The knights of cram-a-lot.

September 29, 2010 § 12 Comments

Ahoy!

O to the M to the G, thank Gaia i’m on holidays!

Today began with an exceptionally pleasant Anatomy exam, straight off the bat at 8.30am. I have never crammed so hard in my life. I was crammin’ terms and concepts down my throat so hard I think I forgot my name at one point. Trivial details my friends.

The barrage of exams over the past couple of weeks has really killed what little study mojo I previously had – it’s all been last minute, panic-stricken rote-learning scrambles that have not really instilled the facts permanently in my brain. Rather, all exam-relevant info was excreted like the despicable waste it is at approximately 10.31am, 1 minute past the end-time. Ah, what a great naturoapth I will be; my knowledge will be a veritable patchwork of random, disconnected elements informed by how much attention I paid in class. But guys, COME TO ME! I know my shit.

For post brain-liquefying lunch, I had a salad bowl with amaranth, balsamic & lemon. Simple, delicious.

The boy then came round for celebratory din-wah.

I was greeted with, “I did something corny…”.

Did you eat genetically-modified corn? Have you ingested corn-fed beef? Was your dessert sweetened with high fructose corn syrup?

No?

Then whatever you have done is faaaaiiiine by me!

Please note: the kind of corn I condone.

Les fleurs, les fleurs!

We don’t usually do romantic gestures, but this one I accepted with alacrity (and a deep-hued blush).

Please also note that my bf has also been known to bring me ‘bouquets’ of young coconuts. I’m not quite sure where I found him, but I hope he hangs around 🙂

This is going to be a very short post because I have to be in bed, like 1 hour ago to get up at the whip-crackle & pop of dawn tomorrow for a loooooong drive.

To update on mindful eating, I think i’m finally getting somewhere! Huzzah! The whole serene-eating scenario is working absolute wonders. It’s incredible how effective taking 20 minutes to simply sit, undistracted and focused on the meal before you really is. I feel fuller for longer, more content and certainly more connected to the food I am consuming; silent eating is here to stay!

I also wanted to mention an amazing bloggess, Michelle, over at Health Food Lover who was kind enough to feature my amaranth recipes in a recent post. I’m extremely flattered! (And also dubious that some poor souls may be trying to follow my vague, imprecise measurements to conduct their first encounter with the super-seed. Eeek!)

Michelle is currently running a competition to celebrate her 1st blogoversary with some awesome prizes, so I encourage you guys to check it out!

And this gal now needs to crash! Goodnight x

More ways with Amaranth; Mindful eating challenge update.

September 26, 2010 § 6 Comments

Gloooooorious Sunday to you all!

Another cracking day to distract me from Wednesday’s looming Anatomy & Physiology exam.

Ahhh, hang it, I cram therefore I am!

Seriously, give me too much prep time and I lose that vital adrenalin rush that only comes with leaving chapters of content to the dying moments of the night before. It’s the way I roll yo.

This morning, I was greeted by a delectable sunlit breakfast; fishtank-green algae shake & ginger tea (goes by no other foul-sounding alias).

Who am I kidding? This breakfast did not spontaneously spring into being and materialise on my carpet; there was no doting mother presenting it to me as I stumbled out of bed hungry & demanding (although there may be in ONE WEEK when I visit Bonne Ma in W.A!!!)

God I go on…

Anyway, after I made it myself and arranged it artfully on the floor, I thought it looked rather pretty in the springtime sun.

Droooooooooooool.

Looks like a bubbling cauldron. Did I mention in order to create the swamp shake, one must dance around the blender chanting incantations (*spirulina maca chia, spirulina maca chia!*) and cackling like an old crazy cat lady?

Yes yes, a delicious start to the day.

And now…

UPDATE on the mindful eating challenge:

I could tell you that I’ve been utterly devoted to the cause, mindfully eating like a champ with all good things to report…

…But I would be lying through my crooked, yellowing cat-lady teeth.

I actually feel as if I am going through a really snacky stage right now, possibly due to pushing the exercise a little more, being bored whilst studying, and still experiencing ‘trust’ issues with my body as to whether it is full or or just tricking. (You’re not full *ho ho ho*, you just need some more CEREAL that’s what!!!)

Being completely aware of this tendency whilst simultaneously filling another cup full of museli does not, I fear, equate to mindful eating

Ultimately having the ‘challenge’ in my head has somehow inspired me to think about food moreso than usual, and despite all good intentions, I cannot say I have formed better eating skillz over the last couple of weeks.

I do think I am learning to recognise when I am truly hungry; it’s the habits I have to work on!

This morning however, I did eat my breakfast sitting listening to the radio; no phones, no TV, no newspaper, no computer. It was rather pleasant.

Similarly, lunch had the same peaceful, anti-technological feel.

It was also an homage to the gorgeous, summery weather we’ve been experiencing here in Sydney over the last few days.

Avomatato & Amaranth Springtime Salad

(Avocado, Sweet Potato & Tomato!)

Another amaranth experiment.

It turned out well, however I would dearly love to have used quinoa for this as the amaranth ends up much like polenta; it was very mushy and not-quite suited to the salad theme. I, being a hangry monster, still considered it delightful!

(serves 2-3)

For amaranth

1 c amaranth

2.5 c water

1 c chopped greens (I used english spinach)

seasoning (salt & pepper or herbamare)

For salad

1 tomato, diced

1/2 avocado, diced

1 sweet potato, cut into 1-2cm dice & roasted with olive oil & seasoning (I used cajun, mmmmm!)

big handful of fresh coriander

Dressing

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

juice & zest of 1/2 a lemon

cracked black pepper

  • Cook amaranth in water with seasoning until absorbed, throwing in greens at the end to wilt.
  • Combine roasted sweet potato pieces, tomato, avocado, coriander & dressing in a bowl.
  • Serve salad over amaranth (or quinoa, or cous cous) and garnish with pepper & coriander.
  • I also squeezed extra lemon over mine, because I’m a citrus fiend.

Fresh and tasty!

Well my friends, it’s here I leave you.

If you were working on mindful eating, how did it go? Any tips for a struggling lass?

Goodnight! x

Cooking with amaranth; detoxing & what to expect when changing your diet.

September 25, 2010 § 4 Comments

Salut mes belles,

The amaranth experiment was a success! I came up with a tasty dinner option to road-test the comically tiny little seed, and was pleasantly engorged, tumiscient, satisfied as a result.

Still had some leftover red quinoa in the pantry to use; it kept the amaranth in line.

Triple-decker spinach, amaranth & sweet potato stack

(for 2)

1/2 c amaranth

1.5 c water

1 small sweet potato, cut into 1cm cubes

1 can whole/diced tomatoes

1/2-1 clove garlic, crushed

1/4 red onion, diced

2 brown mushrooms

1/2 can chickpeas

1 heaped tsp garam masala

1 tbsp tomato paste

extra-virgin coconut oil

english spinach leaves

handful coriander

celtic sea salt & pepper

Methodé

  • Rinse & drain amaranth & cook in 1.5 c water for around 20 mins, season with salt & pepper (or herbamare).
  • In a pan, sautee garlic & onion until translucent, adding sweet potato & garam masala after a few minutes. Let the flavours sizzzzzzzle & become well-acquainted (Posh Nosh flashbacks anyone?).
  • Add canned tomatoes (I usually swill a couple of cm of water in the bottom of the can & pour in as well, just to add a touch more juice) tomato paste, chopped mushroom, salt & pepper and simmer on low with a lid on until potato is steamed through (probably around 20 mins).
  • Add in chickpeas & coriander & allow to warm for a few minutes.
  • Serve amaranth over bed of spinach leaves, with sweet potato & chickpea mix layered on top, with more coriander for the herb-mad amongst us.

Yes, Garam masala is becoming a definite staple in my daily eats, and much like cinnamon, may find itself in/on/around a multitude of unusual foodstuffs. It is ridiculously delicious, what can I say?

Mah-hoooooving on, I wanted to offer some advice & encouragement to those who are in transitional stages of their diet and lifestyle. Whether it be a conscious and deliberate act of ruthlessly excommunicating meat & dairy, or a more subtle evolution from quite inactive to a-little-more-active-than-inactive, there are numerous hurdles that can serve to dissuade you from your goals.

It is a common misconception that positive lifestyle changes can and should be mirrored instantaneously in the body with increased energy, vibrancy and general superhero status. Sure, some lucky individuals may make the transition to a vegetarian or vegan diet with little to no ‘detox’ symptoms, while others may feel the effects acutely.

Let us consider some facts:

  • If you have suddenly made the switch from processed foods to wholegrains, fruits & veggies, beans, legumes and nuts, HECK YES your digestive system will be in shock. It will not know what to do with this abundance of fiber raining down on it from the gaping esophageal heavens above. You may be bloaty. You may be gassy. You may have to endure your belly raging at you for some time. Of course, you can minimise these effects by adopting a less-abrupt approach; adding fibrous foods slowly but surely into your daily plan and the like. However there will probably come a time when you decide that this bean/lentil/nut does not agree with you, and that’s that. Of course, if you are allergic, by all means desist with the eatin’, but from experience I can say that the cleaner your diet becomes and the more you persevere with foods you may have previously considered ‘off-limits’ and irritating, your digestive system will adapt and change. It may take a few weeks, or a few months, but hang in there. It is for the greater intestinal good!
  • Similarly, you may go nuts upon discovering the vast array of super-charged super-foods and include them, guns blazing, into every meal. Yes, there are fantastic, incredible plants/roots/powders that can give your new diet ‘the edge’, but you should also exercise caution as they can be potent and potentially irritating. Take Spirulina. I share an intimate bond with this algae, and have an unhealthy love for its deep emerald hue and fishy, dishy scent *swoon*, however when I first began taking it, it really upset my stomach; I almost broke up with it as a superfood lover. I needed to cut back on my dosage (as little as 1/2 tsp in my smoothie) and work my way up to avoid the bloat-fest larger amounts could induce. Maca also needs to be incorporated slowly, and should be researched thoroughly prior to consumption. I may include it once or twice a week in a smoothie, but it is again, incredibly potent and may not resonate with me – we shall see. It is also worthwhile trialling these things one at a time in order to assess their effects on your body (& sometimes mind), sans interference.
  • Also, think of the cumulative effects of X years eating junk food, processed food, sugars and trans-fats. Should we expect out body to pull through, detox and ascend to a higher functional plane after just one week? After one month? Even after one year? Funnily enough, no. This has been hard to grasp for me, as I feel like I’ve been doing relatively well in the diet/lifestyle department for long enough to earn me a glowing complexion, level 70 immunity & a bangin’ 0% body-fat figure. I don’t consider these demands unreasonable, I merely wish to inhabit my radiant vegan goddess self, as promised! But truth be told, though the improvements in my health, well-being, weight and happiness have been profound, I am still undeniably detoxing and have a long way to go. Courses of antibiotics as children, a lifetime of exposure to pollutants & chemicals, a metabolism confused and mistreated for decades – the body is unable to recover from these factors & instantaneously assume optimal balance, rather bodily processes are gradually, astoundingly drawn into harmony over time. I still suffer bouts of acne that I curse to high heavens, but acknowledge as part of a larger, ongoing process. Patience is needed when adopting a new lifestyle or eating approach; please don’t be discouraged by setbacks, changes in energy levels or unpleasant physical symptoms. Once you push through this initial stage and get your body into da groooooove, you will be amazed by the ongoing improvements in your health & vitality!

These are but a few tips & considerations for anyone seeking to improve their diet, or those embarking on a profoundly different nutritional plan-of-attack.

Good luck, don’t give up, and steel yourself for more sickly motivational pep-talks regarding the world of nutrition in the future!

x

More & more I want to go RAW! And Vegan FAQ.

September 24, 2010 § 5 Comments

Afternooooon!

I am having a positively super day of jam-packed study action, as it is a rare day off from college and job #1 & #2.

Jam-packed study action, in my mind.

In fact, it has played out more along the lines of; hang with the J-man, mosey on home, proceed to the beach with Chels for some communal vit D absorption, make lunch, sip tea, blog, dream of dinner. It is now 2pm and study has yet to raise it’s hideously deformed head. But let’s not dwell on my tragically skewed priorities.

Onwards to the grub!

You may have noticed in the title an element of raw-some enthusiasm. It is true; more and more lately I’ve found myself eating a larger percentage of meals raw with perhaps one each day containing a cooked component (beans, quinoa, sweet potato). I don’t think I could ever be 100% raw, and like most things (veganism included) I find it counter-intuitive to subscribe wholly to a single, rigid label. I love me some baked sweet potato, or a hot bed of grains, or simple steamed veg, and don’t foresee myself letting go of these delicious comforts.

However today, after the gloriously temperate beach-going activity, all I wanted was a big raw smorgasboard.

Observe; Katey’s un-melting pot of raw-gasmic diversity.

It included:

Raw zucchini & seaweed salad

shaved zucchini slices (use spiralizer or peeler)

finely shredded kale

fresh coriander

mixed sprouts

arame seaweed (soaked)

sesame seeds

finely sliced fresh ginger

For the vinaigrette

rice wine vinegar (coat with this)

sweet soy mirin (couple of sloshes)

tamari (2 smaller sloshes)

a few drops of sesame oil

(I sense with my higher intuition that you are praising me for my superb skills of measurement and recipe communication. Praise away! Slosh will catch on as a legitimate approximation)

Also on the bill were fresh organic strawberries, carrot sticks, goji-berries, a medjool date and my last piece of sprouted essene bread with some coconut oil, honey, and dried coconut for a fun, textural topping.

I see you goji.

Vegan FAQ; snack ideas?

I have found I rely on snacks moreso now because a) I am doing more exercise and b) a plant-based diet is inherently lower in calories and I feel I need bucketloads more to sustain me throughout the day. This is a GOOD THING because you ideally want to eat as regularly as possible (every 2-3 hours) to keep your blood-sugar/insulin levels stable.

But what to reach for?

I go through phases, as I am but a fickle lass. Lately, I’ve been buying a loaf of sprouted bread and slicing thinly, freezing it, then lightly toasting it as a snack. Yes, toasting the semi-raw sprouted bread MAY defeat the purpose, please just go with me on this one.

Seen here modeling sunflower seed butter, raw honey & cinnamon.

A small-scale smoothie can also serve as a great hunger-buster. Yesterday between an early lunch and a late dinner, I whizzed up this swamp-like offering. It went hard, I assure you.

1/2 frozen banana

1/2 c organic strawberries

handful spinach leaves

rice milk

carob powder (1-2 tsp)

1 tsp maca powder

I also reach for apples with nut butter & cinnamon, carrot sticks & hummus or frozen banana dipped in a fondue-like mix of raw cacao, honey & coconut oil (ok, this is more like a dessert-treat, but most of my cravings DO tend towards the sickly-sweet, i’ll admit). I’m not too keen on pre-packaged foods like crackers or chips, even if organic. Usually they are absurdly overpriced, are quite processed and can still contain things like MSG under a host of deceptive guises (read this article/series from Meghan Telpner, the facts about MSG are astounding).

Any more vegan snack idea? Do share!

As an aside, I randomly purchased amaranth to try in place of quinoa. I’m scared and confused by quinoa’s absence in my pantry, but i’m going to compose myself and give this little round fellow a whirl.

Joyous, vegetable love.

I grow greens in place of chest hair. They sprout from every orifice.

Okie smoke, I am outta here to do some token perusal of the fattest anatomy textbook in history. It needs some cruciferous, fat-metabolising action, stat.

Have a nice Friday!

x

Vegan FAQ; part 1.

September 22, 2010 § 4 Comments

Howwwdy haw!

How is everyone on this absolutely sensational Wednesday afternoon?

Why sensational?

‘Nuff said.

Exam over. Life resumes.

Onto more important matters. I’ve been asked recently many-a question as to easy vegan eats, meal ideas and vegan protein sources, and although I feel like being a vegan is now the easiest, most satisfyingly complete (and tasty) lifestyle choice for me, I remember how daunting the v-word sounded before I started dabbling in the world of edible plants. In fact, the dogmatism and labels that surround it can often, and all too unfortunately serve to repel interested parties. There is a pervading sense that it is all terribly strict and righteous, and it is perhaps an idea worth relegating to the ‘too hard’ pile.

But really, I am here to tell you that a) it is most certainly NOT a hard transition to make. I feel like a whole new world of colourful foodstuffs has opened up before me (à la Iron Chef unveiling the mystery ingredient), and the ‘can eat’ list outweighs the ‘cannot’ by a mile, give or take a few feet depending on font size. And b) you don’t have to be either VEGAN or NON-VEGAN. Simply incorporating more plant-based meals into your week will bolster both your health, and that of the planet.

Forget the labels, forget the rigid definitions, forget all that crap bullshit talk about vegan hypocrisy if you choose to eat honey, or accidentally step on a bug. I read an article the other day within a prominent online health community (without naming names…*cough* Weston A. Price Foundation *cough*), that made me see goji-berry red as it suggested that all vegans are hypocrites who are implicated in the demise of many animals each day, either inadvertently or through the harvesting of all our plant-based foods (many small critters are killed in these processes too). Yes, and by the same logic, any aspiration to live more thoughtfully, more consciously would ultimately be worthless if not executed to perfection and upheld in all areas of life. NO DEAL WESTON PRICE, NO DEAL!

Waaaa this has gone off on a tangent hasn’t it? Ok ok, Vego propaganda aside, I believe my initial point, lost in a sea of rage-fuelled babble was along the lines of veganism does not have to be hard, nutritionally lacking or socially isolating. You can be a non-vegan, vegan in any capacity you see fit.

I choose to eat things like veganified pizza;

Heaped bowls ‘o’ goodness;

Vibrant salads;

That may or may not come laden with weedy delights;

Vegan veggie muffins;

Amazing parsnip fries;

And glorious, whole, simple foods;

And let us not forget chocolate, which, may I remind you, is the original vegan treat (before it was dosed up with sugar and dairy beyond recognition);

I’m going to delay the pep-talk on vegan nutrition until next post, as this little bunny is starting to flake after the cruel stress of Chemistry this morning. Need to rejuvenate and engage in some active forgetting of all that was crammed in the last 24 hours, making room for more Anatomy study on the morrow!

Over and out! x

Blog it to me!

September 21, 2010 § 7 Comments

Hi-oooo!

The phantom blogger (me) has crept out of the shadowy depths (pantry) to say hi to my favourite creepy stalkers interested parties (all of you!). I missed my blog baby; I fear it may be showing signs of malnutrition.

I’ll admit, I have had lacklustre motivation for blogging lately, due to cosmic forces putting a damper on my strength and willpower and youthful vigour (if I had any to begin with) in general. Why must life ebb and flow and cycle with glorious peaks of insight and mysterious troughs of apathy? Yes, you heard it here, the up-and-at-them vegan with a fetish for early morning action and all things wholesome does have her off weeks. This was an orrrfffff week my friends.

But you know what? It’s nothing a good coconut couldn’t fix!

I bow before you, King of nuts.

The i’m-just-about-to-attack-you-with-a-cleaver stare.

I do believe that the promise of a young coconut can lift anyone’s mood,  as well as slogging it out on a good run. Before this photo was taken I was feeling pretty blah/wah/gah, however I made myself get up, hit the pavement, and within minutes I was feeling focused and happy once more. Especially with the allure of a big cacao coconut smoothie to come home to.

Most importantly, this week has featured some delicious kitchen experiments.

I believe in utilising all available left-overs and thus these dregs-of-fridge burgers were born! My my, I do have a way with appetising titles don’t I?

For these little babies, I mashed left-over black beans & chickpeas together with steamed sweet potato, seasonings (S & P, cajun, paprika) & coriander and baked in the senile oven (NOT fan-forced) at around 200 degrees for an unfathomable period of time. Enough to brown & crisp them, obviously.

I ate them with hummus & excessive amounts of lemon juice, and vegetables for Africa. (Poor Africa, all these empty promises).

Let me now introduce you to the most delightful beverage to ever pass my greedy lips; peanut butter sludge shake. (Did I get you with that one?)

It contained handful baby spinach/greens of your choice, rice milk, 1 tbsp natural PB, 1 heaped tbsp carob powder, 1 medium frozen banana. Lord give me strength, for there are no words to describe the gustatory goodness of this smoothie. Please believe me when I tell you that the spinach is undetectable. Really, truly, the only hint of it’s presence is a swamplike tinge and the undeniable chlorophyll high one experiences after downing liquid greens. Have one for breakfast and you can smugly proclaim that your AM eats were RAW (if using raw nut butter/subbing it out) and VEGGIE-FILLED. I aim for every meal to have a leafy-green component. Try it, you will notice the difference in your energy and general raaaaadience darlings.

For lunch, I attacked this pre-prepared seaweed salad that was ready and rearing to be taken to college this morning. Ready, before I decided to crawl back under the covers (in keeping with the pervading theme of laziness this week) and study the shitzen out of Chemistry. We have an exam tomorrow (*wee runs down leg*) and I deemed a day of cramming to trump a 5 hour lecture on the importance of workplace professionalism. Good call me.

Ay karumba, never thought i’d be sitting a science exam in my literature-loving lifetime, however times they are a-changin’, and my brain must learn to adapt to these new and vom-inspiring exciting challenges!

(Side note: please eat seaweed salad with chopsticks, it is fabulous. Also, to make this, use rice wine vinegar + sweet mirin + tamari (in order from most, to least amount used) to make a dressing, sprinkled over kale, greens, julienned beetroot/carrot, capsicum, wakame (soaked & sliced), coriander & sesame seeds )

So anyhoo, speaking of brain remodelling, I am now reading this exceptional book.

My awe-inspiring chemistry & anatomy lecturer was telling us the other day about research into neuroplasticity, and the emerging science that is starting to debunk old-school notions as to localized, unchanging brain function. Ie. you damage a part of your noggin’ that controls speech, you’re done-diddly-un for as a conversationalist. Not so according to Norman Doidge, author of ‘The Brain that Changes Itself’, who has demonstrated the mind-blowing (literally) capacity of the brain to re-learn & re-program.

Also FINALLY read ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy, which was bleak, harrowing and brilliant as expected.

With that, I guess I should be off to make good on my promise of studying from dawn til dusk, with the aim proving to myself that my brain IS a malleable, infinitely intelligent organ capable of redirecting thoughts of film, Foucault and food to those of saturated hydrocarbons, cations and anions… (onions? No, bad brain!).

Hope you’re all enjoying your Tooooosday.

xxx

Flaccid pizza; nipple custard; tasty brown balls.

September 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

Good afternooooon!

Hope you’re all in the mood for some juvenile innuendo, if so, do I have a teat treat for you!

Last night I had some chums who live locally over for vegan eats and attempted study. The study element was lacking, however we did bash out some fairly respectable culinary offerings, even if they were a little perverse in their nature.

Presenting, flaccid pizza. Flop flop all over the shop.

The guests remained dubious. It was not your average thin-n-crispy, that’s for sure. Damn you gluten-free quinoa-flour base!

However, after wobbling each flaccid slice in front of their gaping jowls and taking a tentative nibble, the meal was declared a success! Flop or not, this was one tasty vegan variation on a traditionally meaty main. (See how to make vegan no-cheese-please pizza here!)

Served alongside some kale & spinach salad with chickpeas, beetroot, carrot, zucchini & coriander.

I also promised you nipple custard.

Ok so I admit it takes a little imagination, however if your mind is so inclined, take a moment to appreciate the well-formed, aptly-coloured aesthetics of this (vegan) custard & rhubarb treat.

Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb.

This particular recipe had been built up to epic proportions by the health-master Dave, and we were finally allowed a glimpse into the complicated processes of producing such a dish.

Evidently, the fine art of vegan custard involved a packet, and a thorough reading of the supplied instructions.

Now now, I’ll lay off the sarcasm. As much as I subject pre-packaged foods to hearty criticism, this particular custard powder was pretty grand being vegan-friendly, gluten free and all natural. And once the proffered dessert crossed our lips, we were silent while we concentrated hard on the deliciousness of the custard/rhubarb pairing and the added bonus of it’s boob-ey resemblance. Very tasty, thanks Dave!

And finally, the lovely Fay supplied some fabulous brown balls that were a delicious 3rd course treat.

I believe they contained almond meal, cacao powder, honey, coconut oil & tahini. Exceptionally good with herbal tea & great company.

Other food yesterday included an awesome quinoa/black-bean/raw salad/coriander & hummus with lemon & paprika bowl.

These are so fast & easy, I’d suggest you get up and make one right now! Go on, the quinoa is calling.

And that signals dinnertime for me! I’m outta here to make some sweet sweet love in the kitchen 🙂

xx


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