Beet It!!

Beets Two Ways

I mentioned in my last post that beets were going to be the next challenge to add into my diet. This week I cooked beets two ways. It actually was unintentional. The first time I went to the fruit market I ended up leaving with yellow beets. I didn’t realize there were both there and I thought I was buying the beautiful bright purple beets when what I actually got were beautiful gold ones! So I used the golden ones and then went back and got purple ones and used those too. Here’s what I did with them:

Golden Beet Watercress Salad
(Serves 2)

beet & watercress salad

Ingredients:
2 golden beets
2 handfuls of watercress
1/2 a spring onion, julienne
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, roasted
2 tbsp sunflower seeds, roasted
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp grated ginger
juice of half a lemon


How To Make:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash beets, rub them gently with olive oil and place on backing sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a bowl, place watercress, grated carrots and chopped onion. Remove the beets from the oven when they’re done, let them cool and then peel the skin off them.  Once the beets are peeled, chop them into small pieces and use them to top your salad along with the roasted sunflower seeds and roasted pumpkin seeds.

For the dressing, mix olive oil, lemon juice, grated ginger in a jar. Shake well and then pour over your salad. Finish with salt and pepper and enjoy!

The roasted seeds really made the salad for me combined with the sweet earthiness of the beets. My sister, a self proclaimed beet hater, even said she would eat this again. Winning.

Next was a more traditional combination…

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
(Serves 2)

beet and goat cheese salad

Ingredients:
2 purple beets
2 handfuls of spinach
2 tbsp goat cheese
handful of walnuts, roasted
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
juice of half a lemon
pinch of oregano
salt and pepper

How To Make:
I used cooked beets in this recipes as well. Wash beets and lightly brush them with olive oil. Bake the beets at 350 degrees with the skin on for about an hour. Peel and then slice into round slivers.

For the salad I started by tossing the spinach with the dressing which is a combination of olive oil, lemon juice, dijon, oregano, salt and pepper. Once the spinach leaves were covered I plated them onto two separate plates. I topped the spinach with the slices of beet and then topped the beets with goat cheese crumbles and roasted walnuts. Pecans would have also been good.

Beet and Goat Cheese Close Up

This was a filling meal. I thought it would be an appetizer or a side salad but it was more than enough for a meal. Tasty and rich.

I definitely enjoyed my first encounter with the beet. Now I can relate them to something other than Dwight Shrute from The Office! A tip for getting the most out of your beet experience; save the beet greens separately and use them in salads and for juicing. It’s like getting a two for one deal from nature!

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I Dream of Veggies

The New Complete Guide to Nutritional Health

Ever since acquiring the book “The New Complete Guide to Nutritional Health” from my local BMV (for $10…what a steal) I’ve been blasted with a huge list of recipes I want to try, veggies I want to buy and new ways to heal my body through my diet.

Between my boyfriend, who has ulcerative colitis, and myself, who struggles with candidiasis, we have our share of struggles with food. This book is full of ways to help our diet work for us instead of against us.

The first thing this book did for me was open up my eyes to the possibilities of my juicer. Typically I would stick to the basic carrot,apple, ginger. Sometimes you would catch me throwing in a leafy green. Now, I’m juicing cabbage, I’m juicing tomato, I’m juicing peppers, and there is a specific reason that I am choosing the veg I’m choosing.

Now I know that cabbage is packed with antioxidants and strengthens the immune system to help the body overcome infection. I also know that tomatoes boost resistance to infectious diseases and keep the skin in good condition. This book literally goes through every organic food product on the planet and tells you what vitamins are in it, what it can help heal, and recipes to use it in.

So I started reading more. With specific sections on different ailments, it was easy for me to find information on the specific topics I was looking for; ulcerative colitis and candida. From there I learned that Matt and I should both be adding things like beets, blueberries, fennel and oily fish to our diets. I took note of each item and vowed to try to incorporate some of them into our meals immediately.

I went out and bought fennel and watercress for the first time in my life! I made a salad with them that turned out to be a delicious summer salad. It was sweet and savoury all at the same time. The flavours complimented each other beautifully and it made a perfect lunch on a sunny day.

Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

Ingredients

1/2 cup chopped fennel
1/2 cup yellow or white onion chopped julienne
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 ruby red grapefruit
1/2 cup watercress leaves, stems removed
8 leaves of romaine lettuce

Directions:
Heat the butter in a skillet on medium high and add in the onions. Sautee until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop your romaine into bite size pieces and toss with watercress. Add in pieces of fennel on top. Divide your grapefruit into sections and remove as much of the white part of the fruit as possible, separating out the ruby red fruit from the centre. Top the salad with the caramelized onion and the grapefruit and then drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss and enjoy!

Not only did the book recommend that I eat fennel, it also recommended I try drinking the fennel in what they call an “infusion”. So not only did I buy some whole fennel, I also bought the fennel seeds from my local nutrition store and steeped them in a ratio of 1tbsp of seeds to 150ml of boiling water. This is what I’m going to be drinking three times a day to aid my digestion and help cleanse my body of the excess bile in my intestines. Sound like fun?!

This is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this book. I highly recommend it to those looking for information on all the healthy food out there and how to add it into your life. The next vegetable I’m going to tackle is beet root. Look forward to that in my next post!

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Do It Yourself:

Being the collage fanatic I am, when the Daily Bread Food Bank asked me for some creative input on their annual hunger report my mind immediately pictured a collage made up of packaging materials from various nonperishable food sources. In my mind the collage could act as a reoccurring theme throughout the report to tie together the various paragraphs, headings, infographics and statistics. The food bank commissioned this 8.5″ x 11″ collage and is going to use it as a type treatment for the titles and headings in the report and for this blog post I documented the steps that went into making the finished type, from blank slate to .pdf final.

Step 1: Blank Slate

I worked on a gessoed masonite board that I reused from a past project. It doesn’t matter if the board is perfectly white because you’re going to be collaging right over it.

Step 2: Add Paint

The Daily Bread wanted white as the predominant colour in this piece but also asked for red, orange and yellow to be the main palette. When using recycled materials it’s hard to control exactly what you get in terms of colour so I wanted to use paint. Adding in a background colour in which to paste on top of also speeds up the collage process.

Step 3: Cutting and Pasting

I like to start with large pieces that are going to act as background once everything else is on. Make sure you wait until the paint is fully dry from step 2. I use matte medium to paste down thin materials like tissue paper, newsprint or paper towel and a craft glue for more solid materials like cardboard or fabric.

Step 4: More Paper, More Paint

When I do a collage, even if it’s just for use as a texture, I treat it like a painting. It needs to have balance, it needs to have depth and like a painting, I’ll know once it’s done.  Once I’ve got enough paper down I like to go back in with a paint brush. For this piece I went back in with white, being the predominant colour in the piece.

Step 5: Finish & Photograph

Once I’m content with the finished product I take it outside and photograph it. I’ve tried scanning but find the end product always comes out best when photographed on a bright day (not necessarily sunny, even overcast is okay if it’s bright) It’s INSANE what lighting can do to your original piece so try several different spots and see what you get. I upload the file into my computer and crop it to the edges of the board.

Step 6: Photoshop/Illustrator

Once I have the cropped collage saved I bring it into photoshop to play with the levels. I adjust brightness, saturation and hue to get it exactly the way I want it. I also sharpened this one to reduce slight blur from the photograph. I then went into illustrator to choose the fonts I wanted to use.

Step 7: Finished Type

Once I have my fonts chosen I select Type…Creat outlines and copy and paste the outlines on top of my collage in photoshop in a separate layer. From here it’s as easy as using your magic wand tool to select the type, selecting the collage layer and clicking copy and then paste it onto a separate layer. Now if you hide your type and collage layers in the layers palette all you’ll see is your new type treatment out of the collage you just made! I like to add drop shadows to give the 3D effect from the type.

You can create multiple treatments with one collage by just adjusting the levels in photoshop to different settings each time. It’s a really cool, easy way to do fun things out of type.

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Daily Bread Food Bank Illustrations

The Hunger Report

A while back I had mentioned that I had been asked to do some illustrations for a not-for-profit that is near and dear to my heart, The Daily Bread Food Bank. Originally we talked about doing a series of small portraits for the cover of their annual Hunger Report of different demographics of people who use the food bank because the theme of the report is “The Face of Hunger” and the aim is to break the stereotypes on the sort of people who use the food bank.

Instead, they opted to go with a series of three larger images for the inside of the report that correspond with different quotes from real people who were surveyed from the report.

One talks about a mother with her kids and how happy and smiling the kids were even though they didn’t have enough food on the table.

Another spoke about doctors from other countries who had come to Canada and now were struggling to find work to put food on the table.

The last quote spoke about elderly people forced into early retirement without enough in pension to sustain themselves.

I had a lot of fun working on these illustrations and it was nice to get back to doing the sort of work I did in University on different projects like my children’s book “Things I’ll Miss When I’m Grown Up”. It’s a really versatile technique that allows for a lot of detail and expression and combines my love of traditional collage and digital work. I was also happy to do illustrations for a cause that I believe so strongly in. My boyfriend, Matt, and I had been volunteering at the Food Bank since December when I was asked to do this project and I loved being able to volunteer my time in this way as well.

I will post images of the finished Hunger Report once it’s done at the end of the summer but for now I would love to hear your comments and criticisms.

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Food To Go

Preparing for a Trip

In my last post I mentioned that I will be leaving on Saturday for a 5 day vacation in beautiful British Columbia and that I will be continuing my cleanse (Day 11 today!!) while I am away, which can be tough. I was concerned about not having enough food, or feeling down about not being able to enjoy all the things that everyone else will be enjoying while on vacation (I’m sure there will be more than a few great bottles of wine I’ll miss out on, not to mention the morning coffees and delicious treats that are sure to surface…)

Right after I published this I found a great post on fitalicious.com called “Have Food, Will Travel” all about tips and techniques for traveling while on a strict diet. This was exactly the motivation I needed to start preparing for my travels. In the post there were links to some amazing recipes from some of my favourite blogs and the best part was some were actually anti-candida!! Needless to say I went home, got together the ingredients and spent the rest of the night in the kitchen whipping up my very own snackies!!

Spicy Sunflower Nori Crackers

The first snack I made was off of the AMAZING food blog “Diets, Desserts and Dogs” which has all kinds of recipes from vegan, to gluten free, to  anti-candida. These Spicy Sunflower Nori Crackers happen to be all of the above! I didn’t have to substitute any ingredients, I just followed the instructions and everything went pretty smoothly.

The only piece of advice I have for those who are wanting to try out this recipes is to leave yourself enough time to bake these bad boys. Being so gung ho about spending all night in the kitchen and making 3 recipes in one night, I didn’t read the full instructions before sticking them in the oven and then realized that not only do you have to bake them for an hour at 200 degrees, you then have to take them out, cut them and put them BACK in the oven for another 2-3 HOURS!!! I put them in the oven at 10PM and then finished reading the instructions and my heart sank… they were done by about 1AM and then I crashed hard!

Another tip would be to either grease the baking sheet first or put down parchment paper underneath the nori because the seaweed stuck to the pan at the end and I lost a couple trying to pry them off!

Grain Free Granola Balls

The second recipe I made was Grain Free Granola Balls from the Daily Bites food blog and I can totally see these becoming a staple in my life. The recipe was super easy, I only had to substitute a couple of things, and they pretty much adhere to my anti-candida diet completely. Here is the recipe I used:

½ cup raw sunflower seeds

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

½ cup blanched almond flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 cup raw walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup dried goji berries

3 tablespoons almond butter

8 drops stevia

3 tablespoon water

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

I literally just substituted goji berries for blueberries and raisins and instead of honey I used more almond butter and water to adhere it and added stevia for the sweetness. Check out the whole recipe for yourself here.

I’m going to store these two delightful snacks in my carry on in an air tight container along with cut up veggies and my homemade trail mix that contains almonds, soy nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and goji berries. I’m also going to pack some Bragg’s and sesame oil with me to use as a substitute for some of the other sauces that might be offered to me at restaurants. Once we land in BC I’m going to look up my closest grocery/health food store and stock up on some other foods that adhere to my diet. I’m of the mind set now that it’s possible to live my life day to day, stick to my diet, jump the hurdles that are thrown at me and feel great. My energy and motivation is way up and it hasn’t even been 2 weeks yet!!!!!

One last recipe I want to share with you is one from The Kitchn that I made for dinner last night (Yes, I literally spent 5 hours in the kitchen after a full day of work AND the gym) I was thinking I wanted to make something with lentils and originally I was thinking of using some tofu I had in the fridge. But then I found this recipe for Smashed Lentils with Egg and it changed everything! So much protein in one bowl, and the thought of the gooey yoke running all over my lentils made my mouth water. It turned out great, it curbed my hunger and now I have enough lentils for me and practically everyone I know!!!

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Week One Meal Plan

One Week Down, Three to Go!!

I can’t believe a week has passed already and I have not updated you on the status of my cleanse! It’s because I’ve been so busy cleansing (grocery shopping, prepping, cooking, cleaning up) and putting together the illustrations for the food bank that I have not had a minute to update.

I put together a chart of my meals for the week to give you an overall idea of what I’ve been consuming on this crazy wheat free, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, etc. etc. etc. free diet. It mainly consists of veggie and protein based meals, smoothies and salads.

I’m working on putting together the individual recipes with measurements and photos but in the meantime I thought I’d share with you some of the websites that I get my inspiration from. I find it helpful to look up healthy recipes and then substitute whatever ingredients I need to in order to make them Candida friendly (or unfriendly)

Oh She Glows

First off, I would love to share the recipe for Carrot Cake Smoothie I found on OhSheGlows.com and enjoyed on Sunday night with my sister. Oh She Glows is a great vegan blog by Angela Liddon who shares her recipes, experiences and tips for healthy living each day. Instead of using a frozen banana for this recipe I used half an avocado, which gives the same creamy texture, and a few drops of stevia for the additional sweetness. It turned out really nicely, a lot like carrot cake batter, and I’m definitely going to be keeping it around for the coming weeks.

Chatelaine

Another great place for inspiration is Chatelaine.com. They have a section under Health that is just Healthy Recipes and they actually borrow a lot of Angela’s recipes from Oh She Glows for this section of their magazine. Right now they are at the end of their Superfood Month where each day they share a new recipe with a different superfood as the main ingredient. This is where I got the idea for cauliflower mashed “potatoes”, which was a great change from just your plain old steamed veggies. Check it out for great information on the health benefits of some of nature’s greatest “Superfoods”. I’m making the sweet potato, kale, walnut burgers from their Summer Guide tonight and omitting the meat for my vegetarian friend.

Whole Foods Market

My other go to website for recipes is WholeFoodsMarket.com because not only do they have an enormous amount of tasty, nutritious recipes, but they also have a feature on their site that allows you to do an “Advanced Recipe Search” and select any dietary restrictions you need to account for as well as a course, a main ingredient or a style of cuisine you’re looking for. If you create an account with them you can also add recipes to your “Recipe Box” to save for later and it gives you the option of printing out an easy to read Grocery List for your next shopping visit! Easy Peezy!! I made their Baked Coconut Lentils a while back and they were awesome (and filling) and I’ve stashed the recipe for Lamb Stew with Spring Vegetables away for next week.

My next challenge is coming for me at the end of the week as I embark on vacation with my boyfriend and his family to Vancouver. This is an unexpected trip for me and it comes on Day 13 of my cleanse, a crucial time where there’s no turning back. It’s going to be tough to adhere to all the restrictions of my diet but I’m going to do my very best to get through it, avoiding the temptations of vacation indulgences. I will update you when I’m back after 5 days as to how it went and any tips I can to give you on cleansing while traveling. Wish me luck!!

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Baby’s Fourth Website

A New Website for a New Start

Now that I’ve been out of school and on my own in the big bad world for an entire year I’ve gotten passed my initial laissez faire attitude to the “what am I going to do with my life” part of graduating. I took the first year of freedom to travel, move out, spend time with my friends, family, work on some personal projects and enjoy myself. Now I’m starting to think big picture like “How am I going to make a legitimate living?” “How am I going to save for retirement?” “What do I really want to do with my life?”

I’ve always wanted to be involved in something creative, and when I discovered Illustration in high school I felt that I had found my calling. I know that it’s not the most reasonable career choice (although my plan A was to be a rockstar and that didn’t work out) but I feel like after spending 5 years in school and earning my degree in Illustration it would be foolish of me to give up so easily.

So this brings me to the topic of this blog post, which is the (re-re-re)launch of my new website, alyssaandres.com which I’ve been working hard to complete over the past few weeks. The aim of this site is simplicity. I want the viewers to see my artwork in all its glory. There are many online outlets that allow for me to ramble and rant, this site is straight to the point, here’s my art…look at it!!!

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts and criticisms on my site, my work and my crazy goal of becoming a professional illustrator. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments and in the mean time ENJOY!!

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Summer Bucket List

Summer in the City

Summer is upon us, and as a heat wave rolls into Toronto I’ve decided it’s time I better start my Summer Bucket List 2012. This is my first summer living in the city as an adult with my own place, so it has to be brilliant. It’s easy though, as time moves so quickly, to let summer pass by without doing a fraction of the things you might have talked about or wanted to plan. Hence the Summer Bucket List; a list of specific goals/tasks for the summer months to narrow down exactly what it is I want to do/accomplish on these hot steamy days.

Here is my list so far…

Summer Bucket List 2012

1.Go to the Toronto Library (and get a library card)
2.Go kayaking at Rockwood Conservation Area
3.Dress up and go for dinner in Yorkville
4.Go for a hike
5.Spend a day thrifting in Toronto
6.Update my illustration website
7.Assemble a collection of healthy recipes
8.Pick some sort of fruit or veg
9.Spend a day in Bloor West Village
10.Spend a day on the Danforth
11.Attend a festival of some sort
12.Host a BBQ
13.Go on a road trip
14.Picnic in Trinity Bellwoods

15.Go to the Beach….

This past weekend I had the privilege of starting my list early with a trip to Toronto Island, specifically Ward’s Island. What a day!! I had not been to the island since I was a kid and just remembered it as a bunch of carnival rides and fast food joints.

This time, however, I realized what an amazing way it is to get out of the city and enjoy sandy beaches, hot sun and cool water.  A bunch of friends and I took the ferry out there in the early afternoon, hauling a charcoal bbq and two huge coolers along side us, and spent literally the entire day basking in the sun.

It wasn’t even too busy and I can say we truly had an amazing time. So if hitting the beach is on your summer bucket list and you’re looking for a low cost, simple solution, pay the $7 return fare for the ferry, pack a lunch, and enjoy!! Get information on the ferry schedule, island rules and regulations and directions here.

Toronto is a city full of wonder and adventure waiting to be discovered. I’m only just scraping the surface having now lived here for just under 10 months. I will be continuing to post as I find new and exciting things to do in the city.

I would love to hear what’s on your summer bucket list. I’m looking for places, people, stores, parks, restaurants, events, festivals and anything else that is fun, exciting, new and adventurous. What are you up to on these beautiful summer days??

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Preparing for a Cleanse

My 30 Day Intestinal Cleanse is less than a week away and over the past couple of weeks I have been doing a number of things in preparation…

5 Days ’til Detox

I started by eliminating the big offenders from my diet; wheat, sugar and gluten. In place I have added much more plant based foods to get my body used to this diet. Rushing into a cleanse can leave your body in shock and most people will experience “die off” symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and bowel problems. Pretty much you’re going to feel worse before you feel better so the smoother you can transition into the cleanse the better.

I’ve started taking my vitamins regularly including Vitamin D, B12, Iron, EFA’s and Probiotics. I’ve stopped drinking coffee every morning and switched to green tea. Coffee is one of the hardest parts of this cleanse for me and to stop cold turkey would be nearly impossible. I’ve had 3 coffees this week and by next week I will have cut out caffeine completely.

I’ve also taken a trip to my local health food store and stocked up on good food. Here’s what I’ve added to my cupboards in preparation:

 Coconut Oil
There’s a ton of good stuff in coconut oil and the benefits of adding it into your diet include  stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism as well as relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer. You may also see improvements in your hair, skin, teeth and bones. What’s not to love?! I add it into my smoothies or use it while I’m cooking.

Bragg’s Liquid Soy Seasoning
This little guy is a god send for cooking and seasoning. Because traditional soy sauce contains wheat, I stocked my cupboards with Bragg’s for my asian inspired meals (which are many). The only ingredient is soy so you know you’re safe from hidden offenders that are typical in a lot of sauces. It’s also perfect for packing along with you if you head out to a restaurant where they use soy sauce as an alternative for dipping or to offer to the chef to use to cook your meal. Most restaurants are happy to comply with food sensitivities so don’t feel weird!

 Spirulina Powder
Spirulina is a single celled algae full of minerals, vitamins and macronutrients including a huge supply of protein, perfect for morning smoothies or after workout shakes. It also contains Vitamins B1,  B2, B6, E and K as well as magnesium and iron. It is ALSO full of Essential Fatty Acids and enzymes that help to digest food not to mention it improves skin and hair, mental functioning and your immune system. Spirulina does all this while at the same time being actually helpful to the environment. How can you say no to this brilliant green stuff?!

Innovite Intestinal Cleanse
The only way to pass all the candida build up through your system is to do an intestinal cleanse. Even while you’re adhering to a strict diet you’ll want to flush out your system with a good anti-candida cleanse. I use the Innovite Yeast Buster Kit which includes Caproil (a proven candida killer made from coconut and safflower oil),  Bentonite (a clay that absorbs the toxins left behind by the Caproil) and Psyllium (which allows everything to pass through your system and gently scrubs the intestines) I take this every morning and follow it up with an excellent probiotic before bed.

Pau D’Arco Tea
Since during this cleanse I will be giving up all forms of caffeine, I had to turn to an alternative tea. While Rooibos is a viable alternative, I wanted to find something that not only I could have but that I SHOULD have! And that’s when I read up on Pau D’Arco, which is extracted from the inner bark of the Lapacho tree in Argentina. This tea is known to heal the immune system and act as a powerful antibiotic. Reports in the US have stated that when ingested Pau D’Arco has “cured terminal leukemia, arthritis, yeast and fungus infections, arrested pain, stopped athlete’s foot and cured the common cold” Learn more here.

So now that my cupboards are stocked with some powerful candida fighting substances I feel a great sense of relief and encouragement. I feel like I’m ready to go ahead and tackle this diet. Whenever my body gets a craving I’m just going to serve it up more of the healthiest nutrients I can find. Now all I have to do is start on my weekly meal plans which I have all weekend to do!

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The Hunger Report

An Exciting Project for The Daily Bread Food Bank

In my first post I mentioned an upcoming project I’d be taking on with The Daily Bread Food Bank and I wanted to give a sneak peek into the project because it’s something I’m super excited about.

The project is for the Daily Bread’s Annual Hunger Report, which gives information and statistics on the food bank, the people who use it and the rate at which it is used. I started volunteering at the food bank last December and was overwhelmed at the scale of the operation. According to the 2011 report, over 1 million people visited the food bank in the GTA last year. Of that million over 900,000 were in Toronto. You can dowload the pdf version of last year’s Hunger Report here.

I wanted to get involved and help their initiative in any way I could so I offered up my illustrative talents for this years report and we have already begun the initial planning and preparation for the project.

The theme we’re calling “The Faces of Hunger” and it’s centralized around the idea of breaking the stereotypes of who uses the food bank. I’m going to be doing a series of portraits for the report as well as some larger scale illustrations and info graphics.  I think the addition of illustration for this year’s report will add interest and provoke thought around the number of people who are forced to turn to the food bank to survive.

If you’re looking to help or donate to The Daily Bread visit their website or email volunteer@dailybread.ca for current opportunities. The easiest way to help is by donating non-perishable foods to your local drop off spots or arrange a drive in your community. Summers are hard for the food bank because people tend to forget about them after Easter so anything helps!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions on this first piece and on the project as a whole. Stay tuned to my blog for updates on the project and other ways to contribute to your community.

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