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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Fat-free Vegan Lemon Cake with Banana Butter Topping

Fat-free Banana Lemon Cake

I’ve seen banana cake with lemon frosting but how about swapping them around? And so, I made lemon cake with banana butter topping. It was delicious!

The recipe is fat-free (apart from natural fat from the bananas), so I could enjoy with a little bit less guilt!

You can prepare the banana topping in advance and keep it in the fridge. I usually do this when I have overripe bananas. It usually stays for up to a week in an air tight container.

I’ve never frozen banana butter before but I’m sure it should be fine in the freezer too.

Banana butter kept in the fridge might become too firm to spread; to loosen just add 1 tablespoon water and pop in the microwave for 30 seconds or so.

I’ve used demerara sugar for the cake which is why it turned out brown. You can use white sugar if you wish for a lighter colour cake but the apple puree will still add some browness.


Ingredients (8 servings):

Banana Butter:
6 large bananas
3 tablespoons soft brown sugar (or demerara)
Water

Cake:
1 large lemon (juice and rind)
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup demerara sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 apple
1 tablespoon vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
1 tablespoon vanilla
Water

  • Make banana butter; peel and cut bananas into slices. Mash lightly.
  • Place in a non-stick pan with sugar. Cook on medium heat until banana is light brown.
  • Occasionally stir and mash bananas while cooking. Add water from time to time if mixture is too dry. (This will depend on the type of bananas, some have more moisture). The end result should be a spreadable consistency.
  • Set aside to use later.
  • Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Put flour, sugar and baking soda into a mixing bowl. Mix them together.
  • Peel and cut the apple into small pieces. Place in a measuring cut and puree using a hand blender. (A jug blender is also fine but I find a hand one more practical for this).
  • Grate all the lemon rind into the measuring cup.
  • Then, cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice from both halves into the measuring cup.
  • Add water (if required) to the rind, lemon juice and apple puree mixture until you have filled one cup or just slightly (about 2 tablespoons) more.
  • Pour the puree mixture into your bowl of dry ingredients.
  • Add vanilla.
  • Add vinegar.
  • Mix well. Mixture will foam a little.
  • Pour into a lightly greased 11-inch / 28 cm pie pan.
  • Smear the top with the banana butter. I used a fork to even out the banana butter and ‘drew’ some circular stripe.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, or until cake is dry at the centre.

Edit: Just letting you know that I've added a little poll on the side to find out what type of measurements people prefer in general.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Potato Salad with Santini Tomatoes

potato,santini tomato

I’m at home today! Yay! No work! It’s so good to have a day off with nothing to do on the schedule. I usually work just 3 days a week but I still have a lot of things to do for the remaining days. But today, I decided to just switch off from everything and spend a lazy day at home and have lunch decently in the comfort of the sofa!


I made this salad last night for dinner. I had it with roasted butternut squash, broccoli and humous. No photos of the dinner, I was too hungry! But I decided to have this salad again for lunch today. There was some leftovers, so I added a few more bits to it and rejuvenated my potato salad!


I saw these Santini tomatoes in M&S the other day and have been eyeing them since! I’m glad Boyfriendlovlie went to buy them! They are really good, bursting with flavour!

santini tomato


I’ve put vegan mayonnaise as one of the ingredients but if you don’t have any, then I definitely recommend
this Soy Mayo from Celine; so quick and easy to make and cheaper than vegan mayonnaise. I’ve actually used this in the recipe with a few changes to the recipe. I didn't have any agave nectar so I just used 1 teaspoon of demerara sugar, I also didn't put any lemon zest. I used lemon juice instead of apple cider vinegar.

This salad would be great for a lunch box too!

Ingredients (2 – 3 servings, depending on your portion size)
2 medium sized potatoes
5 – 6 santini tomatoes (cherry tomatoes are also good)
5 black pitted olives
5 green pitted olives
3 tablespoons small pickled mushrooms (I get those from Aldi. Canned mushrooms, chopped will also be fine)
3 - 4 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise (or this Soy Mayo)
Handful chopped parsley or any fresh herb of your choice
1 tablespoon shelled hemp seeds (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Boil potatoes skin on until tender but still firm.
  • Allow to cool, then cut into cubes. The skin pieces will come off while cutting them. You can leave them in or remove them.
  • Cut the santini tomatoes into 2 – 3 pieces. I decided to cut the santini tomatoes but you can leave them whole if you like.
  • Add all the remaining ingredients to the potatoes in a big salad bowl.
  • Sprinkle with some shelled hemp seeds if you like for some added protein.

potato,santini tomato

I had some leftover pasta shells that I tossed into the salad because I hate to waste food and I wouldn’t be using the pasta otherwise.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

100th Post!

It's my 100th post! Finally! I know I took a long time to reach 100 but I'm glad I've reached it! It was also my 1st bloganniversary about 2 months ago but I totally missed it; I been so busy lately! Becoming vegan is the best change that I've been able to introduce in my life so far and starting this blog is the best thing that happened after that. I've come across so many other interesting blogs and made some cool friends with so many other bloggers. I love the blog world and thanks to you, my readers and those who inspired me, this blog is still going good! :)

This post is also a reply to a comment I received on my previous post from someone anonymous who signed as Pipo. I made this into a post instead of just a reply to the comment because I feel there might be other readers who might have the same questions or concerns regarding how to make the shift to and maintain a vegan lifestyle or for those who might just be curious on the subject.


It's difficult to be vegan

I turned vegan when I was living in London in 2007. And I have lived in Mauritius for 1 year as a vegan. (This is when I started this blog as a motivation to help me through).

To adopt a complete vegan lifestyle in Mauritius is a bit hard, if not practically impossible; a lot of products are not available and hence I didn't have a choice for certain things. I tried to use herbal products whenever I could but I could not guarantee they were vegan. It's not as easy as it is to be vegan in the UK for example. London is a very vegan-friendly city by the way. However, in Mauritius, you can be a dietary vegan quite easily though, with a bit of planning (I’ll come back to this a bit later).

At the beginning you will definitely take time to adjust. I did not suddenly become vegan. It was a gradual process where I started cutting all the meat first, then milk, then fish and eggs followed by honey. Then I moved on to other products like beauty products, clothing, footwear etc.

It is practically very hard to be 100% vegan as we live in a totally vegan-unfriendly world. Sometimes you will be gutted to find out you've mistakenly bought/consumed something non-vegan (well, at least I do. At restaurants that just put non-vegan dressings on salads for example!). But you can try your best like every other vegan is.

There are a lot of food products that are starting to emerge; there are quite a few brands of soymilk available in Mauritius. You can also make your own soymilk if you buy the grains in bulk at grocery shops. (While in Mauritius I used to buy it in Port Louis near the market, in London and Dublin, any supermarkets or Chinese stores stock them. Google for homemade soymilk or this video gives you a good idea how to make soymilk at home (you’ll need a blender):


Not many places where to go eat outside?

Even over here in Dublin, Ireland, where I currently am, there are not that many places that I can go to. But I’ve never found food from outside that tasty anyway. Food prepared with love at home taste far better.

Although I do not recommend the consumption of overly processed foods, sometimes to save time you can buy vegan sausages and burgers in the Frys brand that are available at most supermarkets (any Way supermarkets in Mauritius usually stock them). These are very handy for bread fillers.

You will find your products around once you start being vegan. I found that when I started to become determined to get through this in Mauritius, things/products/whatever I needed were coming to me like I was a vegan magnet! And I was so happy!

And if you want to eat out from time to time, there are restaurants who might want to cook only vegetables for you. I even had a pizza without cheese once at Panarotti's in Beau Bassin (Mauritius). Ok, they were a bit shocked at the thought of having to make a pizza without cheese. I said I was allergic and Pizza Hut usually makes it for me (that wasn't true! haha!), and so, they made it! lol!

Photobucket

I know it's kind of cheating to say that I'm allergic, but most people don't have a clue what veganism is about and restaurants are more worried about making a profit rather than being ethical. But for me, as long as I am not contributing to the suffering of animals in my food, I believe I'm helping (even a little bit) to make this world a better place for every species to live in. We all have our ways of contributing to this world. I try my best to buy, consume and wear cruelty-free.


Always plan your week ahead to maintain a healthy diet

If you are going to rely on food outside everyday, this might not be the healthiest option. For example, like Pipo mentioned, dhal puri (dhal puri is a typical Mauritian style Indian bread made with dhal) and roti (Indian bread, usually served with vegetable curry in Mauritius) contains too much fat to be consumed daily.

A bit of planning will certainly help. Plan your week ahead - make a list of what you intend to cook for each day of the week, then do your shopping.


Make your own lunch

Some ideas:
Make some humous ahead of time; it keeps for 4 - 5 days in the fridge. You can use this as a spread in bread with salad. Humous is not popular in Mauritius and yet is so easy to make and so tasty. It is basically like a chutney made with boiled chickpeas.

A nice and easy humous recipe from Recipezaar.
(If you can’t find tahini in Mauritius, just replace by 1-2 teaspoons sesame seeds)

Or another simple one from Celine’s blog.

Cook extra the day before for dinner, then take leftovers for lunch. There are a lot of vegan blogs out there that have loads of ideas for lunch and other meals. Vegetables with pasta / couscous are easy meals to prepare.

Some sites to browse for easy recipes:

http://www.simpleveganrecipes.co.uk/
http://www.chooseveg.com/

And for easy plus sensational recipes go to Jessi’s (Happy Vegan Face) recipe index. It’s impressive, so don’t be scared, most recipes are easy to follow. I particularly like the patties and burgers section! Yum!


Invest in a vegan cookbook

You can invest in a good vegan cookbook. Ok, for this one, I’ll have to rely on the advice of my vegan readers who own vegan cookbooks.

What would you recommend to new/aspiring vegans?

I only own Now Vegan by Lynda Stoner and it is pretty good. There’s a good variety of recipes and of course you don’t have to follow them exactly. Recipe books are mostly there for inspiration then just use what you have on hand and create!


Snacks

If you are not allergic to nuts (I am, unfortunately), they are quite handy wholesome snacks to eat anytime during the day. Not too much though, because they have a high fat content.

Always carry some fruits in your bag with you. I find bananas are quite good for hunger pangs! Grapes and mandarins / satsumas are great at any time you want some extra energy!

Well, any fruits you like will do.


It's expensive to be vegan

If you plan and are willing to make the effort, a vegan lifestyle is no more expensive than a non-vegan one. Buy in bulk if you have space. Food stuffs like grains, pulses, potatoes keep well for a long time. Buying them in bulk will reduce the cost. If you have a back garden or balcony, think about growing some vegetables and herbs.

Being vegan will certainly improve your health which means less trip to the doctor's and less money spent on medical treatment and medecines. Turning vegan doesn't mean you won't need any medical attention at all. However, medication will help treat the problem on a short term basis while being vegan is a long term option to target the cause of diseases in general. For me it's long term and constant health improvement!


Need some inspiration (to help end animal suffering and reduce environmental pollution)?

I was often very much bugged by people who were trying to dissuade me from being vegan at the beginning. This happens even until now. I watched this 'Meet your meat' video (and many others that you can find on Youtube, search for vegan videos):
Warning: this video contains disturbing scenes

I cry every time I watch this! I recommend you do watch it completely, and you will never need more inspiration than this to be vegan! This is what I think of every time I'm been 'attacked' about my vegan lifestyle. Then I know I'm doing something that makes me feel right about myself.


Happiness and Health!

After being vegan for 2 years, I don't regret anything at all. It's the best thing I've ever done in my life. My family is now also trying to reduce their meat consumption. BoyfriendLovlie (also vegan) and I, together we've influenced quite a few people who are now very happy and thankful!

My health is so much better. My cholesterol (yes, although quite slim, I had high cholesterol level at the age of 26!) has considerably gone down to a normal level without the use of any artificial methods like pills.


You can still be social

When I go out with friends and I know there won't be anything I can eat there, I just eat something in advance, then just have a drink with them.


Size matters!

The first thing that comes to people’s minds when they hear that you are vegan is that you must be super skinny! We all know this is not true. The rules are the same, to lose weight eat less calories that what you spend and to gain weight eat more protein and exercise.

If you think it’s difficult to gain muscular mass on a vegan diet then, this is Boyfriendlovlie before turning vegan and then after turning vegan with 16 months of training:

Boyfriendlovlie_before_after


Conclusion

I wanted to keep this short but I guess I did not want to leave out anything I wanted to say either. So I hope I’ve answered to some questions that most people interested in veganism generally ask themselves. By helping to end animal suffering and reduce environmental pollution, what you gain are personal satisfaction, achievement and great health!

One last advice I would give to aspiring vegans is to document themselves thoroughly on veganism and how to eat healthily on a vegan diet.

I wish you all a healthy vegan lifestyle!

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