Saturday, April 7, 2018

Plant Based versus Animal Based Diets

What is the definition of a plant-based diet?

          A plant-based diet is one that contains no foods that come from animals. This is a strictly Vegan diet, which means, no fish or chicken, milk or milk products, or eggs. Even things like gelatin are off the table since it is made using ground up pig bone.

          There are many health benefits to following a plant-based diet instead of a animal product-based diet. This things include, lower cholesterol and fat content, more fiber and fewer calories. Plant-base diets also tend to be higher in a lot of the essential vitamins and minerals.

Figure A. Who Invited The Herbivore. Adapted from Gemma Correll. Retrieved on April 1, 2018, from: Copyright © 2018 Gemma Correll

          Of course there are lots of other benefits to perusing a plant-based diet, things like religion and culture can play a big role in this. There are also environmental issues to consider. With less animal farming, there is less methane in the air and less deforestation to make room for livestock. There are also the ethical values to contemplate. We must look at the fact that we are consuming animal who were once alive. These animals have in fact given their lives so that we may be fed. That is too heavy of a burden for some people and it's quite understandable.

Figure B. Your Choice of Toppings. Adapted from Fablefire. Retrieved on April 1, 2018, from: Copyright © 2018

          Certainly plant-based diets are not for everyone. Me in particular. I have tried to go vegetarian in the past for ethical reasons, but I only lasted a few months before giving in. I have no issues with other people being on a plant-based diet, but I doubt that I will incorporate it into my menus. With baking, it is very difficult to create the high taste quality that I will be trying to achieve without things like butter, eggs, milk, cream and gelatin. If someone has a special request, I can certainly try my best to accommodate their needs, but I also have no issue with recommending them to another baker who specializes in that area.

          For my vegan recipe, I picked one of our standard favorites and chose to modify it to be meat free. This recipe comes from one of my favorite recipe blogs: The Kitchen McCabe. (The Kitchen McCabe, 2015)

Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Sweet Pepper Lamb Ragu


⅓ cup Olive Oil
1 lb. Ground Lamb
3 Bay Leaves
4 Garlic Cloves, sliced
½ cup Dry White Wine
1 cup Chicken Stock
2 pinches Chili Flakes
1 (15 ounce) Can Whole Plum Tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 large Red Bell Pepper, sliced ¼" thick
1 large Orange Bell Pepper, sliced ¼" thick
Coarse salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb. Spaghetti alla Chitarra or thick spaghetti
Grated fresh Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, to top
Basil leaves, to garnish


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium/high heat. Add the ground lamb and cook, breaking
    up into small pieces until browned. Add the bay leaves, garlic, salt and pepper, and cook for
    another 30 seconds.
2. Add the white wine and cook until reduced by half, 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes,
    and chili flakes and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and let cook for 10-15 minutes,
    until sauce is thickened slightly.
3. Add the peppers to the sauce and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the peppers have just
    softened up. Check seasonings and add more salt, if needed. Discard bay leaves.
4. While the sauce is cooking, bring a pot of water seasoned with coarse salt to a boil. Add the
    spaghetti alla chitarra and cook until al dente, about 11-13 minutes. Drain the pasta and add to the
    pan of sauce. Toss until well coated.
5. Serve with grated cheese on top and a few sprigs of basil.

          Since the original recipe has meat and dairy products in it, I had to make a few alterations to it.

Figure C. Ingredients. Copyright B MacDonald

          Firstly, I took out the lamb and parmesan that it calls for. I replaced the chicken broth with vegetable broth instead. Secondly, I added more vegetables to make sure that we were getting even more vitamins.

Figure D. Sautee. Copyright B MacDonald

          I added both onions and green pepper to the already colourful red and orange pepper

Figure E. Pop of Colour. Copyright B MacDonald

Figure F. Starting to Sizzle. Copyright B MacDonald

          Also, since there was no meat to absorb some of the liquid, I had to add a tiny bit of a cornstarch slurry near the end to help thicken it. It gave it a bit of a cloudy colour, but I don't think that detracts from it at all.

Figure G. Almost Done. Copyright B MacDonald
          For adding extra flavour to the noodles, I added some crushed garlic and vegetable broth to the cooking water. I find this really helps to add another dimension to the meal.

Figure H. Delicious Carbohydrates. Copyright B MacDonald

         And voila! I vegan meal out of a classic meat-based favourite. It was just as good as it has always been but I was happy to find out that it was easily modified and still had all the delicious flavours that we love.

Figure I. A Meal Fit For A Vegan Queen. Copyright B MacDonald

          This was a great test and I'm glad that I was pushed to try something new with it.  It makes me confident that if I wanted to add a meat-less day or two to our weekly meals, I would have much less trouble than I originally anticipated. It makes me wonder what other favourites I can modify.


The Kitchen McCabe (2015) Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Sweet Pepper Lamb Ragu. The Kitchen 
           McCabe. Retrieved on March 30, 2018 

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Hey all,

        It's me, Brae. 
Although you may know me as that pink haired girl (yes, it's natural) that you see around the college. 

Figure A. Hey It's Me. Copyright B. MacDonald

Part 1:

          This is my first year back at school after many years of being in the work force.
It's amazing how quickly working in an office can get you down. After many soul-sucking years, a mental breakdown and a mental illness identification, I decided that it was time to step away from a career that I hated and go back to school.

Figure B. I'm A Chef Now. Copyright B. MacDonald

        I've always loved baking. I grew up in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother, teaching me to sprinkle love into everything that I make. When I got older, I realized that baking helped quell the panic and anxiety that was coursing through my system at all times. Everywhere I went, baked goods followed and the people in my life cooed that I should one day open my own bakery.
My own bakery.... Brae's Bakery.... The Braekery!

Figure C. The Braekery Logo. Copyright B. MacDonald

       The idea rattled around in my head until it took seed and bloomed into something that I couldn't ignore. That was when I applied to George Brown for the Baking and Pastry Arts Management Program. My goal is to one day open The Braekery, but I know that it will take time and money that I don't have at the moment. I'm hoping to gain experience in the industry and learn as much as I can about both baking and business. Perhaps in five years, I'll be well on my way.

       I have a mistrust of people who claim to be experts in nutrition, due to fraudulent people and circumstances that have occurred in my life. This is why credentials are so important to me when taking advice about nutrition from anyone.  I look at both qualifications and titles, as well as membership to Royal Colleges before deciding who to listen to.

       As a student of food, I enjoy finding a balance between delicious and nutritious. I try to eat healthy while not giving up on the flavors that I love. I am hoping that through this course, I will gain a better understanding of what my body needs so that I can continue to tweak my diet to better suit my needs.

       I believe that nutrition will always play an important part of the culinary industry, as people become more immersed in their own health and longevity. But because of this, there will always be a demand for indulgences. We can eat as healthy as we want to, but sometimes it's nice to have food for the soul. And that is where I believe that baking and pastry will always play its role. 

Figure D. Food Geometry. Adapted from Mr. Lovenstein, by Creator J. L. Westover, Mr. Lovenstein. Retrieved on February 13, 2018 from © 2010-2017 J. L. Westover.

Part 2:

       For the Compare and Contrast portion of this blog post, I decided to take a look at EatRight Ontario and Eat Yourself Skinny, focusing on title, credentials and personal focus.

       EatRight Ontario is my credible website choice. I felt good about looking at this website. Right off the bat, the title, EatRight Ontario, lets me know that the main focus of it is individual health and helping you choose what foods are best for your body. The fact that it is also focusing on Ontario makes it feel even more personalized as you take into account, weather (lack of vitamin D in wintry months) and other area trends.
       Credentials also play a large part in this organization. Being naturally suspicious of sites like these, I was immediately put at easy by their "About Us" page, stating that they were all registered professionals that were up to date with all of their information.
I also love that they have quelled any lingering doubt with with a handy guide to the differences between a Registered Dietitian and a nutritionist, complete with warning.

Figure E. Text from Website. Adapted from EatRight Ontario. Retrieved on February 13, 2018 from Copyright © Dietitians of Canada 2018
       Their personal focus is on healthy eating and helping each individual person find what is right for them. You can contact a Registered Dietitain by phone or email for free and get personal advice on how you can change your eating habits to better suit you. This can including asking questions about new diet trends, changing diets due to health conditions or even just trying to be healthier. They can help you plan out meals depending on your time, money and skill set in the kitchen. They are culturally sensitive and have speakers in over 100 different languages to better suit your needs.
Because this is funded by the Government of Canada, this service is free for everyone in Ontario to use. This, again, shows that they are focused on health and not on selling a product. (EatRight Ontario, 2018)

       In comparison to my credible source above, Eat Yourself Skinny, doesn't hold up very well.
The title of this blog immediately tells you that their focus is not about health, it's about being skinny, perhaps in a healthy way, but still about losing weight.
The author of the blog has no credentials as a Registered Dietitian, but doesn't hide behind the moniker of nutritionist either. For that I will give her a little bit of credit for not pretending to be something that she is not. She just likes to create recipes, and I can't fault her for that. What I can fault her for is categorizing those recipes by diet type. Without the credentials, I do not believe that she is fit to create a meal with all the health connotations of a specific diet plan, be it paleo or Weight Watchers.
       While being healthy is a great personal goal, she subscribes to some health practices that I don't agree with, including clean eating. Just because you can't pronounce something on the label doesn't necessarily mean that it's bad for you. I encourage reading up on these items instead of dismissing them out of hand. Make healthy choices, not uninformed ones.
Also this website is highly monetized. With sponsored posts, brand ambassador programs, giveaway partnerships and advertisement, it's hard to know that she is giving us the best information or whether she is being paid to give it. I'm not saying that she shouldn't be able to make money from it, I just wish she had the education to back up her claims of healthy eating. (Kelly, 2018)

       In the end, I am much more likely to reach out to EatRight Canada for healthy eating tips than I am to go back to Eat Yourself Skinny.


EatRight Ontario. (2018). Retrieved on February 14, 2018, from   

Kelly (2018). Eat Yourself Skinny. Retrieved from

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Blog Posts For School

Hello fellow baking geeks.
Haven't seen you for awhile. Sorry, I don't update very often. Things are crazy with life and school and I just don't have the time these days.
That being said. Over the next few months, you will probably see a few weird blog posts showing up here. As part of my Nutrition course, I have to write some very specific blog posts and I will be doing so on here. So feel free to ignore them and browse through some old posts about cupcakes instead.

Art by Woot Shirt

Friday, September 22, 2017

Fall Into Baking

art by Wasted Talent

Happy Fall Equinox Everybody!

Now back to baking...

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Whole New Look

Hey fellow geeksters

Are you confused yet? Did you come here expecting to see this logo?

Don't worry, you're still in the right place. I just decided to give this blog a bit of a makeover.

I've got a great new logo

and a great new name. If you hadn't guessed, The Braekery is a pun off of my name and hopefully will be the name of my own bakery someday. 

Exciting news, I got accepted to George Brown College for the fall course of 

Yup, I'm going to be learning the fine arts of baking and pastry while also learning how to run my own business. Cool, huh?

So I figured with this great change in my life, I would try and focus on making this blog a little more professional.

But don't you worry, there will still be plenty of geek treats to look forward to and I promise I'll try to blog more.

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Light Side Has Cookies Too

Seems like a good enough reason to join the Dark Side to me. Hopefully they have cupcakes too

art by Hokalin Art

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Canada Day!

art by Cryptid-Creations
Hope your Canada Day is filled with all the maple syrup you can handle