January 31, 2012

Snap pea, quinoa and hemp salad


I often pick up seasonal produce from the markets without knowing exactly what I might use it for. To me, fresh ingredients are all the inspiration I need to get thinking about recipes and start cooking!
This past weekend, I picked up a big bag of gorgeously green snap peas from the market, along with a ton of other fresh vegetables, of course. I really wanted to embrace the beautiful flavour of these peas and to do that, the best way to enjoy them was raw. 

I've combined some left-over quinoa, fresh parsley from my kitchen garden, a cooling and alkalising cucumber and some nutrient-rich hemp seeds to make this delicious lunch salad. Lightly drizzled fresh lemon juice and good olive oil is all you need to enjoy these summer flavours.



Snap pea, quinoa and hemp salad
(Serves 2)

300g snap peas
100g cooked, cool quinoa
1 small cucumber
1 handful of fresh parsley
3 tablespoons hulled hemp seeds*
1/2 lemon, juiced
extra-virgin olive oil

* In Australia, hemp seeds are available online - http://www.hempgallery.com.au/

1. Shell the snap peas. Combine the peas with quinoa, chopped cucumber and finely chopped parsley.

2. Lightly toast the hemp seeds on a dry frying pan. Toss them in with the rest of the ingredients. 

3. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over the salad. Toss to mix.

January 29, 2012

The Protein Myth in Vegan Diet + Lentil patties


"Where do you get your protein from?", is one of the most common questions I get when I tell someone I've gone vegan. Beans, peas, greens, nuts, seeds, lentils - plants! There is certainly no lack of protein in a plant-based diet, yet the protein myth persists. The rise of the high-protein diets (paleo, being the latest), has probably contributed to this myth and vegan diet is considered merely wishy washy in comparison. This presumption of vegan diet lacking protein (or anything else, for that matter) could not be further from the truth.

Take these lentil patties, for example. They contain 150 grams quinoa, which has 13.8g protein per 100g, and 200 grams lentils, which have 24g protein per 100g. Both quinoa and lentils are thus a great source of protein for vegans and non-vegans! My non-vegan fiancé loves these patties and served with a fresh salad and/or some grainy bread, they certainly make a satisfying meal.

If you are interested in reading more about protein in a plant-based (and non-plant-based) diet, I recommend you to read "The China Study", by Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II. Colleen Patric-Goudreau also has an informative podcast titled "The Protein Myth and Vegetarianism",which I highly recommend you to listen.


Lentil patties

200g red lentils
1 carrot, chopped into tiny cubes
1 celery stick, chopped into tiny cubes
1/2 brown onion, finely chopped
2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch of good quality salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 litre water


1 heaped tablespoon unhulled tahini
150g rolled quinoa
virgin coconut oil

1. Combine the lentils, carrot, celery, onion, garlic and spices in a saucepan. Add water and bring to boil. Let simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are fully tender and the mixture has cooked down.

2. Add tahini and rolled quinoa into the mixture and let simmer for a further 5 or so minutes. You should now have a very thick, sticky mixture. 

3. Let the mixture to cool down. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Oil your hands with some virgin coconut oil and shape the lentil mixture into small patties. Place the patties on to the baking tray and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 170C.

5. Bake the patties for 25-35 minutes or until they feel firm to touch. Make sure to turn them around half way through cooking. Serve with a salad and/or with some bread.

____


Update: Thank you for all your feedback! Since many of you have asked about calcium, I'll be doing a post on the calcium myth in a vegan diet next!

January 27, 2012

Vegan Inspiration - Soba Salad


It is never too late to change a habit. A habit is a habit is a habit - correct? The 21-Day Vegan Challenge has certainly proven me that if you break that habit (be it anything at all) and give yourself time to adapt (21-30 days), you will succeed. "I could never give up cheese", I used to say. "I only really eat a little bit of dairy", was my other excuse. Now, after over two dairy-free months, I feel no need or urge to eat dairy and I think this feeling is even stronger after finally opening my eyes to all that goes on in the dairy industry (not to mention the egg industry!). I strongly believe that certain things only happen when the time is right. Be it career, dietary or lifestyle, the change will happen when you are ready for it. Being vegan finally feels right for me, and like so many other vegetarians, the transformation into a vegan feels natural.

If I can single out one person that has greatly inspired me throughout this transformation, I would have to give the credit to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Her tireless work to promote animal rights, veganism and compassionate living is truly inspirational and I am so thankful for all the work that she does to educate, motivate and encourage people, not to mention all the wonderful work that she does for the animals too, of course.

This recipe is inspired by Colleen and I think this salad is a great example how nourishing and delicious vegan food can be. I do encourage you to invest in 100% soba (buckwheat) noodles, since they have superior taste and texture to those with only a small amount of buckwheat flour in them. I am not a fan of wheat noodles, but these I am more than happy devour. Enjoy!


 Soba Salad
(Recipe inspired by Colleen)

1 packet 100% soba noodles
2 carrots, julienned
1 scallion/green shallot, finely sliced
1 small red capsicum, finely sliced
3-4 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons sesame oil (cold pressed, this isn't as strong tasting!)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon tamari or Bragg's all purpose seasoning
pinch of chilli flakes

1. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, about 6-8 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

2. Combine the noodles, carrots, green shallot, capsicum and sesame seeds in a bowl. Toss to mix.

3. Combine the sesame oil, apple cider vinegar, tamari and chilli in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add the dressing into the noodles and toss to mix.

----

I am planning to do more posts on vegan foods and vegan living in the near future, but in the mean while, please take a moment to browse through Colleen's website and especially her podcasts and videos.

January 25, 2012

21-Day Sugar-Free Vegan Challenge - Week 3

It's the final week of my 21-Day Sugar-Free Vegan Challenge! Thank you again for your comments and emails, they really mean so much to me.

In my previous post, I mentioned how 'easy' this challenge has been for me. By that, I really only meant the part of not eating any animal products - that has been a no-brainer and I haven't missed anything at all. On the other hand, however, this challenge has been truly insightful and immensely eye-opening. In past weeks I have soaked up a lot of information about vegan lifestyle, I have learned about the health benefits of a vegan diet, and I have become more aware of the responsibilities that follow from consuming animal products.

Ignorance is a bliss, they say.  I have learned so much during this vegan challenge, I simply can't ignore the facts anymore. I started this challenge for purely 'selfish' reasons, ie. I wanted to see what difference it would make for the way I think about food (obviously I was already a vegetarian and didn't eat dairy), how it would make me feel physically and would I be able to come up with recipes that were 100% vegan. I realise now, towards the end of the challenge, that this isn't really about me anymore. It's about being a conscious consumer (see my thoughts about it here), being compassionate towards other people, animals and the world we are living in and it's about the animals. I am now fully convinced that I don't need to consume animal products to stay healthy, I don't need to consume them to feel satisfied and I can certainly survive and be joyful and energised without meat, dairy or eggs. 

My goal with this challenge now is simply to inspire, raise awareness and show that it can be done. I am not going to start preaching about the health risks associated with consuming animal products or the horrific practises that take place just to satisfy humans' taste for meat, dairy and eggs. I can only encourage you to find out yourself, learn as much as you can and then make your own decision.

I hope you have enjoyed this challenge and I hope I've been able to bring the vegan message forward. Although these are the final recipes for the challenge, this is far from over for me. Rather, this really is the new beginning.



WEEK 3
Day 15. 

Breakfast: Green smoothie

Day 16. 

Breakfast: Steamed or fried temped with leafy greens and fresh, raw vegetables. Sprinkle the salad with sunflower or pumpkin seeds and drizzle with olive oil or flaxseed oil.

Day 17. 


Day 18. 

Dinner: Roasted pumpkin orzotto (leave out the feta cheese for a vegan version)

Day 19. 

Breakfast: Sugar-free granola
Dinner: Spelt couscous salad with grilled eggplant (leave out the pomegranate and the figs for a sugar-free version)

Day 20. 

Breakfast: Green smoothie

Day 21. 



Please take time to visit Colleen's wonderful website. Her podcasts and writings are incredibly inspiring, thoughtful and informative

January 23, 2012

Vegan Zucchini Tarts


Hello hello my lovelies! I hope you had a great weekend!

I am very excited about this recipe. The more I embrace the vegan diet, the more I discover recipes I can make vegan. Like these tarts, for example! I always used to think one needs an egg white (if not the whole egg) to bind the base ingredients together when making a tart and one might even need to throw in some dairy or another egg for the filling, right? Wrong! These tasty zucchini tarts are 100% vegan and truly truly enjoyable! 

The final recipes for my 21-day vegan challenge are coming up later this week. I have received some encouraging feedback from quite a few people and I thank you so much for that! To me personally, this has been the easiest 'challenge' I have ever embarked and if it truly takes 21 days to change a habit (that's what they say!), this has certainly done more than just that. I have learned to embrace the vegan diet, learned so much about veganism and my only regret is that I haven't done this earlier! Anyway, I will share more thoughts about going vegan and a summary of the challenge a bit later. In the mean time, here's the vegan zucchini tart recipe!


Vegan Zucchini Tarts
(makes 2 small individual tarts)

Base

50g rolled oats
20g puffed brown rice
80g rye flour (or wholegrain spelt flour)
pinch of quality salt (Celtic sea salt is excellent)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons water

Filling

about 1/2 cup (100g) cooked quinoa (left-over is fine)
1 zucchini, sliced into thin disks
100g rough almond meal
extra-virgin olive oil

1. Grind the rolled oats and puffed brown rice in a food processor. Add flour and salt and grind until quite fine. Add olive oil and water and lightly knead into a ball. Divide the dough into two and spread into two greased (with olive oil) individual tart pans (12-13cm each). Cool in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

2. Preheat the oven to 180C.

3. Bake the bases for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the quinoa on top of the bases. Top the quinoa with the zucchini slices, sprinkle the almond meal on top and drizzle with some olive oil. Continue to bake for a further 15-20 minutes. You can lower the oven to 160C. Leave to cool on a wire rack before removing from the pans and serving.

January 21, 2012

Skin Beauty Salad

I never really used to worry about my skin health back in Finland. There was hardly any need to be concerned about sun damage, I didn’t have bad acne or other skin conditions and I was getting enough sleep, exercising and eating well. When I moved to Australia, I was surprised how many people were complementing me on my skin. No one had ever said anything about it to me before and I had just taken good skin for granted.

After 6 years in Australia, however, my skin has clearly changed. Not just because I’ve aged (obviously), but also because it’s hard to avoid the harsh Australian sun. Even though I don't sun bake, I do all my exercise outdoors and thus spend quite a bit of time in the sun. I do use sunscreen (there are some great non-toxic creams available!), wear protective clothing and try to avoid staying in the sun for long periods between 11am and 4pm. I also get my skin checked regularly for any suspicious spots. Equally important, I take care of my skin by eating well.

Karen Fischer, skin beauty queen and author of ‘The Healthy Skin Diet’, recommends increasing the amount of alkalising foods in your diet to promote healthy skin. These could include salads, cooked and raw vegetables, avocado, almonds, fresh lemon or lime and apple cider vinegar. Excess acidity in the body can cause a variety of skin problems and result in a dull complexion.

Moisturising foods, especially those containing valuable omega-3 fats, are essential to your skin’s well-being. For vegetarians and vegans, foods rich in omega-3 include flaxseed, walnuts, soy beans and tofu. Other important foods to include in your diet include avocados, a variety of seeds (pepitas, sunflower, hemp), nuts (almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts), good oils (flaxseed, walnut, coconut) and leafy greens.

This beauty salad combines many of those ingredients vital for good skin health. Tahini dressing coats the chickpeas and the baby spinach leaves, and grilled zucchini and diced avocado bring extra creaminess to the dish. I also added some soaked almonds for an extra layer of texture. Delicious!


Skin Beauty Salad
(serves 2)

230g cooked chickpeas (or use 1 tin)
2 big handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1/2 avocado, diced
1 small handful of almonds, soaked in water overnight
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/2 cm disks
olive oil, for brushing
2 tablespoons unhulled tahini (or use this recipe)
1/2 lemon, juiced
water
pinch of salt
1 small garlic clove
freshly ground black pepper

1. Lightly brush the zucchini slices with olive oil and grill on a pan for a couple of minutes on each side. Set aside.

2. Combine tahini, lemon juice and grated garlic in a small bowl. Add enough water to form a smooth, runny dressing. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

3. Place the chickpeas in a bowl and coat them with the tahini dressing. 

4. Place the baby spinach leaves in serving bowls, top with tahini coated chickpeas, diced avocado and the zucchini slices. Sprinkle with soaked almonds (or seeds of choice).

 

January 19, 2012

Vegan Carrot Muffins

Hi friends!

Here's the vegan breakfast recipe I promised you earlier this week. These carrot muffins became my instant favourite - and they're sugar-free too! I love the gorgeous colour given by the freshly made carrot juice and they are just perfect for your breakfast table or enjoyed with a cup of tea in the afternoon.

It's funny how we tend to think baking as such a strict, rule-laden form of art. Baking without white flour, sugar, butter and eggs can (in my opinion at least) result in just as tasty (if not tastier) and certainly much healthier outcome. The whole process becomes much more interesting and enjoyable when you stop treating baking as a chemistry class and start experimenting with your own ideas instead.

These muffins are a perfect example: trust the natural sweetness of carrots (no additional sugar needed), the combining force of tahini (instead of egg) and the goodness of the wholegrain. I'm in love!


Vegan Carrot Muffins
(makes 10)
(Recipe inspired by Caroline Marie Dupont)

260g wholegrain spelt flour
110g rolled oats
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
375ml (1 1/2 cups) freshly made carrot-ginger juice*
50ml olive oil
2 tablespoon tahini (recipe here)

* I used about a kilo of carrots and a small knob of ginger to make the juice. 

1. Preheat oven to 180C and prepare a 12-cup muffin tin.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients together.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the juice, olive oil and tahini.

4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack before serving.

January 17, 2012

21-Day Sugar-Free Vegan Challenge - Week 2

It's the second week of my sugar-free vegan challenge! How are you guys going? Have you tried any vegan meals yet? 

There is certainly no shortage of vibrant, nourishing vegan meals for lunches and dinners, but coming up with ideas for breakfast may seem more troublesome. I made this vegan baked rhubarb oatmeal last weekend and I was immediately hooked! I love finding a new dish to add into my breakfast repertoire! Stay tuned, however, as I've got yet another new and tasty vegan breakfast recipe to share with you later this week!

Until then, enjoy and please remember to share your feedback, ask questions and send comments! 
I'd love to hear from you!



WEEK 2

Day 8. 

Breakfast: Green Smoothie
Dinner: Pearl barley salad with roasted pumpkin (for a sugar-free version, leave out the caramelised balsamic and the quince paste)

Day 9. 

Breakfast: Tofu scramble
Lunch: Roasted capsicum soup with Finnish scones (for a vegan version, make sure to check that the bread used to thicken the soup is also vegan!)

Day 10. 

Lunch: Rosolli

Day 11. 

Breakfast: Sugar-free granola
Lunch: Black rice and purple carrot salad (for a sugar-free version, leave out the pomegranate seeds. You can use normal carrots as well.)

Day 12. 

Breakfast: Raw carrot soup
Lunch: Spiced chickpeas with spinach with fresh salad (for a sugar-free version, leave out the pomegranate molasses)
Dinner: Marinated tofu with seasonal veggies (for a sugar-free version, leave out the maple syrup)

Day 13. 

Breakfast: Green Smoothie

Day 14. 

Breakfast: Sugar-free granola
Dinner: Black rice and shiitake salad 




In addition, every day, eat fresh salads (with avocado, flaxseed oil, sunflower seeds) and nuts (raw, soaked or activated). 

Snack ideas: Sugar-free power balls, rosemary roasted almonds, activated spiced nuts, vegan dips (with vegan crackers or raw veggies)

Plant milk recipes: brown rice milk, quinoa milk, oat milk, almond (or any other nut) milk, soy milk 

Please note that I am not a qualified nutritionist and all the recipes are my personal suggestions only.




 
Shopping List


Vegetables and Fruit: rhubarb, cherry tomatoes, kale, baby spinach, pumpkin, fresh shiitake mushrooms

Grains: Non-glutinous black rice (available at health food stores)

January 15, 2012

Baked rhubarb oatmeal


This morning, after being down with a cold for the past four days, I felt like having something a bit more wholesome and warming for breakfast. I can't think of many meals more comforting than a bowl of oatmeal and that's exactly what I needed this morning. Combined with almonds, chia seeds and cinnamon and a layer of soft rhubarb on the bottom, this baked oatmeal is truly comforting, and perfect for lazy weekend mornings.


Baked rhubarb oatmeal
(Recipe inspired by Heidi Swanson + this recipe)

230g rhubarb, chopped into 2cm pieces (fresh or frozen)
230g rolled oats (use gluten-free, if you prefer)
100g almonds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
500ml home-made almond milk (recipe here)
olive oil, for brushing

1. Preheat oven to 180C and brush a medium-sized oven dish lightly with olive oil.

2. Cover the bottom of the dish with rhubarb pieces. Combine the oats, almond, chia seeds, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl. Pour the mixture on top of the rhubarbs and finally pour the almond milk (evenly) on top. 

3. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm.

January 13, 2012

A Trio of Dips


Hi friends!

Thank you so much for all the feedback on the vegan challenge! I'm so excited to hear so many of you are keen to take part on the challenge and hopefully some of you have been inspired to at least consider adding a couple of vegan days on your week every now and then.

I have had a major craving for dips/spreads/purées of all sorts this week. These three colourful dips are my current favourites and they are perfect weekend food - dipped or spread on flat bread, crisp bread, wraps or enjoyed with fresh veggies.

Enjoy and I hope you have a beautiful weekend!


Zucchini Almond Dip
(Recipe adapted from Choosing Raw)

1 cup almonds, soaked overnight
2 zucchinis, chopped
2 small cloves of garlic
1/2 lemon, juiced
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Place all ingredients in a blender/food processor and purée until the mixture is smooth, but has some texture to it. A little bit of crunch is good.



Beetroot-Sun Dip

2 large beetroots
1/2 lemon, juiced
3-4 tablespoons sunflower seeds (soaked overnight, if you wish)
1 teaspoon mustard powder
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook the beetroot (with skin on) until tender.

2. Peel the cooked beetroot and chop into cubes.

3. Place all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth (or crunchy, which ever consistency you prefer).



Sweet Potato Hummus
(Recipe adapted from Wholeliving)

350g cooked sweet potato, chopped
200g cooked chickpeas
2 small cloves of garlic
1/2 cup tahini (recipe to follow)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 lemon, juiced
(water)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper 

Tahini
4 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted until golden brown
1 tablespoon cold-pressed sesame oil
pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons warm water

1. To make the tahini, place the sesame seeds in a food processor (or a coffee grinder) and blitz until smooth. Add sesame oil, salt and warm water (tablespoon at a time to reach a perfect consistency) and blitz until smooth. Set aside. 

2. Purée all ingredients until smooth. Add water if you want the mixture to be thinner.

January 11, 2012

21-Day Sugar-free Vegan Challenge - Week 1

You know I like a bit of a challenge, yes? Well, this time I’m asking you to join me – so, are you in?? Let’s do a 21-day sugar-free vegan challenge together!

Since quitting sugar, meat and dairy off my diet, people kept asking me "what can you eat then?". This challenge is hopefully proving the point that vegan food can be versatile, nutritious and tasty. Vegan food is not a sacrifice, but enjoyable, energising and inspiring way to eat.

What is veganism and why should you go vegan?

Vegans avoid consumption of all animal products, including food, clothing, accessories and beauty products. (See a list of food items commonly mistaken as vegan here).

Although a vegan diet may seem somewhat radical and even extreme, it can actually have some great health and environmental benefits. For many people, a vegan diet is also an ethical choice and more than just a way of eating. Veganism as a lifestyle reaches across all areas of daily life.

How the challenge works?

You can start the challenge whenever you feel ready. I have provided you with a list of recipes for the first week of the challenge (see the links below) and I will post more recipes again next week.  Most of these recipes will be from my own archives, but I will also share some brand new vegan recipes during the challenge. There will also be some repeat of recipes (like breakfasts), but I've tried to provide a wide range to suit all climates and tastes. I’ve included recipes across the seasons so if you can’t find all the ingredients, try mixing and matching the recipes to suit the produce available in your region. 

If you do decide to take the challenge, I would love to hear your feedback! Email me, leave a comment below or message me on Twitter to let me know how you’re going. 

Let’s go! 



WEEK 1

Day 1. 

Breakfast: Sugar-free granola
Dinner:  Beetroot Orzotto

Day 2. 

Breakfast: Green Smoothie
Dinner: Amaranth and quinoa stuffed capsicums (can be made with quinoa only)

Day 3. 

Breakfast: Oats, quinoa or buckwheat porridge with ground cinnamon and almond milk
Lunch: Cashew cream cheese with quinoa flat bread and raw veggies (carrot, celery, cucumber)

Day 4. 

Breakfast: Sugar-free granola

Day 5.  

Breakfast: Scrambled tofu made with firm tofu, nutritional yeast, tamari, olive oil and some ground black pepper. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Day 6. 

Breakfast: Green Smoothie
Lunch: Pea, herb and almond crush on vegan bread or wraps

Day 7. 

Breakfast: Soy barley porridge (leave out the umeboshi for a sugar-free version)
Lunch: Zucchini rolls with almond stuffing (serve with fresh salad and whole grains)
Dinner: Quinoa-Mung Bean Patties (served with quinoa, rice or other whole grain of your choice. Leave out the orange in the avocado dip for a sugar-free version)



In addition, every day, eat fresh salads (with avocado, flaxseed oil, sunflower seeds) and nuts. 



Shopping List

This list may seem extensive at first, but if you don’t want to stock up on everything, just repeat some of the dishes you find suitable. I keep most of these items stocked up at all times. They are a good basis for a healthy and versatile vegan kitchen.

*Vegetables and Fruit: fresh or frozen garden peas, watercress, snow pea sprouts, snow peas, green beans, yellow squashes, avocados, lemons, beetroot, cauliflower, garlic, fresh herbs (chives, mint, basil, oregano, rosemary), celeries, ginger, cucumbers, spinach, frozen edamame beans, carrots, red capsicums, zucchinis, spring onions, broccoli

* I've left out most fruit to keep this challenge sugar-free

(Raw) pulses, grains and flour: Quinoa flour, quinoa flakes, quinoa (seeds), rolled oats, buckwheat kernels, pearl barley, amaranth (optional), mung beans, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, black beans, red lentils, beluga (or French) lentils, Non-GMO soy beans

Nuts and Seeds: walnuts, almonds, cashews, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds (optional)

Oils and vinegars: virgin coconut oil, flaxseed oil, extra-virgin olive oil, walnut oil (optional), brown rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar

Spices: ground cinnamon, ground cumin, ground cardamom, ground turmeric, ground ginger, black pepper, good quality salt, ground licorice, pink peppercorns

Others: Good-quality organic vegetable stock (preferably home-made), non-GMO tofu, non-GMO tempeh, unsweetened coconut flakes, coconut cream, kelp noodles (or dairy-free, eggless noodles), miso (without dashi), tamari or Bragg's liquid aminos or all purpose seasoning, nutritional yeast, vitamin B12 supplement

Please note that I am not a qualified nutritionist and all the recipes are my personal suggestions only.

Vegan Books and Links:

Moskowitz, I. S. and Romero, T. H. Veganomicon The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook (2007)

Davis, B. and Melina, V. Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based  Diet (2000)

The Vegan Society

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/

www.veganyumyum.com

January 09, 2012

A quick weekday meal: Black-eyed bean stir-fry


Hello dear friends!

Just a quick new recipe for a week night meal idea. This is a super-easy stir-fry, but such a pretty one I couldn't resist sharing the recipe with you! Black-eyed peas/beans are a great addition to the seasonal, colourful veggies I picked up from the farmers' market on the weekend. Just leave the beans soak for the day, cook them while you're prepping the vegetables and you'll have a meal ready in no time at all. Enjoy!


Black-eyed bean stir-fry
(serves 2)

1 cup black-eyed peas/beans, soaked for 8-12 hours
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1 small red capsicum
2 carrots
1 zucchini
2 yellow squashes
a handful of green beans
a handful of snow peas
2 shallots/spring onions
pinch of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Drain the beans and place in a saucepan. Cover the beans with fresh water and bring to boil. Let simmer for about 30 minutes or until the beans are tender.

2. Thinly slice the vegetables. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the carrots on to the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add all other vegetables. Cook for a few minutes, season with salt and pepper and turn off the heat. Don't over-cook the vegetables, they are nice with a bit of crunch!

3. Drain the cooked beans and add them into the vegetables. Serve immediately.

January 07, 2012

On conscious, mindful eating + A recipe for Power Balls!


In my New Year’s post I talked about the changes I had made during the previous year - quitting sugar and dairy and returning to vegetarianism.  All these choices were pushed by a strong will for a healthier life and a growing awareness of my surroundings.  I have always been very conscientious, so it feels like a natural, ethical decision to not eat meat and instead eat foods that I feel provide me with the best nourishment and lead me towards a better health and wellbeing.

Conscious eating is more than just making the right ethical choices. It is about getting in tune with your body, knowing what it needs and what it can’t tolerate and how it reacts to the foods you are consuming. Practising this kind of awareness takes time and patience and I cannot claim to have mastered it fully myself. Experimenting with dietary changes, like the ones I mentioned above, can give you a better understanding of what it is that your body acquires.  

Along with the right ethical and nutritional choices, conscious eating is also about appreciating the food and fully embracing all meals. Caroline Dupont, the author of ‘Enlightened Eating’, recommends practising conscious eating by avoiding all distractions at meal time, appreciating the food with all your senses (the smell, the colours, the taste and texture) and making eating a complete experience.  

In today's busy world, it is easy to see why this is so hard to put in practise. A lot of people eat most of their meals on the run – grabbing breakfast on their way to work, eating lunch at their desks and finishing the day with a meal in front of the tv or a computer. Convenience conjoined with multitasking is everything and people have lost part of their intuition when it comes to consuming food. That intuition, amongst other things, should tell you when you're hungry and what foods you should eat/avoid for optimum health. If eating is always secondary and distractions are present, it is impossible to follow that intuition.

My journey to conscious eating begins when I buy the produce. There is nothing I love more than going to my local farmers' markets every week to pick up fresh ingredients to cook with. Chatting to the growers who picked their produce for the market just the previous night gives me a real connection to the food and a much deeper appreciation for it. I cannot claim to be perfect, however, as just like many others, I sometimes do eat meals in front of my laptop, working and typing away. I have made a conscious effort, however, to be more aware and make conscious eating a habitual choice. These are the first steps towards a more mindful eating.

Tips on how to get started

  1. Be aware of the origins of your food. Shop at farmers' markets, if you can. Select products that have less food miles. 
  2. If you do eat meat (or other animal products), make sure you know the source and be sure the animals have been treated and killed as humanely as possible. 
  3. Eat more raw foods and choose a variety of colours, flavours, textures and shapes – this will accentuate the whole eating experience.  
  4. Experiment with different dietary changes. Try a week without gluten and dairy and see if you feel different. Try eating more vegetables and less fruit, try cutting out all sugar. Note down the feelings you experience during the experiment.
  5. Make meal times a priority – no tv, no computer, no magazines or books. Set the table (even if you’re eating alone), light up a candle and savour the meal.

With these thoughts, I’ll switch off my laptop, pour myself a cup of tea and savour one or two of these delicious, gooey, spiced sweet potato and cacao power balls. Enjoy!


Power Balls
(makes 10)

450g cooked and mashed sweet potato
2 heaped tablespoons almond butter (made with 1/2 cup raw almonds, recipe here)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons pure, raw cacao powder (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground licorice
virgin coconut oil, for rolling
unsweetened desiccated coconut, for rolling (optional)

1. Combine the sweet potato, almond butter and chia seeds in a bowl.

2. Mix together the cacao and the spices and stir into the mixture. You should have a gooey, sticky mixture. Rub your hands lightly with coconut oil and roll the dough into about 10 balls. 

3. Chill the balls in the fridge (20-30 minutes), then roll the balls in desiccated coconut before serving. These will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.

January 05, 2012

Inspired by Raw

It may not always seem like it, but I actually eat most of my daily meals raw. I love starting my day with a green smoothie and prefer salads and other raw meals for both lunch and dinner. This is not just a summer thing either, but I enjoy raw meals throughout the year. Obviously the abundance of fresh produce in summer makes it much easier to stick to all raw foods and during the cooler months your body is asking for something warm. Listening and responding to these needs is an important part of mindful eating.

I'm a strong believer in the benefits of raw food. It has been said to raise energy levels, improve your skin and even aid physical illnesses. I also find raw food incredibly inspiring - it's amazing how much you can create by using fresh ingredients, like vegetables and fresh herbs, and seeds, nuts, sprouts, etc. The choices are endless!

Even if you're not keen to go all raw, consider replacing even one meal a day with a fully raw alternative. Green smoothies, soups like the ones below and salads are a great way to get your raw groove on.

”The food you eat can be either 
the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” 
Ann Wigmore


Raw Carrot Soup*
(Recipe adapted from here)
(serves 1-2)

2 small carrots
1 tomato
1/2 avocado 
fresh ginger, to taste
juice of 1/4 lemon or to taste
pinch of good quality salt
freshly ground black pepper
water

* Preferably use all organic ingredients.

1. Chop the carrots, tomato and avocado in small pieces. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add enough water to reach desired texture.


Raw Creamy Green Soup*
(Recipe inspired by Enlightened Eating)
(serves 1-2)

4 cups loosely packed baby spinach
1/2 avocado
1 celery stalk
4 tablespoons chopped green beans
1/2 bunch or about 5 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped shallots/green onions
juice of 1/4 lemon
pinch of good quality salt
1 cup water

* Preferably use all organic ingredients.
 
1. Chop the avocado and celery stalks. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.


Ingredients for raw kitchen:

  • nut or seed butters (almond butter recipe here, leave out the roasting bit for a raw version)
  • nuts (raw or soaked)
  • Seeds (raw, soaked or sprouted  - sunflower, pepitas, hemp, chia, quinoa)
  • grains (soaked) and legumes (sprouted)
  • sprouts (see my sprouting guide here)
  • dehydrated vegetables, seed crackers and breads, etc. (preferably made using a dehydrator) 
  • fermented and pickled foods

Books & Links

Davis, B. and Melina, V. Becoming Raw - The Essential Guide to Raw Vegan Diets (2010)

Russell James

Ani Phyo 

David Wolfe

http://www.rawmazing.com

January 03, 2012

Juicing and Cleansing

This morning I visited my local health store to stock up on some liquid iron (a supplement I take every now and then), Super Greens powder (containing spirulina, barley grass, chlorella and wheat grass) and other essentials (raw chickpeas, sunflower seeds, flaxseed oil, etc). I can just imagine how busy these stores get right after New Year. Everyone has made that (same) New Year's resolution to lose weight, to quit smoking, to live healthier. People are desperately seeking for a (preferably) quick diet solution that will help them lose those extra kilos.

Although I can't exactly say I over-indulged during my break (see my Christmas menu here and New Year's menu here), I felt like it was a good time to reassess my relationship with food. Having done a three day alkalising cleanse in the past, I didn't really want to set up any time restrictions, nor do a full-on juice fast, but rather just replace some of my meals with fresh juices, leaving one light meal (a salad with greens, flaxseed oil and some sunflower seeds) to have each day. I will go like this for 3 days, 5 days, a week - whatever feels right.

This method works well for me, especially since I have already quit sugar and dairy and consume no alcohol and nowadays very little caffeine, if at all. My juicer has been churning all spring and summer and I've become a little addicted to my fresh vegetable juices in the morning and my daily green smoothies. Juicing is a great way to cleanse and even if you are not keen to do the whole fasting thing, you can easily add fresh vegetable juices in your daily diet and perhaps try a green smoothie as a light meal or just as a snack. For a real super smoothie, try mixing in some flaxseed oil and Super Greens powder.

I'm a strong believer in eating right for your body type - we are not all the same so how could one eating plan possibly work for everyone? I also like to experiment and see what effect these experiments might have in my health and general wellbeing. I can honestly say that quitting sugar and dairy have made me feel better. This to me is enough proof to keep me on this clean path. Equally, eating meat never suited me and I have no desire to go back being a carnivore. Thus, I think each person should first understand their body type (Deepak Chopra's book below is a great way to start) and then make the necessary dietary/lifestyle adjustments. What works for me, might not work for you. It is as simple as that.



Here are some of my favourite vegetable juices to get you started. You can really let your creativity go wild! Almost anything can be juiced, even sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and cabbages! Just remember to use seasonal produce and preferably choose organic. If you're using conventional produce, washing the ingredients with white vinegar-water mixture (with a ratio of approximately 1:3) might help reduce the amount of toxic residue.

Green Beauty Juice

 1/2 bunch of celery (with leafy tops)
 1 long cucumber
 a knob of ginger
 juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Wash all the ingredients well. Juice the celery, cucumber and ginger. Squeeze in the lemon juice. Drink immediately (or preferably within 2-3 hours).

Green Smoothie

 1 portion of Green Beauty Juice
a large handful of spinach
1/2 avocado, chopped
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
2 teaspoons Super Greens

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Drink immediately or within 2-3 hours.

Gorgeous Beet Juice

2-3 beets (can use the leaves as well, if you wish)
a knob of ginger
juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Juice the beets and the ginger. Drizzle with lemon. Drink immediately.

Other tasty flavour combinations include:

carrot
ginger
lemon

cucumber
broccoli
ginger
lemon

bok choy
parsley
ginger
lemon


Other tips for cleansing

I try to dry-brush my entire body every day or at least a few times a week. Here is a good guide for dry-brushing.

I love having a (rather large) range of herbal teas in my pantry at all times. Some of my favourite flavours include licorice root, peppermint, different warm spice mixes (like cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves) and dandelion root tea. Herbal teas are a great caffeine-free alternative for coffee.

Exercise-wise, it probably goes without saying that rigorous training, whilst cleansing, might not be the best idea. I prefer walking, swimming and yoga (even when not cleansing), but I also allow my body to rest more during the cleanse.

These are just some of the books I've been reading lately:

Dupont, C.M. Enlightened Eating - Nourishment for Body and Soul (2006)
Deepak, C.  Perfect Health - The Complete Mind/Body Guide (2001)
Junger, A. Clean - The Revolutionary Program to Restore Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself (2009)