Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich/Sushi and Carrot Ginger Mojito

Canned tuna is one of those things that I have struggled with giving up since trying to make the change to vegan. It just has something about it that I crave. If you are one of my non vegan friends, you are probably thinking why would anyone want to give up tuna, its delicious? Well mercury toxicity and BPA toxicity are a couple of reasons that I really try to avoid any canned fish in general. Overfishing and unsustainable fishing methods is also another couple of reasons I discovered this when I blogged on this issue a while ago (The canned tuna debate).

I admit I have actually been better in recent times to avoid canned fish entirely and other seafood.  A big thing that has stopped me craving tuna is re-educating myself on the reality of the detriment it may have to my health and trying avoid toxins while I endeavour to start preparing myself to have a baby. By the way that’s still a secret! I am still in the stages of getting all my tests done and get any deficiencies sorted before we start trying. I am about to start another detox soon with guidance of my new naturopath, which I’m really excited about! Marco thinks I am the only person in the world excited about doing a detox, especially since my first detox a few years back was so difficult. However, over the last 3 and a half years I have learned a lot and my tastes have really changed. I feel more in control and equip to be able to enjoy the ride this time.

Anyway back to cooking… I tried to make a Mock Tuna Salad with tempeh a while ago. If found the texture was there, but not the fishy taste. So I tried again with chickpeas, umeboshi vinegar and nori. This time I managed to get the taste, but the texture was probably a little to fine. Besides that I much prefer this recipe and found it really versatile for making sandwiches and sushi and it passed the flavour test with Marco and Mum (who said I thought you don’t eat tuna any more).

Tuna Salad 2

Vegan Chickpea ‘Tuna’ (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tin chickpeas/ 1.25 cup cooked chickpeas

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup onion, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil (optional, leave out for thicker consistency)

3 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar

3-4 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon himalayan pink salt / sea salt

1 sheet nori (cut into 5 cm strips) or  3 tablespoons crispy seaweed

Method:

1. Place chickpeas, celery, onion and olive oil into the processor. Process until the chickpeas have broken down. You may have to keep wiping down the sides with a spatula.

2. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the nori strips. Process until you are happy with the consistency

3. Add nori sheets and adjust seasoning if you need to. Then process for until the nori has been mixed through.

*Makes over 1 cup

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Vegan Chickpea ‘Tuna’ Salad Sandwich (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

sliced bread ( I used  toasted multigrain vienna sourdough)

2-3 tablespoons vegan tuna per sandwich (recipe above)

sliced tomato

fancy lettuce or mixed lettuce

any other salad items

Method:

1. Spread vegan tuna on one side of the bread. Then top with salad items and other slice of bread and enjoy.

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 Vegan Chickpea ‘Tuna’ Salad Sushi (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 nori sheet

3 tablespoons cooked quinoa or sushi rice

2-3 tablespoons vegan tuna per sandwich (recipe above)

sliced tomato

fancy lettuce or mixed lettuce

any other salad items

Method:

1. Place quinoa in the middle of the nori sheet in a line down the middle.

2. Top quinoa with vegan tuna and salad items.

3. Roll the nori into a sushi roll. Slice in half and enjoy.

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For a mid-afternoon beverage to enjoy while I watching FMTV I made this delicious juicy mocktail. Perfect for this muggy weather and to get into the spirit of detoxing.

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Carrot Ginger Mojito (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

4 small carrots

2 apples

small knob ginger

3 cm wide round slice lemon (including skin)

mint leaves from 2 sprigs

cold sparkling water

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients except the sparkling water in a juicer.

2. Place the juice in a tall glass or large jar and top with some sparkling water and some mint leaves to serve.

*Serves 1

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Merry Christmas to all!

Hope everyone had a good Christmas  I spent the 24th-26th preparing food and eating it. We had Marco’s Birthday Lunch with his family, Christmas lunch and dinner with my family and Boxing day celebrating with his family again for lunch.

We are off to Melbourne tomorrow  I can’t wait! All my family are down there and I haven’t been for a few years. But I am also eager to discover some of the great vegan eats down there too. I have heard that Melbourne is the best state for vegans and vegetarians. I hope I have time. Its difficult to find time to do your own thing when visiting family. I feel guilty for ditching them or that I am not making the most of my time with them. I have a very big italian family. My mum is one of 10 and most of  her siblings live down there with their kids and my father is one of four and his parents and grandmother are still alive. There is always a bit of jealously when I go between one family to the other. I also don’t know how they are going to take my new diet. They love meat down there. I know people think well they others should respect their lifestyle choice as vegan/vegetarian, but I always feel like I should be as little trouble as possible when I stay like people. Thats just the way I have been brought up and if you go against the norm then you are a problem. I am hoping I am worrying about nothing and it will all turn out well!

Over the last few days I cooked for Christmas with my family and for Marco’s family. I made another Rosemary Galette with tomatoes and zucchini, Chat Potato Salad, Sweet Potato CroquettesStone Fruit Slice, and a Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake. I ended up making everything except the Cheesecake for Christmas with my family. Unfortunately none of them even tried or asked about what I cooked. I was a bit annoyed after going to all that effort. This part of my family is very pro meat and milk. They don’t believe that food is important to be healthy and it shows. I hope they don’t read this. Its their choice anyway. At least they didn’t put caesar dressing on the other salads, so I could eat them. It’s something I suppose. They did eat my fudge, which  also brought and Marco served out. Didn’t get any feedback, but considering the plates didn’t come back with any left over I guess they liked it.

I ended up taking the Sweet Pototo Croquettes and both cakes to Marco’s the next day for his family. Considering when I met this Serbian family they ate meat for nearly every meal, they have come a long way. Most of them don’t drink dairy and make a conscious effort to not eat so much meat. It isn’t just my influence, but also cancer, intolerance and a lot of reading that has really changed their eating habits over the past 5 years. So they were really happy with everything I brought and it cheered me up.

Their were also a lot of vegetarian options at their lunch. One of the ladies brought their traditional pita, but instead of putting cheese in them, she put some with semolina and some with grated potato. They were really really good. I couldn’t stop eating them. I wish I took a photo of them. The Serbian’s have traditional called Slava, where they don’t eat any meat or dairy products for a day. So they do have a few vegan friendly recipes. Hopefully I can learn a few.

Below are some of the foods I prepared for Christmas:

 

Rosemary Galette with Tomato & Zucchini (vegan, nut free)

Adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen???????????????????????????????

Ingredients:

1.25 cups plain flour

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

1/2 cup nutlex (vegan butter)

5 tablespoons ice cold water

olive oil

2 truss tomatoes

1 small zucchini

Method:

1. Preheat the oven 180 degrees and start the dough. Take a large ???????????????????????????????bowl and combining flour, sugar, salt, rosemary in a bowl. Then adding nutlex in small chunks. Use your hands to combine so it becomes like bread crumbs, then add the water, so that it becomes like a dough. Place in the fridge for 10 mins.

2. Roll out the ???????????????????????????????dough with rolling pin on baking paper. Cut out a large circle about 20cm and place into a circle baking pan. Refrigerate for 10 mins.

3. Brush the dough with olive oil, fan sliced tomatoes in the center and add the thinly sliced zucchini around the edges. Then fold down the edges on top of the zucchini and season it all with salt. Refrigerate for 15 mins.

4. Bake for 30-35mins and serve.

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Chat Potatoes Salad (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

500g chat Potatoes

olive oil

sea salt

200g soft tofu

1/4 cup olive oil

1  garlic clove

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

4 shallots, chopped

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

vegan sour cream (I used Chef Chloe’s recipe)

1. Preheat oven 180 degrees. Coat the chat poatoes in olive oil and sea salt. Bake for 40 mins or until soft. ???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????2. In the meantime prepare the sour cream. Blend the tofu, oil, garlic, lemon, mustard and salt and place in the fridge till you need it. Should make 3/4 of a cup.

3. When potatoes have cooled down cut the potatoes in halfs or quarters. Add sliced shallots and sliced sun dried tomatoes.

4. When ready, coat in sour cream and sea salt.

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Mixed Fruit Slice

This is adapted for my Stone Fruit & Berry Slice. I used nectarines, peaches, kiwi fruit, pineapple, green grapes. One thing I really changed was adding a cup of soy milk to the base of the slice when I was making the dough. I also didn’t add maple to the fruit. I just squashed them on top and added a sprinkle of raw sugar.

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Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe is from The Veggie Nook. Really easy to make. Next time I wouldn’t add so much banana and put a bit more maple syrup in the filling. It was sweet enough for me, but not for Marco.

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These are a couple of recipes I have made from leftovers this week, while I was cooking:

Tempeh ‘Tuna’ Salad (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

I have been hearing about this mock tuna for a while, but I never got around to trying to make it. I looked at a few recipes, but didn’t have all of the ingredients for them. It does have the texture of tuna but not quite the fishy taste. I will have to keep trying. But otherwise a good creamy salad filling for a sandwich.

Ingredients:

75g tempeh

2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced

2 tablespoons celery, finely diced

1 small dill pickle, finely diced

1.5 tablespoons vegan mayo

1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Steam tempeh in a steamer for 20 mins (to remove bitterness)

2. Combine all the ingredients and season to taste. Serve in a sandwich, on toast or with a salad.

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Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese (vegan, gluten free option)

Ingredients:

100-150 g Macraroni (or other short pasta, use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

1/4 cup mashed pumpkin

1/2 cup milk

2-3 tablespoons nutitional yeast

2-3 tablespoons vegan sour cream (I used Chef Chloe’s recipe)

sea salt to taste

corn crumbs

Method:

1. Boil Pasta according to instructions. Then strain and set aside.

2. Heat pumpkin with soy milk. Stir till it becomes a thick sauce, then add nutritional yeast and stir. Add pasta and take off the heat.

3. Add sour cream and season with salt, then place into a baking proof dish. Top with corn crumbs and cook in the oven for 10-15mins or till golden brown on top.

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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.