Friday, 15 March 2013

Half way there.....

Such an exciting time! Half way through our challenge, or experiment as I now like to call it.  
Who's still in? Who's out? Whatever, I'm sure each and every individual is doing what feels right for them right now so no judgement.  
Just lots of yummy, healthy clean food and good feel vibes.

Like I said in my last post, I have a special treat for y'all. 
I managed to convince a very lovely and extremely talented lady to do a guest spot on the blog.  
I first came across her through Instagram because i just LOVE the look of her dishes and the combination of ingredients she uses.  
Her meals, are the only ones that actually make me want to eat cooked food again!
One day, I hope to get to sunny California and have a macrobiotic vegan fest with this girl.
I've asked her to answer a few questions and she's also very generously provided us with a clean dessert recipe you'll love.  I know I can't wait until the month is over so that I can try it out.
Here she is, in her own words :)

Hello everyone! My name is Diem Ly and I am stoked to be a part of Brenda's Clean Eating March! Let's see... I am a recent college grad from Berkeley who now lives in San Jose, California, tutoring elementary school kids and applying to law school. I love cooking, taking photos of the food I cook, hiking, yoga-ing, Instagramming, and traveling while Yelping for the newest vegan restaurant to try. I also listen to NPR a lot.

1.  What is your eating philosophy?

My eating philosophy is to enjoy eating. Sounds simple enough, but I enjoy my food most when it satisfies not just my palate but also my emotional, mental, and physical needs. When eating makes me feel good in all of these ways, that's when my heart really sings. Over the 4 years since I reinvented my diet, I've found that the kind of food that consistently does this is generally plant-based, whole, organic, seasonal, balanced, and made well. Not all my meals check all these boxes, but I try my best to encompass all these elements in my everyday cooking/eating.

2.  When and why did you decide to eat this way?

I tried going vegan once in high school after reading an article about animal testing, but gave up after a week because I didn't know how to cook and my mom convinced me that all I could ever eat was tofu (sadly, there are so many people who still think that!). The second time I tried going vegan was under entirely differently circumstances. I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia during my second year of college and after fortunately going into remission, I gained a whole new perspective on life, especially health. To be perfectly honest, the most painful thing about being sick wasn't being sick at all. One can get used to the physical pain, but not so much the fear of never being able to achieve your dreams, and definitely not the sight of the people you love most wrought with worry. So more than anything, I wanted to take control of my health and well-being. My doctors, as lovely as they were, actually told me that it was all up to chance if the disease would return. I refused to believe it, initially out of stubbornness. But after doing my own research and hearing/reading the stories of literally hundreds of people, I refused to believe it because of the sheer facts and science that demonstrate just how much of an influence our diet has on our health. This led me to practice a macrobiotic diet with the help of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and later, a macro counselor from the Bay Area. Soon, I was able to get off any medications that were prescribed for the side effects of the treatments, to the pleasant surprise of my doctors.

I am thankful everyday for my health, and attribute much of it to how I eat. But my diet has become more than a cure for physical illness; it is also one way I practice what I believe in. My last two years at Berkeley were especially insightful, as I delved into the other dimensions of food both in and out of the classroom. I learned about, and was appalled by, the current conventional farming practices that harm the environment, the treatment of workers, especially the undocumented, in the food industry, the treatment of animals, and the inequitable distribution of power between corporations, farmers, and consumers. I don't think eating a macrobiotic/vegan diet will make everything better, but I believe not doing so does make it worse. 

3.  Have you noticed any changes since changing your eating philosophy (if any)?

I've never felt better physically, mentally, and emotionally. It's hard to describe what exactly this feels like and I really don't think you can understand until you've experienced it. In short, I will never go back to eating the way I used to! 

4.  What is your favourite dish to cook?

This is a nearly impossible question to answer!  Lately though, I've been having a blast experimenting with different sauces/dressings for raw and boiled salads! I just made a super simple pumpkin seed dressing that was seriously out of this world.

5.  What ingredients are a must-have for your fridge/pantry?

I'm going to self-impose a limit of 10 items for my answer because the list would go on forever otherwise! 

Brown rice, kale, miso, seaweed (I never run out of nori or wakame), beans (adzuki is my favorite), a seasonal fruit (tonsss of blueberries if they are in season. I could pretty much live off the stuff), brown rice syrup, sesame oil, tamari (soy sauce), and sesame seeds!

6.  Juices or smoothies?  What do you prefer and what combination?

Smoothies! Coconut water, kale, blueberries, peaches, mangoes, and chia seeds.

7. Sweet or savoury?


The recipe I'd like to share with you today is one of my favorite desserts, and I picked it because I thought it would be perfect for the summer in Australia. Though I wouldn't necessarily call this dessert macrobiotic, it does embody the macrobiotic principle of "balance". It is tart and sweet, cold and warm, and creamy but with a kick from the ginger. The ingredients are also good for you! I apologize in advance if any parts of the recipe are unclear. I usually don't cook with or write down my recipes. Please ask for clarifications!

(serves 1-5, depending on portions :D)


Panna Cotta

1 cup (about half a can) of coconut milk
1.5 teaspoons of agar flakes
1/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
a few drops of vanilla extract
2-2.5 teaspoons of lemon juice (I like mine more tart)

Maple-Ginger Syrup

1 teaspoon of unrefined coconut oil (optional but highly recommended)
1/2 cup of water
1/4 cup of maple syrup
3 teaspoons of fresh ginger juice

Toppings (optional)
toasted coconut 
sliced mango, or caramelized bananas/ripe plantains.



1. Place agar and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let the flakes completely dissolve. (It's okay if it does not completely dissolve, but you'll get jelly bits in your panna cotta).

2. Add in the coconut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 5 minutes. 

3. Turn off the heat and add in the lemon juice. This is a good time to taste the mixture and adjust before you transfer it to your molds.

4. Pour the mixture into small ramekins or any kind of molds you'd like. (I like to use my ceramic cupcake mold or when I'm lazy, I just pour it into a big ol' bowl).  Remember to lightly oil the mold with coconut oil. This will help the panna cotta slide out later. 

5. Let cool and refrigerate for at least four hours. (I usually leave it overnight).

SAUCE (If preparing before the panna cotta is served, reheat when you're ready to serve)

1. Add the coconut oil, water, maple syrup to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. 

2. Add the ginger juice and let the mixture simmer and reduce for about 5-10 minutes, depending on your preferred thickness. I prefer it more runny.

3. Taste your sauce and adjust it to your liking. 

TO SERVE: Carefully remove the panna cotta from your ramekins and place on a serving dish. Drizzle the syrup on top of the panna cotta and top with toasted coconut and a slice of mango, caramelized bananas, or any other fruit you'd like.

Okay, am I the only one who is drooling all over this right now?!
Like I said, the lady is amazing, so please check out her IG @dltvo and follow her already, you won't be disappointed!

I have also roped a few other ladies to do guest spots so I will keep them coming every fortnight if I can.  I think it's important to stay connected with like minded individuals, and each and every person I have asked so far is an inspiration to me.  I hope they inspire you too and that you get something out of their offerings.
A big THANK YOU to Diem for being the first lady to kick off what will hopefully be a monthly occurrence following #cleaneatingmarch.  Yeew, I'm excited!!!

Now for some more recipes to keep you going.  Hope you enjoy these, I've definitely had so much fun creating them, and much more fun gobbling them up :)

Smashed Avocado, Lime, Coriander and Pomegranate Sandwich
Serves 1


2 large field mushrooms
1/2 avocado
2 TBS pomegranate seeds
1 TBS coriander (cilantro for my USA friends)
Squeeze of lime juice
Seasoning to taste
1/4 cup baby spinach
1/4 cup grated carrot
3 slices of tomato
5 slices of cucumber


Clean your mushrooms and remove the stalks (you can keep the stalks and used them in salads).
Mash your avocado with a fork so it's chunky, not smooth.
Fill one mushroom with the avocado, top it with pomegranate seeds, coriander and squeeze of lime.  Add your seasoning on top if desired.
Stuff your other mushroom with the salad materials and serve.
This is a really filling meal and reminds me of the big breakfast I used to have on sundays in my previous life.  If you are eating eggs, you can pop a soft boiled egg on it.  If you are eating cooked foods, you can also pop the mushrooms in a sandwich press and cook it that way. No need for oil.
I made this for my sister, with a sprinkle of chilli flakes and a simple baby spinach and red onion salad with lemon juice.
Easy peasy lunch or breakfast.  No grains, no added fat, plenty of veggies, SO much flavour.  DO IT!

Mexican Salad
Serves 1



2 medium zucchini
2 cups baby spinach
1 large tomato
1/2 avocado
1/4 small red onion
Handful of kalamata olives
1/4 cup coriander leaves
1/4 cup red capsicum
1 TBS hemp seeds (optional)

Mexican Mayonnaise
Makes approx. 2 cups

1/2 red capsicum
1/2 yellow capsicum
1/2 cup soaked and rinsed cashews
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 cumin
1 eschallot clove(or garlic)
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
3 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 TBS nutritional yeast
1/2 cup of water


Spiralize the zucchini on the spaghetti setting.  Set aside.
Make the mayo by blending all ingredients together, taste and adjust seasoning.  Add to zucchini, enough to cover and coat (about 1/2 cup).  Store rest in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Place your zucchini noodles in a medium bowl and arrange salad ingredients on top.
Sprinkle on hemp seeds and serve.

I really love avocado, coriander and tomatoes so i used the sauce from above and threw this next dish together for dinner.  I was specially rushed that day and this was just such a quick meal.
Kind of like a deconstructed version of the above with some minor substitutions.

Corn Salsa and Mexican Noodles on Lettuce Cups
Serves 1


4 cos lettuce leaves
1 medium zucchini
1 medium corn ear
1 cup diced cucumber
1 tomato diced
1/4 cup red capsicum diced
3 TBS red onion diced
3 TBS fresh coriander chopped
1/2 lime juiced
4 slices of avocado
1/3 cup Mexican Mayonnaise


Spiralize your zucchini on spaghetti setting and mix with Mexican mayo.  Set aside.
Cut the kernel of your corn and mix it in a medium bowl with the rest of the veggies, coriander and lime juice.  Season to taste.
Arrange the cos leaves on a plate and top each with the salsa and noodles, alternately.
Place the avocado slices on the plate and serve.

Nori Rolls with Cauliflower Rice and Veggies
Serves 1



1 1/2 cups of cauliflower florets
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
3 sprigs of coriander


1 nori sheet
1/2 carrot julienned
1/4 medium beetroot julienned
1/4 avocado, thinly slice
1/4 red capsicum thinly slice

Carrot and Red Cabbage Salad

1 carrot grated
1 cup red cabbage thinly sliced
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2 lime juiced



Add all ingredients in a food processor and process until it resembles rice.
Set aside


Place your nori sheet on bamboo rolling sheet.  Add your cauliflower rice and pat down, should be about 3mm in height.  Leave a 2-3 cm gap at the edge.
Add your veggies and roll away from you.  Make sure you tighten as you roll otherwise it'll be too lose and the fillings will fall out.
Wet the edge with water and remove any rice that may be overflowing before you press down to seal otherwise it won't work.
Once sealed, cut into bite sized pieces.


Mix your ingredients together with the lime juice, season if you like and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Arrange on a plate, with salad in a little bowl of it's own and serve.

Orange and Pomegranate Salad with Citrus Cumin Dressing
Serves 1 (or 2 as a side)


2 oranges (I used navel)
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup baby spinach
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1/2 lime juiced
2 TBS orange juice (freshly squeezed)


Peel and slice your oranges thinly, making sure you remove the pith as it can be bitter.
Arrange them on a plate with the baby spinach and sprinkle on the pomegranate seeds.
Mix juices with seasoning and cumin and pour on top.

This would also go really nice with a grilled piece of fish if you are eating animal protein.

Dessert time!!

Pecan Ice Cream with Peach, Papaya, Prickly Pear and Pitaya
Serves 1


2 frozen bananas
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
5 pecans
1/3 cup of each fruit, chopped


Blend the bananas, pecans and vanilla extract in a high speed blender or food processor until it resembles ice cream.
Layer a glass with each fruit and ice cream.
Stuff your face!
p.s, this was breakfast!

Cinnamon Mousse with Fresh Figs
Serves 1


1/3 cup raw cashews, soaked and rinsed
1/2 cup water
2-3 medjool dates (depending on how sweet you want it)
1/4 tsp organic vanilla extract
1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon
3 fresh figs quartered


Blend cashews, water, vanilla, dates and cinnamon in a high speed blender until super smooth and creamy.  I would add the water a bit at a time so you can control how thick it is.  You don't want it runny but a fluffy mousse like consistency.
Layer your mousse in a pretty cup with your figs and serve with fresh figs on top.

Lime and Strawberry Mousse with Almond & Date Crumble
Serves 1


Lime Mousse

1 avocado
1 lime juiced
zest of half a lime
1/4 cup coconut nectar (or 100% pure maple syrup)

Strawberry Mousse

1 banana
1 cup strawberries
1 date


1/2 cup raw almonds
6-8 dates


Lime Mousse

Use a hand held blender to blend all the ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Set aside

Strawberry Mousse

As above


Process all ingredients in a food processor until they can be rolled into a ball and hold it's shape.
*you will have some left over.  I made them into bliss balls and keep them in the fridge or freezer.  My girls love them and they're a great energy hit pre-work out.  Just don't eat too many though, they are meant to be an every now and again treat!


Place some crumble on the bottom of a glass, add lime mousse, leaving a spoonful for the top. Add another layer of crumble, add strawberry mousse, add the left over lime mousse and top with crumble and a couple of fresh raspberries if you have any around.
LOVE in a glass :)

And last but not least, a smoothie combination that had me weak at the knees when I tried it.

Persimmon and Cinnamon Smoothie
Serves 1


1 frozen banana
2 small very ripe persimmons
1 pear
1 cup coconut water
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


Blend and serve with a sprinkle of raw cacao nibs, flax meal and crushed pecans.

Do you ever get left over smoothie? I always make so much I end up drinking about a litre and a half of the stuff!
Whilst I'm not complaining, it occurred to me that I could freeze the leftovers instead of drinking until I'm overflowing, and have them as a healthy treat when I'm too lazy to make ice cream.  So there's an idea you may want to keep in mind for next time.

Wishing you another amazing week in Clean Eating March awesomeness.

Peas, love and mungbeans



  1. Great post and interview. Love your meals and smoothies! freeeeeeeesh x

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