today’s smoothie (a current favourite): almond milk + frozen banana + strawberries + 180 nutrition protein powder (vegan formula) + raw cacao powder + coconut butter + chia seeds.
I suppose I should acknowledge my lack of posting lately. Sorry! I have been wildly busy working, doing honour’s research and trying to catch a break to nap somewhere in between!
Today I want to talk tempeh. I have eaten it a couple of times in the last few months - in salads and curries, and now, burgers! I must say, I really like the taste and texture of tempeh. If you don’t like tofu then I recommend trying tempeh as it is quite different. You can use it easily in non Asian style cuisines. Two recipes I’ve bookmarked are veggie + tempeh sloppy joes and tempeh tacos.
This week I decided to go out on a limb and buy some - Nutrisoy tempeh burgers to be precise. They are lightly seasoned with herbs, spices and garlic, and come pre-cooked, so you can eat them cold or warm them up. I decided to lightly fry mine until it was warmed through. I took two slices of rye bread, buttered one piece and spread Iku salad dressing on the other piece, then added a quarter of an avocado and some mixed baby salad leaves. It was really delicious and filling. I didn’t get a picture because I was too excited about eating it. Haha!
Have a great week!
Last night we had a bunch of good people over for dinner. I love cooking for people. Have I ever mentioned that? I LOVE IT. We talked by candlelight and finished up the meal with chocolate tiny teddies + ginger tea.
Anyway, the above picture is leftovers from last night - our dinner for tonight! When people are over I’m so busy playing hostess that I always forget to take pictures. Here’s what I cooked:
It was real good (if I do say so myself). The quinoa ‘mac n cheese’ has no pasta at all (just quinoa… surprise!) so it has a greater nutritional value than the old staple. While it isn’t exactly healthy, it’s the kind of familiar comfort-foody vegetarian meal I like to cook for meat eaters. It has a yummy panko and parmesan crust that gets delightfully golden in the oven. And it has spinach, guys, so… it has some green. Which is good. Even if that green is drowning in cheese sauce… ?
As for the salad, it involved mixed leaf lettuce, basil plucked fresh from my garden, beautiful tomatoes in shades of red, yellow, orange and black/ dark green, some chunks of perfect avocado, big blobs of Iku salad dressing and shoyu seed sprinkle. Too easy and flavour packed. Summer tomatoes are beautiful.
Now, let’s talk sweet potato wedges. I decided not to peel them for the first time ever - and it was awesome. Seriously. Never peeling sweet potato again. I cut them up into big wedges and then sprinkled them with garlic salt and smoked paprika. I may have added a touch of pepper and a good glug of olive oil (didn’t have enough coconut oil!). I baked them for about 40 minutes and everything was ready just as my friends arrived. Lovely.
This week I tried the most delicious dairy free milk I’ve ever had: Coconut Dream! Of course, it would be better to have the unsweetened version, but I wasn’t concentrating that hard. I was in an amazing health food store, saw this carton and popped it right into my basket! Coconut milk impulse buy - that’s the kind of gal I am.
Anyway, it was insanely delicious. I just ended up drinking it by the glassful and using my trusty Pacific Natural Food’s almond milk for my smoothies. Oh me oh my. I also indulged in CoYo coconut milk yogurt with lots of summer berries. Needless to say, I’m a bit of a coconut freak.
Sadly, non dairy milks (other than soy) don’t do so well in tea. So I’ve started having more teas that don’t require milk: green tea, peppermint tea, camomile tea, fruit tisanes. My favourite teas at the moment are made by Pukka: their ‘Revitalise’ + ‘Three Ginger’ blends. So warming and gorgeous. Milk free tea makes me feel strangely zen ;)
Since Christmas I’ve been making a concerted effort to eat less dairy. Why? Because I have long suffered from digestion issues - as a child I actually thought it was ‘normal’ to have a tummy ache every day… and I think dairy may be the culprit. I don’t necessarily think that I have an ALLERGY, but I at least have an intolerance/ limit. I’ve also been taking a probiotic, made by Wagner called Probiotica. It was recommended to me by my Uncle, and I like it as it doesn’t contain gluten, wheat, dairy products, egg, soy, corn, artificial colours, artificial flavours, artificial sweeteners or preservatives! And I must say that I am feeling better. I have had a couple of tummy aches in the last month or so, but definitely not daily ones.
Now before you start hollerin’ that I’m a dairy avoiding vegetarian and doesn’t that practically make me a vegan (!??!?!), relax. I am not a vegan. I still love eggs (from happy chickens only, please) and goat’s cheese, and do accept the odd dash of cow’s milk in my tea where no alternative is possible (as well as a *little* bit of cheese in my food). And I am taking a calcium supplement in spite of my large consumption of greens + sesame seeds. Now that we’ve got all that out of the way, let’s talk non-dairy milks!
There are so many types of non-dairy milk. Personally, in physical shops in Sydney alone, I have seen milk made from soy, almond, rice, coconut, hazelnut, oat, quinoa and millet. I know people also make it using hemp, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, as well as every other nut in the known world. Mixed with vanilla bean or dates for a little sweetness… Or as I have found to be my personal preference, with no sweetener at all. This is because I drink most of my milk in smoothies, where the fruit adds enough sweetness (and is balanced by the bitterness of cacao).
In the past I have said that oat milk is my favourite, but I’ve recently replaced it with Pacific Natural Food’s organic almond, because almond seems to be the healthiest option. Pacific’s ingredient list is less disturbing than some others I have seen. For an almond milk, Pacific’s is pretty well blended - some brands have a dreadful grainy texture. It is available from a little grocery that I manage to get to twice a week, but I haven’t really seen it in the big supermarkets.
Ultimately, I would like to make my own almond milk. I know it isn’t difficult, it’s just a matter of getting around to it. Thanks to my ever supportive Mama, I’ve got my nut milk bag ready to go. All I really need now is some bottles to store my milk in.
Perhaps you are thinking, why don’t you just use soy milk?? This is certainly a fair question. Soy milk is pretty tasty stuff, particularly Bonsoy (shame about that iodine controversy!) I suppose if you have a nut + dairy allergy (you poor soul!) then soy is a good choice. But some studies suggest that too much soy consumption can really screw around with lady hormones so I figure I’d rather just stick with nut milks and meet my soy limits through tofu, miso + shoyu. Of course I don’t reject soy milk at cafes or other people’s homes where it is the most common non dairy milk available, I just don’t buy it for my own daily use.
Any questions, feel free to ask away!
Well, this year is off to a good start! I made a raw vegan cheesecake and it was delicious, healthy and easy. Yeah. I think this one is going to become a bit of a regular in my kitchen for all those reasons. Not to mention that it looks and tastes impressive for such a simple and short list of ingredients, and very simple processes. Since you don’t need to fire up your oven, this is a perfect summer dessert… or breakfast in my case. Haha. Thanks My New Roots!
So, what’s in it? The base is medjool dates, raw almonds and a tiny bit of salt. Chucked in the food processor. That simple! Press the mix into a cake tin. The “cheese”cake part is soaked cashews, lemon juice, agave syrup, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Popped into the food processor again. Done! For the raspberry layer, you simply save 1/3 of the cheesecake mix and add raspberries to it. AND - you guessed it, in the food processor. AND that, my friends, is all that is required to make this delectable cake. You put it in the freezer to get solid, and then eat it (either frozen or after letting it sit at room temperature for half an hour).
ALL you need to make this cake is in the picture above!! C’mon guys. No excuses not to give this baby a whirl.
Here’s my Mama enjoying the dreamcake for afternoon tea. We’d just done a kilometre swim and had a spa. Holidays sure are tough ;)
So, give it a go! Medjool dates are very easy to come by these days (major supermarkets have them in the fresh produce section) and you can use honey instead of agave syrup if you prefer (although then the cake won’t be strictly vegan).
Of course, if you don’t fancy raspberries (what’s wrong with you?!) then you could use blueberries, strawberries, mulberries, cranberries, mango, peaches, or even cacao for a chocolate dreamcake!
Here’s what I made for dinner tonight. No recipe required. Utterly delicious. Here’s what’s in it:
Tonight’s dinner inspired two thoughts I want to raise with you, dear reader. Firstly, I hate the word ‘superfoods’. Truly. I may have mentioned it before. I also may have used the word before - we’re all learning.
I hate it because it implies that goji berries are some how more magical than the humble broccoli. I hate it because it connotes the exotic and the exclusive. It connotes fads - and the fools who shell out premium $$ for things which really aren’t that great… like buying air guitars on eBay. I think it actually does a disservice to people who try to promote healthy eating. It makes healthy eating seems inaccessible and obscure. Yes, I eat dulse flakes and chia seeds and goji berries and slather both my food and my face with coconut oil. So, why? Because they are nutrient dense. In other words, more bang for your buck. They also taste delicious. They may seem expensive, but you only need a teaspoon of chia seeds to sprinkle over your morning muesli. And in the end, I believe investing in your health is so worth it. I’d rather buy shoyu sprinkle than shoes. Any day.
Whew! Rant over.
The other thought I wanted to raise is being mindful of what is around your home. And I’m talking about food. I know that if there’s chocolate in my cupboard, I’ll eat it. Even though my willpower has gotten stronger, why tempt myself? Don’t buy foods you don’t want to eat. Even if they are for your partner/ kids/ visitors. If you fill your home with good foods, you can make a dinner like mine in a pinch. Really, it’s just an egg from a happy hen, some veggies (which I’ve used in other dishes during the week) and some nutrient dense staples that I always have lying around to add that extra special flavour/ texture. When your blood sugar drops, so does your ability to make healthy choices. If you stalk into your kitchen hungry, trust me, 9/10 you will eat those chips/ cupcakes/ insert your poison of choice here. Make a fresh start this new year. Clear out the junk. Stock up on the good stuff.
I’ve been keen to try out Heidi Swanson’s ‘sushi bowl’ idea for quite some time. It dawned on me a day or two ago that I had all the ingredients I needed at home - no shopping required, my favourite! - and so I saved the image from her blog onto my desktop as a reminder to make it. Of course, when the time to cook came (Sunday lunch) I couldn’t be bothered to read the recipe. Haha. So I suppose you could say this is my sushi bowl, as inspired by Ms. Swanson.
Now, a word of caution - this bowl is only as good as the ingredients you have. Don’t try and make it if you only have a browning avocado and some white rice from who knows when! Unlike stir-frys, where you can sort of get away with chucking tired, wilted veggies into the wok (and whipping them up into a shiny frenzy with good old sesame oil), this requires the good stuff. Here’s what I used:
While visiting one of my Aunts and Uncle in Perth, something happened. Well, that something was a meal. And it was such a special experience. I can’t really fully articulate what it was about this meal that made it so meaningful to me - though sharing a meal clearly prepared with love with your family is always a meaningful experience, there was something more to it.
My Aunt and Uncle are not vegetarian. They do not usually - my Aunt explained to me - intentionally cook vegetarian food, although they don’t eat a great deal of meat. My Aunt expressed that she was a little worried about cooking for two vegetarians, but pictured how the meal would look and confidently proceeded. The meal was simple, and homemade - boiled eggs from her daughter’s hens, home cooked slabs of beetroot, raw vegetable salad, a couple of veggie ‘sausages’, rice salad, mixed vegetable pasta, roasted veggies, homemade garlic bread, washed down with my Uncle’s home-brew of iced tea, a gorgeously refreshing mix of herbals. My Uncle is a very manly ‘Aussie bloke’ who recently gave up all alcohol cold turkey (and has lost about 15kg thanks to it), who now takes pleasure in adjusting the citrus, peppermint and camomile flavours in his iced tea. My Aunt then served up a couple of little chocolates and a massive platter of freshly sliced fruit for dessert.
This meal was just utterly, utterly beautiful.
I think perhaps what touched me the most was the mindfulness of the meal. My Aunt made lots of food to feed us all. My Uncle made iced tea so he could have something in his wine glass too. Everything was fresh, beautiful and healthy (minus the chocolate, of course). But the best part was that everything was vegetarian. Usually I am used to being the ‘dietary requirement’ person when eating with others. But to be given the chance to share this beautiful meal with my family (especially my Pop who has just turned 95) was a real joy. All eating the same things. All enjoying the same tastes, together. Not having my vegetarianism relegated to some unpleasant lifestyle choice to be examined with equal parts admiration/ guilt/ dismissiveness while others eat meat.
I’m not quite saying all of this how I mean to. I don’t mind if people eat meat around me. Sharing meals is always sacred. But this one was just extra special, and I hope I explained a little of why to you.
My very first homegrown tomato! The variety is ‘orange pixie’. So exciting!