NCVA participation in Glebe Garage Sale canceled

Just a quick note to advise that the planned NCVA fundraiser at the Glebe Garage Sale has been cancelled.

Please contact Hopeful Hearts through, or Ecology Ottawa ( for an alternate donation venue, if you have items that you planned to contribute and still want to donate them somewhere.

Thank you to those who came forward with offers of baking and salable merchandise.

Your baked goods and junk needed for the Glebe Garage Sale!

We are proud to announce that we will once again participate in the Great Glebe Garage Sale on May 26, 2012 from 9 am – 3 pm, by hosting a yard sale / vegan bake sale in support of  Project Jessie and the Ottawa Food Bank.

Look at last year's spread

75 per cent of proceeds will be donated to Project Jessie and 25 per cent 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.  Project Jessie works to protect companion animals that may be legally surrendered to research facilities after 72 hours in a shelter in Ontario.

But to do this we need your help! We need your junk, and your baking prowess.  Last year we raised nearly $900 for the causes, and people were going wild for our vegan goodies.  Show us what you’re capable of!  This is a fabulous opportunity to not only raise money for two great causes, but also to showcase your baking skillz.   Note that all baked goods must be vegan (free of all animal products including meat, eggs, dairy and honey). If possible, please provide an ingredient list with your baked goods.

We’ll need volunteers on Saturday from 7 am-4 pm to set up, take down, and run the sale.  If you can come for even part of the time, that would great.  It’s a lot of fun, and you get a chance to talk to a LOT of people about vegan baking and lots of good stuff.

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 a NCVA sponsored yard sale – just use your own best judgement when deciding what to donate.

Finally, if you have tables, blankets, table covers, and / or coolers that we could borrow for the please bring those as well.  We will be sure to get them back to you!

Drop off Dates for donations:

Please bring baked goods and yard sale donations to 38 Clarey Ave (see directions below) on Thursday May 24 or Friday May 25 between 6 and 10 pm.  You can also bring your donations to us on Saturday morning from 8-11am (email for location).

Directions to Drop-Off Location:

Clarey is located off Bank Street between Fifth and Lansdowne Park.  Number 38 is halfway down the block on your right (the house with the big tree).


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

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!

Tofu tips and starter recipes from the 31-Day Vegan Challenge

So every few days, the Vegan Challenge participants get an informative email that shares recipes, tips, and other info.  In fact, they have been so informative that even I- a vegan of nearly eight years- am learning new things with each new email!  I thought, is there any reason why these should not be shared with everyone else?

What follows is an excerpt from the welcome email that was sent to Vegan Challenge participants by organizers Krista Mayer and Marc Charron.


Not so delicious.

Although some of you may already be familiar with it, we had to start with a classic veg delight – tofu! Tofu is a very versatile cooking ingredient. It can take on and absorb the taste of many of your favourite dishes, so your options are almost endless…You can also try other delicious soy products like tempeh and miso.

Tips on Cooking Tofu:

  • Delicious.

    Use firm or extra firm tofu for most recipes. Excess water may be squeezed out to make the texture even firmer.

  • An adult serving size is about ¼ of a block of tofu.
  • Some sources say that raw tofu should be steamed for 5 minutes to kill bacteria.
  • Silken tofu is already cooked before packaging, so it can be used without any prior preparation in things such as smoothies and desserts.
  • To store unused tofu for up to a week, completely submerge it in water and keep in the refrigerator. Be sure to change the water daily.
  • For longer periods of time, try freezing your tofu. This will change the texture and the colour but don’t worry – it’s normal and safe to consume. Simply defrost and squeeze out excess water before using.
  • Fried Tofu: Slice firm tofu in 1/2 x 1″ pieces, marinate in soy sauce 5 minutes, then fry both sides until crispy. This can be placed into pasta, rice, casseroles, stir fries, etc…Tofu can be marinated in any sauce you love. Add garlic or ginger (or any other favourite) to tailor the taste of the tofu to your liking.


Easy Tofu Recipes:

(The title for each recipe links to the original recipe source. These are not original NCVA recipes.)

Tofu Salad

We just tried this recipe the other day and it was delicious!

Serves 4


1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce

1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/2 (16 ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and diced

1 cup snow peas, trimmed

2 small carrots, grated

1 cup finely shredded red cabbage

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts


1. In a large bowl, mix the chili sauce, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Place tofu in the mixture, and marinate 1 hour in the refrigerator.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Immerse the snow peas in the boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, then immerse in a a bowl of cold water. Drain, and set aside.

3. Toss the peas, carrots, cabbage, and peanuts with the tofu and marinade to serve.



Lime Curry Tofu

You can use this recipe as a stir fry or throw it into a wrap instead.

Serves 4


2 tablespoons peanut oil (can substitute with other oil)

16 ounces extra firm tofu (cut into bite sized cubes)

1 tablespoon ginger root (minced fresh)

2 tablespoons red curry paste

1 lb zucchini (diced)

1 red bell pepper (diced)

3 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons maple syrup

14 ounces coconut milk

½ cup fresh basil (chopped)


1. Heat the peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the tofu and stir-fry until golden brown.

2. Remove the tofu and set aside, leaving the remaining oil in the wok.

3. Stir the ginger and curry paste into the hot oil for a few seconds until the curry paste is fragrant and the ginger begins to turn golden. Add the zucchini and bell pepper; cook and stir for 1 minute.

4. Pour in the lime juice, soy sauce, maple syrup, coconut milk, and tofu. Bring the coconut milk to a simmer, and cook a few minutes until the vegetables are tender and the tofu is hot.

5. Stir in the chopped basil just before serving.


Peanut Sauce Vegetable Stir Fry with Tofu

Serves 4


1 tablespoon oil

1 small head broccoli, chopped

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

5 medium mushrooms, sliced

1 (12 -14 ounce) package extra firm tofu, cubed

1/2 cup hot water

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter

cayenne pepper, to taste

3 cups cooked rice


1. In a small bowl, combine peanut butter, hot water, vinegar, soy sauce, and cayenne pepper. (Don’t worry if sauce is not entirely blended; heat will melt the peanut butter into a smooth texture when added to wok.)

2. Heat oil in large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Sauté broccoli, pepper, mushrooms, and tofu for 5 minutes.

3. Pour peanut sauce over vegetable-tofu mix. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and crisp.

4. Serve over rice, and enjoy!

Vegan Challenge-taker shares her story… and her chocolate cake!

The following post was written by one of the NCVA’s 100+ 31-Day Vegan Challenge takers.  Thanks so much to Killashandra for taking the time to share her experience with us!

By Killashandra Rashid

Killashandra, and the one piece of vegan cake that was left after her friends got into it.

A few days into the vegan challenge, I was sitting with my friends, a bottle of red wine, pasta tossed in a homemade tomato sauce packed full of veggies with a side of garlic bread. For dessert, some vegan cheesecake. Every last thing was carefully prepared or purchased vegan. Not too shabby.

I think I can do this.

Don’t get me wrong, in the last week, I’ve read more food labels than in the past five years! There have been a number of surprises along the way as well. It’s pretty disturbing to see some of the innocent-looking food that animal products sneak into. People keep saying that going vegan means planning and, for that reason, I completely agree. It’s a good thing I love food.

Based on what I’ve seen so far, you have to love food to easily go vegan. If you’re not used to spending lots of time thinking about and preparing food, then being vegan would be a tough transition, I think. Personally, as a poor student, I’ve been planning out all my meals for the last year to maximize my food budget. This planning, that started out as purely practical, slowly shifted the way I think about what I put into my body and got me curious about food and recipes. Eventually, new recipes became exciting and challenging to me. Cooking, especially baking for friends and family, became a hobby.

So, when I ran into the NCVA at the Women’s Show in Ottawa a couple weeks before Veg Fest and they suggested the challenge, it more exciting to me than daunting. Getting to play with new ingredients, in new and creative ways, paired with the ethical and health reasons to make the change, made the challenge too good to pass up.

My experience so far has been great! By investing the extra time in planning, I don’t feel particularly deprived or limited. Eating out, with friends and family, has been the main challenge. While many restaurants have vegetarian options, vegan options are far more difficult to come by. It is also surprising how few places can confirm what may or may not be going into the food they serve.

Vegan chocolate avocado cake

These drawbacks, however, are well worth it. I feel great. I have more energy and don’t feel as heavy and lethargic after eating some meals. Whether that is due to the change in diet or a placebo effect related to it, I can’t be sure, but that doesn’t really matter too much to me. The most important thing is that I’m quite happy with my choice to take up the vegan challenge. Because of this challenge, I’m doing something I never would have fathomed just a few months ago. I’m considering going vegan for good.

I haven’t decided one way or the other yet, mostly because of the impact that it would have on my friends and family who find it difficult to eat with me now that I’m participating in the challenge. Regardless, I have plenty of time before the challenge is over figure it all out and I fully intend to make the most of it!

Best of luck to all the other challenge-takers!

SimplyRaw Express opening + ZenKitchen pub night delights!

After years of anticipation and hard work on the part of its proprietors, Natasha Kyssa and Mark Faul, SimplyRaw Express opened its doors today (Saturday, May 12), becoming the latest addition to Ottawa’s thriving vegan restaurant scene.

SimplyRaw Express is a fresh juice bar and takeaway, located at 989 Wellington St. West in Hintonburg. It offers organic juices and smoothies, raw vegan dishes, quinoa bowls, delicious desserts as well as culinary workshops, detoxification and nutritional programs. Its food is completely vegan, as well as soy and gluten-free. The best part? NCVA members get a 10 per cent discount off of all food and drink purchases at SimplyRaw Express.

The NCVA got a sneak peek at the new café on Friday evening, along with other local notables and media personalities, and it is fabulous.  Word on the street is that there was a steady line up all day today, its first official opening day. Natasha and Mark sure know how to generate buzz!

“Our association could not be more pleased that longtime supporters Natasha and Mark have finally made SimplyRaw Express a reality,” says NCVA president Josh Flower.  “I know I’m looking forward  to enjoying the healthy variety of fast food that SimplyRaw Express offers, and I am excited to see how the Ottawa community will embrace the concept. This is a great day for vegans and non-vegans alike.”


A few weeks ago we posted about the ZenKitchen pub night that the NCVA was coordinating. Well that happened on Thursday evening, and it was a huge success.  Twenty-one people attended the event, and it was a great mix of old and new.  But what was really phenomenal was the food.

Chef Caroline surprised us with a three-course pub-style plated dinner.  The first course was apple slaw with a breaded butternut squash risotto ball, followed by the entrée, which was a platter of goodies including panko-crusted onion rings, BBQ seitan fingers, salad rolls, kale chips, tofu dengaku with miso apple butter glaze, and a box of french fries for each participant!  As if that wasn’t enough, dessert came in the form of a decadent brownie topped with ice cream, coconut whipped cream, and chocolate sauce.

All of that for $25.  We kid you not.  $25.

“I have to say, Chef Ishii and the ZenKitchen team really outdid themselves,” says President Flower.  “The ZenKitchen pub night was beyond our expectations. It was also a real pleasure to meet and chat with some of the unfamiliar people who came out. Overall, the evening was a tremendous experience!”

Stress stewardship is the first key to living with energy

Here’s a guest blog post from Ashley, who has volunteered for the NCVA and is now a certified health coach.


By Ashley White

“You seemed stressed out, have you been getting enough rest?”

Ashley White

If this question irks you ask much as it irks me, then you may be among those people who get that stress is complex, multi-factorial and is a function of more than just “enough sleep.” Historically, human stress is the result of threats from predators or lack of food, water, shelter or space, and even disease. These stress triggers either made earlier humans ‘fight’ – take that, sabre tooth! – or ‘flight’ to address the stress.

In order to summon the super human energy it took to fight or escape, the evolution of a physiological chain of events occured, orchestrated by the central nervous system. The objective of that chain? Bring as much glucose and oxygen (and other fuels) to the major muscles and organs. Who loses in this tug of war? The digestive system, which does not get the blood supply required to do the mulching, churning and breaking down of food particles that it must to in order to get fuel to the cells.

The fight or flight response is both short lived and results in the release of the cortisol hormone. In our modern ecology, human stress is less likely to require a major physical response – going for a run seems like a counter intuitive way to meet a project deadline, no? Well, yes. But, no. Cortisol does not discriminate. Our central nervous system has not yet evolved enough to tell the difference between the sabre-tooth and the big deadline at work. So, either way, stress involves a cortisol respnse. And, unlike with the tiger, where the stressful event ends in death or escape, modern stresses can be so darn complicated and never-ending. Thus, soon, the right amount of cortisol becomes too much, and the cortisol “on switch” gets stuck. This makes proper sleep hard to come by.

What’s the problem with that, you ask? Cortisol promots fat storage (a throwback to those long, food insecure caveman winters) and can be moderated only through diet, exercise and stress stewardship. Typically, in periods of prolonged stress, we are inclined to spend more time at our desks, move less and borrow energy from coffee and energy drinks. Eating at your desk to meet a 3 p.m. deadline, then washing it all down with espresso? Pretty much the worst approach. Even if you’re noshing on quinoa tabbouleh with a green juice, because your body is in stress mode, not digestion mode, the benefits of the food cannot be realized.

So, how do you handle a stressful afternoon deadline? Take your lunch break to go for a brisk ten minute walk, have an easy-to-digest green non-dairy smoothie with some healthy fats (avocado is the creamiest!) for your afternoon meal, sit after your meal in a quiet reflection, and then get to work. If you need a extra kick, make like an Argentinian and sip yerba mate, which stimulates without burdening your adrenal glands. I can guarantee that your productivity will soar and you’ll leave the office ready to go dancing or hopping about with your children.

This, my friends, is stress stewardship. Stress stewardship is a concept I developed that is contrary to stress management in that it presupposes that stress is a good thing, and it’s not going away, no matter how rich, thin or happy you become. So, get inside your stress and realize that unlocking your stress stewardship code is the first key to living with energy.

Ashley White is a certified health coach with a Master of Public Health. She is the Founder of Learn to be Well, and is offering a four week workshop called Rethinking Stress & Energy, starting May 9 in collaboration with Santosha Yoga Westboro.