Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Recipes – Savoury

The Highs and Lows of Veganuary

Posted by on Feb 5, 2017 in Recipes - breakfast, Recipes - Savoury, Recipes - Sweet, Soup, Topical | 2 comments

“Animals are my friends…and I don’t eat my friends.” – George Bernard Shaw

 

It’s been nearly a week since I proudly completed Veganuary, along with my very un-vegany partner – which makes me doubly proud. It has been a brilliant show of solidarity with nearly 60,000 people world wide joining together to abstain from all animal products for the month of January. My pre January diet was about 80% plant based with the remaining 20% made up of a tiny bit of fish, a fair amount of eggs and the occasional product containing dairy. Here’s what I discovered / learnt from the full experience :

PROS

People are overwhelmingly kind

My partner’s very blokey fire brigade crew all decided to have vegan meals for all of their shifts together – entirely off their own bats, to show their support for him ! Bless !

I found a couple of working week staples which I fell in love with

Overnight oats (1/2 cup of oats, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup coconut/almond milk, 1 tsp acai powder, 2 tsp chia seeds, 2 tsp sesame seeds, 1 tbsp maple syrup – mixed together and left overnight) every morn’ and

a quinoa buddha lunchbox creation (1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1 tbsp kimichi (from green street kitchen), 1 square of flavoured tofu (Thai, Japanese etc)  1/3 avacado, 1 tbsp sesame oil, chopped capsicum, shallots, a few spinach leaves), every lunch.

Dark chocolate

Happily munched on the 90% Cocoa Lindt variety and adapted to it’s bitterness with ease (as opposed to my super sweet, milk containing Caramel variety which I usually eat).

Greek Delis are a good source of great vegan cheese

I was pleasantly surprised by this.  I learnt that Greek people abstain from animal products leading up to (and perhaps during) Easter. My purchase of a big block of their most popular vegan cheese (name unknown) from a big Marrickville Greek deli has kept me going all month. They told me that more options will be available closer to Easter.

Dairy Free Kingland  yogurt is delightful

Particularly the berry / chai one. It does not have that overwhelming soy or coconut flavour that some non dairy yogurts have.

I am in good company

There are many but my new discovery this month was the tennis champ William sisters.

My friends were happy to give a bit of vegan eating a go and joined us for a brilliant feast at :

The Green Lion – the new vegan pub in Rozelle, Sydney. It was a big hit and I’d thoroughly recommend it.

The list of sublime things to cook up is infinite. The standouts this month were :

Spicy Braised Tofu Tostadas,

*this ridiculously easy chocolate cake

Corn Zuchhini Fritters (in which I replaced the eggs with the aquafaba from the chickpea can – 6tbsp for the required 2 eggs) topped with avocado,salsa and Toffutti creme cheese

* even in the midst of a horrendously hot summer, this spicy Thai soup went down a treat.

* I am yearning to try this baked spinach and artichoke pasta. It’s on the menu this week.

My go to recipe sources just keeps expanding

The Happy Pear was my favourite discovery this month. I could happily live on their recipes alone. These healthy, inspiring Irish brothers are utter gems. I love their instagram feed of their early morning Irish sea swims.

Other people have removed the hard work / label stalking in supermarkets

Thank you Vomad. Your free guide specifically for Australia is outstanding (helps to identify products containing palm oil too).

I’ve scored a good one.

Not only did my fella dedicate 31 days to a plant based diet with no slip ups or complaints but he upped the anti at the end of the month. I had used some bribery to get him to commit to Veganuary by promising him that I’d make a $10 a day donation to his favourite charity (Medicens Sans Frontiers) per day that he made it through unscathed. He ended up donating the $$$ himself, enabling me to donate the same amount to my charity of choice (Project Hope) to let me say thank you. They have helped a situation I have been closely involved in over the last few days which is not my story to tell here. Suffice to say, the staff over at Southern Cross Vets are phenomenal.

CONS

  • Spending $12 on 3 miniscule donuts and cupcakes at a way too trendy little vegan Sydney place.
  • Put on a couple of kgs – too much good food to try !
  • I didn’t achieve the full conversion (or even partial really) of my fella as I had hoped – alas, he is adopting a couple changes (like my overnight oats) so I am happy.

So, looking at the pros versus cons…the way forward for me looks pretty clear. For me it is the most intentional way that I can express my love and respect of animals. It is also the most practical way that I can do my bit to fight against climate change (google animal agriculture and climate change, pick a reputable source, and you’ll see what I mean).

Despite it’s name, if you want to dip your toe in and give it a try, you can sign up with Veganuary at any time. The resources, information and recipes are great.

As per the beautiful words of Pam Ahern from Edgar’s Mission “If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn’t we?”

Why not indeed ??

 

 

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Autumn

Posted by on May 15, 2016 in eating out, Eggs, Recipes - Savoury, Recipes - Sweet, Topical | 2 comments

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns,” ~ George Eliot.

animals-in-autumn-14__880

Image from www.earthporn.com

Where are you my beloved Autumn ? T’is but a mere 2 weeks away from winter and yet another t-shirt wearing Sydney day is just finishing up. Frightening stuff – and, scarier still that our politicians in their election campaign are steadfastly avoiding any climate change talk. It’s all “jobs and growth” but what kind of world are they expecting us to work in and grow into ??

My blogging frequency is about as lack luster as this balmy excuse of an Autumn we are having. I am keen to get back into the swing of addressing a topic once a month or so but, for now, it’s going to be all the brilliant, interesting and inspiring things which have been tickling my fancy or firing me up since I last wrote all those moons ago in Spring.

Inspiring people

  • Marc Ching from the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation in the US. His missions to save dogs from the meat trade in Asia (most recently in China, Thailand and Cambodia) are epic and heart wrenching to watch but ultimately heroic. He does what so few animal lovers could do or face. When he is not rescuing dogs under the guise of being  a dog meat buyer so he can infiltrate into the grimmest of world’s where dogs are tortured before being killed for their meat, he is rescuing animals from the worst cases of neglect and abuse in the US. Here is his facebook page which follows these incredible rescues.
  • ching-the-rescuer

    Marc Ching : Photo from Hope and Animal Wellness Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst on this topic, please join Ricky Gervais and sign this petition against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China. Public opposition to this barbaric festival grows each year. Please add your voice. It needs to end.

  • Marianne Thieme. I went to see her talk a couple of weeks ago at the 2016 Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series. This utterly impressive woman is the leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals. I felt like I was immersed in an episode of Borgen – watching a rare species of politician who is progressive, intelligent, compassionate and actually thinking about the issues that will make this world a better place for the people and animals living on it.

If you’d like to know where do our political parties stand on animal protection here is a handy summary provided by Voiceless. If you would like to see better protection for our most vulnerable members of society, you’ll see that the Animal Justice Party tick all the boxes. I know who will be getting my vote at the up and coming election.

Heavy topics over with…..onto some of my more pleasurable discoveries (which I am noticing are dominated by FOOD ) and a viable explanation for my increasingly gripping pants !

Eating Out Recommendations 

Gigi’s in Newtown continues to tantalise my taste buds with it’s mouthwatering array of pizzas and cocktails and other delights. Seriously, go there.

Gelato Blue in Newtown – have always found it to be the best gelataria in existence but it has now outdone itself by taking a leaf out of Gigi’s book and going completely animal product free.

Golden Lotus in Newtown – delicious and affordable Vietnamese food. Vegan Pho and the like.

Food

New vanilla and blue berry flavoured coconut, dairy free yogurt courtesy of Nudie. I hunted down the Vanilla one at Woollies and rate it big time.

All the new drool-worthy Over the Moo dairy free ice cream flavours, including Matcha Green Tea, Caramel and Ginger Ninja.

Successful Recipes

I have been on a biscuit / brownie making rampage of late with the following little morsels getting rapturous feedback…

As for savoury new discoveries……

This one pot Mexican quinoa dish has been on repeat in our household. Love it.

I’ve just fallen in love with a new cooking blog where every dish looks sensational, nutritious and uncomplicated. The Buddhist Chef – check it out. The Dragon Bowl is getting a run this week in our house.

Recycling etc

Like every second person seems to be doing, I have jumped aboard the house and contents de-cluttering bandwagon – albeit at the most snail like pace imaginable (we’re talking a drawer a week). The Slow Home Podcast and The Minimalists are my go to podcasts to bolster my enthusiasm levels. I am trying my best to rid our unwanted items as responsibly as possible – rather than just turfing it out the front for council collection as I know it’ll get chucked straight into landfill. So, there’s been a couple of handy discoveries I have made….

Terra Cycle. I have created a couple of boxes….one for all my old cosmetic containers, squirty gadgets etc which can’t be recycled via the normal council bins….and the other for all our tooth care regalia – so old toothbrushes, used toothpaste tubes etc. Once full, I just print off my label and mail it off (for free) to the creative Terra Cycle people who make it all into something new and functional. Clever hey ?They have a whole lot of different categories like rubber gloves, pens and coffee pods which run in a similar way. You can earn points too but I didn’t figure out how to do this. I just wanted to be rid of my loot.

H & M. Now this is an impressive move for a chain clothing store and sorted one of my dilemmas. What to do with all those sheets, old t-shirts etc lurking in your cupboards which have a little mark on them or are a bit old and threadbare so unsuitable for Vinnies ?? You take them into your local H & M store where they take them off your hands and do something constructive and worthy with them like making them into new products. PLUS you get a 15% discount card for your troubles should you wish to purchase something (which I did not as am trying to curb my consumerist ways too).

Good new app

If you do eat eggs, Choice have released this great, free app to allow you to avoid all the dodgy, so called “free range” eggs when you are at the supermarket. If you’re going to eat eggs, please pay a few more dollars and support the farmer who stocks the 800-1500 birds per hectare rather than those cashing in on the now legally allowed 10,000 birds per hectare definition, even when the poor birds can’t get outside. And, whilst you’re at it, you can let Aldi know that they are living in the past by supporting the continued sale of caged eggs.

Random nice things

I’ve discovered a new funny comedian who’s podcast I’m loving – the inappropriate, ballsy, sweary, hilarious Jen Kirkman. Her books are great too. Divorced and suddenly single in her 40’s, child free by choice, flying anxieties, weird Prince dreams….it’s all there. And, she’s vegan as I only recently discovered. So sad that I missed the boat and did not see her recently perform in Sydney.

Speaking of Podcasts…a new discovery for me is “Knowing Animals“. An informative learning hub for animal related advocacy issues. JJJ’s Lindsay McDougall was the most recent guest.

Movies – 45 years, Rams, The Daughter, Sherpa and Mia Madre are all fantastic, must sees in my humble opinion.

TV Shows – am obsessed with the UK police show “Happy Valley”. It is so engrossing and gripping.

Books -Nest by Inga Simpson, A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Simpson and The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland. All great reads.

I sincerely hope that it is not in 2 seasons time until I see you again. I miss tinkering on my little blog but struggle with time management (obviously). I have no idea how many people read it, would not know how to view my stats to save myself but, for my own sake, it’s a way of gathering up everything I learn or discover and plonking it down in one spot. I hope you get something out of it too.

You can find me on facebook as well.

Ciao xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vegan Mapo Tofu

Posted by on Nov 21, 2015 in Recipes - Savoury | 0 comments

chili (1)

I chose to make this quintessentially Chinese dish whilst my delicate palette-d partner is away. It is impressively fiery and tasty and is a mish mash of the vegan mapo tofu recipes I found on line. It is my new go to dish. Serves 2-3 and takes about 20 mins to prepare and cook.

You need

  • 2 tablespoons of oil (I used rice bran)
  • 3 cloves of garlic – minced.
  • 2 cm squared piece of ginger – minced or grated
  • About 100g vegi mince (I used Quorn)
  • 300g of firm tofu – drained and chopped into 1cm squares
  • 1.5 litres of “chicken” (ie Massel) flavoured stock
  • About 4 dried red chilies (from Asian store)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 packet of Mapo Tofu seasoning (cheaty I know) (easy to find at Asian store)
  • Handful of dried porcini mushrooms – soak in warm water and chop up when hydrated (discard liquid)
  • A few chopped shallots
  • Half a chopped long red chili
  • Chili oil (optional)
  • Rice

To make

Heat oil in wok. Add garlic, ginger, dried chilies, packet of Mapo Tofu seasoning and mushrooms. After a few minutes add your “mince”. Whirl around wok for about 5 minutes.

Add stock, bring to boil and then reduce heat. Stir through cornstarch and you’ll see the sauce begin to thicken. Add the tofu and simmer for about 7 mins. Pick out the dried chilies.

Serve with rice and top with shallots, chilies and a drizzle of chili oil.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did x

 

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Burritos

Posted by on May 3, 2014 in Recipes - Savoury | 0 comments

“Eating vegetarian doesn’t mean you have to eat boring, humdrum dishes”Marcus Samuelsson

 

Mexican Dog

Image from extraorinarypets.blogspot.com

 

I would like to share 2 extraordinarily scrumptious burrito recipes with you. They are both hearty taste sensations and easy and quick-ish to make.

 

Spicy Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos – tweeked from Tali’s Tomatoes :

Made 3 (generous portioned) burritos.

Ingredients

Juice of 1 lime

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2 chopped tomatoes

1 red onion diced

4 minced garlic cloves

400g sweet potato cubed

1 400g tin of black beans (kidney beans would be fine too)

1 diced red capsicum

1 cup of chopped kale (or spinach)

1/2 a bunch of chopped corriander

1 small avocado

3 tortillas 

Sprinkle of chilli flakes

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon dried corriander

1/2 tbsp coconut oil

salt and pepper to taste

What to do

Bake / microwave or boil sweet potato until tender (I chose to bake).

In a small bowl make the salsa mix by combining 1 chopped tomato, corriander, pinch of cumin, salt and lemon juice. Set aside.

Heat coconut oil, fry garlic and onion until soft. Add capsicum, sweet potato, 1 chopped tomato, spices and stir for a few minutes, mashing the sweet potato as you go. Add black beans, kale and lime juice until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste.

Heat tortilla according to instructions and then spread salsa mix across the middle of it, topped by the sweet potato mix and avocado. I also added some Toffuti sour cream. Roll up and devour.

 

Breakfast Burrito – inspired by Healthy. Happy. Life

(incidentally, we had it for dinner, not breakfast) and made 3 generous sized burritos

Ingredients :

3 tortillas 

1 tbsp butter / margarine (I used Nuttalex)

1 cup of chopped mushrooms

1 diced red capsicum

1 packet (250g-ish) of firm tofu – crumbled.

1 cup of chopped spinach

1 tsp garlic powder

1 heaped tsp tumeric

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp olive oil

2 tsp maple syrup (or agave)

1 tsp liquid smoke

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup of grated cheese (I used my melty dairy free “Vegusto”)

What to do

Add butter to fry pan. Saute mushrooms and capsicum for a few minutes. Add tofu and remaining ingredients (aside from spinach and cheese) for around 5 minutes. Lastly add cheese and spinach and fold through. 

Heat burrito / tortillas, assemble and eat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meat Free Week – it’s here again !

Posted by on Mar 22, 2014 in Recipes - Savoury | 4 comments

“For the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and the light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy” – Plutarch.

fork pig image

Image from Voiceless

It is Meat Free week next week (24th – 30th March 2014). The Meat Free Week website is a wealth of information from recipes to facts on why eating meat (particularly factory farmed meat) at the rate we currently do is bad for our health, the environment and, of course, the animals involved.

To celebrate this awareness raising week, I want to share my top 3 vegetarian recipe recent discoveries . They have been tried, tested and devoured many times in our house. You can also head on over to any of my previously posted recipes for some more guaranteed uncomplicated, mouthwatering creations (my spicy lentil and zuchhini soup found in this post remains one of my quick, mid week specialties and my pad kee mao is a must) Anybody who knows me will be able to vouch for how “good on the tooth” I am so, be assured, any recipe I share will be keepers (and you will no doubt uncover my shameless, unabated love affair with garlic and quinoa).

Number One : Smokey Corn and Quinoa Chowder. Adapted from The Vegan Pantry. Serves 4.

Ingredients : 1 tablespoon oil, 3 cloves of garlic – crushed, 1 diced brown onion, 1/2 cup quinoa, 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes or ground chilli, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, kernels from 2 corncobs, 4 diced potatoes, 1 400g-ish tin of kidney beans, 1 400g-ish of tinned crushed / diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke (great stuff btw, for that delicious smoky taste), 5 cups of vegetable stock, salt and pepper.

Do : Saute garlic and onions in oil in large pot for a couple of minutes. Add everything else and simmer for 40 minutes.

You can top with many things, including sour cream (tofutti sour cream is very nice if you want to stay animal product free). I opted to top with a generous dollop of  homemade Tzatziki which I made as follows :

Ingredients : 200g Greek Yogurt (sourced from a kind dairy), 1 Lebanese cucumber – seeded and grated, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 4 cloves minced garlic, squeeze of lemon juice.

Do : Mix together.

Number Two : Beetroot falafels. Thanks to the consistently wonderful The Kind Cook. Makes about 10 balls.

Ingredients : 1 packet of falafel mix, 1 grated small beetroot, 1 handful parsley, 1 handful coriander, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, pepper to taste.

Do : Prepare falafel mix as per instructions on packet (takes 5-10 minutes). Whilst doing this grate 1/2 cup of beetroot and chop parsley and coriander. Mix everything together. Roll mixture into golf ball sized balls. Shallow fry in rice bran oil and drain on paper towel.

It is up to you what you eat them with but we have them with pitta bread, quinoa tabbouleh and spicy hummus.

Number three :  Thai Red Curry Pumpkin soup with “prawns”. Adapted from a recipe by Michelle Southan. Serves 3-4.

Ingredients : 2 tbsp peanut oil, 1 chopped brown onion, 2 tbsp red curry paste, 3 cups vegetable stock, 1.3kg butternut pumpkin chopped and peeled, 2 kaffir lime leaves, 1 cup of coconut milk, 1/3rd cup chopped corriander leaves, lime wedges to serve, 275g Lamyong Vegan Prawns (believe it or not, they look and taste like real prawns).

Do : Heat oil in large saucepan, add onion until soft and add curry paste, stirring continuously, until aromatic. Stir in stock and bring to boil. Add pumpkin and kaffir lime leaves. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and blitz however you can (I use a handheld blender), leaving a few lumpy pumpkin bits. Place over low heat and add coconut milk, stir until heated through. On the side, fry “prawns” in  oil and add to soup. Top with coriander and a few squeezes of fresh lime juice.

Feeling inspired for some more vegi cooking ?? Subscribe to these sites, they are my top 3 vegetarian (mainly) Australian bloggers.

The Kind Cook

The Mindful Foodie

My Darling Lemon Thyme

Are you going to participate in meat free week ? Would love to know how you found it ! Do you have a favourite vegetarian recipe to share with the world – if so, please post in the comments section below x

 

 

 

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Christmas Feasting

Posted by on Dec 11, 2013 in Christmas, Recipes - Savoury | 2 comments

leunig

 

Ah, Leunig – what a wise and insightful man you are !

With just a couple of weeks until Christmas, it is probably time to organise one’s menu options for the day.

For the meat eaters of the family, if you live in Sydney, the following companies are tried and tested and completely transparent in their ethics of how the animals which end up on your plate were treated. Feather and Bone and The Free Range Butcher. You will be spending more and you need to be organised by ordering ahead but you will be sure that there is no deceptive advertising involved and that their free range really is free range (Don’t forget that some devious types may advertise their hams as “free range” when they are in fact only “bred free range” – which is not far off factory farmed pigs (piglets are born “free range” but moved into an indoors, intensive arrangement shortly after). For my regional and interstate friends, the Flavour Crusader has an enormous amount of information about sourcing proper free range pig products and turkeys from local farmers doing the right thing. You may wish to re-visit my very first post (over 1 year ago now !) on why “factory farmed” meat should be avoided at all costs. Remember too that animals raised in genuine free range conditions do have a better quality of life but they do go to the same slaughterhouses as ‘factory farmed’ animals – there are no “kind abattoirs” unfortunately.

I, the sole vegetarian of the family, am ironically the ham purchaser this year (from Feather and Bone).

Alternatively, you may wish to “pardon a pig” at Animals Australia and receive a great e-book of Christmas vegetarian recipes for your trouble so you can whip up some extravaganza to show your tribe that vegetarian meals can be festive and mouthwatering too.

I had a dismal cooking fail with my lentil loaf stuffed with mashed potato which was my intended Christmas Day masterpiece. Time consuming (3 hours!), fairly bland and crumbly and described by my beloved as looking “like a tray of kitty litter.” Suffice to say, this project was shelved and I had to eat it every day at work for a week. Sigh.

Luckily, I was saved by the success of this mouthwatering  pistachio and ruby grapefruit salad, baked rosemary and garlic potatoes…….and the convenient Sanitarium Vegi Roast with Rosemary and Mint Glaze which I bought from Coles.  Had a practice run last night and received a solid 9/10 mark from my carnivorous partner which restored my pride somewhat after the kitty litter-esque loaf performance. This is how it looked:

 

DSC00095

 

And here are the links I used to make it :

Quinoa tabouleh with pink blush grapefruit, coriander and pistachios from the fabulous “The Mindful Foodie” – a great blog to subscribe to. This salad was truly delicious – loved the grapefruit addition. 

Rosemary and Garlic Roast Potatoes – from VeganEasy.org. There are an array of delicious meat free Christmas recipes to pick from if you need some inspiration. Turned out great – lots of flavour and good to use some of my mountains of rosemary growing in my garden.

I topped the lazy but tasty roast with some cranberry sauce and found it to be a very hearty and worthy meat substitute. 

Found this Otter site to be full of interesting information and handy links about having an ethical christmas – for food, pressies etc. 

Have a glorious, stress free end to 2013. I hope to sneak one more post in before the year’s out xxx

 

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