Spoon frosting into a piping bag or whatever you use to pipe frosting.

ASSEMBLY:
When the cupcakes are no more than lukewarm and the raspberry coulis is still fairly warm, spread about a teaspoon of the latter onto each of the former. Don’t use too much – the stuff is potent!

When both cupcakes and coulis are completely cool, pipe on the icing and top each cupcake with an inverted raspberry.

Happy Baking!

Note: You can also make this into a cake - just use an 8-inch cake pan and cook for about 30 minutes.

Veg Fest draws nearly 3,000 people- What a day!

It’s difficult to describe the amazing energy that characterized Ottawa Veg Fest ’11, held yesterday at the Glebe Community Centre.  It’s not just that nearly 3,000 people ascended on this beautiful facility, breaking our previous attendance record by about 800 people, although that alone is remarkable. The vibe was, in the words of one exhibitor, “Joyful.”

“It was a marvelous day filled with excitement. I am very happy to be part of such an amazing people who organized this years’ Veg Fest,” says Nadia Walcott, one of the NCVA’s extraordinary volunteers who single-handedly organized the silent auction. “The energy throughout the event was fantastic. It was a delight seeing so many people out to support the NCVA and Veg Fest and I look forward to helping organize next years event.”

You really need to see it for yourself, and if you weren’t able to make it (or if you’d like to relive the experience!), this video created by Henri-Pierre Thibault of ZoomFX is the next best thing.

Ottawa Veg Fest by ZoomFX

Feedback from exhibitors, volunteers, and visitors has been overwhelmingly positive. People are thrilled. The NCVA is thrilled. Veg Fest ’11 really knocked it out of the park.  One exhibitor said afterwards, “This was the single best tabling event I’ve ever been at.”

Click here to see what Ottawa Citizen food editor Ron Eade had to say about the event.

The NCVA added 90 new members to its ranks, and we still need to do the draw for the great membership incentive prizing. Hang tight, we’re still recovering!

Stay tuned for more blog posts and photos about Veg Fest in the coming days. As Veg Fest is entirely volunteer organized, we’re all a bit exhausted; deliriously happy, but exhausted. But in the meantime I’ll share some images from the event below.

 

The NCVA's mascots!
Crowd!
Even babies love Veg Fest! Odin volunteers with mom Laila (right) and Pamela, the NCVA's communications director.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson proclaimed May 1 "Veg Fest Day in Ottawa." He is pictured with NCVA volunteers, and NCVA president Josh Flower.
NCVA table volunteers Wayne, Edelweiss, and David. We had 90 people join the NCVA at Veg Fest- a record!
NCVA Vegan Cupcake Challenge co-organizer Shaun Desjardins shows off one of the submissions.