Thursday, December 31, 2009

Collards and Black Eyed Pea Soup In The Slow Cooker

I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to give an old recipe a BeingAVeganAthlete spin. I did and it was great! The slow cooker made the work easy and the soup that much heartier. Apparently, this is some sort of traditional recipe from the southern United States. Whatever... I've bastardized it enough to allow it to become a traditional recipe of southern Ontario.

  • 2 small or 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 sticks of celery, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, very thinly sliced (this is conservative - go 6-10 if you really love food)
  • 1 450g bag of dried black eyed peas
  • 6 cups of water
  • 6 TBSP of vegetable broth powder
  • 1 bunch of collard greens, chopped with the stems removed
  • 1 TSP each of thyme, cayenne pepper, paprika, black pepper, basil
  • 1 16 ounce can of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small tin of tomato paste
  • 4 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil

Saute all the veggies (onion, red bell pepper, garlic, celery) in oil until onion is tender, opaque and yellow.

Pour the water into your slow cooker. Add the vegetable broth powder and stir in until dissolved. Put the slow cooker on high and add in black eyed peas, seasoning, tomatoes and tomato paste. Mix everything well and wait for the frying to be complete.

Add the fried mix to the slow cooker and mix in well. Put the collard greens on top and cover the slow cooker. When the greens have softened up, mix well into the soup.

The completion of the soup hinges on the black eyed peas becoming tender enough to be enjoyable to eat. Leave on high for 5-6 hours. You can probably get away with consuming some of the soup at this point but you're better off reducing the heat to low and letting cook overnight.

This soup is hearty enough for biggest meat-eating savage to believe that it's healthy. Healthy it is. This soup is packed with protein, most of your essential vitamins and is basically an anti-oxidant bomb.

Enjoy and Happy New Year to all! Remember to make sure your beer and wine are from a vegan-friendly source then drink to your heart's content.

My Associated Content version of the recipe can be viewed here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Smith's A Victim Of The Media Monster

Recently, we were media bombed with a story out of Australia where a potato chip company was supposedly about to introduce a new kangaroo and emu flavoured potato chip. This caused an uproar, not only among vegans and vegetarians, but with Australian patriots as well. You see, they felt that it was an insult because a) people would be eating their coat of arms and b) it would be teaching kids that it was fun to go out and kill these animals that so much represented Australia on the international scene. The company in question is Smith's.

As is the case with many stories in the media, this one was missing most of the facts and was meant as a great filler at a slow news time. The suggested flavour was one of four finalists in a contest open to the public to name the company's next potato chip. The company insists that all the flavouring would have been artificial and no kangaroos or emus would have died in the making of this potential new flavour. Being Canadian and vegan, I have no idea what that would have tasted like. My guess is that it would have been just another salt coated potato chip soaked in some sort of cooking oil.

It was very recently announced that Caesar's Salad was the winning flavour. This, of course, will taste like sour cream and onion or all-dressed or salt and vinegar or whatever - they all taste the same in the end. Whether this was a legitimate win - the contest was voted on through their website - or a great public relations fix, there will be no kangaroo and emu chips in Australia unless manufactured by someone other than Smith's.

My guess, after all the international bad press, is that Smith's fixed the vote in favour of any flavour but the kangaroo and emu. Smith's is obviously not affiliated with the Canadian government - the ones who pass legislation despite the unanimous opposition from the majority of the citizens (HST for example).

I was about to write about this when the issue first appeared. I'm glad I didn't. What lesson has been learned? When the media goes viral with a story, did deep to find out the real facts. Shock and awe sell news. Shock and awe are very rarely part of our real world lives.

In other news...

I'm working with a vegan soup recipe I found online at the internet home of the Denver Post. The recipe is meant to be relatively quick and suggests using a pressure cooker or a stovetop pot. I'm making this into a crockpot recipe. Other than the cooking style, however, I'm surprisingly not going to mess with the ingredients much - so unlike me.

Pressure cookers!? So American - always in such a hurry!

Here's the link to the original article at the Denver Post. Stayed tuned to find out how my conversion went.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Book Review: 50-50 by Dean Karnazes

Once again, I'm pushing a great book written by a non-vegan. The last time it was Martin Strel, this time it's Dean Karnazes. Dean Karnazes is the ultimate ultra-runner and an incredible source of inspiration for those of us who wonder just how far the human body can be pushed.

In 2006, Dean embarked on a tour of all the 50 states of the USA, competing in a marathon in each of those 50 days, thus the title. The amazing journey was embarked on to raise awareness to Dean's charity, Karno's Kids. The motto of Karno's Kids is 'No child left inside'. The purpose is to get kids outside and exercising to combat child obesity, diabetes and all the other problems that come with a sedentary lifestyle. So, in a big way, Dean shares similar health related goals with us vegans.

The book could have been boring. A day by day account of someone running exactly the same distance everyday for 50 days doesn't provide much variety. Dean makes this book a great tool for runners or anyone wanting to be extraordinary. Each chapter provides a little insight into the actually event but provides a whole lot more information and inspiration on how to push yourself and live life the way it was truly meant to be lived.

Some of Dean's other unreal accomplishments include running a 200 mile relay solo against teams of 12; travelling 350 miles in one run; has run countless ultra-marathons throughout the world.

Check out this interview with Dean after completing the 2008 Badwater Ultra.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Meet Ricardo!

I've wanted to do this for a long time. Finally, while cleaning out the crisper in the fridge, I came across a neglected avocado. The time was now. I've wanted to try and grow an Avocado tree from seed. It's a useless pursuit as it takes an Avocado tree a good decade to produce fruit. But, if everything we did was practical, we'd live a pretty boring life.

I've named my avocado pit, Ricardo. Why? I can picture Ricardo Montalban saying the word 'avocado' in a way no one else can with that little smirk on his lips and his little friend Tattoo at his side. I'm a little concerned about Ricardo. The fridge is acting up a bit and the outside rind of the avocado was slightly frozen. The flesh was still soft so I'm hoping Ricardo will develop like a normal young avocado. Word is, if there's no action after two weeks, toss out your young and start over again.

In saying that, I've also read that it can take up to six weeks for a sprout and roots to appear. Time is on my side, I'm not banking on the success of my avocado farm - especially in wintery Ontario, Canada.

I've taken the classic method and stuck Ricardo with three toothpicks and then hung him from the top of a small mason jar with his bottom submerged. Avocado pits are directional and the pointy end needs to be up while the bigger, flatter end needs to be in the water.

I need to change the water every week so that it remains oxygenated. I've read that this can wait until a bi-weekly frequency but, I figure, only the best for my Ricardo. Besides, in winter time, the house is so dry that the water will probably evaporate fast enough to need re-filling more than once per week.

Once Ricardo sprouts, he will need to be transplanted to a pot filled with rich soil around the time his roots reach 5-6 inches in length. However, that is a step I'll worry about when the time comes. For now, I just want to get Ricardo out of the incubation stage. Look for updates on Ricardo's progress.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

PETA Is Too Darn Extreme!

I know I've mentioned PETA in previous posts. I've been reading some comments about PETA throughout the web and there's something about the organization I think needs to be addressed. Yes, PETA is extreme in their campaigns. Yes, PETA is over-the-top. It's a necessary evil if you want to get your point across.

You can't get the world's attention by having bake sales, selling quilts, putting on puppet shows and compromising every action so not to offend anyone. You must push the limits of acceptability to get through 6 billion thick skulls that are walking this earth, mostly in a daze.

McDonalds constantly bombards the television viewing screen with images of fit, young, happy, successful, leaders of society packing away Big Macs like they were a hunk of broccoli. I would call this extreme and possibly over-the-top. Why don't they be a little more realistic and show obese customers wolfing down their rain-forest killing, cancer causing, heart attack-on-buns. Then, show them waddling to the bathroom, using either a walker or cane for support, to have a sit down to make room for the sundae that's waiting for them back at the table.

The same applies for Coca-Cola and Pepsi. It's a tad bit extreme that they basically advertise their sugar and chemical filled drinks as sports drinks. There's nothing better to quench the thirst and revitalize the body during a heavy bout of exercise than a good glass of poison. And, hey, if you're unfortunate enough to be packing on a few pounds, try the diet version packed with aspartame. There's nothing like a chemical that increases your blood pressure and causes nervous disorder (oh, but you have no proof of that - says the big corporate lawyer).

I remember a few years ago, another organization that is simply trying to save the world, was getting abused throughout the media because they flew a jet to protest events and that was counteractive to their environmental beliefs. Unfortunately, taking a row boat across the Atlantic to attend a demonstration and arriving 3 months late does not usually have a great effect. Greenpeace is a great organization but they are pegged as extreme and over-the-top as well.

We, in Canada, have a government that is supposedly against smoking, drinking and gambling. Yet, taxes on cigarettes and alcohol pretty much pay for the operation of the country. Government run casinos are constantly advertised as the greatest, funnest experience on the face of the Earth. As well, the government run lotteries are pretty much brain-washed into all citizens through advertising that almost makes one feel guilty for not buying tickets on a daily basis. But, the government being as awesome as it is, is right there to tell you that all of these things are bad and you are bad for being addicted to them. Is there anything as sexy as a drunk, diaper-wearer smoking a cigarette and putting the month's welfare cheque into a slot machine that will never, ever make them rich? Extreme?

PETA tells it like it is. Unfortunately for PETA, the world has been brainwashed by governments, media and corporations (all one in the same) and that is very hard to break through. It takes something extreme and shocking, such as a human covered in blood packaged in a meat container like a lowly pork chop, to plant the tiniest seed in the brainwashed human brain about just how cruel eating meat really is.

Carry on PETA. As I've said before, at the very least your online videos can stop a wavering vegan from giving in to a burger or chicken wing. Just like an AA sponsor, doubting vegans can always turn to you for support in dark times. At best, perverted male vegans can check out your shots of Alicia Silverstone!

Merry Christmas!

Alicia Silverstone’s Sexy Veggie PSA
Order a FREE vegetarian starter kit at

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pasta with Chard and Chickpeas | Recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen

Pasta with Chard and Chickpeas Recipe from FatFree Vegan Kitchen

Just thought I'd share this recipe. FatFree Vegan Kitchen is simply one awesome on-line vegan cookbook for real people.

Cooking Cabbage for the Lazy Non-Eastern European

It's so big and it's so friggin' cheap. Every time I walk by the cabbage display at the local grocer's produce department, I think gloriously about how just one head of cabbage is going to sustain me for days.

About a month later, that head of cabbage is tossed into the compost and the idea of cooking cabbage is forgotten for the time being. Until... once again, the sale sign is up in front of the cabbage display and you think, "coleslaw and cabbage rolls are pretty darn tasty, aren't they?"

You see, it's all the cutting (cabbage is tough) and the soaking and the wrapping and the baking. It just seems to be such a process to make anything with cabbage. That is, until I found an easy way to cook the stuff while not really doing much and still coming out with something tasty.

Whole baked cabbage. That's right, cook the whole freaking head. No shredding, no wrapping. You simply cut the core out and cram it with some goodies and it's off to the oven it goes.

Here's how it's done. Realize that none of this 'recipe' is an exact science. Neither is making peanut butter and jelly. Think about it, do you measure out 1 TBSP of jelly, apply to one slice of 100% whole wheat bread then measure out 1 and a half TBSP of peanut butter and apply to another slice of 100% of whole wheat bread, being careful to swirl in a counter-clockwise motion with a butter knife...

  • Purchase a head of cabbage. It is up to you the colour, size, etc.
  • Cut off the stem and dig out the core.
  • Dice up enough onion and garlic to fill the void you've created from removing the core.
  • Cram that mixture in tight and pour a teaspoon or so of black pepper over the mix.
  • Pour extra virgin olive oil over the mix, letting it soak in. Do this a couple of times, allowing it to settle.
  • Wrap the cabbage in tin foil, making sure the garlic and onion crammed hole is always facing up.
  • Bake the package in the oven at 350 for 3 hours.

Slice up the final product and eat as a side. It tastes great on its own and will piss off all your co-workers when you heat it up in the microwave at lunch as it will emit quite an odor that only you will appreciate. One cabbage should be good for 3-4 meals, if not more.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Humans Were Meant To Eat Meat

I love it whenever I read the title of this blog post or when someone tells me it. 'Humans were meant to eat meat'. People say it with such incredible confidence, yet they normally have absolutely no evidence that suggests that it is true. No sane human being can run down and kill its prey without the aid of some kind of crafted tool. These crafted tools were not available for thousands of years when the human race was still young. Therefore, humans could not have started out eating meat, unless they were like vultures and raccoons that ate only those animals that died of natural causes or were leftovers from some other animal's kill.

'But we possess canine teeth for a reason!' I love this argument as well. People with much more scientific knowledge than myself have already debunked this theory. My response to this is a little less scientific but quite a bit more thought provoking. Humans originally developed body hair to protect the body from cold, heat, UV rays, etc. We now have clothing for this purpose.

I say to you all, we have body hair for a reason. We should all run naked as nature intended us to. You crazed meat eater with your canine teeth, don't mind my dangling penis as we wait at the bus stop. I am human and I must adhere to my natural instincts. So what if we have a lot less hair than our primitive ancestors. We have to start living as nature intended.

A little far-fetched? Not really. When you listen to the arguments against veganism and how ludicrous they sound, I think we have a right to be just as ludicrous right back. Is saying this being a militant little vegan? No more than the folks driving around with the 'Support Canadian Beef' bumper stickers on the back of their vehicles. Besides, I'm really against clothing! It's restrictive, hurts the environment and is big waste of money.

So, the next time you're at a party and you're confronted by meat-eaters with the age-old theory of our need to eat meat, start strippin'.

(Yes, I know that no special weapon was needed to attack and kill shellfish in the caveman days. If that was all they lived on, man they must have had some kind of libido.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Beet Salad Recipe

My contribution to the family Christmas dinner this year is a lovely vegan beet salad. Why? Because I have a good portion of a 20lb bag of beets that need to be used up and because I'm the evil vegan that has been told to bring something that I can eat.

This is a very easy recipe, but it can be a little time intensive. But, you can make it up in advance and just combine the different elements just before the dinner.


  • 10 fresh beets
  • 1/3 to 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 TBSP of red wine vinegar
  • 4 TBSP of lemon juice
  • 1 TSP salt
  • 1 TSP black pepper
  • 1 Cup of cooked rice


  • Separate greens from beet root.
  • Scrub beets but do not peel.
  • Put the beets in a pot of water and bring to a boil.
  • Let simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Remove skin from cooked beets while still hot.
  • Dice the cooked beets in whatever manner you want. I prefer a juliened style.
  • Add salt, pepper and diced red onion to the beets.
  • Cook a cup of white rice and allow to cool.
  • Add a cup of cooked rice to the beets and mix in.
  • Create the dressing from olive oil, lemon juice and red wine vinegar and mix into the beet mixture.

If you're travelling to a party, leave the dressing in a separate container until it's time for dinner.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chana Dal, What The Hell Are You?

I was at Costco the other day, witnessing Christmas shopping but not really partaking. I took a stroll through the food section and stumbled upon something new to me. Chana Dal. It looked just like a bag of split peas but had an exotic Indian name and came in a 4lb bag that was only $2.99. I was intrigued.
Even more intriguing were the nutritional values printed on the underside of the bag. For a 100g serving, this stuff packed a whopping 370 calories. These would obviously be good calories as the only ingredient was the Chana Dal with no additives whatsoever. Also included in the meagre 100g serving was 23 grams of protein, 30% of your daily intake of iron and 40% of your daily intake of dietary fibre. Word on the street is that it has the lowest glycemic index reading of any measured food at somewhere between 5 and 10, depending on the source.
It seems all you have to do to survive is have 100g of this stuff at every meal along with a garden salad and you'd be all set. Man, that would save on the grocery bill.
It turns out that Chana Dal is very closely related to the regular old Chick Pea or Garbanzo. Indeed, it is quite similar but on the smaller side. I've checked several grocery stores since purchasing my bag but have yet to see any on the shelves.
The next question is: how do you cook the stuff? Quite easy. Simply soak 1 cup of the dried Chana Dal in water for about 3 hours. Rinse and then transfer to a pot of water and bring to a boil. Once a boil is reached, simmer covered for 30 minutes and your Chana Dal is ready to go.
At this point, rinse again and add whatever spices you'd like and mix in. Of course, Curry Powder, Cumin, Garlic and Turmeric are natural choices if you want to stay with the Indian theme.
A great resource on Chana Gal can be found online at David Mendosa's site. David takes a special interest in Chana Gal because of its low glycemic numbers and its benefit to diabetics.

Other notes:

I'm planning a trip to Cleveland at the end of January and went to the folks at Vegan In Cleveland for some advise on where to eat. Needless to say, they were very helpful. Their site is full of information on Vegan eateries in the Cleveland area, so if you are planning to visit the city for any reason, check them out.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What Are The Real Benefits Of A Vegan Diet?

I have a little bit of chest cold that I'm fighting through. It's nothing serious but it's annoying. In my down state with the bit of a cold and the depressing winter weather that just couldn't hold off any longer, I began to wonder if things are better after 13 months of vegan living.

They are. There are four things that I know for certain have changed in my health over the past year and I'm pretty sure that they are at least in part due to my vegan diet. My increased physical fitness certainly helps as well.

Here are the noticeable improvements:
  • On the occasions when I do get 'sick', the length and intensity of the illness is greatly reduced.
  • Seasonal allergies, such as 'hay fever' have been pretty much eradicated.
  • Acid reflux has disappeared.
  • The constant dull headache has completely disappeared.

Over 13 months, I've had two colds and they have been just a slight inconvenience. I really don't get sick as much as just noticeably tired. The symptoms such as cough, congestion, fever, don't really show up with any intensity at all.

I'm sure that our lack of summer in Ontario has something to do with it but, for the first time in decades, I showed no sign of 'hay fever'. 'Hay fever' is a seasonal allergy that hits a number of people starting in August and ending as late as November. Symptoms include constant sneezing, watery eyes, headaches and congestion. Over the counter medication to combat the symptoms is expensive and it was nice this year to not have to worry about 'hay fever' at all.

I used to suffer from acid reflux but no longer do. I assume that losing 40+ pounds has helped but this is directly due to my lifestyle change. I am sure it is scientifically proven somewhere that a meat based diet is a large culprit for acid reflux.

One of the main reasons I needed a change over a year ago was the constant dull headache that just would never go away. I assume that it was due to blood pressure and all the grease and fat that came with eating meat. They stopped the day I changed and only on the very rare occasion when I celebrate with a few too many beers, do I ever experience any kind of head pain strong enough to resort to Advil or one of its equivalents.

So, yes, the changes are there. You get used to a new found health, it becomes the norm and it's hard to remember what you used to feel like. When people ask you if you feel different since becoming Vegan, say 'yes'. Even if you think you can't, take some time to remember or simply listen to those around you complain about how they feel and realize that you don't feel that way anymore.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Meatless Chicken Breast - Vegan Sellout?

Winter has begun to hammer Orangeville, Ontario, Canada in full force. The temperature has dropped down into the double digits below zero, the wind is howling relentlessly out of the northwest and the snow is flying. This is the time of year when your body gets chilled right down to the bone and nothing seems to warm you up.
Saying that, I felt I needed something hardy for dinner tonight. I stopped by my local grocer to get dog good for the two pooches on the way home from work and decided to pick up something a little special for myself. I came across a new product in the frozen food aisle. It was new to my grocery store, anyway.
The World's Best Meatless Chicken Breast by President's Choice. I've been know to have soy burgers and vegetable paddies but had never seen soy-based fake chicken breasts before. Despite the relatively high price of $12.99 for 8 pieces, I bought myself a box and headed home to feed the dogs and myself.
On the way home, I pondered whether eating fake meat was a sellout to my beliefs. Did this mean that I still craved the taste of meat? If so, what fragile paper net was stopping me from actually failing and starting to eat real meat again? It was better on the conscience to eat soy burgers because that was what they were called. Soy burgers, not meatless beef burgers.
Meatless chicken still leaves the image that you are actually eating chicken. Believe me, these were the world's best meatless chicken breasts in that they really tasted like chicken. I had to check the box a couple times during my meal to make sure I'd read the label properly.
I'm still on the fence about whether mock meat is just fuel for temptation. It's probably a discussion that could go on and on. It reminds of the discussion about whether all those in the world of Star Trek are Vegan because all their food is a synthetic replication. I would assume that these fictional characters truly believe they are eating meat and do not give a damn about the equality of all animals. However, maybe they are conscientious about the lives of all living creatures since it would be part of the prime directive not to interfere with alien life. Maybe Gene Roddenberry should have addressed that issue instead of always trying to get into Uhura's pants.
Anyway. The meatless chicken burgers were very good and seem to very good for you. The calorie count sits at 150 per breast which is considerably lower than a soy burger. Sodium, of course, is high but so are many essential vitamins and minerals. 110% of the RDA of Vitamin B12 is available in each breast.
For fun, I'm going to make these for my savage, animal-eating family and see if they notice the difference. It just might be the first step in pushing them away from the dark side.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hearts of Palm - Caviar for Vegans

The title might be a slight exaggeration, but when I came across Hearts of Palm a few years ago, it was love at first bite. The thing that makes Hearts of Palm a delicacy is the fact that it is harvested from the sprout of a new palm tree. Harvesting this sprout means the end of the palm tree. Fortunately, a variety (peach palm) has been cultivated that grows multiple sprouts and therefore doesn't die in the harvesting.
The edible portion is the inner core of the sprout. The result is a long white tube of flesh. The texture kind of reminds me of sea scallops (something I loved before my Vegan days). The taste is simple and refreshing and makes a great addition to salads or can be eaten on its own as a snack.
Hearts of Palm is available quite readily in grocery stores throughout North America. I would have to assume that the same can be said for Europe as France is the biggest importer of the product. It can be a bit pricey, a can in Canada goes for $4-$5 - and it's not a large can. This is understandable considering the harvesting process. Ecuador is now the largest exporter.
Recently, while in Panama, most meals at the resort buffet included ample amount of Hearts of Palm. People thought I was a freak as I filled up whole plates with the product. They became intrigued when I told them I was eating $20-$30 of the product, if I was back in Canada.
This is no filler vegetable, either. Hearts of Palm is packed full of goodness. It's a decent source of protein and calcium and a great source of fiber, vitamin C, iron, folate, magnesium, zinc and copper. One cup of Hearts of Palm will give you your RDA of manganese.
The best way to try Hearts of Palm for the first time is to add it to a mixed salad. Take the strips of flesh from the can and cut them into 1 cm chunks (1/4 inch). Simply mix them into the salad and enjoy. Be sure to go tropical and add artichoke and avocado as well.

Friday, December 4, 2009

2009-10 NHL Prediction Update

I'm a few games past my quarter season update. So, today, NHL Prediction update. Tomorrow, vegan-related info.

Currently, I have 10 teams in the divisional position that I predicted before the start of the season. One in particular, Detroit Redwings being in 4th place in the Central Division, is one bold prediction that surely only I made. Ottawa being in 3rd in the North East Division was also a prediction that I made that most probably would have not.

Here we go. I'll list the teams in their current positions and in brackets after the team name will be the predicted position.

North East Division
1. Boston Bruins (2)
2. Buffalo Sabres (4)
3. Ottawa Senators (3)
4. Montreal Canadiens (1)
5. Toronto Maple Leafs (5)

Notes: No worries about Toronto - they'll stay right where they are. Buffalo is due to slide and Montreal better get their shit together and start playing hockey.

Atlantic Division
1. Pittsburgh Penguins (2)
2. New Jersey Devils (3)
3. Philadelphia Flyers (1)
4. New York Rangers (5)
5. New York Islanders (4)

Notes: It looks like my worst division, but it's not like it's completely upside down. Just a little shuffle over the next 20 games and this division should be bang on at the half.

South East Division
1. Washington Capitals (1)
2. Atlanta Thrashers (5)
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (3)
4. Florida Panthers (4)
5. Carolina Hurricanes (2)

Atlanta can only hold on for so long with only one real player. Not sure what I was thinking with Carolina - they're simply terrible.

Central Division
1. Chicago Black Hawks (1)
2. Nashville Predators (5)
3. Columbus Blue Jackets (2)
4. Detroit Red Wings (4)
5. St. Louis Blues (3)

Nashville is overachieving at the moment. That will end.

Pacific Division
1. San Jose Sharks (2)
2. Los Angeles Kings (3)
3. Phoenix Coyotes (5)
4. Dallas Stars (4)
5. Anaheim Ducks (1)

Not sure what's up with Anaheim. Phoenix has no right being in third. They have no players and they don't even know where the team will be playing next season.

North West Division
1. Calgary Flames (1)
2. Colorado Avalanche (5)
3. Vancouver Canucks (2)
4. Minnesota Wild (4)
5. Edmonton Oilers (3)

Colorado will come back down to Earth. Vancouver is on the rise. Edmonton is doing everything they can to screw up.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Long Way To Panama

Two weeks ago, I completely physically exhausted myself Sunday night by working out, going for a long run and playing hockey then staying up until 2am when it was time to take the 45 minute drive from Orangeville to Pearson Airport in Toronto. My thinking was that when I got on the plane, I would have no problem sleeping and would be refreshed upon arrival and all ready to make the best of my vacation.

We arrived at 3am and were in the process of getting our boarding passes. That's when I learned that my passport would expire in just less than 90 days. That's when I learned that access to Panama is denied if a passport is within less than 90 days of expiry.

All the emotions took their turns as we waited for a representative from Air Transat to try and get through to the Panamanian embassy to plead for an exception to the rule. Shear panic, disbelief and anger were fairly predominant. Hope and faith were able to keep a presence throughout, as well.

At 6am, I was faced with my only option. My bride-to-be and the rest of our 28 guests would have to go on without me while I sorted things out. I reserved a flight with Continental Airlines that would leave at 2pm and via Newark, New Jersey, would arrive in Panama at around 9pm. That gave me a small window in which to work magic and make my wedding happen.

I left the airport and headed to the closest passport office which was just a short drive away in Mississauga. The office opened at 7:45am and I tried to be one of the first in the door. I was in front of an agent quite quickly but found out there was no such thing as getting an extension to my passport and that I would have to go through the process of renewal.

My next step was to fill out the forms and head to the earliest opening passport photo office available. The closest was just around the corner from the passport office but it didn't open until 10am. I immediately called CAA and asked where their closest office was, knowing that all of them offer passport photos. It turns out that it was just on the other side of downtown Mississauga and it opened at 9am.

As soon as the lock was turned over on the front door of the CAA office, I was inside pleading for the fastest possible photos. It took less than 10 minutes and I was back driving in the direction of the passport office.

The next road block reared its ugly head. I needed to have something in print that I was indeed to be on a flight at 2pm. I was able to get ahold of Continental but because I hadn't actually paid for my ticket, but had just reserved a seat, they couldn't fax anything over. I quickly put $525 on the line, knowing there would be a good chance of losing it if the passport process dragged on and didn't allow me to get to the airport in time.

Nevertheless, the fax came through and I was on to the next step: waiting in line with what seemed like hundreds of other customers. Whatever system they used, my number seemed to come up before many others before me. I stood at the counter at 10:30am, where I was met by a disgruntled and over-worked employee who had seen her fair share of emergency applicants already that morning. I put on my best puppy-dog face and pleaded for her mercy. She seemed to fall for it and went about the process. She soon informed me that my case had been approved and it was possible to have the passport ready by 11:30. She stressed that it wasn't a sure thing and to, under absolutely no circumstances, bother anyone at the pickup window until after 11:30.

I went into the adjacent mall and realizing that I hadn't eaten since the night before, grabbed a veggie sub at Subway. In line in front of me was the gentleman from the pickup window at the passport office. Out of all the cases that he'd already seen that morning, when he saw me, he took the time to assure me that all would be good and that I would see the passport by 11:30.

I went back up to the office, making sure not to go to the pickup window until 11:35, so as to not step on any one's toes. I was met by the same guy that was in Subway. He spotted me above the crowd and took it upon himself to let me know as soon as it was ready. Not 10 minutes later, my name was being yelled above the constant chatter of the crowd. He had the passport! I thanked him profusely then briskly walked out the door, only breaking into a sprint when I got to the parking lot.

I still had plenty of time and things were looking very good. Then... I ran into construction. The 4 lanes of Hurontario Street, the main artery that would take me to the freeway that would take me back to the airport, were cut down to one. I calmly used brute force and got through the mess in a relatively short period of time.

I soon found myself back at the Park N' Fly lot where I'd parked originally 9 hours before. Oddly, I ended up in almost the same parking spot. As I was leaving the parking lot, alone in a bus except for a family that looked they were on their way to a vacation as well, I realized I'd left my lifeline in the car. Luckily, the driver immediately did a U-turn and I soon had my cell phone in my pocket. Without it, no one in Panama would have a clue about my progress and I would have no idea what arrangements I would need to make upon arrival. Once I told the family my story, they were more than sympathetic. They also checked their passports for expiry dates.

In line at the Continental ticket counter, I was overwhelmed with joy. I'd accomplished the impossible and it felt awesome. There was suddenly nothing I couldn't do. Well, except, according to the ticket agent, make the connection in Newark. There would only be an hour and that was if there were no delays. Apparently, Continental isn't treated well in Toronto and their planes are often bumped down the line in favour of other airlines. I had no choice. I had to try.

The flight crew on the little propeller plane was incredibly friendly. The view was even better. New York City is one of my most favourite places in the world and the view of Manhattan couldn't have been better on our approach to Newark. Even better, we were half an hour ahead of schedule.

It was pretty anti-climatic after that. I easily made the connection and was on-board a 737 to Panama City. I received a text while in Newark that the resort was providing a personal shuttle from the airport free of charge and that the driver would be waiting for me at the gate with a sign with my name on it. I arrived without problems, found my driver and was at the resort with beers in hand by midnight. In the end, I was only a few hours behind the rest of the group.

The whole experience was exhilarating. I've never in my life felt the range of emotions and the pretty much constant rush of adrenaline. I now know that there is nothing that I can't do.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Challenge Update and My Panama List

I'm bravely trooping on with my challenge even though there really is no chance I'll finish it by the due date of November 16. What the hell, why not? I'm running anyway... I've put in some really good runs over the past few days and my body feels pretty darn good. I have two more days before departing for Panama and I hope to have two more good runs.

Here's where I stand at the moment:

I have compiled a list of things I want to do and see during my two weeks in Panama and I'd like to share them:
1. Get married. Yes, this is the purpose of the trip. My fiance and I are joining 29 of our friends and family at a beautiful beach resort in Panama where our wedding will occur.
2. Spend a day exploring and interacting in a small town away from the resort. I like all-inclusive resorts, yet I like to see the 'real' side of the countries I'm visiting.
3. See a sloth. My favourite of all jungle animals. Hopefully, I will see at least one. We will be spending our last few days at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort where we will supposedly see many different jungle animals in their natural habitat.
4. See a shark. This, I'm told, is not an easy thing to do near the resort, but I intend to find the majestic tiburon.
5. See a monkey. Come on, everyone wants to see a monkey. Don't they?
6. Collect all denominations of Panama coins. It's just a thing I do when I go to a different country. I like to collect coins. Yes - it's geeky.
7. See a local sports event live. I don't care if it's a local little league baseball game or soccer game.
8. Swim under a waterfall. Why? Why not?
9. Keep a daily journal. No-brainer.
10. Take a boat ride. Whether it's on the Pacific or on the Canal, I want to take a boat ride that is not necessarily a tourist cruise.
11. See a sunrise. Everyone can see a sunset, but most people, even if they see it, don't very often truly appreciate a sunrise.
12. See a sunset. Because I don't want the sunset to feel too inferior to the sunrise.
13. Stay up all night until dawn. Preferably on the beach. Why? Haven't done it in a long, long time and I just think it would be fun.
14. Learn something new. This is always on my list.
15. Teach something. Hopefully, I am of some use to someone in Panama.
16. Give something to someone less fortunate. This is something I've personally debated for awhile. Just because someone looks less fortunate, doesn't mean they are. Just because someone doesn't live in a big house and doesn't watch 8 hours of television each day on their $2000 big screen, doesn't make them poor.
17. Find Pitahaya growing wild. Dragon Fruit should be available nearby. I want to see the fruit I've fallen in love with in its natural habitat.
18. Play blackjack at a table at the resort's casino. I love to play blackjack online, but have never had the guts to play at a table.
19. Converse with a local in Spanish and have them understand what I'm saying. My spanish reading is top-notch but when it comes to conversing face to face, I just don't have the means to practise it.
20. Make someone else feel good about themselves. This is something I should be trying to do on a regular daily basis, but it's a habit I really want to start developing while on vacation.
21. Pictures, pictures, pictures. I always take pictures of the things I'm supposed to take pictures of but never the things that really interest me. Things like homes, back alleys, signs, insides of stores and restaurants - things that can't be found in 2 seconds by searching Google.
22. Spend quality time with each of our guests. I want to make every single person that has come down for our wedding to feel that they are truly an important part of our lives.
23. Visit a local farm. Obviously, a farm that doesn't specialize in livestock. I want to see how my tropical fruit is grown and even help out for a while if possible.
24. Run the beach everyday. More to the point - run every day. The beach in front of the resort is barricaded on one end by a rocky outcrop and the other by a river. The distance between the two, out and back is a perfect 5km, according to Google Earth. I also want to run the small dirt farm roads that weave throughout the countryside. The heat might be a factor but I'll just hyper-hydrate everyday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe and some...

I'm sitting on the couch, contemplating a run attempt tonight. My left hamstring is back in rough shape - a fallout from my roofing experience. I might take another night off which will only leave me with 5 days to complete my challenge. Three of those days are also hockey nights. I'll do my best and if I don't achieve it before the 16th, I am going to reset the challenge and start from the beginning in December when we get back from Panama.

Just a note for anyone planning to fly Air Transat and who wants to book the Vegan meal. I previously posted about how to go about booking the meal. Tonight, I went through the process for real. When you call the number given, don't screw around with the touch-tone menu - press 0 right away and speak to an agent. The menu is just for information and does not actually lead you to an agent.

For now...

An old friend of mine from high school who is now living in the UK sent me this recipe. I thought I'd pass it on.

Sticky Toffee Pudding – its vegan believe it or not!!!

Serves six

250 ml soya milk
100 ml water
200g chopped dates (you could use raisins if you prefer)
1 level teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
115g soya spread /vegan margarine
115g soft brown sugar
200g white self raising flour
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Toffee sauce

100g of golden syrup
200g soft brown sugar
150g soya spread / vegan margarine
100ml soya cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 190 C/ gas mark 5
2. line a 20cm x 20cm cake tin with baking parchment
3. chop the dates in half, put them into a small saucepan with the soya milk and water and simmer until the dates are soft
4. Take off the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda – this will froth as you add it to the date mixture. Give it a stir and leave it to cool on a rack.
5. In a bowl beat together the margarine and the sugar until creamy then add the date mixture to the bowl and give it a good stir.
6. Sieve the flour with the spices. Fold it into the sponge mixture and when well mixed spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
7. Bake it for about 30 minutes.

To make the toffee sauce:
8. Melt the syrup, margarine and vanilla extract in a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes without stirring (be careful it may spit and it’s very hot!)
9. Leave it to cool slightly and then stir in the soya cream.

To serve:

10. Cut the cake into six pieces and place into your service dish. Prick the top all over with a fork and pour half of the toffee sauce which will be absorbed by the cake.
11. Serve the rest of the sauce with the pudding.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Vegan Travel

I've been doing a little research tonight into travelling as a vegan, in preparation for my trip to Panama next Monday. I came across a pretty cool video from a dude named Robert Cheeke.

How to Travel as a Vegan -- powered by

I also came across a great set of vegan travel links at this website.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Back on Track / Jesse Davidson

With my roofing fiasco behind me, I was able to finally get a run in today. I only had to wear shorts, no toque and no gloves! Finally, we're having some decent weather in Southern Ontario. This wasn't the case all week, when we were pelted with snow, ice, rain, high winds... - all the things that make trying to walk around on a roof quite fun. After waking up Wednesday, pretty much my whole left side was useless from the waist down. I even missed hockey Wednesday night - this, I assure, is not a regular occurance.

Anywho, I was able to put in close to 10km today and add a bit of red to my map of Orangeville in my quest to complete my latest personal challenge. Normally, I run in the evening or hit the trails on weekends. Today, I was reminded just how bustling a little town Orangeville is. I was also reminded about how that drives me up the wall. Crossing streets becomes a nightmare on the weekends here. I did, however, get through my run without getting hit or hitting anyone else. Here's the latest updated picture:

I would also like to bring to light the unfortunate passing of Jesse Davidson at the age of 29. Jesse was from my hometown of London, Ontario and was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the age of 6. His father, John, a local newscaster in London, refused to do nothing about his son's rare disease. in 1995, the two embarked on a 3000+ km trek on foot across our province of Ontario, with John pushing Jesse in his wheelchair. The two brought awareness to this rare disease and raised much needed funding for research. From this, the Jesse's Journey Foundation was formed. The website can be found here .

John later walked across the country of Canada to raise even more awareness. Some countries qualify their heroes by the number of lives they've taken in combat. In Canada, I like to think that our heroes are measured by the number of lives they've saved or have made better. In the tradition of Terry Fox and Rick Hansen, among others, Jesse Davidson will always be remembered as a True Canadian Hero.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Product Alert: Patty King Jamaican Veg Patties(and other updates)

I was so disappointed a year ago when I went Vegan and went to buy some Vegetable Jamaican patties at my local grocer - the ones I'd always grimaced at before. 'No Frills', the only carrier of the product in my town, had pulled them off the shelves because of slow sales.

The product is made by Patty King International in Concord, Ontario, Canada and may only be available to the Canadian market.

To my delight, last week, the store started selling the product again. I bought a few boxes and even ate a few of the patties. Then I looked at the ingredients! The pastry is made with beef suet. Why would a company market a product that is meat free and obviously targeted at vegans and vegetarians and then use a meat product that is virtually unnoticeable to the consumer?

Unfortunately, the company does not have a website. I am trying to find an e-mail address to contact them and at least find out if this is something that can be altered. But, for now, all you vegans out there (in Canada, anyway) know that these Jamaican patties are not Vegan!

Roofers - A New Found Respect!

I might be quite physically fit, but after one day of helping do my roof, I am hurting from head to toe. The snow showers didn't help much, but it was a workout I didn't plan for. I have no idea how they do it in the middle of summer when the heat is sweltering!

One Year Anniversary!

It's been a whole year today since I turned Vegan. I'm just going to go about my business and do what I've been doing for the past 365 days. I'm not big on cryptic updates on Facebook, by I might put one up today and see if anyone knows what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Global Warming Ad / Pet Rescue Fund-Raising / Challenge Update

First off, the following video is making the news from the UK. People are complaining that it is too scary. Yes, reality is scary. Unfortunately, they address the cause of global warming as using too much to heat our homes and driving our cars too much. When will the issue of animal farming being one of the major causes of global warming ever be accepted?

And next...

I have heard from a reliable source that this website is legit. Give them your clicks and they will provide food for animals in shelters. According to their website, response has been very positive.

And lastly...

A little more red on my Orangeville map:

Here are the previous updates to my running challenge:

October 31
October 29
October 27
Initial Challenge Post

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Update On Personal Challenge

I was able to put in a good 12.8km run tonight between work and the Halloween festivities. My map got a lot of extra red put on it. I decided mid-run that I'm going to change the rules slightly for this challenge. It's my challenge and I can do that! I've excluded any roads that are cul-de-sacs or dead ends. I've never lived on a cul-de-sac so I feel I have no need to respect their existence. Besides, they're an un-sociable road. They only want to be friends with one other road - two roads is way too many.

However, if I can, I will run on as many dead ends as I can before the November 16 deadline. The best thing is, my achilles did not bother me over my almost 13km today and there was a significant amount of hills on the run. That bodes well in the completion of this challenge before jetting off to Panama.

Here's the latest map udpate:

Here are links to my other posts for this challenge:

10 Things You Can Do On World Veg Day 2009

Tomorrow is World Veg Day and is the kickoff to World Veg Month. Since, most likely, if you don't live in one of the world's major cities, your town is probably not having an event to celebrate this day, what can you day to make your mark? There are many things that little old you can do to promote Veganism and get the info out. Here are 10 ways I came up with:

  • Make a delicious vegan dish for family and friends to share and wait for them to say, "Holy shit! This is what you eat? I thought you just ate bean sprouts and lettuce..."
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about the benefits of eliminating animal products from our lives - and dare them to publish it. It would actually be doing them a favour because they would have reaction letters for weeks to come.
  • Since the day falls on a Sunday this year, chances are you might be sitting around watching a sporting event with friends and/or family. Make sure to mention the professional athletes that adhere to a vegan lifestyle.
  • Visit a vegan restaurant and give them the business they deserve and need in order to survive. If your town doesn't have a vegan restaurant but you find yourself in a local eatery, make sure to point out their lack of vegan friendly meals (or compliment them if they do have these items).
  • Bring to light the fact that this is the 65th anniversary of Donald Watson coining the term 'Vegan'.
  • Since the Gorilla is the mascot of this year's vegan day, bring to light the fact the one of the largest, strongest mammals on earth (and a direct relative of ours) is vegan.
  • Since Veganism and the environment are so closely tied, make an effort to leave the car in the driveway today.
  • Try a fruit or vegetable that you've never tried before.
  • Visit an animal shelter and walk one of the dogs (if allowed...).
  • Write a letter to your local school board, asking why they don't offer vegan options in the school cafeterias (compliment them if they do...).

Of course, these are things we should be doing EVERY day!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Coconut In Your Diet

I love coconut. One of my favourite parts about taking vacations down in the Caribbean is getting groundskeepers to lop the top off a fresh fallen coconut to get at the milk. Of course, it doesn't stop there. The meat of a fresh fallen coconut is simply something that can never be experienced from a grocery store bought version in frosty Canada.

While at home, I have several cans of coconut water every week. A company called Grace imports to Canada and their stock is found in most grocery stores. I also use coconut milk as a cooking ingredient in many of my dishes.

Like all good things, coconut has some supposed faults. I'm sure you've heard the coconut is high in fat. You may have also been told that coconut is a natural laxative. As for the laxative part, coconut has never really had an effect on me. As for the fat part, it turns out that the fat contained in coconut is nothing but good for the body.

Click on the following link to read a great story about the health benefits of coconut.

coconut in your diet

Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Challenge Update and My Opinion On H1N1 Hype

I took yesterday off to rest my achilles. It feels pretty good after putting in 8.7km tonight and making my map a little redder. I played hockey last night and it really seems to be the miracle cure for the achilles problems. The day after playing hockey, I can feel no pain at all in the heel.

Here's my pretty map:

About the H1N1 hysteria...

Anything that the government and the media are hyping as urgent, can only mean there's a hidden motive. I, nor anyone in my family, will not be taking any vaccine that has been created and mass produced in such a short time with supposedly already known side effects. Especially, since it is for a virus that, in reality, affects very few people in proportion to the population and kills an even lesser amount. I've heard it said by reputed doctors, even on mainstream media, that the odds of dying from H1N1 are about 1 in 8,000,000. I like them odds.

For all those germiphobes out there, that do nothing else to ensure a healthy body, but believe constantly washing your hands is going to be your saviour: think about all the hands that have touched every food product you buy at the grocery store. Are you scrubbing down those cans and jars? Are you really cleaning your raw fruits and vegetables? What do you do with the receipt that the cashier with the germ covered hands has just ripped off the cash register and handed to you? She/he also had her/his fingers all over your credit card, debit card or cash change.

The cure for this and any other manufactured virus, is to eat properly, exercises daily and sleep when needed. What we don't need is more crap injected into our systems. It seems in the last 10 years, governments of the world have done nothing to calm and ensure their citizens. Instead, they seem to thrive on creating hysteria and paranoia. What is their motive? It certainly makes the citizens of the developed world live in fear. Are they trying to keep us from travelling to less developed countries and realizing that we don't really have it as good as we've been told? Are they trying to suppress us so that we buy and use less products and commodities and therefore bring down the economies of emerging markets such as China, India and the Middle East?

I'm certainly not one to throw a complete blind eye to threats to my health. I just believe that H1N1 (or heiny - 'high knee' - as my 85 year old Mom calls it), SARS, Avian Flu or any other virus of the day can be overcome and even prevented by living a healthy, vegan lifestyle. One must also go against the western world's idea that sleep is bad and lazy and missing work is such a mortal sin. Sleep cures all. Work just isn't that friggin' important.

My message is: Don't succumb to the paranoia. Continue to live a healthy, active vegan lifestyle and we'll all disappoint the politicians when their game doesn't go as planned. Yes, I still support non-violence but I'm also feeling rebellious lately. Don't even get me started on the Catholic School Board in my area banning Halloween costumes from school!

To follow my latest challenge, check out these posts:

Update 1

Update 2

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Challenge Update

Here's the latest update on my latest personal challenge. Okay, it's a little crappy quality but I've scanned up a map of Orangeville and I'm using the old-reliable Microsoft Paint to fill in the roads I've run on. I put in between 7 and 8 km tonight and filled the map in a little more. I may have screwed up my Achilles tendon again, though. I had a sharp pain early on going up a particularly steep hill for Orangeville. I was able to finish up the rest of the run in relative comfort and actually did the run at a decent pace even though I was trying to shuffle along as slow as possible.

Here's the blank map of Orangeville:

Here's what I've run so far. The roads in red are obviously the ones I've knocked off:

Just an update on some important dates coming up very soon:

November 1 - Of course, it's World Vegan Day! I'll be celebrating on Sunday, I hope you will be too.

November 4 - Celebrating my first full year of being Vegan! I'll be cooking up a storm on that day.

November 16 - I depart with 28 of my closest friends and family members for two weeks at the Decameron Beach Resort in Panama! Actually, the last two days will be at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort on the Canal. Of course, the highlight of the trip will be my wedding!

There will certainly be more to come on the challenge at the other three items happening in November.

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Personal Challenge: Run All The Streets Of Orangeville

I've slacked off on major personal challenges lately but the running season ended last weekend with the Vulture Bait 25km Trail Race and I've got three weeks before I'm in hot and sunny Panama for two weeks. That gives me three weeks to do something with my running that I've wanted to do for a long time: Cover all the streets in my town, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada.
If you want to find Orangeville on Google Earth, just input into the 'fly to' box, these co-ordinates: 43 55.0682N 80 05.5114W and you should be directed right to the centre of town. Orangeville is not a large town at approximately 6km long from east to west and 4km from north to south. With a population of 30,0000, it serves mostly as a bedroom community for people who work in the Greater Toronto Area.
I'm going into this challenge having done absolutely no math on if this is possible in three weeks or not and what mileage I'll need to put in on a nightly basis if I'm to seriously consider completing this. I'm pretty sure it can be done - I just have a good feeling! One of my rules for this challenge is that all runs must start from my home on William Street. My strategy is to plan each night's run to hit a point on the outskirts of town before returning on a different route. With a series of runs that kind of look like a spirograph drawing from the 1970's, it should be fairly easy to cover all the pavement in a fairly efficient manner.
I started this challenge last night with a 7.8km run through town. I'm taking tonight off and will be back at it tomorrow night. I'm just in the process of getting a semi-interactive map up so that I can post my updates in a graphic form. Wish me luck - I wasn't overly successful in a few of my challenges over the summer, so I'm looking for a big win with this one.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ten Commandments Of Shinny Hockey

Adult pickup hockey, or shinny, is still growing exponentially in Canada. Once a sport that was played as a youth and hardly ever played after the age of 19, now is so popular with adults that some arenas in major cities have been built specifically for adult hockey. In saying that, there are a lot of adults that are picking up the game for the first time in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. Like any sport, many non-participants have been long time fans of the game and have watched their favourite pro team on the television for years.

This is an issue. Learning a sport from watching professionals on television has some advantages but is not an accurate method for learning to play at the recreational level. For one thing, what the camera captures in only a fraction of the game. The camera only follows the puck but a lot of the game is played off the puck. The other issue is the aggression level at the pro level. This should not translate to recreational hockey, obviously. Unfortunately, it does.

My ten commandments of shinny hockey have been rolling around in my head for years. I play a lot of ‘unsupervised’ pickup hockey and I see a lot of things that just make me shake my head. Of course, it’s not the new players fault. There is no guidebook handed out when someone walks into the dressing room for the first time. Hopefully, my ten commandments will serve as this guide for whoever reads this post. The great thing is that most of the commandments can be translated to any other sport.

1. Shots above the shin pads are allowed only when there is absolutely no other player between the shooter and the goalie.

2. Despite the fact that you don’t feel tired, you must take your turn coming off the ice so that everyone gets an equal amount of ice time.

3. Once the goalie has made a save and the puck is in relative tight quarters to his body, the play is over. Thou shalt not dig at the goalie’s glove hoping for a hack goal. Goalies for shinny are a premium and the last thing anyone needs is a goalie with a broken hand or just does not want to come out anymore because someone is constantly hacking at him.

4. Under absolutely no circumstances should your stick be above your waist. If the puck is in the air, let it go or use your glove to pull the puck down.

5. Realise that there is no possible chance your performance will give you a shot at making the NHL.

6. Give the newer, weaker players a chance. Some players are getting their first taste of hockey in their adult life and don’t have the luxury of decades of playing the game. If we don’t give them a chance, they will quit and we won’t have enough players to pay the bills to keep the ice.

7. When your side scores, for god sakes, at least let the other team come out to centre with the puck before stripping them of the puck and scoring again.

8. Do not, ever, provide the guy who’s renting the ice with any undue stress by showing up without the right amount of money. This guy has put a heavy amount of money on the line to ensure you have a place to play hockey every week.

9. Give the benefit of the doubt to the other team on offensive off-sides and icings. Throw the puck in the corner, and clear out of the zone.

10. There are no referees, scorekeepers, scouts, agents, coaches, trainers and/or fans attending these events. You and everyone else is there to have fun and get some exercise. Make sure you have fun and get some exercise.

As a side note, if anyone that reads this lives in the Orangeville, Ontario area and is interested in playing some pickup hockey but doesn't know how to get involved, let me know and I should be able to set you up.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Importance of Zinc in the Diet and other Updates

Zinc is an essential nutrient very important in many aspects of human metabolism. Adults males need 13 mg of zinc per day and adult females need 8 mg per day. Zinc deficiency can result in stunted growth and / or delayed sexual maturity.

Nuts, potatoes, and beans are all high in zinc, however, most fruits and vegetables contain some zinc and a varied daily diet will most likely ensure that the RDA is achieved. The standard daily vitamin contains around 7.5 mg, so if you're on a one-a-day, it won't take much at all to achieve your daily goal.

World Cup Animal Sacrifice Update

I posted yesterday about the breaking news regarding South Africa's decision to potentially have animal sacrifice rituals at each of the ten stadiums that will host the 2010 World Cup of soccer. As I expected, the issue has exploded fast. I have found one petition site that is trying to put pressure on the World Cup officials to deny this request for such a barbaric and immoral act. Click here to go to that site.

New Recipe In Progress

I started meddling with a new guacamole recipe today and though it is not perfect, I thought I'd share it with you and if anyone can add the perfecting touch to it, let me know. Basically, it's a mix of raw, mashed avocados, a small tin of tomato paste, and a tiny jar of marinated artichoke hearts.
I only used two avocados because despite the fact I have a tray full of avocados in the fridge, only two were ripe enough to be mashed with ease. I didn't add the juice from the marinated artichokes but did save the juice for another cooking venture. I added my garlic powder, black pepper and celery salt in unmeasured doses.
So basically, I ate it all and my stomach had no complaints. I spread it on crackers and it certainly made the staleness of the open package of crackers much more bearable. It could use about two more avocados to weaken the tin of tomato paste. The addition of lemon juice would probably add to the final product. I also think next time, very thinly diced mushrooms will be involved.
Guacamole is one of the vegan highlights of the world. There are literally thousands of variations to be found on the internet and with the magical taste and versatility of the avocado, it is very hard to find a variation that doesn't work.

For A Great Read...

Check out this website. . Tynan is a very interesting cat living a nomad or vagabond lifestyle. He lives out of an RV when in North America and out of a backpack when anywhere else in the world. And yes, he is a vegan. He has produced an e-book that can be downloaded from his site for a donation you deem appropriate. The book covers how to be a nomad. Even if that is not your plan, there is great advice on how to travel cheaply and efficiently and how to embrace a minimalist lifestyle.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Animal Sacrifices for World Cup 2010????

I've just read some disturbing news that seems to be making its way onto the internet. The South Africans plan to hold an animal sacrifice ritual at each of the ten stadiums that will play host the the 2010 World Cup of Soccer. I don't see anything on PETA's site about this but I'm sure that a response is not that far off.
These sacrifices are in the name of Native traditions and have been, for the most part, shrugged off my the media as some exotic ceremony that the rest of the world has no business stopping.
I'm a huge World Cup fan, but I can't support something like this. I'm hoping that outside pressure will stop this from happening.
Get the gory details here:

The Goods On Spaghetti Squash

It's autumn in Southern Ontario and that means it's squash season. One of the tastiest yet one of the more overlooked is the Spaghetti Squash. This yellow fleshed delight is easy cook and even easier to eat. The only question is whether to cut before or after cooking. The skin of the Spaghetti Squash is quite tough when raw.

If you cut before baking, it is suggested to clean out the 'guts', cut into two halves and bake for 10 minutes at 350, cut side down. After the ten minutes, flip the halves over and bake for another 20 or so minutes.

If you don't cut, bake at 375 for 1 hour but before putting in the oven, pierce the squash with a sharp knife in a few locations so that the squash does not blow up in your oven. After an hour, take the squash out of the oven and cut in half. Remove the seeds and scoop out the flesh into a bowl.

The reason why it is called Spaghetti Squash is because the flesh separates into thin strips that resemble strands of spaghetti. Form follows function (or, I guess, function follows form...) and one of the best ways to eat the squash is as a substitute for pasta.

The way I like to prepare Spaghetti Squash is by baking the whole squash for an hour while preparing a tomato based sauce on the stove top. I start with some sauteed onions mixed with a cubed zucchini squash. Once the onions have browned, I add a can of crushed tomatoes (or a mason jar of homemade, Italian-style tomato sauce). I add garlic powder, paprika, Italian seasoning, black pepper and turmeric and let the mixture simmer until the squash is done. When all is cooked, I scoop out the flesh from the squash. I put a serving on a plate then cover it in the sauce.

The Spaghetti Squash is not a essential nutrient powerhouse but does contain a decent amount of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and Manganese. The seeds can be roasted in the same manner as you would Pumpkin seeds and have a very similar taste.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Race Rating: Vulture Bait 25k Trail Race

It was during the beautiful 25km journey through the trails along the shores of Fanshawe Lake in London, Ontario that I realized my rating system was flawed and gave too much emphasis to things that only big budget, big draw races could provide. I resolved to amend the rating system for 2010 with a handicapping option that would help reflect the true quality of the race.
Until then, I would like to note that the Vulture Bait race was one of my favourites and has spurred me on to participate in the Ontario Trail Series next season and possibly the Ontario Ultra Series in 2011.
But, to be fair to the other races I've completed this season, I will rate the Vulture Run according to the original rating system.

  1. Bathroom facilities - 3 (plenty of park facilities and a forest full of other options)
  2. Race day organization - 3 (a running race run by runners - can you ask for anything more?)
  3. Course scenery - 3 (autumn in the woods in Southwestern Ontario - awesome!)
  4. Course creativity - 3 (despite the obvious run around a lake, the race took advantage of pretty much all of the conservation area's nature trails)
  5. Value - 3 (great value!)
  6. Shirt or gift - 3 (the shirt was very basic with nothing at all on the front and a text line on the back. normally, I would find this to not be a good thing, but in this case, it represented the race to a T. no flash, no phony crap - just the basics. just the running)
  7. Parking availability - 3 (free, bountiful and at the start line)
  8. Website quality - 2 (all the basics - could have had more race day details)
  9. Online registration - 3 (very simple)
  10. Accessible for spectators - 3 (because roads also circle the lake, the trails intersected at several points and gave supporters the opportunity to see their runners at many locations)
  11. Convenience of race packet pickup -3 (race day only - no need to take the day before to go to some inconvenient hotel banquet hall to pickup)
  12. Pre-race expo - 0 (not available)
  13. Entertainment on course - 1 (no official entertainment, but car stereos were blaring at more than one water station)
  14. Post race food - 3 (as this also serves as the year end banquet for the Ontario Ultra Series and the Ontario Trail Series, the food was pretty darn good. I could only eat the salad, however, if I'd inquired, I think the bountiful lasagna and pasta may have been void of meat)
  15. Race day vendors/exhibitors - 0 (but that's okay...)
  16. Volunteers/marshalls/police & emergency services support - 3 (as usual... most were runners and were full of info and sincere encouragement)

Well, apparently my rating system can reflect the true quality of this race. At 39 points, this is by far my highest rated race this season, 5 points higher than the next best, the Run for the Grapes Half in St. Catherines last month.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vulture Bait 25k Trail Run: Race Report

The weather co-operated nicely! Although frosty and around zero near the start of the race, the temps rose to scorching highs of around 8 celcius during the run. The wind was negligible and the surface conditions of the trails could not have been better. In contrast, the morning before, the city of London was blanketing in a white layer of snow.

I reached my goals that I laid out in this post. I finished wonderfully injury free. At no point in the run did I even have to slow down in fear of a twinge turning into a tear or strain.

I enjoyed seeing the old trails that I spent so much time on 16 years ago. I was disappointed that the race didn't run down my baby - a trail extension that I built. In fact, I missed the entrance to the trail and I'm under the impression that they may have closed it off.

I finished in 2 hours and 31 minutes. I was a minute over pace at 5km and 7km then I never saw a marker until the finish line. Finishing with little struggle and only a minute over 6 minute km pace has to be attributed partially to the fact there were no km markers. I didn't have to think and calculate every passing kilometer. I just relaxed and enjoyed the trail scenery. The fact that the trail was thin enough at points that passing was almost impossible, made me slow down and take a rest every so often when I got behind a pack of runners. And yes, I was able to be back in Orangeville to watch my oldest son play his hockey game.

The shirt and medal were pretty cool. Not flashy, but to the point. Just like everything else that made this event wonderful. It was a running event for runners. There were no packs of joggers that had been training for a whole month leading up to the event. There's nothing wrong with that, it's great that thousands of people embark on a running journey with little or no training each weekend, but the distance and the running surface here called to a different type of runner.

There was no speech by some local celebrity at the starting line. There was no aerobics warmup put on by some local fitness club before the race. There was no starters pistol blast or air horn to signify the start of the race. Apparently, someone said 'go' and we 'went'.

Throughout the 25km, whenever I was around other runners, I enjoyed listening in on their conversations. For a lot of the runners, this was the last in the Ontario Ultra Series and many were running the 50km race. With the relative silence of the wooded trail, it was quite easy to listen in on conversations many metres away. I listened to more than one conversation that evolved around how they were going to do at the Toronto Marathon - the next morning! One guy was doing the 50km then the Toronto Marathon then a 90km somewhere in the U.S. next weekend.
I forgot to enquire at the finish line whether there was an award for the most falls on the course. I went down twice, tripping on roots. On the first, I had an audience as I somersaulted down the trail. On the second I was alone - too bad, I was much more spectacular. I was disappointed that I didn't draw a trickle of blood down from my knee to impress the spectators and other runners!
The after race meal was pretty spectacular - for a non-vegan. Lasagna, meatballs and caesar salad was on the menu.

In short, I loved this race. More to the point, I loved this running community. It's a running community that I want to be part of. I'm not sure I can be ready for a full Ultra Series next season, but I definitely want to move in that direction (yes - running the actual ultra distances and not the junior version like I did yesterday). I've also realized that when I do my race rating in the next couple of days, the love of this race will not be reflected in my race rating system. I think I have to revamp the race rating system for next season by maybe changing categories or adding a handicapping system for races under 1000 entrants - there are simply things that smaller races cannot or will not provide that the bigger ones can. These items (on-course entertainment, pre-race expos, super ultra websites), I've realized, although making the whole event experience better, these items do nothing to make the race better. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Vulture Bait 25k Trail Run: Pre-Race

Just got back from my last training run before Saturday's 25k trail race. I felt sluggish but finished the 8.5ish km run without any serious problems with the achilles, calfs, hamstrings, etc...

The Vulture Bait 25k is a loop around Fanshawe Lake in London, Ontario. The main event is the 50k, which, of course, is a double loop. 50k is not my thing yet but hopefully by this time next year I will have tasted my first ultra (and lived to tell the story).

I'm off after work tomorrow (Friday) to spend the night at the ol' family home in Byron (west-end London) with Mom and Dad. Then it's off to the far Northeast end of town for the 9am start. The start time is perfect for those like me who absolutely do not like to rise early on weekends. It also will give the air a chance to warm up out of the negative digits (celcius).

The weather shouldn't be a huge factor mid-October in Southwestern Ontario but as it has for the past many, many months, the temps are way below normal and the air is going to be crisp on Saturday AM. At least, the sun should be shining and hopefully the winds will stay calm.
My goals for this run are pretty simple:
  • finish without tearing any of the iffy muscles and tendons that have signalled that my body has peaked already for the season. My message to them is that after Saturday, it'll just be nice easy runs mixed with hockey for the next month. Then the big treat comes when they get to do nice barefoot jogs on the beach in Panama for two weeks.
  • enjoy and reminisce about the trails that I helped maintain and build for a summer back in 1993 when I was a college student. 'Trail Guy' I believe was my official title that summer as I was hired as a fresh student out of the Parks and Forest Recreation program at Sir Sanford Fleming College in metropolitan Lindsay, Ontario.
  • be done in time to be back to Orangeville to watch my oldest son's hockey game at 2:30.
  • snag a pretty cool shirt that should make me look like a rugged, tough guy - it will say 50k on it as well and if people assume that I was tough enough to go in that, well, I'll just have to let them think that...

That's it! Hopefully I'll have nothing but good things to say on the other side.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blog Action Day

Thursday, October 15 is Blog Action Day, an initiative powered by to bring to light the need to change our ways and change our ways now. Specifically, the initiative means to inform about Global Warming and encourage all to do all possible to change so that there is an 'us' in years to come.

As a Vegan and a Vegan blogger, I would like to focus on the effects that adopting a vegan diet has directly on the environment and ultimately on slowing down and even stopping Global Warming.

By more and more of the world moving away from a meat diet and towards a vegan diet, essentially factory farming and livestock farming in general will be greatly reduced and hopefully eventually eliminated. Raising livestock has been proven to be the primary cause of land degradation, air pollution, water shortage, water pollution, loss of biodiversity and with all these factors put together Global Warming is the ultimate result.

Here are some facts as to why damage at this magnitude is done by simply raising livestock for food:

  • 10x the amount of crops are needed to feed these animals that are meant to feed humans than if the crops went directly into the mouths of men, women and children.

  • livestock agriculture takes up 70% of all agricultural land and 30% of the total land surface of the earth.

  • 70% of the former Amazon rainforest is used as pastureland with the rest used to crow crops to feed these animals.

  • methane and nitrous oxide are responsible for 1/3 of the warming since the beginning of the industrial revolution - gases that primarily come from the digestive processes of farm animals.

  • animal agriculture is responsible for 9% of carbon dioxide emissions, 37% of methane emissions and 65% of nitrous oxide emissions.

  • meat consumption has increased 5 fold in the past 50 years.

  • livestock agriculture emits 2/3's of the acid rain causing ammonia.

  • 5 million tons of manure are produced every single day in the U.S. - ultimately, this oozes into the water system, polluting drinking water and killing sensitive aquatic ecosystems.

  • livestock agriculture is responsible for 19% of the USA's overall energy consumption.

It's like we're paying a dollar for 4 nickels because we like the shiny colour of the coin and we have a thing for the picture that is minted on it. Sooner than later, we're going to run out of dollars. I know that I'm preaching to the converted on this blog but every angle you look at it, there is no place for the consumption of meat on this planet. There is simply no logical reason to eat the flesh of another living being. It is environmentally, economically, morally, spiritually wrong and it is nothing but a death excelerant where human health is concerned.

By adopting a vegan diet, you help to eliminate the effects of livestock farming. The more you subject others to your uncompromising resolve, the more others will see the positive effects and the more you will influence others to learn the facts and change their ways.

Remember: Lead by example. Provide accurate information when requested. Always maintain your resolve.

Essential Nutrients - Part I

essential nutrients
This is the first in a series of post discovering the essential nutrients that the body needs. I am not a nutritionist and everything I post on nutrition is something I've researched and learned about quite recently. If anyone spots something that is not correct or can add anything to the discussion, please do so.
Today, we'll take a look at vitamin A, C, D, E and K. We'll look at why each is essential to our good health and what foods can provide us with a substantial amount of these vitamins. For my list of power foods, high in essential nutrients, see this post.

Vitamin A

Is essential for:
  • maintaining the immune system
  • maintains vision
  • differentiation of cells

Plant based foods providing Vitamin A:

  • carrots
  • apricots
  • pumpkin
  • sweet potatoes
  • red pepper
  • melons

Vitamin C

Is essential for:

  • the formation and maintenance of connective tissue
  • essential for amino acid metabolism
  • protects the system from chemicals

Plant based foods providing vitamin C:

  • red pepper
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • cauliflower
  • kale

Vitamin D

Is essential for:

  • helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus

Plant based foods providing vitamin D:

  • no plant based foods naturally contain vitamin D, however, we can absorb plenty enough from sunlight, even on a cloudy day to meat our requirements

Vitamin E

Is essential for:

  • having an anti-oxidant effect and clearing free radicals from the body
  • improves blood glucose metabolism - great for diabetics
  • keeps arteries from clogging by not allowing bad cholesterol to oxidize
  • helps speed up the healing process for cuts

Plant based foods containing vitamin E:

  • sunflower seeds
  • almonds
  • broccoli
  • soybean
  • kiwi
  • mango
  • spinach

Vitamin K

Is essential for:

  • helping blood to clot
  • helps regulate flow of calcium to tissue and to bones
  • keeps calcium out of the arteries

Plant based foods containing vitamin K:

  • beet greens
  • swiss chard
  • collards
  • romaine lettuce
  • kale

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rating 99 Fruits, Vegetables and Nuts

Rating 99 fruits, vegetables and nuts for essential nutrients
I'm always getting asked if I'm getting all my essential nutrients being on a vegan diet. My answer is always, "Of course." Then under my breath, I say, "At least, more than you my meat and potato eating friend." Then I wonder, "Am I getting all the essential nutrients? What the hell are the essential nutrients?"
I've really started doing the research and crunching the numbers to learn what the hell this body really needs and what can most efficiently fulfill those needs. My first in a series of posts on this topic is a rating system I came up with. I'm big on rating systems...
Using data from, I've made a simple system taking each of the fruits, vegetables or nuts that I've chosen and given 5 points for every essential nutrient where that item provides 25% or more of the daily RDA in a 100 gram serving. If the item provides 15-24% of the daily RDA of an essential nutrient, 3 points are given for each. If the item provides 5-14%, 1 point each is given.
Keep in mind, to give each item equal ground, all are measured in their raw state and all info is for a 100 gram serving. This may skew items like the Sunflower Seed as 100 grams is a fair amount of Sunflower Seeds!
In following posts, I will cover just what the essential nutrients are; How much of each vitamin, mineral, fats, proteins and carbs we need each day; What powerhouse non-meat sources can provide your daily RDA in just one serving; What essentials are fully covered by a one-a-day vitamin; etc.
I am not a dietitian, by any means, but I hope this ratings list will provide everyone with some great info when choosing what to eat for meals and snacks. I do have to apologize for the crooked formatting - Excel does not go into Blogger well so the spacing was all done manually...

Food 25%+ 15-24% 5-14% Rating
sunflower seed 14 3 2 81
peanut 12 4 3 75
lentils 12 2 6 72
sesame seed 12 3 2 71
pistachio 10 2 9 65
cashew 11 2 4 65
walnut 9 3 6 60
almond 8 5 3 58
spinach 5 3 9 43
chicory greens 4 3 9 38
green peas 2 5 11 36
beet greens 3 4 8 35
swiss chard 3 2 10 31
brussels sprouts 2 4 8 30
kale 4 0 10 30
collards 4 0 8 28
okra 3 1 10 28
parsnips 3 2 7 28
coconut 3 1 10 28
avocado 2 2 11 27
navy beans canned 0 5 11 26
durian 2 3 7 26
watercress 3 0 10 25
romaine lettuce 4 0 5 25
artichoke 0 5 9 24
broccoli 2 1 11 24
chickpeas canned 1 3 10 24
blackberry 3 1 5 23
jalapeno peppers 2 1 9 22
asparagus 1 1 13 21
bell peppers red 2 1 8 21
butternut squash 2 0 10 20
white mushrooms 0 4 7 19
broccoli stalks 1 1 11 19
guava 1 1 10 18
raspberry 3 0 3 18
green beans 1 1 9 17
banana peppers 1 1 9 17
shallot 0 3 8 17
red kidney beans canned 0 1 14 17
loganberry 2 1 4 17
kiwi 2 0 6 16
white potato 1 1 8 16
cabbage 2 0 5 15
radicchio 1 2 4 15
sweet potato 1 0 10 15
papaya 2 0 5 15
pineapple 2 0 5 15
cauliflower 1 1 6 14
rutabaga 1 0 9 14
breadfruit 1 1 6 14
blackcurrant 1 0 9 14
cassava 1 1 6 14
carrot 1 0 8 13
pumpkin 1 1 5 13
mango 1 1 5 13
pomegranate 0 3 4 13
beet root 1 1 4 12
celeriac 1 0 7 12
yellow corn 0 0 12 12
cantaloupe 2 0 2 12
red tomato 2 0 2 12
banana 0 2 6 12
celery 1 0 6 11
bell peppers green 1 0 6 11
blueberry 0 3 2 11
zucchini 1 0 6 11
iceberg lettuce 1 0 5 10
rhubarb 1 0 5 10
apricot 1 1 2 10
green grape 0 2 4 10
orange 1 0 5 10
strawberry 1 1 2 10
clementine 1 0 4 9
cranberry 0 2 3 9
jackfruit 0 0 9 9
red radish 1 0 3 8
turnip 1 0 3 8
mandarin 1 0 3 8
persimmon 1 0 3 8
quince 1 0 3 8
honey dew melon 1 0 2 7
pink grapefruit 1 0 2 7
chicory raw 0 0 7 7
lemon 1 0 1 6
lime 1 0 1 6
red plum 0 1 3 6
onion 0 0 5 5
fig 0 0 5 5
nectarine 0 0 5 5
eggplant 0 0 4 4
cucumbers 0 1 1 4
red cherry 0 0 4 4
peach 0 0 4 4
bosc pear 0 0 3 3
watermelon 0 0 2 2
apple 0 0 1 1