I’m back and I’ve got some news…

After a long break from Live Blissful I am back. I am feeling so much better then I was back when I last posted back in July. So much has changed since then. And I am now ready to get back in the kitchen and reignite my passion for cooking.

As most of you know my father died back in April. It has taken me a long time to get past it. It was a long hard journey to get back to feeling well again and many changes in my life had to be made. I initially had a couple of months on leave from my job as I wasn’t coping at work. This meant frequent visits to the doctor, psychologist and naturopath. Although I had a team of people trying to get me well, nothing really seemed to get me off the couch. I no longer enjoyed cooking and had no interest in eating. My doctor recommended that I start taking antidepressant, but my instincts told me that I shouldn’t. I had been previously trying to get pregnant and I didn’t want to effect my unborn child if I did get pregnant. I also didn’t think that taking a pill could stop me grieving. It is natural and synthetic drugs are not. So then my naturopath suggested I try to take a herbal remedy, which included saffron oil and st johns wart. I was sceptical and so was Marco. My doctor was horrified, thinking that this natural remedy was more risky. Well as it turned out within a couple of days I began to feel better. My brain was no longer on the same loop of denial and despair. I was still grieving of course but it didn’t seem as hard as before. Within my last few of weeks on leave I applied to go back to university to do post grad studies and got accepted. Meanwhile Marco was tried to inspire me to go back to work by getting me lots of quote for my new dream kitchen. In the end I had to decide whether to take more time from work, go back to work or leave. I realised in order to get better I needed a fresh start. I was so happy with my decision and leaving was a lot less painful then I thought it would be. Then 3 days later I found out I was pregnant!

I didn’t think getting pregnant would happen so fast. Especially after two months of tests showing that I wasn’t ovulating. Guess we were testing on the wrong day. I was so happy and made the decision from that day that I would be better. I now had something to look forward to and someone to look after. This blissful feeling didn’t last long once the morning sickness kicked in. For 6 long weeks I struggled to eat, everything I cooked tasted terrible and everything made me want to throw up. I got just about every first trimester symptom (the list is long).  Although I decided not start a new job, I did do one semester at university in post grad museum studies. It was hard to study when I felt like throwing up constantly, but I am so happy I had something else in my life to focus on. Over the last couple of weeks I entered trimester 2 so feeling so much better now. I have finished university for the semester (and possibility the next year) and enjoying my pregnancy.

I am currently 18 weeks pregnant and over the past couple of days I have just started to feel the baby in my belly. I just get these weird tiny tremors mostly the right side below my belly button. My tummy is starting to get bigger, but not enough yet that I don’t feel the need to tell everyone I didn’t have a big lunch I am actually pregnant. Another high point is that I got accepted into the only midwife led birth centre in Brisbane. They only take really low risk women and their philosophy is for their women to have no medical intervention and just deliver the baby naturally with a midwife. I also will have a lovely big suite and will be in the hospital, which makes Marco feel a lot better.

So yes a lot has happened. My focus now is to eat the most nutritious food as possible for my growing baby. I hope to start creating and cooking delicious recipes for this blog again.

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As I mentioned in my first trimester I found it hard to eat much. The thought of beans, tofu, rice, quinoa and anything green just made my stomach turn. I had no appetite at all. Being the only cook in our house it was very difficult all our meals when even cutting a vegetable made me want to gag. So I was mainly living on bread, avocado, fruit and oats (on a good day). After talking to my vegan naturopath my terrible pregnancy diet, I decided that I may have to bring some animal products back into my rotation for a short time. I was a bit upset as I wanted to do my pregnancy completely vegan. I was scared that I would be giving my baby unnecessary toxins from meat. At the same time I was craving meat like crazy, which apparently isn’t normal for pregnant woman. Most mothers I’ve talk to couldn’t stand the smell or thought of meat. Has anyone had this happen to them? I know the cravings were more to do with my body’s need for iron rather then a need for meat. I began eating meat and eggs once or twice a week and buying out vegan meals with legumes and rice. So I haven’t had the perfect vegan pregnancy that I hoped for. I know a lot of women before me have been able to, but I’m not perfect. I don’t know if I ever will be, but I can always try. Now I am in the second trimester getting back to my plant-based diet has been much easier. Yes I still have organic eggs in my fridge but at least if I really want one I have good quality and ethically sourced eggs. My diet has become way more balanced and I have been able to include plant-based protein sources in most of my meals (grains, nuts/seeds and legumes).

Now that I have rediscovered my love of food and the weather has heated up, Marco and I took a trip to the coast for some beach time and a delicious vegan lunch last weekend. We visited Giri Kana Cafe, a vegan/vegetarian cafe at Southport. They offer a range of hot foods, salads, burgers, fresh juices, coffees and desserts.

DSC02927For mains we shared a Veggie Burger, Tangy Veggie Kofta balls, Basil Pesto Pasta Salad and Sesame Tofu Salad. It was all delicious and the variety was exactly what my baby needed.

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For desserts we shared a raw vegan Passionfruit Cheesecake and vegan Tiramisu. Both were really tasty, but I had some strange reaction to my tongue from the passionfruit. Couldn’t stop eating it though, especially after Marco declared he prefer the tiramisu and wouldn’t share lol.

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DSC02924Mangoes are finally back in season! This is an easy recipe to whip up with some probiotic coconut yoghurt. Marco says this is the best smoothie he’s had in a long time.

DSC02928Mango Lassi (vegan, gluten free, nut free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 mango

3-4  tablespoon coconut yoghurt (Coyo)

2 cups coconut milk (Organic Coco Quench)

Method:

1. Add all the ingredients to the blender and whizz till smooth.

*Serves 2

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Falafel, Tabouli, Pita Pockets…

I have been a bit lazy lately with cooking. I have been eating out a lot more on the weekends. So this weekend I wanted to make something healthy and special. I’ve had this bag of Fava beans for a while now, so I wanted to try making Falafel. I have never made it before, so thought I’d give it ago. The Fava beans took nearly 24 hours to soak, as they are very hard and need time for the skin detach from the skin. It took me nearly an hour to peel the skins off 500 g of them, but the results were worth it.

I decided to bake my Falafel so that they would be a bit more healthier. I also filled the mixture with heaps of fresh herbs from my local Asian market. To go with it I made Wholemeal Flax Seed Pita Pockets,  Lemon Cashew Yoghurt and Kale & Quinoa Tabouli. By the time I got our late lunch on the table it was dinner time, so the whole family got to eat with us. Everyone really liked and had seconds or thirds.

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Wholemeal Flax Seed Pita Bread (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1.5 cup warm water

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon raw sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

3.5 cups wholemeal flour (more for board)

2 teaspoons ground flax seeds

1 teaspoon olive oil

canola spray oil

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Method:

1. Take 1/4 of warm water and add yeast and sugar. Leave it for 10 mins.DSC06658

2. In a large mixing bowl add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, ground flax seeds and sea salt.???????????????????????????????

3. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture.???????????????????????????????

4. Gradually add more the rest of the flour and warm water until you have a dough.

5. Knead the dough for 10-15 mins, until it is nice and elastic.

6. Brush a bowl with olive oil and leave the dough to rise for an hour or more (the longer the better).

7. Divide the dough into 10 balls. Then roll each ball out into a flat circle shape.

8. Heat a pan on high and spray with canola. Place the flat dough onto the pan and cook it till it puffs up. Make sure you turn it regularly so it doesn’t burn. It should only take 1-2 mins per pita.

9. While the pita is still hot, slice it in half.

*Makes 10 Pita Pockets

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Baked Fava bean Falafel (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

500g fava beans (soaked 24 hrs, then peeled)

6 garlic cloves

1 brown onion

3 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/2 bunch coriander

1/2 bunch dill

1/2 bunch parsley

sea salt & black pepper

Method:???????????????????????????????

1. After soaking the fava beans, peel off the skin and boil for 30 mins or until softened.

2. Finely chop the garlic, onion and all the herbs.

3. Place the fava beans in a process and make into a paste. Then add all the spices, onion, garlic, herbs and sea salt & pepper to taste.

4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

5. Make the mixture into balls and place on a nonstick tray. Bake for 20 mins.

*Makes 25-30

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Lemon Cashew ‘Yoghurt’ (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup cashews (pre-soaked/raw)

1 cup water

2 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons lemon juice (more to taste)

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. If you haven’t soaked the cashews then boil them for 10 mins.

2. In a Vitamix or high speed blender the cashews. Break them down, then slowly add 1/2 a cup of water. Blend till it becomes creamy.

3. Add garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and blend. If you need add more water to break down into a cream, but not too much, it should be thick.

*Makes 1 cup

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Kale & Quinoa Tabouli (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1.5-2 cups kale, chopped

4 shallots or green onions, chopped

1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped

3 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup cooked quinoa

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Cook quinoa according to packet instructions. Then strain and allow to cool.

2. Massage the chopped kale with sea salt to break down the fibers.

3. Combine the kale quinoa and all the remaining ingredients and serve.

*Serves 4 as side salad

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Over the weekend we ended up visiting The Green Edge on our way to visit hopefully our future house. I decided to try something different so I ordered the Noodle Bowl. It had soba noodles with twice-cooked pumpkin, served in a soy sauce-miso-shiitake broth. I doesn’t look like much but it was really nice. There was pumpkin all under the noodles as well. The rest of the family had their amazing vegan burgers, chips and salad. This was the first time my mums partner had been there. Of course his response was ‘I can believe its vegan’.

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My new favourite drink at the moment is this Frozen Peach Smoothie. I forgot about all the peaches that I froze a while ago. With the kiwi, banana and milk it tastes just like a peach ice cream.

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Frozen Peach Smoothie (vegan, raw, gluten free, nut free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup frozen peaches

1 golden kiwi

1/2 banana

1/2 cup plant milk (coconut, rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

Method:

1. Blend in a High speed blender and serve

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Over the weekend I finally tried something else that’s been in my cupboard for a while. Celebrate Health is a new brand that started appearing on supermarket shelves. Their range includes flavoured lentils, quinoa, recipe bases and stock. All their products are Gluten free, Wheat free, Dairy free, Tree nut free, Peanut free, 100% natural and Preservative free. Most are also vegan and Soy free. I had the Indian Marsala Lentil Packet. So I made this with some brown rice and Indian spiced greens. I just followed the packet directions, which were easy to understand. I ended up having to add alot more water, as it dried out quickly. They had more of a bite then I thought they would. Usually when I made red lentils they dissolve a little, but these ones didn’t.

So the verdict? Well they were quite salty and the spices weren’t that strong. They were definitely not as tasty as if I made them from scratch. However, they were quick, convenient and healthy side dish. I think I will definitely try some more of their products for those nights when I am too tired to cook anything fancy.

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Early birthday gift…

Hi all, hope you’ve had a lovely weekend. Mine has been nice and relaxing. I got my early birthday present this week from Mum and Marco. They both put in to get me a Vitamix! So I finally got to try it out last night and have been blending ever since.

Last night I made some cashew cream, which was so lovely and silky. It was much nicer then what my Kenwood blender usually produces, plus it didn’t leak, which was a bonus. I showed my mum, who is also dairy free, but not as strict as me that cashew cream can be used just like cream for pasta. She was amazed. Sorry no photos of the actually pasta, we were so hungry by the time it was ready.

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I’ve only had a week of early mornings but my body clock has already changed which is great. This morning we got up early and went to the Northey Street Organic Markets at Windsor. We haven’t been here since before I went to Europe, which is over a year ago. I was really big on organics back then and am trying to get back into buying organic.

Before we left I made a special morning smoothie, with my garden Tuscan Kale. This is a Chocolate Peanut butter Kale Smoothie. I was delicious! Mum and Marco weren’t keen on the kale for breakfast, but they agreed it was a good way to get the kale in firs thing.

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Chocolate Peanut butter Kale Smoothie (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 bunch tuscan kale

3 cups almond milk

2-3 tablespoon peanut butter

2 tablespoons cacao

2 tablespoons chia seeds

2 tablespoons agave or honey

Method:

1. Whiz all the ingredients in your blender until all the kale has broken down and the smoothie is nice and smooth. Then serve.

At the market I didn’t buy too much. Just two bunches of Red Russian Kale ($6 plus free bok choy), daikon, cherry tomatoes and sunflower sprouts. Unfortunately there was no more organic vegan brownies left, so we better be a bit earlier next time. I love these markets there are always so many interesting people and great food.

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I did get to see this in action and it looks like hard work to earn your smoothie.

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I have seen purple carrots but never these golden ones before. Regretting now that I didn’t get any.

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There are also a communal veggie patch here and the grounds are quite nice too.  This is mum and Marco as we are leaving.

For dinner I thought I would try out a few more meals with my new Vitamix. These patties are similar to my Red Lentil Patties with Kale Pesto, but I used cannellini beans and sweet potato puree. I also tried to make my delicious Kale Pesto. As beautiful as it looks, it came out really bitter. I think next time I won’t use the stems. On the side I made this a delicious mash to make use of my green cauliflower and a sunflower sprout salad. So in love with my new Vitamax! So expect to see it around a lot more.

Do any of you guys have one?

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Cannellini Bean & Sweet Potato Patties (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 tin cannellini beans

1 tablespoons grapeseed/olive oil

1 medium red onion

1 tablespoon cajun spices/other spices you prefer

sea salt to taste

1/2 cup quinoa crumbs (or other gluten free breadcrumbs)

1/2 cup sesame seeds

Method:

1. First cut and steam the sweet potato, until soft. Transfer into a bowl and place to the side.

2. Meanwhile,  preheat oven to 180 degrees  and heat a pan with olive oil. Saute the red onion and garlic for 5 mins or until the onion has softened.

3. All the  sweet potato, cannellini beans, red onion, garlic, cajun spices (or other spices)  and sea salt into the processor. Blend until smooth.

4. Place the mixture into a bowl then add quinoa crumbs and stir through the mixture.

5. Form the mixture into 10 patties. Place the sesame seeds in a small bowl and dust the patties in the sesame seeds.

6. Place patties on a nonstick cookie tray, then bake for 20-25 mins. Turn once while they are cooking so that the seasame seeds on both sides get a little browned.

*Makes 10 patties

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Green Cauliflower, Potato & Leek Mash (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 small green cauliflower

3 potatoes

1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 leek

Method:

1. Cut the cauliflower and potato into small pieces, then place them in a steamer until tender.

2. Dice the garlic and chop the leek.

3. Heat a pan with oil, then saute the garlic and leek for 5 mins or until lightly browned.

4. Place cauliflower, potato, leek and garlic in the processor and blend until smooth.

5. Transfer into a pot and add sea salt to taste (and water if too thick). Heat through then serve.

*Serves 5-6

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Sunflower Sprout Orange Salad (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

2 handfuls of sunflower sprouts

1 handful snow pea sprouts

segments of 1 orange

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon agave

sea salt to taste

1-2 tablespoons pepitas seeds

Method:

1. Wash all sprouts and roughly chop the snow pea sprouts. Place all in a bowl.

2. Juice orange for the orange juice and cut the segments from 1 orange.

3. Add the orange segments to the spouts.

4. In a small bowl, add the orange juice, sesame oil, agave and sea salt.

5. Drizzle the dressing on top of the salad.

6. Dry toast the pepitas seeds in a pan. Then top onto the salad and serve.

David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe

Hi all, I haven’t got a chance to post this past week. I have been busy with assignments, went to David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe Conferences over the weekend and now I have a cold. This is the worse time to get sicks and it happens every year around exam times. Perhaps I don’t take as good care of myself as I usually do. I haven’t been sick since I got back from Europe last July. So since starting this blog and going vegan last September I have been cold free, despite others around me getting sick.

As promised I will share some of the insights I learned from raw food, super food expert David Wolfe. I first saw him on the documentary Hungry for Change and then again on Food Matters. I was probably draw in to what he had to say the most, especially by his comments on low nutritional value of conventional food once we buy it and raw foods being the best way to preserve that nutrients. So when I saw him on the Morning Show and found out he was coming here I quickly bought my tickets and counted down the days. I got the complete package to his Friday night Lecture and Saturday Conference.  Yes I went alone to both. Both my mother and Marco had plans and were not interested, since it was quite expensive. However, I feel like the money was well spent and I really learned a lot. ???????????????????????????????

At the Friday night Lecture he first about how pioneer plants are the most powerful, as they have survived the longest and they impart their longevity to us. Some examples of these plants include olives, grapes, coconut and some mushrooms. He also spoke of the Chinese Daoists teaching that black foods impart longevity and extend our life span, because they contain more yin. Some of these foods include black radish, black rice, black chia seeds. He also mentioned that our bodies need the right about of salt and potassium and that warm salty water has often been an old remedy for ailments (e.i. chicken soup). He recommends a glass of water with 10 pinches of sea salt.

Then he talked about the most important raw food categories: berries, roots & leaves, nuts & seeds, seaweeds, sprouts and herbalism. He explained that the reason that these are the most important for us is because although our bodies are like primates, so we need leaves and berries. However our nervous system is more similar to a dolphin, whale or porpoise, so we need seaweeds and marine foods. He said that although vegan diets are healthy, we need sea minerals,  for our brains and nervous system. He said that vegans may feel great for 10-20 years, but once they reserves run out for these minerals and fats, that they would of got from conventional foods, as bad as they were, they will eventually have problems with their neurological and nervous systems This really concerned me, as I have pyroluria and which effects my brain function if my levels of certain minerals are depleted. He believes that we can’t get these essential omega fats from foods anymore because there isn’t enough nutrients foods of today. What do you think about this? This is the first time I have heard this.

Other things he mentioned: we should aim for 80% raw diet, organic is barely good enough, biodynamic is better, Vit D3 turns on healing genes, 100 yr old roots and mushrooms are the more powerful, such as medicinal mushrooms, turmeric, galangal, ginger; kale and sprout juices are very healthy; fermented beetroot and beetroot juice gets rid of toxins; goji berries have very good for methylation properties; soy isn’t good for our estrogen levels; spiralina & chorella are very good and lastly sea salt is much better then pink himalayan salt since it is still alive. There was more but  I couldn’t right this stuff down fast enough.

The Conference the next day was all day. He first began by talking about Tautology and that there are three forces of nature: Habit, Anti-Habit and the X Factor. He gave some examples of some strange phenomena in nature, such as toad in a hole or rather a stone. He also talked about one of my favorite topics, ancient aliens. I was really excited to hear someone speak about it in real life, other then watching the documentary series. Are any of you guys believers in this????????????????????????????????

Then he went into great detail about certain superfoods. He first recommended getting your diet sorted by going 80% raw, to get rid of toxins and get more energy. This can be done  easily by having smoothie/juice for breakfast, salad for lunch and salad with something else for dinner. Then gradually work super foods into you diet, as an insurance policy Some include maca, cacao, spiralina. Lastly, adding herbalism to your diet, by using tinctures, medical mushrooms (reishi, chaga), he shou wu, etc. He later went into great detail about hormones and progesterone  He recommends progesterone cream for older woman, men and pregnant mothers and that it can balance out the rest of the hormones, including thyroid. After that he discuss a variety of other topic such as joints, longevity zappers, grounding pads etc.

After such a big day I was already feeling like I was getting a cold, but I was determined to meet him and ask about being vegan and needing sea minerals. After gushing like a star stuck school girl I asked him about my concern about being vegan, having pyroluria and getting enough sea minerals and healthy fats. He recommended for me to take a powdered phytoplankton, rather then eating seafood. I found a vendor who was selling it, but I want to do my own research first and speak to my nutritionist, who hasn’t seen me since last year, but does not agree with veganism. What do you guys think of phytoplankton? Do any of you take it?

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I did buy a few products from the vendors there. I got a big packet of organic cacao powder, organic goji berries and the tincture of Goji & Schizandra. I also got a few samples of Maca, chia seeds, whole cacoa seeds and I am getting sent a free copy of the book Earthling: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?. I didn’t buy any of his books, I waited till I got home and ordered them online. I love the goji berries, the cacao powder is amazing and the tincture is quite alcoholic tasting, which for some strange reason I wasn’t expecting.

This morning I made smoothie inspired my one of David’s videos on Youtube. It was so delicious! I really like the maca powder and will have to buy some on discount day at my local health food store.

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Healthy Superfood Chocolate Smoothie (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon cashews

1 tablespoon cacao powder

1 tablespoon maca powder

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon honey/agave

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 pinch cayenne

1 pinch sea salt

1.5 cups plant milk

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients in a blender, leaving the liquid till last. Then whiz until all is liquefied.

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Last thing I wanted to share is my new Tala glass juice bottles. They look quite large but 500ml is only 2 cups, so it is prefect breakfast juice size. I got one 1L for nut milks too. You can get them from kitchen shops in Brisbane, but I bought them online for cheaper. I also made up a travel juice to take to the Conference. After first hitting myself in the face with the top I learned I needed to hold it back or bring a straw lol. I will post again soon when I am feeling better and finished this assignment.

Dragon Fruit, Blueberry, Banana Smoothie and a Healthy Salad

It’s been so hot here in Brisbane. Well not as hot as NSW. I heard today they had temperatures up to 46 degrees. Today, silly me made another hot noodle dish for lunch, so tonight I wanted to have something to cool me down. So I made a salad with mix lettuce leaves, tomato, cucumber, red onion, chickpeas, mango chilli dressing and toasted sunflower seeds. We all felt a lot cooler after that.

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On the side I made this delicious smoothie with the Dragon Fruit, which I bought from the Farmers Market at Murwillumbah. I also used and the fruit that I froze before I went to Melbourne. I was a bit worried that the dragon fruit wouldn’t be sweet enough, but it went really well in the smoothie and gave it a great color.

dragon-fruit-31I don’t often eat Dragon Fruit. I first saw it at a breakfast buffet in Jakarta, but I didn’t know where it came from as they served the white flesh in triangular shapes. I later discovered the pink fleshed fruit at a Independent grocer. Do you have them where you live?

They are originally from Central and South American and were brought from the ‘New World’ to Asia by the Europeans. They are now cultivated else where, such as Australia, Israel and throughout Asia. Only about 60% of the dragon fruit is edible and the edible flesh can be found inside and is similar to a kiwi fruit. They are a rich source of vitamin C, vitamin B1, B2 and B3. Thus, they have a range of health benefits, such as strengthening your immune system, warding off chronic respiratory disorders, bettering your carbohydrate metabolism, recovering and improving of appetite, reducing bad cholesterol and improving skin condition.

I definitely want to eat more dragon fruit from now on! Do you have any good recipes that use Dragon fruit?

Dragon Fruit, Blueberry, Banana Smoothie (gf, sf)

Ingredients:

1 large dragon fruit

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 frozen banana

4 cups almond milk

2 tablespoons agave or more to taste

Method:

1. Add all the ingredients in the processor and whiz until all the ingredients are combined.

Serves 4

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The Nutritional Value of Dragonfruit <http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/the-nutritional-value-of-dragonfruit.html#b&gt;

Sunflower Seed Cinnamon Nut butter

I was really craving a thick nutty smoothie but I didn’t have any banana, soy yogurt or nut butters. So I decided to make my own nut butter with sunflower seeds. This was experimental so I didn’t make a large quality. I was quite happy with the result, but next time I will toast the sunflower first. I used it in my blueberry smoothie and it thickened it up nicely.

Sunflower seeds are really high in vitamin E, which neutralizing free radicals and is significantly anti-inflammatory. This is great for people with asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. They area also a great source of vitamin B1, manganese, copper, tryptophan, magnesium, selenium, vitamin B6, phosphorus and folate [1].

Sunflower seeds can be eaten raw and also toasted. I prefer them toasted as it gives them a really different flavor and doesn’t taste so woody. You can add them to salads, cereals and porridge, make spreads and even grind them to use in place of flour when dusting meat/meat substitutes.

This is my first time making nut butter. What ones have you made? Any tips for flavors and techniques?

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Sunflower Seed Cinnamon Nut butter (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sunflower seeds (toasted or untoasted)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)

pinch sea salt

1 tablespoon agave

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

1/4 cup water

Method:

1. First grind all the sunflower seeds in the processor.

2. Then rest of the ingredients while processor is one. First start with spices, salt, then agave & oil and lastly the water.

*About 1/2 cup

Blueberry Sunflower Smoothie (vegan gluten free, nut free, soy free)DSC01092

Ingredients:

1/2 cup blueberries

3/4 plant milk (coconut, rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

1 big tablespoon Sunflower Seed Cinnamon Nut butter

Method:

1. Blend all the ingredients and serve.

*Serves 1

[1] Sunflower seeds, <http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=57#preptips>

The long awaited Green Smoothie

I finally took the plunge on the green side and made the green smoothie. I have been wanting to do it for a while, but to be honest, I was a bit scare. So was Marco when he was faced with the green smoothie. But I have to say it wasn’t that bad.

I made it with peach, mango and tuscan kale/cavolo nero. I think the sweeter the fruit the less you notice the green stuff. I used a jug blender, which pureed the ingredients pretty well, so it wasn’t lumpy or too fibrous. I found it was sweeter with less water, but I put a bit more so Marco could experience the green smoothie too. He said it wasn’t that bad. He did only drink half of his, but it was a big step for him. Five years ago when I met him he ate meat for every meal (even breakfast) and wouldn’t even try Indian or Thai food. Now he is eating a mostly vegan diet and drinking green smoothies. I am very proud of him.

What combinations do you use to make your green smoothie? 

Do you like it really sweetened with fruit or prefer it to taste the green?

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Green Summer Smoothie (gf, sf, nf)

Ingredients:

1 peach

1 small mango

handful tuscan kale/cavolo nero leaves (don’t use spine)

1/4 to 1/2 glass filtered water

ice cubes to serve (optional)

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients in the jug blender and wizz till its liquidized.

* Makes 1 large- 2 serves.

Banana Chocolate Espresso Shake

Ok so I made my first Espresso Shake. I kept it simple, since I was a bit scared how it would taste. But now I think that espresso can be added to just about any milky smoothie. So no more having to choose between soy cap or fruit smoothie for breakfast anymore.  Only thing I would do differently is put some ice so that it is more cooler. The espresso warms there cold milk, so it becomes room temperature.

I am trying to cut down my caffeine consumption so maybe this will just been for my really sleepy mornings. I use to keep it to one a day, but then I went to Italy and go influenced by my aunt who lived on coffee and cigarettes. It was normal to have 3-6 shots a day and for some strange reason it didn’t stop me sleeping. But now in the real world I don’t sleep if I have coffee too late. Below is some pros and cons about coffee.

Banana Chocolate Espresso Shake (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 banana

1/2 glass plant milk (coconut, rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

1 shot of espresso

1 teaspoon raw cocoa powder

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Method:

1. Blend all the ingredients and serve.

Smoothies

While I was away on exchange I really missed fresh home-made smoothies and juicers. Unfortunately my juicer and blender are at my place, since I’ve been spending the semester at my boyfriends, so I bought myself a cheap bar mix for smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to get fruit into my diet since I usually don’t eat it them otherwise. I haven’t been exercising enough, so I just don’t find I need to eat more then 3 meals a day.  

I usually blend fresh fruits with some juice or almond/rice milk and chia seeds. I noticed since I’ve been making it an everyday meal that I feel heaps better and don’t need coffee first thing in the morning.  I also discovered some other ingredients that change up the flavours. Pears give a fresh, crisp, mild taste. Nut butters and dates are also really good for a rich decadent taste as well. Soy yoghurt also give that sweet bubblegum flavour. I like Soy Life, which is available at Coles, Woolworths and now Aldi.

I’ve also been trying to incorporate more berries into my smoothies, since they are the healthiest fruits. Compared to grapes, bananas, apples and mango, berries have way more antioxidants. In particular,  raspberries and blackberries, since they have way more antioxidants then strawberries and blueberries [1]. When in season strawberries are between $1 to $4 and blueberries are about $4. Unfortunately a small punnet raspberries are $8. Black berries are about the same, but I rarely see them available. Another problem is that they are they usually start growing moss within a day. They must have a long way to travel. So I have opting to buy these berries frozen. Creative Gourmet has also brought out some organic frozen berries, since the pesticides used for berries are quite high compared to other fruits.

Best Berries- Nutritional Facts Video

Another new discovery is Smoothie cubes. They are now available at Aldi and as well as Coles and Woolworths and all seem to be on sale at the moment. Most of which are 100% fruit and fruit juice or fruit with natural ingredients. They all appear vegan too. The only ingredient I don’t agree with is in the Breakfast flavour, which has Polydextrose, which is a synthetic fiber.  Marco is addicted to smoothie cubes.  He has bought one of each flavour. At least he is making his own smoothies every morning and I’m not having to make him drink them anymore. I only used them as an accompaniment to the fruit, instead of the only fruit in my smoothie.

Here are a couple of my favorite smoothie recipes. What are yours???

Btw I found this great Vegan Cheat Sheet for products you can buy Australia

Berry and Kiwi Smoothie– Handful of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, 1 kiwi, 2 tbsp soy vanilla yoghurt, 1 tbsp chia seeds.

Raspberry, Pear & Blueberries Smoothie– handful of blueberries, 3 tbsp frozen raspberries, 1 pear (not skin), 1/2 glass almond/rice milk, 1 berry smoothie cube (optional), 1 tbsp chia seeds.

Banana Nut Smoothie– 1 banana, 1 tbsp nut butter (brazil, cashew & almond), 1 /2 glass almond/rice milk, 1 tbsp ground flax seeds, 1 banana & mango smoothie cube (optional)

Banana Date Smoothie – 5 dried dates chopped (put boiled water on them for a few minutes to soften), 1 banana, 1/2 glass almond/rice milk, 2 tbsp nut butter (brazil, cashew & almond), 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Five Fruit Juice– 1 orange juiced, 5 strawberries, handful of blueberries, 1 banana, 1 kiwi

Banana Chocolate Smoothie– 1/2 banana, 2 scoops Soy Good Soy Chocolate Ice cream, 1/2 glass soy/almond/rice (the kids favorite smoothie)

Blueberry & Oat Smoothie– handful of blueberries, 2-3 tbsp rolled oats, 3 tbsp soy vanilla yogurt, 1/2 glass almond/rice milk, 1 smoothie cube (optional) (Marcos favorite)

Raspberry Pear & Blueberries Smoothie

Banana Nut Smoothie

[1] Best Berries-  http://nutritionfacts.org/video/best-berries/

The canned tuna debate and the Bake Sale at the Green Edge

This week I admit I’ve had a few slips up with my diet. There is this one brand of tuna that has beans in it, which me and Marco were addicted to. I have probably only had it twice this month. However I would really like to stop eating it in general. Why? Well there are two reasons. Firstly, many of the canned tuna’s we buy does not use sustainable fishing methods and destroys marine life. I just found out that Sole Mare, the brand that were buying regularly has the worst  rating out of all the canned tuna’s in Australia for the 2011 Canned Tuna Ranking. This is quite disappointing that they are not transparent with how they produce their tuna.

Another big reason to give tuna the flick is the  Bisphenol A (BPA), from can products and the mercury. BPA is synthetic estrogen, which companies use in lining of the can’s to avoid deterioration. This can leach out of the food and when consumed is really bad for our own natural estrogen. It has been known to cause men to have a decrease of 20% in sperm count and create problems for woman in regards to PMS and menopause (Natural & Organic Health). According to Choice, in Australia we do not have set in limit to the amount of BPA that can be present in the food from a can. The only brands that currently have no BPA are Eden Organic and Spiral. Nakula coconut cream does use BPA lining, however it has proven that it does not leach into the food. As far as I know the big supermarkets do not carry these brands, but I have seen them at independent health food shops.

So if that’s not deterring enough, there is also mercury problem. According to PETA, “Tuna fish accumulate toxic mercury in their flesh as a result of industrial pollution, and the side effects of mercury poisoning include finger curling, cognitive impairment, and coordination problems. A California boy, who was the subject of a front-page Wall Street Journal article, went from being a star athlete and honor student to being unable to concentrate or catch a football because he ate canned tuna. Even if he had eaten only half a can of albacore tuna a week, he still would have consumed 60 percent more mercury than is considered “safe” by the U.S.government.” So that convenient little can of tuna, doesn’t sound so good any more.

Other challenges I’ve had is eating out at friends places. These are the first friends that have dared invite me to dinner, with my dietary requirements of no dairy and most vegan. I guess its daunting to people. I know a few years ago someone told me they were vegetarian and I was like oh so you still eat fish right? Then when I had to give up the dairy I think I cried for 2 days. I didn’t know what else was out there. Most of us are alot more in the know about food, with all these cooking shows, but pretty much all of this knowledge is based in food from animals. Anyway, last night our friends invited us to a lovely Indian dinner at their place. The food was great and really authentic. I tried to only eat the vegetarian dishes, but I couldn’t help try their meat specialities as well. For the most part I felt really rude not trying it. Ok I was curious as well. It makes me worry about what will happen when I do make the complete stand that I will not consume animal products. I guess gradually I will pick up tips along the way that will help me to avoid meat. Its still early days and I think I am doing well.

Half a Veggie Burger from Green Edge

On brighter news, today I went to Green Edge with my boyfriend and our Mums’ for the bake sale for World Animal Day! We were really hungry when we arrived so we all shared a burger, well not 1 burger between 4, but 2 between 2. We all ordered the Veggie burger, which was a lentil pattie with mango chutney, aioli, tomato and lettuce. It also came with a side salad. It was really good and I was annoyed that Marco ordered 1 to share. We also all got their blueberry smoothies. I don’t know what they put in them but god they were good! The reason we ordered so little was we were really there for the sweets. They had carrot cake, raspberry chocolate brownies, cupcakes and heaps of different biscuits. I sampled 3 different ones, all for the animals of course. So it was definitely worth the trip. For all you guys in Brisbane, if you want a nice place to have coffee and really great brownie or cheese cake, I really recommend this place. Trust me you wont know its vegan! It has Marco’s tick of approval. For all the vegan desserts I have tried to make at home, that he has says “it’s nice, but I’d still prefer…”. These desserts are as he says ‘at the top of their game’. The staff are really friendly as well and can answer any questions you have and give great advice on what products taste the best. It’s also a supermarket, so its a wonderland for animal free products, including cheeses, ice creams and mock meat products.