We just got back from another trip to Jasper this weekend. Although the 4 hour drive is a little daunting it’s always so nice to get away to the mountains, breathe the fresh air and just take in all the beauty. This trip was even more exceptional since we tried out snowboarding on Marmot Basin for the first time and got to go dogsledding! That’s right, we led a team of dogs through snowy trails in the mountains. Can’t get much more Canadian than that! Unless we stopped to collect maple syrup on the way, which I would not object to, ever. Honestly dogsledding was unreal. I was a little nervous and let my boyfriend do the driving at first while I got warm and cozy in the sled but after a while I decided I had to try it too. First thing they told us when we got there is that they do not use the command “mush” as normally depicted in movies, also you don’t lean with the sled to steer, it just goes wherever the dogs go. Unless you’re a pro dogsled racer that is. The actual commands were “hike” to go and “woah” to stop. They also told us that the brake is the most important part. The dogs will want to go as fast as possible, all the time, and you don’t want to be running over the team in front of you. On downhill slopes the sled will pick up more speed than the dogs and you could run into them, so the brake is very important. It was funny, every time we were heavy on the brake or had to make the dogs stop at least one of them would turn around and give you a look reminiscent of “Hey Buddy, what gives, we’re running here!” Then they all would start barking and jumping and trying to make the sled move even with the brake fully engaged. It was such a cool feeling to wait amid all the barking and commotion then to finally let off the brake, yell “hike”, and let them fly. They take off so fast, and as soon as they do it’s completely silent again. The only sound is the sled sliding through the snow and the wind against your hood. We felt like adventurers exploring the vast arctic landscape, our trusty dog companions leading the way. I hope I get do to this again some time.
Other than that our trip consisted of lots of eating out, I think we’ve been to almost every restaurant in Jasper now, and then a day on the mountain snowboarding. Marmot Basin was pretty good, it had some good runs and no flat parts! Yay for not pushing! The only bad part was that there was no fresh snow, also the one bad thing about preplanned ski days. So after a while my knees and butt had taken a beating and I was ready to call it a day and headed to the chalet lounge book in hand. We stayed in these really cute cabin/apartments on Pyramid Lake, about 5 kms from Jasper. I would definitely recommend them, so cozy, had a beautiful view of the lake and mountains and not too expensive.
For meals this weekend I kind of cheated.. And by kind of I mean I REALLY cheated. I started out good, I had a veggie burger at the hill, which was dairy free but then I had a mocha.. Which obviously has some kind of dairy in it. Then for supper we went to a fancy place called Olive Bistro and Lounge. It’s the type of place where meals start at $17 and don’t really include sides and meat is another $5 add on (which I’m fine with). After being torn up about the lack of vegan options I decided on gourmet mac and cheese. The most non-vegan vegetarian item on the menu.. I’m sure I could have gotten a salad and asked for no cheese, and vinaigrette dressing but who wants to pay $17 for a salad when you’re not even eating the most expensive part, the fancy cheese. Not to mention I’m a sucker for gourmet mac and cheese.. We had Tim Hortons for breakfast the next day, and for lunch I had a burrito cooked on a campfire in the middle of the forest. I had asked for the vegetarian option for lunch but hadn’t even thought of the fact that it would probably contain cheese. I figured it would be a veggie dog or something. I also may have forgotten to ask for no cheese on my Bagel BELT (no bacon obviously) that morning, so I’m pretty sure I’m past strike 3 for dairy free meals already. Feeling a little bad I opted for another veggie burger for supper that night while my boyfriend got veggie pizza. Finally the cheat of all cheats that weekend for breakfast I had Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon.. I even broke my vegetarian rules for that one, and I’m not sure it was worth it. Yeah it was good, but nothing life changing. Oh and while I’m confessing my sins I also had a tiny bite of my boyfriend’s Smoked Canadian Bison Burger, which was to die for. I was pretty jealous, but at least I had my mac and cheese to console me.
I don’t know what it was about this weekend that made me rebel against everything.. I’m usually super good about sticking to vegetarian meals even when eating out. I normally prefer the vegetarian food now and don’t feel like I’m missing anything. I think this dairy-free challenge might have tipped me over the edge and had me feeling like I wasn’t allowed anything I liked therefore I wanted to have those things even more. I don’t mind the dairy free at home where I have lots of options for milk and cheese alternatives but paying for meals that are going to be blah or asking for many omissions yet still paying the same price is not appealing to me at all.
Speaking of dairy free alternatives I wanted to do a review on a couple dairy-free yogurts I tried. First off I ended up buying So Delicious Coconut Milk Blueberry “yogurt”. I knew it contained carrageenan but I was desperate for a yogurt for my granola. It turned out to be terrible. For starters it just looks unappealing. Kind of like a cross between chunky custard and jello and it was bright blue, way too blue to be natural. I knew I had to give it a chance but after a couple wary spoonfuls I decided it could not be done. It just tasted so artificial, that same empty, too sweet taste you get with any artificially sweetened or low fat products. I even tried to give it a second chance a few days later but I can’t get over that taste enough to actually enjoy it.
After the coconut milk yogurt disaster I went looking for another alternative. I found Nancy’s Cultured Soy Yogurt. It’s all organic and no crazy chemical ingredients so I was very excited to try it out. I got the plain since I usually like plain yogurt but I think that may have been a mistake. When I opened the container it was kind of beige/light brown colour and had a weird (bad) smell. Nonetheless I grabbed a spoon and dug in.. It tastes very… yogurt-y? Almost an overwhelming bacterial taste or a funky soy flavor with no creaminess to fill it out like normal yogurt. I was going to attempt it on my granola but last minute, after another taste test, I decided I didn’t want to ruin a good bowl of granola and end up not eating it. I guess I’ll have to do some vegan baking to use up all these “yogurts”. A fellow blogger suggested I try almond milk based yogurt, specifically Amande, and since I’m loving my almond milk in my coffee and cereal I’m hoping the yogurt will be just as good!
Even though I had a bad weekend for dairy, now that I’m back home I’m ready to finish my month strong. I’m looking forward to trying out some more vegan recipes and incorporating them into my repertoire of go to meals in the future.