Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sugar-Apple: Dessert on a Shrub

I was given this strange looking fruit the other night by friends that run a Thai restaurant in town. It looked like a mix between an artichoke and a pine cone. It was green and I was told to wait until the outer scales turned brown before eating.

I put it on the kitchen window sill and almost forgot about it. It had since turned a dark colour and was squeezable. I peeled the scales off and what was underneath was a soft, custard-like core.

I cut the fruit into wedges, like one would do with an apple. The pits are large, hard, black and plentiful. I tentatively tried the flesh and was amazed. It tasted like a prepared apple custard. It was quite sweet and worth the effort to work around the pits.

The fruit is high in calories but relatively low in fat. There is also a good supply of calcium and iron in the fruit.
The fruit is also known as custard-apple and the latin name is annona squamosa. Despite the fact that it is popular among the east asian countries, the fruit is thought to have originated in the Caribbean and is cultivated throughout the Caribbean as well as Pakistan and India.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Product Review: Stagg Vegetable Garden Chili

Canned food, even at its healthiest, is never the healthiest choice. However, there are times when you simply need to have the quick fix for lunch or dinner. There are more and more canned food companies that are providing vegetarian and vegan choices.

One of those companies is Stagg Foods, manufacturer of the Stagg Chili brand. The company is out of Stockton, California and is for sure available in the United States and Canada. Their vegan product is Vegetable Garden Four Bean Chili. The stuff is tasty, healthy and a bit spicy.

The only questionable ingredient is 'natural butter flavour'. I assume that by the addition of 'flavour' to that ingredient it is some sort of synthetic additive and doesn't actually include dairy. The rest of the ingredients include: water, tomatoes, pink beans, black beans, kidney beans, corn, tomato paste, white beans, chili seasoning, dehydrated onions, dehydrated bell peppers, dehydrated tomatoes, spices and garlic powder.

The stuff is good and convenient. The price is slightly high at $2.99 per 425g can in Canada but still cheaper and healthier than fast food.

For more information, visit the Stagg Foods website.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Animal Liberation Front - Good or Bad?

Like it or not, the Animal Liberation Front is an organization that every vegan should know something about. Why? Because, as vegans we obviously care about the well-being of all living beings and that is simply what the ALF is all about.

Despite the scary, terrorist-like name, the ALF believes in the well-being of ALL living beings, including humans. They are a movement based on non-violence. Therefore, any action taken on behalf of the ALF has to be done without harm to human life as well as animal life. For example, freeing test animals from a lab then blowing up that lab while the human staff are still there would be a no-no!

The ALF is a movement without formal leadership or membership. If you care for animals and do what you can to ensure all animals are treated well, then you basically may consider yourself a member of ALF, if it so suits you.

Do visit the ALF website. There is a lot of reading material and most of it is based in the real world. There is some fairly radical stuff, as well, like how to get an attorney and what your rights are when you get arrested for freeing animals or protesting or committing some other crime in the name of freedom.

What gives ALF credibility is the fact that they really aren't extremists. Common sense is preached. Is there a point to freeing livestock from a farm when the animals can't be cared for and the farmer is just going to restock anyway? The best thing to do in that situation is to promote a vegan lifestyle and simply take the market away from the farmer so he stops breeding animals for slaughter.

Like PETA, you may not agree with all ALF has to offer and that is your right as a human being. Like PETA, ALF is a great resource of valuable information.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Is Subway's Vegetarian Vegetable Soup Vegan?

In the world of fast food, vegan friendly menu items are hard to come by. Of course, it's a little hypocritical to be on what can be considered the healthiest diet possible yet still eat at fast food restaurants. However, reality is a wonderful thing and sometimes today's vegan is so constrained by time that we must, from time to time, eat at the crap factories.

Subway is great because the food is made right in front of you, so you know nothing is being slipped in without you knowing. A fresh whole wheat sub stuffed with raw vegetables is about the healthiest fast food you can get and the price is right.

Subway can be found on every street corner, so you're always within minutes from one of their restaurants. Sure, there is only one real item on their menu for us but, it can be topped in an almost infinite amount of ways. They do offer a vegetable patty, although I've never tried it.

A few weeks ago, my local Subway was advertising Vegetarian Vegetable soup. I was going to try it but couldn't trust there not to be chicken broth or cheese buried somewhere deep inside. The folks at the counter couldn't tell me what the ingredients were so I passed on the soup.

I e-mailed Subway's customer service and received the ingredients to, not only the Vegetarian Vegetable soup, but to all of the soups they offer. Some others were close to vegan, but could only pass as vegetarian. However, the Vegetarian Vegetable is full-fledged vegan.

The official ingredients are as follows:

Vegetarian Vegetable – 11948 – CanadaCarrots, Water, Tomatoes (citric acid, calcium chloride), Tomato Paste,Rehydrated Potatoes (sodium phosphate), Green Beans, Cabbage, Corn, Celery,Peas, Zucchini, Salt, Red Peppers, Sugar, Rehydrated Onions, Modified CornStarch, Onion Powder, Flavour, Vegetable Concentrate(carrots, celery, beets,parsley, lettuce, watercress, spinach), Garlic Powder, Yeast Extract, Spice,Parsley, Citric Acid and Caramel. Allergens: Wheat

Of course, there are some of us that do not take in yeast. In that case, this soup is not for you.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

G7 Meets the Seal Hunters

It's pretty popular news but for those who haven' heard, the G7 is having meetings in Nunavit which is on Baffin Island in the extreme north of Canada. I guess they chose the location to hide from the usual protesters. They certainly haven't escaped controversy.

Read here to see what the sideshow will be.