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.”]
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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 company. I 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!]