Thursday, 30 August 2012

half way mark

Before I go into what's been going on, I should point something out.  Maybe I should have clarified this at the beginning, my apologies but here it is.
When I use the word vegan, I am not by any means stating that I follow a vegan way of life.  I love shoes way too much.
I use the word vegan to describe a plant based diet that I am currently following.  That is not to take away from those individuals who live the vegan lifestyle, it is just to simplify my life and so that I don't have to write 'plant based diet' all the time.  Hopefully, I haven't offended anyone and I'm sure that who ever owns the word vegan, will not mind.  I think this because I imagine that most vegans are non-judegemental, loving, peaceful humans.
Phew, ok, is anyone else getting annoyed by that word?!

So, the last week and a half have been rather eventful.  I had a birthday, I worked a lot, I got really sick and I tried to squeeze as many new recipes as possible into one day so that I had something new to give you.  

I should also inform you that I finally went to see my doctor, figured I needed a blood test so they were probably the best bet.  Plus, I've got a really good relationship with my G.P and he's a very open individual.  Didn't even bat an eyelid when I told him of my challenge. I really thought he might try to talk me out of it as some non-vegans (there we go again) do.
I get my results next week so will keep you posted (unless it's super embarrassing than I might not).

Ok, so my birthday was awesome although I did leave my party after only an hour of getting there.  No dancing with my girls as planned, no hangover the next morning, just in bed by midnight like cinderella (although I had my prince with me, bonus).
That wasn't the bad part, the bad part was feeling like something was not-quite-right for four days before it hit me.  The worst nausea and many trips to the loo.  Had to leave work early because it was THAT bad.  Who would've thought a tinie tiny little bug could cause so much grief?  But it eventually got better and here I am.

Whilst sick, I hardly ate.  This is not good.  I love food and the sight of it made me sick sick sick.  Not to mention it was the prelude to many uncomfortable situations.
But, one must nourish the body in order for healing to occur so this is what I made.

Save Me Soup
serves 4


1 zucchini 
1 carrot 
1 brown onion diced 
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 parsnip
1 sweede
2 stalks of celery
2 cups of spinach shredded
1 handful of vermicelli noodles
1 cup of creamed corn (i use fresh corn, kernels removed and whizzed with some water)
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 litre of water
1 tsp of vegetable stock


Chop vegetables roughly (except those as above).
In a medium saucepan, add the water, vegetable stock, onion, garlic, carrot, swede and parsnip.
When the water starts boiling, reduce heat to simmer and add the rest of the vegetables except parsley and creamed corn.
When the carrot and swede are soft but not mushy, add vermicelli, spinach and corn.  If it's too thick, add more water at this stage.
Cook for another 5 minutes, then turn off heat and stir in parsley.

I don't have a photo for this and it doesn't actually look very pretty but it tastes delicious and it was the only thing I could keep down.
I had it with a slice of organic sourdough spelt toast.

I have also been trying new ingredients and one that's been interesting me of late is buckwheat.  Now, I am trying to eat less gluten (very hard, I love bread) and buckwheat actually has NO wheat in it.  Sometimes they just really get the names wrong don't they?
Anywhoo, here's a recipe that I came up with for lunch today.

Buckwheat and Kale Salad with Ranch Dressing   
Serves 3 as a light meal


1/2 cup buckwheat
1 1/2 cup kale shredded
1 1/2 cup tuscan cabbage shredded
1/4 cup char-grilled capsicum* chopped
1/3 cup baked pumpkin cubed
1/4 cup fresh coriander chopped
1/4 cup ranch dressing


Soak the buckwheat for 20  minutes, rinse and steam for another 20 minutes.
Fluff with a fork when it's done.
In a large bowl, add all ingredients and toss gently to coat.
Add more seasoning if required.
Easy peasy japanesy.

*To char-grill your capsicum, place whole washed red capsicum over your gas stove element and cook until black and charred on all sides.  Once done, place in a bowl of cold water and leave for a while until cool enough to handle.
The blackened skin will peel off easily.  Remove seeds and store left over in a container with olive oil and add some peppercorns for later use.

But you can't have a salad without the dressing, and I got this beauty from here:

It's a great recipe but next time I will change a few things.  I'll repost the updated version once my stock runs out.

I should also report that my man has decided to go on a bit of a health kick.  No, I have not been able to convince him to go meatless but it does mean that he's happy to have more than one meat free night a week.  Good for him and good for me because I get to try out some more recipes.
As a family with two young kids, spaghetti bolognese is a favourite at our place and the lover is usually in charge of making it so I thought it might be a good time to introduce my version.

Spaghetti Veganese (he he he) 
Serves 4


1 large eggplant
2 zucchini
1 carrot
1 brown onion
2 cloves garlic
3 stalks celery
1 Tbs coconut oil
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 tsp vegetable stock
2 Tbs fresh basil
Savoury yeast flakes
Cracked pepper to taste
1 handful of dried spaghetti (about half a pack)


Make pasta to packet instructions and whilst that is cooking, make the rest.
Place all vegetables into your food processor until finely chopped (or looks like mince).
In a large frying pan, heat your oil and add minced vegetables.  Once soft, about 3-5 minutes, add your oregano, paste and vegetable stock.
After 2 minutes, add your canned tomatoes.  If too dry, use a little water to rinse your tomato can and add that to the mixture.
Cook until it starts to boil, then turn heat down and simmer for 10 minutes.
Once cooked, turn off heat and add fresh basil and cracked pepper.
Once your pasta is cooked, rinse and add to sauce.  Mix well until all pasta is covered.
Serve with a sprinkling of yeast flakes and season if desired.
I added some raw fresh spinach also but that's just because I love it so much.

What was the verdict?  Empty plates! And that's good enough for me :)

And here's another meal that I cooked for them.  You can make it meat friendly by serving it with a side of free range grilled chicken.  I marinated the chicken in mexican spices.

Black Bean Chilli   
Serves 4


1 Tbs coconut oil
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup brown onion diced
1/2 cup carrots diced
1/2 cup red capsicum
1/2 cup zucchini
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoky paprika
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 tsp chilli flakes*
1 tsp vegetable stock
1 can organic black beans rinsed
1 can organic diced tomatoes
1 Tbs fresh coriander chopped
Freshly cracked pepper


In a large fry pan, add your coconut oil, garlic, brown onion and carrots.
When onion is translucent, add the rest of your vegetables, stock powder and spices and cook until fragrant.
Add canned tomatoes and add a little water if too dry. 
Turn down heat once it reaches a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add your beans and cook for a further 3 minutes.
Turn heat off and add fresh coriander and cracked pepper.

I served it top of some left over rice that I had and topped it with a basic avocado, red onion and tomato salsa with a lemon and evoo dressing.
*Omit the chilli flakes if your children don't like it.  Mine don't so we just add some once on our plates.  I don't think it compromises the taste.

After my terrible hiatus from food, albeit brief but terrible none the less, I was craving the baked goods I missed out on those few days.
So what's a girl to do?  
Well bake of course!
I revisited a fond friend in the pumpkin cake and this time I used a recipe I found here:

This recipe is to-die-for delicious and results in the moistest, crumbliest, most delicious bread you'll ever sink your teeth into.  If you love pumpkin, you will love this.  The only change I made was that I used 1/2 cup of raisins and 1/2 cup of dried cranberries as I didn't have any fresh ones.  I also added 1 tsp of ground ginger.  Still delicious in my opinion.
My girls loved this as an afternoon treat which always makes me happy.

This bread is still high in sugar so as a random treat it's ok. 
I'm mindful not to feed my girls too much sugar (and I'm trying to cut down also) so I've had to play around with recipes to come up with something they like.  There has been plenty a time when my nearly 4 year old has told me "mum, it's a little bit yum but not very yum".  She's so sweet, always trying to let me down gently.

Here's a recipe that they both loved, phew!

Bananut Cake Bars


2 medium bananas mashed
1/4 cup sultanas
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup almond milk
1/3 cup unhulled tahini and sunflower oil mixture (half and half)
2 Tbs maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/3 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
Pinch of sea salt
Handful of flaked almonds
1 tsp chia seeds


Line a brownie pan with baking paper and set aside.  Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees celcius.
Carefully mix bananas, dried fruit, tahini/oil mixture, syrup and cinnamon.
Fold through flour and salt but don't over mix, this will result in a tough cake.
Spoon into prepared tin and spread out evenly.  Mixture will be thick, that's cool, it's meant to be.
Sprinkle with almonds and chia seeds and gently press into the batter.
Bake for about 35 minutes but start checkin at around 25 minutes as all ovens are different.
It's ready when your skewer comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack (if you can wait until then).
Store in an airtight container.
Can be warmed up and served with freshly made coconut custard.

And I'm spent!

Peas, love and mung beans


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