Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Perfect Day

To end this hectic blogging month I thought I'd share something a little different. Today I'm recording/reminding myself a wonderful day. Christmas came early- actually, it was better than Christmas- no stress!
My perfect day consisted of...
Both myself and my husband being on holiday
Creating a new recipe, cooking, photographing and blogging it
Eating dessert for breakfast (it was both chocolatey and healthy)
Gorgeous sunshine and a day that was warm but not too hot
A lovely long walk to a gorgeous cafe
Beautiful flowers in bloom everywhere
Divine glass glasses, teapot, cup and water container
Green mango and peach tea with my father and husband
Beautiful flowers seriously everywhere- including our table & the bathroom
Window shopping in all the cute shops...
Shopping shopping! Early Christmas gifts of a scarf, 2 necklaces and earrings... spoilt or what?
How beautiful is it? So soft and thin, perfect for Australia and the subtle feminine colours will go with pretty much everything!
The necklace on the left and earrings are handmade by the same woman- they're too gorgeous! Just perfect for work- I love how art teachers have a little more freedom with their appearance :) 
The second necklace is silver and gold, a delicate little tree with a dove! They're separate so when you move the dove flies around the tree/your neck. I love it.
Finding orange balsamic and pomegranate balsamic vinegar and some amazing spices (Burberee, beetroot powder, habenero chillies, amchuur (dried mango powder)
More window shopping in a huge antique store
Shopping at the health food store (found micro herb seeds to grow)
Another long walk home to find my mason jars had arrived!
Re-organised my cupboard while listening to great music- so all my dry stores are neat and matching! (I may be a little OCD but it   really makes me smile)
Another walk to the charity shop to donate my old jars (originally from the $2 store and who's lids are no longer air tight)
Shopping at the supermarket and asian grocers
Perfect bedroom fun
Lots and lots of Hugs
Relaxing time lying down with my husband talking about nothings with sun streaming in the window
Cooking and eating a scrummy dinner
Baking dessert for my other half
Photo editing, blogging and watching/listening to Big bang theory
Early to bed... sweet dreams full of whirls of colours that looked like one of my favourite scarves...
I hope you all have many, many perfect days!
All the very best,







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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Food is my Drug- 'Dear Hungry Me...'

This post is a little different from the norm but I hope you will enjoy it regardless. I'm sure I'm not the only one who struggles with food so I'm sure some of you out there can relate.
I have recently completed a course in comfort eating entitled 'What am I hungry for?' to help bring my relationship with food into balance. I am feeling so much better and comfortable with my food choices- I can recommend it to anyone. You can find the details here.
In my new spirit of harmony and happiness with my food choices I thought I would share with you all a letter I wrote to myself for the times I want to slip back into binge/comfort eating. If you need some more background feel free to read the guest post I wrote for Sarah at Welsh girls eats last year.

Dear Hungry Claire,

Please listen to reason.

It is not worth it. Plain and simple. You know the future, if you give in- this is it: Bulging, swollen, sore, hard stomach, puffy face and abdomen, sickly nausea, sugar headaches, pain so bad you can’t breathe properly and an avalanche of weight gain. 

The sugar/carbs give you hot flushes, burning cheeks and hormonal issues (pimples, pain) and you just don’t feel right. You deserve better than cramps, digestive problems and emotional instability. It’s just not worth it! It takes days and days to get back to normal- you should feel like you can run and jump- do any yoga poses or movements and not have your thoughts consumed by food! 

Sugar is a drug- addictive and deadly, sugar, caffeine and alcohol are in the same league, don’t make it worse for yourself.

The longer you stay on track the easier it will get- I promise. Don’t throw away all your hard work now!!! Think about it, do you really want to start all over again?

Have a cup of tea, get lost in a movie or book, go for a walk and listen to some good music- this will pass. 

Look forward to your next meal/snack, enjoy the crisp freshness of salad and juicy sweetness of fruit, eat some wholegrain carbs, healthy fats and protein to be satisfied. 

Do not feed your emotional hunger- focus on the actual hunger, true hunger- feed that, nourish your body and strengthen your mind. If something is wrong DEAL with it! I promise you can get through this, even in your darkest hours you have the strength to resist and get through this.

Name one time you have not regretted eating too much or eating the wrong things?... Make the right decision. Please.

The loving voice deep inside you,
Claire

In all honesty the amount of time, energy, money, thought and obsession I've spent on unhealthy/negative food makes me sad. The fact that I've been fighting this for longer than I care to remember is somewhat depressing. I've done things I wouldn't do to my worst enemy. I want so much for it never to happen again.
The happiness, freedom and hope I hold onto now comes from reflecting and changing small thoughts and behaviours. The kinder I am to myself the easier it becomes.
I've had yummy high fat and sugar desserts and decadent food in my house for a months now and I have not touched them. I have no desire to eat them. This should make me happy no? It freaks me out. I have what I wanted. I am resisting, I'm feeling like this is the answer and I'm not excited- Why? because it scares the crap out of me. Every time I dare to think I can do it, it all comes crashing down and the self hatred that follows is worse than ever before. To pull myself back up and stand with confidence is something I'm not sure I can do again. So I'm treading lightly and smiling at every good decision I make.
Life and food still holds more challenges than I care to admit but I'm marching forward with a smile in my heart and confidence in my choices. I hope if any of you can relate to my struggles you ask for help, it's out there and can make your life so much easier.
I wish you all the happiness in the world,







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Monday, October 29, 2012

I love my Pressure Cooker

Next to our knives the pressure cooker is the most used wedding gift we received. It makes me life so much easier and significantly cuts down the time I spend cooking. If you're yet to venture into the world of pressure cookers I highly suggest you do.
We have an electronic pressure cooker which works wonderfully because I can chuck stuff on and leave the house.
This is what my pressure cooker looks like: (by the way, no one asked me to write this post- I just finished cooking a great batch of grains and thought I'd share my time saving tips and record my cooking times incase I forget them!) 
The best advice I can give anyone is leave it to steam after cooking! There will be a 'keep warm' setting or something like it, if not just turn it off and let the pressure release naturally. This makes for perfectly cooked, fluffy, separate grains.

I really appreciate my pressure cooker, I use it mainly for beans and lentils and grains but it also makes great soups and stews for when time is limited and slow cooking isn't an option. Here are some of the cooking times I use:
High Pressure with natural pressure release

Brown rice 
Water ratio of 1:2 for 15 mins 
1cup =  2 cups- 4 x 1/2cup serves

White rice 
1:1.5 for 4 mins 
2cups = 6 cups- 6 x 1cup serves (obviously the hubs eats these)

Quinoa 
1:2 for 6 mins 
1cup = 3.5 cups- 7 x 1/2cup serves

Millet 
1:2.5 for 3- 10 mins 
1cup = 3.5 cups- 7 x 1/2cup serves

Buckwheat 
1:2 for 5 mins 
1cup = 2 cups- 4 x 1/2cup serves

Beans- 10-15 mins

Lentils- 5-10 mins

Chickpeas- 15 mins
The quantity you're cooking will alter the cooking times (more food, longer time) but once you get to know your cooker you can adjust to your needs.
The other thing I like to do is cook grain mixes- I like buckwheat, quinoa, cinnamon/cacao and stevia to eat with berries for breakfasts and savoury mixed like- millet, buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa with herbs and spices. Whatever you do you can always save time by batch cooking. I cook in large batches (2 cups raw at a time usually) then portion and freeze them so I can just pull them out in the morning/the night before and have grains all ready for that day's breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I use my pressure cooker very regularly and consider it a great investment (and awesome gift) Our soups, stews, lentil dishes, beans, dips and grains taste all the better because of it. It is in no way essential but when people ask about tips to make eating yummy vegan food easier this would be one thing I would suggest.

Happy pressure cooking!
All the best,







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Friday, October 26, 2012

Vegan MoFo 20- What are Bean Noodles? Soba? Udon?

What are Bean Noodles? Soba Noodles? Udon?
Bean Noodles, Chinese vermicelli, bean thread noodles, crystal noodles, cellophane noodles or glass noodles are are noodles made from alternative starches like (green) mung beans, yam or potato and water. They're thin translucent noodles when cooked. You simply need to rehydrate them in hot water or soup before eating. These noodles are often used in spring, rice paper rolls, hot pots, soups, stir fries etc.
 
Rice noodles are available in white (clear and red wai wai packet above) and brown- personally I think they taste the same so go with brown or bean but my other half prefers the plain white ones. These are opaque and white when cooked unlike bean noodles.

Soba noodles are noodles made from buckwheat- they're darker in colour, dense and are not stretchy like wheat based noodles. You will usually find them dried in a range of strengths of buckwheat and wheat combination to give them a better texture. They also come in other flavours like green tea. They're a thin noodle used hot or cold in soups, salads and stir fries- they taste great cold with a dipping sauce. 
If you're looking for gluten free options the Asian grocer has an array of dried rice noodles and pastas such as macaroni, spirals and shells (which are much cheaper than the health food store). 
There are also fresh rice noodles in the fridge section that come in a range of thickness's.
Udon are wheat based noodles that are usually thicker and white. You can eat them hot or cooled and their hearty texture is a lovely addition to soups and stir fries. There are many variations of fresh noodles on offer, ranging in size, thickness, colour and ingredients. 
These thin yellow noodles (check there's no egg in them) are my husband's favourites- he uses them mainly in stir fries with tofu and veggies and prefers the udon in soups.
Here are some yummy noodle recipes to get you started breaking out of the norm...
I hope you try some different noodles now! There are so many (and lots of Gluten Free options) that everyone's catered for.
All the best,




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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Natural Food Magazine issue 2!

The second issue of the new 'Natural Food Magazine' is out! (Just incase you missed the first issue, I was lucky enough to write the cover story) This monthly digital publication features healthy natural vegetarian foods, supplements and exercise. If you like my blog there's a good chance this will be for you too.

It includes beautiful photographs, high definition videos, yummy recipes and some wonderful and interesting articles. I writing another article at the moment for the next issue so keep an eye out for that! This issue focuses on health and wellbeing while transitioning to whole foods. is packed full of 15 yummy recipes, videos and great easy to read nutrition information.
I know I enjoy reading it so I think you will too- here's their website if you want to check it out. Alternatively you can find it on iStand herefind the android version here and subscribe from the publisher here. You can also find Natural Food Magazine on fb here.
Hope you enjoy!
All the best,







(Disclaimer: All opinions are my own, I have not been compensated, I just think it's a great mag)
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Vegan MoFo 19- What is Taro? Sweet potato? Lotus Root?

What is Taro? Sweet potato? Lotus Root?
Taro is a carbohydrate rich vegetable with a rough, dark outer skin and white flesh inside with pink/purple veins running through it. It's eaten a lot by Pacific Islanders but many countries have adopted it. It's also great for you- rich in fibre, iron, Vit A, C, potassium and magnesium and calcium but must be cooked. You can eat the taro leaves in the same way as spinach and cook the flesh in almost any way- pretty much the same as a potato, just peel the tough outer skin. Taro can also be used in desserts, a complete all-rounder.   If you buy it sliced store it in the fridge but whole it can be stored in the cupboard.
Sweet Potato or Kumara, the large, starchy, tuberous root vegetable comes in white, purple (white inside), orange, red and yellow. Sometimes mistakenly called yam (yams are larger and brown with white flesh) this root veg is amazingly sweet naturally. They can be roasted, made into chips, mashed, fried, steamed, baked, eaten raw and lend themselves to both sweet and savoury dishes.
Lotus root or renkon is the crunchy, starchy fibrous root of the lotus plant. You can find it fresh, vacuum packed, frozen in slices, canned and pickled. You can technically eat the young roots raw in thin crunchy slices but it's almost always cooked. Peel the root to remove the slightly bitter skin then slice to reveal the beautiful cross section of inner holes. If you're using the lotus root in a dish where you wish it to stay crunchy you only need to boil it for a couple of minutes but if you want you can stirfry, deep fry, mash or bake it. Just be aware that the longer you cook it the more starchy it becomes.
Here's my list of vegetables to try next! I have no idea what some of them are but I'm going to find out!
Actually I know what these ones are- Bitter Melon. They're supposed to be very good for you but the one and only time I tried them they were SO bitter I had to pick them out... I think I need to follow a good recipe next time. I'll let you know if I find a yummy way to get their nutritional benefit. Any ideas are more than welcome!
I tend to just roast taro or make chips with it so I don't have a recipe for it and I don't use lotus root (to be honest I didn't like the lotus nuts and stopped there) but sweet potato is a favourite of mine- whichever colour! Here are some recipes you can use these root vegetables in.
I hope you give something new a try, there are some great options available  What vegetables are on your to-try list?
All the best,







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