Here’s to 2014!

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Happy New Year! Yes, I know I’m a few days late but I figured you were all probably being inundated with every other bloggers resolutions and dreams that I wouldn’t add mine to the list.

Then I realised that I needed a way to be held accountable for my own resolutions/plans. I don’t like the term resolution, but I do believe in setting goals and trying to achieve them. How boring would life be without goals or dreams, right? Anyway, I figure if I record them here, I can go back and look at them and maybe even update you on how they are progressing. So here goes…

1. Get my health in order – One of the reasons that I’m so interested in nutrition and plant based eating is because I have a crappy immune system and a sensitive stomach. I get sick, a lot. It also doesn’t help that I don’t look after myself. I eat crap sometimes, which makes me sick. I don’t get quality sleep which runs me down, then makes me sick. I drink too much (especially this time of year!), which makes me sick. This year I’m focussing on sleeping better, eating a plant-based diet and cutting the alcohol right back. Part of this goal is also to get myself back to a healthy, happy weight. While I know 99% of New Year resolutions are for weight loss, I’m hoping mine will come about naturally as a result of taking better care of myself. For those who like to crunch numbers, I’d like to lose a good 6 – 8 kilos. :)

2. Add mileage to my running – This one is a little hard at the moment as I’m still on the injured list. I’m hoping in another week or so I can start going out on small runs then slowly start increasing my mileage. My ultimate goal is to run a half-marathon this year. I’ve said this for several years now, but sickness or injury has always prevented me from achieving the goal. 2014 is the year I will achieve this!

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3. Start attending a yoga class at least once a week – As a runner, I need something to balance all that pavement-pounding out. Whilst I’ve been injured, I’ve relied on yoga and pilates DVD’s to help keep me somewhat physical. It has also made me realise how rigid and inflexible my body is! I plan to change that this year and hopefully it will help with my back injury (which is an ongoing, work related thing).

4. Work on my relationships – It’s easy to neglect or take for granted those that we love. Whilst my hubby gets my utter adoration, I need to let others know I care for and appreciate them. Without getting all lovey-dovey and hippy about it, I want to spend 2014 spending more time with family and close quality friends. This is the year to wean out any toxic people out of my life.

That’s it for now. I haven’t added any career goals because I just very recently got a promotion (yay!) so I’m pretty happy at the moment. In the future I’d love to have the opportunity to study nutrition part-time. Unfortunately, it’s really not possible to do right now.

What are your goals or dreams for 2014? I’d love to hear!

Stay awesome x

Roasted Capsicum Hommus Wrap

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Don’t fall over sideways! Yes, I’m posting for the second time within two days. It would probably help you understand if I explain two things. Firstly, I’ve sprained my foot so have been couch ridden for a week and likely to continue to be so for at least another week. I don’t think there is a cooking blog I haven’t read this week, so naturally my thoughts turned to my little blog! Secondly, my husband has got himself a new toy – a motorbike. So weekends that were previously filled with entertaining him now find me alone on the computer while he goes for a ride with his mates. I can’t complain, really. It’s actually nice to get a little ‘me’ time on the weekend.

So as you can see from the image above, I’ve been getting heavily into watermelon lately! Weather here definitely heated up and it got up to 43 degrees Celsius here on Wednesday! Was a good day to be inside with the air conditioning of full blast! So it’ been the perfect weather to be eating summer fruits. I’m pretty much eating a quarter of a watermelon and a mango everyday. That is my idea of heaven!

Also, because I’m currently couch bound, I’m trying to be ultra careful about what I eat since I’m limited to a Pilates DVD for exercise. It’s been hard because I’ve really been getting into my running and now I’ve been recommended not to run for a month by the doctor! :( On the upside, it’s given me a new appreciation for things like yoga and Pilates. I always felt to uncoordinated to go to classes and the few times I did go, I found it a little boring. I’m now seriously considering signing up with the local yoga studio and continuing to practice it at least once a week, even when I’m back up and running (forgive the pun!).

Anyway, enough about me. I wanted to share a little recipe that I have been pretty much eating everyday for lunch this week. My husband loves the hommus I make in the Vitamix, so this week I thought I might mix it up a little bit and add roasted capsicums. Nothing new or particularly ground breaking, I know, but WOW! I will definitely be rotating this regularly through my repertoire now!

Roasted Capsicum Hommus (makes a LOT! About 20 serves)
adapted from the Vitamix recipe

2 cans chickpeas, 1 drained & 1 with liquid
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
2 large red capsicums

Pre-set grill to high. Core the capsicums, remove all seeds and membrane and cut into quarters. Lay on a large baking tray and press down with you hand so they lay flat. Once grill is hot enough, play tray directly under the element but not touching. Let char until skins are blistered and blackened (You may want to have your overhead fan on!). Once ready, place capsicum in a bowl and cover with cling-wrap. This will help ‘steam’ the capsicum skins and make them easier to remove. Once cool enough to touch, remove skins.

Place capsicum flesh, along with all other ingredients in a high-speed blender.* Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides when required.

To serve, try dusting it with a little smoked paprika.

* I recommend a high-speed blender, like Vitamix. If you don’t have one, a food processor should work fine.

While this hommus is beautiful just as a dip, I love it in wraps! It makes a great, creamy and satisfying filling.

Roasted Capsicum Hommus Wrap (serves 1)

1 gluten-free wrap or tortilla
1/4 cup of Roasted Capsicum Hommus
2 small falafel, crumbled (I used the Yumi’s brand)
1/4 a red capsicum, sliced
1/2 an avocado, sliced (I usually weigh it, about 50 grams)
Shredded basil (optional)
1-2 handfuls of baby spinach
Vegan mayonnaise (also optional)

Spread the hommus down the centre of the wrap, stopping about a good inch from the bottom. Top with crumbled falafel, red capsicum, avocado and basil.

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Top with as much baby spinach as you can cram into the wrap (I like lots!).

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Fold up the bottom, then bring the two sides together to enclose the wrap. I got a bit carried away with my fillings and had great difficulty wrapping the sides together! So I had to take a picture of me holding the wrap as if I’d let go, it would have fallen apart!

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Voilร ! You have a healthy, tasty and satisfying lunch. Try not to be like me and make a total mess of yourself whilst eating! To balance out the meal, finish it off with a piece of fruit, like a mango, because mangos are awesome!

So what vegan/vegetarian fillings do you like in your wraps? I’m always looking for ideas!

Stay awesome x

Back from the abyss

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I know, it’s been forever since I posted. The new role that I spoke about last time I posted has totally taken over my life! In a good way, though :) Now I get my weekends off and I work more regular hours. Only problem is I leave as the sun comes up in the morning and I get home maybe an hour before sunset (thank the heavens for daylight savings!). Once home, I cook dinner, maybe have an hour to do study and/or read and then it’s bedtime again. I’ve really just been to distracted and exhausted to post. Plus the longer I don’t post, the more I wondered if I should just chuck this blog in and not post ever again?

Happily, it’s summer in Australia and almost Christmas. What better time of year to slowly start posting again, especially with all the wonderful and inspirational posting going on by other bloggers!? If you’re an Aussie, like me, you probably phased out a little during the weeks of Thanksgiving posts from our American and Canadian counterparts! Maybe not as interested in the hearty winter meals they are posting when all you want is for it to be cool? But now it’s time to start thinking about Christmas. Some of you might be in the same boat as me where you’re the only vegetarian/vegan so you pretty much have to bring your own food! Not only that, but you want people to try it and realise how awesome vegetarian and vegan meals can be!

I’ve left it a little late to create any wonderful or creative recipes myself, but here are a few that I am planning to whip up on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Quinoa and Mushroom Stuffed Bell Peppers from Eat To The Beet. I’m thinking I might make a cheezy, bean-based sauce to stir through the rice before stuffing the capsicums. This will be my main which I will share, of course!

Creamy Kale and Mushrooms from Road Warrior Vegan. I think this will make a beautiful side dish!

After that, it has to be about salads, as Christmas in Australia is usually HOT!! I will be throwing together a curried kale coleslaw inspired by Dreena Burton’s which you can see here and it looks something like this:

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I’m pretty sure my Mum’s putting together a yummy tomato salad and some other bits and bobs that I can eat. Maybe a big fruit salad for dessert, if I’m lucky! :)

I’ll leave you with it for now. Merry Christmas and have a very happy holiday. I promise to be back soon with a new wrap recipe that I’ve been eating stacks of lately!

Stay awesome x

Packed lunch Taco Type Salad & other thoughts

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Greeting all! How is everyone’s New Year goals holding up so far? I was a good girl and did my juice fast for 4 days in the end and had great fun creating juices! Some were lovely and some barely drinkable! :( My own fault for experimenting a little too much with the blends!

However, I’ve not kept up one of my resolutions, which was to run 5 days a week again. I used to a few years back but a number of factors got in the way and it all became a little too hard in the end. The reason I’ve not managed to so far this year is a combination of shift work and getting sick! Yes, gang, I commenced annual leave last week and have pretty much had a fever or virus ever since. It sucks. However I’m coming out of it now and am trying to focus on eating healthily and getting my strength back so I can train again!

I’ve been living off tinned tomato soup since I’ve been ill, which is my comfort food. Rosella’s to be precise, and yes that’s a plug because soon the brand won’t be around anymore! They’ve announced they’re closing it down and I’ll do my little bit to keep my favourite soup on the market!

Sorry, slightly side tracked there! Anyway, last night my body started to tell me it needed more than salty, tinned tomato soup and I started craving veggies. So I whipped out my spare veggies (carrot, capsicum, celery and mushrooms) and water sautรฉed them with some onion and garlic. Towards the end I added some drained and rinsed chickpeas and some spinach to wilt. To serve, I served it over brown rice and mixed through some of Carrie on Vegan’s Saffron Cheese Sauce and topped it with a little diced red onion and avocado. It was so beautiful and wholesome to eat, just delicious!

Saffron Cheese Veggies

As you guys may have guessed, I’m a HUGE fan of Carrie on Vegan. She really opened my eyes to easy vegan cooking without making up for lost flavour with loads of oil or salt or 50 different spices. I love how simple her meals sometimes are and it is my go-to site when I need a new salad dressing! I added a gushing little comment about her Saffron Cheese Sauce on the link above and was thrilled that she commented back! Follow the link above and you can see my comment (I use my real name there – Kath).

After feeling so revitalised by eating some plant-based, whole foods, I decided to plan my lunch for the following day. Unfortunately the fridge has been running a little low since I’ve been too sick to get out and go shopping. However, using my ingenuity (hmm…) I threw together a Mexican inspired salad. Like a taco without the tortilla. It looked fab!

Taco Salad

I left it in the fridge overnight and when I felt hungry for lunch, just mixed it all up and it made a yummy salad. I know taco salads aren’t anything new but I loved this and will definitely make it again!

Taco Type Salad (serves 1)

1/2 cup of cooked brown rice
1/2 cup of cooked red kidney beans
1/4 of a large bag of spinach or two large handfuls, chopped
2-3 small tomatoes (I used Black Russian tomatoes – an heirloom variety)
1/2 a medium avocado
1-2 tbs coriander
1/4 a lime, juiced
2-3 tbs of salt free salsa
Chopped red onion to garnish

Add all the ingredients to your bowl or container and stir until well combined. Perfect for packed lunches and store well overnight!

I worked out this meal to be approximately 405 calories with 55 grams of carbs, 14 grams of fat (mostly the avocado so add less if you’re restricting fat) and 17 grams of protein. I worked this out using http://www.myfitnesspal.com/, which is an iPhone app plus website. Very useful! It was a lovely satisfying meal for me and so easy. Definitely one for me to pack for my lunches now I’m going to be working 9-5 soon!

Yes, that is my big news for 2013. I’ve been accepted into a temporary 9-5 position for the next six months, which hopefully will be extended to a permanent position after that time is up! After working shifts for the last four years, I am very much looking forward to having a routine again. It also means I can focus on my health and fitness properly without trying to have to fit everything in around my shifts! I will be required to undertake a pretty heavy study load while in the position but hopefully it will pay off in the end!

How is everyone else going with their 2013 goals? Any successes so far?

Stay awesome x

Welcoming in the New Year…

Green Salad with Balsamic

Wow, just looked at the last time I posted and saw it’s been over a month! So sorry to any people who read my humble little blog. I can say I have a reason – my laptop died on me and had to go to my brother to be fixed so I was without internet for a few weeks! I almost died and have spent the last week since I got it back, catching up on all my favourite blogs like Carrie on Vegan and Choosing Raw and various others.

So, I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year? As I spoke about in my last post, I ended up having the family over to my place on Christmas Day. It was only immediate family, so there was only five of us for lunch. Plus, I was super organised so it ended up being a really stress free day for me. Usually when I host Christmas I stress out and plan way to many dishes and only end up producing half of them! Instead, I made up a big batch of Carrie on Vegan’s Lemony Brown Rice and Lentil Salad the evening before and just gave it a fresh squeeze of lemon before I served it. I made a big green salad with a balsamic dressing (a small portion is picture above!) plus a potato bake which was about 80% vegan (I used soy milk and some soy cheese but it didn’t melt well so I added a little of Tom’s cheddar on the top). I also made up some vegetable kebabs which I marinated in olive oil, lemon, oregano and garlic. Tom cooked these on the barbeque and was very good because he cooked them first before he grilled all the meat.

Yes, there was meat at my table. Unfortunately, with a very old fashioned mother-in-law, there had to be. But Tom organised all that and I was thrilled that almost everyone tried my vegetable kebabs and loved them! :)

One of the lovely things about having Christmas during Summer here, is having access to all these amazing fruits and other produce. I made a massive fruit salad in the morning and served it up after lunch with the option of whipped cream. Everyone loved it and it was such a nice end to the meal, rather than a heavy cheesecake or pudding. Plus it meant I didn’t have to consume dairy if I didn’t want to!

Fruit Salad

There’s so much I could catch up on but I’ll keep it short and sweet for now. Suffice to say, despite my best efforts, I did fall off the wagon a little over the holiday period. I ate to much, I drank to much and I even had a few ciggarettes. Yes, readers, I am an ex-smoker who occasionally lapses when she drinks too much. It flies in the face of everything I stand for about healthful eating and nourishing our bodies and I dearly would love to completely kick the habit. As I said before, I’m not perfect. Hopefully 2013 will be the year to kick that!

So, because of my debauchery over the holidays, I’ve started a juice/salad fast. I only started yesterday but so far I’m feeling awesome. I’ve found it relatively easy to get my head around the ‘liquid meal’ idea and the fact I’m still having one salad a day helps a lot. I got given a juicer for Christmas (at last!) so thought that was a good reason to finally try a juice fast. Yes, I’m cheating mildly by having salads, but I’m working night shift this week and really need that something extra.

That’s all for now. I’ll update soon with some of the great juice recipes I’ve been creating plus I’m also working on a peanut butter sauce that’s been a big hit with Tom when dipping it cold rolls into it and I thought maybe I could thin it into a salad dressing. I’ll have a play and see how it goes!

Happy New Year to you all. What are your resolutions or goals for 2013?

Stay awesome x

Holiday Challenge

I haven’t really designed any new recipes in the last week because I’ve been following the Eat to Live menu plan. I’m loving it still. I’ve lost about a kilo and I’m back at the gym three times a week minimum. I’m feeling fantastic! I can’t actually describe how clean and vibrant and awesome I’m feeling. It really shows me how much food influences your health and life.

I made an awesome Thai Vegetable Curry for dinner the other night and even husband loved it! It didn’t have much heat which suited us perfectly. I had mine as per recipe while Tom substituted his tofu for chicken. No matter what I try, I don’t think I’ll even quite bring him around to tofu! I served mine with a side of quinoa and some steamed broccoli. Recipe for it is here.

So how many of you are undertaking Dr Fuhrman’s 2012 Holiday Challenge? I’m doing it and I’ve even got my Mum partially following it! We’ve made a deal to try cut back on the wine too because I’m sure we’ll all get to indulge a stack over Christmas! The challenge has already started but if you feel like cleaning up your act in the lead up to Christmas, you can get the info here.

How are your Christmas plans coming? Only a month now! I’m hosting the event this year, which is just for 5 of us, but I’m already planning menus. Tom’s sorting out the meat for everyone because we’ll have a barbeque (Christmas Day barbies are an Aussie institution!) so I’ve been thinking about salads and sides. I think I’ll definitely be making Carrie on Vegan’s Lemony Brown Rice and Lentil Salad. It looks like a great hearty salad that won’t make me feel like I’m missing out at all. I’ll probably chuck together a green salad of sorts and I know Tom will ask for a potato salad. My old standby had a mayonnaise and sour cream base, so I’m going to have to re-think this one this year. I’d love to hear some suggestions!

Hopefully I’ll be able to share some of the recipes I’m eating soon!

Stay awesome x