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.

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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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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?

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Vegan Halloween Edition- Roasted Brain

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Halloween. The second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas. What should I say, some people are for it, others are against it. As for me, my last Halloween dress up party was years ago so no spooky costume for me this year. I’m not really into gory stuff so the whole spooky halloween theme doesn’t really appeal to me.  I do however, love pumpkin and themed food so I love the creativity aspect of this event. I remember my last proper Hallooween brunch at Mr.G which was pretty weird and spooky with animal blood, hearts, ants, and other strange stuff. Reading the post again I can’t believe how much I’ve changed, being vegan and all. Eating animal body parts is now history for me. But as is the case with anything, it’s just good to reflect on the past, to see how far we’ve come.

So this year I’m doing a much much kinder Halloween :) Still somewhat spooky but definitely not as scary and weird.

Alright, let’s get into this recipe. It looks like brain, it’s vegan, gluten-free, paleo and it’s easy to prepare. It’s also healthy, tasty and certainly Instagram-worthy. If it doesn’t look impressive on camera, then what’s the point, right?

And right now you’re probably wondering how to create a vegan brain, eh? Well, it’s easy! It’s already out there.

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