Saturday, 18 August 2012

week 4 comes to a close

I'm nearing the end of week 4, 1/3 of the way through the challenge, and I'm a bit up and down.  
Not so much with the food, but maybe my hormones. I don't think that has anything to do with having a plant based diet, or does it?
I've been reading a lot about the effect of hormones in your body and I know for sure that dairy and soy products can play havoc on your system in this regard.
I'm not saying you shouldn't have these things, after all, we're all different and what works for some, doesn't work for others.  I'm not sure where I lie, but I do know that hormones suck and I personally wish I wasn't so susceptible to their effects.
The lability in mood at your lady times, the impact they can have on your skin and even what you crave to eat!!! It's fair to say, they are important little buggers who are not going away.

Although dairy isn't an issue for me at the moment, I am having soy on a nearly daily basis every time I have my coffee.  If there was a coffee shop that used nut milk instead I would be there in a flash, but alas, soy is the only alternative at this stage, and I'm not yet ready to give up my coffee.

I've also been thinking more about the products I'm using on my body.  It makes sense to be on this path I guess, after all, you can't be so aware of what goes into your body to feed your organs and not worry about what you put ON your major organ.
What I found out is this:
-  there are toxic substances in just about everything, and just walking out the front door exposes you to a lot of it....and you haven't even started eating yet!
-  some things found in everyday items, including personal products, mimic the action of natural hormones found in your body, thus altering your body's performance.
-  although you can't avoid everything, there are definitely things you can do to minimise your exposure.

For this reason, I have begun purchasing products which are based on natural ingredients and where possible, organic.

Now I must say, I'm a product junkie.  I love it all, creams, serums, sun care, make up, facials, e.t.c., and after having terrible skin post babies, I really became obsessed with it.  
So, this hasn't been an easy thing for me to do. I'm terrified that my new routine will result in break-out hell and ruin all the time I've spent getting my skin back to normal.
But, for the sake of research, and on the quest of a cleaner, healthier, more aware way of living, I've done it.
So, my new routine is an Australian organic cleanser, hydrogen peroxide 3% at night to keep breakouts at bay and coconut oil to moisturise.  I use a tiny amount of coconut oil on my face and then use it all over my body.

Here's something I found scary but useful and led me to change my routine:

Obviously, it's still early days to know whether this will work for me or not but I'm hoping it will, besides, paying $10 for 500 mls of organic coconut oil really makes my wallet happy :)

Now, let's talk food!

So, I've been dying to try out a cheesecake recipe I found whilst trawling the net during my snack attack phase, and, having friends over for lunch today, proved the perfect time to try it out.

I adapted this recipe from one I found at, an amazing blog you should check out if you haven't already.  Thanks to my lovely friend Angelica for putting me onto it.

Raw Raspberry 'Cheese' Cake


1/2 cup raw almonds 
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup soft Medjool dates
¼ tsp. sea salt

3 cups raw cashews (soaked for at least 5 hours but overnight is best)
juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp. alcohol-free vanilla extract
2/3 cup raw coconut oil, melted
2/3 cup maple syrup
1 cup raspberries (thaw completely if using frozen)
1/2 cup strawberries


Line a deep pie dish or small round springform pan with glad wrap or baking paper.
Place nuts and dates in a food processor with sea salt and pulse to chop until they are to your desired fineness (process a finer crust longer than a chunky one). 
Scoop out crust mixture in prepared pan and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout. Rinse food processor well.

Warm coconut oil and maple syrup in a small saucepan on low heat until liquid. Whisk to combine.
In the food processor/blender, place all filling ingredients (except berries) and blend on high until very smooth.  About 3 minutes.
Pour about 2/3 of the mixture out onto the crust and smooth with a spatula. Add the berries to the remaining filling and blend on high until smooth. Pour onto the first layer of filling. 
Place in freezer until solid.
Remove from freezer and allow to thaw for about 30 minutes prior to eating. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. You can have it on it's own or serve it with whatever accompaniments you desire.

The best thing about this recipe, apart from the taste obviously, is that you can keep whatever is left over in the freezer.  WIN!

But, it was not just cake that we fed our lovely guests, we also made a seafood paella and of course, being on a vegan journey, I just had to make a vegan version.

Quinoa Paella


1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups quinoa
1/4 teaspoon saffron, crushed
2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
400g can organic diced tomatoes
1/3 cup red capsicum chopped
400g can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
750ml vegetable stock
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup artichoke hearts, rinsed and cut into quarters
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 lemon


Rinse quinoa thoroughly and set aside to drain in a colander.

Sauté onion and garlic in a heavy based saucepan with a little water until soft. 
Add quinoa and saffron and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add paprika, cumin, cayenne, tomatoes, capsicum and 500 mls vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to very low, and cook covered for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, check to see if more stock is needed (If it looks dry, add the remaining vegetable stock, if it looks too wet, take off cover until some of the fluid evaporates). 
Place the zucchini on top of the quinoa and re-cover. Cook for about 5 more minutes, until quinoa is done. 
Stir in peas and beans and cook uncovered until peas and beans are warm and all liquid is absorbed. 
Pour into a serving plate and arrange the artichoke hearts on the top.
Sprinkle with parsley and squeeze lemon juice over the top.

Serves 6

I was really impressed with this recipe, and even though there was no chorizo to give it that extra hit of flavour, it was still super tasty.
I served this with a kale, watercress and orange salad that I dressed with orange juice, olive oil, maple syrup, cumin and red wine vinegar.  It was a good accompaniment as the citrus and astringent quality of the salad really set off the richness of the paella.
This is another recipe that keeps on giving and I'm planning on using the left overs to put into wraps with some wedges of avocado and some red cabbage slaw. Mmmmm, makes me hungry just thinking about it.......
Oh, and not to forget, I found some vegan friendly wine at my local wine shop.  Happy days :)

peas, love and mungbeans


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