How to get even more plant powered!

Post written by:  Teresa Ford, VegFest London Committee Member

Why increase our fruit and vegetable intake?

Authors of an article published in the February 2017 edition of the International Journal of Epidemiology sought to establish the amounts and types of fruits and vegetables that are most strongly associated with a reduced risk of disease and death.  In this meta-analysis of 95 studies, reductions in risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality were observed up to an intake of 800 grams/day of fruit and vegetables combined, whereas for total cancer no further reductions in risk were observed above 600 grams/day.  Positive associations were observed between intake of apples/pears, citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables/salads and cruciferous vegetables and cardiovascular disease and mortality, and between green-yellow vegetables and cruciferous vegetables and total cancer risk.  Examples of cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower and kale. The authors concluded that an estimated 5.6 and 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide in 2013 may be attributable to a fruit and vegetable intake below 500 and 800 grams/day, respectively, if the observed associations are causal. 

Top 10 Tips & Tricks for Increasing our Fruit and Veggie Intake

So how do we get our daily fruit and veggie intake closer to that 600-800 gram range?  Or knock it out of the park?  Here are the approximate number of grams in a few items to give you an idea:
1 orange = 130           1 apple = 140
1 banana = 120          1 cup carrots = 130    
1 cup raw kale = 70    1 cup broccoli = 180 are my top 10 tips for maximizing intake:

1.  Eat the ones you like - there are plenty to choose from

2.  Plan ahead so you'll always have your favourites on hand

3.  Include fresh, frozen and dried options for variety and versatility

4.  Prep fresh produce for the week ahead

5.  Find ways to maximize your enjoyment (e.g. hummus makes a great veggie dip)

6.  Have a daily smoothie (pineapple, banana and spinach with some water or non-dairy milk is delicious)

7.  Incorporate fruit into your breakfast routine

8.  Use veggies to supersize dishes like pasta, rice, wraps, burgers, salads and pizzas

9.  Find a veggie soup or stir fry recipe you love and include it in your weekly line-up (it's a great way to clean out the fridge)

10.  Incorporate produce into your baking (like zucchini bread and banana muffins)

Mexican Chopped Salad with Maple-Lime Dressing

Here's one easy and delicious way to load up on veggies!  And the black beans make it filling.  I've enjoyed it many times over for lunch and dinner.  I love the cilantro, but if you are not a fan, simply omit. 

Serves: 4 large salads

Ingredients for salad

  • 2-1/2 cups (or more) of chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and well drained
  • 1 cup tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 cup corn (I use frozen when not in season)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

Ingredients for the maple-lime dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup oil (I prefer sunflower)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (you can substitute honey)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp chopped jalapeno pepper (seeded for less heat)


Toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix dressing ingredients.  Pour dressing over mixture and toss again.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Teresa Ford, B.Sc., VLCE is a London-based clinical researcher with a Nutritional Science degree.  She's a certified vegan lifestyle coach and educator (Main Street Vegan Academy) who has been thriving on a vegan diet for over five years.  She's excited about launching her services related to plant-based eating in the fall.  

Wait, what? All wines aren't vegan?

Post written by: Mike Fish, VegFest London Committee Member

Now, this might come as a surprise to you, I know it did to me. Did you know that not all wine is vegan? For something so simple (we’re talking 1 ingredient: grape juice), many people are shocked to learn that there might be animal by-products floating in their wine. Sadly it’s true.

Wait, what do you mean vegan friendly wines? For centuries, winemakers have been using animal based products during the production process. From Ox blood, to egg whites, these products are most commonly used to ‘fine’ a wine. That is, to remove protein solids suspended in a wine after fermentation.  This process is also used to clarify soups, turning them into a consommé.  The idea, is that the proteins in something like egg whites attract the organic sediment suspended in the wine and together they sink to the bottom of the tank or barrel. The winemaker can then rack (syphon) the wine off the sediment, leaving it behind in the tank, resulting in a clearer wine.  These methods aren’t unique to the wine world. Beers, spirits and some juices/soft drinks are often fined using similar techniques.  Many products used to fine beverages have harmless enough sounding names like isinglass (fish bladder) and casein (protein from cow’s milk) trace amounts (we’re talking parts per million) can find their way into a bottle of wine and cause problems for people with allergies, not to mention go against a vegan life philosophy.  

Now, all this being said, there seems to be a trend in the wine world to use more natural methods during production. There is, in fact, a ‘natural wine movement’, but that’s a topic for another week.  Bentonite clay & ceramic filters are more commonly being utilized as an alternative to animal products and do a great job ridding a wine of unwanted organic particles. At Glassroots, we have close to 15 wines available, all of them are high quality & vegan friendly. It’s a good time to be a vegan wine drinker.

So, how does one know if a wine is vegan-friendly? Unfortunately, wineries are not required to list any ingredients or fining agents used in their wines which makes it tricky. Much of the Canadian wine industry is without regulation and creates a bit of a ‘wine wild west’ situation. The only resource out there is which has an extensive list of vegan friendly wines, spirits & beers. So, now that you know what to look for and how to look for it, I urge you to seek out more ‘natural wines’. In my opinion they’re better wines anyway.

I encourage you to write to your favourite wineries and ask them if their wines are vegan friendly. If not, let them know that you would be interested in purchasing their product if they were and that clear labeling would compel more purchases. For local Canadian wines, look for producers like Karlo Estates, Creekside, Fielding and Henry of Pelham to name a few.

Mike Fish is a certified Canadian Wine Scholar and holds a Level 3 award through the Wine and Spirit Education Trust and has recently entered the Court of Master Sommeliers. Mike was recently named VQA Promoter of the year by Brock University, he’s a freelance sommelier, the former vice-president of the Ontario Wine Society London Chapter and co-owner of Glassroots, a new downtown restaurant offering an extensive All-Canadian wine list. 


Passes are limited, purchase yours today!  You won't want to miss this inaugural London event.  

And here's a delicious and refreshing drink recipe, compliments of Mike, for these hot and hazy summer days...Rasp-Basil Booch Lemonade.


Rasp-Basil Booch Lemonade

Muddle fresh basil & lemon zest

1 oz Vodka

1/2 oz Elderflower Liqueur

1oz Fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 oz simple syrup or preferred sweetener

3 oz Raspberry/Lemon Booch Organic Kombucha

Garnish with Lemon Twist & Fresh Basil Leaf

In a mixing glass, gently muddle the fresh basil and lemon zest. Add the vodka, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice and simple syrup and shake with ice. Strain the mixture into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with Raspberry Lemon Booch and garnish with a lemon twist and fresh basil. Enjoy!

Learning to Cook Vegan in the Forest City

I can’t cook....or should I say, I don’t cook.

Before joining the VegFest London committee, I was unfamiliar with the vegan options available in the city. As a new vegan, it was even more challenging to put meals on the table. I blamed London – if this city had vegan cooking classes available, all my problems would be solved! So when I noticed a Facebook post on the VegFest London page announcing that there would be vegan cooking classes offered by the City of London through the Spectrum Recreation Program – I had no choice but to register!

I attended three different courses – The Vegan Pantry, Vegan Cooking 101 and Vegan Italian Cooking—all taught by the talented (and patient) instructor, Heather Pinsky. Heather is the owner of the Naturally Vegan Company, located at 630 Dundas Street in London, which offers vegan products, catering services, cooking classes and more. Heather even serves a delicious vegan lunch on Fridays from 11:30 am to 1 pm.

The Vegan Pantry class was an informative two hour session where Heather outlined all the essential foods, spices and tools needed for a well-stocked vegan pantry. Along with all the obvious baking and cooking basics needed in any pantry, the vegan pantry requires some unique items, like tofu, vital wheat gluten, and nutritional yeast. There’s a bit of a learning curve for those new to veganism, and information like this really helps!

The four weeks of Vegan Cooking 101 were packed with recipes and fun. Each night vegans and non-vegans worked together to create some tasty and sometimes challenging recipes, which were enjoyed by all at the end of the class. From Tofu Triangles to Buffalo Cauliflower, Lasagna Rolls to Breakfast Burritos, we covered it all. And don’t forget dessert—chocolate cupcakes, apple crisp, almond pound cake, just to name a delicious few!

These classes are great fun and you go home with all the recipes. If you’re looking to gain confidence in the kitchen and great new vegan recipes to add to your repertoire, consider registering for the spring course, starting April 13. Just go to or call 519.661.5575 to speak to a Customer Service Representative. Or check out for more information about Heather’s classes.

Written by Susan Campbell, VegFest Committee Member

A Cupcake for Every Occasion

If you attended this year's VegFest London, chances are when you walked in, your eye was drawn to the tables full of colourful vegan cupcakes or maybe you were one of the first 500 people who received a swag bag, with a sugar cookie inside. Either way, it's safe to say you met our friends at The Boombox Bakeshop and enjoyed at least one of their sweet treats.

The Boombox Bakeshop is the brain child of Alexandra Connon. With a love for baking, passion for music, and the support of family and friends The Boombox Bakeshop was born. Boombox is a veg-friendly bakery and cafe specializing in vegan goods and gluten free vegan goods- ranging from their signature cupcakes, pop overs and mini pies to other delightful seasonal surprises. Learn more about the boombox bakeshop and read our interview with owner, Alex, here.

Holiday Menu

With the holidays quickly approaching you may be looking to save yourself some time, but still wanting to wow your guests. Lucky for you Boombox offers cupcakes, specialty cakes and many more sweet treats for all occasions and they just happen to have a special menu available for the holidays. Today is the last day to order for pick up for December 23.

Some of their many holiday treats they've been baking

Custom Cakes & mORE

The Boombox Bakeshop offers custom cakes, cookie sandwiches and sugar cookies, whether you're planning a birthday party, wedding or just really like cake and cookies, they've got you covered. With cake flavours like mint condition (a VegFest London favourite), I want candy, cookies n' cream and salted caramel to name a few, you can't go wrong. Check out their blog for a sampling of the awesome creations they've made.

Connect with the boombox:
Instagram - @theboomboxbakeshop
Twitter - @boomboxbakeshop
Website -

If you haven’t been to the boombox bakeshop, add it to your list of places to visit in London. Their funky and colourful shop is a sweet place to hang out and they serve up a selection of hot and cold drinks from local companies like Patrick Beans and Booch Organic Kombucha.

What’s your favourite cupcake flavour? Share in the comments below. 


Cheery Cherry Harvest Vinaigrette

A cheerful alternative to raspberry vinaigrette using cherries! 

Recipe designed by: Sandra Venneri, BSc, PHEc of Nutrition Bites Consulting


  • 2 cups of pitted cherries (sweet or tart/sour)
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tbsp of maple syrup or ice wine (preferably red!)
  • 1/4 tsp of salt (optional, to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp of ground pepper (optional, to taste)

Variations (Use one or a combination of them) – Add another layer of flavour!

  • Herb: 1 tsp of fresh chopped parsley or cilantro/coriander
  • Ginger: 1 tsp of ginger root, peeled and chopped finely
  • Citrus: Add 1 tsp of orange, lemon or lime juice


1. Chop by hand or use a food processor/blender to blend cherries to a pulp.  Set aside.
2. Place the rest of ingredients in order as they appear into a salad dressing cruet or container.(A funnel helps.)
3. Add blended cherries into cruet.
4. Shake and serve.  Refrigerate any extra dressing for up to 7 days.

Servings Per Recipe: 1 cup of dressing or 16 servings of 1 tbsp (15mL) each. 



This recipe is featured in the newly launched Growing Up Healthy Organic Seed to Fork Kits. The kit that puts the connection between food, cooking and healthy eating for all ages and stages. Seed kits are very affordable and available online at

More healthy & vegan recipes can be found at Nutrition Bites Consulting website at Nutrition Bites is a local business that provides nutrition education to children, adults & businesses through personalized coaching, cooking lessons, mindful eating workshops, special events & speaking engagements. All questions and inquiries are welcome through the website or by emailing the owner, Sandra Venneri, at

Nutrition Bites Consulting: Helping you get healthier in little bites . . .

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