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Day 26 – The Challenges

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone asked me “what would I eat if I was vegan? What do YOU eat? Can you eat ANYTHING?” The answer is always – I can eat everything I want – with some exceptions. For example, my mum called the other day and asked what I wanted for dinner – the answer? A burger – she prompty bursted out into histerics loud enough for everyone around her to hear. What did I have for dinner? A burger. Not your average burger – a VEGAN burger – shock horror, they exist. And it was amazing.

There are of course challenges and limitations with following a vegan diet though, but there is always an alternative, and always a substitute, as long as you’re willing to adapt. Being able to adapt is key, much like a new job or a new home, or moving to a new country or even a new pet – we all learn to adapt to our surroundings and social situations. But you don’t really realise where animal products place themselves in your daily life until you do the research and read the labels. I can’t stress enough how important reading labels is when you decide to adopt a vegan diet.

For example, did you know that worchestershire sauce contains anchovies, and that most thai curry / chilli pastes contain dried shrimp and fish sauce?  Honey is another example of an ingredient that many vegan’s forget is actually not vegan. Saying that, terming honey as a non-vegan ingredient actually opens the floor up to much debate – I’ll save that one for later.

The point i’m trying to get at here is to just ensure you read the ingredients and you know what you’re getting yourself into. But again, it’s your diet, your lifestyle, I’m just here to tell you what I do.

Rxx

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Posted by on April 8, 2011 in Vegan, Weight Loss

 

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For the love of…Dinner Parties (Part 2)

So yes, I’m still in a funk. And this weather doesn’t really help. And when you tell someone you’re in a funk in the vague hope they cheer you up, it backfires. So I really have to bring myself out of this funk. But I don’t know how.

So I started thinking about mum’s potential dinner party again. And I started thinking about chocolate again. (My best friend has realised I have a chocolate craving every 15.5 seconds which combined with the funk lead to a considerable consumption of chocolate during my working day in less than 10 seconds…but we won’t mention that). Moving on…

Where was I? Oh yes, mum’s dinner party and chocolate, which then got me thinking about these amazing chocolate pots my sister had brought back from waitrose one evening and it was the tiniest little chocolate pot but the most heavenly and the most satisfying and one little pot was all I needed to completely satisfy that craving. So, if my sister could buy it from a supermarket, then why couldn’t I make the equivalent at home for a dinner party? It would be IDEAL…make in advance, set in the fridge until ready to serve, no hassle no fuss right? But I don’t have a recipe. It surely can’t be as simple as melting chocolate with a little cream and/or  butter and pouring it into a pot?

You’re right, it’s not. But here is a pretty simple recipe:

Ingredients

1  14 oz can of full fat coconut milk

200g soy chocolate (your fav kind, could even be some kind of raspberry chocolate..seriously..ANY chocolate you like..)

1 tsp Vanilla Essence

pinch of cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

– Break the chocolate up into pieces, put it into a food processor with the vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon

– Bring the coconut milk up to a simmer on the stove, and then pour it over the ingredients in the food processor

– Blend everything together until smooth and creamy, pour into espresso or sake cups or even shot glasses and chill (takes about 5 hours for them to be firm and creamy) before serving.

See..then I started thinking some more (don’t you just love how I involve you in my thought processes these days?) and I thought how about some kind of ginger-chocolate pot dessert thing? So what would happen if I grated some fresh ginger into that? I’m not entirely sure, I’ll have to try it out and let you know…

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2010 in Chocolate, Dessert, Dinner Party, Indulge, Recipes, Vegan

 

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For the love of…Dinner Parties

I’m still searching for inspiration and creativity. I’m in a funk. A food funk. An emotional funk. I don’t crave food anymore. What is wrong with me? I’m definately in a funk. My cousin asked me today “are you excited? About life in general?” No, right now I’m not.

I need to find something to excite me. Food used to excite me. I need to find that again, I was happy, I was motivated. Where did it all go? Now I just feel like i’m an angry mess.

My mum keeps insinuating that she wants to have some sort of dinner party in the not so distant future. I’m taking that as the foundation of my inspiration. The opportunity to create. Mum’s dinner parties are usually buffet style meals with copious amounts of appitisers, main courses and several desserts. All of which scream comfort food. All of which are PERFECT for those family gatherings which start in the late afternoon and end during the early hours of the morning. But recently she’s been saying that she wants to do something different. So I’m thinking. What could be different? Something that doesn’t quite scream comfort food? Something a little more sophisticated? Yet something that is absolutely BURSTING with flavour.

So as I’ve been hunting for creativity I was thinking about appetisers. Something simple, sophisticated and bursting with flavour and I thought about cherry tomatoes. Not just ordinary cherry tomatoes on a plate, but stuffed cherry tomatoes, with pesto. Ok ok so traditionally pesto has parmesan in it, but you can use your favourite vegan substitute, i’m sure you all have one by now, if not – just ask and i’m happy to make suggestions!

Since you all know me, it wouldn’t be my recipe if I didn’t add some sort of twist to it so here goes & let me know what you think:

To make the pesto:

  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated soy cheese 
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

 Place all the above incredients in a food processor and blitz until its a spreadable consistency.

Cut the tops off your cherry tomatoes and de-seed them (i use a tea spoon, but I guess it depends on the size of your tomatoes).

Fill the tomatoes with the pesto mix (either using a tea spoon, or piping bag, or a sandwich bag with a tiny hole cut out of the bottom corner – all of these work perfectly well). Sprinkle a touch of paprika on top or garnish with half a toasted walnut or a basil leaf or even the top of the tomato – it’s entirely up to you! Get creative! Actually, now that I think about it, perhaps I should stuff the tomatoes with some kind of avocado, pine-nut, herb mix? I’ll have to think about that some more…

 

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Blissfully Vegan

Ok, ok, I know I have been terribly slack at posting anything, and that’s honest to goodness because I failed. I’ve been lacking motivation and inspiration and creativity. My world, well, in fact it felt like it got dull. I was fed up with not finding anything in Hong Kong and having to search high and low for the ingredients that I want, eventually finding them and having to fork out an arm and a leg for it all. How come no one ever tells you how expensive becoming a Vegan (especially in Hong Kong) actually gets?

So with my down in the dumps attitude, my best friend sent over Veganomicon, which i was excited about but couldn’t bring myself to cook anything from. Then, another friend introduced me to the Blissfully Vegan blog, a fellow vegan blogger in Hong Kong. What?! I thought I was the only one? Turns out it was exactly what I needed to get some creative juices flowing..but now I just need to gather up some energy and COOK.

Though you guys should check her out: Blissfully Vegan!

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2010 in Cookbook, Exercise, Food, Indulge, Recipes, Vegan

 

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For the Love of Risotto

If I didn’t convey just how much I loved Tal Ronnen’s cookbook in the previous post, his recipe for Asparagus and Meyer Lemon Risotto should do the trick. I did modify his recipe slightly and instead of using Arborio rice, I used unbleached barley and I cut the quantities down considerably and it took AGES to make, but the end result was so amazingly perfect that it was totally worth the wait!

The recipe calls for Meyer lemons which you don’t seem to get here – so I simply used the mix of lemon and orange Tal Ronnen suggested and it worked out beautifully!

Ingredients

Sea salt

500g Asparagus – cleaned and chopped into 1 inch pieces

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 shallots, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 cup barley alternatively you can use 1 cup Arborio rice

1/2 cup plus a splash of dry white wine

6 cups vegetable stock (it seems like a lot but barley needs a lot in order for it to soften)

Grated zest of 1 large lemon and 1 clemantine

Juice of 1 large lemon and 1 clemantine

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Method

Fill a small pot with water.  Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.  Blanch the asparagus in the boiling water for 1 minute, then chill in an ice bath, drain, and sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Place a large saute pan with steep sides over medium heat.  Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute.  Add the oil and heat for 30 seconds, being careful not to let it smoke.  This will create a nonstick effect.

Add the shallots and saute for 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.

Add a pinch of salt and the rice and saute for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the ½ cup wine and cook, stirring constantly, until it has been completely absorbed and evaporated.  Add the stock, 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring after each addition until all the liquid is absorbed. 

As you cook the rice, season periodically with salt and pepper, tasting after each addition.

Fold in the citrus zest, the asparagus, and a splash of wine and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes, until the asparagus is heated through and the risotto is thick and creamy.

Remove from the heat and gently stir in the citrus juices.  Adjust the seasoning as necessary. 

Serve immediately with a few toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top.

 This risotto turned out perfect, tart but not too tart, creamy without being heavy and I was left feeling completely satisfied.

The verdict: Definately making this again! And I would wholeheartedly recommend you give it a try!

NOTE: This is a modified version of Tal Ronnen’s Asparagus and Meyer Lemon Risotto – for the original recipe you will have to reference his book The Conscious Cook, as mentioned in my previous post.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2010 in Cookbook, Food, Indulge, Recipes, Vegan

 

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For the Love of Vegan Cookbooks

 

The Conscious Cook - Tal Ronnen

 

Unfortunately I live in a city where being vegan is virtually unheard of, and an absolute struggle. Walking into a bookshop to find a vegan cookbook was a challenge in itself, there were only two, Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet just did not seem to excite me when I picked it up and thumbed through it – I wanted to see pictures of food, not pictures of her. Then I laid my eyes on Tal Ronnen’s The Conscious Cook, and instantly I knew I was in love. Every picture inspired me, and every recipe filled me with confidence.

I know that you think i’m crazy. I mean, how can someone fall in love with a cookbook? But trust me, when you are running low on inspiration, sometimes a book to inspire you is all you need. 

I first heard about Tal Ronnen in September when reading about Oprah’s 21 day vegan detox, following that he catered Ellen De Generous and Portia de Rossi’s vegan wedding. I never thought to look out for his book though! It was also voted one of the best cookbooks of 2009 by Epicurious.com

Featuring  wholesome, rich, creamy, and hearty soups, to sensational salads and finger foods, to a striking array of vegan entrees – all of which I am SO excited to try! 

The Verdict: Please buy it. It’s amazing. In the days / weeks following this post I guarentee you will be seeing Tal Ronnen’s recipes appear..

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2010 in Cookbook, Food, Indulge, Recipes, Vegan, Weight Loss

 

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For the love of Cheese…Soy Cheese of course (Part 2)

Simply Better Foods: SoyCheese - Garden Herbs

As promised, as I try different cheeses out I am posting my thoughts and this one particularly disturbed me. I recently purchased Simply Better Foods SoyCheese – Garden Herb. And as I mentioned previously I thought it contained Casein. Turns out I was right. I should be in better habit of reading ingredients when I purchase products, but I was in a bit of a rush as all of us tend to be sometimes and I picked it up thinking “Great! A flavoured soy cheese let’s try it!” Bad move.

For those of you who don’t know, Casein is a protein predominantly found in cows milk, and hence is also found in cheese (the non-vegan kind). As it exists in milk, it is a salt of calcium. Casein is not coagulated by heat., but is precipitated by acids and by rennet enzymes, a proteolytic enzyme typically obtained from the stomachs of calves.

Casein is therefore not vegan, as it is derived from milk, but is vegetarian. But forgive my stupidity, why create a soy cheese if it’s not vegan? Entirely pointless.

I did end up trying this out anyway though, seeing as I bought it, a taster.

The Verdict: UGHHHHHHHH. It was NOT what I expected and will NOT be on the shopping list EVER again. In fact, I’m not sure I’ll eat the rest of it. What a waste.

So the lesson learnt here – ALWAYS read the ingredients, never shop in a rush unless you know EXACTLY what you’re buying.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2009 in Food, Vegan, Weight Loss

 

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