Monthly Archives: June 2016

Vanilla Chia Pudding Parfaits

June 27, 2016 // - - - - - - - -

One of my close pals is Jennifer McNaughton, otherwise known as the fashion blogger behind Ethics of Style. Jenn interviewed me earlier this year for the Ryersonian, and we discussed how the Human Rights Commission of Ontario has legally recognized veganism as an ideology with protection against discrimination. I headed over to Jenn’s apartment soon after that, equipped with groceries and a hearty appetite, to whip up these treats for Jenn to photograph to accompany the article.

Seriously though, these parfaits are perfect! This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan and refined sugar-free. Knock yourself out.

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INGREDIENTS:

-3 cups unsweetened almond milk

-1/2 cup fresh strawberries,chopped

-1/4 cup fresh whole blueberries

-1/4 cup 100% maple syrup

-9 tbsp (0.56 cups) white chia seeds

-2 tbsp pure vanilla extract

-2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes

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DIRECTIONS:

1) Whisk together almond milk, maple syrup and vanilla in large bowl or plastic food container.

2) Add chia seeds by the tbsp, stirring vigorously with spoon to prevent unwanted clumping.

3) Cover bowl with cling wrap and leave in fridge overnight.

4) Next morning, stir chia pudding then place back in fridge for 1-2 additional hours to help it further thicken.

5) When ready to serve, scoop chia pudding into mason jars by the tbsp. Layer with fresh fruit and coconut flakes, or simply add after as toppings.

Serve chilled. Makes 2 meal servings or 4 snack servings. Enjoy!

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Note: This post was originally published on Vegan Girlfriend earlier this year, viewable here.

All photos by Jennifer McNaughton

GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO CREATE

June 23, 2016 // - - - - - - - - -

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I didn’t know it at the time, but I learned to use art an as emotional release when I was a teenager. It took me a while to realize this because I was drawing long before anything “bad” happened to me. I went through a macabre-style phase following my sexual assault in high school, drawing cartoon-like pools of blood around pretty faces like a halo. I hacked together a mixed-media collage piece based around the term “fuckpuppet” the first time I was ghosted after intimacy. I literally threw paint at a canvas when I was cheated on. Creating artwork can channel anger, helping to digest and heal real life trauma. I am okay today for this reason.

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I’ve simplified my style as I’ve matured. My work used to be cluttered with over-the-top details, fine lines, patterns and absolutely zero negative space, which accurately reflected my jumbled mind. I’d completely absorb myself into each piece. I’d draw for hours without stopping, pushing through hand cramps and lower back pain, to prevent myself from thinking about anything “real”. That disconnect was exactly what I needed at the time.

I also used to work solely in black ink, and now I purposely try to incorporate colour as much as possible to reflect my change in mental health. Instead of choosing sombre tones and shadows to express turmoil, I now use colourful and cute typography to open up about my most vulnerable feelings and intimate thoughts. I’ve switched to clean lines for a clean mind, but the overarching sentiment stays the same.

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Nowadays most of the illustrations I create are for commercial purposes — and business is really good lately, so I’m in no position to complain. It just means that I have to find time to create personal pieces in order to not lose sight of why I started drawing in the first place.

I now create illustrations with my audience in mind as the priority. I view sharing my therapeutic illustrations online as a sort of visual advice column, if that makes sense. It’s why I created an illustration for Tumblr’s mental health campaign last year. Just because I have a negative thought, doesn’t mean it has to stay negative. I can channel negativity into creativity.

At the end of the day, reading a comment such as “Thank you, I had no idea how much I needed this today” or “I set this as the wallpaper on my phone as a daily reminder for self-care” makes everything worth it. It’s the best kind of therapy I’ve ever had, and if others can benefit from it as well?

Win/win.

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You can view the rest of my illustration portfolio over at cargocollective.com/meganstulberg.

Tweak your Tea: Pure Leaf Cocktail Hacks

June 13, 2016 // - - - - - - - - - -

Note: I originally posted this on Vegan Girlfriend. Click here to view it over there.

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It’s that time of the year where all I want to do is chug lemonade while window shopping or sip hard cider on a patio. Those drinks have zero nutritional value though, so why not swap for tea? Tea does a body good: it’s packed with antioxidants and is even anti-inflammatory. When Pure Leaf offered to send me their new unsweetened flavours (0 sugar, 0 calories, 0 artificial sweeteners), I got a big dumb smile on my face because I’m a sucker for anything iced in summer. It’s brewed from real tea leaves, too.

Here are a couple of iced tea-based cocktails I whipped up. These are perfect to enjoy on your own, with a couple of girlfriends, or served to a smokin’ hot date! You can also omit the alcoholic ingredients to turn ’em into mocktails, and enjoy with breakfast or even as a rehydrating post-workout treat.

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SPIKED BLUEBERRY PEAR COCKTAIL 

Ingredients…

-1 cup Pure Leaf unsweetened green tea

-1/4 cup Absolut vodka (warning: add less if you don’t want it strong, taste as you go)

-2 tbsp agave

-Handful fresh blueberries

-1/2 small pear, sliced into bite-size chunks

-Pinch ginger

-Ice cubes

Directions…

1) Combine Pure Leaf unsweetened green tea, vodka, agave and ginger. Stir vigorously.

2) Add fruit and ice. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 cocktail.

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LEMON LIME GINGERITA 

(My take on a margarita)

Ingredients…

-1 cup Pure Leaf unsweetened lemon tea

-1/4 cup Don Julio Blanco tequila (same warning as above)

-2 thin lemon slices

-2 thin lime slices

-2 tbsp agave

-Additional lime for garnish

-Ice cubes

Directions…

1) Combine Pure Leaf unsweetened lemon tea, tequila and agave.

2) Add fruit and ice. Slice halfway through a lime slice and place on side of glass accordingly for garnish.

Makes 1 cocktail.

Pure Leaf unsweetened tea acts as an awesome cocktail alternative to juice if you’re looking to lighten up this summer without sacrificing flavour. For more recipe ideas and details about their products, follow Pure Leaf on Instagram at @PureLeafCanada.

*Disclaimer*: This is a sponsored post for Pure Leaf, but all views are my own. For inquiries about sponsored posts, please email vegangirlfriend@gmail.com and/or megstulberg@gmail.com.  

#pureleafcanada #tweakyourtea

A ROADTRIP TO CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

June 9, 2016 // - - - - - - - - - -

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I’ve grown quite accustomed to divvying my time between Toronto and Los Angeles. My partner resides there and, as long distance relationships often go, you both split your life in two to create parallel lives together. Both places feel like home to me in very different ways. In Toronto, I’m the workaholic that I’ve spent years building myself up to be. In Los Angeles, my desires are to eat, explore and see as many new things as possible. The idea of being able to hop into a car and drive across the state, getting glimpses at vastly different cultures in each small town you stop in, is something I’d never experienced before I travelled there.

So that’s exactly what we did. During my most recent week-long visit, we made a relatively impromptu decision to pack up and take off with Zach’s rescue pup Pixel for a weekend trip along the coast. We spent the drive listening to basketball podcasts, eating salty snacks and stopping every so often to watch the waves.

Scroll down for a list of my favourite spots that I discovered in Los Angeles and central California this time around. 

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-Dinosaur Coffee in Silver Lake. Really good Americanos, charming baristas and their drink menu casually boasts “Butts Butts Butts!” without any explanation, the latter of which which sealed the deal for me. The back wall features a floor-to-ceiling art installation mixing gathered hanging fabrics and neon pink typography. 

-Santa Barbara County Courthouse. We stopped in Santa Barbara for lunch and afterwards plopped ourselves on a large patch of grass outside of the County Courthouse, an eye-catching building with Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture. We lounged there on a sunny Saturday afternoon, so multiple wedding parties were trying to take group photos at the same time. Plump infants in frilly dresses kept waddling over to play with Pixel, soon chased by whichever uncle was supposed to be watching them. Bonus points for the all-pink-everything floral boutique I spotted across the street.

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My Airbnb in San Luis Obispo. San Luis Obispo is a small town that was nicknamed “the Happiest City in America” by Oprah and lives up to its well-deserved reputation. We stayed in an AirBNB that “quirky” doesn’t even begin to describe. Every corner of this open-concept loft (ceilings and floors included) held something unusual, whether it be the fridge covered in a collage of celebrity faces, the Barbie dolls sitting on the bathroom shelves, or the dozens of licence plates decorating the walkway up to the house itself. Despite its eccentricities, it instantly felt like home to me and I slept much better than I usually do. I felt strangely sentimental leaving the next morning, and gave our host Pete a tight goodbye hug. 

Venice Beach Boardwalk. Self explanatory.

SunCafe in Culver City. Best vegan spot I’ve hit up in Los Angeles so far, with the exception of Shojin Sushi and probably Hugo’s Tacos too (those churros, though). We went for lunch here after hiking up behind the Hollywood sign, so we were covered in dirt but served with kindness nonetheless. I can honestly say that they have the best green smoothie I’ve ever, ever had, and that any I’ve had since has been disappointing. 

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Bishop Peak in San Luis Obispo. We hiked up a volcanic plug and took in a beautiful view of the town. I kept pausing along the way to remind myself of where I was and to appreciate every moment. I climbed a big boulder at the very top of the peak and carefully posed for a rap squat photo on top of it. Photo intentionally not included in this post.

Upstairs Bar at the ACE Hotel in downtown LA. When we got to the bar around sunset, the first thing I saw was a girl in a bikini, splashing around the pool by herself and having the time of her life. That’s a sentence that would be pretty much non-existent back in Toronto. LA is weird, you guys, but wonderful in its own way. 

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Anything you’d add to my list? Tell me in the comment section below! And for more photos from my trip, follow me on Instagram here.

ILLUSTRATIONS & INDIE88: FIELD TRIP ’16 RECAP

June 6, 2016 // - - - - - - - - - -

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Earlier this spring, a colleague tagged me in a Bunz Trading Zone post looking for an illustrator to work on a project with Indie88, an indie-rock radio station based here in TO. I sent an email and the rest followed suit.

Flash forward to last week, when She Does The City asked me to do some media coverage with mega-talented photographer Yuli Scheidt at Field Trip Music & Arts Festival. I found out the next day that Indie88 would be handing out one of my Toronto-themed illustrations as postcards at Field Trip! I was jazzed about this coincidence, and to have the chance to snag a few postcards at their first “public appearance”.

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If you’re reading this and are like “lolwut”, let me explain. Field Trip Music and Arts Festival is held annually at Fort York, a historic site on the outskirts of downtown Toronto. Essentially it’s two days straight of eating, drinking, hula hooping, giggling at pretty girls in flower crowns, watching bands perform and admiring the other artistic installations and activities that the festival has to offer. You can find more details on Field Trip’s website here.

I was exhausted by the end of the first day, but in a good way. I did all of the things! I ate vegan mushroom poutine from The Portobello Burger food truck, a personal favourite I discovered last fall at RiotFest. I also drank copious amounts of freshly-squeezed lemonade, took advantage of Wild Altar‘s plant-based installation wall for a photo op, and witnessed Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew sing a questionable-but-sweet song about butts on the kid’s stage.

indie88westendfixedsizingcolouryuli-scheidt-SDTC-FT2016-JULYTALKThe highlight of the festival for me was finally seeing The National perform. They’re one of the few bands that have the ability to create music that physically hurts my heart to listen to. The same thing happened when I saw Daughter at the Phoenix back in 2012: my chest grew tight and my eyes welled up as my mind flashed to various noteworthy experiences I’d had while listening to their music. While listening to Matt Berninger croon “I Need My Girl”, I thought about when I watched their Saturday Night Live performance at a stranger’s house in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. During “I Should Live In Salt”, I thought about my 4th year morning routine of listening to their 6th studio album while walking to campus and chain-smoking. During “Sea of Love”, I thought about the summer when I started biking to the beach on weekend mornings, plugging in and watching the sunrise.

The first memory recalled above, I was with my partner of the time but was unhappy. The second, I was alone and unhappy. The third, I was alone and happy. Binge-listening to The National during my early twenties helped me appreciate independency and mental clarity, and for that I will always appreciate them. Experiencing that realization all over again was not something I expected from attending Field Trip, but was definitely a welcome reminder.

If you didn’t attend Field Trip but want to cope one of my illustrated postcards, keep an eye out! Indie88 will be handing these out at events all summer long.

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All photos (except for the subpar one I took of the postcards) were taken by Yuli Scheidt