Archive for November, 2008

Holiday Breakfasts

Breakfast is an important meal, as anyone who thinks they know lots will tell you. On holiday, though, breakfasts seem to get a little lost… you stay up half the night and sleep half the day, you arise like a zombie when the sun gets too bright to sleep through, and pretty soon you realise you are very hungry. So you toddle off to the kitchen for… breakfast? Lunch? Brunch? Something else entirely? Who knows. For me, the meal is a blend of all of those… it isn’t breakfast because it’s too late, it’s too early for lunch but whatever I eat will probably replace lunch because I’ll still be full well past lunch time, and who cares about dinner because it’s too far away to think about. But whatever the name, the “holiday breakfast” is a beautiful thing. You have plenty of time – no rushing off to school, work or university/college. You have the inclination – you’re not doing anything else all day! You usually have plenty of ingredients because you have all the time in the world to shop and want plenty of awesome foods on hand while you sit and be lazy. So with time, inclination and ingredients, the world is your (vegan) oyster.* Holiday breakfasts are awesome! Here are a couple I recently experimented with:

Tofu Scramble (Spinach, Avocado, Cheese)

Spinachy avocadoey tomatoey tofu goodness

Spinachy avocadoey tomatoey tofu goodness

Me being me, I made some changes to this recipe.
I added some tomato and garlic, replaced the soy cheese with wholegrain mustard, and sprinkled savoury yeast over the top.

Definitely the best tofu scramble I have made so far!


EEE-ZEE-CHEE-ZEE Grilled Cheeze

Healthier than your average grilled cheese sandwich...except for the frying bit

Healthier than your average grilled cheese sandwich...except for the frying bit

I used the recipe above for the cheezy sauce, but a plain grilled cheeze sandwich is so boring!
I added tomato, shallots, avocado and mustard – heavenly!

That’s it for pictures for now. As my holiday continues, prepare for more kitchen carnage and holiday breakfasts!

* I’m sure they exist somewhere. They have vegan everything else. Turkey, duck, bacon, etc… I never actually saw much point in fake meat. But then I never saw the point of meat full stop, so fake meat seems even odder. Except for vegetarian sausages. No offense to vegetarians and vegans who like fake meat a lot, that’s cool, I just think other stuff tastes better. But if I ever find a vegan oyster I will be sure to try it. Just so that I can say I did it 🙂

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Japanese Fresh Spring Salad

I invented this salad a few days ago, and I think I am addicted. Seriously. I adore the different shades of green and white, the unmistakably Japanese flavours combined with fresh spring vegetables, the way it’s cool and spicy all at the same time – it’s my new favourite lunchtime treat. So here I present: pictures for you food voyeurs and a recipe for those of you who like to look AND touch. And, of course, eat. Because it’s yum.

Japanese Fresh Spring Salad

Crunchy, cool, spicy and fresh - perfect!

Crunchy, cool, spicy and fresh - perfect!

Salad:
2 leaves crisp cos lettuce
1 sheet nori (the seaweed you use to wrap sushi)
A handful of diced cucumber
1/2 tomato, diced
2 small button mushrooms, diced
1/4 avocado, diced
1 new potato, cut into relatively small pieces
3 florets broccoli
3 spears asparagus

Dressing:
3 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil*
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon wasabi (to own taste)

Steam the potato until nearly cooked, then add the broccoli and asparagus and continue to steam until bright green and tender.

Rinse the nori in cold water to make it supple. Cut the lettuce and nori into strips roughly the same width and combine in a bowl or on a plate. Add the cucumber, tomato, avocado, and mushrooms and toss or arrange salad.

Cut the broccoli and asparagus into smaller pieces if desired, and add to the salad.

Mix all of the dressing ingredients together. Be careful with the wasabi – I like a lot, make sure you don’t add too much for your taste!

Serve the salad with the potatoes on the side and sprinkle the dressing over everything.

Enjoy!

*Can be left out for a lower fat version.

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Burger Things

I found this website called Vegan Eating Out that I found an interesting read. It’s mainly American based but the information about fast food chains that have made it to NZ and what vegan options they have is a handy resource to have. Fast food is mostly just gross BUT (good) vege burgers are one of my favourite foods, and I’m the first to admit that when I’m drinking or hungover I crave the Burger King’s vege burger with a vengeance. So I was thrilled to read that the bun, onion rings, fries and of course salad available at BK are technically vegan (just not very realistic) – which means that at 3am after a few drinks, or a few hours later when the headache has kicked in, I can still go get my favourite cure – minus the cheese and mayonnaise.

What the website information doesn’t factor in is idiotic or simply uncaring staff.  I decided to test out the veganisation of BK fare last week after the final exam of my university career. We were finished, we were celebrating/drowning our sorrows in the pub for a few hours, and then realised it might be time for lunch… *ahem*… so I headed over the road to BK, feeling very self righteous and smugly vegan alongside the usual dirty feeling that accompanies such food places. I asked for my burger, hold the cheese, hold the mayo, swaggered back across the road with it, opened it up… and found that those particular BK employees are only capable of retaining one piece of information at a time. Despite me repeating and confirming my order, and the cashier repeating it yet again as she handed over my food, they had managed to hold the mayo but still added the cheese.

I wasn’t too impressed. I was also drinking and too lazy to complain. I added some processed cheese to my list of sins and regressions.

I know it’s a bit much to expect, really, of a place like BK. The staff are paid minimum wage, they don’t have the coolest or most fulfilling job in the world, they’re probably busy and people like me make their lives difficult. But I also deserve to have the food I order, and food that doesn’t include things I can’t and won’t eat. Of course I should be going to Handmade Burgers and Burger Fuel and those awesome burger places with gourmet menus and multiple vegan options to choose from – they are delicious and I love them. They are also more expensive and more filling, which 9 times out of 10 is a great thing, but sometimes I just feel like eating crap. And as an attempted vegan, I have the right to ask for and get vegan crap.

Burger King, you have been warned 🙂

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Reality bites (of the non-vegan variety)

Greetings from the land of holidays!

It’s been nearly 3 weeks… and over the past few days I’ve been doing a really crap job at being a vegan. I’ve regressed and sinned multiple times. Something to do with finishing uni and getting caught up in all the end of year festivities – a lot of parties, casual drinks, farewell dinners, takeaway and restaurant food, more drinks, barbeques, and the odd drink. I ate some camembert on crackers at a party. I ate some delicious cake my friend made that was probably full of dairy. I went out to dinner at a pizza restaurant and carefully ordered the vegan pizza for myself… but still ate a piece of my friend’s which had cheese on it. My flatmate bought an entire box of Moro Gold nuts bars (about 40 of the things) and I’ve been eating some when he tells me to (which even strikes me as odd because I don’t actually like chocolate that much).

I’m certainly learning some things about myself.

1) My strong resolve and passion of the first week is fading a little as the novelty wears off and reality hits. By that I don’t mean it was just a blind headlong rush into something stupid and I am giving up – definitely not. I still believe that this is a worthy goal and something I believe in and feel good about. Now that I’ve gotten over the honeymoon stage, I need to look at how to make this a serious and long term choice, and work out how to properly integrate it with the realities of my lifestyle.

2) In my natural state I’m lazy. I haven’t regressed and eaten cheese because I’ve desperately craved and desired it. Nope. Most of the “slip ups” I’ve made have come from pure apathy and just not being bothered enough to say no because it takes more effort.  I do miss the taste of cheese. Not enough to go seek it out and buy it secretly for guilty midnight feasts, but just enough to go “oh it’s right there, I’ll eat some.” I can work on that.

3) I’m a complete people pleaser. I just don’t feel ok asking a waiter in a restaurant detailed questions about the menu like if the sauces have dairy or animal fat in them. I don’t want to go into someone’s home with a huge list of “demands”. I hate being difficult, I hate feeling difficult, I hate other people viewing me as difficult. ARGH. Having a social life and attempting to be a vegan can feel very difficult.

4) I’m in holiday mode. I’m eating too much of everything, drinking too much wine and not enough water, and sitting around inside all day mooching on my computer rather than getting off my butt to go exercise or see the sunlight. I have an excuse while it’s my first week of holiday after 3 years of study… I’m sure I’ll snap out of soon enough.

All of those things have come together to make my week thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing, but not 100% vegan or healthy. I’m not going to beat myself up, there’s no point. I’m still trying. In the words of the immortal Rachel Hunter, oft quoted by the indomitable Pascalle West, “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen!”

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The art of the possible

“One always picks the easy fight.
One praises fools, one smothers light.
One shifts left to right.
Politics – the art of the possible.”

– Evita, lyrics by Tim Rice

Well, today I’m depressed…

Why am I depressed, you may ask? Because yesterday New Zealand held its general election, and voted out the Labour Party in favour of the National Party. I have debated this election every day now for so many days that I just can’t be bothered going into why I’m so upset. Take a long hard look at John Key and you should understand in great clarity. I agree with what Jeanette Fitzsimmons, leader of the Green party, said at the end of her speech last night: “I wonder, in 20 years time, if people will look back to 2008 and say, “I’m so glad I voted for tax cuts instead of the future of my children.” ”

Just when America has taken such a giant leap in a positive direction too… so unfair. Now all we can do is see what happens, and I will be paying close attention. Climate change is a slightly more pressing matter than tax cuts at this point in time.

Anyway, on the food front (which is infinitely less depressing…)

I’ve been doing great on this vegan thing for 10 whole days! In that time I have discovered new recipes, ingredients, shops, tastes…

I’ve baked my first two loaves of bread, and while I’m still eating some shop bought stuff I am wanting to move towards eating as much of my own as I can. It’s cheaper and tastes awesome 😀

I’ve had a weak moment – I ate some lemon tart at a restaurant, but that’s really it, and I’m so proud of myself for that! I’ve had cravings (only really for things with cheese in them, like burgers with cheese or cheese sandwiches) but I haven’t given in.

So now that I’ve made it this far I’m setting a few goals:

I’ve joined some people over at VegWeb in a “hydration challenge” – my starting goal is to drink at least 1.5 litres of water daily.

I aim to do 45 minutes of exercise 5 days a week – either at the gym doing cardio and circuit training or out running with friends.

I’m going to be conscious of what I’m eating and more importantly how much – I may eat well but if I eat twice as much as I need per meal then it won’t do me too much good. I’ve been being so good about exercise I’d like my diet to match. SO I’m looking closely at what I cook and aiming to eat several small, tasty and nutritious meals a day rather than 3 large ones plus snacks.

Sounds like a lot! If I do all that I’m sure to be getting pretty darn healthy sometime soon.

But since my final exam ever is on Wednesday, that will probably all go out the window for a good proportion of next week and I’m fine with that! As long as I come back to some semblence of it afterwards I’m happy, and I’m sure I will.

Anyway, here’s a recipe I’ve been making for some time now – originally adapted from a recipe book but I make it this way and it’s delicious:

Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

Carrot and Red Lentil Soup

3 Tb olive oil
3 or 4 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
850ml vegetable stock
Fresh rosemary and basil
Sea salt, kelp and black pepper

Saute the onion, garlic and carrots in the oil with the fresh herbs until lightly golden.

Add the lentils and 750ml of the stock and bring to the boil, simmer until the carrots are tender.

Allow the soup to cool slightly then blend (I use a stick blender/wand), then add the remaining stock and season to taste with the sea salt, kelp and black pepper.

I serve with a little soy milk, fresh herbs and home baked wholemeal bread.

Enjoy!

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Updates

I keep meaning to post but have been being very good and making myself concentrate on uni work instead. Now I have a little bit of free time (I should be going to the gym right now but I’m not…) so here’s an update on what I’ve been doing since I started the blog:

1) World Vegan Day

I went! I had a blast, ate a LOT of amazing food and met some really cool people. It was at The Loft, marking their transition from providing vegetarian food to providing 100% vegan food. And they did a really good job, we had samples of foods from around the world and I thought I was going to have to roll home. I might have to try and get along to some of their yoga, dinner and dessert nights sometime.

2) First restaurant visit…

And surprise there was nothing vegan on the menu. However, I asked the waitress and she was lovely and accommodating, suggesting a recipe that could be easily modified (A pasta dish with oven roasted veges) and I enjoyed it a lot. So that was a pleasant first experience of something I thought would be really challenging…I’m sure in most places it is.

3) Burger Fuel

I tried their Vegan burger. It was ok.

4) FOOD!

I have been cooking! Lots! Here are pretty pictures and some recipes…

Tomato Soup

Very rich and spicy

Very rich and spicy

Un-cheesy Spread

Un-cheese!

Un-cheese!

Sunny Day Smoothie

Banana, pineapple, melon and grape

Banana, pineapple, melon and grape

Mediterranean Tofu Sandwich

RAWR!!!

RAWR!!!

Recipes to come…

So far I’m still really enjoying this…I love the cooking, I get all excited about recipes and create them and they are lovely and that’s all great. I feel good about myself. But I am having the odd panic time – “ohmigod what am I doing, how can I do this, it’ll make my life difficult, I will let myself down…” But I think that’s normal. I’m actually not regretting doing this, I still feel like it’s a positive thing. But like any major change, there are doubts and moments of pure unadulterated fear. I’ll settle down. The only thing I actually miss is cheese.

I have a few more things to talk about but I think I’ll give them more time in posts of their own.

Over and out!

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