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!

Vamos Vegan!

My sincerest apologies for being scarce lately. I’m finding it tough to juggle a full time job, part time studies in the education field, gym, and life in general. Something’s gotta suffer, and unfortunately it was my blog.

I’ve still been cooking, baking and eating amazingly delicious plant based, cruelty free, super nutritious food though!

Out of absolutely nowhere, I had a craving for Mexican food. So I succumbed by making this quick’n’easy Mexican salad. I wanted to keep it as nutritious as possible, and not just melt some vegan cheese on tortilla chips (even though there’s no denying that would be delicious)

You will need:

2 cups baby spinach or your choice of greens

1 red onion

3 – 5 stalks of celery

1 orange bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

1 cup corn

1 cup kidney beans (I couldn’t find black beans)

1 ripe avocado

About 5 tortilla chips

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp garlic

Salt, Pepper and herbs of your choice (I used basil)

1 tbsp vegan mayo

  1. Chop the veggies nice and fine, and toss them together with your greens.
  2. Add the corn and beans
  3. Cube the avocado and throw it over
  4. Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over
  5. Add salt, pepper and herbs and garlic to your liking
  6. Add your vegan mayo
  7. And lastly, crumble the tortilla chips over the salad to garnish

This recipe should serve 2 people as a main meal, or 4 as a side.

There are some variations and additions I want to try to change it up a little.

  •  Instead of spinach, try quinoa or brown rice
  •  Add cubed lightly fried sweet potatoes
  •  Add some vegan chicken style strips for added protein
  •  Add a teeny bit of salsa for a kick
  •  Use cashew cream instead of vegan mayo
  •  Serve with guac instead of fresh avo

I’ve made this salad twice this week, and it is fast becoming a favourite in our home. In order for it to remain healthy, I would probably opt out of serving it with vegan mayo if I make it more often.

See, even Mexican food can be veganized 🙂

Try it, and let me know what you think.

***Buon appetito***

mexican salad

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

My life in vegan ..

Are you toying with the idea of being vegan? Maybe a friend has convinced you to join her on a 22 day challenge? Want to cleanse? But, alas, the dreaded question pops into your head, echoed by the concerns of friends and family, “But what will you eat? Just fruit? Lettuce? Carrot sticks?”

Don’t let their naivety dissuade you from helping our planet, our animals and our bodies.

I want to help you aspiring vegans, budding health freaks, environmentalists, and animal activists to see how easy it is to be vegan.

Becoming vegan has drastically increased my tortoise-like metabolism, which is now like a little squirrel on caffeine. So I eat, alot. In fact, I almost always have something in my mouth (mind out the gutter please!)

I am going to give you a 5 day meal guide, according to how I eat. 3 things you need to know about me:

  • I work a semi stressful, sometimes very busy job, but I am predominantly seated at my computer.
  • I only go to gym about 3  days a week, where I do a 45 – 60 minute class involving cardio and strength training
  • I love chocolate!

This meal guide is NOT approved by a nutritionist. I have no idea how many calories it is. Or how much fat. Or protein. All I do know is its yummy food, that’s not all good, not all bad for you, and you can do what you like with it. It’s simply an idea of what vegans can and do eat. Don’t take it as gospel.

Meal Plan

I haven’t added in my coffee intake, so please, have no fear, there IS caffeine in this. I wouldn’t be writing this if there wasn’t. Also, you can always safely assume that my nuts are roasted and salted. And that I eat hummus with almost everything.

Please make sure you drink water too, and keep taking your vitamins if that’s what you normally do. And rule number 1 – always listen to your body

Oh, and make sure you take into account the fact that there are at the very least THREE bars of Aero dark chocolate included in this plan!

Please look through my website for recipes for some of the food I have referenced, and share your experiences with me.

Happy healthy eating!

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