Winter Warmers

Yes, I am still alive.

So much has happened since I have last written. I quit my job, completed a degree, started a new job and got promoted all in the last year! So I have been quite the busy bee.

We are fast approaching a very cold winter here in South Africa. Note, our winters are a high of 17°C, nothing quite like the bitingly ice cold 6 months of winter I suffered through in Boston. But hey, it’s all relative, right?

table mountain

So, just in case any of you are in search of some deliciously warming food on a chilly evening, that happens to be devoid of animal products, or if you just want to eat something delightfully comforting and equally nutritious, look no further.

In an effort to make up for lost time, I’ll be posting quite a few recipes over the course of the week, so keep your eyes peeled for something that tickles your taste buds!

So, of recent, my room mates kids have been living with us. The 2 boys are not fans of, let’s say, healthy food. They like creamy, meaty, curry-ish food. So, occasionally, I cook for the 4 of us. And of course, then, the pressure is on. Because kids can be brutally honest. They can’t hide their facial expressions and mask their disgust with a stiff smile and a “Mmm, it’s so good” and then quietly spit it out into their napkin.

I have a firm tried and tested family favourite that you simply have to try. It’s a tasty twist on a layered lasagna, but a secretly not so unhealthy version. I try to refrain from using the word healthy, or I may get the Jehovah’s witnesses of health knocking on my door.

You will need:

6 large sweet potatoes steamed and peeled
3-4 cups of liquidized tomatoes
1 pack of mushrooms, sliced
1 diced onion
4 tablespoons chickpea flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch of spinach
Soy milk
Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Nutritional Yeast, Dried Chilli, Garlic

I am a pro a multi tasking in the kitchen. I can prepare 3 seperate components of a dish, and wash up by the time everything is done. This dish involves 4 different parts. I’ll just give them to you, and you can do them in which ever order suits you.

1) Steam and peel your sweet potatoes. They need to be soft enough to mash. Once they are, mash 3 of the sweet potatoes and layer them on the bottom of a baking dish.

2) Prepare your napoletana sauce, by bringing your pureed tomatoes to a boil, adding in some chopped up dried chilli, and oregano.

3) Prepare your middle layer, which is the veggie mix. All I had on hand was mushrooms and onions, so I lightly sauteed them with a touch of garlic and pepper. I tossed in the spinach as well for good measure.

4) Prepare your white sauce. I use chickpea flour and olive oil to make a rue, and then add in some boiling water, and stir. I top it off with soy milk, and of course, it contains salt, pepper, and nooch! (If you don’t know what nooch is, you are probably still a beginner vegan. It’s nutritional yeast)

So, next, you layer your napoletana sauce over the mashed sweet potato.
Then your veggie mix.
Then your white sauce.
And lastly, the last 3 sweet potatoes get mashed to hold everything together.

Serve this yummy concoction, hot, with a side salad, and high expectations!

Thanks for nothing

Let’s shove dried bread bits and herbs up a poor dead turkeys anal cavity, slather it in sauce and eat it to show our gratitude for the harvest.

Americans have taken the word harvest to another level. Far too literally. Harvest vegetables, not turkeys!

He was born as a result of artificial insemination, because his parents were pumped with steroids until they could barely walk. Born in an incubator, never to know the warmth of a mother, or see the light of day, he will then live out his few months in a crowded, windowless shed, with over a thousand other frantic and terrified birds, knowing full well what’s coming.

Let’s not even mention that their toes, beaks, claws and snoods are sliced off, and their legs often snap under the weight of their hormone injected bodies. The conditions they are forced to “live” in are filthy, delapidated and extremely unhygenic. So many poor birds die from heart failure, stress and fear.

He spent his entire (albeit short) life being treated like a vegetable, with zero regard for his feelings, desires, needs or wants. And trust me, he had them!

The term “humane slaughter” is about as logical as a fat man dressed in red sliding down the chimney with a sack of presents. But turkeys are exempt from the Humane Slaughter Act. This means that factory farm workers can torture, maim, abuse and treat them any which way they like. And from I have read, turkeys are one of the most compassionate and caring birds ever.

Like chickens, they are deeply family oriented, intelligent and are excellent judges of character. They form close bonds with humans who they trust, and love spending time with their friends. Sounds a lot like a sentient being right? That’s because they ARE!

45 million turkeys are mercilessly killed so Americans can give thanks. The entire concept screams utter contradiction.

I hope you will show your gratitude in a way that embodies the love and compassion you want to express. turkey 2

Eat & Shop Vegan

I don’t know about you, but I love reading up on healthy and compassionate living and eating. I can spend hours browsing through delicious looking recipes, which I don’t have half the ingredients to, or free time to make. But it’s a guilty pleasure.

One of the most common articles I come across are those accidentally vegan foods, which mostly pertain to junk foods, like Oreos.

It made me realise that while some of my aspiring vegan readers might now know what junk foods to go for when out shopping, you might not know which items to avoid at supermarkets.

  1. Any chips (crisps for my American readers) that are cheesy or sour cream in nature. Yes, they used dried milk powder in them. Ick.

Opt for plain salted, salt and vinegar or my personal favourite – Simba Mexican Chilli!

  1. Hot chocolate pre mix. Or those little sticks of pre made cuppacino that you have to just add water to. Because they’ve already loaded it with dairy. 

Stick with plain cocoa powder, like Bourneville.

  1. Cracker Bread. I know, what a travesty! Some have whey powder in them. Provita Crisps are a no go as well.

I use Ryvita, which is whole wheat and free from all animal derived products. And yummy!

  1.    Granola, cereals, cereal bars. They might seem innocent enough, but are often sweetened with honey, or have milk powder in them.

Dark Chocolate Jungle Oats Bars are vegan! And Woolworths SA sells a range of vegan granola and breakfast bars.

  1.    Salad dressings. Some contain yoghurt. 

You know what my advice is .. Make. Your. Own.

  1.   Soy Meat. Some brands use cheese in their faux feat products. Shocking, right? The very same product trying to combat the meat industry is simply condoning the dairy industry, which actually works hand in hand with the meat industry. Who else sees the sad irony? 

The brand Quorn is the culprit who uses egg and cheese in their products. I stick with Fry’s.

Unless you live in San Francisco, all-vegan eateries are hard to find, and especially those that are open for dinner. We have all of ONE here in Cape Town now, called Plant, and a few in JHB, one of which is run by my vegan master chef sister, called Conscious 108 ..

But since we all don’t run in vegan only circles, we are sometimes invited to restaurants without our eating preferences being considered.

I’ll try to give you a few ideas so you aren’t stuck eating a Greek salad without the feta or dressing, or some bland steamed vegetables.

  1. Thai. It’s one of my favourites! But a lot of the dishes are made with fish oil, oyster sauce and other stuff we don’t want to imbibe.  

It’s safest to opt for a stir fry, and request that it be made in soy sauce. Even though the green curry sounds amazing, the paste might contain fish oil. Unless it’s an all-vegan thai place..In which case, when are we going? 🙂

  1. Italian. It’s another one of my favourites. But contains loads of cream, butter and cheese.

Your best bet is an olive oil based pasta with vegetables, or a napoletana. If you’re brave enough, take along your favourite vegan cheese, and ask them to melt it on your pizza, instead of the usual mozzarella. Buon appetito!

  1. Mexican. Ooh. Another one of my favourites. OK, I like food, you get it. But also, tons of queso and cream!

You can opt for any of their veggie burritos, but ask them to hold the cheese. A black bean quesadilla sans cheese still tastes great. Vamos!

  1. Sushi. I loooove sushi too. But obviously, without the raw fish 😉

You can pretty much have any of the vegetarian sushi, depending on your preference. Just remember to ask them to lose the mayo and cream cheese.

  1. Indian. Unfortunately tons of Indian food is made with ghee, which is clarified butter.

You’ll need to ask your waiter if the curries contain ghee. Or else opt for a simple Aloo Mutter with rice, or choose something and ask for it without cream.

  1. Steak house. Errrrm …

You’re screwed and have horrible friends.

Have a happy cruelty free week!

pigeon 1

Nuts about greens!

SALAD.

What does this word bring to mind? Lettuce, cucumber, tomato and feta cheese? EHH! Wrong! 

Let’s clear a few things up:

Lettuce is boring. Stop buying it. 

Chicken on a bed of spinach is NOT and never will be a salad no matter how hard it tries. 

Creamy dressing atop lettuce and feta cheese does not a healthy meal make. Stop lying to yourself. 

Now that you have accepted the above, let me teach how to transform your salad into a meal you won’t be able to live without. Trust me, you will thank me for it. Money back guarantee 😛 

I unashamedly LOVE eating an almost raw salad at least once a day. Someone once asked me to make her the exact same one as me, because I eat it like it’s chocolate. 

I happen to be pretty boring and a creature of habit, and I am happy to eat the same salad every day. Almost. But I want to help you keep it interesting. So, lucky for you, you will get some variety. 

Here is my guide to making the perfect salad! 

Base:

Choose your base for your salad by ascertaining your activites for the day as well as your other meals. If you plan to go out for Italian food, and you are having toast for breakfast, then choose a leaf base, like rocket or baby spinach

If you are going to gym, and/or eating fairly light for the rest of the day, opt for a grain or starch base, like cous cous, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta. 

Standard Veggies:

 Staples like onions, peppers, cherry tomatoes and cucumber are a must in my salads. 

Spiralised&Grated Veggies:

You might want to invest in a spiraliser. It is my most favourite kitchen utensil. 

I use it to spiralise up zucchini, or baby marrow as we call it in South Africa, which normally I wouldn’t eat raw. 

And who likes to eat big pieces of carrots anyway? No-one! Spiralise those too!

Grate some fresh beetroot too. Fresh beetroot is so very delicious, and it’s good for you! 

Optional Veggies:

If it isn’t month end, and you have some extra money to splurge on slightly more expensive vegetables, do yourself the favour of your life, and buy tenderstem brocolli, baby corn and mange-tout. If you are brave enough, you can even chuck in some fine green beans.

Don’t you think this sounds considerably better than your boring old Greek salad? We aren’t done yet, don’t worry!

Protein:

If you are vegan, I know this is probably your least favourite word. I hate it too. Because it always comes from the mouth of ignorant meat eaters, who want to desperately find something wrong with your chosen lifestyle of compassion and care. Ok, I am getting riled up now, so lets revert to food. 

Protein. Yes.A handful of chickpeas, cannelini beans, or any type of beans really, will make a great add to a salad, and ups the calories a little. 

If you have the time, you can even saute a few cubes of tofu, or even better, add tofeta.

Nuts:

I am a certified nut-a-holic. But a handful of raw cashews or pecans in your salad is normal. Almonds are nice too, but wouldn’t be my first choice. And macadamias – well those are reserved for irritating my boyfriend with my apparent loud crunching.

Seeds:

Seeds might be bird food, but don’t diss them. Even you were once just a little seed 😉 Sunflower and flax seeds are both high in nutrients and goodness in their own special way, and it won’t harm you to add a teaspoon to your food. 

And now for my favourite part ..

Dressing:

You are simply not permitted to add store bought salad dressing to my salad. Try a drizzle of olive oil, a half a teaspoon of garlic, salt&pepper, and basil. You will not regret it.

A teaspoon of hummus or cashew cream, along with some sliced avocado (if your stomach so desires and your calorie counter permits) completes this beautiful creation. 

Now obviously, you can (and should) mix it up a little. But try to actually keep your salad a salad please? And not a heap of oily, fatty food with a side of spinach!

“While I pride myself on trying to be creative in all areas of my life, I have occasionally gone overboard, like the time I decided to bring to a party a salad that I constructed, on a huge rattan platter, to look like a miniature scale model of the Gardens of Babylon” ~ Gregory Maguire

salad 1 salad 2 salad 3 salad 4 salad 5 salad 6 salad 7 salad 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aubergenius!

So on Saturday evening my boyfriend was coming to visit me, and he very sweetly asked, “Baby, are you cooking tonight?” After a month of excessive spending, I didn’t have the extra money in my budget to eat out, or to buy any more groceries other than what I had at home for my routine weekday meals. If I had to feed just myself, I would’ve been fine with a veggie burger and soup. But, I am obsessed with being a good host, à la Bree van de Kamp

ANYHOO! I went searching through my cupboard for whatever I could find, and managed to make a perfectly delicious lasagne. Containing only 1 vegetable. Stop judging me.  

Ingredients:

1 aubergine. Yes one!

10 Lasagne sheets that you bought yonks’ ago, and have never used :$ 

3 tbsp. chickpea flour

Vegan Butter (Canola, Earth Balance, Blossom)

Soy Milk

2 cups of liquidised tomatoes that you found in your freezer because your mommy taught you to always be prepared 🙂

Salt, Pepper, Nutritional Yeast, Cumin, Chilli Powder, Garlic, Basil (Duh, I shouldn’t have to tell you this)

Vegan Cheese (optional)

Parboil your lasagne sheets for about 5 – 7 minutes. 

For the filling:

  – Apparently aubergines need to “sweat” before cooking them. Gross, but OK. 

 – So slice up your big ol’ aubergine into thin slices, and salt them well. Wait for them to start perspiring like I do when I do burpees. Once they do, rinse them off. 

 – Set them on a baking sheet, and sprinkle some cumin powder and chilli powder over them. 

 – Stick them in the oven to bake for about 12 minutes

For the white sauce:

 – Make a rue with chickpea flour and vegan butter.

 – Add crushed garlic, some salt&pepper, and nutri yeast.

 – Add soy milk until it has reached the desired consistency

For the tomato sauce:

 – Bring your liquidised tomatoes to a boil.

 – Add a smidge of ketchup to thicken (if you don’t want to cheat, then let your tomatoes boil for like 7 days) 

 – When sufficiently thickened, add some fresh herbs & chilli powder. 

We had a bit of a debate when it came to deciding how to layer the lasagne. Since we were low on ingredients, this is how we did it:

    White sauce

    Lasagne sheets

    Aubergines

    Tomato Sauce

    Lasagne Sheets

    White Sauce

Make sure your oven is pre-heated to 180 degrees. 

Top with grated cheese, nutritional yeast and dried basil.

Chuck it in the oven for about 20 minutes.

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We found this dish surprisingly filling (excuse the pun!) It just goes to show that you can make satisfying, homely vegan food on somewhat of a budget, provided you have certain essentials on hand. 

*Serves 1 hungry vegan, 1 extra hungry meat-eater and a binging housemate*

 

 

lasagne1

 

 

 

lasagne 2