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end of week one

Week one down, eleven to go.

Ok, so i’ve learned a few things from week 1.  
First of all, as I’ve said before, preparation is key.  If you happen to get caught out without any pre-prepared food, know where there are vegan friendly stores.  Luckily, working in the inner city, there’s plenty of choice.

Second thing I’ve found works for me is to have an eating routine.  So the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is to have a litre of water followed by a dandelion root tea.  I figure if I can knock out 1 litre first thing, I can get away with missing a litre throughout  the day if I get busy and forget to drink water.  Which is something I do all the time.

Third is this: VEGAN FOOD IS YUM!

I’ve been experimenting with different textures and even got to do some baking.  It turned out amazing, and even my chocolate cake loving but vegan disliking partner loved it.  That’s pretty strong proof that it’s a good cake.

So here is the recipe which I have changed a little bit but you can find the original at…that-happens-to-be/

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Cake Ingredients

1 1/4 cups flour

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 Tbs granulated coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar

Chocolate Glaze
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp margarine (i used nuttelex)
2 tbsp soy milk
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt with a fork, making sure it is really blended together. Add the water, vanilla, oil, and vinegar, and again, mix together so that it’s really blended together. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides if necessary.

Pour into prepared pan (i used a square one) and bake in oven for approx. 40 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.  Wait for it to cool on rack prior to cutting.

For the glaze: in a small saucepan, bring sugar, margarine, milk, and cocoa to a boil. Stir frequently; then reduce heat to a simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir for another 5 minutes.

Add vanilla, stir, and immediately pour onto cake. Glaze dries really quickly, so spread it immediately and add any sprinkles now. Let this cool for an 1 hour, if you can wait that long!

I dressed it with some fresh strawberries and it was delicious.
This would also be a good cake for people with dairy and egg allergies and perfect for kids parties when you don’t want to leave anyone out who has allergies (except gluten).
It was good to know that I can still bake some delicious things without having to worry about compromising taste, so I feel some relief about that.  
However, I think in a few weeks I might start trying to cut back on the sugar and probably wheat but I’m mindful that I’ve just implemented a big change in my life so I don’t want to send my body into shock!!!
But before I do that, here’s another recipe for dessert that I developed.  
I don’t know about you, but I love love love custard and I love to pair it with stewed fruit mostly.  So here’s a recipe for a winter warmer that includes fruit, custard and some granola for added crunch :)
I make the granola bars ahead for me and the kids to have as snacks on the go and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge, it last for ages, but never more than 2 weeks in my house.
I just crushed them up and used it on the dessert. yum!
Baked apples and pear with brown sugar custard and granola crunch
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges
2 pears, peeled, cored and cut into thin wedges
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs water

Place all ingredients in saucepan, cover and put on low heat for 2 minutes. The apples and pears will drop some fluid.  Remove lid and cook until soft or to your liking.  You can remove the fruit and continue to simmer the liquid for a few more minutes or until it thickens slightly.  It will be plenty sweet.

Brown Sugar Custard

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp flour

3 tbsp cornstarch

1/4 cup water

1 1/3 cups soy milk

2 tsp vanilla

1. In a medium bowl, beat together sugar, flour, cornstarch and water quickly for about 2 minutes, or until it’s creamy.

2. Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Pour 1/3 cup of the milk into the sugar mixture and combine. Add the sugar and milk back to the saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. It starts to thicken right away.

3. Cook until it begins to bubble, whisk super hard for 30 seconds then remove from the heat. Add in vanilla.

4. Transfer to a bowl.

Vegan Granola Bars

2/4 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp nut butter (i use brazil nut and flaxseed)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 tsp of ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg
pinch of ginger
pinch of cloves

1 1/2 cup wholegrain rolled oats
1 cup brown rice puffs
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup flaked almonds
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup mixture of shredded coconut, sesame seeds and salted peanuts.

Preheat oven on 180 degrees celcius.

Heat wet ingredients until gently boiling and stir for about 3 minutes or until thickened.

In a large mixing bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and then stir in the warm liquid.  Mix thoroughly and pour into a tray lined with greaseproof paper.  Flatten down (I put more paper on top and flatten it by rolling a glass over it).
Bake, uncovered, in a moderate oven for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares or desired shape and size.

Note: this granola recipe is awesome because it’s so adaptable.  I use whatever dried fruit and nuts I have and sometimes, I add macca powder or raw cacao powder if I want it to have a boost of antioxidants with a chocolate hit.

Okay, the finished product is basically just layering the whole thing together, you could do it totally pretty and layer it in a glass where you can see all the layers, or, you can do what i do and just throw it all on the plate and call it rustic :)

But just so you know, I haven’t just been living off desserts, as yum as that would be.
I’ve found that I’ve been eating mainly the same things at each meal.  So just about always porridge for breakfast, I just change the fruit that I put into it, or add spices.
For lunch I normally have a kale/spinach salad with either lentils, chickpeas, red kidney beans or quinoa.  I always add capsicum as I know that adding vitamin C rich foods increases iron absorption from the legumes, spinach and quinoa.
I normally add avocado also, as I think it’s important to eat good fats, specially since my regular fish oil tablets are off limits.  I have also been adding chia seeds to my water for a boost of omega 3’s.
Dinner is mainly baked vegetables with a side of kale/spinach, legumes and some type of carb, mainly sweet potato, brown rice or quinoa.  I do love tofu but I haven’t yet had any.  I’m going to try some tofu recipes this coming week.  A cauliflower and tofu curry with herbed quinoa is on my mind, specially in this cold weather.
Salads are my favourite though, they’re just so quick to make and I love that you don’t really have to cook anything!  It’s not laziness, well, not entirely anyway :)
Here’s one that I had tonight.

Green monster salad with lentils and pomegranate

1 cup kale
1 cup tuscan cabbage
1/4 cup red capsicum
1/4 cup baked pumpkin
1/4 cup avocado cubes
1/4 cup cooked lentils
2 Tbs pepitas
2 Tbs raisins
1/2 small pomegranate, seeds removed
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
sea salt
cracked pepper
Mix the dressing ingredients and toss through the salad until all  the greens and vegetables are coated with it.
Food aside, I have noticed a few things happening with my body.  
The main one that is at the forefront is how regular I’ve become.  I thought I was always regular but I’m more so now.  In one short week, I feel like my insides have been cleansed and so everything that I eat, soon finds it’s way out.  
I don’t particularly love talking about my bowel habits but alas, I think it’s an important change.  Certainly those with a sluggish system might benefit from eating a plant based diet, even for the short term.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve lost some weight.  Not that it was my intention but I guess it makes sense.  Eliminating animal products also eliminates a lot of hidden fats/sugars that you find in ready made foods.
You are mainly making your meals, so you can control what goes in and how much and also the quality of the ingredients that you use.
I’ve also noticed that I’m actually full after my meals.  I normally need to snack about an hour after but I’m not doing that so much now.  I can’t really explain why this is.
I do however, make sure that I have a good snack with me for the afternoon snack attack and I’ve also discovered the most amazing tea EVER.  Seriously.  
As you know, I’m a massive sweet tooth and so what I do now is make myself a large mug of Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice Tea with some soy milk.  The cinnamon and liquorice root make it sweet and it has absolutely NO sugar.  
I have a feeling it will become my best friend when I attempt at reducing my sugar intake.
Ok, just before I finish I have to tell you that my one big disappointment was having to give up Lindt dark chocolate, specially the one with a touch of salt which i’d just been getting into.  But, I have found a vegan friendly replacement at half the price.  Yes, it just happened to be at Aldi and it just happens to be dark and it just happens to be organic.  major win.
Til next time lovers.
Peas, love and mung beans
p.s you can also find me on instagram (brendad)for more food pics :)

day 1

Before I start telling you about the first day of the challenge , I want to share a little something.   maybe a bit too much, but I think it’s important.

The night before the challenge begun, I totally over did it on the animal products.  I normally don’t eat like this but for some reason, my brain, or my stomach, or maybe they were both in cahoots, thought it was a good idea to pig out (no pun intended).
So, for my last meal, I had chocolate biscuits, half a block of milk chocolate (i usually eat dark so go figure), 3 slices of orange and almond cake, avocado and cheese toasties and a magnum almond. 

well, let’s just say that the churning in my stomach at bed time was not pleasant.  a few trips to the loo, a stench that would make a tip employee wince and a belly that looked 5 months pregnant was enough to tell me that I had chosen the wrong foods to eat.

this is important because: 
1.  having been preparing myself for the challenge for the last month, i have been staying away from dairy and eggs so I know for a fact that it was all the dairy that did this to me.

2.  listening to your body and how it feels after you consume food is important.  take note for next time.

3.  although my partner is not keen on my vegan quest, i bet he’ll love not having to deal with the constant aroma i was creating.

I don’t think this challenge will be that difficult but I could be wrong.  The main drive for me to do this is to eat clean, eat fresh and be creative.  So i’ve decided that instead of focusing on the things I can’t eat, I’ll focus on the things I can.  I’m not really into the bastardisation of food so products like not-bacon or meat-free meat are really not my thing.  I think that would be such a contradiction – eating food that is highly processed when you are meant to be eating clean.  doesn’t make sense. 

So let’s dive in to day 1.

I woke up feeling tired, bloated and full but ravenous.  all the feelings i feel when i’m hungover (which is not too often i might add).
a wise friend did say that this would happen after knowing the contents of my last supper.  wish i had thought of this before.
and i don’t know about you, but when i’m hungover, i’m like a bottomless pit.  Nothing satisfies my hunger, or let’s correct that, it’s not really hunger, it’s just a need to consume everything in sight.   
uh oh, not a good start.
for breakfast I had green tea porridge. yum, I love green tea and I love porridge so it made sense to combine the two.
I now know that it’s best not to have tea with your meals as it reduces the amount of iron that your body absorbs.  For that reason, I probably won’t do it too often as I need all the iron I can get.
Here’s the recipe for those that don’t have issues with iron absorption.

Green tea porridge
1/4 cup wholgrain oats
1/4 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup coconut water
1 tsp green tea powder
1 tsp stevia powder (optional)
pinch of sea salt
Mix in a saucepan until all ingredients are combined and to the consistency that you like.
Lunch was a salad with lots of spinach, seeds and pumpkin, with my favourite dressing of the moment – tahini and tamari.

Spinach and pumkin salad with tahini

2 cup spinach
1/4 cup carrot sticks
1/4 cup red capsicum
baked pumpkin (approx. 1.5 cups)
1 tbs sesame seeds
2 tbs pepitas


1 tbs unhulled tahini
2 tbs tamari
1 tbs water
cracked black pepper to taste

Mix dressing ingredients together and add more water if you like it thinner. Toss through vegetables and seeds until well coated and you’re good to go.

Unfortunately i ended up having to do a double shift at work so as I had not prepared for it, I ended up having to eat the food provided.  I think the vegan gods really want me to do this though because one of the choices was a vegan cous cous with baked vegetables and lentils (accidental I’m sure but a win for me).

One thing I can’t stress enough is the need to be prepared.  I always take some almonds or corn thins to work with me for that 3pm slump and today was no exception.  But sometimes, healthy snacks are not enough and you crave something a little bit more decadent :)

Here’s my recipe for some brownies that I tweaked and adapted from one I found on the happy herbivore.  It yields 12 brownies depending on how big you cut them.  they keep really well in a sealed container in the fridge and really satisfy the chocolate cravings.  Don’t be scared by the ingredients, you would never guess it had beans in it, I swear!!

Gluten Free Vegan Brownies

1 420g can of red beans (drained and rinsed)
2 bananas
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
3 tbs sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8×8″ pan and set aside. Combine all ingredients, except quinoa, in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, scrapping sides as needed. Stir in the quinoa and pour batter into the pan. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing.  Note: if you find these brownies are too soft or too fudge-y, add another 1/4 cup quinoa, flour or almond meal.  
You could also add nuts for an extra protein hit, but i left them out this time.

So there is the first day, along with lots of green and chai tea, an apple with peanut butter, a handful of mixed raw nuts, some dates, and orange and 2 slices of spelt sourdough with banana and maple syrup (bottomless pit remember).  Way more food than I consume in a day and all very sugary.  It may just be the food hangover, it may be that I need to add more protein to each of my main meals so that they are more satisfying or that I need to drink more water.  Whatever it is, I’m slowly trying to figure it out.

This blog is not intended as a food diary, so for that reason, I’ll update the blog on a weekly basis, most probably sunday or more often if something super exciting occurs.  

I thought it was important to document the first day so that I could make a comparison with how the rest of the journey goes.
Hoping to have more recipes by sunday.

peas, love and mung beans


pre V-DAY jitters!!

so, i’ve been playing around with vegan recipes for the past month or so and i’ve decided to push myself a little further by taking a 12 week vegan challenge.

i should give a little background first.  
i love food. 
a lot.  
i know, everyone does, and what’s not to love?  it sustains us, makes us happy, it gives people a reason to get together and enjoy each other’s company.  and for some, it is used as a way to make others know we care without saying a word.
what i love the most about food is that you don’t have to have a lot of money to eat good food, you don’t have to have fancy tools or machines, or be particularly skilled, you just have to love food, have an imagination, and want to create.  the rest, like all things where love is concerned, fall into place.

but back to my challenge.  
there’s no one particular reason why i’m doing it.  people who know me know that i’m always trying weird and wonderful diets (and by diets i don’t mean diets to lose weight, i mean the real meaning of diet, which is the chosen foods consumed by an organism).  

i was a vegetarian on and off since high school until my early 20’s and for the past decade, i’ve eaten mainly an pescatarian diet, had periods where i maintained a vegetarian diet and most recently where i tried the paleo diet (that only lasted for 4 weeks, couldn’t live without grains).
what i’ve noticed about all the different diets i’ve tried is how i have felt within myself.  it’s really not rocket science that what you put into your body will affect the way you feel and perform.  research shows that diet is the major contributor to health, not just of the body but also the mind.
having said that, i’m not an expert and this is not a blog about what is healthy or better for you.  
i believe everyone is different and what works for one doesn’t work for another.  everyone is unique and that is what makes us all amazing beings :)

so, this blog is primarily to keep me focused. to diarise changes (if any) that occur to my body and mind and to share the recipes i come up with to keep me interested.  
i would really love any comments, recipes, ideas, encouragement, research articles, e.t.c., that any of you may have ( and yes, i have made a big assumption that anyone is actually reading this).
i hope that if you are not a fan of veganism, that you don’t submit any negativity, i think the world is too  full of that already.

peas, love and mung beans.