[Veggie Challenge Stories]

“I took a cooking class that included: miso sesame crusted tempeh, broccoli quinoa pilaf, citrus salad, almond spinach patties, and roasted root veggies. My favourite dish was the carob-fig bars.”

 I started working with Marni Wasserman (Marni runs a vegetarian cooking studio in Toronto) two and a half weeks ago and since then I have been immersed in the wonderful world of a plant-based diets. … I decided to take on veg.ca‘s Veggie Challenge as my first experimental step to practicing a plant-based diet. I signed up last week and thought it was only a week long, until I received an email yesterday at the end of the first week giving me the option to extend the challenge by 3 more weeks. Since the first week wasn’t too challenging (yet!) I decided to take on the next 3 weeks as a full fledged vegetarian! I’m looking forward to the challenge and am lucky to have Marni by my side so that I can ask her questions that come up along the way.

Upon reading her eBook, “Weekday Meal Planning”, Marni and I went through the grocery list that I made of key ingredients to stock my cupboard with, that are healthy but also all around nutritious. I have always enjoyed eating healthy, nutritious food but see the Challenge as a stepping stone to build on my basic foundation and to know when to incorporate really nutritious foods in my diet that are strategically eaten. [For example, eating beets for iron or spinach or pumpkin seeds for magnesium.]


I’m almost completing week 3 of my Veggie Challenge. It’s going really well – I’ve only been tempted to have chocolate a few times but know that there are other delicious alternatives like the cocoa powerballs that my friend made! I’m really trying to be conscious of not just practicing a vegetarian diet but ensuring that I follow a nutritious diet consuming only whole and natural foods. It is going well so far (minus my cheat night on Saturday night – my friend brought me Ferrero Rochers – my favourite chocolates – for a house warming gift… how could I have resisted!).

I went to my first cooking class taught by Marni the other week. It was a great class and I learned about all of the plant-based foods that contain high sources of calcium. I don’t drink cow’s milk anymore (although occasionally I have Greek yogurt, goat’s cheese and ice cream) mostly because I don’t really like the taste or idea of cow’s milk. But after attending class with Marni, I am now aware that veggies certainly provide more than enough calcium for a balanced diet.

The leafy greens that everyone says are so good for you actually are, so listen to your mom and doctor when they tell you to eat them! They contain good amounts of antioxidants, vitamins such as Beta-carotene, Vitamin C, or folic acid, as well as abundant amounts of minerals such as magnesium and calcium, both essential for bones, muscles, and heart health. They are also rich in cholorophyll (indicated by their dark green colour), an important phytochemical (plant chemical) that aids in detoxification.

The delicious meal we made during Marni’s class – loaded with calcium!

Try: spinach, collards, kale, beet root tops, arame (a sea veggie) and bok choy. Other great sources of calcium can come from carob, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, almonds, figs, oranges, and sunflower seeds. Marni’s calciYUM class incorporated foods rich in calcium and we had a great group. Everyone partook in making delicious dishes including miso sesame crusted tempeh, broccoli quinoa pilaf, citrus salad, almond spinach patties, and roasted root veggies. My favourite dish was the carob-fig bars (thanks to my sweet tooth). Cutting out sweets is definitely the most challenging part of eating nutritiously but luckily we had a delicious and nutritious alternative for dessert which were just as satisfying as Ferrero Rochers! Thanks Marni and veg.ca for providing me with amazing resources and helping me begin this journey!

I documented my experience via Marni’s blog.

– Joelle, Toronto

Joelle won the random draw for completing Phase 2 during Sep/Oct 2012

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