[Diet, Dessert and Dogs has moved!  If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]  

* * * * *

If you’ve arrived at this page, then you’re probably looking to find out a bit more about me.  So, with the aid of the trusty FAQ format, here’s a basic intro.  

 

 

Who Are You? 

Educator, writer, baker, natural nutritionist.  Lover of all things canine.

At present I am a college teacher who works as a part-time cooking class instructor/chef and a part-time freelance writer (I know, that’s quite a few parts). I hold a PhD in Modern American Literature, which came in really handy the one time my sweetheart and I wanted to book a hotel room for our anniversary, and we got bumped up to a suite instead of a regular room because I had the title “Dr.” on my form.   

Speaking of my sweetheart, he is the guy I live with and have loved for the past decade or so.  We met later in life (after each one had failed at a starter marriage), so no, we don’t have any children.  We live with our two dogs (both mutts: one a Border Collie/Black lab cross, the other a Border Collie/Lab/German Shepherd cross) north of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  

I refer to my guy as my HH, which stands for “Human Honey,” as opposed to my furry honeys, The Girls. 

Are You a Vegan? 

By taste preference only.  My favorite cuisine is vegan, and I eat 99% vegan food.  I love it all, and, when I think of what I want to eat, vegan foods always come first to my mind.

You write about vegan food exclusively.  Why?   

There are several reasons I write exclusively about vegan food. But first, you’ll need a bit of background.  

My father was a butcher.  (No, that’s not a figurative expression from a resentful kid who endured a dysfunctional adolescence—I mean that literally).  An immigrant to North America, my father grew up on a dairy farm and originally wanted to be a veterinarian.  When he arrived in Montreal with only 50 cents in his pocket (clearly not enough for veterinary school), he took what work he could get. 

After working his way up from bagger to counter person in the deli section of a grocery store, he had a change of heart about his profession and decided to become a butcher instead (well, you still need to know all the different muscle groups on a cow for both jobs, right?). Eventually he owned his own small butcher shop in the immigrant area of town. As a result of the changing population in the Park Extension area of Montreal over the years, my dad can now say, “Lean or marbled?” and “Can I wrap that up for you?” in French, Yiddish, Italian, Greek, Russian, and Urdu. When I was a child, we ate meat every single day, twice a day on weekends.  

My mother, more than anything else, was a baker. (So much so, in fact, that at her eulogy, one of the major points to be repeated about her was her amazing Chiffon Cake, both because it was astounding at almost a foot high, and also because that’s what people tended to remember about her).  

To my mind, she was also an unacknowledged vegetarian, someone ahead of her time in that area. On occasions when my dad would bring home whole fish that some customer had caught and given him as a gift, my mother would refuse to cook it for him.  When we ate my dad’s homemade vegetable soup, he omitted the soup bone as a courtesy to my mom so that she could enjoy it, too. And although she would occasionally consume the odd can of tuna, I think my mother’s preference was really for vegan food (yes, all you Freudians out there, I realize that is a rather interesting fact, considering what my dad did for a living.) 

As to me, I seem to have inherited something from each parent. From my dad, I inherited genes that require at least a modicum of animal foods in order to be healthy.  After being vegetarian, then vegan for about 15 years, I became quite physically ill. After seeing several traditional doctors and then a naturopath, having many vials of blood taken and undergoing many other unpleasant tests, I was finally told that I needed to incorporate at least some animal proteins in my diet. I never want to be that sick again. On the other hand, I also most definitely inherited my mother’s preference for vegan foods.  At this point, I’m approaching vegan eating with increased knowledge as a holistic nutritionist, and better dietary habits; we’ll see what happens.

So, I write about vegan cooking and baking for several reasons: 

1) It’s my favorite kind of food, what I love to eat, and what I most enjoy cooking and eating. 

2) I think everyone could benefit from a more vegan-leaning diet.  We all hear about the incredible benefits of fruits and vegetables, so if I can promote those and help people incorporate them into their diets, what’s wrong with that? 

3) Vegan food is more inclusive than non-vegan food.  An omnivore can certainly join in on a vegan meal, but the opposite isn’t true.  So presenting vegan recipes means presenting recipes anyone can enjoy. 

4) When I started my baking company, Bake It Healthy, in 2005, I focused on whole, natural ingredients, assuming my customers would be those with an interest in healthy diets. I soon discovered that the bulk of my customers were either vegans or people with food sensitivities. In order to accommodate as many people as possible, I took out any last bits of honey from my recipes (which were all otherwise vegan).  I’ve continued to develop recipes that way, so vegan baking is what I’m most comfortable creating.  

Why the combination of “Diet, Dessert, and Dogs”? 

Diet:  I’ve had a weight problem most of my life.  An addiction to sweets, I believe, contributed largely to my many of my health problems back in 1999, the reason why I radically altered my eating habits about that time to exclude refined sugars (as well as wheat).  

After studying natural nutrition at The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, I realized how important it was to eat foods that nourish the body and help it heal.  I began to eat a natural, whole-foods diet (read more about the diet here) and effortlessly lost about 25 pounds the year I was in school.  I have since gained some of that back and continue to struggle with my weight. I envisioned this blog as a place to chronicle my (many) attempts to lose weight, rant about diets and dieting, gain control of my sweets addiction and learn to eat like a “normal” person.

Dessert: With a mother who was a baker, I first wielded a wooden spoon when I was about six, and have barely let go of it, except to bathe or sleep, since. When I suffered health issues because of my sweets addiction and had to cut all refined sweeteners from my life, I began to search for alternatives that I could bake that (a) didn’t contain any of the unhealthy ingredients I’d been accustomed to using; and (b) still tasted good.  This quest led to a stint baking vegan desserts for a vegetarian restaurant here in Toronto, and later starting my own baking companyI still love dessert and think it can be both healthy and delicious.  Just take a look at some of the recipes on this blog! 

Dogs: My love of dogs dates back to my childhood (some would say all the way back to my birth, a I was born in the Year of the Dog).  My HH tells me I have “dog-like qualities,” and I take it as a compliment.  So, it only makes sense that our furry girls are the centre of our universe.  

We got Elsie first, in 2002, then Chaser about five years later. Sworn rivals at first, they’ve come to love each other (even though Chaser torments poor sweet Elsie mercilessly, constantly biting her ear and imploring her to play). Anyone who says dogs don’t have personalities clearly has never lived with a dog. In fact, our Girls have such strong personalities that I felt the need to provide them an outlet in this blog as well. 

Any other questions?   

I’d love to hear from you.  Feel free to email me at dietdessertdogs AT gmail DOT com.  Comments are most welcome.

[Edit, November 2008:  I love receiving comments and do read every single one, but it’s come to the point where I’m no longer able to respond to each comment on the blog.  I do apologize, as I enjoy responding to comments almost as much as reading them!  I will always answer any questions you leave, however, and will also try to reply to other comments as often as possible. Thanks for all of your feedback and responses!]

22 Responses to “About”

  1. alexsandra Says:

    Just visiting for the second time…we have a few things in common and I think that’s why I like your blog:
    dieting…all my life
    my mom was a butcher
    past vegetarian, feel better vegan but can’t give up animal products entirely
    loving the new dog in our family (Mastiff/St Bernard…it’s a slobber fest but I love her)
    I love the bean brownie idea…I do love beans in any form!
    I’ll keep reading!

  2. Ricki Says:

    Hi Alexsandra,

    Welcome back, and thanks for your comment!

    I appreciate the feedback, and have to agree that’s quite a lot in common (plus living in the GTA, of course). Your mom must have been quite the trend-setter. . . I’m guessing there aren’t that many women butchers out there, even today. And glad you’re enjoying your new dog (I had hoped for a BIG dog too, but will have to love mine as they are. What fun for you, though!).

  3. Tania Says:

    I just found your delightful blog, and I feel as though I’ve stumbled upon a treasure! I’ve always loved cooking and baking, in particular, but have only recently begun experimenting with baking whole grain, naturally sweetened goodies to feed my raging sweet tooth (I recently added “Simple Treats” by Ellen Abraham and “Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way” by Lorna Sass to my cookbook collection). Your recipes look amazing; what another wonderful healthy baking resource!

    I can’t leave your site without commenting on your dogs. They look so very sweet. What beautiful girls! Truly, dogs are the best. (I myself am owned by a mini-dachshund.)

  4. Ricki Says:

    Tania,

    Thanks so much for your comment, and welcome to the blog! I’m also a lifelong baker, so I understand the impetus. Baking this way gets to be a habit, and feels just as natural as the old way, once you’ve done it a while. Simple Treats is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks–I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

    And thanks for the lovely comment on The Girls. I’ve never thought of it that way, but yes, I do believe I am owned by them, too!🙂

  5. Meg Wolff Says:

    I really loved reading your story. We have many similarities in our backgrounds. My grandfather was a butcher and my Mom a “baker”. I also would take having “dog-like” qualities as a compliment, when I was a kid I always wanted to be a veteranarian!🙂

  6. Ricki Says:

    Hi Meg,
    Thanks so much! And what a coincidence that there are so many similarities. Nice to know there’s another “dog-like” out there!😉

  7. shauna Says:

    Hello! I found your blog today via Kathryn @ Limes & Lycopene and I’ve been here for a couple of hours now, completely addicted and lots of recipes sorted for next week. Thank you🙂

  8. Halyma Says:

    HI,
    I just stumbled across your blog – love the idea and your writing and ideas are fascinating.
    I am on a constant journey of food [especially desserts], life passions and doggie stuff too, and while still an omnivore, I welcome healthy info in all forms.

    Just signed up to get you on RSS feed, so I look forward to more stimulation in a healthful direction!

    Great job!

  9. Sue Says:

    Ricki, I am besotted with your blog – it’s a joy to find such an addictive combination of vegan/gluten-free food, diet rantings, real human honesty and well-written prose. Thanks, and keep it coming! All the best, Sue

  10. hippolyra Says:

    I am so pleased to have found your blog via Eat the Right Stuff.

    I am becoming increasingly (dietary) vegan as it suits my body and metabolism, but I am never going to give up animal products completely as I enjoy them too much, but I do think that meat and diary should be treats rather than every day food stuffs. Its better for our bodies, better for the planet and environment to eat a largely plant based diet.

    And vegan baking rocks! 90% of my baking is now vegan and I far far prefer it as I can now clearly taste eggs where they are used and it just tastes wrong to me. Also you you can bake from the store cupbard and do not need fresh ingredients!

  11. pinx Says:

    Hi, i came across your site whilst searching for a vegana lternative to ‘pain au chocolat’ which i seem to be in the habit of having each saturday breakfast time.

    Its weird reading all the comments on similarities as i was thinking how chaser & Elsie were such similar names to my cassius & Elsa! Mine are human ( somedays i wish they were dogs!) I pine for my old dog from my childhood and can’t wait to be in a position to have another. ( mine was border collie too).

    I have been a vegetarian for about 22 years & am wanting to be more vegan orientated. I was curious about in what way you became ill & what reasons the doctors gave for needing animal fodstuffs? I have just completed my diploma on nutritional advisor & am very much into experimentation with different diets.

    kind regards, pinx.

  12. Ricki Says:

    Hi Pinx,

    Thanks so much for your comment (and how funny about those names!!.) I’d be happy to “chat” more about the diet, etc. via email, but wasn’t able to find an email address connected to your comment. If you send me an email, I will gladly respond.

    Ricki🙂

  13. pinx Says:

    hi ricki, here is my e-mail. I’ve just managed a vegan diet for 10 days! i know….I don’t think i prepared for it. i’m living in spain at the moment so not the best time to start maybe. There was just something in my mind worrying about the lack of vitamin b12 in plant foods that’s an issue with me. (i do take a multi-vitamin).
    But i also think that you can’t really stop at vegetarianism in this day an age, you have to go all the way.
    I would appreciate any thoughts or guidance. pinx xx

  14. pinx Says:

    Thanks for e-mail. I’ve decided to try again when i can get a butter alternative back in uk. if i asked for that here in spain, they would cart me away!

    Thanks mostly though, for having a vegan blog that makes it ok for not being 100% vegan. i guess we are all trying to acheive what comes naturally and what suits us as individuals. Trying to shed media & society ideals of whats ‘expected’ of us is a full time job!

  15. Barbara Says:

    Just found this lovely blog….do not know how i missed it though since i love to browse vegan blogs🙂 but it definitely shall be bookmarked. My family is full of dietary restrictions mine (I slightly guiltily admit) is voluntary where both my parents are not….I am quite excited to try out a lot of your recipes….🙂
    Barbara…

  16. stilllifeinbuenosaires Says:

    Ricki, I found your blog through Vegeyum. I am a vegetarian, English professor, and dog lover too.

    I look forward to perusing your stories and recipes. Your whimsical voice is enjoyable.😉

  17. Katrina Says:

    Hi, My name is Katrina and I met you today at the Vegan Bake Off. I love your website and know that it will be very helpful to me as I am a new Vegan due to health issues. Thank you so much for your help today with egg substitutions. I look forward to making many vegan treats!
    Good luck with your cookbook…I know I will go right out and get it when it is finished.
    Regards,
    Katrina

  18. anudivya Says:

    What a neat intro, loved reading it! As I said, I love healthy food blogs, and am glad to have bumped into yours.


  19. This is an amazing place to gain great information and amazing recipe’s. Thank you so much for creating such a valuable blog. I am new to the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle and I look forward to experiencing the joy that you have brought to others. Be Blessed!

    Oh, may I also link to your blog from mine? Thanks!

  20. Sunshinemom Says:

    This is my first time on your about page. One of the most amazing bit of writing I came across. Eloquent but not haughty, beautifully written and very very absorbing!!

  21. Antonella Says:

    hi…

    i’ve really enjoyed your blog…i share the same passions as you do…nutrition and dogs…my boyfriend and i have a 5 month old crazzzzzzy hungarian vizsla…my little jackson!

    i am new to the vegetarian/vegan world…it’s the best lifestyle change i have ever made…and it is one of the greatest challenges…

    i’m hoping that since you’ve been a vegan for a while in toronto you can sort of help me and let me know about products/food that are out there that you love and enjoy…i am also from north of toronto…i work in downtown toronto…i am so open to learning and being successful at being a vegan…

    have a wonderful weekend…
    =)

    anyway thanks for sharing your blog!


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