Thursday, May 21, 2015

Omni Hub's Quote of the Month


I thought I'd give Hub a new name...Omni Hub. He's omnivorous you see, he eats anything except red meat (hurrah!) these days. However, it was something particularly funny he said to me last night that made me think "ah yes this is Omni Hub talking."

After work I decided to tone shits up at a 7pm spin class and Hub was going to make red wine pumpkin risotto for us. I asked him if he could leave out the cheese in my portion to which he replied "yes, darling." Then I asked him if he could leave out the butter altogether and use olive oil instead to which he retorted "Stop trying to take the fun out of things!" He made it without the butter.

Just an example of the everyday clashings between me, the transitioning vegan, and the Omni Hub. 

L

P.S. I enjoyed my risotto but Hub was less impressed with his portion after topping it with handful of Parmesan and knob of butter. Winner. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gettin' Over the Hump: Veganism


Veganism...where do I begin? This is something that I'm becoming increasingly passionate about, which is pretty obvious if you follow me. Am I vegan? No. I'd say I probably eat vegan 80% of the time, but there are moments where I can't keep my paws off a dessert or am in a situation where it literally feels like feast or famine. I always choose feast, which usually means consuming a bit of cheese or seafood.

To be honestly frank I'm not sure I'll ever be truly vegan because I'm mostly motivated by the health benefits of the eating lifestyle and less in the overall lifestyle. However, I'm becoming increasingly aware and inspired by compassionate living and reducing my own carbon footprint. I wanted to share a few links that moved me to leap into veganism.

It all started with a prediabetes diagnosis and I remember finding Dr. Neal Barnard's program for reversing diabetes and thought shit! His books and his YouTube videos, including this one for TEDx Talks, pushed me to take a closer look at my diet when I was struggling to stabilize my blood sugars.

I discovered Kris Carr in my research and am completely moved by how she's managed living with terminal cancer for over 10 years through holistic and compassionate living. All her blogs and posts are interesting and insightful.

Early on in my journey my friend Pippa sent me this college lecture by Gary Yourofsky on veganism. If you have an hour it's really worth watching and his enthusiasm makes it a non-snoozer!

The biggest challenge for me about being vegan is seafood. I'm becoming less enamored by fish, but love shellfish especially shrimp. I recently discovered this film about the environmental and social impact shrimp farming has had in countries like Bangladesh. This has made me incredibly sad.

I know that my friends and family struggle to understand my transition into this lifestyle, but I hope this helps in understanding where my head is at. I'd love to hear thoughts, questions, or support from fellow transitioners!

Lots of love,

L




Monday, May 4, 2015

Mexi Mole Pile Up


I love Mexican mole sauce, but it's impossible to find in Rio. So one evening I decided to have a crack a it and I had this random idea of using it in a nachos inspired dish, but more hearty and healthy. I found Paula Deen's Quick Chicken Mole and modified it ever so slightly and made it veggie friendly. It's fabulous and I feel it captures the earthy richness of traditional mole as best as you can without handing grinding cacao beans in a pestle and mortar. Hope you enjoy! Serves 4

Ingredients for Mole Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil • 1 onion, chopped • 3 cloves garlic, chopped • 2 tablespoons chili powder • 1 teaspoon ground cumin • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained • 1 red bell pepper, chopped • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, roughly chopped • 1 can of water • 1 vegetable bouillon cube • 2 tablespoons natural unsweetened peanut butter • 2 ounces vegan dark chocolate, at least 70% • sea salt to taste

The Pile Up
1 tablespoons olive oil • 200g Mushrooms, sliced • 1 large sweet potato, cubed  1 cup of veggie mince • 2 cups of red and yellow cherry tomatoes, diced • 1 can white beans • 1 can sweet corn • 1 cup of avocado, cubed • 1/4 cup almond slivers • handful of chopped coriander

Instead of nachos, my base for this dish was boiled sweet potatoes but you could use anything! Baked potatoes are fab and I think quinoa would be amazing too. Start boiling a large pot of water for the potatoes and start heating oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, then add the garlic and spices and continue to sauté for a few minutes. Once the water is boiling, add in your chopped potatoes. 



Add the diced tomatoes, peppers, chipotles, broth, peanut butter, and chocolate (in broken pieces) into your saute pan. Simmer for 10 minutes. Then pour the entire mixture into a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the mole sauce back into the saute pan and keep on a very low heat. 





At this stage check in on your potatoes, they should be cooked through and easily pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside. When I cook I make it my goal to use as little cooking ware as possible, I hate doing dishes! So grab your now empty pot of boiling water and start warming it up over medium heat, making sure to evaporate any left over boiling water. Then add a tbsp of olive oil and start sautéing the mushrooms until nice and brown. If you like veggie mince, then add it into your mole but it's absolutely delicious without. Your mole is done, so have a taste and season with sea salt if you like!


Now for the fun part, the pile up! In a large serving dish, layer in your boiled potatoes...


then your mole sauce...


now your beans and sweet corn...


finish with your mushrooms, tomatoes, avocado, coriander, almonds and voila!


My Mexi mole pile up was so so good and super easy to make because you really only have to focus on the sauce. What I also love about this dish is that you change can up the layers anyway you like and accommodate all palates. These days I mainly eat a vegan diet so this is all veggies, all good.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mariana & Johnny


On Easter Sunday Hub and I went to celebrate the Brazilian nuptials of our dear friends Mariana and Johnny. The ceremony and reception was held at a colonial house in Botafogo and I absolutely loved the style and feel of the wedding, which Johnny proudly pointed out "is all Mariana."



Our friend Elika told us to be prepared to have lots of sweets at the wedding, which is tradition in Brasil. This here is the table of bem casados, translation happily married and it was like a scene straight out of Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette.




To me the wedding had a spring English country side theme (Johnny is English) and Mariana nailed it in every little detail. Ahead of the wedding we were served fresh lemon and mint water out of these cute polka-dot mason jars. 


The Queen was also present and gave her blessing.



The Groom.


Miguel and Arthur, the ring bearers.






The ceremony closed with a lil' prayer as we wished M&J a happy journey into marriagedom.


Let's party.




Me cheating on George with Arthur.



Thank you Mariana & Johnny for letting us be part of your special day.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Sweet Vegetable Curry with Za'atar Roasties


All week Hub has been requesting Indian for dinner so last night I decided to appease him. So glad I did because this meal was amazing! Serves 2 hungry people ;)

Ingredients for Za'atar Roasties
5-6 roasting potatoes • za'atar spice • olive oil • sea salt

Start by preparing your potatoes first. Preheat your oven to 200C and get a large pot of water boiling on the stove. Peel and roughly chop your taters into chunks, then toss them into the water once it's boiling. Cook them until soft and you are able to pierce them easily with a fork. Strain your potatoes and jostle them lightly around the strainer until the edges are roughed up and kind of mushy. Lightly oil a baking tray and lay out your taters. Generously season them with crushed sea salt and za'atar spice. Then drizzle a bit of olive oil on the potatoes and whack them into the oven for about 30 minutes. 

Za'atar is a mix of Mediterranean spices and my friend Molly gave me a massive bag and mentioned that one of my favorite chefs Ottolenghi uses it in his recipes. I don't think I could find this in Rio, but here's a simple recipe by Bon Appetit if you can't find it locally.



Ingredients for Sweet Vegetable Curry
coconut oil • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds • 1/4 inch cinnamon stick • 1/4 tsp allspice • 2 cardamon pods • 1 red chili finely chopped • 1 medium onion chopped • 1 tsp ginger paste • 1 tsp garlic paste • 1 can chopped tomatoes • 1 can of coconut milk • 1 veggie bouillon cube • 200ml water • 2 tsp chili powder • 1/4 tbsp turmeric powder • 1 tsp curry powder • 1 tsp coriander powder • 1 tsp cumin powder  • 1 large sweet potato cubed • 1 large carrot thinly sliced • 1 green bell pepper • 1/4 cup of golden raisins • 1/4 cup cashew halves

Last year I took an Indian cooking class at Rashmy's Kitchen and this is a modification of one of her delicious recipes, which I cook all the time. First we are going to create a masala paste by heating up a large deep pot with a little bit of coconut oil over a med-low heat. Add the cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, allspice, cardamon pods and red chili and sauté them until the spices become fragrant and the cumin seeds crackle in the oil. Then add in the chopped onions, garlic paste and ginger paste and sauté until golden brown. The garlic and ginger pastes are easily made with a blender by taking each peeled product and blitzing it with a little bit of water. 




Remove the onion mix from the stove and puree it in a blender, adding a bit of water if necessary. This is your masala paste. Add it back into your pot with a little bit of coconut oil and fry over a medium heat for a few minutes. Then add in the chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, veggie bouillon cube, water, chili powder, turmeric powder, curry powder, coriander powder and cumin powder.




Give that a stir and add in the sweet potato, carrots, bell peppers, raisins and cashews. Bring the curry to a boil and then down to simmer and let cook uncovered for approximately 20 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are fully cooked. Check in on your roasties, they should be crisping up nicely and be done around the same time as your curry. And voila!




This was so good especially the roasted potatoes. My god that za'atar spice was amazing. I added lightly steamed broccoli on the side to balance out the meal and it was the perfect end to a perfect Sunday.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Gettin Over the Hump: Salmon Farms


I used to love salmon. I liked the hearty texture, its distinct flavor, I liked it raw, but equally enjoyed it well done. 

The past few months I've been researching aquaculture and salmon farms and I'm disturbed by my findings. Most of the salmon in supermarkets and restaurants comes from farms, enclosed pens set-up in fresh water inlets created to meet market demands and mitigate the overfishing of wild sea life. The problems and health risks associated with farmed salmon has literally put me off my fish and I wanted to share my research with you. If we want to be thriving in health, then we should know what's going into our food. So the next time you're in the mood for this pink fish, consider these things before buying:

If you're going to buy salmon, make sure it's wild. Here's a guide on how to tell the difference between wild salmon and farmed salmon.

Farmed salmon is riddled with disease, toxins and unnatural added ingredients.

The overcrowded pens are polluting our fresh waters and harming local wild salmon.

Farmed salmon is higher in fat than wild salmon and higher in omega 6 fats, which is bad.

(I devoured this open-face smoked salmon sandwich in a little country pub a few years back)
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