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Eat Me Skinny Kohlrabi Soup

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This is diet-changing stuff. I’ve asked myself how something so creamy and yummy can also be so healthy and light. Oh, but it can. It’s called Kohlrabi.

Kohlrabi

Like most vegetables, kohlrabi is healthy and nutritious. This one is particularly rich in Vitamin C, though. Just a hundred-gram serving gives you all your daily Vitamin C requirement. And, my goodness, it is so low in calories it is almost criminal. It has the creaminess of potatoes but it has just one third of the calories.

One kilogram of raw kohlrabi has only 270 calories. To put this into perspective, that’s less than a calorie count of 100 grams of bread. Amazing, isn’t it?

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Geeky science fact: Kohlrabi is actually man-made. Along with cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts, it was created by artificial selection from the wild mustard plant (brassica oleracea).  Artificial selection of a plant means the intentional selection of certain traits you like from the plant, so for example:

  1. Brocolli resulted from the suppression of flower development.
  2. Kale was the outcome from the enlargement of leaves
  3. Cauliflower came from sterile flowers
  4. Cabbage arose from suppression of the internode’s length (the bit of the plant stem between the nodes); and
  5. Kohlrabi was the result of enhancement of the lateral meristem (part of the plant cells involved in lateral/sideways growth)

Thankfully, contrary to artificial selection and cultivation, cooking Kohlrabi is not a complicated undertaking. Here’s as perfectly basic, easy-to-make soup with a great clean flavour which you can tweak to your heart’s content – wants spice, add cayenne; dreaming of Italy, add bay leaves and rosemary; or like it exotic, add cumin powder, you get the gist.

Eat Me Skinny Kohlrabi Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Author: Keren
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
A creamy, comforting soup, without the calories. Great to have warm or chilled.
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 kohlrabi bulbs, peeled and chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 1/2 cups almond milk
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Vegan parmesan (I use
Instructions
  1. Heat coconut oil in a large pan. Add onions and cook gently until soft, about 10 minutes. Add kohlrabi and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Add vegetable stock, and almond milk to pan, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 25 minutes or until kohlrabi is tender. Let cool for a few minutes.
  3. Using an immersion blender, bench top blender or food processor, puree soup until smooth.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in heated bowls with freshly cracked pepper and a generous sprinkle of vegan parmesan.
Notes
Vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free

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Steel-Cut Oat Power Porridge With Goji and Cranberries

Happy New Year Everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful New Year celebration.

For my first post I thought I’d cover something I’m very passionate about — Breakfast. Up until about 5 to 6 years ago I used to skip breakfast. I felt like I had no time for breakfast and I’d rather sleep in for a few more minutes rather than getting up to get myself some breakfast. My breakfast was usually a cup of coffee at work and I did this for probably about 7 years on and off until one morning, I woke up with a really sharp pain in my stomach. It was so bad I really thought I was going to die. I went to visit the doctor as soon as the pain dissipated and later was diagnosed with chronic gastritis and prescribed with some medication. I was also told to not skip a breakfast in the morning as it can result in an excessive burden on the gastrointestinal tract and cause gastritis, indigestion and other gastric diseases. Best advice I have ever received. Since then, I always make sure I have breakfast, no matter how busy I am in the morning.

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Did you know that 65% of Australian adults skip breakfast, with 41% skipping at least twice a week? At least that was the result of a recent study, which also revealed that almost one million Australian adults skip breakfast because they are dieting or watching their weight. And that’s not the end of the bad news: As many as a third of Australians would rather start their day tweeting or facebooking instead of eating breakfast.[1]

Seriously?

I don’t know when it became trendy to skip breakfast. I personally think that having breakfast is a really important part of my health and so I started to do some research into this topic. I’m very pleased with what I have found thought none of them were a surprise to me: Those who consumed breakfast had a healthier lifestyle, generally speaking, than others who don’t. Having regular breakfasts also helps people lose weight – and keep it off.[2] [3]

So I want to share a really good wholesome and healthy breakfast which I hope will make you want to invest the time making and eating it. Like a bowl of creamy steel cut oats porridge.

Steelcut oats power porridge

Yes! I can have this everyday.

Warm, creamy and comforting. It is also nutritious and full of antioxidants, fibre, vitamins and minerals. You will love this.

Steel-cut oat is the second most unprocessed form of oats. They are whole oat groats which have been chopped into pieces.  Steel-cut oats take longer to cook than instant, ground, or rolled oats, but I think they have more flavour than rolled oats. They’re nuttier and they are chewier. They take about 20–30 minutes to cook but you can pre-cook and then soak them the night before to make an almost instant porridge the next morning (check out Step 7 in the recipe instruction).

Steel Cut Oat Power Porridge With Goji and Cranberries
Recipe Type: Gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan
Author: Keren
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Thick and creamy bowl of nutrients, antioxidant and happiness
Ingredients
  • Power Porridge
  • 1 cup of gluten-free steel cut oats
  • 3 cup of water
  • 1 cup of your favourite nut milk (I use a mixture of almond and macadamia milk)
  • 2 Medjool dates, pit removed, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoon of goji berries
  • 2 tablespoon of cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
  • ½ tsp of ground cinnamon
  • Topping Mix (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon of goji berries (soaked in water for 5 minutes if they are hard)
  • 2 tablespoon of desiccated coconut
  • 2 tablespoon of nut and seed mix
Instructions
  1. Pour water and nut milk into a sauce pan and bring it to a boil over high heat.
  2. Add oats into the pan. Add a pinch of salt, and stir.
  3. Return the water to a boil. This should only take a few seconds. Keep an eye on the pan as it can sometimes foam up and spill out. Take the pan out of the heat when you notice that the water is about to boil over.
  4. Reduce heat to lowest setting and bring the oats to a gentle simmer. You should see steam coming off with a bubble or two every few seconds.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients (dates, goji berries, cinnamon and chia seeds)
  6. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (every 5-10 minutes or so) and scraping the bottom of the pan.
  7. Cook until the oats are tender and creamy. Longer cooking makes thicker oatmeal. Option: If you want to soak your oats, this is the time to do it. Take of the heat, cover the pot and let it sit overnight, 8-12 hours. To serve soaked oats, just stir the oatmeal to recombine the oats with any residual liquid and heat over medium for 1-2 minute until the oatmeal is heated through.
  8. Serve immediately with a few tablespoon of the topping mix.
Notes
Vegan, gluten-free, oil-free, soy-free, grain-free

You can also let the oats cool and then store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. The oats will thicken in the fridge but you can just stir some nut milk or water into them to loosen them when reheating.

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Cheers to the New Year and a good wholesome breakfast!

Keren

References:

[1] ABCMF Study, 2013, Galaxy Research. A representative sample of 1001 Australians aged 18-64 years. Conducted October 2013.

[2] International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 1998, Vol. 49, No. 5 : Pages 397-40 – Breakfast and mental health Andrew P. Smith

[3] 2002 North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO) – Long-Term Weight Loss and Breakfast in Subjects in the National Weight Control Registry.

7 Places You Must Visit In Tokyo

“I wonder if you know
How they live in Tokyo
(Hai!)
If you seen it then you mean it
Then you know you have to go” 

That is one catchy song. I remember singing along and dancing to the song a few years ago when it was released as a theme song for Fast & Furious – Tokyo Drift . It wasn’t a bad movie too. But I used to have a huge mild crush on Vin Diesel, so I might be biased.

Tokyo. What an incredible city. It is where my Japan trip starts and where it ends.

Buzzing city, crowded street, neon lights, skyscrapers, swanky malls, crazy costumes, high-end fashion and the unparalleled public transportation system. Tokyo is as I imagined it to be and more! It definitely is one of the most amazing cities on earth. Here’s my list of 7 Places You Must Visit In Tokyo, if you’re lucky enough to be planning a trip there. Take me!!

1. Ginza

For the first few days in Tokyo we stayed in Ginza. We were only meant to stay there for 2 nights but we gave ourselves an extra night. Obviously this has nothing to do with the massage chair in my hotel room, or the amazing aerial view of Tokyo. I may or may not spent 30 minutes each night at the massage chair.

Ginza was very convenient and central to the major attractions I wanted to see, such as the Tsukiji market, the high street shopping and eateries at Yurakucho. I was there Christmas 2013, and during the early evening and night, the Christmas lights come on, bringing an amazing spirit of festivity to the area. I even saw Santa(s) racing through in motorbikes.

Only in Japan

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 Beautiful Christmas lights

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View From the hotel room… at night

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And during the day…

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2. Sensoji Temple

Located in Asakusa, this is one of the most popular temples in Tokyo. It is so colourful and majestic and I love the busy shopping street which leads from the outer gate to the second gate of the temple. It is 200 meters long and you’ll find tons of Japanese souvenirs, traditional food and snacks here. The temple itself is spectacular but the shopping street…bloody awesome!

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3. Tokyo National Museum

I love museums so I’m probably a bit biased, but I love Tokyo National Museum.

It is the oldest and the largest museum in Japan. It has so many interesting traditional pieces and wonderful display. Although there’s hardly any English translation on many of the displays, it gives you some insights into early Japan. The exhibits comprise of old Japanese artworks, potteries, paintings, and other significant historical artifacts such as Samurai armour and swords.

The walk to the museum itself is quite scenic as it is situated in Ueno Park (right next to Ueno station). I came during winter but if you come in March or April, you will be greeted with lots of cherry blossoms as the park has more than 1000 cherry trees lining its central pathway.

Tokyo Museum

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Old man playing a traditional musical instrument at the park. A cool sight.

Man playing traditional string instrument

Tokyo Museum

Tokyo Museum

Tokyo Museum

Tokyo Museum

4. Shibuya

It’s like being inside an MTV music video with all the music, the neon lights, the giant video screens and the flood of pedestrians crossing the intersection every time the traffic lights turn green. The city is very lively with tons of shopping centres and entertainment quarters, as well as some really nice restaurants and cafes.

I stayed in Shibuya for about a week and I absolutely love it! For me it was the perfect place to stay as a base while venturing Tokyo and its surrounding spots. I stayed at the Excel Tokyu Hotel right above the Mark City and the Shibuya station and I found it to be very handy and convenient, not to mention that I get the view of the famous Shibuya pedestrian crossing from the hotel.

Yes. They have rooftop futsal!

Shibuya rooftop soccer field

The famous Shibuya scramble crossing

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Shibuya’s street view from hotel room

Shibuya

Outside the Shibuya Station lies a bronze statue which has become one of Tokyo’s most popular meeting points. It is a statue dedicated to a dog named Hachiko. If you don’t know who Hachiko is and haven’t seen and balled your eyes out over the English remake Hachi: A Dog’s Tale then I recommend you do some research, borrow the DVD and watch this amazing heartwarming tale of loyalty and love.

Hachiko is a Japanese ‘Akita’ who became a national hit in the 1930s because of his incredible loyalty to his owner, even long after his owner’s death. Hachiko waited at the Shibuya Station every day for its owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo, to return from work. One day the professor didn’t return as he had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and died. Hachiko continued to wait for the professor, appearing precisely when the train was due at the station each day for the next ten years.

Love and loyalty, something we all can learn from Hachi.

Hachiko Statue in front of Shibuya Station

Hachiko

5. Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree is a new landmark of Tokyo (built in early 2012) and is the tallest building in Japan with a height of 634 meters. It offers a spectacular view of Japan. We went there. Twice. We went there just before Christmas and on New Year’s day – bad move. At both times it was so overcrowded with people and we had to wait for hours before we could even start queuing up to get tickets to the observation deck.We ended up hanging around the shopping complex Solamachi located at the base of the Skytree. It probably would have been one of the best things we did IF we got up there but it was cold and windy so we gave it a miss. It is definitely on my to do list the next time I visit Tokyo (hopefully in summer next time).

Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree

6. Harajuku and Omotesando Hills

Even if you don’t feel like shopping, just walking around the streets lined with cool and trendy shops that’s uniquely Japanese is quite a treat in itself. I walked from Shibuya to Omotesando through the famous ‘Cat Street’ but you can always catch a train to Harajuku station. The whole area is fashion-crazy and is very teen and pop culture -focused, though you can find some high end fashion labels around Omotesando Hills too.

You could literally spend one full day here just browsing all the different shops. I missed going to Daiso (the 100 yen store) but it was probably good for me as I would have bought the entire store.

Not sure what the speech bubble means but I thought it’s a cool display.

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Sale, sale and more sale

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Street food!
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Harajuku

7. Akihabara

If you’re a tech-geek, a gamer or a manga-lover, then you’d absolutely go nuts here. Though I’m a recovering game/manga-nerd, I couldn’t help but get really excited when I see a human-sized Gundam robot in the Gundam Cafe. This place is like an electro maze. Everywhere you go, the streets are lined with shop after shop of games, computer parts and electronic gadgets. There’s a lot of cosplay on the streets, mainly young girls dressing up as sexy maids promoting maid cafe. Something that you will never see anywhere else in the world.

Anime everywhere!

Akihabara

Akihabara

If you’re also a food-nerd, make sure you check out Chabara near the JR Akihabara station. It’s an awesome market full of fresh produce and tons of Japanese foods, including some very delicious vegan foods. There’s tons of free samples for tasting and the staff are very helpful when it comes to checking what’s in (or not in) each product, since everything is in Japanese. Let’s just say that I bought enough Japanese coated peanuts to last me a lifetime.

 

Chabara

Akihabara

So there you go! Hope this inspires you to out and about in Tokyo… not that you need any convincing!

What’s the first thing will you do in Tokyo? I’d suggest trying out their bidet. It’s lifechanging!

Japan Travel Tips For Vegan

When I booked for my Japan trip, I was still a full blown omnivore foodie. I remember being so excited at the thought of eating some of freshest and finest sushi and sashimi from the Tsukiji fish market, indulging in authentic omurice and okonomiyaki, splurging on Kobe beef, and lining up to get my hands on the best ramen Tokyo has to offer. Japanese food has been one of my favourite cuisines of all time and it was my life long dream to go to Japan to eat… and eat some more. 

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This has been somewhat a moral dilemma ever since I decided to make a lifestyle change and go plant-based (i.e., free from all animal products) a few months ago. A few people have suggested that maybe I should ‘take a break’ during the holiday, compromise and become a pescetarian instead or ‘postpone’ it until after the new year. The thought did cross my mind. It will make my trip a lot easier and less complicated. I’m still only a few months into this diet, and plus, it will make a really good new year resolution.

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Being a pescetarian during the trip may seem to be a good compromise, because even though I have a clear stance on not eating land animals and their products (i.e. meat, dairy and egg), I am still not sure how I feel toward the ocean creatures, especially oysters, prawns, clams and sashimi.

Sure, I could try to rationalise and justify it however I like but at the end of the day the only person who will have to live with that decision is me. So, I had to do what I feels right, and just to what I can. Just because you can’t do everything, doesn’t mean you can’t do something, anything. It’s how I got started into this whole vegan thing. I don’t see why I should stop just because it’s a holiday.

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What I can do is to be as prepared as much as I can and put myself in favourable situations as much as possible. I knew that it would be a real challenge but I couldn’t give up without trying.

So, I researched online to get as much information as I could. printed all the vegan-friendly restaurants in Tokyo and Kyoto (the two main cities I visited), learned some basic Japanese, made some translation cards and then prayed for a smooth trip.

Of course, it’s not a real travel adventure without several mishaps and unexpected obstacles. Let’s face it, it’s not easy travelling with a dietary preference or peculiarity or restriction as others may see it, regardless where you go. Finding vegan food can be challenging in your own hometown, let alone in a place where you don’t read or speak the language and have no clue where you’re going. Not the mention that Japan is probably one of the least friendly places for vegetarians, let alone vegans.

Getting vegan food in Japan is particularly challenging due to a few cultural uniqueness:

  1. Japanese diet is fish-based. So, Japanese food commonly contain fish or fish-derived products. You can run away from sushi but you can’t hide from dashi; a cooking stock made using shavings of preserved bonito fish. They’re everywhere. In sauces, salad dressing, miso soup, everything.
  2. Japanese writes in Japanese – as in Japanese characters, not alphabets. Common sense stuff I know, but I was expecting to see many English translations like in many Asian countries. I was wrong. Unless you can read Japanese, checking to see if food labels or restaurant menu contain egg, milk, meat, fish and any other animal products is almost impossible.
  3. Japanese speaks in Japanese. Duh! Yes I know. I just wanted to say, don’t expect to find a lot of proficient English speaking Japanese outside the hotel setting. This makes conveying the fact that you don’t eat meat, egg, dairy or fish difficult. They tend to be too polite to say no and would nod in agreement, even if they don’t necessarily understand you.

What made it even more challenging for me was the fact that I was travelling with an omnivore. I didn’t want to be the ‘difficult’ one. As my boyfriend rightfully said, a few months ago I could eat ‘anything’. From that to not being able to find anything to eat (which often happens) and have to look for places to eat, is a significant change.

Almost everyone I know are omnivores and heavy meat eaters. I’m the only one with a plant-based diet in my family, my circle of friends, my workplace, and pretty much everyone else I know in real life… except an ex-colleague of mine whom I don’t see in real life but maintain friendship with through Facebook. I do plan on getting to know other vegans in the future through events and meet ups, so if you’re one, let’s be friends :)

I feel so grateful that I have a sweet and understanding man who gives me a tremendous amount of support. He associates vegan food with healthy food (vegetable = healthy) and was willing to venture and get lost in the cities with me trying to find vegan and vegan-friendly places.

The whole trip was quite an experience and a huge learning curve. Looking back, there were some things that I wished I have known and could have done better, and believe me, I will do those things next time I travel to Japan.

Here are my top 10 Japan Travel Tips For Vegan which hopefully will make things easier for you in Japan if you’re looking to maintain a vegan and vegetarian diet while you’re there:

1. Happy Cow

A great resource to find vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant around Japan, and around the world. Also has an app which tells you which ones are closest to your current location.

Happycow

2. Japan Guide

Not a vegan guide but an all-round guide with forums that cover anything from transport to food. I find it invaluable when I was planning my travel itinerary.

3. Kyoto Guide

A good website to listing some of Kyoto’s vegetarian (and vegan) dishes including recommendation for some restaurants.

4. Japan Survival Guide by Just Hungry. 

A great website explaining the cultural aspect of Japan and some survival tips. It’s also where I got my vegan dining out card from. It was a lifesaver.

5. Vegetarian Survival Guide To Japan by Never Ending VoyageAlthough the website caters for vegetarians, there are some great tips and food information which are very useful.

7. Google Maps.

Really helpful when trying to find places. Even the locals use it when trying to give direction.

Google Map

 

8. train.jp. 

It’s a great app that helps you figure out which train line you need to get from A to B, specifically for the JR-line. Highly recommended if you have a JR pass.

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9. Japanese.

A great English/Japanese dictionary app with pronunciation functionality . You learn basic Japanese using this app.

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10. Wi-Fi.

I can’t tell you enough how important having a wi-fi access was for me, especially since I didn’t get a rental sim card with data allowance. It’s the only way I was able to check the weather, news,  apps, get in touch with people at home, etc. If you can’t get a rental sim card with data then you will need to find accommodation with wi-fi connection.

11. Print lots of this vegan dining out card

Whenever I struggle to communicate what I can or can’t eat or confirming if the snacks I plan to buy are vegan, I just show this card. It was a vegan lifesaver :)

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That’s it! Hope this is useful for you. Let me know if you have other vegan tips for Japan you wish to share.

xKeren

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Interview with Leigh Drew – Author of Greenlicious – 101 Ways to Love Your Greens

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A month ago I was invited to celebrate Leigh Drew’s new cookbook, Greenlicious, 101 Ways to Love Your Greens. It was a marvellous event! I was able to eat ALL of the food for once.

You see, when I go to events, as you can imagine, most times it is a non-vegan event. I’d often get a special meal and most times people are very accommodating of my dietary needs but there’s nothing like the freedom of being able to eat everything on the table without having to check the ingredients or interrogate the waiting staff. I shared some photos from Leigh’s event in my weekly recap video – you can check it out here.

Now back to this cookbook. Greenlicious shows all the different ways you can eat more greens and illustrates just how versatile and delicious veggies can be. It was a real pleasure to meet Leigh in person, she is so warm and friendly and passionate about her food. The book is also co-authored by Amanda Benham, an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist, which makes her ideal to answer any questions surrounding plant-based nutrition.

I bought the book, got it signed, and I felt healthier already. I asked Leigh and her publisher (Arbon Publishing) if I could interview her. Here’s how it went down.

PS: Make sure you read all the way to the bottom of the page for an exciting announcement.

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Crunchy Kale Salad with Everyday Miso and Tahini Dressing

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I used to be one of those people who would often say, ‘I don’t have time for this or that’. I think it’s a lame excuse and I’m now consciously trying not to say those words. We all get the same 24 hours every day and we all spend it as we wish. It’s all about priorities and trade-offs.   There’s this famous quote which rings true in many of my situations: “If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”

Now, making your own lunch often fall in the grey zone between being important/not being important. But when it only takes less than 20 minutes to make… there really is no excuse, is there?

I’ve been making this quick toss salad for a few months now, slightly differently every time depending on what I have in the fridge, but it is super easy and so quick to make that there really is no excuse for me to go and spend 30 minutes (and a few extra dollars) getting take away for lunch, other than pure laziness on my part, which was what I almost succumbed to last Sunday. But I didn’t. I made the salad, ate it and felt great. I even went on to prepare a few more for lunch this week to save some time washing up. And, yes, in case you’re wondering, they keep fresh for a few days in the fridge because I keep the dressing in a separate container.

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The Everyday Miso and Tahini Dressing is something I’ve created to make eating raw vegetables so much more pleasant and enjoyable. It is inspired from my last trip to Japan where I had some of the most delicious salads, simply prepared and drizzled with lots of creamy sesame dressings. It’s full of umami taste (a fifth element of taste of which can be describe as a “pleasant savory taste”). It also serves well as a dip for celery sticks and carrots. It’s so simple to make and consist of 3 ingredients.

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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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Interview with Jess Bailey from The Cruelty Free Shop

the team by Noah

If I had to list 3 things that play a crucial role in my early transition to a plant based diet, vegan cheese would top the list, followed by vegan chocolate and then soy milk. I don’t think I could live without them, or maybe I could, but I don’t want to. Life’s too short.

Last month I had the opportunity to interview Jess Bailey. A really lovely lady and an awesome animal welfare activist. Jess is the founder of the all-vegan grocery shop The Cruelty Free Shop. If you read or watch any of my product review posts or videos, you’d be familiar with the name. It is where I buy most of my vegan goodies from, it’s a vegan shop heaven!  She started the shop 13 years ago with a mission to make it easier for people to become and stay vegan. She also founded the annual Sydney Cruelty Free Festival with the goal of showing people how to make small changes in their every day lives in order to make great change for animals.

More recently Jess created the Vegan Day Out events in Sydney and Melbourne which encourages restaurants to offer more vegan meals on their menus and to allow non-vegans a chance to try vegan food (and to give existing vegans a fun day out too!).

So without further ado, here’s Jessica.


Hi Jess, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I found out about your store just after I started my transition to a plant-based diet. I went shortly after and I was like a kid in candy store. You have a huge variety of vegan products! It really has made my transition a lot easier. You’re also very involved in the community, advocating for animal rights and sponsoring the annual cruelty-free festival. How did you get started?

It makes me happy to hear that we helped make your transition easier – that is exactly what we aim to do!

I first became aware of animal rights issues when I came across an Animal Liberation stall at a festival and picked up a heap of their flyers, I read them all cover to cover on the train home. Until then I’d been blissfully unaware that I’d been supporting animal cruelty every day, like so many others I just hadn’t thought about it. Once I had all that information in my head I had no choice, I could no longer go on being responsible for animal suffering so, over time, I phased out all animal products from my pantry, bathroom cabinet and wardrobe. Deciding to become vegan is the best thing I have ever done, I am no longer responsible for suffering – that feels very good! The fact that it’s also better for the environment and my health are just the icing on the cake.

As far as starting the shop goes, when I first went vegan two things struck me; firstly the inordinate amount of time I spent reading labels to find all those hidden animal ingredients, and secondly the amount of people who said “I used to be vegan but it was too hard”. These comments inspired me to create a shop that would make it easier for people to become and stay vegan; a place where people could shop safe in the knowledge that no animals were exploited or killed for any of the products on the shelves.

I mentioned earlier that you have tons of vegan products in your store. How did you manage to get your hands on so many different products?

That’s the fun part of my job! I trawl overseas websites, blogs, wholesalers and importers for those hard to find vegan products and then I get to try them all! I love finding hard to get products like vegan fish sauce, marshmallows without gelatine and, my favourite, cheeses without dairy.

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Fennel Orange Strawberry Salad (vegan, paleo and gluten-free)

Wow! Where did the time go? I left the country for three and a half weeks and I came back to this Awesome. Weather. Spring has sprung!

One of the things I love about spring is the diverse range of fruits and vegetables available in this season: the berries, the citrus fruits, peas, cauliflowers, broccoli, asparagus, all the things I love to eat! Strawberries are cheap as chips and, oh my goodness, fennel is here! And I love fennel.

Strawberry and Orange Fennel Salad-3

Let’s be honest here, fennel and I weren’t friends until a couple years ago when I discovered that it’s actually a vegetable and not a weird-looking giant onion. It actually tastes really nice: it’s slightly sweet with anise-like flavour. You may need to get used to its flavour at first but if it is combined with the right ingredients, you can render its taste mild and delicate. I love eating it raw as it has the most irresistible crispy crunch similar to that of celery. It stays crunchy for a long time after it’s sliced or cut, making it a perfect ingredient for salads, and in fact, I think fennel salad tastes even better the next day.

 

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Chat Thai Fried Sweet Potato Balls (vegan and gluten-free)

sweet potato ball2
Thai Fried Sweet Potato Balls (also known as Khanom Kai Nok Kra Ta) are one of my favourite Thai snacks. I first had them when dining at Chat Thai – a Thai restaurant in the City which serves great authentic Thai food and sweets. From then on, I have been madly in love with these addictive and delicious Thai street snacks.

They taste mildly sweet, slightly crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. Perfect for afternoon snack or footy night!

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