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Sydney Night Noodle Market – What’s Vegan?

The Good Food Month is here and the Night Noodle Market is on again! From 5 – 22 October 2017 Hyde Park is going to be full of hungry crowds and delicious food. “If only they have more vegan dishes”, says every vegan foodie!

I have to say that although it’s not very vegan-friendly, you can certainly find something there. I used to love going to these types of events back in my pre-vegan days and I see no reason to stop. My motto is “you always find something!”

Anyway, if you’re planning to go to the noodle market with your friends and wonder what plant-based options are , I’ve reviewed all the vendors’ menu so you don’t have to waste time checking the menu of the stallholders that don’t serve vegan foods.

I’ve tried to be as thorough as I can but as this is simply a review of all the menus, please check with the vendors to confirm that they are indeed vegan.

For all item marked with asterisks (*) – make sure to specify no egg, ghee or fish sauce or check for their absence just to be sure.

BANGKOK STREET FOOD

Pad See Eew *


BITE CHEW DRINK

None


BLACK STAR PASTRY

None


CHAT THAI

Mango Sticky Rice – Fresh-cut mango with salty coconut cream, mung beans and sweet sticky rice

Pad Thai Vegetarian*


CHEFS GALLERY

None (pretty disappointed with this, they actually do have vegan dishes in their restaurant)


CHINESE DIM SUM KING

Vegetarian and mushrooms dumplings*

Vegetable Spring rolls

Red Bean Buns*


CHUR BURGER

None


CHUR-KEN

None


CLOUD THIEF (Formerly Bao Stop)

None


DIN TAI FUNG

Vegetarian Dumpling*

Vegetarian Spring Roll*

Sweet Buns*


DONBURI STATION

Vegetarian Gyoza*

Edamame


GELATO MESSINA

None


HANOI STREET VENDOR

Vegetarian Spring Rolls*
Lemongrass tofu – with mushroom vermicelli noodle


HARAJUKU GYOZA

Long fries Deep fried long fries with salt
Raindrop Cake* (I actually had this in their restaurant and it was confirmed vegan. However, I believe this comes with green tea ice-cream so check if they can omit it)


HOUSE OF CRABS

None


HOY PINOY

None (unless you fancy eating just rice)


INDU

Garam Masala Eggplant Dosa Garam masala eggplant dosa, bitter melon, beetroot coconut cream*


LET’S DO YUM CHA

The vegetable dumplings are vegan


LITTLE KYOTO

Yakisoba Japanese fried noodles*


MAMAK

Roti Pisang Roti with freshly sliced banana*
Roti Canai Original roti with vegetarian curry*


MAYS MALAYSIAN HAWKER

Char Kway Teow Flat rice noodles stir-fried over high wok fire with Chinese chives, bean sprouts and special soy*


MONTANITA

None


MR BAO

None


NUTIE DONUTS

All the ice creams sammies and bentos vegan. For the donuts, the vegan options are:
– snickers
– couch potato
– blueberry pie
– pandan taro
– deluxe mango coconut nest

P.S. Everything is gluten-free too


ONE TEA LOUNGE

Matcha Baoger sliders without Green Tea Mayo

Ramen Sliders do contain egg content along with the green tea mayo has dairy content however the ramen tofu sliders are fine for vegetarians.

They also have served vegetarian customers our Waffle Fries without the duck but includes the housemade Spicy Hoisin sauce


POKE BEAR

Sweet Potato Poke Bowl is Vegan as standard


POKLOL

None


PUFFLE

None


SATAY BROTHERS

None


SHALLOT THAI

Thai Vegetable Spring Rolls*


SPANTHAI

Fresh mango & sticky rice with coconut sauce

Pad see-iew (ask for vegetarian option)*

Vegetable spring rolls & samosas*


TAIWAN NOODLE HOUSE

None


TEPPANYAKI NOODLES

Yakisoba Veggie*


THAI RIFFIC

Vegetable Spring Rolls*


THE BURMAN KITCHEN

None


THE RICE PANTRY.
Crispy Netted Vermicelli with Vegetarian option*


THE WAGYU

None


TWISTTO

Korean twist potato deep fried (the only product they sell and it’s vegan)


WAFFELAND

None


WATERMAN’S LOBSTER CO.

None


That’s it. Hope this list can help you navigate the night noodle market.

Again, for all the above item marked with asterisks (*) – make sure to specify no egg, ghee or fish sauce or check for their absence just to be sure.

It is my dream that the Good Food Month event will become more and more vegan-friendly in the future, but the only way for that to happen, I believe, is to attend the various events around this month and show that the demand is there. If all the vegans in Sydney go and say, “I wish you have more vegan options” I’m sure that would make a difference, perhaps?

Enjoy the good food month peeps!

Keren x

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Eat Chocolate, Save Orangutans

The Chocolate Yogi - Oscar Bar

Have you heard?

The Chocolate Yogi is running a competition where you can win a year’s worth of vegan chocolateThat’s a lot of belly-filling chocolate!

The Chocolate Yogi - Oscar Bar

For those who came in late, The Chocolate Yogi is a Vegan Chocolate Company and Social Enterprise in Australia with a mission to change the world, one healthy chocolate bar at a time.

They currently donate 10 cents from every bar sold to Sea Shepherd to protect whales in the Southern Ocean, and have raised over 10,000 dollars for that cause in the past six months.

And now they’re supporting another charity that is very close to my heart, The Orangutan Project. The Orangutan Project is a charity with a mission to ensure the survival of both Sumatran and Bornean Orangutan species in their natural habitat.

They purchase tracts of rainforest land in Sumatra and Borneo, in Indonesia, for the purpose of protecting the forest and running Orangutan Sanctuaries for orphaned and injured Orangutans affected by the Palm Oil Industry.

Being born and raised in Indonesia I’m very well aware of the destruction the Palm Tree business has on Orangutans. Six thousand Orangutans are killed every year! The Orangutan Project has been working hard to prevent the extinction of this vulnerable species and halt the destruction of their habitat.

Now the team at The Chocolate Yogi want to raise at least $30,000 for the Orangutan Project in the next 12 months, to help fund the purchase and protection of more land.  With $30,000 they can purchase 100,000 hectares of land!

And this is where you come in!  The Chocolate Yogi has launched The Orangutan Project Fundraising Competition starting from this 1st September.

They’ve released a mini Orangutan chocolate bar (about the size of Frogs chocolate bar if you’re familiar with those) and they will be donating 5 cents from every bar sold to The Orangutan Project.

The Chocolate Yogi - Oscar Bar

The Chocolate Yogi - Oscar Bar

The competition will run for 8 weeks, and they want you to spread the word for this project and put yourself in the running to win a year’s worth of chocolate. All you need to do is:

  1. Take a selfie with the Oscar Orangutan bar(s) and post it to Facebook or Instagram.
  2. Tag and follow @thechocolateyogi
  3. Tag the photo with #Orangutanselfie to enter to win a year’s worth of vegan chocolate. The photo with the most votes/likes wins.

That’s it! Now get yourself some chocolate and start saving Orangutans.

The Chocolate Yogi - Oscar Bar

Keren x

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Giveaway – Cocolife Coconut Lovers Pack

Just a quick post to let you all know that I’m doing a giveaway on Instagram.

Thanks to the Cocolife I will be choosing TWO lucky followers from my Instagram account everyday for five days from 16 – 20 June 2017, to win a Coconut Lovers pack. That’s 720ml of Cold-pressed Virgin Coconut oil and the Coconut Oil Spray.

Here’s what you need to do to enter this giveaway.

1. Head over to this post on Instagram (with the picture like the one below) and tell us “WHAT YOU USE COCONUT OIL FOR?” Write it in the comment section.
2. Follow @livethecocolife on Instagram.
3. Live in Australia 🇦🇺. Sorry, it’s only open to Australian resident this time. Another reason to move to Down Under? 😄

That’s it! As for me, I use coconut oil everyday for cooking but my favourite is using them to make popcorn 🍿 🍿🍿🍿. Now it’s your turn! Good luck!

Keren x

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10 Vegan Recipes You Should Try This Easter

Easter is coming! Why not celebrate it with some delicious plantbased foods. Here are 10 vegan recipes from some of my favourite chef, food bloggers and friends which you can try to make this season.

So, without further ado.

 

1. Curry and Coriander Scramble – The Kind Cook

Need something savoury for the Easter morning? If you never had scrambled Tofu, then it’s time to give this amazing breakfast dish a crack.

2. Turkish Rose Chocolate – The Fit Foodie

This one-bowl recipe is so simple and ready in under 40 minutes (including setting time) so you can kick back and enjoy a guilt-free substitute that’s sure to blow your {turkish} socks off.

3. Egg Free Sponge Cake – Sweets and Greens

An egg free sponge cake with a caramel flavour and only 6 ingredients really deserves to be made. If you include the icing and strawberries, then it has nine ingredients.

4. Vegan Cheese – Healthyeating Jo

Want some dairy-free cheese to entertain your guests? Check out this amazingly delicious vegan cheese recipe that is unbelievably easy to make.

5. Vegan Choc Chip Hot Cross Buns

Say no more.

6. Lentil Bolognese – Eager for Life

A delicious pasta recipe that is packed full of protein.  So easy to make that even a non-cook can make it.

7. Vegan Frittata

Let the chickens keep their eggs. Try this delicious egg-free yet egg-y frittata which is full of vegetables, fibre and protein.

Vegan Frittata

8. Chickpeas in Turmeric and Peanut Butter Curry – Vegan Richa

Try this easy chickpea curry which a twist. It uses the peanut butter or almond butter sauce with Indian spices, turmeric, red bell pepper, carrots, summer squash.

9. Vegan Bean Burger 

Vegan burger can be a hit and miss. But this burger has just the right texture and taste that rivals its meaty counterpart. Juicy, chewy and full of protein. Where do vegans get their protein you say? Have a bite of this.

10. Vegan Easter Egg – Jamie Oliver

Last but not least. Easter will not be complete without some mouth watering Easter Eggs. But rather go with the traditional Easter Eggs, why not try this refined sugar-free, vegan chocolate egg thats better for you and everyone.

HAPPY EASTER EVERYBODY

Keren x

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Smooth Chocolate Festival – Sydney

Smooth Chocolate Festival

What do you get when you have lots and lots of chocolate in the one place? Lots and lots of people. The Smooth Chocolate Festival saw foodies, families and chocoholics alike swarming the Rocks and Circular Quay areas for some chocolatey deliciousness. I couldn’t believe the amount of people at this festival – it seemed to be in the tens of thousands. It’s incredible how far the humble cacao bean has come since its discovery four thousand years ago (note: The True History of Chocolate is a great book if you want a detailed examination on the history of chocolate from it’s earliest pre-Columbian roots to modern times).
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We just love our chocolate.

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It was my first time at the Smooth Chocolate Festival. The festival was first hosted last year and according to a friend, this year’s edition was actually bigger and better – I don’t know how much better it was this time around, but it certainly was bigger than what I had in mind.

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To be honest, I didn’t have huge expectations of the event, or for any mainstream food event for that matter. For those living a plant-based lifestyle, it’s often hard to find vegan-friendly foods in these sorts of events. But, on this occasion, I was able to try quite a lot of foods and chocolate at this festival so I was fairly happy.

smooth-chocolate-festival-19

It was a lovely day in Sydney, the weather was definitely on our side (I think God is partial to chocolate, too) and I thoroughly enjoyed the different arrays of food businesses at this event. The event was spread out over eight different locations: First Fleet Park, Circular Quay Way, Tallawolladah Lawn (the lawn in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art), Chocolatier’s Quarters in Cargo Hall of the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Campbell’s Cove, Atherden Street, Argyle Street, and Playfair Street.

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I started my festival escapade strolling along Argyle Street, sampling a number of 80 Raw 20 Paleo granolas, and treating myself to a huge smoothie, a.k.a. ‘The Hulk’ from The Smoothie Co  before venturing down to Circular Quay.

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There were over 90 individual stalls so there was no way you could physically check out all of them. There also was a queue at some of the stalls, especially the The Lindt Lounge and the Chocolatier’s Quarters. I didn’t go to the Lindt Lounge but I did go to the Chocolatier’s Quarters, and it was my favourite section of the whole event. I was mind-blown by how many delicious, high quality, vegan friendly chocolates there were.

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There were Little Zebra Chocolates offering sugar-free chocolate made with Xylitol (all their dark chocolates are vegan); Girl Made Chocolate which gives Pana Chocolate a run for their money in the raw, vegan, organic chocolate bar space (their chili chocolate is amazing); Cacaoette (simply amazing artisanal organic chocolates, also with plenty of vegan options); and Chocolate Tea (a revolutionary tea made of cacao bean shells which taste like you’re drinking chocolate), and many more noteworthy stalls.

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There also were some incredible chocolate arts on display: pastry chef Dean Gibson created a pumpkin head scare-crow and an echidna using chocolate, and artist James Patrick created a painting using Lindt chocolate balls and wrappers (check out James’ behind the scene clip in his YouTube channel).

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On the side, there also were plenty of what I would call ‘supporting’ stalls, because one cannot not live on chocolate alone (okay, perhaps one could, but why would one need to?) There were savoury food stalls such as Fratelli Fresh, Gourmet Gozleme and Thaiinabox, and beers and ciders galore (Bilpin Cider Co. Garden Bar deserves a special mention with the coolest garden bar setting).

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Overall it was a thoroughly mindblowing event, both in its very large scale and many different features and attractions. There was something for everyone, even for the most discerning chocolate connoisseur, a health conscious foodie, or in my case, a vegan with an alarmingly sweet tooth.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”― Charles M. Schulz

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P.S. This is is my Day 1 and 2 of the #300wordsaday challenge which I’m doing throughout the month of October with Sydney Passion Bloggers. We’re essentially a community group for bloggers who resides in Sydney (though you don’t have to live in Sydney to join). Me and a few other bloggers re doing this challenge to cultivate daily writing habit. It’s challenging (especially in weekends), but I’m enjoying it so far. Check our our group Sydney Passion Bloggers on Facebook to find out more about what we do and this particular challenge.

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Be Fraiche Skin Care Workshop

A few weeks ago I went to a Lip Balm and Lotion Bar workshop organised by Helen Dao, founder of Be Fraiche. Helen and I met through one of the Sydney Passion Bloggers Meetups. Helen thought I might want to check out one of her workshops and learn how to make my own skin care. I’m a big fan of DYI’s so it was a no-brainer for me. Here’s a little video I made for fun workshop held at a cosy co-working space in Bondi, The Little Space.

Now I’ve been to many workshops over the years but I have to say that it was the most organised workshop I’ve been to. The attention to detail from Helen during this three-hour workshop was incredible. From the meticulous placement of the bright yellow aprons and safety glasses on the table, to the goodie bags she prepared for everyone, everything looked so fine-tuned and stylish.

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Everyone turned up early, including me. Some came from as far as Newcastle. There definitely was a buzz about the workshop which none of us wanted to miss.

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Helen gave an introduction about herself – how she went from working in corporate to pursuing her passion in skincare. By the by, Helen is a qualified skincare formulator, having trained in the UK for Organic Skincare Formulation and in France for Perfumery. Pretty impressive and worldly credentials, wouldn’t you say?

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As to the workshop itself, each of us had our own setup, complete with our own little scales. We got to formulate our own lip balm and body lotion. The workshop felt like my old lab days, when I was a biologist, weighing ingredients to as precise as one-tenth of a gram, controlling the temperature so that it wouldn’t get too hot when heating and mixing up the ingredients, pouring solution into the tiniest containers and praying to God that I wouldn’t spill any of this expensive stuff.

be-fraiche-4

I learned that most lip balms are made using beeswax, so Helen taught us how to replace beeswax using Candelila, which is a plant-based alternative.. It’s a little bit tricky to work with as it’s much harder to dissolve, but when done well it does the job, and it gives the lip balm a nice shiny coat on it, too.

I would say I had an amazing time except that I can’t use that word anymore since the editor (my boyfriend Nat) has declared the word banned due to overuse. Apparently if everything is amazing, nothing is. He may have a point there and maybe I do need to expand my vocabulary a little bit more. So let me think how best to describe the experience.

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AMAZING!

Sorry, Nat. It was. And I think you can have lots of amazing experiences if you choose to. Why wouldn’t you?

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You can check out the Be Fraiche skin care workshop on their website. They have launched their natural skincare products so be sure to try them the next time you’re shopping for some skincare.

 

Keren x

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Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

The last time I went to Canberra was six years ago for the Tulip Festival. I went with four of my girlfriends. I navigated, we got lost (Google Maps failed me) and it took us five hours to get to Canberra, from Sydney, by way of the Blue Mountains (I know…). Despite the slow start, it ended being a great trip and I have a lot of fond memories from that day (including eating too many scones and cookies at Ginger Catering’s high tea buffet). This year I went back to Canberra, not for the Tulip, but for the Canberra Truffle Festival. I was invited by a girlfriend and went on a whim. I had no expectations: I just was hoping for a similarly pleasant experience as to last time, but instead, I was blown away.

We started our 2-day Truffle Festival adventure with a three-hour truffle hunt at Tarago Truffle, which was an amazing and eye-opening experience that makes me appreciate this nuggets of black gold so much more. You can read more about my truffle hunting experience, and the ethics of eating truffles as a vegan, in my last post.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Tarago Truffle

 

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

 

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

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After the truffle hunt we went to the Canberran CBD to try The Cupping Room – they’re reputed for making good coffee. We got there in less than an hour and to my surprise, there was a queue at the door- the young and hip, lining up and eager to get in the café for some hot brew. I hate lining up for food, but it didn’t look like there were any other cafés nearby, and since everyone was keen on trying this place, I made an exception. About five minutes later one of their waiting staff came out and offered us some free plunger coffee. I felt much better already.

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Thirty minutes later we got our table. I ordered my usual soy flat white and chose one of the few vegan dishes they have – Avo & his mates (veganised).

It was a pretty good plate, but would have been miles better with a dash of truffle salt (it was hard not to be obsessed with truffles after the previous night)! But, hey, at least they didn’t skimp on the avocado, that’s for sure. So much avo mash on that toast.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Veganised Avo and His Mates

The dish was served with some radish and cress salad which was quite tasty. It gave the dish a nice crunch and a bit of zing. The waiting staff also gave me a side of cashew cream which was creamy and lovely.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Crunchy hot chips at The Cupping Room

Coffee was really good! Their Cascara tea – made from the cherry of a coffee tree – was interesting. It tastes fruity with the tiniest hint of coffee and smells a bit like berry, sour and sweet both at the same time.

The Cupping Room

The Cupping Room

The Truffle Degustation

On the Saturday night we went to a five-course truffle and wine degustation dinner, at the Chifley Hotel, as part of the Canberra Truffle Festival event. The hotel made me a special vegan menu, which is always a nice touch, and I even got my own plate of appetisers while everyone else had to share.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Tomato Carpaccio with lots and lots of truffle shavings – Best dish of the night

 

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Pumpkin Soup

It was a fun-filled night (like most nights involving food and wine are). We were the only group younger than our 40’s there, rocking our jeans and boots while everyone else were either in a dress or in a collared shirt. We looked a little out of place, no doubt, but I don’t think we cared. We were there for the food and the wine. But there was nothing to worry about because everyone was really nice and friendly.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Risotto with, you guessed it – truffle!

 

 

We ate a lot of truffle-full dishes and met the winemaker who brought Prosecco into Australia, Otto Dal Zotto from Dal Zotto Wine, and drank heaps of his wine. He even gave us tips on how we can perform better at wine-tasting, including starting as early as seven in the morning!

The food was good but the wine was outstanding. We bought a few bottles each – they have arrived in Sydney by the way, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on them very soon.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

After dinner we went to Molly, also in the CBD (thanks to a tip from a wine distributor who sat at our table). Molly is an underground speakeasy bar which reminds me of Palmer and Co in the Rocks in Sydney. It’s so underground that it doesn’t even have a sign at the door. We (I) had to ask a local Canberrian for directions, and in exchange he asked me for some water as I was carrying my water bottle. It was a pretty random exchange (I gave him the whole bottle) but the directions were on point. We saw a door with a bright light next to a building and inside, a girl sitting on a stool welcoming people in. It would have looked pretty shady had she not been super-nice-friendly-looking. As I walked down the stairs I could hear the crowd and music. This is not the Canberra I once knew. This is so much better.

 

We stayed overnight at Medina in Belconnen, in a two bedroom serviced apartment. It was very nice for that sort of accommodation: It was clean and airy and with a full-size kitchen. I slept like a baby.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016 The morning came and we all had to quickly pack up and check out. We started wandering our way back to Sydney that afternoon, but not without a visit to the local vineyards and one last truffle farm on the way.

 

At the dinner at the Chifley the night before, we heard Jayson Meysman’s story about his inspiring journey leading him to the truffle industry, his $100,000 dog Samson and The Truffle Farm that he now owns at Majura. We decided to drop by to check out his farm and, perhaps, get some more truffles.

The Truffle Farm

Have you heard of truffle-infused vodka? It was our first taste, too.

 

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Black Truffle

And we did end up buying more truffles (how could you not?) before making our way to Murrumbateman Winery and then Eden Road Wines.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Eden Road Winery

As is always the case with me and winery visits – I started telling myself ‘I don’t need more wine, I’m just gonna enjoy some free wine’ here and ended up with the ageless ‘I can’t not buy this, it’s so good’ dilemma with my own conscience. Luckily we only visited two wineries so I didn’t completely exhaust my willpower. I ended up buying only a couple of bottles of wine and was feeling pretty proud of myself.

 

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

So we did everything we wanted to do: We ate lots of truffles, we drank lots of wine and we spent some quality time with each other. It’s amazing how much you can do in two days.

We ended our trip to Canberra with a toast of Eden Road Cabernet Sauvignon, a bunch of full bellies, sweet, truffle-filled memories, and the hope to return to the capital city again next year.

Until we meet again.

 

Keren x

 

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Sydney Good Food and Wine Show 2016

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to Sydney Good Food and Wine show thanks to Liven – an awesome app which offers great savings that you can share with your favorite charity. I didn’t expect to find a lot of vegan-friendly foods but I didn’t go hungry. Plus, it was fun to see what’s happening in the mainstream food world.

There were lots of food, wine and cheese (sad face). Nevertheless, I was quite stoked to see Pana Chocolate and a few other vegan-friendly vendors such as Kez’s Kitchen, Blush Tomatoes, Blind Tiger Gin (makes amazing G&T), Ecoganics Foods, and some others. You can still a foodie as a vegan for sure!

Here’s a short clip with some of my highlights.

Do you love going to food festival like I do? What’s your favourite?

Keren x

Taste of Sydney 2016

Last Thursday night I was invited to Taste of Sydney opening gala. I didn’t take a lot of pictures but I did manage to create a short clip from the opening night.

The event was held at Centennial Park as has been the case the last few years. It was a cloudy day so I was worried that it might rain. It actually happened to me on the first TOS event several years ago where I ended up soaking wet. Thankfully this time it didn’t. The weather was on my side.

Taste of Sydney 2016-2016

I started the night sipping cocktails at the Etihad Platinum tent. It was a lovely set up with an indoor and outdoor area and plenty of finger food, cheese and crackers to keep everyone entertained. Unfortunately, though unsurprisingly, most of the food was not vegan friendly.  I did have some lavosh with prune and walnut log from Simon Johnson, and they were divine. They did have a live electro-harp music playing inside tent, however. It was very cool. I didn’t even know such thing existed!

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One major attraction was the Dimmi’s Butterfly Room, which is a small room, built right in the middle of the event field, filled with 200 Wanderer butterflies. The idea was so people could experience their first date butterflies all over again. It’s cool, but my bleeding heart couldn’t help wondering about these little guys… Are they ok in there, are they being looked after?

So I went inside the room to check it out. There was a butterfly specialist inside the room, keeping a watch of the people and the butterflies. At least there’s someone in there making sure no one is stomping on these little creatures. The butterfly specialist carefully picked one of the butterflies using a butterfly version of lolly stick, which is a stick with a Gatorade soaked-sponge (apparently they like Gatorade). He then handed it over to me to hold. It was amazing. The Wanderer butterfly is so beatiful… Being in a room full them was incredible. I couldn’t stop admiring them, and hoping for their safe release once this event was over.

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Food wise, I started to see more and more products being labelled vegan which is certainly a good thing. A couple of exhibitors I visited and liked were: The Ginger People (powerful ginger lollies), Pic’s Peanut Butter (peanut butter), Fehlbergs Peppadew (pickles), Sealand Birk (water from birch tree), and Goan Cuisine (relishes, curry and pickles with Indo-European flavours unique to the formerly Portuguese, Goa in India). I honestly didn’t know anything about Goan Cuisine until last weekend so I was excited to learn about this exotic cuisine.

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Though the vegan options were still limited but they’re getting better (I think). There were plenty of nibbles and drink to keep me entertained, though wished I couldn’t smell the BBQ or hear people rave about how good the meat and cheese were. It’s not exactly fun in my book listening to and smelling these things, but it reminded me how I myself was before I went on this journey. These sorts of experiences certainly help to keep me grounded. Everyone has their story and everyone is on their own journey.

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Taste of Sydney 2016-04805

The highlight of the night was actually a drink. A Gin and Tonic from Fever Tree which I had at the Platinum tent. It was amazing! All in all it was a pleasant experience and it seems to be getting better (and busier) every year.

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Disclaimer: Little Green Habits was invited as a Platinum guest by Taste of Sydney. This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.

xKeren

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5 Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas That Won’t Cost You A Cent

Christmas is just around the corner and most people I know have started turning their home into Christmas wonderland with their Christmas lights and decorations, baubles, tinsels and all. But if you’re like me, frantically busy trying to get everything done before the end of the year, it may feel less Christmas-y than it is craaazzyyy. If you haven’t bought your Christmas gifts yet, or if you are looking for something different this Christmas, you’re going to love this post. I’ve got some Christmas gift ideas that are not only great for last-minute gifts, but also won’t cost you a penny! But first, let me tell you how I feel about Christmas.

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Growing up, Christmas was more of a religious event than a family tradition. There was no family Christmas lunch or dinner. We celebrated at church. We stopped putting up Christmas trees when I was eight and began celebrating Christmas very simplistically. I didn’t care. The best part about Christmas was that I didn’t have to go to school and I got to spend time with my parents, especially my dad. My dad runs his own business and doesn’t believe in silly things like having a holiday, so Christmas is one of the few days when he’s able (or forced to, I’m not sure) to take a few days off and spend time with us. The fact my birthday is on Christmas’s Eve makes the experience quite unique as well.

I believe Christmas is a very special time. It’s an occasion that passes in the blink of an eye if you don’t slow down and appreciate every second of it. I see people going nuts at the shops trying to get their Christmas shopping done at the last minute instead of enjoying the holiday season. Why would you do that to yourself?

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My approach to Christmas is quite simple. It’s less about the present than it is about having the opportunity to spend time with your loved ones: time to listen and sing Christmas carols; and time to pray, reflect, and appreciate the fact that you’re still here on this earth for yet another Christmas.

So here are my 5 Last Minute Christmas gift ideas that won’t cost you a cent, to help you enjoy this Christmas with less stress and more meaning. With just a bit of extra creativity, you can make Christmas a little bit special this year.

Christmas gift ideas

1. Make something with what you already have

Stop and look around you: old antique books, old prints, pretty jars, cake mixes, old empty CDs from the 90’s, those origami papers that have bee sitting for years in your drawer. Think of what can you make with the things you have available. Here’re some ideas:

  • Make a Christmas playlist either on a CD or on a USB
  • Make home made treats (cookies, cakes, chocolate, etc) with ingredients you already have at hand
  • Make art pieces like decorated jars, bowls, plates, etc.
  • Make a personalised cookbook with printed free online recipes
  • Make a photo book or photo collage

2. Re-gift old presents

Remember when you told yourself last year that you’re going to sell those unwanted presents on eBay one day? Yeah, it’s probably not going to happen. Save yourself the hassle and just re-gift it. You’ll save money from buying presents and the headache of putting stuff online and only getting pennies for it. To you, it could just another unwanted gift but to someone else, it could be what they’ve always wanted for Christmas.

On that note, you should also consider giving your ‘I’ll fit into that one day’ dress/pants/fill the blank to someone who can actually fit into it right now. It’ll make more room for new clothes you can buy when that day eventually comes.

3. Give a gift of time

I believe time is the most precious gift you can give to someone, especially to people close to you: your partner, your parents, children, or perhaps, your employees. Give them time off from their daily chores so they can enjoy themselves. Let your kids play till dawn, let your parents go out for bingo night, let your husband or wife have some personal time. Imagine telling them, “Sweetie, I’ll pick up all the housework, today you just go have fun”. How lovely would that sound?

4. Give an experience

It’s free, and yet it could be the best gift you could give someone. Use your God-given talent and give them an experience they’ll remember for years to come. Here’re some ideas:

  • Write a poem about them
  • Sing a song
  • Dance
  • Present a play, a video or a slideshow

You can do this live or even record yourself performing on video. Share it around and watch people smile.

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5. Give an act of service

Last but not least, an impressive gift doesn’t need to be a big expensive gift, or even one that costs money at all. An act of service could be the loveliest, most impressive and heartfelt gift you can give. It could be something small, something simple, and something that won’t cost you a dime. You can also tie it in with the gift of time. Write up your own voucher on a fancy paper (or your business card) with the particular service you wish to give. Put it in a nice envelope or inside your Christmas card. Here are some fun ideas on what type of services you could offer:

  • Give a massage. Even if you not so great at it. It would be a pretty impressive gift for someone who enjoys a bit of shoulder rub.
  • Cook something. Give the house chef a break and treat them with a breakfast or a dinner. Everyone has one dish they’re good at. This could be your time to shine in the kitchen.
  • Mind their furry babies. This could be the best gift for people with pets, especially if they intend to go away on holiday and need someone to look after Rover. You may also enjoy having some furry company around.
  • Clean something. Sounds horrible at first but it can actually be fun. The key is to aim small. Perhaps it’s the car, the laundry, the kitchen, or the dusty old trophies or paintings. Something small that you wouldn’t mind doing, and which would mean something to the recipient.

Each of us has something special and unique we can give in the spirit of Christmas. Be creative, be brave, be fun. What will you give this Christmas?