Working out at the Plantz St. Culinary Gym!

I was pleased to get a chance this evening to try out a plant based cooking class at a cool new business in Santa Rosa, Plantz St. Culinary Gym.  The gym is located in downtown Santa Rosa in an adorable little mews development off B street near Mendocino complete with iron gates, cobbles, a bike rack and a couple of benches. The owner / operator of Plantz St. is Katie Mae, who holds a Master of Science in Nutrition and is a core cooking instructor for the TrueNorth Health Center and the McDougall program. Mae just launched the brick and mortar cooking school side of the business last month, after spending the last year working on her online business. The goal of Plantz St. is to transform people’s quality of life through plant foods, kitchen fitness, and mindfulness. This is the world’s first culinary gym, a hub for locals to build their kitchen skills and learn how to cook with fresh, whole foods.

Plantz St. teaches a type of plant based eating often known as SOS  – so no or low in Salt, Oil and Sugar. Yes, I know what you’re thinking – it sounds terrible, but there are plenty of ways to season your food without salt, and you can add fat using natural fats like avocado and add sweet tastes via dried fruit, and so on. This class was part of a six week group class called Plant-based Cooking 101. It was the second class, which was titled “Delicious Simplicity with Grains, Legumes & the Instant Pot”. There are four weeks left of this class on Monday evenings and another series running in August. But if you don’t live in the North Bay, fear not – you can also improve your kitchen fitness and get support in your plant-based adventures online! There are also some reasonably price e-cookbooks available as well as plenty of free recipes on her website!

So without further ado…the pictures!

Plantz Street Culinary Gym - Exterior

The store front, complete with Katie’s eco friendly transportation!

Plantz Street Culinary Gym

Pretty information table…

Plantz Street Culinary Gym - Beans, legumes and other pantry staples

There were two nicely organized shelves with all the pantry staples for the classes. This side had the beans and legumes amongst other things.

Plantz Street Culinary Gym - Ingredients ready to go

Some of the veggies ready to be chopped with our new and improved knife skills !

Katie Mae of Plantz Street Culinary Gym

Katie Mae explained a lot about nutrition and digestion throughout the class. I really liked her spice rack, too!

Plantz Street Culinary Gym - Lo with broccoli

Lo practices her knife skills while our chickpeas are simmering happily in the Instapot behind her. The Instapot is an electric pressure cooker.

Plantz Street Culinary Gym - Savory oatmeal

Katie Mae advised us not to eat sweet foods in the morning as they will set you up for sweets cravings during the rest of the day. Solution: savory oatmeal containing oats, mushrooms, onions, broccoli and seasoning! We chose Indian spices for ours. Yum!

Plantz Street Culinary Gym

Action shot!

Plantz Street Culinary Gym - Quinoa in Instapot

The quinoa is ready! (5 minutes cooking in the Instapot once it was up to pressure)

Plantz Street Culinary Gym - Mexican themed Buddha bowl

Ta-da! The main course for this evening, a mexican style Buddha bowl with quinoa, brown rice, chickpeas, salsa, mixed veggies, avocado and salsa! Did you know Quinoa is actually a seed which is why it might be easier for some people to digest than grains.

Plantz St. Culinary Gym - handouts

We were given two recipes and a helpful double sided sheet with info on how to cook legumes on one side and grains on the other.


Muir’s Tea Room – a slice of vegan heaven in Sebastopol!

Oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh my friends….I can’t BELIEVE it has taken me so long to find this place, it has been open since shortly before I got here at the end of 2014! I had heard about Muir’s Tea Room on Facebook, but thought it was just a regular old tea house with some vegan options. Imagine my extreme excitement and urgent need to get there asap when I found out it was ALL PLANT-BASED!!!!! Woo-hoo!!! That makes it the only vegan restaurant in Sonoma county, which is a travesty that needs to be addressed asap by anyone other than me, hee hee….

Muir's Tea Room, Sebastopol, California

Muir’s Tea Room, Sebastopol, California

Muir’s Tea Room was opened in December 2014 and is inspired by John Muir, a Scottish-American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. Owner Christine Dzilvelis and chef Tika Moon serve a traditional Scottish/English tea service with tiered racks, as well as lunch items such as sandwiches, soups, salads with home-made dressings, and traditional Scottish pasties. It is located in one of my favourite towns in the area, Sebastopol, right on Main Street, in a gorgeous restored 1892 Victorian house surrounded by lush gardens. The decorations are all nature themed and cute as a button, and there is also a gift shop filled with all manner of fascinating curios. And….more importantly – there are UNICORNS and MY LITTLE PONY items as well!!!! I felt like I was in a much more tastefully decorated and spacious version of my own lair!!!!

The decision to name a vegan tea shop after a noted conservationist is extremely timely given the drought that California is facing right now. Animal agriculture is responsible for 47% of California’s water footprint, versus only 4% for domestic water use (Pacific Institute). The adoption of a vegan diet can save on average 600 gallons of water a day compared to eating a standard American diet (National Geographic). Because of how much food is cycled through animals to produce animal products, a vegan diet requires 18 times less land to produce than a meat-eater’s diet, and 3 times less land than a vegetarian’s diet (a vegan diet only requires 1/6 of an acre of land per year to feed one person) (Earthsave, PNAS, NSRL, Johnny Seeds). Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction (full sources available at the website for the excellent documentary Cowspiracy, which I recommend you watch at your earliest opportunity if you care about the earth. Also please check out the excellent work Truth or Drought are doing to raise awareness on this issue, and add them to your Facebook feed).

So! Without further ado…I present….Muir’s Tea Room…a story in pictures!!!

Outside patio, Muir's Tea Room, Sebastopol, California

The outside tables are extremely pleasant, and look out over Main Street in Sebastopol and the beautiful gardens at the front of the house.

indoor dining area, Muir's Tea Room, Sebastopol, California

Part of the indoor dining area

Vegan baked goods, Muir's Tea Room, Sebastopol, California

The dessert case

Genuto vegan gelato, Muir's Tea Room, Sebastopol, California

Genuto vegan gelato! Didn’t get a chance to try, sadly as too full from all the other exciting things I had!!!!

Nature themed gift shop, Muir's Tea Room, Sebastopol, California

Nature themed gift shop on one end of the dining room

Gorgeous china table settings, Muir's Tea Room, Sebastopol, California

Elegant and unique place settings – adore the deer napkin rings!

Here is the Close to Nature’s Heart tea rack, $21.95. Includes an endless pot of tea from a vast selection of tea flavours, 2 flavors of finger sandwiches (2 of each flavor), choice of cup of soup or house salad, scone w/jam AND assortment of petit desserts!!! Yeah, baby!!!! (click on any photo to see more details and a larger version).

And the soup, sandwich and salad combo with a pasty instead of a sandwich:

Here a few more pictures of the fanciful, creative and relaxing decor and some of the food:

Before leaving, I signed the guestbook which was being lovingly watched over by an awesome unicorn:

Guestbook, Muir's Tea Room, Sebastopol, California

A beautiful unicorn watches over the guest book

Christine, the owner of Muir's Tea Room, Sebastopol, California

Christine, the mysterious, benevolent genius behind Muir’s.

And managed to get a photo with Christine, the creatress of this magical place! Thank you to Christine and her friendly and welcoming staff for an amazing, enchanted visit to vegan paradise!!!

Muir’s Tea Room
Address: 330 South Main Street, Sebastopol
Telephone: 707 634 6143
Hours (watch for expanded hours including dinner opening coming soon! Yay!)
Tuesday- Friday 11:00 AM- 4 :00 PM
Saturday 9:00 AM- 5:00 PM
Sunday 11:00 AM- 4:00 PM
Monday- closed

Reservations are recommended for holidays and weekends. Also check their website for special events throughout the year.

Muir’s is also a Blue Ribbon Sponsor of this year’s Sonoma County Vegfest on August 15, 2015 in Santa Rosa! Yay!

A visit to Goatlandia, Part II – da chickens!!!

[TV Announcer Voice] Previously on Pegasus in Paradise, I recounted the first part of my visit to Goatlandia, a home and private animal sanctuary north of Santa Rosa, run by a cool woman I met online. This week I will continue this tale – far too much happened that day to fit in just one post!

After visiting the goats, we headed over to see the chickens. Before I talk about the chickens, please know that I am in no way advocating keeping backyard chickens or eating eggs. You can read more about why even eating eggs from rescued chickens is problematic in this excellent overview from the Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary.

The chickens naturally broke into two groups, the ‘regular’ chickens (do you like my extensive knowledge of chicken breeds?) and the ‘silky’ chickens:


Chickens hanging out convivially 🙂

Chicken close up

Extreme chicken close-up! Strike a pose! Yeah baby!

Silky chickens!

Yes, these are also chickens!

Silky chicken

First person to find the chicken’s face in this picture wins a prize!

Silky chicken

Chicken: “Put me down you weird lady!!!!”

Silky chicken

Silky chicken photobomb!

All of the chickens lay eggs in these little nesting boxes, except for one rebel chicken who lays eggs behind a tractor in a barn. Hee! Apparently, if you don’t remove the eggs from these nests, they will stop laying eggs as they only lay enough eggs to get a full nest. Another interesting thing I learned about chickens recently is that you can get a contraceptive implant for them them that lasts 6 months and will stop them from laying eggs (it’s called Deslorein). This can be used in cases where the chicken’s body can not withstand the stress of laying so many eggs:

Free living chickens, like all birds, lay eggs only once a year (usually in the spring) and only enough to ensure the survival of their species—an average of 10 to 20 eggs. Domesticated hens have been selectively bred to lay between 260 to 300 eggs a year. As a result of being genetically manipulated to produce an unnaturally large number of unnaturally large eggs, laying hens suffer from a host of crippling disorders of the reproductive tract, many of which can be fatal. (Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary)

Deb said that the chickens really loved eating their eggs, so I took a little video of them in action:

Chicken eating its own eggs

Nom nom nom…

By giving the chickens back their own eggs, it helps them to restore some of the vital nutrients (calcium especially) that are lost during the egg laying process.

After chillaxing with the chickens, we headed back to the garage to look at some of the interesting things going on in there:

Car door decor, burning man bicycle

Stuffed toys! In the garage! Fun!

Burning man bicycle

Sorry this picture is blurry! Deb took this bicycle to Burning Man Festival with her 🙂

Vegetable oil car fuel

Deb had one of her cars converted to run on biodiesel, which she gets from the restaurant she works at (boxes on the left). I wonder if the exhaust smells like french fries?

Then we hung out for a while on the deck and chatted while her sweet dogs kept us company:


“Don’t forget about us doggies, weird lady!!!”

I was grateful Deb was able to fit me into her busy schedule – the next day she was driving to Half Moon Bay (quite far) to pick up the latest member of her family, Sheldon the pig:

sheldon the pig

Fast forward a month or so later, to Sheldon the pig happily settling in to this new home. Who’s a handsome devil? 😀

On the way home I stopped to look at the memorials at the site of a fatal head on collision earlier that week. One man tried to illegally pass a row of cars, and collided with another man coming from the opposite direction, killing both of them and a dog :-(. So many crazy drivers out there, it’s scary! Makes me glad I don’t have a car, even though if I did I would be better protected on the road than I am on my bike!

Memorials at fatal car crash, River Road, Santa Rosa, March 2015

Memorials at fatal car crash, River Road, Santa Rosa, March 2015

Memorials at fatal car crash, River Road, Santa Rosa, March 2015

Do any of you have any funny chicken stories? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. 🙂

Thanks for reading, and see you next week, when I will be talking about my buddy. Scrawny the Squirrel.

A visit to Goatlandia – Part I – da goats!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting a magical land north of Santa Rosa called Goatlandia! I connected with Deb, the creator and caretaker of this awesome home / private animal sanctuary via a vegan accommodation page on Facebook a few months ago, and while the accommodation didn’t work out, she kindly said I could come visit – yippee!

And so it was that I set off with some trepidation on my bicycle on a muggy Saturday in March. The trepidation was not to do with visiting Deb, it was to do with this being the first time I had tried to take the bus with my bicycle. The buses here that go between towns have bike racks on the front, but I had never used them. Thank goodness there was a young lad also waiting for the bus who helped me get it on the racks! The first one I tried was too small, the second one was taken, and then I put it on the third one in the back, which was the right size, but I put it on backwards so it had to be flipped around (goldilocks and the three bike racks!!!!  And as the man helping me said “You sure have a big-ass bike!!!” – he wasn’t wrong, hee hee!!!

Sonoma County Transit bike rack

This is the bike rack I had to wrangle with except that the middle rack had a bike on it. the coolest part is I get to ride free as a college student! Thanks Sonoma County Transit! Image from Metro Magazine.

Anyhow…what an adventure, I had to bike the last half of the way on some busy roads, but I eventually arrived safely!!!

The Pegasus in Paradise mobile arrives at goatlandia and is greeted by Phoenix the dog

The Pegasus in Paradise mobile arrives at Goatlandia and is greeted by Phoenix the dog!

The proprietress of Goatlandia

The lovely proprietress of Goatlandia with some of her lucky companions 🙂

After some chit chat in Deb’s beautiful kitchen over vegan apple oat muffins I had baked for this momentous occasion, we ambled off to the pasture to meet the goats. The goats were obtained from a local goat dairy farm. Either because they were male or if they were female, because they had some sort of defect with their reproductive organs that meant they would not be good milk producing machines. Not everyone realizes that in order to steal milk from animals to sell to humans the animals have to have babies on a regular basis. These babies are then taken away from their mothers almost immediately birth so humans can steal their milk. If they are female, they usually end up as dairy slaves to replace their mothers, who are trucked off to slaughter once their production declines. If they are male, they are usually killed shortly after birth, either for meat (if you eat cow’s dairy you support the veal industry) or often just to be thrown away in the case of male baby goats, because there is not enough demand for their meat. You can read more about goats here and see an industrial goat dairy in action here.

The solution, of course, is written on my T-shirt:

Goat ear photobomb

The goat and the dog are telling me they agree with the message on my t-shirt: ‘Go Vegan And No Body Gets Hurt’. Also note the goat ear photobomb!!!!

Okay, proselytizing over! Back to my visit…I had brought some tortilla chips (it is apparently the goat’s favourite snack!) and some carrots. Deb said the goats wouldn’t eat the carrots but I could bring them for the horse. The goats loved the chips so much, one of the naughtier goats reared up and knocked me over to get more! Luckily, there was a fence behind me, so I didn’t have to suffer the pain of a butt bruise!!!

Goat saying hello!!!! (either that or cvan I please have some tortilla chips?)

Goat saying hello!!!! (either that or ‘can I please have some tortilla chips?’). Check out the funky beard!

Goats feasting on tortilla chips

I ❤ the cloven hooves!

Goat with hooves on table

‘Garcon! Could we get more tortilla chips, here, tout-de-suite, sil-vous-plait?’

Goats eating chips

Eventually the goats realized it would be easier to reach the chips if they ate ON the table, not AT the table!

Gaggle of goats

A gaggle of goats gathered enjoying their chips 🙂

At the same time as all this was going on, Magic the horse was observing the scene peacefully from behind the fence separating us from the adjacent pasture, being adorable, and also intermittently snacking on the carrots:

Horse nose

Extreme horse close-up!!! So sweet!!!

Horse head

‘Hello – my name is Magic and I happily accept carrot and apple donations!”

Pretty horse

It was impossible to get an awesome photo of this beautiful horse as it was behind a fence!

Once the tortilla chip frenzy had died down, Deb and I were able to enjoy some chillout time with the goats:

Goat stealing food from pocket

I had carrots in my pocket for the horse, but the goats picked them out, then dropped them on the ground in disgust….

coco the goat eating a carrot

…except Coco, who was happy to eat them. Go Coco!

inexplicably lactating goat

This goat was mysteriously lactating, even though she had not given birth…

goat with gopher ears

These little ears are called gopher ears 🙂

Toggenburg goat

I believe this chilled out dude or dudette is a Lamancha Goat.

Oak trees with weird fungus

I find these growths on all the oak trees here intriguing, apparently it is some sort of fungus, the green one is the fresh one then it dries out to the beige/brown colour.

Two goats and a woman

Thank you to these two cuties for posing so nicely with me!!!!

Wow! What a fun time! But that was only the first half of the visit! Talk about a lot of excitement in one day!!! Come back next week for part deux!!! Thank you Deb for hosting and thank you treasured reader for for stopping by Pegasus-in-Paradise-land!!!

Road trip to Animal Place Farm Sanctuary!

Welcome back faithful readers! I am so excited to tell you about the fun trip I made last weekend to Grass Valley and Nevada City to visit Animal Place, a 600 acre sanctuary for farm animals.

Grass Valley is about a 3 hour drive from Santa Rosa, passing through Davis and Sacramento. I wanted to visit the sanctuary to attend a special event they were hosting for this year’s Great American Meatout, hosted by FARM USA. It is the 30th anniversary this year of the Meatout! The purpose of the Meatout is to “…raise awareness of the benefits of eating vegan: helping animals, achieving great health, and saving the planet.” (from the Meatout website).

One of the most important parts of the sanctuary is their new Museum about Factory Farming. They have made human size versions of pig gestation crates and chicken battery cages. Here is me in the human gestation crate. Some female pigs are kept kept in a continuous cycle of pregnancy and nursing in order to produce more ‘bacon’. They live in these gestation crates for the greater part of 3-5 years (they get put into slightly larger “farrowing crates” to nurse their young for 2-4 weeks instead of the natural 12 weeks, and then are put back into the gestation crates to be impregnated again). They cannot even turn around in the gestation crates and they live on concrete floors in warehouses their entire lives. Animal Place is taking these out on the road to raise awareness about factory farming, which I think is fab.

Human gestation crate Animal Place March 2015

Please choose veggie dogs and eggplant bacon!

Animal Place has two famous residents, Mr. G and Jellybean. I was really looking forward to meeting them! Here is their story, if you are interested:

Sadly, during the Meatout, Jellybean was separated from Mr. G and the rest of the goats because with all the excitement she was ‘getting too frisky’. She was not impressed, and periodically would stage a very loud protest! I managed to catch her at the end of one of her passionate entreaties for freedom.

However, in between her efforts to be reunited with Mr. G, she was kind enough to say hello to all of her fans:

Jellybean Animal Place

Jellybean Animal Place nibbling my shirt!

I will never wash this shirt again!

Mr. G on the other hand (in the foreground, below) seemed happy and relaxed enough where he was. I guess now that he knows Jellybean is nearby he can chill no matter what. Check out his rockin’ beard!

Mr G Animal Place

Other highlights of the visit (aside from the free vegan food, of course!!!!) were Aidan the super friendly sheep and kicking back with the turkeys (I ❤ turkeys!!!).

Aidan Animal Place March 2015

Lately I have been thinking I would like a rescue sheep instead of a rescue cat!

Female turkeys Animal Place March 2015

Apparently the turkeys were very friendly because they were in heat, but the ones I met at Farm Sanctuary last June were also very friendly, so not sure about that! They will eat grass out of your hand!! And they are very gentle with their beaks. Also that little knobbly thing on top of their heads moves like an antenna or cat’s whiskers!!! Neat!

This is Verna, a pygmy goat that Animal Place rescued from some evil people who let her suffer for 18 hours in labor. Her ‘owners’ were willing to shoot her but not to take her to vet. If they had taken her to the vet earlier, the kid would have survived. This is what happens when animals are treated as property. Animal Place rushed her to the vet and paid for her C-section and ongoing medical care. She is isolated from the other goats until she is fully healed. You can read more about her story (including another video) and donate to her medical care here.

Verna the recovering pygmy goat  Animal Place March 2015

So adorable! That is the scar from her emergency C-section.

The cows were so popular, I didn’t manage to get a cuddle, as there was a queue to get in for an audience with them. I did manage to shoot this brief video though of a lucky lady being nuzzled by a young cow.

And in case you haven’t seen enough, here is one last video of more pics from my visit! Enjoy!

What a super fun day! Thank you so much to Animal Place for organizing it all!

Schweitzer vegan quote Animal Place March 2015