Hello friends,

Wayne and I recently returned from a wonderful trip to New Zealand and Australia, where we happily discovered plant based eating to be quite common.  It seems to me that last year was a tipping point for us in North America for this shift in focus toward plants and I am excited for what 2017 will bring.  Check out below the two fun new spots that opened in London in the last month alone!

I continue to be amazed at the sheer number of benefits linked to eating more plants: the spotlight is on diet and mental health this time.  I hope the research and other juicy bits of info inspire you to hop on this fast moving veggie train.

Does the way we eat impact our mental health?

I was surprised to read that those who ate the most tomato products had about half the odds of depression.  This is based on a study of a thousand older men and women. The researchers concluded that a tomato-rich diet may have a beneficial effect on the prevention of depressive symptoms.

Plant based diets, high in fruit and vegetable intake, may improve mood and decrease depression. Vegetarians, in cross-sectional and interventional studies, showed fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and mood disturbance than omnivores. This may be because plant-based diets supply lower levels of arachidonic acid and higher levels of antioxidants (lycopene in tomatoes is an antioxidant).

  • Arachidonic acid produces inflammatory compounds that may affect our brains
  • Arachidonic acid is found at particularly high levels in chicken and eggs
  • Higher levels of antioxidants in the blood from plant sources have been associated with a significantly lower risk of depression
  • The observed associations may be due not to antioxidants, but rather to other dietary factors, such as folate, which also occur in plant-rich diets (particularly in greens and beans)
  • Low dietary intake of folate may lead to as much as a threefold increase in risk for severe depression. Note this relates to dietary folate intake, not folic acid supplements.
  • Click here and here for more information, including references.

The Ground Up Cafe

The New Year welcomed plant based The Ground Up Cafe to London, Ontario!  Very exciting!  In addition to espresso drinks and pour over coffees, this inviting cafe offers baked goods, smoothies, wraps, and even ready-to-go snacks and lunches.  It’s located at 717 Richmond, south of Oxford.   I’ve met the charming co-owners and operators Jamie and Steve, whose compassion for all living things is at the root of everything they do at The Ground Up.  Congrats guys!

Join the Revolution

Globally Local Canada’s first all-vegan fast food restaurant also just opened in London, Ontario! Featuring it’s Big Mac-like burger (pictured), it’s mission is to veganize the fast food world. In addition to burgers, it offer items like pancakes, french toast, wraps, tacos and BLTs.  It’s located at 252 Dundas St.

Food as Prevention

Subhas Ganguli, MD, is a Canadian gastroenterologist who this month launched a website with the aim of connecting members of the public with information on a healthier diet to lower the risk of developing diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

He has a masters degree in health research methodology and tried to make the information on his site as evidence-based as possible.  He says fortunately, the peer-reviewed medical literature has a lot of information on the role of food in preventing disease.

I can attest to the fact that his website is packed with great information, resources and valuable links for those of us in pursuit of learning more.  Check it out here.

ROUXBE Cooking School

I cannot believe it has taken me this long to find out about ROUXBE!  It’s a web-based cooking school with an amazing plant based cooking program.  Check out their 2-minute intro video here.  This looks like a fabulous opportunity not only for those of you who already love to cook (I know who you are!) but also  those of you who’d like to learn.  I’m just deciding between the Home Cook or Professional program…hmmm….or maybe it’ll be the Essential Vegan Desserts course!  Care to join me?!

Copycat Starbucks Hearty Veggie & Brown Rice Salad Bowl

This one ups both our antioxidant and folate intake!  And tahini, with its sesame base, is a great source of calcium.  I use it often in dressings.  Pick up a jar at your local health food store or non-discount grocery store.  Make this salad on the weekend for weekday lunches.  It keeps well and is perfect for on the go.  This recipe is compliments of Kim’s Cravings.
Serves: 4 large salads
  • 6-9 cups kale and red cabbage or greens of choice
  • 1 cup brown or wild rice
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2-3 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 2 small beets
  • ½-1 cup fresh garden or frozen peas
For the Lemon Tahini Dressing:
  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 large lemon, juiced (about 3 tablespoons lemon juice)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons water


  1. Cook brown or wild rice according to package directions.
  2. Roast broccoli florets, cubed squash, and foil wrapped beets at 425 degrees F. [I took out the broccoli after 20 minutes, the squash after 30 minutes, and the beets after 40 minutes.]
  3. Meanwhile, prepare greens and whisk together dressing ingredients.
  4. Once the rice and veggies have cooked and cooled slightly, create your salads by dividing chopped greens into 4 bowls and top with veggies, rice and dressing.