Another new NCVA member discount: Credible Edibles

Credible Edibles, a local, eco-friendly business, has approached us to offer NCVA members a 10 per cent discount on their purchases.

One of the lunchtime accessories offered at Credible Edibles.
“Credible Edibles is Ottawa’s first explicitly environmentally-friendly and healthy café and caterer. We aim to offer convenience without compromise. Busy people can get a healthy, earth-friendly lunch quickly and not too expensively,” explains its proprietor, Judi. “We opened on Earth Day 2009. We focus on unique, globally-inspired, locally-sourced seasonal menus which are 80 per cent vegetarian and 40 per cent vegan, as these are the most earth-friendly.”

Judi is a committed vegetarian and aspiring vegan, who wants to recognize and encourage others who are on the same journey. “I think the NCVA does great work and this is a way to support the organization,” she says.

In addition to the lunch time café Credible Edibles specializes in green catering for breakfasts and lunches. It uses no disposable items in our catering service. It also offers cooking classes, workshops and private consultations, and sells environmentally-friendly lunch time accessories.

Its menu features a mostly plant-based selection. For the winter months Credible Edibles is offering vegan choices including Senegalese peanut soup with ginger and fresh cilantro, red and napa cabbage salad with spiced pecans, local cranberries and apple, toasted dulse, lettuce and tomato sandwich, grilled veggie wrap, New Orleans-style Muffuletta, and many of its dessert options are vegan and/or gluten-free.

For more information:

Credible Edibles
Slow Food for Fast Lives
78 Hinton Avenue North, Ottawa

Latest issue of Capital Veg News infiltrates Ottawa

The Winter 2011 issue of Capital Veg News has been sent to the printers! Here’s a pdf of it:

Winter 2011 Capital Veg News

You may notice that there is some repurposing of blog content for the newsletter. Our blog content has been so good, we figured why not? We print 1,000 copies of each issue of the newsletter and it gets circulated far and wide, mostly through the City of Ottawa’s public libraries. Many of the people who receive it don’t know about the blog yet, or may not be blog readers. In fact, NCVA vice president Corrie Rabbe learned about the NCVA’s existence through picking up a copy of the newsletter, which is evidence enough that it’s a valuable thing to produce!

A special thank you to our newsletter supporters… The Table Vegetarian Restaurant, Rainbow Natural Foods, Green Earth Vegetarian Cuisine, Cafe My House, Credible Edibles, and The Green Door. Their advertising support is what allows us to print and circulate 1,000 copies. Also, thank you to volunteer Chantel who so competently and without complaint does the pagination and design.

Please feel free to print off a few copies and leave them wherever there are potential readers, including your omnivorous friends and family members.

NCVA Launches Restaurant Outreach Program

After several months of planning, the NCVA’s Restaurant Outreach Program has officially been launched. This momentous occasion occurred last night when I handed over the first Restaurant Outreach info package to a server at Pubwell’s Restaurant on Preston Street at Elm.

The Restaurant Outreach info package

So what is the Restaurant Outreach Program? Basically, it’s an attempt to get Ottawa’s omni restaurants to be more vegan-friendly. Our ultimate goal: to produce a list of dozens of Ottawa restaurants at which vegans can order off the menu with neither fear of hidden animal ingredients nor extensive discussions with servers and chefs.

How does it work: First, we developed an information package that explains what vegans are, why accommodating them is good for business, and how to add vegan menu items or veganize existing items. The info package is available on the NCVA’s Web site here.

Now, the distribution phase has begun! I am starting in Little Italy since that’s where I live, and will move on to the Byward Market, the Glebe, Westboro and beyond.

With any luck, Ottawa restaurateurs will heed the call to participate in our program in order to receive our support and publicity. Keep your eyes on the blog for news of new participants, who will also be listed in the Restaurant Outreach section of the NCVA Web site.

Now here’s the part where I ask for your help. Individuals interested in hand delivering info packages to restaurants in their area are invited to drop me a line at I’ll get the packages to you. All you have to do is hand them over with a smile, and keep track of which restaurants you gave them to.

I also invite everyone to have a look at the info package and to offer any suggestions at all for improving our chances of making this campaign a success.

Come on, Ottawa veggies! This is your town. This is your food. This is your chance to make marginally more bearable your meals out with bone crunching moms and dads, siblings and significant others, clients and coworkers! Viva la vida!

Cafe My House launches Web site

By Pamela

One of my favorite places, Cafe My House, has launched a Web site/blog. You can find it here:

It’s currently a bit sparse, but it does include the menu, some resources, the address and hours of operation. This is useful, because I’m sure nobody likes showing up at a place to eat only to find that they’re closed!

So bookmark it, and check it out periodically for news and announcements.

Me discovering Cafe My House for the first time, back in May 2010.

Veganity 101: The joys of Purse Food

by Jen Lahey

One of the greatest things about being a vegan is exploring all the delicious food available to you. Increasingly, there are options available in restaurants, at corner shops, and at farmers’ markets. But what about those days when you’re on the run, or you’re out for a pint at a less than vegan-friendly pub and you find yourself with a roaring case of the hungries?

Being a healthy, happy vegan, I am a high energy sort of person, the kind who has trouble sitting still for long periods of time. But as my partner and friends and family will attest, if I don’t get in enough foodies my energy and mood flatline and I turn into a non-reactive zombie woman (vegan zombie: “Graaaains, graaains!”).

This, my friends, is where Purse Food comes in (Murse Food for those gentlemen who carry a man bag). It’s become a running gag amongst my friends that I have a constant stash of snacks hidden away in the folds of my roomy Mat and Nat bag, always ready to go for when I find myself peckish in a situation with few vegan options. A tidy stock of Purse Food is one of the greatest tools in a vegan ninja’s arsenal of tricks.

Dried fruit and pre-wrapped vegan snacks (a.k.a. Purse or Murse Food) should always be kept nearby in case of a hunger emergency. This tiny purse is holding dried apples, Late July cookies, a PC Organics crispy brown rice bar, and a peanut butter Cocoa Camino snack bar.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not an advocate of going out with friends to places where the “vegan option” on the menu is an iceburg lettuce salad, and part the fun of strengthening your vegan values and lifestyle is choosing to support places that support us. And I am lucky to hang out with nice people who take into account my veganity and more often than not like to go to places where we can all find something good to eat. But it’s good to be armed for situations that are less than perfect, and being an easy-going, always-prepared person gets you far in the battle to show the world how relaxed and non-complicated being a vegan really is.

Stocking your bag with a selection of goodies means you never have to worry about what to do when you feel your energy dropping in the middle of a busy day at work, when you’re stuck in a meeting, or when you’re out running errands. It also means you can choose to have healthy things stashed, so you don’t have to settle for processed crap from the 7-11 or stale, questionable baked goods at conferences and meetings.

A good place to start your harvest of Purse Food is the local health food store. A few suggestions to get you going: Raid the bulk food section for goodies, such as tamari almonds, sesame sticks, and dried fruit (mango is my current fixation). There’s lots of other items to suit the cause; these are just a few of my stand-bys. Then meander over to the snack shelves and snag some Lara bars and vegan jerky. I also found my new favourite stash at the Hartman’s Your Independent grocery store on Somerset: wasabi cashews (WASABI CASHEWS! So. Good.)

Cut up veggies and fresh fruit can work, too, though they’re better for times when you know you’ll be eating them within a few hours (finding annihilated fruit in the bottom of your bag days later = fail). Then head on home, divvy your finds into small containers or resealable bags, and venture forth confidently to rock your own vegan world.

Christmas Eve dinner at ZenKitchen

By Pamela

I was feeling in the mood to be a bit fancy, so on Christmas Eve day I made a last-minute reservation online to go to ZenKitchen that evening with my partner.

As soon as we went in we were greeted by Dave, who exclaimed, “How nice to see you! I didn’t realize you were coming in tonight!” There’s nothing quite like a warm welcome to set a good tone for the evening. Later Chef Caroline came out and said almost the exact same thing, so that must make it true!

Tapas Plate appetizer.
We ordered our favorite appetizer, a tapas plate with Zen salad rolls with Thai peanut sauce, dengaku tofu skewers, house pickles, kale and handcut potato chips. I love love love the tofu skewers, and saved mine for last. It was, as usual, wonderful. Personally, if there were an entree of appetizer that consisted entirely of the apple tofu skewers I would order it in a heartbeat. (Caroline?) The Zen salad rolls are also tasty, but since I really hate mushrooms I end up pulling them out (as discretely as possible of course!) and making a bit of a mess. I also opted to have warm apple cider to drink, which was a nice toasty treat on a cold night. We were treated to two amuse bouche items, some locally baked bread with white bean and butternut squash dip, and a second one, the description of which I can’t recall (but see the bottom for a photo!)

Vegan ravioli-- but you'd never know it.
As is the norm at ZenKitchen, the server explained and offered the Four Course Chef’s Tasting Menu, but as someone who’s filled with a bit of anxiety over blind meal options I stuck to the menu. For my main course, I ordered the ravioli filled with pesto-cheese, with smoky tomato sauce and roasted vegetables. I’ve had it a few times now and it’s always delicious. It’s warm comfort food, and fairly filling. Yves had the Panko-crusted seitan medallions with a cranberry-teriyaki sauce, ancient grain pilaf, and Asian slaw. He was actually too full to finish it entirely, so I helped him out a bit.

Truly a chocolate lover's fantasy.
Because he was full Yves passed on dessert, but I had been salivating over the mere thought of the Spicy Mexican chocolate cake with warm chocolate sauce, creme anglaise, and berry coulis all afternoon, so I would not be deterred. I have to be honest, I can’t really tell you if the cake was extraordinary or not; it was so very smothered in the divine warm chocolate fudge sauce that it didn’t really matter. I’m inclined to say it was good, but frankly that sauce is so decadent it could make cardboard appealing. Suddenly and irrationally Yves became very hungry and I had to share some, but I still got my fill. It was, as always, phenomenal. Every time I have it I am inspired to create my own spicy chocolate desserts at home, and true to form within 48 hours I was baking Mexican chocolate cupcakes. But they don’t compare, and I anxiously await the next time I can partake in Chef Caroline’s unreasonably delicious concoction.

After playing with the really cool sink fixture in ZenKitchen’s bathroom I returned to the table to find more chocolate; ZenKitchen’s homemade chocolate truffles. A perfect end to a delightful meal.

A couple more photos of dinner:

The mystery amuse bouche.
Seitan: An excellent gateway food to give omnivores.

The non-vegan’s guide to vegans at the holidays (and all year!)

By Pamela

A few weeks ago, the Dear Abby column in the newspaper addressed the issue of vegans at the Thanksgiving table. The letter, and Abby’s response, has bothered me ever since. Here’s the original letter and response:

Click here

My first response was to feel stung: Essentially, Abby says that if the vegans don’t like the traditional thanksgiving fare, they can bring their own food or stay at home. That’s an incredibly un-modern, ungracious, and dare I say, ignorant response on her part.

Dear Abby
It’s likely that Abby’s negative response was spurred by the apparent bossiness of the vegans in question. Evidently, these two vegan teenagers demanded that the entire meal be vegan. The host didn’t agree with this, and the demands sapped any willingness to accommodate their preferences. According to Dear Abby’s column today, most of the letters she received in response to that column were vitriolic against vegans and vegetarians.

My guess is, it’s borne out of the defensiveness that arises from the mere presence or mention of a vegan. I’ve found that on occasion I don’t even have to say a word and just my being vegan raises people’s defences because it brings the ethics of what we eat to the forefront. Food allergies are considered more acceptable. But why should it matter? Consequently, the unwillingness of vegans to partake in a feast centred around a dead animal centrepiece is framed as a demanding inconvenience to the host and other guests, while under any other circumstances society would not expect someone to act in a way that violates their personal ethical compass.

What rubs me the wrong way about this, and Abby’s response, is that I know literally hundreds of vegetarians and vegans. If you count the ones I’ve met only online it may be more than 1,000. And I cannot think of a single one who has ever demanded that the entire holiday meal be made vegan. I can’t think of a single one who WOULD ever demand that. Secretly wish? Absolutely. But demand? No way. There are some who simply (and quietly) won’t attend a holiday meal with a dead animal as the centrepiece, and that is their prerogative. By putting up the “straw man” of the overly demanding vegan the Dear Abby column has done a disservice to fostering understanding and accommodation between vegans and their non-vegan families. It’s created a war, rather than peace talks.

I’m not going to lie to you. I would prefer if every holiday meal was vegan. It always weighs heavily on my heart and mind that the clump of meat on the table that everyone’s eating was once an animal who lived and breathed, and likely died in a traumatic fashion. It requires significant cognitive dissonance on my part– and I imagine the part of many vegans, at least those who are ethically motivated— not to focus on that. I say this not because I’m trying to make anyone feel bad; it’s simply how I see it. Almost everything in life is seen differently through the vegan lens.

A few thanksgivings ago, with some of my own contributions, I was treated to an entirely vegan thanksgiving at my dad’s house. I didn’t demand it; he just wanted me to be comfortable and knew I’d appreciate it. And I did. It was probably the best holiday meal of my life. Yes, the food was good, but it wasn’t even about the food. It was that my dad and stepmother were open-minded and accommodating enough to understand why it would mean the world to me. They didn’t suffer one iota by eating vegan food that one day, and neither will anyone else.

This year the gatherings I’ve attended were not vegan, however both families made a (much appreciated) effort to ensure that some of the food offered was vegan, and invited me to bring food that was then shared with everyone. I personally am not a fan of just bringing enough food for myself, because that singles me out, and it misses an opportunity to show people how delicious vegan food can be. My mother-in-law even made a delicious vegan chocolate cake, as well as her “accidentally-vegan” war cake. The double batch of vegan Indian “butter chicken” that I brought was gone at the end of the meal. My own extended family marvelled at and happily indulged in the array of vegan food that I brought to share with them.

Some advice for people who are sharing their holiday meals with vegans or vegetarians.

1. This is not the time to accentuate the sense that we’re outsiders

Even if the whole meal isn’t vegan, a vegan will be grateful for accommodation when offered. It makes it a bit easier to deal with the proverbial “elephant in the room” if we are not ostracized, sidelined, or have unnecessary attention drawn to us or our diet.

It’s highly unlikely that a vegan will question or berate an omnivore’s diet at the holiday celebration, so consider extending the same courtesy. Most vegans are happy to talk about veganism or vegan food if you’re interested in hearing about it, but NOT if it feels like an inquisition or cross examination. Consider that vegans are routinely singled out and viewed as the “odd” one, which is endlessly frustrating because even if you don’t understand why we have made the decision to be vegan, for us it’s something that makes perfect sense and has come out of a great deal of research and soul searching. Contributing to the sense that we are alien-like outsiders, especially during the holidays, will only ensure an uncomfortable time for all.

2. Consider normalizing vegan fare at the table

We realize that many people have no idea how to make vegan food, and are shaky on what is and isn’t vegan. When we offer suggestions and advice it’s not to be bossy and demanding. It’s because we don’t expect you to have to do all the research yourself.

Often things can be made vegan very simply, such as melting some Earth Balance on the veggies, rather than butter, or whipping the mashed potatoes with some soy milk and Earth Balance. We’re usually even willing to supply it! Be willing to try new and different things too, and welcome the vegan’s contributions to the dinner table. I can assure you from personal experience that they’ve probably put a great deal of thought and time into preparing it.

3. Consider making new traditions

One of the most difficult things about becoming vegan for me was that it called into question all kinds of traditions and things I was familiar with. The warm feelings I had towards certain restaurants, name brands, companies etc. were replaced by a feeling of betrayal as I learned about their dark underbelly, the stuff the marketers don’t want you to think about. Suddenly the McDonald’s play room—which was a huge treat for me as a child—took on a sinister meaning.

But I’ve created new traditions for myself where food is concerned, as well as activities and lifestyle. My life is completely different than it was ten years ago… but I like it so much better because I feel like I’ve done a huge amount of soul searching and that I’m now living in accordance with my core values. None of my favorite foods were vegan ten years ago, not a single one. But I have new favorite foods now, and I have never enjoyed eating more!

It wasn’t always an easy process to let go of the things I was comfortable with, and it’s human nature to resist change and cling to tradition. But tradition isn’t a strong enough reason to keep doing something. There are many cultural and societal traditions that most of us can agree are abhorrent, and which are no longer permitted.

I’m not saying everyone has to create new vegan traditions, just to consider whether it’d really be so bad. And if you’re not willing to outright exchange a tradition, consider adding a new one. Traditions are things we can create, or abandon. They’re a human construct, and we have the power to change them if they’re no longer suitable.

If creating a new tradition can make the life of someone you love better, and it doesn’t harm anything, then why not consider it?

Happy holidays everyone!

Vegan food takes over the family holiday meal

By Pamela

Last week my uncle facebooked me to say he was planning an impromptu family gathering at his home in Napanee. This is a rare occurrence for my family. We’re close in some ways (we’re mostly all connected by facebook, and stay in touch) and we all look pretty much the same, but large family events are not common. So my partner and I decided to make the trip to Napanee and back to participate.

My uncle is a lover of kale, smoothies and carrot juice, but is otherwise mostly uninitiated in the ways of vegan cuisine. He and the rest of my family, however, are very open to trying new things, and were enthused when I told them I would bring along a few dishes to share with everyone. Of course, then the pressure’s on. My food had to be not just passable, but fabulous. There was no margin for error. And how would I decide what to bring, from my extensive repertoire of vegan wonderfulness?

The apple crisp BEFORE part of the crisp was stolen by squirrels.
The choice of dessert was made easy with the purchase of a 10 pound bag of apples. Apple crisp it would be! My partner says I make the best apple crisp ever, so it’s usually a good bet. So I prepared that first, and set it outside to cool. Next, I prepared miso gravy, which is super yummy and light, and also excellent on poutine. Imagine my amusement when I went out to put the miso gravy in the cooling zone, and discovered that about 1/4 of the “crisp” on the apple crisp was missing! It’s a good thing that I think squirrels are adorable.

I rectified the situation by patching it up with some “crisp” remaining from a leftover piece of apple crisp made for a Sunday event with the in-laws. My family’s pretty “salt of the earth” so I don’t think they minded too much that they’d shared dessert with a hungry squirrel. Then, I spoke on the phone to my uncle’s girlfriend, who was organizing the party. She told me she was disappointed that she missed out on trying my mac & cheez the last time I’d visited. So, I made an executive decision to make mac & cheez as well. If a non-vegan wants to try vegan mac & cheez, then try it they shall!

Neil's Ham & Cheez biscuits. Nom!
Next, I set upon making Neil’s ham and cheez biscuits which I had delighted in at a potluck past. I started small, making one batch first just to ensure I had the magic touch. They. Were. Amazing. So, I made a second batch. Forty-eight little ham and cheez biscuits! Although there were much fewer than that by the time we arrived at my uncle’s house. I blame the squirrels.

The last frontier of the day was preparing cheez kale mashed potatoes. First, I had to peel five pounds of potatoes. My uncle had expressed a great deal of concern about having enough potatoes, so I figured no less than that would do. The cheez-ness was attained through nutritional yeast, unsweetened almond milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and earth balance. There is no recipe, I just made it up as I went along. Boil the potatoes (and blanche the kale), mash them up until your muscles are sore, and throw in random amounts of the aforementioned ingredients.

A couple of recipes:


Peel and slice (1/8 to 1/4 inch slices) about seven MacIntosh apples. Put them in an 8 x 8 glass baking thing. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

In a medium sized bowl, cream half a cup of vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance or Becel Vegan) with 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Add 1/2 cup of flour (I use spelt). Add 1 tsp. cinnamon. Mix in 1 cup of oats.

Sprinkle the crisp on top and cook at 350F for about 30-40 minutes.


Melt about 1/4 cup vegan margarine in a saucepan. Whisk in about the same amount of flour. Add about two cups of veggie broth, and 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast. Whisk in about 2 TB miso (or to taste). Whisk pretty constantly until it has thickened. Add pepper and paprika to taste.

The family in a post-meal food coma.
We came home with some leftovers but all in all my contributions went over very well. My uncle facebooked me this morning to say, “thankx for the food Pam. Everyone loved your food.”

Mama Africa

By Erin

I don’t know exactly why I decided to name this post Mama Africa. It just seemed right somehow.

Perhaps it’s because the food at Sunday’s East Africa Meetup was so fabulous that I want to cast off my Pol-Irish-Canadian identity and reconnect with my African roots, distant though they may be. 

Perhaps it’s because I associate “Mama” with family and our record turnout of veg-minded folk game me a warm familial, “Yes, we can change the world through unbridled eating” kind of vibe.

Or perhaps it’s because I ate so much that I subsequently appeared to be several months pregnant.  

Whatever the case, Sunday’s meetup was a roaring success. There were about 30 people, and local Ethiopian food expert Shaun confirmed that the food that day was particularly fine. Being an idiot, I forgot my camera, so I can’t provide any shots of it. That’s OK, though, because, frankly, Ethiopian food tastes a hell of a lot better than it looks. 

Luckily, Shaun had his iphone handy and was able to take this shot of the group:

Note Neil and I with our contraband spoons. We bad! (Just kidding, they offered spoons to the injera-impaired)

In addition to the amazing food, the company was awesome and the conversation lively. I refused to break JJ out of prison, learned about Sudbury loons, shamelessly plugged the radio show Animal Voices (!) and scoffed at the folly that is flavoured beer.

I did make a bit of a faux pas when I told a pair of Sudburians that their city looks like the moon. But in my defense, I thought it was a compliment. Like getting to live in space but without having to spend a lot of money or learn math.

Anyway, not much else to say except thanks to all attendees for continuing to make the NCVA meetups a success. They just keep getting bigger and better!  I guess this will be the last one of the year, but Green Earth’s monthly Sunday brunch is not far off…

Tried and true tofu turkey

By Edelweiss

Although I’ve been a vegetarian for more than 25 years, my mom and dad have still not ventured into cooking veg*an holiday food. So every year, I take a tofu ‘turkey’ to Montreal, frozen, and heat it up when they’re cooking their meal. It travels well, and it’s nutritious, tasty and festive.

You’ll probably have to spend some time at the store getting all the spices and other ingredients, but assembling the ‘turkey’ doesn’t take long. It needs to be made over three days, and takes about 15 minutes each day.

Enjoy! Serves about four people. Double the recipe to serve eight.

Homemade tofu ‘turkey’


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped finely
  • 2/3 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon savory
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/12 cups vegan herb stuffing (or use bread crumbs: crumble half a baguette that’s a few days old and dry)

Saute the onion, celery and mushrooms. When soft, add the garlic and spices. Cook for five minutes. Add herb stuffing or breadcrumbs, and mix well. When cool, roll into a ball, compress, cover with plastic film, and put in freezer until frozen.

The “turkey”

  • 1 pound firm tofu
  • 1 pound silken tofu
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon savory
  • 1/4 teaspoon rosemary

Crumble firm tofu and add silken tofu: mix with hands. Add spices. Put a couple of 20-inch pieces of plastic film in a cross on a plate, and put half of tofu mix on the plastic.

Take stuffing from freezer, remove plastic film, and put on top of tofu mix on plastic. Pour rest of tofu mix over the stuffing ball, so it covers the stuffing completely. Make into a ball, press down on the ball so there’s a base (so it doesn’t roll around), wrap it in the plastic and put back in the freezer until frozen.

Basting Mixture

  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable base
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice or syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Mix, and put into a little glass container for traveling.

Cooking: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Thaw and put tofu turkey into baking pan, and pour half of basting mixture over it. Cook for 30 minutes. Add rest of basting mixture and cook for another 15 minutes.

Gravy: I use a packaged vegan mix. You can also try a gravy recipe like this one:

Cranberry sauce: I make my own, but you can (of course!) buy it ready-made.

Happy holidays!