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Monday, 19 September 2011

Meat Free Monday inspirations: Easy dips: Guacamole, Tomato Salsa and Olive Tapenade

Hello all! Sorry for the lengthy delay since my last post!

I will be writing again soon on some reflections on life :-) But for now, I thought I'd send out some of the recipes I discovered guessed it...changed my life during my vegan challenge, by way of inspiring you for Meat-Free Monday!

So, three easy dips are the recipes here. They are all super-flavoursome, as well as being meat-, milk- and egg-free. They are great with breads and sensational with baked potatoes (I'm making my own mouth water, remembering that meal. Baked potatoes with the guacamole and olive tapenade - indescribable!!) I used a food processor with all of them, but for any of them I'd say, chop the ingredients finely and mix well, and they should turn out just fine.

1 or 2 avocados, ripe
the juice of approximately 1/4 - 1/3 of a lemon (add to taste)
a few tablespoons of sweetcorn make an interesting addition
salt and pepper and herbs to taste (great herbs: parsley and a smattering of thyme)

And basically you just mash it all up together, in a food processor or just by hand!

Olive Tapenade
approximately 100g of olives, pitted
a few tablespoons of tomato and olive mix (again, just add to taste)
a few tablespoons of lemon juice
loads of thyme
loads of origano
salt and pepper to taste (can use capers instead of salt)

Toss the ingredients into a blender and hit it! What I really like about this dip is that it offers a saltiness that many veg dishes don't naturally have. One of the things I missed most about meat and cheese during my vegan challenge was the saltiness of the foods, so this provided such a delicious alternative for those rich flavours.

Tomato Salsa
1 cup of sundried tomatoes, soaked in water for a few hours (I mean 1 cup of the soaked tomatoes)
1 or 2 chillies, chopped finely (even if you are using a food processor!)
1/2 a red pepper
1/2 a green pepper
1/2 an onion, chopped finely
A few tablespoons of finely chopped spring opnion
You can add a dash of lemon juice to this, as well.
Herbs: Oregano, Thyme, Coriander and P
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Post Boot-Camp Ponderings

Yesterday was the last day of boot-camp, so I'd like to dedicate this post to describing some of the conclusions I have made about the vegan diet (and the combination of this way of eating and the daily exercise). Over and above anything I might say here, I really do recommend that you try a boot-camp for yourself; I have personally found the process extremely rewarding. And there's one starting really soon! Check out Jo's website for more details.

So, without further ado, here are my conclusions:

Vegan diet:
  • Vegan food is not bland
  • In fact...Vegan food is AMAZING. I have made more amazing meals in the last month than ever before, because I have not had the convenience of just smothering everything in cheese. I have discovered herbs, spices, and textures in vegetables and fruit that I did not know existed (see my post on banana ice-cream, for instance). Guacamole, for instance, makes a delicious and healthy substitute for cream / cottage cheese, and is a sensational addition to baked potatoes. Yum! (In fact, I've just had some avo on toast for breakfast. What a simple treat :) )
  • I have noticed a distinct increase in energy levels
    My skin has been noticeably happier (very clear, and it's almost had a glow to it!)
  • I have lost more than 1cm off both waist and hip measurements (perhaps that's not a significant figure; bear in mind I have hardly been counting calories!!)
  • And well, how shall I put this: on a vegan diet, digestive tract issues are a thing of the past.
  • I also have a deep respect for the considerate nature of being vegan: consideration for the planet, consideration for animals - it has genuinely made me feel like a nicer human being to find less harmful alternatives.
  • A 15 minute power-walk is a fantastic way to start the day. Even if the air we walk through isn't necessarily 'fresh' air, it is just so wonderful to be outdoors, breathing, working up a sweat!
  • 15 minutes of yoga / tibetan rites / karate / strength training each day has paid dividends. I can feel that my core is significantly stronger, and my previously non-existant upper body strength is, well, getting there (one push-up at a time)
  • I am sure that the daily exercise has also contributed to my increased energy levels (everything in balance)


  • Balance is key. A conscious exercise programme combined with a healthy diet have both contributed to my increased energy levels (lack of energy was one of my biggest complaints, before). 
  • I have also been sleeping much better - a lot less tossing and turning, no more sleep-talking (seriously!) - both of these for me were signs of restlessness during sleep, before. Again I think this deeper sleeping is due to both exercise and diet.
  • A boot-camp is seriously worth a try (follow this link for more info on the next one)!

So, what have I decided about my own life??

Well, I'm still sort of muddling through that question, one day at a time. I would like to keep incorporating vegan ideas in my diet, but not as strictly as before. For instance, I might order a pizza without the cheese (you wouldn't believe how delicious this is - really!! I actually had a pizza last night with cheese, and in all honesty, cheese on a pizza is neither here nor there...), but I'm not going to fuss if the restaurant uses a few eggs in their pizza base recipe. This might sound hypocritical (I sincerely do invite your comments on this) - I guess I'm just aiming for a practical, non-prohibitive diet in which I am free to make considerate and healthy choices, but am not constrained to doing so. You see, I think the moment I constrain myself, I will start to miss what I "can't" have. So my philosophy now is really that there is nothing I can't have, but I will hold on to the lessons I have learned in this month, about flavor, health and ethics. These lessons will definitely guide my choices in terms of what to eat, and how to live.

So folks, that's what I've learned. As always, I totally welcome your comments and questions. I think it's important to learn together, from one another :)

Have a wonderful Saturday!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The other side of the fence, where the grass IS greener...Greenside Cafe!

Wow, I just had one of guessed experiences! I decided to treat myself, especially since I have made it through the vegan challenge without cheating (or even wanting to!) or slipping up. So, I took myself out to a vegan-friendly restaurant and try a real chef's take on vegan food (since I went vegan I've been cooking for myself, with impressive results, if I do say so myself). Well, from a list I found on the interweb, I chose to give The Greenside Cafe a try.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

What's wow about Wednesday?

Thank God it's Friday...
What's wow about Wednesday? Well, you know that feeling you get on a Friday - sometimes it's when you wake up and sometimes it only really starts to sink in mid-morning or come time to leave work? It's a feeling of relief, a feeling of possibility. People I work with (I include myself in this, too) are more balanced human beings on Friday. They might have to deal with a nasty phonecall or have a really stressful class / meeting, or any of those things which tend to get us down. But on Fridays, they will say "Well, at least it's Friday!" and that thought will genuinely make things ok. Now wouldn't it be amazing to have that feeling on the other days of the week as well? It's quite an impressive coping mechanism - allowing the problems of the world to roll off your back just because it's Friday. Why should Tuesday be any different?

Monday, 22 August 2011

Meat-Free-Monday inspirations: Life-changing banana 'chocolate ice-cream'

Perusing the internet for vegan recipes, I found this wonderful website of fab recipes and interesting discussions about veganism. I was particularly drawn to the post "The raw ice cream that changed my life" - intriguing! Angela mentioned that she found the recipe on this site (another great one for recipes!). Wherever this recipe was born, it has changed many lives, including mine! Delicious ice-cream texture made from nothing but fruit - amazing!!

Very easy steps to follow (but you'll need a food processor):

Meat-Free Monday inspirations: Dahl curry

Last night I served dinner to a hungry family at our weekly family get-together. Usually mom cooks, but I volunteered to cook yesterday, and give everyone a taste of veganism. Naturally, I wanted to put my best foot forward, to try to dispel the myth that vegan food is bland. Well! I made a number of dishes, which I will publish in separate posts for your meat-free inspiration (ok, I did have all day to prepare the food, and some help from my very obliging sister and mom). I will include roughly how long each dish took me to prepare.

Dhal curry recipe:

I found this recipe on a useful site, but I have twice adapted it to fit the contents of my fridge, with great results!

Bit of fun for a Monday morning

All this exercise has been getting the better of me! But which is better: Yoga or Pilates?? Check out the link below for a silly cartoon about that... Lol!

Let me hear your philosophical ramblings now y'all...