A foodie fiesta.

March 15, 2011 § 9 Comments

Greetings!

Hope you’re all kicking it health-warrior style.

I’ve been feeling quite deflated, listless and sad to my soul as the horrific events in Japan continue to unfold.

As President Obama put it in a recent address, it is utterly heartbreaking to contemplate the scale of destruction and loss of life (both human, and critter) that has resulted from yet another natural disaster. I feel sick. Unsettled. What happens to them happens to all of us, because despite those imaginary borders we create with language (country, nation, race) we are ultimately one. Made of the same stuff, tied to the same earth.

I cannot fathom how people cope with such events, but I send my thoughts anyway.

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Over the weekend my friends from college and I got together to revel in our mutual lust for tasty food and culinary experimentation. I thought I’d share some pictures with you, and encourage you all to consider having your closest buddies around to bond over dinner; there is something special about dinner parties that cannot be recreated at a restaurant or club. And you might just snag an awesome recipe or two to add your repertoire!

We congregated at the completely charming abode of Jack, then enigmatic face behind The Batchelor Blog and proceeded to stuff ourselves silly.

I was a little late to the party, and was presented with this plate full of love on arrival. Pre-plated entrée? I can deal.

There are a number of different cultural influences in our class and so the three course meal contained a medley of mouth-blowing flavours and textures. Two Japanese girls made the most amazing sticky rice and seaweed condiments I have ever tasted, and there were homemade dips, german crackers, greek lentils and italian goodies galore!

Jack made an amazing ginger ale by reducing some fresh ginger and honey in a pot, adding some fizz and fresh mint for good measure! Zzzzzzzing!

Kitchen full of wannabe chefs.

Goofing around on the dimly-lit stairs.

My contribution: raw zucchini & carrot noodles with a delicious asian dressing from Gina at Choosing Raw.

Also, raw banana pie for dessert!

I layered some delectable honey-roasted almond butter on the bottom of the crock and then used some banana soft-serve as the filling.

Process 2-3 frozen bananas until creamy, and add in some extra nut butter, cinnamon and honey if your sweet tooth desires. Freeze. Get your saliva on.

This house is FILLED with character.

Posting your laundry on the interwebs, soz Jack.

Our Italian connection Alessandra, made this insanely fresh and flavourful pasta dish with broccoli, garlic and chili that is not done justice by the crummy photo.

And the grand finale! Flourless orange and almond cake. Holy Bethlehem, this was incredible.


Such a tasty evening. Thankyou, friends!

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Christmas pics with interspersed health talk.

December 26, 2010 § 9 Comments

I’m always a big grinch in the lead-up to Christmas, but when the day arrives, a sheepish smile spreads across my gimpy features as I delicately unwrap gifts on xmas morning, and watch my loved ones do the same. Even better, is sitting around a simply laid table in the stillness of a sweltering Australian afternoon surrounded by excellent food and charming, intelligent and slightly intoxicated individuals.

2 tiny bursts of flavour as grown on our balcony, still warm from the sun.

Mum has a Kombi fetish. She evidently carries the dominant hippie gene that has been passed down; although I can’t say I share the same enthusiasm for novelty salt & pepper shakers.

Amongst the happy snaps, I thought I’d share a little health-related happenings of late. After all, this is a health blog if I remember correctly, with a decidedly photographic slant of late.

One of the reasons my healthy-living libido dropped a few weeks ago, and the blog became decidedly undernourished, was that I became sick. Sick with some kind of viral infection that, while not severe enough to lay me low, persisted with irritating, uncomfortable symptoms. In fact, on day 10 of the raw food trial I started coming down with these flu-like symptoms; my nose was gushing like Victoria falls and at the same time, I turned to cooked comfort food to satisfy an errant cookie craving. In hindsight this was probably part of the entire detox process, and I’ve also read that illnesses that you’ve had in the past can resurface before leaving your body for good. I had quite severe glandular fever when I was about 16 (mononucleosis) and I felt perhaps this was again rearing it’s fugly head.

Since then it’s safe to say, I’ve been a cruel mistress to my already immunocompromised insides. Compounding the sickness, i’ve been eating super clean for one week, then downing an array of franken-foods the next (some not even vegan – no meat of course, but ice cream and cheese may have featured). I don’t feel I have to stick to a rigid vegan ideal (however I would never touch cringe-worthy cage eggs or pig-fat soft serve); it’s more that my innards have been subjected to a roller coaster of dietary randomness, with foreign foods not seen for months, interspersed with super-food smoothies and wholesome raw goodies.

In an oversized nutshell, I have felt decidedly unhinged and have called into question both my general health, and the respect that seemed to be altogether absent in my dealings with my own body.

Why was I sick when I continually invest so much into my health?

Am I deficient in something?

Did I go into the raw diet too fast and cause myself greater harm than good?

Why do I find myself constantly placing undue stress on my body (ie. eating way too many sweets in a sitting & effectively sending my body into crazy adrenal overload)?

Why why why why why for the love of all that is sprouted why?

For if there’s one thing i’ve learned, it’s that how we eat is just as important as what we eat. I have a rudimentary understanding of food combining and the importance of proper elimination; I realise that eating some things in combination with others can inhibit the absorption of certain vitamins; I know that if we eat while stressed, we are unable to digest food effectively; I believe that overeating places stress on the body and contributes to ageing and other chronic illness; I feel we need to allow ourselves a little room for fun, frivolity and freedom because happiness is crucial to health, and vice versa.

I could talk about these things until I was blue in the jowls, however putting them into practice has proven more difficult.

So with my recent resolve to avoid orthorexia and be more flexible in my dietary needs (without giving up my predominantly vegan values and committment to health) I also made the decision to:

a) improve my immune function and make sure I am not missing essential factors in my diet.

b) bring more mind into mind/body wellness. A repeat offender for ignoring mental health in favour of the physical, I am taking the lead of individuals I admire and bringing some yoga and meditation into my life. My new mantra is OMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM….nom, nom, nom.

c) play nice with my body. Don’t bully, belittle or badger; criticize, castigate or condemn; denounce, degrade or disparage…

d) quit alliterating. It’s doing my head in.

With bizarre illness still kicking on, in a pretty muted, fatigue-ey, throat-ey, gland-ey kinda way, I went and stocked up on Astragalus (for immune function), milk thistle (treat possible liver inflammation from mononucleosis) and Zinc (also for immune function, amongst other things), dosed up on Spirulina, barley grass and seaweeds, have been trying to include adequate protein, and lots of fresh fruit for vitamin C (as always). I’ve also been doing yoga each morning, and sometimes of a night, and generally trying to focus my attention on pacifying my peevish mind (ah, seem to have already reneged on committment d).

Treating your body with kindness may just be the best gift you could give yourself. What do you all think about this approach? Ever had health doubts or moments of questioning your own resolve?

Onto lighter topics, look what Santa brought maj! Isn’t he a hip, rockin’ dude? The speediest, flashiest model of VFF’s no less. I have vibram envy.

Camera bag!

Leftovers from christmas eve dinner. I made a fairly scrumptious quinoa salad from a recipe here. And also a strawberry & baby spinach salad from Golubka – please go to this blog now. It may just be heaven in html.

Dissecting the goods.

Typical aussie bouquet of natives.

Clean plates.

Hope you all had a beautiful, relaxing holiday x

The fine art of avoidance.

December 10, 2010 § 9 Comments

When I have too much on my plate, sometimes I run away.

Not literally of course. A plate full of food will always have my complete attention.

But when it comes to crunch time, and the task at hand seems altogether too overwhelming, too physically taxing, too far-gone, I hit the hibernate button and plant my face firmly in the sand.

I would infinitely prefer a cup of tea.

Magical trouble-taming rose-petal tea; early birthday giftage from my family. They are well acquainted with the tea monster.

You see, I had a window of opportunity for Christmas shopping. I believe it was today between the hours of 9 and 1. After this time, my life is crammed full like an overflowing christmas stocking, and I risk offending about 1000 of my closest friends and relatives when I arrive at christmas gatherings bearing half-eaten batches of vegan cookies in lieu of store-bought presents.

 Perusing my Christmas list, with a few December birthday’s thrown in, I recoiled in fear from my gifting duties, making the executive decision to actively ignore the situation. Another time will crop up and money for festive extravagance will appear miraculously in my account. Logic prevails.

I have also successfully ignored my blogging duties for about a fortnight now – i’ve come too far, I told myself. There was no point in rekindling the Bonne Santé flame for the benefit of my 1 remaining, loyal reader.

Similarly, I am avoiding writing about anything of substance in the post. Can’t you tell? My brain is a murky muddle of miso right now after the insult of exams and the energy I expended also trying to ignore the need to study.

Are you becoming familiar with my tendency for hopelessness? I plead end-of-year-insanity.

One thing I did not shy away from however, was my responsibility to give this sublime loaf of sprouted millet bread a warm loving home in my digestive tract.

Hello delicious. I made my own chocolate spread using raw cacao, coconut oil and raw honey, and took my duties of consumption seriously.

I also made this delectable dinner for mother and I when she paid a weekend visit.

Tempeh marinated in honey/shoyu/garlic/chili marinade with quinoa and salad. Oh yes.

Yet more sprouted bread offerings with lentil spread, tempeh, cherry toms and greens.

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This is all for my fleeting check in; looking forward to the christmas break when I can dedicate myself to some delicious new recipes, bucketloads of photography (hopefully playing with my new DSLR!) and posts with meaning and substance.

Meaning and substance indeed. As long as I resist the urge to run away.

Hope you’re all enjoying some much needed time away/on holidays/amongst family and friends. X

Goals for muggles

December 3, 2010 § 9 Comments

Aloha!

To coin an appropriate American acronym, TGIF.

This Girl Is Fried.

To recap:

  • Monday I learned that shit-boring, piss-easy subjects do not always have shit-easy piss-boring exams. False advertising.
  • Tuesday I questioned my capacity for cramming. Is learning 5 body systems in one night considered responsible exam preparation?
  • Wednesday I unloaded all my anatomical knowledge, my mind a blank canvas for more intellectual abuse to come.
  • Thursday I cut crustless sandwiches into elaborate works of art for the kids I babysit. No squares & triangles here – they want the goddamn Archibald prize! Needless to say, I shed a tear when my intricate designs were promptly chewed, regurgitated and smeared in unimaginable places.
  • Today I took executive action and fashioned myself a new hairstyle. Kitchen scissors give the ultimate shag-effect. I was desperate.

In other news, I’ve been happier than ever with my new rawcentric diet, having more protein rich cooked meals like buckwheat and beans on the odd occasion I experience legume lust, but generally, most of what I want is FRESH, RAW and VIBRANT.

Exhibit a).

Was totally inspired by a recipe from The Kitchen Operas a few weeks back for spiralized zucchini pasta with a simple anti-pasto-esque dressing. I threw this together with some extra virgin olive oil, fresh cherry tomatoes, delicious herb-marinated organic olives and a kick of chilli. On the side I munched on a couple of awesome dehydrated flax crackers (can’t remember the brand) that gave the meal some more staying power. Supremely tasty and satisfying.

Also, remember this?

I made this ‘goals’ board quite a few weeks ago now after months and months of ‘should-ing’ and generally neglecting my grand plans for personal development.

Can I just say, these things are magical like Harry Potter. I feel like a muggle who just caught a glimpse of Hagrid’s flying motorcycle. It’s UNCANNY how many of my short-term goals have already come to fruition (in full or in part) and I think just having a tangible, visual reminder of what you are striving for helps it all come in to being in a seriously scary way. Good scary, like Scary Spice.

Anyhoo, I’d recommend you all take some time to write a few short, long, and wildest dream inclusive goals.

I feel like sitting down and conjuring up the maddest, most fanciful dreams I could think of really set something interesting in motion. I realised we are often self-limiting in what we believe we have the capacity to achieve, using phrases such as ‘I could never…’ or ‘That will be the day…’. Yes, that WILL be the day, because I’m confident that successful people simply visualise and aim for what others pass off as too hard, too intimidating, too far removed from the comforts of normalcy.

I would make a fearsome motivational speaker, albeit incoherent. (Did we, or did we not just jump from Scary Spice to life affirming goals?)

What are your craziest, wildest dreams?

Peace x

Saturate your brain.

November 5, 2010 § 7 Comments

Ola!

Today I wanted to share with you some amazing resources that have been appearing in my life, enriching my crazy vegan reality.

I’ve been quite demanding of the universe throughout my 21 years, peppering it with an onslaught of questions like What is my purpose?, What do animals feel?, When will I make my millions?! and most obviously What is this sh*t all about? If you are imagining me screaming obscenities at the heavens, stamping my feet petulantly in frustration, you’re not far off.

If you’re anything like me, you may like to saturate your brain with as many ideas, theories (conspiracy or otherwise) and philosophies as possible in the hopes that one day you might stumble upon something that resonates with you & patches up those gaping black holes in your understanding, and really makes you think.

You know i’ve been reading this:

It basically forms an extremely compelling argument that aging as we know it (at least, in the Western world) is largely a social construct, and that our bodies, cells and the atomic particles that compose them are capable of combatting entropy (the tendency of things to degrade into chaos) when given the right tools.

With a firm basis in quantum physics, Chopra proclaims in all his mind-bending wisdom that there is nothing inevitable about aging.

Amazing new ideas are swirling in my brain, to the tune of:

  • We are creators of our lives & destinies, not passive individuals  in some kind of big, scary, unpredictable world. Our thoughts and intentions have larger implications that we can possibly fathom on the functioning of our cells & the way in which our lives play out (this is no new thang; it’s a fact that our emotions directly inform the release of chemicals & hormones in our body – thus altering cell function. Your attitude and emotional responses are effectively a dialogue with your cells that can be positive and health promoting or negative and self-defeating).

 

  • Our quality of life = our perspective. Everything we encounter and construe as ‘reality’ is a product of perspective. A person who becomes angry easily will be ‘triggered’ by past hurts and experiences that ultimately render something like a traffic jam, or slow service at a restaurant infinitely frustrating. These are simply neutral events, no more no less, however we imbue them with meaning stemming from our beliefs. If someone complains Oh, why does *such and such unfortunate mishap* always happen to me? I knew this would happen… then ultimately, they are right. Of course they consistently find themselves in negative situations because they are programmed to react in a certain way; it’s self-fulfilling. Another person could sail through and not give any credence to such things.
    • There is MORE MORE MORE where that came from, but i’m scared of what this post will become! Onwards & upwards!

    Another great resource if you’re interested in all this geeky quantum physics stuff if the documentary What the bleep do we know? I’d recommend checking it out.

    Along with the 5 zillion other books I have half devoured on my bedside table, is Born to Run, an incredible tale from a sports-writer turned ultra-marathon convert who sought to discover the secrets of the lost Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyons.

    These badass running junkies churn out 100’s of miles a week in distance, all with flimsy leather sandals and a hipflask of chia, propelled by some unknown powerhouse of endurance that the rest of us forgot somewhere along the line. In addition, they are incredibly peaceful, egalitarian folk, with an amazingly functional social structure based upon payment in kind & friendly competition. Anyone who loves running, or simply an enthralling adventure tale should check it out!

    Of course, I also needed to saturate my stomach with nutritional goodness:

    Organic blood orange with banana & fresh mint.

    More steamed edamame – the perfect complement to a gigantic seaweed salad.

    The seaweed salad in question, about 3x bigger than my head (which is also rather inflated).

    You know what else I made? Lindsay’s Roasted Eggplant Dip, which I promptly smothered all over a freshly pan-fried socca round.

    Lindsay’s recipes are always stellar, but this one with it’s combination of roasted eggplant, tahini, lemon & garlic was especially delightful!

    NB: It’s taken me an aaaage to write this post due to a barrage of work, so it’s now actually a couple of days old…*holds nose*. I’m doing an exciting experiment today though so i’ll actually try and post again tonight to fill you in! Until then, open up those skulls and start shovelling in some inspiring literary genius, and happy Friday!! xx

    Socca-it to me.

    October 29, 2010 § 8 Comments

    More Socca. Socca Socca Socca.

    I think I’m so in love with Socca because it’s a big, crispy, doughy pancake that you can practically make with 2 ingredients. I think i’m also starting to realise that although cutting out bread has been one of the best health decisions I’ve made, I still miss that chewy carby goodness to which little else compares.

    Oh, apart from SOCCA.

    Obviously, the Pure2Raw gals have the monopoly on this amazing circular delight; just recently they even made Socca with homemade sprouted chickpea flour, exceptional!

    Stack attack.

    With gigantosaurus kale salad. I ate this Socca with lemon juice & celtic sea salt. Perfection!

    Speaking of lemons, I was out walking this morning & there was a basket on the path in front of me overflowing with beautiful fresh lemons, obviously surplus from someone’s tree, with a note saying ‘please help yourself!’.

    Goodwill lemons, you do not have to tell me twice. I collected three (because that was all my puny stump hands could grasp) and thought how nice it was that these people were sharing the lemony love! Ideas started swirling in my mind about leaving out delicious treats for people to find on random street corners, however I’m sure people would assume the gesture was some kind of despicable plot to poison passers-by and they would remain untouched. Still, would be a fun experiment!

    **** this is where I went for a lunch break, and look what happened…****

    I have a problem.

    This time I added rosemary to the batter. Winner!

    1/2 c buckwheat/chickpea flour

    1/2 c warm water

    generous pinch celtic sea salt

    pepper

    few shakes of rosemary

    1 tbsp olive oil for cooking

    Today I also had the fantastic fortune of finding edamame beans at the health food store (albeit frozen). I’ve been on a crazy soybean kick since trying them for the first time at a Japanese restaurant a few weeks ago. A FEW WEEKS AGO MY FRIENDS. Do not scoff at my hideous ignorance, how was I to know that these unassuming little beans were vessels of sheer, salty delight?!

    I know i’ve been harsh on soy in the past, but i’m finding that non-highly-processed forms such as miso and tempeh agree with me much more, so for now they are an occasional treat (I actually find tofu especially tasty, so it pains me to know that it is highly processed, and not the ‘health food’ people so avidly claim).

    All together on my new kosher chopping block (with miso soup).

    I have another announcement; I cannot live one more millisecond without a new camera in my life.

    Specifically,

    A canon DSLR beast.

    I know, I know, I should be investing in a food processor, or better yet, saving to travel somewhere to enrich my pitiful existence…but when we went out the other night & a friend had this pimptastic picture-machine, taking photos in ultra-dim lighting of completely banal objects that suddenly brought a tear to the eye , I decided, this is my destiny.

    DESTINY DON’T COME CHEAP!

    According to my calculations, if I save a meagre amount each week, I can expect to hold my darling Canon in my arms in approx 75 weeks.

    This is not my kind of lay-by. I’m into instant gratification. But perhaps this will be the time that I actually save constructively and achieve a long-term goal. Ha! Do not quote me.

    Just so you can witness the beauty, blogs like 😀 and the ever enticing Edible Perspective use kick-ass DSLR cameras, elevating the food to new heights of mouth-watering goodness.

    I really value photography as an art form, and feel a strange affinity with life through the lens. I am working really hard to justify this purchase to myself.

    Anyhoo, please let me know if you know of the best Canon for someone who wants the absolute elite model, at an absolutely average price. There are so many models and would appreciate any expert advice you can impart!

    Happy weekend mes belles!

    Kitchen Essentials

    October 24, 2010 § 18 Comments

    Sometimes a gal just needs to splurge on kitchen wares, even if she is throwing the certainty of being able to afford groceries with which to implement said purchases into serious doubt in the process…!

    But, as I was discussing with a dear friend last night who is of a similar splurge-happy nature, we must succumb to the pleasures of our consumer-centric, capitalist, spiritually empty society every now and then.

    Alright alright, this is unsound logic, however I am trying to practice simultaneous restraint and nonchalance in regards to my spending habits. What does money really matter anyway? (I am looking at you sternly, willing you to agree!).

    Lengthy, nonsensical justifications aside, I finally invested in a new chopping block! I would hate you to see the state of the manky old plastic one our household has been communally defiling for the past 3 years (yeeeeeesssh) so it was time to unveil a beautiful, sustainably produced wooden ‘kosher’ board for fruit & vegetable matter only! Ahhh, no more residual salmonella! Luxury I tell you.

    The next item has been on my raw-foods wish list for some time.

    Obscure angle. Can you guess?

    Swizzle swizzle swirl.

    Watch the veggies curl!

    Yes my dears, it is a spiralizer, maker of raw pasta and loopy salad creations!

    The more I incorporate raw foods into my diet, the more i’m realising the importance of having a few speciality kitchen instruments on hand to avoid relying on just a salad for every meal. There’s nothing wrong with a trusty tower of leaves, however wouldn’t you be more compelled to dive headfirst into a bowl of intricately carved carrotini noodles?

    I used the above spiralized veggies to create an asian-inspired noodle dish using a delectable dressing from Gena at Choosing Raw. No photo, but it was a hit!

    More kitchen inspiration struck after reading rapturous accounts of Socca baking, and the multitude of applications of this wonderful flat-bread-type treat over at Pure2Raw. These two gorgeous twins aways succeed in making my mouth water with their beautiful raw creations, and they have been going Socca crazy (in the best possible way!) lately. I needed to try this bread/pancake hybrid.

    Firstly, provincial french purists will probably turn in their graves when I tell you I made a number of monumental deviations from the traditional recipe.

    Secondly, I didn’t have any garbanzo (chickpea) flour on hand; Buckwheat it was. I also don’t have a fancy skillet pan that I can transfer to the oven without the handle melting into a big toxic plastic puddle, so I had to pan fry one side, then slide it off onto some baking paper under the grill. Worked a treat.

    I made a Socca ‘pizza’ by cooking it, then adding tomato paste, oregano, spinach leaves, fresh garlic & savoury yeast flakes. I was impressed! It satisfied my cravings for a thick, bready lunch, but it’s gluten free with the nutritional benefits of buckwheat! And it’s kind of like a lunch-pancake. Breakfast foods out of context always excite me.

    FYI – I used 1/2 cup buckwheat flour, mixed with 1/2 cup warm water + salt & pepper for the batter, then cooked in olive oil via the above method.

    Today I obviously wanted more Socca, and decided to take lunch-pancake to the next level.

    Banana/tahini/honey/cinnamon Socca meet the readers, readers…quit licking the screen!

    Yeah, lunch was grand.

    Have you had any delicious food moments this weekend? What kitchen appliances are you lusting after?

     

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