Saturday, December 3, 2016

Picky kids & spouses have met their match (Review + Giveaway)

One of the best parts of getting a new cookbook is flipping through it to bookmark the recipes you just can't wait to try out. And you know you've found a good book when you lose track of how many recipes end up bookmarked after that initial perusal. 

As it turns out, I went through half a million bookmarks when I received Kristy Turner's latest cookbook, But My Family Would Never Eat Vegan. #NoRegrets

Photo courtesy of the publisher, The Experiment

Turner is one of my absolute favourite cookbook authors, devising inventive recipes that are healthy but comforting. One of her particular strengths is her ability to create fantastic DIY component recipes for basics like sour cream or sausage crumbles, and then incorporate those basics into recipes that are mind-blowingly good. And what's better is that BMFWNEV has gluten-free variations available for every single recipe -- as well as some soy-free suggestions throughout  -- making this book super accessible to picky eaters.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Sanctuaries: the compassionate choice for animals

By Giselle Wedemire

I know I usually share news about vegan events, products, tips and tricks on this blog, but I figured I'd shake things up by discussing something I've been passionate about for most of my life: animal welfare. More specifically, let's talk about how uncool zoos are.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but despite the cute marketing and the utopian image presented by countless ad campaigns for local zoos, zoos aren't so great for the animals who live there. If you're looking for a fun way to learn about animals and are concerned about their welfare, you might want to rethink your usual day trip to the Calgary Zoo. With documentaries like Black Fish and Earthlings, we've learned that it is without a doubt inhumane to confine wild animals to unnaturally small spaces and to exploit their livelihoods.

And while zoos and aquariums provide the opportunity to teach the general public about the exotic animals they share this planet with, the basic vegan tenet of avoiding and boycotting the harm and exploitation of sentient beings should ring loud and clear when considering visiting the zoo.

How cute is this guy? If this face isn't enough to get you to boycott zoos and support animal sanctuaries, I dunno what will.
Creative Commons photo via Ontario SPCA

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Vegan winter teas are a 'cool' surprise

By Giselle Wedemire

The last time I wrote about DavidsTea's seasonal teas, I was peeved at the lack of vegan-friendly options available. I was at the point where I was considering boycotting the store because it seems like it's been such an extreme uphill battle for me to find readily available limited edition teas that don't contain bits of shellac or dairy in them. But (for now), that's changed.

On Nov. 2, DavidsTea unveiled their winter tea lineup and, to say the least, I was floored.

Screenshot via

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Menses munchies: Cinnamon buns are tasty, tasty lifesavers

By Giselle Wedemire

Update: It's recently come to my attention that due to a change in either the recipe or labelling of Safeway cinnamon buns, these are no longer vegan-friendly. This post has been updated to reflect the change in Safeway's cinnamon buns' vegan-friendliness, but has left the rest of the content untouched.

Welcome back to Menses Munchies, a feature just for us girls where I regularly spotlight sweet, calorific vegan treats that I've found help me chase away my menstrual camps and make me feel less like an ogre that's set on destroying the nearest village.

Some ideas are so great that they elicit extremely visceral reactions from others. I mean, I'm 99% sure that when people first heard about amazing ideas like sliced bread, or iPods, or sanitization, a lot of emotions were felt. I'm sure of this because that's exactly how I react whenever someone suggests I buy a cinnamon bun.

You see, I have a very hard-and-fast rule for myself: never make anything that requires yeast. Between the rolling, the kneading, the proving (and the second proving), I have zero patience for making yeasted baked goods because I value my time more than I value freshly baked bread. So when it comes to foods that require yeast and/or kneading, I am 100% on board with forking over cash for something pre-made.

While I like to think that I’m a pretty healthy person, during my own personal shark week I find that I need to have immense amounts of sugar and fat mainlined into my maw. And during such terrible times, I often turn to the most majestic accidentally vegan* convenience food ever: the Safeway cinnamon bun.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Number of new vegan fall teas leaf - I mean 'leave' - something to be desired

By Giselle Wedemire

From the heightened appreciation for a good squash soup to the open invitation to start dressing in layers and boots until I start to resemble Rhian from My So Called Life, fall is definitely my favourite time of year. And with fall comes an increased need for a hot cup of tea. 

Pretty much the perfect autumn view

One of my favourite things to do on an autumn weekend morning is waking up before Mr. Picky Bitch, going into my little reading nook, and cozying up with a book and a hot cup of tea.

This makes the release of the new fall-themed teas at DavidsTea a very exciting time of year for me. I mean, it's got autumn-inspired teas and cute mugs involved, so how can I not love it? Look at how cute the new fall mugs are; the vintage camper and fox mugs? Get out of town! They're so darn cute I cute pinch them (but that might not work, since they're made of ceramic).

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Vegan picnic coming to Shaw Millennium Park

By Giselle Wedemire

If you’ve ever sighed wistfully while reading/hearing about the awesome vegan festivals held in hip cities like Portland, LA, Vancouver, and Toronto, fret not. FOMO will soon be a thing of the past for us Calgarians with next year’s VegFest Calgary.

Event logo screenshot via Facebook

The event, which is still in the planning stages, is set to take place sometime in May or June next year, with details still being ironed out by the dedicated team of volunteers and organizers.

Since the date is still a bit in the future, a welcome picnic in the park will be held at Shaw Millennium Park on Saturday, August 13 at 11:30 a.m to celebrate and build anticipation for this landmark event.  The picnic itself is free, and attendees are asked to register online, and to bring along their own picnic essentials (like a blanket and an optional vegan picnic food item).

While there, attendees will be able to dig in to some tasty food samples from Vegan Eats YYC, while learning about the ways in which they can help out and volunteer their time to make next year's festival a success.

For more information, check out the VegFest Calgary Facebook page and the Welcome Picnic's EventBrite page.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Southern Comforts: Perfumes for vegans who don't want to smell like hippies

By Giselle Wedemire

As you may know, I've got a huge soft spot for perfume, and am constantly looking for fantastic vegan, cruelty-free perfumes to replace my chemical-soup favourites from my pre-green beauty days. I'm still working my way through my old, not-so-vegan favourites (because it'd be wasteful to just throw them away), but for the most part, I've been using this as an opportunity to broaden my horizons and scope out some solid vegan- and eco-friendly options.

Included in my collection right now are some tried and true favourites from Pacifica and Tulip, but I recently fell down the rabbit hole that is Etsy's vegan perfume marketplace. I found Southern Comforts' quirky shop by complete accident one day, and within a day, I was following them on Instagram. Within a week, I had taken the plunge and ordered their 5 Pretty Perfume Samples deal, which allows you to hand-pick any five 2 ml samples you'd like to test out. (I also tacked on two more sample vials because I am terrible at making decisions, and couldn't limit my sampling to just five scents.)

Since I'm a slut for spicy, complex perfumes that have a light touch of creaminess in their dry-down, I often gravitate towards incense- or amber-filled concoctions that have tinges of vanilla in the background, and it seemed like Southern Comforts had quite a few fragrances that ticked all of my perfume criteria boxes. So, after an excruciating amount of time spent narrowing down the scents I wanted to test-drive, I placed my order and waited with bated breath.

Within two weeks, my order had arrived on my doorstep, and with mounting excitement, I poured the package's contents out onto the kitchen table and stood in awe when I really should have been making dinner. But who can focus on cooking when they've got such a cute (and exciting!) package in their hands?

Not me!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Top five best vegan cookbooks for newbies

By Giselle Wedemire

Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle can seem daunting at first, especially if you take the leap of faith and immediately hoof it to the nearest bookstore in search of a vegan cookbook. With so many options blurring your vision – often brimming with recipes calling for mystery ingredients like TVP, nutritional yeast, and seitan – it’s easy to get discouraged.

Though there are many great cookbooks on the market – the numbers of which increase exponentially with every passing month – there are quite a few duds in the mix. To save you from heartache and a time-consuming trip to your local bookseller, here are my recommendations for the best user-friendly cookbooks ideal for the novice vegan (as well as some of the stand-out recipes you can find in each book).

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A DIY solution to the cancelled CNF Stampede breakfast

By Giselle Wedemire

I love this city, but I have a hard time getting jazzed about Stampede. I mean, I’ve had some great fun at some of their concerts on the Coca Cola Stage (including seeing Rooney, The Dudes, k-os, and a chance sighting of Drake at the 2006 Nelly Furtado show), but other than that, Stampede really doesn’t matter to me.

But Stampede breakfasts? Now, that’s something I can get behind. Since going vegan five years ago, my favourite part of Stampede has been hitting up Community Natural Foods’ annual Stampede breakfast. Sure, I had to get up at the crack of dawn and be a complete zombie for the rest of the day, but there were free pancakes involved, so it was worth it!

This year, however, CNF has decided against putting on its annual breakfast. While this is definitely sad news, you can’t really blame ‘em, thanks to this not-so-hot economy of ours.

Screen shot via Community Natural Foods' Facebook

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summery iced teas to help you keep your cool

By Giselle Wedemire

Summer is here which, for some, means it's time for SPF, vacations, and sandy beaches. Or, if you're like me, you soak up the summer heat by donning your favourite/only oversized floppy sun hat, fixing yourself a cold drink,  and parking yourself on your porch for a bit of outdoor reading.

While some may reach for iced tea on hot days, I'm really more of an iced coffee kind of girl. (I like to mix my iced coffees with a splash of soy milk, a squeeze of agave nectar, and a handful of ice cubes, and then BAM, I've got myself a kickass porch-reading, sun-tanning drink!)

Shout-out to Brian K. Vaughan for the amazing-ness that is volume 1 of Paper Girls.
Not only is it super badass, it's also perfect for outdoor summer reading,
as pictured above with my amazing ice coffee and my hella cute pedicure.

But if you're of the iced tea persuasion, there a few new vegan options at DavidsTea you might want to scope out. At the time of writing, DavidsTea has two summery tea collections on offer: their Summer Collection and the Boardwalk Collection

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Menses munchies: Faux Starbucks ginger molasses cookies

By Giselle Wedemire
Welcome back to Menses Munchies, a feature just for us girls where I regularly spotlight sweet, calorific vegan treats that I've found help me chase away my menstrual camps and make me feel less like an ogre that's set on destroying the nearest village.

For me, PMS is a sneaky bugger that creeps up on me gradually like a tip-toeing Scooby Doo villain until it's finally on my heels. Before I know it - BAM - I'm sobbing into a bowl of ice cream while watching Sister Act 2. It's not even a sad movie, and yet this has definitely happened to me in the days leading up to my very own shark week.

During these times, sweet and terrible-for-me treats are a godsend, and for a while, my favourite vegan treat for PMS times was the ginger molasses cookie at Starbucks. When I first went vegan years ago, I had looked high and low on Starbucks' website, scoured the internet, and chatted with baristas before I eventually came to the conclusion that those chewy and bakery-soft morsels of heaven were indeed cruelty-free, especially since my super sensitive tummy never flipped a switch whenever I indulged.

Then, last year the coffee chain revamped its line of bakery treats by advertising that they had switched over their recipes to include 100% real butter in every product. Boo-urns, no more cookies for this vegan hormone factory.

Believe it or not, these are not actually Starbucks ginger molasses cookies.
Even better, these are homemade!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tips to make your trip to the Calgary Vegan Bake Sale a sweet success

By Giselle Wedemire

Bring on the sugar rushes and the food comas, because the Calgary Vegan Bake Sale is back for its seventh year this weekend. I couldn’t be more overjoyed because a) I love baking, and b) I love helping animals. And, being a regular volunteer baker for this bake sale, I get to combine both of these passions to create a truly satisfying weekend. It's a real win-win!*

If you’re new to the Calgary Vegan Bake Sale, here’s the scoop: every year, around May or June, the hardworking bake sale team sets up shop in the parking lot of the Community Natural Foods Chinook Market (202 61 Ave S.W.) to sell homemade vegan goodies of all shapes and sizes to benefit two great local animal charities. This year, we’ll be selling a variety of goodies and raffle tickets from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., or until we completely sell out, and all proceeds will benefit Alberta Spay & Neuter Task Force and The Alice Sanctuary.

Whether this is your first vegan bake sale or your twentieth, here are some pointers on how to make the most of your bake sale experience:

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Menses munchies: Mug brownies make everything better

By Giselle Wedemire

Welcome back to Menses Munchies, a feature just for us girls where I regularly spotlight sweet, calorific vegan treats that I've found help me chase away my menstrual camps and make me feel less like an ogre that's set on destroying the nearest village.

Real talk: periods are like Dementors, especially on the first day. Each time they roll around, they leave you feeling tired, listless, joyless, and completely miserable. Basically, for me, that time of the month is like having my own personal Dementor visit and suck the will to live right out of my body.

Only a slight exaggeration of how awful the first day feels.
Also, chocolate helps you feel better while cramping and after a Dementor attack; coincidence?!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Winners is the best for us Picky Bitchez, and here's why

By Giselle Wedemire

I have a long and storied obsession with Winners (and Marhsalls, and TJ Maxx, if I’m in the US). If I’m having a rough day, or if I’ve got a bit of walking money burning a hole in my pockets, I almost always seek out the fluorescent lit aisles of my neighbourhood Winners in hopes of scoring a deal. Even if I don’t buy anything on a given trip, there’s just something about those stores and the requisite digging and scavenging for a deal that calms me.

This obsession predates my veganism by a number of years, but my commitment to a meat- and cruelty-free life has only bolstered my love for Winners stores everywhere. And for good reason, too: with their well-stocked, vegan-friendly options in their beauty, food, clothing, and accessories sections, stores like Winners et. al. are veritable vegan havens, if you know how to shop with a keen eye.

Photo via Wikipedia

Here are some things to keep an eye out for during your next trip to Winners:

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Menses Munchies: Jazzed up Daiya cheezecakes

By Giselle Wedemire

Welcome to a new feature just for us girls that I'd like to call Menses Munchies. In this feature, I plan on providing a monthly spotlight on sweet, calorific vegan treats that can help to chase away menstrual camps and make you feel less like an ogre that's set on destroying the nearest village.

For my inaugural Menses Munchies mention, I'd like to give a shoutout to Daiya's new(ish) vegan cheescakes, which, as I found out the other day, are perfect for lady time. You see, as I was just beginning to surf the crimson wave the other day, I found myself daydreaming about Daiya cheesecakes. I'm a bad vegan because up until this point -- almost a year since the company released their famed gluten-free and vegan cheesecakes to the public -- I had never taken the plunge and tried one. I blame the $9 price tag and my near-constant habit of being fiscally responsible. 

But the siren song of cheescake got louder while my increasingly painful cramps sucked my will to live, and I set off on a quest to find this mythical treat. I walked in a pained daze to my local health food store (Amaranth) to no avail. Grumpy, I then stomped to my neighbourhood Safeway, and was met with even more frustration. 

The elusive Daiya New York Cheezecake.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

New teas might add a bit of a 'spring' to your step

By Giselle Wedemire

Spring has sprung today, my fellow picky bitches! Congrats; we made it out of winter alive, which means we can (hopefully) start putting our winter clothes in storage, bust out some lighter threads, and dig into less carby, more rejuvenating fare.

To help make the transition from winter's heavier palate to spring's lighter menu are DavidsTea's springtime tea collection. Of the five teas being promoted for this time of year, three of them seem to be vegan (and, as usual, they are all gluten-free):

And, of course, it wouldn't be a proper springtime post without some mention of Easter. In addition to the standard seasonal teas above, the folks at DavidsTea have also resurrected (see what I did there? I made an Easter joke) three fan favourites for their special Easter tea collection

This limited edition collection brings back three previously discontinued dessert-themed teas that are perfect for those with a sweet tooth. However, if your sweet tooth is a bit more discerning as far as animal-derived bits go, you might want to stay away from this festive trio, since only one of the three teas seem to be vegan**:

Sadly, the other two Easter teas and the remaining two Spring teas contain milk in various forms. (Seriously, why? You can just add milk to the tea once it's done steeping, that way everyone can enjoy these teas! But I digress...)

Are you excited to try out any of these seasonal teas? What are you going to do to celebrate the first day of spring? Are you going to hole yourself up in your apartment and bake for a few hours like me, or are you going to head outside and actually enjoy the great outdoors? Let me know by commenting below, or by tweeting me at @PickyBitchez

* Even though their site says that the Pistachio Ice Cream tea contains "natural and artificial pistachio cream flavouring", a DavidsTea rep assured me via email that it does not have any dairy in the tea blend. Sounds a bit suspicious to me -- because what else could this pistachio cream flavouring be made from? -- but until I have further evidence, I have to trust the rep and report that it's dairy-free. Please let me know if you hear anything to the contrary.

** The ingredients for the Jolly Jellybean tea cut off about halfway through the word 'pineapple', but the rest of the ingredients are vegan; if you happen to hear of any further ingredients that were cut off that might deem this tea not vegan, please let me know!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Vegan wine and cheese pairings & a giveaway!

By Giselle Wedemire

I love wine, and I'm always up for trying out a new vegan cheese. But I never gave much thought to pairing the two because to me, wine pairing always seemed like one of those things that only rich, snooty WASPs do when planning their dinner menus after inviting similarly fancy friends with names like Carlton and Ivanna over for a dinner party. 

That's not how I roll.

A glass of malbec while curled up on the couch watching British game shows? Now that's more my speed. However, I like setting ridiculous, self-imposed challenges for myself, so I figured why not learn how to pair vegan cheeses with wine?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Warming Mexican hot chocolate bark

By Giselle Wedemire

I received a copy of The New Chicago Diner Cookbook this past Christmas and it is a joy to behold! There are so many recipes I want to make from it that my copy is practically stuffed to the brim with bookmarks.

One of the recipes that first caught my eye (other than the pasta carbonara, and the chocolate mousse cake, and the ginger coconut tofu bites, and the maple whipped cream and and and...) was the Mexican hot chocolate bark. I love spicy and sweet flavour combos and Mexican hot chocolate anything is my JAM, so I was stoked to get started on this recipe. 

I waited until it was the perfect night for concocting a chocolatey treat that's spiked with hits of heat, and finally it came. On an extremely chilly and wintry Tuesday night, Mr. Picky Bitch was out with friends and I was left to indulge in some creature comforts. Snuggled up in an oversized hoodie with a kitty on my lap and a few episodes of Black-ish to catch up on, I was all set. It was time to get cracking on some sweet and spicy chocolate bark to help punch winter in the face.

Picky Bitchez-style Mexican hot chocolate bark is fully equipped with the heat and spices
some feel are required to punch Old Man Winter in the face. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

YYC represented in VegNews magazine!

By Giselle Wedemire

Hey, friends! I have great news to share with you all: my writing was featured in the January/February 2016 issue of VegNews! This is a dream come true for me because VegNews is one of my favourite magazines, and I totally cried when I received an email from them saying that they loved my pitch and that they wanted me to write about how easy it is to be vegan in Calgary. 

This GIF is a pretty accurate depiction of what my reaction was like when I receive that email:

I'm not too proud to admit that I totally cried when I heard
that my pitch to write for VegNews was accepted.
GIF via

Anyway! If you're interested in learning about all of the great vegan hotspots in Calgary -- or you're just interested in supporting a fellow Picky Bitch -- please do me a favour and pick up the copy of VegNews that looks like this:

I've had good luck finding copies of VegNews in Calgary at various Superstore and
Chapters/Indigo stores, as well as Community Natural Foods.

Once you do get your hands on this gorgeous publication, please flip to pages 62 and 63 to find my article some of the amazing vegan fare available to us in Cowtown.

I am honoured and humbled to have been able to write for such a great publication that I admire and enjoy, and I sincerely hope you enjoy this issue half as much as I enjoyed writing for it.

Have you had a chance to read this month's issue of VegNews? What did you think? Where do you have the best luck finding VegNews in Calgary? Let me know by commenting below, or by tweeting me at @PickyBitchez.

Friday, January 8, 2016

New year, new you?

By Giselle Wedemire

A cup of tea can do a world of good when you're not feeling well. If you're cold, it can warm you from the inside. If you're tired, a caffeinated tea can really wake you up. And if you're feeling a bit under the weather, a herbal tea can soothe and nourish you.

Photo courtesy of Free Food Photos

And that's the idea behind the latest collection of teas from DavidsTea. Released on Jan. 7, the limited edition Feel-Good collection aims to improve overall wellness and, according to their newsletter, make it "easier" to stick to your New Year's resolutions.

However, as we've learned, not all brews from DavidsTea are vegan-friendly. Of the five brand new teas, four are vegan (and all are gluten-free). That's not a bad turnout, but the secret animal-based ingredient in the sole non-vegan tea is a bit of a head-scratcher. 

Here are the four new teas Picky Bitchez can sip on, worry-free:

Turns out that while us vegans can sip on the above teas without question, we won't be able to find relief after a hard night of partying. According to the teal tea purveyor's website, the new Hangover Helper brew contains "natural yoghurt", which, if you ask me, is the last thing I'd want in my tea when I'm wrapped in the cocoon of self-loathing that is a hangover. 

Luckily for Picky Bitchez who may have had a bit too much fun the night before, I've been around the block. For those days when you just want to draw the shades and laze about on the couch all day, I highly recommend cooking up some hash browns and toast, dabbing your temples and neck with Escents Aromatherapy's Head Aid rollerball, and getting into some hangover yoga.

What do you think of "yoghurt" making a cameo in tea? What are your fool-proof hangover cures? And what are your thoughts on turmeric teas? (I'm personally a fan.) Let me know by tweeting at @PickyBitchez