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end of week 3 and start of week 4

Wow, it’s nearly a month into my challenge. I don’t know about you but to me, the older I get, the faster time seems to pass.  Must have something to do with wanting to try more things, having more responsibility and never, ever, enough time!


This last week I’ve really been thinking about nutrients.  Am I getting enough? Am I eating the right balance of foods, am I not eating enough of the right stuff, should I combine some foods and leave out others?
It can feel a little overwhelming at times, and the plethora of information out there, although great, can also compound this.
I have found some amazing blogs in the process of my research though, and HOLY KALE and THE WELLNESS WARRIOR are among my favourites.  They are packed with good, practical information and some super duper delicious recipes.  

But back to me :) I guess the only way I’m going to be able to know if I’m on the right track, nutrients wise, is in how my body feels.
At the end of week 3, this is what I’ve noticed:

1. I’m really hungry after lunch and this leads to snacking non-stop until dinner.  At which time I’m bloated but eat anyway.

2. I’ve developed some dry patches on my face and have some minor breakouts on my forehead. NOT good.  This could also be due to my lady time approaching.

3.  My hair is falling out and it reminds me of the hair loss I had just after babies, except a little less intense.  But hair loss is hair loss and it points to something not being right.

All is not bad news though.  I still have the same energy levels and am still able to exercise as normal.

I’m sleeping better and I feel more calm in general.  

So, I’m thinking I’m maybe developing some kind of deficiency.  I’m going to make an appointment with a naturopath to sort out what’s going on and to get some guidance around what I can do to rectify the situation.  After all, it would be completely silly that in the pursue of health I end up unhealthy!!
There are so many vegans out there who are healthy and great so there must be something I can do to fix this I’m sure.

In the meantime, I have purchased some liquid iron and I’m trying to squeeze in as much protein as I can at each meal.

It’s been a super busy last couple of weeks for me so not enough time to play around with recipes, but here’s one that I made for dinner tonight.

Mexican Quinoa Wraps

1 Tbs coconut oil
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup brown onion chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smokey paprika
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 vegan stock cube
1 Tbs tomato paste
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup red kidney beans
1 cup of water

Method

Fry the garlic until soft and translucent.
Add spices and chilli and fry until fragrant.
Dissolve stock cube in water and add to onion mixture.
Add tomato paste and stir until all combined.
Add quinoa and cook with lid on for about 20 minutes or until quinoa grains are cooked (will look translucent).
Turn the heat off and stir in the beans.
Put lid on to keep warm whilst you make your salsa.

Avocado Salsa
1 cup avocado cubed
1/2 cup tomato deseeded and chopped
1/4 cup red onion thinly sliced
1/4 cup coriander chopped
1 Tbs evoo (I used chilli infused)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together, being careful not to mash avocado.

You will also need some wraps and what ever other topping you will like to add.
I added some purple sweet potato that I had previously baked.

Assemble and enjoy.
Serves 2

I also have a couple of dressing recipes for you to try.  
As you know, I eat a lot of salads and to be honest, the same ol’ dressing gets a little bit boring.  So here are a few that have been on high rotation over my veges of late.
Try them out and you’ll have fun adding them to yours based on flavour combinations.

Green Machine Dressing

1 avocado
1/2 clove of garlic
Lemon juice
sea salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
water

Place all ingredients in a bowl and whizz it up with your hand blender until smooth.
Adjust the seasoning to taste and either add more lemon or water depending on how zingy you like it.

I love this dressing on my kale salads and I get my hands into it so that every little bit of leaf is covered.
Today I had this with some crispy wholegrain flat bread which i spread with unhulled tahini and warmed in the oven.




Tahini Dressing
2 Tbs unhulled tahini
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp horseradish
sea salt and pepper to taste

Place ingredients in a screw jar lid and shake til combined.
Good on basic garden salads.


Balsamic & Curry Dressing 
Sounds weird I know but you will love it!

3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
3 Tbs evoo
1 tsp curry powder
Method as above

I use this dressing when I make a baked vegetable salad.  I will make some soon and post a picture because it really is delish.

Peas, love and mung beans

xxb

Beetroot and Silverbeet Risotto Recipe

I’m very excited to be sharing this recipe with everyone. 

It wasn’t my first attempt at making risotto but it’s not something I make all the time as I’m not a big fan of white rice but I bought some lovely beetroots and the weather being so cold, I just felt like something warm and inviting.
This dish is quiet rich and earthy and I just love the bright colour – so good.
So here’s my recipe, I hope you like it.

Beetroot and Silverbeet Risotto

Ingredients

1 Tbs coconut oil
1/2 cup arborio rice
1 clove of garlic crushed
1/8 cup brown onion diced
500 mls of vegetable stock (i break up a vegan stock cube in boiling water)
35 mls white wine
1/4 cup beetroot (i bake mine in foil first but you could use canned i suppose)
1 cup silverbeet finely sliced into ribbons
2 Tbs continental parsley, finely chopped
1 tbs finely grated lemon rind
2 Tbs lemon juice

Method

Heat vegetable stock if you are using liquid or if like me, boil some water, add stock and mix well and keep next to you so you can add as you go.

Heat oil is saucepan and add garlic, onion and rice.
Make sure rice is well coated and cook until onion is soft, garlic is fragrant and rice starts to make little popping sounds.  Be careful not to burn the garlic or else you’ll get a bitter taste.
Add wine and stir to combine.
Once the wine has been absorbed, add a ladle of stock and stir.  Leave to be absorbed and don’t add anymore until most of it has been absorbed.
Repeat the process but reserve the last ladle of stock.
Blend this with 1/2 the beetroot and add to your risotto.  
Chop up the other 1/2 of beetroot into tiny cubes whilst the liquid is absorbing and add with the silverbeet.
The rice should be cooked by now and most of the liquid absorbed.
Turn heat off and add parsley, lemon rind and lemon juice.
Stir to combine, add some cracked pepper and you’re ready to serve.

Serves 2


I served this with a simple kale and orange salad, and I think it was a good match.  The richness of the risotto paired with the astringent salad really was a nice balance if I do say so myself.
For the salad, just toss chunks of kale with orange segments, some sliced spanish onion and chopped parsley and dress it with a simple lemon and evoo dressing.  A bit of sea salt and cracked pepper to taste and you are done.
Quick, easy and best of all, super delicious.
Enjoy!


End of Week Two

2 weeks down, 10 to go.

Something that was on my mind a lot since commencing this challenge was how I was going to go about eating out.
Most of my social interactions revolve around food, and most often than not, include going out for a lovely meal.
I don’t ever want to be seen as the annoying friend who can’t eat anything, and who everyone has to accommodate for.  I would hate me if that was me!
To my relief, the 3 times that I have eaten out since the start of the challenge, have been very good experiences.
And not only that, but i’ve also made a little gem of a discovery!

But let’s start with the first place.  
Spencer Guthrie is the name of the restaurant and it’s located in Newtown, Sydney.  I couldn’t find their website for you but you can google the name and have a look at some pics of their food.
It’s a cosy space, with friendly and helpful staff who didn’t seem perturbed when I questioned them about the menu and the possibility of veganising something.  I’ve worked in hospitality in the far away past, and I know that chefs hate to change their menus and I can understand that, they want people to eat their food as they have interpreted it, it’s part of their art. I get it, and I can definitely appreciate it.  That’s why it’s hard for me to have to ask but what else can one do?
Luckily, the restaurant has made allowances for plant food enthusiasts and provide a vegan special!
I guess being in Newtown, I shouldn’t be that surprised :)
So, thank you to my bestie for taking me here and for having such great taste.

And here it is.  So pretty, I didn’t feel like I should eat it!  
It was quiet delicious, and the little turnips that you can see were pickled and so yummy.  

The next place i went to, was my choice as I have been there before and I knew that they made vegan meals.
It’s called The Nepalese Kitchen and it’s located in Surry Hills, Sydney.
It’s a consistently good place to eat, and they have a large cushion room upstairs if you have a big group.
I don’t have any photos of the food because our party was rather large and ravenous and the dishes got attacked before I could get my camera out!
I did tell the staff I was vegan and they were able to adjust the banquet menu to contain a few vegan options.  
Third place is Nourishing Quarter.  It is also located in Surry Hills and it really is a little gem of a place.  It’s cutely decorated with old and nostalgic items, and you somehow feel like you’re going to dinner at your eccentric and nurturing grandmother’s house, who used to be a wild and carefree young woman that once ran away with a gipsy and lived a life of adventure all over the world.

The food was AMAZINGLY good, and our little group, who were all non-vegan, loved it as much as I.
All dishes are based on whole grains and are so flavoursome and textural, it really was a pleasure to eat, as all meals should be.  I will most definitely be going back there, the sooner the better.  We had ‘cheese’ cake for dessert and no one could believe that it didn’t have any animal products in it.  But, don’t take my word for it, go there and try it out for yourself. 

And now I’ll share a little gem I’ve found, it happens to be in Newtown, Sydney.  I’m having visions of sunny days, pushing my girls there in the pram, whilst we work up an appetite for one of their delicious desserts like the one I got to take away on Saturday – Neopolitan Ice Cream Cake.  Enough said.

 

It’s called Sadhana Kitchen and you can check them out here: http://www.sadhanakitchen.com.
It’s the first cafe of it’s kind in Sydney and everything they make is raw and vegan!!! I’m so totally excited about this place I can hardly contain my excitement. yay!
The ice cream cake was so delicious and although I know I should have shared it, it was really too good to spare even a teenie tiny little spoon full.
So to the owner, I salute you!
Really am grateful that you are sharing an obvious love for good, healthy and nourishing food.  


Before I go, I want to share a couple of recipes with you.
The first one is a breakfast recipe that I came up with when I craved a savoury breakfast.  I could eat porridge until the cows come home but sometimes you just need something savoury.
This was my first attempt at making it but really, how hard can blending be?  I think it turned out pretty good :)

Scrambled Tofu

1 tsp coconut oil
1 cup firm tofu
1/3 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond)
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp tumeric
2 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes
Pinch of sea salt
Cracked pepper to taste

Process tofu, milk,spices, salt and yeast until blended but not completely smooth.

Heat up coconut oil in frying pan and add tofu mixture, cook on medium heat until slightly more golden in colour and warmed through.

Easy Peasy.

I served it with some lightly sautéed silverbeet and wholegrain spelt toast with avocado and chilli flakes.
I would have added some sautéed mushrooms but I didn’t have any on hand and I think next time I’ll add some parsley to the scramble for an iron boost.
The next recipe is what I had for dinner tonight.  It’s more of a dressing recipe as it is what makes the dish really delicious.

Quinoa and Kale salad with Dukkha Dressing

For the salad

2 cups kale
1/4 cup red capsicum
1/2 small tomato chopped in large chunks
!/4 small red onion sliced thinly
1/4 cup cooked lentils
1/4 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup avocado cubes

For the dressing

2 Tbs dukkha
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbs raw unfiltered acv
1 Tbs chilli infused evoo 
1 tsp sea salt or to taste

Mix dressing ingredients together (i use an old mustard jar to shake it to death)
In a large bowl, place all salad ingredients together and pour on the dressing.  Using a large flat spoon, gently fold the ingredients together to incorporate the dressing until it’s all covered in it’s yummy goodness.

I served it with a baked sweet potato. YUM.

For those who are wondering what the hell dukkha is, you can find a really simple recipe here: http://pinterest.com/pin/10414642859093563/

I feel like I’ve been trying to do and eat as much plant based foods as possible to prove to myself that it’s just as normal as a diet incorporating animal products.
I realise now I really don’t have to do that.  Normal is very subjective.  It is what it is and what makes you feel the best is what should be normal to you.
My concerns re: eating out, amazing treats, delcious ‘creamy’ things, getting enough protein/iron are being eased the more I read and the more I see and experience.
So now I will take a deep breath, wind down the momentum, and start fresh.
I will try to get back to the normal routine of eating, which doesn’t always include cake and ice cream! 
My goal for this coming week, is to try and cut down on the sweet little treats by finding alternatives.
I’ve got some pesto recipes that I want to try out and make some dips and ‘cheese’ too.
Wish me luck lovers!

Peas, love and mung beans

xxb



S N A C K A T T A C K IDEAS


We all find ourselves reaching for comfort food at times, everyone has something that they prefer.  For me it’s always baked goods or crispy chips.

Here’s two recipes that should help when the munchies attack.
But remember, just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s not calorific, so portion control is something to keep in mind with the more indulgent treats.

Kale chips

bunch of kale (washed and thoroughly dried)
olive oil (approx. 2 Tbs or more if you have more kale)
2 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes 
sea salt

Preheat an oven to 125 degrees
Tear your kale leaves into bite chunks
mix olive oil, salt and nutritional yeast together.
mix thoroughly through the kale.
I use my hands to make sure each leaf is covered.

Bake for 20 minutes on a tray lined with baking paper.
They are ready when they are crunchy!

I have had some suggestions from other kale chip lovers which include coating them in apple cider vinegar – instant salt and vinegar chips!

Also, for a more oriental flavour, try mixing some tahini with tamari and some grated ginger.

Mmmmm, can’t wait to try out these variations.

The best thing about these? Portion control not required :)




Now for some baked goodies!
I adapted the following recipe from one I found here://www.food.com/recipe/vegan-pumpkin-cake-452855
I’ve reduced the amount of sugar and oil as I also added some sultanas and almond milk.
I suppose it’s probably more moist if you added the suggested amount of oil but I found my version was moist enough.

Pumpkin cake squares

Ingredients
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1/3 cup sunflower oil 
1/4 cup rice malt syrup 
1/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 1/2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 teaspoon ground cloves 
1/2 teaspoon ginger 
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 cups fresh pumpkin cooked and mashed

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. 
Grease a square pan. 
Line the bottom with baking paper. 
Place sugar, oil, syrup and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. 
Whisk until sugar is dissolved.  Add sultanas.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, spices and salt.
In small alternating portions, add the flour mixture and pumpkin to the liquid ingredients. Begin and end with the flour mixture. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake 55 minutes to an hour. 








This went perfectly with a large mug of green tea when I needed a little afternoon pick-me-up.



Another favourite snack of mine is corn thins.  You can literally spread anything on them. I love to smear as much avocado as I can and then sprinkle with some dukkah and/or chilli flakes.  Quick, simple, nutritious and delicious.
If I feel like something sweet, I can’t go past some unhulled tahini or nut butter and some chopped banana on top.
If hunger strikes and I happen to be out and about, there’s always a sushi store around where I pop in for some delicious edamame.
And let’s not forget our good friend mr. dark chocolate, although, it’s probably best to leave him for very special occasions :)

Would love to hear more snack ideas as I’m always looking to stock up on my munchies arsenal.


Peas, love and mung beans

xxb











vegan pantry essentials

Just a quick one for those who are interested in experimenting with a plant based diet.  There are some essentials that you need to keep in your fridge/cupboard to make preparing your meals a lot quicker and easier.


Here’s a list of all the food products i seem to use a lot of:


wholegrain oats
quinoa
quinoa flakes
brown rice flakes
nuts and seeds (mainly almonds, walnuts, pecans, pepitas, sesame, sunflower)
unhulled tahini
organic corn thins with sesame
dried fruit
chia seeds
maca powder
spirulina
raw cacao powder
maple syrup
rice malt syrup
spices (mainly cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg & cloves)
curry powder
chilli flakes
chickpeas
lentils
red kidney beans
black beans
brown rice
coconut oil
extra virgin olive oil
brazil nut and flaxseed butter
almond butter
stevia




In my fridge


almond milk (unsweetened)
soy milk
coconut water
dark chocolate
kale
spinach
tuscan cabbage
red cabbage
zucchini
capsicum
avocado
sweet potato
pumpkin
cauliflower
broccoli
flax seed oil
nuttelex
apples
oranges
bananas
strawberries
kiwi fruits
mint
parsley
corriander
frozen berries
frozen peas & carrots
savoury yeast flakes




And then you have your basic pantry items that most kitchens have.  I find that the above are enough to make a meal in minutes.
I mainly eat raw for lunch and dinner but I also like to prepare some quinoa or brown rice to last a few days. 
I also bake pumpkin/sweet potato so that it’s ready for me to use in salads, curries, soups or even to stir through some porridge like I did this morning.  it was totally delicious, and I added some of the above spices and it actually tasted like a pumpkin pie, no sugar added and best of all, a serving of vegetables with minimal fuss (picture below).


If I’m time poor, the quickest, and one of my favourite all time meals is some brown rice and quinoa mixed together with lentils, avocado, herbs and tomato.  drizzle with some tahini & lemon juice, add some sea salt and a sprinkle of chilli flakes and you’re ready for some seriously nutritious tucker.


what’s your favourite go to meal?


peas, love and mung beans


xxb