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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Week #3: Helyn and a Nutritarian Diet

This is the third week of the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 event. In case you've missed the previous weeks of this event, here's a little recap - the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 a virtual event featuring a few blogging friends who are sharing with us their kid-friendly recipes, tips and pieces of advice. We hope you will be inspired by what our blogging friends have to say and their delicious recipes.

This week's featured blogger is Helyn of Helyn's Healthy Kitchen. Helyn, as I came to know when I stumbled upon her blog, follows a Nutritarian diet. If you are like me and had never before come across the term, here's a little description:

A Nutritarian diet focuses on food choices that maximize the micronutrients per calorie. A Nutritarian diet is designed with food that has powerful disease-protecting and therapeutic effects and delivers a broad array of micronutrients via a wide spectrum of food choices. The Nutritarian diet may not necessarily be vegan but since plant-based foods surpass animal-based food by far in terms of their micronutrient per calorie, plants are usually favoured. The foods with the highest micronutrient per calorie scores are green vegetables, colorful vegetables, and fresh fruits. The term Nutritarian was coined by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

That's interesting to know as I couldn't agree more with Helyn when she says on her blog "Just because it's vegan, doesn't mean it's healthy!". So, let's get to know Helyn a little bit more.

1. When did you begin your blog, and what inspired you to start it?
I started Helyn's Healthy Kitchen in late 2012. I got so excited about my weight loss and the health benefits that I was experiencing on a plant-based diet, that I wanted to start sharing some recipes. It took off like a rocket!


2. You said that you love sharing delicious and healthy vegan recipes, can you explain why you chose a vegan lifestyle?
I originally chose a vegan lifestyle for health reasons. My weight was up, as was my blood pressure. I had some blood work done and found that my triglycerides were also quite high. Now that I have been vegan for over 2 years, I have also become more aware of the horrific abuse that factory farm animals endure both on the feed lots and in the slaughterhouse. Then there is the negative impact that factory farming has on our environment. So now I am vegan for all of those reasons.


3. How long did it take you to become fully adapted to a vegan lifestyle, what has been the most challenging part?
It took about 2 months to where I was not craving fats and oils and other junk food. I didn't have too much trouble giving up meat because I was never really a meat and potatoes kind of person. Butter was the hardest for me to eliminate. Now, if I eat those kinds of foods, they don't taste good to me anymore! :)


4. What impact has the vegan diet had on your health?
40 pounds dropped with ease. Blood pressure lowered to normal. Triglycerides dropped to below "average." I also sleep better, my skin is smoother my hair is thicker and I have more energy.


5. How do people respond when you tell them you are vegan?
People are more responsive now than ever about healthy eating/living choices. Most people are curious about what I eat and I'm happy to share with them my plant-based recipes and adventures!


6. What advice do you have for vegans mums or parents looking to make the change to a vegan lifestyle?
Start slowly. Children are such creatures of habit. Introduce foods that are fun/look fun and transition with things that they already like, such as mac & cheese. There are many vegan versions of mac & cheese floating around the web that are really yummy.


7. What type of vegetable dishes have you found to be most successful with children?
As I mentioned, start with things they already like... If your child likes cereal, try a homemade granola with healthy nuts, seeds and fruits. Pizza can be a good choice (what kid doesn't love pizza?) because you can load it up with veggies and use just a small amount of vegan cheese like Daiya brand. And let them help to prepare the food. That's KEY!! Kids love to help and when they help to create their own, fun meals, they are more likely to eat them. Visual appeal is also super important with kids. Make the foods look bright and fun!

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Carrot Dogs

Marinade ingredients:
½ cup tamari or other low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp liquid smoke
TIP: use a quart sized mason jar to marinate the carrots, standing them on end. This way they will be evenly submerged. The jar will fit about 10 carrots.


To make the carrot dogs, simply cut the carrots into the length of a usual hot dog, then using a veggie peeler, shape each end so it's rounded. Then par boil them until a fork can pierce the carrot easily but not all the way to the center (about 10-15 minutes). Remove them from the water, pat them dry and soak in the marinade overnight. Then bake or grill until tender and top with your favorite condiments!

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Thank you Helyn. Carrot dogs sound wonderful! By the way, check out the recipe for the spelt buns that Helyn has used in this recipe on her blog.

Connect with Helyn

Helyn's Kitchen Blog

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Visit the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 event main page for updates on participating guest bloggers every week until August 2014.
If you haven't already, follow Veganlovlie by email by clicking on the envelope icon in the sidebar at the top then enter your email address. Or you can subscribe to the Veganlovlie's Sunshine Newsletter.

In case you missed our previously featured bloggers:


If you want to link to this event, grab the banner below.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Cherry Je T'aime!

With the avalanche of cherries in the stores this summer, I have pretty much been buying them at every trip to the grocery store. Fresh and just popped in the mouth, these juicy sweet drupes are seriously addictive. That said, an insatiate thirst for yet another youth elixir, beckoned my creative juices for another smoothie concoction. Melded with kale and ginger, cherries provide an energizing detoxifying power-packed experience. I say experience because a good smoothie is not merely a drink, it is the kind of drink that tells a story in every sip, tickles your belly and makes you want to slurp more and more even though you are full. This is the kind of smoothie I love to enjoy on weekend mornings while I eagerly prepare brunch.



Cherry Kale Power-Packed Smoothie (serves 2)

5 stems curly kale (remove middle stem, cut leaves into small pieces)
10 - 12 fresh sweet cherries (pitted)
1/2 inch cube fresh ginger
1 medjool date
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon pumpkin seeds
Water to thin out

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and gulp!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Week #2: Meet Registered Dietitian and Yoga Instructor -- Cristina Cavanaugh

We are now at week two of the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 event which, as announced previously, is a virtual event featuring kid-friendly recipes, tips and pieces of advice from a few featured blogging friends who strive to prepare quick, easy and delicious meals for their children. We hope you will be inspired into how to encourage your child to eat more vegetables.

This week's featured blogger is Cristina Cavanaugh, RD, who writes a beautiful blog - BeginWithin Nutrition. Cristina is a registered dietitian, yoga instructor, and mom who is passionate about health and wellness. She strives to help people feel and look their best! "Variety is the key to ensure your kids are getting all the nutrients they need from a plant-based diet", as she rightly says it. I feel so privileged to have Cristina as a guest this week. I interviewed her and she was very kind to share with us some pieces of advice from her experience of working with mums and children.


1. You said you were interested in cooking and learning about healthy living at a young age, what triggered your interest in healthy living at that time?
I come from a long line of foodies! My mother is Italian and I grew up watching her and my grandmother cook. It always relaxed me and still does to this day! I remember waking up early with my grandma to pick squash flowers to turn them into a delicious salad for lunch. Something about using fresh, whole ingredients to create a meal has always amazed me!


2. Since when have you been a vegan and what made you choose this lifestyle?
I can’t call myself a vegan although I do feel like it is a diet that makes me feel my best. I would say I eat a vegan diet 90% of the time. However, becoming 100% vegan is a goal I strive for! My love for animals lead me to a plant based diet when I was in my early teens. I feel as though eating a plant based diet is a way for me to practice ahimisa or non-violence in my everyday life. In my professional career as a nutritionist, I truly believe that we are what we eat! Our food should be healing and by eating plants full of prana or energy is the best way for people to feel their best!


3. From your experience of working with mums and children, what type of vegetable dishes have you found to be most successful with children and welcomed by mums too?
Quinoa! I’ve yet to meet a child who doesn’t love quinoa! Some day’s quinoa is all I can get my little one to eat! It’s super easy to make, is very versatile and tastes great too! For an added nutritional boost I add sesame seeds, which are high in calcium! Quinoa can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner! I recommend cooking a plain batch in the beginning of the week and using it as needed for a quick and healthy meal!


4. What has been your best experience so far from working with parents and children (in terms a particular project or event if any)?
I loved working with WIC as a nutritionist. I was able to interact with moms from a variety of different backgrounds and ethnicities. I was there to educate moms, but I learned so much more from them!


5. What advice can you give to parents to ensure their children are getting all the nutrients they need from a plant-based diet? Do you recommend supplements as part of a healthy diet?
Variety is the key to ensure your kids are getting all the nutrients they need from a plant-based diet. Rotate grains, always add different sources of protein to meals and snacks and experiment with new fruits and vegetables. Also, add what I like to call superfoods to meals and snacks. Some superfoods include hemp seeds, chia seeds, miso, sesame seeds, seaweed and wheat grass to name a few! These ingredients add a power packed nutritional punch! I add them to smoothies, soups, salads and dips. Yes, I do recommend high quality supplements, especially a probiotic supplement.


6. Do you have any particular plans for the next year, for your blog or career-wise? Five years from now?
I don’t! I know I should, but honestly being a good mom is all I am focused on at the moment! I would love to devote more time to my blog and I know that day will come, but for now all my energy goes to my family!


7. Anything else you would like to share?
I wanted to share my recipe for miso soup, because not only is it kid friendly, it is super healing! We eat miso soup year round, even in the summer! It contains probiotics from the miso paste, phytonutrients from the seaweed and fiber rich vegetables, all are important ingredients for keeping immune systems running strong! Feel free to use any veggies that your kids like! Baby spinach, tofu and edamame are all great add-ins! I hope you like it as much as we do :)



Spring Pea Miso Soup

4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
3 carrots, chopped
2 cups white mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup alphabet pasta (or brown rice)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen peas
1 large pinch of wakame
1-2 tablespoons Bragg’s Amino Acids
1-2 tablespoons toasted sesame seed oil
2 tablespoons white miso paste

In a large soup pot add broth, water, carrots, mushrooms, garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and lightly simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add pasta or brown rice and cook until tender. Add chickpeas, frozen peas, wakame, Bragg’s Amino Acids and toasted sesame seed oil. Cover and remove from heat. In a small bowl mix miso paste with a few tablespoons of water until thinned out. When soup is no longer simmering, stir in miso paste. Serve warm and enjoy!



Sweet Cucumber Salad

1 English cucumber, thinly sliced using a mandoline
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil
½ tablespoon organic cane sugar or agave (optional)
½ tablespoon red onion, minced
Pinch sea salt
Small pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Gomasio for garnish

Add sliced cucumbers to a medium bowl, set aside. In a small bowl whisk together rice vinegar, sesame seed oil, sugar, red onion and sea salt. Drizzle on top of cucumbers and toss to coat. Top with gomasio and enjoy!

Note: I only add crushed red pepper flakes for an adult version, kids don’t always tolerate heat well!



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Thank you Cristina for sharing these delicious recipes with us. Miso soup is one of my favourite all-year-round recipe too!

Connect with Cristina

BeginWithin Nutrition Blog
Facebook
Pinterest
Instagram

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Visit the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 event main page for updates on participating guest bloggers every week until August 2014.
If you haven't already, follow Veganlovlie by email by clicking on the envelope icon in the sidebar at the top then enter your email address. Or you can subscribe to the Veganlovlie's Sunshine Newsletter.

In case you missed our previously featured blogger:


Sarah Creighton


If you want to link to this event, grab the banner below.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Punching Up The Salad Blues

Reminiscing about just a year ago when I was commuting for four hours a day changing four buses each way to and from work, I cannot help but feel utter relief about my now half-hour bus journey. Had I gone around to get a bike already, I could now easily do this journey by bicycle. I guess it will have to wait until next Spring. A short bus trip however does give me a bit of time to relax and, more often than not, daze into my habitual daydreams where I am quite cocooned into my own little world distrait from reality. It is surprising how my fabricated world is so vivid with me being this totally different person, carefree and unquestioning, enjoying only this very moment. From time to time, I am bewildered back into the mundane reality as I catch an audible glimpse of the surroundings. The chirping conversation of a few youngsters caught my attention; they were only shooting the breeze but I couldn't help but sink myself into a half smile thinking of my school days. Their chirps somehow moved on a healthy food topic now grasping my full attention with ears untwining into their full sensory ability. Youngsters talking about healthy eating is not something to be casually missed. As their conversation progressed onto salads and dressings, discussing whether a salad without dressing could be called a salad, I started figuring this out for myself. I have many a time eaten an assortment of leaves, raw vegetables, fruit and other toppings without any dressing. So far I have been calling them salads. What's your take on this? Is a salad without a dressing still a salad?

Speaking of salads, midway through Summer and I realize that I haven't featured any of the colourful nutrient-dense salads I've been eating. My salads don't usually follow a recipe and are somewhat spurred-by-the-moment tossed in from fresh ingredients available at hand. Dressing-wise, I sometimes whip up a tasty creative one or, when short of inspiration or time, a squeeze of lemon juice is more than enough if my salad is already rich in flavours. In any case, I usually steer clear of any added refined oil as I try to consume fat mostly in its natural unprocessed form like adding in avocados, fresh coconut pieces or some of the very few seeds that I am not allergic to.

One of my favourite aspect of Summer is the gorgeous Summer berries we get to enjoy. Their frozen version, even though lacking the freshness, do come in handy and contribute in nutritional value during the colder months of the year.
While berries are still in season and abundant, here's a colourful blueberry dressing, no oil added, with a pinch of chipotle or chili punch to go with a very filling artichoke pasta salad that you could very well take to potlucks and picnics. Isn't blue a lovely colour to add to a salad?!



Artichoke Pasta Salad with Blueberry Chipotle Dressing

Ingredients (serves 2 - 3)
Salad
2 cups cooked fusilli pasta (can be corn or rice pasta for gluten-free option)
6 - 7 frozen artichoke pieces (you may also use canned ones)
2 cups mixed baby salad leaves (arugula, spinach)
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1/4 cup olives, black and green mix
1/3 cup broccoli florets, lightly steamed or raw (leftovers are perfect)
1/2 cup mushrooms (optional)
1 teaspoon barbecue sauce
1/4 cup beansprouts

Dressing
1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) blueberries
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder (or chili powder)
2 pitted dates
1 tablespoon avocado, mashed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons water (more or less depending on desired consistency)

Prepare the salad:
  • Immerse the frozen pieces of artichokes into a bowl of boiling water to defrost. Drain and keep artichokes aside. If using canned artichokes, drain the water and just use as is.
  • If using mushrooms, toss them in a pan with a few tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon barbecue sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring and tossing occasionally until mushrooms are cooked but still retaining pretty much their size. (That is, do not overcook so that they considerably shrink in size and ooze out a lot of water. If this does happen though, you can use this mushroom water as part of the dressing too instead of throwing it away!)
  • Allow mushrooms to cool.
  • Toss all salad ingredients in a big bowl. Mix well.

Make the dressing:
  • Place all dressing ingredients in a blender (you can also use a stick blender), process until smooth.
  • Pour dressing on the salad, mix well and serve.
  • If not serving straightaway, keep dressing chilled separately then add when ready.

So, what's your favourite type of dressing? Leave me a 'dodo love' below.



Sunday, 6 July 2014

Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 - Week #1: The Boy Who Loved Broccoli

Last week I announced the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 which is a virtual event where a few blogging friends and I have teamed up to present to you kid-friendly recipes, tips and pieces of advice about how to get your child to eat more vegetables and cultivate a healthy eating habit right at an early age.

While some kids enjoy eating their vegetables, others need more encouragement and motivation to do so. Our guest bloggers have striven to present quick and easy dishes that they have found to appeal to their children.

Meet this week's featured blogger for the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 virtual event - Sarah Creighton of Veggie-Kids. Sarah is a mum of three and the author of two children illustration books - The Boy Who Loved Broccoli and Clover's Great Escape; the latter is endorsed by farm sanctuaries as well as John Robbins, author or "Food Revolution" and "Diet For A New America" and also by Neal Barnard, MD, founder of PCRM.org and revolutionary clinical researcher.
When I learnt about how Sarah cured a large ovarian cyst through her diet only, I was reminded yet again of the healing power of the food we eat. For the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids event, Sarah is sharing with us her quick and easy Broccoli Tomato Pasta recipe. But let's get to know Sarah a little bit more first.

  1. When did you start your blog and what triggered your interest in writing a vegan food blog?
    Veggie-Kids began back in 2009 after I was diagnosed with a large ovarian cyst. Wanting to avoid surgery, I went on a mission to heal myself through plants (foods, teas, tonics). I learned that although I was eating healthy at the time, my pH balance in my body was off. I healed myself completely within 2-3 weeks using plants only. At that point I was sold! I decided to dedicate a blog to keep track of the healthy foods I was making for myself and my family. Veggie-Kids.com has been growing ever since!

  2. Was the transition to a vegan diet challenging for yourself and your family?
    Becoming vegan wasn't much of a challenge for me as I was so motivated and amazed by the new world of foods that were opened up to me. My kids were fine with it as they've always loved healthy foods since that's what I've fed them from the start. Kids seem to be excited by whatever the grown-ups in their household are excited about though (i.e., if mom likes veggies, kids most likely will too!)

    My husband is a meat-eater and although I've tried to change him, he's set in his ways. He has come around to drinking green smoothies every morning and eating much healthier though! ;)

  3. What type of vegetable dishes have you found to be most successful with children?
    I've done a lot of research finding out what vegan meals families and kids would like best. While many families here in America prefer dishes with cheese such as lasagna or mac'n cheese, they also like foods you can eat with your hands like tacos. The very best veggie-filled meals that kids will actually eat are the ones they participate in making. If a child has a chance to pick out a few ingredients from the grocery store and help prepare the meal, they are so much more likely to eat and enjoy it!

  4. How do you deal with your children when they refuse to eat a particular vegetable or dish?
    In dealing with a child's refusal to eat a vegetable or dish I think parents need to chill! I believe in intuitive eating and kids are the best at this, as long as they have healthy choices. So I suggest parents give their kids 2-3 healthy options if they're a picky eater. That gives the power back to the child but it's still a win-win because they only have a healthy choice to make. For example, if the child refuses to eat his broccoli, don't make a big deal out of it (although I would suggest reading my book "The Boy Who Loved Broccoli" to them!). Just set out some other options like cauliflower or salad leaves with salad dressing to dip if they like.

    I like to tell parents to look at the whole week of their child's eating, not just a day's worth. Most likely, they're getting in all their nutrients over a few days. Most of us have seen a baby or toddler only want to eat one or two foods only over and over again. Once their body has had enough of whatever nutrient they're craving, they will move on!

  5. Do you have any tips for vegans mums or parents to make dinner preparation quicker and more appetizing for kids?
    In making mealtime a smoother process, I suggest setting out a plate of freshly cut veggies, bell peppers and olives-making it look fun and colorful. So while mom (or dad) is cooking the meal, the kids are munching away on healthy stuff. This also eases parents minds when their child refuses a vegetable at dinnertime because they know he/she ate some healthy goodies before dinner!

  6. Can you talk a little about your illustration books - “The Boy Who Loved Broccoli” and your newest one “Clover’s Great Escape”? What inspired you to write them?
    My two children's books are both now available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle. My first book, "The Boy Who Loved Broccoli", was to help kids get excited about eating their green vegetables. It's had great success as I've heard from many parents who were amazed at their kids reaction after reading the book to them. They actually are eager to eat broccoli and get superpowers! It was designed to help alleviate that struggle parents have with getting their kids to eat veggies.

    My brand new children's book "Clover's Great Escape" was based on a real-life events. It's about a cow who escapes the slaughterhouse and eventually finds her way into a farm sanctuary. I wrote this book to raise our consciousness about factory farming. It's a real problem in many countries and effects so many things, not just the animals and our bodies but our waterways, our ozone layer, our world. Written in a gentle way, "Clover's Great Escape" was endorsed by farm sanctuaries who loved it as well as two people I highly respect in the plant-based eating industry; John Robbins, author or "Food Revolution" and "Diet For A New America" and also by Neal Barnard, MD, founder of PCRM.org and revolutionary clinical researcher.

    Both books can be found at Veggie-Kids.com or Amazon.com.

      
  7.    
  8. Are there any other projects you are working on?
    As far as future projects, I am currently working hard on a 30-day vegan dinner eCourse I've now officially opened enrollment for my eCourse, The 30-Day Vegan, where moms and dads can sign up to learn how to cook easy, family-friendly vegan dinners for 30 days. I've created delicious recipes that have been kid-tested and approved. The eCourse will include includes meal plans, shopping lists, support and bonus material. I'm hoping to have it launched in late July '14! The course starts August 1st. Enroll here.

  9. Anything else you would like to share?
    People wanting more help with vegan eating can get my FREE Vegan Starter Guide at Veggie-Kids.com, along with a FREE Vegan Q & A's guide, answering the most common questions and concerns about going vegan.




Quick Broccoli Tomato Pasta

This is a fantastic go-to meal during the week when you're pressed for time. Have your kids help you wash the veggies or stir the onions. It's also great served cold the next day for lunch!



Ingredients (makes 8 servings)
1 lb. (16 oz.) whole wheat rotini pasta
1 1/2 tsp. coconut oil (for sautéing)
1 small yellow onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cup fresh broccoli florets
2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
Sea salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Bring water to a boil in a large pot and cook pasta al dente.
  • Meanwhile, sauté onion in a large skillet over medium heat in the coconut oil. Stir and sauté until onions become translucent, about 5-7 minutes, then add garlic and turn heat to low.
  • Stir in vegetable bouillon cube and broccoli, turning the heat back up to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add in tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and cooked pasta. Drizzle with olive oil and toss well.

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Thank you Sarah for being part of this wonderful event!


Connect with Sarah:
Veggie-Kids blog
Facebook
Twitter
Youtube (check out her awesome videos!)








Visit the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 event main page for updates on participating guest bloggers every week until August 2014.
If you haven't already, follow Veganlovlie by email by clicking on the envelope icon in the sidebar at the top then enter your email address. Or you can subscribe to the Veganlovlie's Sunshine Newsletter.

If you want to link to this event, grab the banner below.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Bringing out the "Kitch" in Risotto



Enlivened by the food culture that I've experienced from having lived in a few countries, my time spent in Europe has opened up my fascination for the Mediterranean cuisine more than I could ever have imagined. Sure enough, with the click of a mouse, nowadays you can "travel" to any country's kitchen, but living the experience is astoundingly peerless. Of the many dishes that I have literally come to enjoy, risotto has been one that it is now pretty much a bi-weekly menu staple at the Lovlie Cocoon.

Where this dish gains its singularity though is from my inherited Mauritian food culture. While I have blogged about what the Mauritian cuisine is like before, it is always an enchantment to hear about your home country from the perspective of a foreigner. Much to surprise today, I came across a colleague who has actually been to Mauritius for a three-week vacation. She described Mauritius as this land lost in the middle of the Indian Ocean where you have people from Indian, Chinese and African origins all mix up in one pot but where the common spoken language  is a Creole-French. Well that's pretty much a concise all-rounder description. Back to the food culture, kitchri is a wonderful homey lightly spiced rice dish that is popular in many Mauritian households and inherited from India. It is cooked with lentils and / or dal (yellow split peas or mung dal) which melt into the rice resulting into a hearty meal of earthy comfort. In Mauritius, this rice dish is very often accompanied by a Mauritian Rougail.
Medleyed with my love for spices and a little bit of added Mauritian pizzazz,  on one day where a one pot rice dish was calling, I whizzed up something between a traditional vegan risotto and a kitchri.
Featuring turmeric infused dal and red lentils into an oozy brown rice 45-minute one-pot meal with no added oil, I quite inadvertently coined the term kitchrisotto - when risotto meets kitchri.



Turmeric Infused Dal and Red Lentil Kitchrisotto

1 cup brown rice
1 cup chana dal
1/2 cup red lentils
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cube vegetable bouillon
4 - 5 stems fresh thyme
2 carrots
1 broccoli head
8 - 10 fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt (or to taste)
Coriander for garnish


  • Rinse the rice, dal and lentils several times until water is clear. Place the grains, along with turmeric, bouillon cube and thyme in a deep cooking pot with 5 cups of water.
  • Cover and let cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes. You may need to occasionally uncover if water and froth is boiling over; in this case, just give it a good stir and position the lid so that it is partly uncovered. Also check the water level and add as required until rice and dal is soft.
  • (Freezing tip: you may freeze a portion of this cooked rice, dal and lentils mix for later, then just defrost and add fresh vegetables for next time. A great time saver.)
  • While grains are cooking, prepare the vegetables. Dice the carrots, slice the mushrooms and cut the broccoli into small florets.
  • Add the vegetables to the rice pot. If most liquid have been absorbed add some more water to enable the vegetables to cook; since this is a risotto, we want it to be oozy.
  • Cover and cook for another 12 - 15 minutes until vegetables are soft or al dente (if you prefer them that way).
  • Turn off heat, garnish with fresh finely chopped coriander and serve.

This makes a great packed lunch.

On another note, watch for the next post which will feature our first guest for the exciting Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 event hosted here for the month of July and August 2014. If you have a kid-friendly recipe that you would like to share for this event, drop me a line at veganlovlie at gmail dot com or by using the contact form at the bottom (in the footer) of the page.

Also, have you checked out the awesome posts at the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck?

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014


Character illustrations on poster - Kevin Mangaroo.
Poster design - Teenuja Dahari

Now that Summer is in full swing, a few blogging friends and I have teamed up to present to you the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 virtual event.

Do we not all agree that healthy eating habits should start right at an early age?

While some kids enjoy eating their vegetables, others need more encouragement and motivation to do so. Very often, they will turn their nose up even after you've put so much effort into preparing a dish you think they will like. I don't have children of my own but I do remember the creative ways my mum would devise to make dinner time more appetising. For busy mums, time is a key factor. A while ago, we presented some effective tips on how you can encourage your child to eat more vegetables.

So, what is this event about?
The Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 is a virtual event, hosted by me at Veganlovlie.com where I would be featuring fellow blogging friends throughout the month of July to mid-August. Each blogger will be presenting a kid-friendly vegan recipe that highlights vegetables to inspire parents and to get kids to eat more veggies. Let's make Summer 2014 an unforgettable one both for parents and kids.

We have a selected list of featured guest bloggers for this event, but if you write a vegan-related blog and have a kid-friendly recipe that you would like to share for this event, drop me a line at veganlovlie at gmail dot com or by using the contact form at the bottom (in the footer) of the page. I will be more than happy to feature your recipe here during this event.

You can also share this event by grabbing the poster above or the banner below and link to this post which will be updated with the featured guest bloggers and recipes every week.

Whether you are a busy mum looking for inspiration or you've decided to become vegan and are finding it difficult to convince your kids to do the same, come and join us for this exciting event. Meet new bloggers and try some of their tried and true recipes that work. But most of all let the kids have a blast with vegetables this summer!

Recipes from our featured bloggers:


Saturday, 28 June 2014

Oats Gone Coconut!

A long overdue video which should probably have been posted a few years ago along with what has now become my most visited post to date - Homemade Oat Milk. However, not until when I recently stumbled upon this post from The Tropical Vegan, that I gave my homemade oat milk a whole new spin. It's those moments when you can't help tap yourself on the head thinking why haven't I thought of that before. Seriously, I do sometimes make coconut milk from the desiccated flakes but never have I thought of mixing the two. Indeed, a tablespoon of coconut flakes along with the oats makes a whole lot of difference to the milk. It helps the oat particles hold together better and lessens the sliminess. I never make oat milk any other way now, definitely a keeper. Since both Boyfriendlovlie and I are allergic to most nuts and we have reduced our soy milk consumption to almost zero, the Lovlie Cocoon never goes by a week without at least three batches of oat milk made. We use it in our teas, smoothies, cereals, sauces, baking, you name it.

I've used quick oats, which require no soaking, in the recipe but I have recently started to use oat groats soaked overnight, drained and rinsed before grinding in the same way. Organic oat groats, that I have started to buy in bulk, make a tastier milkier consistency and are cheaper too. If you are allergic to gluten, use gluten free oats.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

A Pop of Frozen Coziness

Balmy days of late Spring are giving way to warmer ones despite the occasional thundery storms and rattling downpour which seems to have taken quite the bigger slice of the cake this season. Added to this, the 9-to-5 humdrum of work routine barely leaves a splinter of time to mellow out into the enjoyment of Summer days. And yet, because a girl has got to grab a pop of Summer, a frozen treat merely becomes a well-deserved reward if not a necessity.

Watermelon Pineapple Fruitsicles

I have had my days of store-bought nasties with added gums and sugar along with so-called "natural flavours". Oh, no, I want to enjoy the finer things with a dainty homemade popsicle made with 100% fruit, no added sugar. As easy as blending fruits for a smoothie, these ice pops have literally cozied my heart leaving me wonder why I ever bought the commercial ones in the first place. Pineapple makes a perfect ingredient for fruitsicles as they create a creamy froth when blended at high speed. Pair it with watermelon and you get a unique combination that freezes well into a grainier ice texture rather than a solid block. Isn't it true that sometimes the best of things are just the simplest ones?

4 - 6 fruitsicles (depending on mold size)

2 cups watermelon (cut into cubes)
1 cup pineapple pieces (I used fresh pineapple)
1 banana
4 dates
Handful of frozen blueberries (or other fruits cut into small pieces)


  • Add all ingredients, except blueberries, to a blender.
  • Blend at high speed until very smooth and slightly frothy.
  • Place a few blueberries or fruit pieces into each mold.
  • Pour smoothie into popsicle molds.
  • Freeze for at least 3 hours before serving.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

C is for ChuChai

Aside the celebrations, birthdays serve as an irreplicable reminder of the fleet-footedness of yet another year gone by. While I am not one for new year nor birthday resolutions, cuddling up in my thoughts recapping on the past year is as unavoidable as it is replenishing, giving me ground to refocus and reflect on how far I've come. The future is left to its own devise; most of the time, I allow myself to be lulled by the gentle waves of life where decisions seem to take care of themselves as long as I keep myself centered and grounded.

So much has transpired during the past years with changes that have all turned out for the better for Boyfriendlovlie and I, despite the stirring ups and less exciting downs that goes along with immigration procedures. Eighteen months since we first touched the land of the maple leaf have flown by like a breeze. Last month we celebrated both our birthdays, which are just a couple of days apart. So, we tend to celebrate some time in the middle or just push it to the closest weekend. As it so happenned, we planned our little celebration for the second weekend in May. The plan was to spend the mid-afternoon just the two of us strolling about in Montréal's underground city followed by a classic evening with vegan fine dining and a movie to finish the day off.

Montreal's famous underground city has been one of the many places that was on my list to visit. The peculiarity of it, first thing is that you may well be inside it already or standing at the front of an entrance and still be looking for it! Well, that was pretty much what happened to us - Google map indicated we were there but there were no signs that specifically said underground city. A little common sense told us to just not get out of the metro station and instead find an alley that leads deeper inside. And there, from McGill metro, a vast gallery of shops, food court leading to a cinema theatre opened up to us spanned on a 32-kilometre area. In fact, many parts of the "underground city" are above ground, weaving through office buildings, cultural centres, universities and civic institutions. While this is somewhat a tourist attraction, the real concept behind it was undoubtedly to serve as a convenient way of getting from one place to another on those brutal winter days when the temperature plummets horribly below -20 degrees Celsius. Since we do not live on the metro network or close enough, we only got to visit the underground city in Spring. Otherwise, I would have much appreciated the convenience of it many times during the winter season.

Here's a few photos I captured above ground around the Place des Arts metro on our way towards ChuChai Fine Dining Restaurant for dinner.







Finally close to the restaurant, we could not miss the huge C signpost, making it so easy to find.



We were greeted by a very amiable friendly waiter who was so full of life, literally the kind of person whom you cannot but have a light heart by just being around them. The beautiful mid-Spring day called us for seating on the patio as we enjoyed the gentle light breeze while perusing through the menu.



ChuChai exults in a solely Thai vegan menu. The restaurant's chef, Lily Sirikittikul, strives to recreate the shapes, textures and flavours of beef, chicken, shrimp and fish from soy, seitan and other plant-based products with a good selection of gluten-free dishes in the best, freshest exoticness that Thailand has to offer.

From our previous experience of ordering too much food, we decided we were only going for a main course each and one salad to share; besides we only had one hour before our movie would start.

Boyfriendlovlie ordered a Fried "Chicken" Noodle dish which I cannot remember the exact name of; ChuChai does not have their menu available online and I never took notes of what we ordered that day. Unlike me, Boyfriendlovlie does not mind faux meat. The noodle dish was an instant hit! Bursting with an amalgam of so many indistinguishable exotic flavours, this dish sure made it admirably hard to decipher each one. Boyfriendlovlie said he felt envious that he would not actually be able to reproduce this dish by himself. Attempting to reproduce restaurant dishes has almost become one of our restaurant review motto.



For my part, as I tend to steer clear of the faux meats, I figured out the vegan "shrimp" may be an interesting one to try since seafood is something I could probably still eat. "Shrimp" in a Coconut Milk sauce was my choice. And again, this is not the name of the actual dish as per the menu.



An intricate mix of fresh and dense sensation with the distinctive taste of galangal made this dish amiable for this mild mid-Spring weather. With brown rice as accompaniment, the mingled textures were quite remarkably unique.



The humble cucumber salad that we shared had quite some character of its own with a gorgeous quintessential Thai sweet chili dressing and a hint of tanginess.



Since everything on the menu is vegan, we vowed to ourselves to revisit again. If faux is not your thing, ChuChai does have a nice selection of wholesome vegetable or tofu dishes on the menu. And for those of you living with an omnivore partner, it's the perfect place to go for fine dining and keep everyone happy.

4088, rue St-Denis
Montréal, Québec
H2W 2M5

After our satisfyingly memorable meal, we made our way to the theatres to end this beautiful day watching The Amazing Spider-man 2. Both of us are utter fans of Spider-man. Isn't his wittiness killing cool? This one was utterly much bigger on the action scenes.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Effective Ways On How You Can Encourage Your Child To Eat Vegetables

Guest posts presented here have so far been deliberately limited, but when Lily Sommers proposed such an interesting topic, I could not turn this one down. Although I don't have children of my own, I do remember the creative ways my mum would devise to make dinner more appetizing. Neither my sister nor I were picky eaters; Mum did it just for the love, captivating and inspiring me, in the process, into culinary adventures of my own. If you are a parent with persnickety kids when it comes to eating vegetables, then read on; Lily has some helpful tips.




Eating vegetables benefit children in multiple ways -- decreased obesity risk, improved nutrition, and better school performance. The green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamin B, beta-carotene, and vitamin A that can strengthen their immune system to combat diseases and bacterial infections. Serving them with carrots can also improve their vision and give them healthy-growing teeth and strong gums. Vincent Iannelli M.D., resident nutritionist for About.com Pediatrics, recommends at least two servings of fruits and three to five servings of vegetables every day, for children ages 2 to 6, as they require higher nutrient to support their body’s quick development and growth.

Unfortunately, most children don’t meet this requirement at all. The Ohio State research published by the San Francisco Gate in 2011 said that only 22% of toddlers and preschoolers and 16% of children ages 6 to 11 meet their required nutrition. Apart from lack of availability in local grocery stores, the study shows that children in nature hate the bitter taste derived from most vegetables. Today, we will give you an idea on how you can encourage your child to eat vegetables without the need to force them.


Start Early

Whole9life.com suggested that the first on the list is for you to start early. If you are still carrying your child, you can eat plenty of vegetables for your baby to build up a taste for these healthy foods while inside your womb, said the researchers from Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. “Flavors from the mother's diet during pregnancy are transmitted to amniotic fluid and swallowed by the fetus,” the study concludes. In the event that they start eating solid food as a toddler, practice feeding them with softly boiled potatoes and carrots.


Perseverance

Your child may hate a particular food you serve today and love it on the following day. In line with this, David Egan of Parents For Health discussed the importance of parent’s perseverance on a similar blog. He believes that sometimes, your child needs to be presented with a new food multiple times before they will start eating it. There is no harm in trying to prepare three servings on a daily basis. If your child hates carrots, just keep serving them (in different recipes). They may eventually try them if they see that you exert a great deal of effort in trying to convince them.




Small Portions

In your initial weeks of introducing a vegetarian diet for your child, you should only keep their portions small. Dr. John Lee of Virginia Hopkins Test Kits said, “if your child will only eat three mouthfuls of peas and one carrot stick, that’s just fine.” They don’t need large portions of vegetables as it will just give them more pressure to conform. As suggested by M&S Health and Nutrition resource, children over the age of 5 “can eat the same meals as the rest of the family, including more starchy foods and plenty of fruit and vegetables- but watch their portion sizes and the amount of saturated fat they are eating.” If you serve them cooked beans, always research about its nutritional content. It might be high in vitamin B and organic protein, but it can also be high in uric acid.


Serve Them While They Are Hungry

“If they’re hungry, they’ll eat,” said Dr. Ann Kulze, family physician and author of "Eat Right for Life" on CNN health. Before serving the proper meals you’ve prepared on the dining table, serve an appetizer of
vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, red bell peppers, steamed broccoli, beans, sugar snap peas, and colorful vegetables for your children to munch on.




Appetizing Fruit And Vegetables

Children will likely to eat fruits and vegetables if they see it as presentable and appetizing. Be creative when making your preparations. Try the following ideas:
  • Use cookie cutters to shape fruits and vegetables into cool shapes and/or cartoon characters.
  • Arrange the vegetables’ placement on their dinning plate to make it appear like a rainbow.
  • You can also play with their sandwiches with shapes and faces made from vegetables.




Start A Garden With Your Child

Most grocery stores lack fresh vegetables. Thus, you should grow your own source of these healthy foods. When starting a vegetable garden, involve your children in the process. There is a greater chance that they will eat the veggies that they grow themselves.



These are some of the effective ways on how you can encourage them to eat healthy vegetables. As parents, do you have other means of doing this? Share them below.


About the Author

Lily Sommers is a proud vegetarian. She believes that these healthy food groups should be promoted to young children for them to grow healthy and well-nourished. This contribution for Vegan Lovlie is a result of her intensive research and experience with her niece. Connect with Lily via Google+.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

When The Munchies Attack



If you are a nut-allergy sufferer, then you will undoubtedly agree that finding a satisfying savoury snack is no easy endeavour and even more so when you are on the move. Coupled with this, the inconvenience (to say the least) of also being a seed-allergy sufferer, basically leaves me clueless as to what to munch on to sate the occasional hunger pang.

Kale chips -- the homemade version -- has been quite verily the pacifier of the munchies at the Lovlie Cocoon for a while now. However, leave them a tad too long in the oven and scorched chips is no pleasant surprise.

While roasted chickpeas would probably be the next runner-up for a nut-free seed-free snack, its cousin -- the brown chickpea -- does not get a fair share of attention in western cuisine nor is it commonly found in local supermarkets. I get mine at the Indian or Asian store.

Toothsomely chewy, while being smaller than regular chickpeas, the texture is not utterly different. Hinted with woodsy notes of a nutty aroma topped by a denser toasted taste, these beans make quite a unique ingredient in many dishes.

Do not be fooled by the short list and simplicity of ingredients, fenugreek, fresh thyme and chilies are the perfect trio to bring out the best splash of flavour in this humble preparation. Infact, spiced brown chickpeas are a much loved street food and snack in Mauritius. Accompany this with a large salad and you could wholeheartedly enjoy a decent complete meal.



Spiced Brown Chickpea Snack

Serves 5 - 6
200g dried brown chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek (you may substitute with yellow mustard seeds if you are not allergic)
6 - 7 stems of fresh thyme (pick the leaves)
4 - 5 hot green chilies (you may also use dried red chilies)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (vegetable oil is also good)
Salt to taste

  • Soak the brown chickpeas overnight or for at least 8 hours. Once soaked, drain the water.
  • Place chickpeas in a deep pan, cover with fresh water so that water is just covering the chickpeas.
  • Cover and boil until chickpeas are soft (about 40 minutes). You may need to lift the cover and remove the froth from time to time to avoid overflowing.
  • Add water if it dries out.
  • Once boiled, drain and discard all water and keep chickpeas aside.
  • In a skillet or fry pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium heat.
  • Add fenugreek. Allow to roast for about 30 seconds to release the aroma but do not let it burn.
  • Next add chickpeas, chilies and thyme.
  • Mix well and sauté for 5 - 7 minutes.
  • Add salt to taste. Turn off heat.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

By the way, you should check out the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Hibiscus Superflower Berry-licious Smoothie



For its great benefits like lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and contributing to a healthy immune system due to its high Vitamin C content, Hibiscus Tea, often known as the Superflower tea, is very popular across the planet. In fact, the hibiscus flower is edible and can be eaten cooked, raw, pickled, as a spice, or even as a food dye. However, despite the nice floral fragrance, hibiscus tea has a somewhat sour taste which, I believe, some people do enjoy. As for me, my sweet tooth tempts me to add sweeteners like maple syrup which is still sugar and not ideal. I could use stevia but I am absolutely not a fan of the latter for its aspartame-like aftertaste. Instead, from my previous concoctions of adding herbal infusions to my smoothies, like in this Apricot Elderflower Refresher Smoothie or this Warm Spiced Tea Strawberry-Banana Smoothie, I've decided to turn this floral wonder into a Superflower berry-licious beverage. You can sieve out all the flowers but I decided to add half of the soaked flowers to the smoothie. This is what gave it this intense rich red colour you see in the picture!

Hibiscus Tea should be available in health stores but I get mine online from Shanti Tea. They have a really nice selection of teas and reasonably priced; you should check them out.



Hibiscus Superflower Berry-licious Smoothie

1 tablespoon dried hibiscus tea flowers
1/2 cup boiling water for brewing
5 strawberies
8 - 10 raspberries
4 dates, pitted and chopped
1 banana

Brew the hibiscus tea in the boiling water for about 5 minutes. Allow tea to cool.



Once tea is cooled, add the brewed tea, 1/2 of the soaked flowers, and the rest of the ingredients to a blender and process till smooth. Add water to thin out if desired.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1 serving (415.3 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories
320
Calories from Fat
13
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
1.4g
2%
Saturated Fat
0.2g
1%
Cholesterol
0mg
0%
Sodium
4mg
0%
Potassium
927mg
26%
Total Carbohydrates
80.5g
27%
Dietary Fiber
20.5g
82%
Sugars
47.5g
Protein
4.8g
Vitamin A 2%Vitamin C 181%
Calcium 8%Iron 12%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

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