Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A few last things...

Today is the last day of the Australian version of VeganMoFo. I managed, in the space of 30 days, to get 23 posts (including this one). That's equivalent to my combined total for May, June, July and August--not bad, hey?

Before we say hello to October, and the rest of the world's VeganMoFo, I thought I would post the last few photos that have managed to hang out on my hard drive without being blogged about. They seem to all be comfort food meals, which is appropriate given the stressful day we had yesterday. Nacho had to head to the vet for a urinary tract infection. She seems to be feeling better now, so we're hoping she gets better quickly and this is a one-time thing!

Some kidney bean nuggets with gravy, roasted veggies, and a salad. I can't remember exactly when we had this, but it was a ridiculously long time ago. Anyways, I remember how good it was.

Nothing is more comfort food-ish than fluffy mashed potatoes.

Still on the potato theme, tater tots. All processed and not good for you but oh-so-tasty and crispy from the oven. Served with baked garlic-balsamic mushrooms, a salad and a bread roll.

Pasta is equally comfort foody, in my opinion. This was spaghetti bolognaise with diced vegan sausage in place of the meat, along with some spinach and grated carrot for healthfulness.

And finally, the ultimate comfort food, vegan mac & yeast. We always add veggies to our pasta, and this one had green peas, carrot and zucchini, along with a few cherry tomatoes on top. Creamy, yeasty and delicious.

Obviously I dig carbs when I'm in need of comfort food...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Andy and I aren't big snackers, though when he's away I seem to do more of it. While I love sweets, I see them as more of a treat than a snack--a piece of a cake, or a biscuit is a one-off. My favourite snacks are savoury. Crackers and hummus, or crackers with any kind of vegan dip really, is a delicious treat. But I kind of hardly ever have dips in the house. We very occasionally buy chips or other savoury snacks from the Asian Grocery, but we usually eat those within a few days while they're fresh. So we don't often have a stash of snack foods laying around.

So my go-to snack when I'm feeling peckish is popcorn. We keep some in a jar in the pantry at all times and it's easy to whip up--a few minutes in a saucepan and voila, a bowl of fluffy white kernels. Popcorn is versatile, too, and can be altered to suit the mood. There's nothing like a bit of nut yeast, or some bragg's. One of my slightly weirder popcorn toppings is salt and icing sugar. The sweet/salty combination tickles my tastebuds and is very more-ish. Especially alongside a ginger beer.
What do you put on your popcorn?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Favourite day: Sunday

I'm pretty sure that Sunday is my favourite day of the week. There is no need to rush--it's okay to laze around drinking tea, making semi-elaborate snacks or meals, and if the laundry gets done then it's been a productive day.

Yesterday was the epitome of a lovely Sunday. We went to the market and spent $25 on four giant bags of produce. Much tea was consumed. I spent a little bit of time playing in the kitchen. The garden was tended, the laundry was hung. To fuel this lazy puttering, I decided to use two vegan sausages we had in the fridge.

Andy had a sausage sandwich--thinly sliced sausage fried up and served with spinach, tomato and beetroot, smothered in mayo, mustard and tomato sauce.

I wanted something more traditional so I cut my sausage in half before frying, then served it with veggies and sauce down the middle of the bread.

A bit later in the afternoon we packed up a picnic and headed off to the city for Shakespeare in the Park. We got to the Queen's Gardens a bit early so walked around. In this botanical park, they have a lot of birds in cages--ducks, turkeys, peacocks, gallahs, and cockatoos. It's really sad to see birds unable to do their natural bird thing. But I bonded with this guy for a few minutes.

This year's performance was Henry V, which was kind of confusing for a philistine like me but was nonetheless entertaining. It was light hearted, and the ambience in the park was really great. We sat in bleachers, looking down at the stage--or rather, the leaf-covered ground, where the actors performed. Although the Queen's Gardens is in the most urban suburb of Townsville, nature carried on with no regard for the theatre. Leaves, mangoes and bat shit dropped from the trees overhead. A few lines were muffled thanks to squealing bats, chirping geckos, and the odd hoon on the nearby streets. At one point an owl swooped over the crowd with a dead rat in his claws.

During the interval, we went out on the grass to eat our food. We brought crackers with fava bean hummus, and mushroom-spinach triangles. These were perfect picnic food--no forks required. They were very tasty cold and they travelled well (even though I pretty much suck at encasing things in pastry). To drink: watermelon-beetroot-carrot-ginger juice.

For dessert, a chocolate-raspberry trifle, which didn't photo well thanks to the rapidly setting sun. Chocolate cake sprinkled with scotch, raspberry jelly and thick custard combined into a really yummy dessert that I will definitely make again.It was a perfect Townsville Sunday.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dhal, two ways.

Presented with a nearly empty fridge and a lack of motivation to walk to the shop, I turn to the pantry, rummaging around to see what needs using up. This week, I came across some moong dhal, or split mung beans, that we've had for a while and not really known how to use. I decided to make dhal with brown rice, full of protein and complex carbohydrates.

Moong dhal, red lentils, spinach and tomatoes came together with some nice Indian-ish spices and made a really hearty, filling dinner.

But I accidentally made a lot, probably enough for two Andy-and-me sized meals. Since I was home alone and did not feel like eating cold dhal, nor like heating it up on the stove, I thought I should come up with a creative use for the leftovers. So the next day, I added some oats and some gluten flour for dhal burgers. I decided to bake them, and while the oven was on I also baked some fresh bread rolls.

Burgers and bread with vegan mayo and some cucumber--yum.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


My grumpy mood from the other day subsided, aided by food and drink, and it has since turned into an obnoxiously bubbly mood once more. Even the dry wind this morning didn't make me stop smiling.

Things I am happy about:
  • Andy is coming home today
  • I submitted a book proposal to this competition on Tuesday, the winner of whom gets a book contract for their PhD dissertation, and the judge said it looks interesting and he looks forward to reading it. I'm sure that's the stock response, but still. !!
  • My trainer thinks I'm a super badass because I can do straight-leg deadlifts. Also, exercise releases endorphins, so this is further adding to my chirpy disposition.
  • Peanut Butter Scotch biscuits.
  • A baby pineapple in the backyard. Daawww, look how cute.
  • Also cute, Nacho cat. I think she's the best.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grumpy food

Yesterday, I came down with a severely grumpy attitude. That is fairly uncharacteristic of me--I tend to have a sunny disposition and try really hard to see the bright side of things, in a somewhat obnoxious way. Not yesterday. I could try to explain it away, excusing myself for being angry at the world. But instead, I'll just show you what I ate.

Along with a glass of wine, blueberry pancakes with vanilla So Good ice cream. Uh, yeah, that made me feel better.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I'm pretty sure there is nothing better than good vegan mexican food. By good, I don't necessarily mean authentic, because I think I've had authentic Mexican food exactly once, in high school. Good mexican food, in my opinion, is full of flavour, not reliant on cheese and sour cream for its goodness, and not overly greasy.

I'm not really picky about the form that my mexican-ish food comes in. Burritos, enchiladas, nachos, chilli, random mexican-spiced bakes... they're all good, in my opinion. But there is something about the taco, in all of its messy, hard to eat glory, that epitomises good mexican food, in my opinion. Behold.

What's your favourite cuisine?

Monday, September 21, 2009

I <3 Leda

I may be a little late to the game on this one, but... vegan tim tams!

For those who are unfamiliar with the tim tam, let me explain. A tim tam is a chocolate sandwich cookie, of sorts. Two crunchy chocolate biscuits, filled with chocolate mousse and coated in chocolate. I became ever-so-slightly addicted to these things when I first lived in Australia as a vegetarian, so much so that Andy sent me a pack from time to time while I was back in the US. But, they are not vegan, so I haven't had a tim tam in ages.

Enter Leda, the fantastically vegan and gluten free baking company that blesses Australian supermarket shelves. I had seen this biscuits in the health food section for a few weeks and was tempted, but they were a bit dear and I was worried they wouldn't be worth the money. Afterall, according to the image on the pack, the filling inside is white, not chocolate.

But when I saw the green mark-down sticker on the pack, I did a little dance in the aisle and grabbed them. Upon arriving at home and opening them, they were a little worse for the wear, but that's Townsville for you--any chocolate which isn't stored in the fridge will quickly turn into a sticky mess.

Appearances aside, I was in awe of the packaging, which proudly proclaims the veganity of these cookies.

The verdict: these are good. Not as good as the original tim tams--the choc mousse filling of tim tams was really light and creamy, where as this filling is more of a hard icing, but this isn't the end of the world. They are rich, and chocolatey, and delicious.

And while they are by no means a health food, they could be worse.

The downside of their goodness: they contain palm oil (which I didn't notice until I got home). But good on Leda for at least listing this as an ingredient when most companies just stick it under the non-descript label "vegetable oil". Maybe a few letters to Leda would be a good thing?

All up, I think these are great, but I probably won't buy them very often. Between the price and the palm oil, I'll stick to homemade biscuits. But it's nice to know they're out there!

Friday, September 18, 2009


One of the fairly easy, fairly healthy dishes I find myself relying on a lot when Andy goes away (and even a bit when he's here) is tofu scramble. The beauty of the scramble is in its variability--there are so many different flavour combinations, veggies and other add-ins that can be used so it doesn't get monotonous.

This scramble was actually more veggie than tofu. It had potatoes, broccoli, capsicum and grated carrot. The flavours were nothing too extreme--some cumin, and then brown rice vinegar, bragg's, and fresh dill after the heat was turned off. Served with some multi-grain toast spread with miso, this was a great dinner that was done quickly but left me feeling satisfied (and all full of carby, proteiny goodness).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Can't Be Arsed...

I recently had a severe case of Can't Be Arsed, but I was hungry. I had just spent the last hour in the park, running, doing chin ups, push ups, and a few other crazy things, and I wanted food but I seriously could not be bothered chopping veggies or thinking about much of anything.

I nearly made toast for dinner, but instead I settled on spaghetti. Andy had bought me two packs of Angel Hair pasta before he left, because he knows I like it, and since it cooks up in 6 minutes it was perfect. But what to have on it? I thought about garlic and olive oil, but the idea of chopping and frying was just too much. So while the pasta was cooking, I made a very quick, very lazy CBA peanut sauce.

Sorry for the atrocious photo, but I really couldn't be arsed taking a better one!

Be peanut sauce, I actually mean: a scoop of peanut butter, a scoop of miso, a splash of hot sauce and a little bit of hot water (soy yogurt works here, too). Mixed together in the bowl I planned to eat out of. Then I put the drained spaghetti in and mixed it up. Voila--miso peanut noodles in less than 10 minutes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dinner with friends

Over the weekend I had a few people around for dinner--a friend from uni is thinking about going vegan, and it had been a while since I had caught up with the other Townsville vegans, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity for food. Of course, I forgot to take photos on the night but luckily there were leftovers.

I decided to try some new recipes, which is always a risky venture when you're cooking for other people but luckily it worked out (for the most part).

For starters, I made a batch of broad bean hummus (aka fava bean hummus), which is really just a pack of frozen broad beans, shelled and blended with some tahini, rice vinegar and oil. I've actually made this once before, so it wasn't new, and it wasn't based on a recipe. But this one is the anomaly.

One of the dishes that was a new recipe was Jamaican Cook-up Rice from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen cookbook, which I got a few months ago. Instead of beans, I used some rehydrated tvp, and I replaced the kale with silverbeet (chard). This was very yummy.

The side dish was another grainy one, Barley and Corn Salad based on a recipe from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen. I left the beans out of this one, to make it more side dishy, and opted not to serve it in cabbage cups. I left the corn raw, which gave this salad a lovely sweetness that complemented the mustardy dressing quite well, I thought.

Dessert was a veritable smorgusboard-orgusboard. I made Hawaiian Coconut Pudding from The Tropical Vegan Kitchen, only instead of pouring it into a square dish and then cutting pieces, I poured it into muffin cups. Well, this was a good idea in theory, but when I tried to serve the puddings they hadn't gelled up like they were meant to, so they were more like blobs of coconutty goo. They were tasty, and the three extras in the fridge somehow managed to set up the next day. I guess I need to practice this recipe again.

Matt brought a delicious chocolate cake with chocolate icing, very moist and fantastic.

Mel brought along some vanilla soy ice cream, as well as some fresh strawberries and some soyatoo topping cream. All delicious!

Sure, I was left with a sugar hangover the next day from all of that dessert, but it was well worth it. Food and friends--what else is there?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Phyllo Dough

I know everyone says "Phyllo dough has a scary reputation but it's actually really easy"... well, I struggle with it anyways. I suck at separating the sheets, rolling them up once filled without ripping them, all of it. But, I had half a box of it in the freezer for a ridiculously long time and I thought it was probably time to use it up.

I decided on a Mediterranean Vegetable Strudel. Basically I sauteed some eggplant, zucchini, and a tomato with balsamic vinegar and capers, and a few herbs. I let that simmer for a while for the flavours to meld together. Then, once it had cooled a little, I spread it onto some slightly ripped phyllo sheets which had been spread with olive oil and rolled it up. It wasn't the prettiest ever, but it was pretty yummy.

Served up with some roasted potatoes, a garden tomato and some kalamata olives, this made me feel like I was at a greek restaurant (so long as I ignored the shonky pastry work!).

Monday, September 14, 2009

Where do you get your protein?

I was recently asked this incredibly inane question over a glass of wine, along with: ".... so what do you eat?"

As I've said before, I've never worried about getting enough protein. I just eat what I want to eat and the variety is such that I am well nourished. I have discussed my diet with a nutritionist 3 years ago, and last year I had a detailed analysis done of what I had eaten in a week and I had more than enough of everything, including protein. But, to answer the question, here are a few examples.

Chickpea omelette. Sort of a cross between the vegan omelette from Vegan Brunch, and Kumudha's Indian Vegan Omelette. This was really easy to make, and was really just a mixture of peanut butter, miso, chickpea flour and water, plus some leftover sauteed veggies. Then cooked like a pancake.

Garlicky veggies & beans, based on a recipe from Wild Morsels. Eggplant, potato and kidney beans simmered in a tomatoey sauce, with roasted garlic and fresh dill stirred in at the end. I had mine with a garlic chappati.

Ethiopian tofu with sweet potato chips and some raw beetroot&nori salad. The tofu was basically the recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance for 'Ethiopian seitan with peppers', but I changed the spices up a bit to match my experiences with ethiopian food--ie I added fenugreek and took something else out, though I can't remember what.

Where do you get your protein?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

It's official!

Remember how, despite all of the time spent in the rainforest and at the beach, how our recent trip to Cairns was actually to submit a permanent residency application?

This application that (as my facebook friends can attest to) gave me so much damn grief. This application that used a forest's worth of trees (I had to shift to a larger binder shortly after this photo was taken) and cost three months' pay. This application that had me getting chest x-rays, blood tests, and finger printed.

Well, five and a half weeks later, it's been approved! Yay! I feel like I should have a meat pie and a sausage roll to celebrate, but I've already got lunch and dinner plans so I'll have to save my Aussie feasting until Andy gets home in two weeks.

They even sent back the christmas cards and things we included with our application. Cool!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Recovery snacks.

As I mentioned in my previous post, my awesome student trainer is actually encouraging me to eat cupcakes post-work out. His reasoning is based on the role that carbohydrates play in replacing muscle glycogen levels, thereby reducing the fatigued feeling. If you're interested, you can read here, particularly p. 38-9.

Simple carbohydrates are the best recovery food, within 30 minutes of training, because the sugars are quickly broken down. If they contain a bit of protein and some fat, then they are even better. Surprisingly, though, fructose is only half as good as other kinds of sugars at replacing glycogen levels, so while a piece of fruit is better than nothing, it isn't the ideal post-training snack.

My first week of training I followed up with muffins--The Best Pumpkin Muffins, from Vegan with a Vengeance.

Then last weekend I decided to try out two new recipes from The Joy of Vegan Baking: raspberry-oat squares and chocolate peanut butter cupcakes.

The slice was really easy, just a matter of mixing the base up and spreading it with jam. It is also really yummy. It isn't very fruity, though. I think next time I'll make more of a raspberry sauce, a la raspberry choc blondie bars from VwaV and use that for the fruit layer.

The choc-PB cupcakes were actually a bit of a letdown. I cut the recipe in half, and possibly did something wrong. My batter was really dry, almost cookie dough-ish. I added a weensy bit more soy milk, so that it was spoon-able, before putting it into the cupcake tin. While they baked, they didn't actually get much lift. Look how puny this one is.

The other thing is that the chocolate and peanut butter flavours are actually underwhelming. The flavour which comes through the most is actually banana, which isn't bad, just not what I was expecting.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Training food

Aside from getting to set your own hours and doing work that you really love (most of the time), working at a university is great because of all the free stuff that comes your way. Art students hold free exhibitions and concerts, physio students hold a free clinic, including massage. One of the recent offers of free stuff was 8 weeks of personal training, with second-year Sports and Exercise Science students. I saw this email come through and disregarded it, but later decided to sign up. Why the hell not, hey?

So for the past two weeks I've been in training. Since I'm not trying to lose weight we're mostly working on strength training, and I am surprised at some of the things I've been able to do. There has been a bit of cardio, mostly on the bike, and overall it's been a lot of fun.

Since I'm working my body in ways it isn't used to working, I've been a bit more conscious of what I put in it. I've been trying, successfully, to drink loads of water during the day. And although I'm never worried that I get enough nutrients in my diet, I have been a bit more deliberate about my meals. My concern isn't protein, but carbohydrates.

Carbs are actually the food that you need to eat both before and after exercise, because the sugars reduce muscle fatigue. Complex carbs are good at least three hours before working out, and then again within two hours after finishing. Simple carbs are actually not a bad thing, particularly within 30 minutes after finishing training.

Because I eat leftover dinner for lunch, I have been trying to combine simple and complex carbohydrates into my meals, along with vegetables, protein, fat, and all of the other good stuff, so that I have enough energy no matter when I work out.

For instance, this chickpea cutlet is full of complex carbohydrates while the jacket potato has a higher Glycaemic Index. I'm not really sure about the sweet potato and salad, but they were very yummy, especially with the roasted garlic butter in the background.
This meal is baked chilli with cornbread topping, and is full of good stuff.Millet, potato, sweet potato, brown rice, navy beans and tvp bulked up the chilli, and it was delicious.

And I don't know where barley falls on the GI scale, but I felt good the next morning in the gym--satay tofu, barley with broccoli, and a raw beetroot-nori salad.
Of course, my favourite thing about training is being encouraged to eat cupcakes, muffins, or slice immediately after a workout. That's my kind of trainer! But you'll have to stay tuned for the sweets I've been using to boost my muscle glycogen levels...