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Wednesday, 30 September 2009

It's all happening in October!


October will be the busiest month of the year for me and for many other vegan bloggers (I assume) as well. I’ve decided to take up the challenge of joining the VeganMoFo this year. VeganMoFo means ‘Vegan Month of Food’ and it’s about writing as much as you can for the month of October about vegan food. The idea is to post every single weekday (or a least 20 days in the month). It will be my first time participating. You can sign up if you want (before October 2nd) at Kittee's blog. You don't have to be vegan to participate but you just need to blog about vegan food for the month of October.


But not only that, I also joined the Daring Kitchen up for the Daring Bakers and the Daring Cooks challenge this month!


So, loads of grocery shopping, cooking, photography, blogging and of course best of all eating! I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with all this plus work and college but I’ll sure keep up with the eating bit!

I'm very excited to see what bloggers will be posting!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

World Heart Day

World Heart Day


Today is World Heart Day. More and more people are dying each year of cardiovascular diseases, the main causes of which being tobacco, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.


We cannot stress enough the importance of healthy eating.

vegetables


fruits


But to really look after your heart, physical activity should complement a healthy diet. Even as little as 20 minutes of brisk walking a day will help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Loads of activities have been organized today across the world for World Heart Day.
From my part, I went wall climbing for the first time with Boyfriendlovlie and Sisterlovlie. It was serious fun and I will definitely do it again. Wall climbing targets muscles that I would not usually exercise during my training, especially the forearms. Really good cardio and strength training!

If you’re looking for something different to do, try the vertical limit! Look after your heart!


I leave you with some pictures of me on the wall! I felt like Spiderlovlie!

Wall Climbing

Wall Climbing

Wall Climbing

Vegan Yogurt Cupcakes

Vegan yogurt cupcakeVegan yogurt cupcake

I had never actually made a vegan yogurt cake before. So, I experimented a little bit and it turned out really nice, soft and moist. I made cupcakes but I also tried this in a loaf pan which was nice too. I am not entirely happy about the frosting though. I made it with extra firm tofu, vegan margarine and soft dark brown sugar. But I could get a hint of the tofu in it and I don’t particularly like that. Maybe I need some more experimentation on this like adding flavours. So I’m not posting the frosting recipe here. But the cake itself was really nice and I’ll definitely make it again!

The recipe is loosely based, veganised and made nut-free from this recipe on the BBC Goodfood website. BTW, have I ever mentioned how much I love that website?!

I am also now providing measurements in metric and cups as I can see there is almost equal preference for both (based on the poll I did a while ago; you can still see it in the side bar ).



Ingredients (about 20 cupcakes)

3 cups (300g) plain flour
1½ cups (150g) dark soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon (7g) baking powder
1 teaspoon (7g) baking soda
¾ cup (150ml) melted vegan margarine
1 cup (200ml / 240g) soy yogurt (I used a strawberry flavoured one)
Juice from ½ lime (or lemon)
½ cup (100 ml) soy milk
1 tablespoon (10ml) vinegar (I used rice vinegar)

  • Preheat oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
  • Place vinegar in soy milk and let stand (until needed).
  • Mix flour and sugar. Add baking powder and baking soda. Mix thoroughly.
  • Add the lime juice to the yogurt. Stir well.
  • Pour the melted margarine onto the flour mixture.
  • Then add the yogurt. Stir and mix.
  • Add the soy milk mixture. Mix well.
  • Pour 2 spoonfuls of batter mix into cupcake tray lined with paper cups.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Photobucket


Vegan yogurt cupcake

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Warm Rice Salad

warm rice salad

For a few days Boyfriendlovlie has been having some inspiration about a warm rice salad with aubergine and lentils. So, most of the credit for this yummy dish goes to him!

Inspired by Boyfriendlovlie and made by me, this is the power of synergy and we could taste the love in every mouthful of this warm salad. The texture and flavour were wonderful, the graininess of the rice and lentils, crunchiness of the celery, mushiness of the aubergine and spiciness of the chilies! Simply perfect for the beginning of this autumn season.


Warm Rice Salad (3-4 servings)

1 cup (150g) brown and wild rice mix (or just brown rice)
1 can green lentils, (or 1 cup (150g when dried) boiled but still firm) well drained
1 red onion, finely sliced and chopped
1 aubergine
3 celery stalks, chopped to small pieces
2-3 sundried tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
2-3 green chillies, chopped
1 tablespoon black bean sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vegan margarine
Small bunch chives finely chopped (for garnish)
Salt and pepper

  • Place rice in a deep container filled with water and bring to boil until cooked (but still firm and not mushy).
  • Drain well and lay on a plate. Allow to cool.
  • Cut the aubergine into relatively small pieces (bear in mind that they will be smaller when cooked). Sprinkle generously with salt, then cover with some water for about 2 minutes. Pour out the water and rinse out excess salt. Marinade in black bean sauce.
  • Pour the oil in a fry pan. Place aubergine pieces in the pan and fry, turning occasionally, until golden and soft. Remove from pan, set aside.
  • Place margarine in the pan. Allow to heat a little then add onions. Stir.
  • Then add lentils (make sure there is no water in lentils) and stir to coat every grain in the margarine.
  • Add chilies then sundried tomatoes and celery. Stir a few times.
  • Add rice (make sure rice is cool before adding, otherwise it will turn sticky in the pan). Stir a few times.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Garnish with some chives.
  • Enjoy warm and with love!

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Lovely Saturday!

Yesterday was a glorious Saturday. With the sun shining so bright, we had to go out and enjoy this lovely weather! We spent the day strolling in the city centre, had a late afternoon lunch and bought a few vegan foodstuffs at the health store. That’s my concept of a good day spent at leisure.

We bought lunch at Kokoro Sushi Bento on Lower Liffey Street in Dublin. It is mainly a sushi place (take out only) but they have a selection of curries with rice or noodles. There’s only one of the curries that’s vegan; I confirmed this with the girl there who said it didn’t contain any dairy, eggs or fish (some places do list fish as part of their vegetarian menu, I don’t really understand this!)

So, if you are in Dublin some day and looking for a vegan lunch that’s reasonably priced, then maybe you should try their Tofu Curry served with boiled rice. It’s a decent portion at €5.45.

tofu curry,tofu

Then, we went to Nourish, the health store on Wicklow Street (off Grafton Street). There are a few more Nourish stores around Dublin but this one has a fridge/freezer with some nice selection of frozen vegan foodstuffs.

We bought a tub of vegan ice-cream and a few other stuffs. I hadn’t had ice-cream in a long while and I had never tried the Swedish Glace brand before.

We bought the chocolate flavour (of course!) but there were a few more other flavours there.

Swedish Glace

When we got home, after a light salad for dinner, we just dug into the tub with generous portions each. It’s a really nice one! Creamy and smooth but light at the same time! That’s how I like ice-cream! I will definitely buy this again!
The tub was almost empty when I decided to take a picture!

Swedish Glace


Swedish Glace

Monday, 7 September 2009

Stillness Buddy

I am back! All recharged and renewed! I haven’t forgotten about you.

I’ve only been spending a lot more time with myself and more so, within myself; I needed to disconnect from my routine for a bit.

I have missed this blog though; it has, after all, become part of me ever since I created it. And to be back after so long feels so good!

When I started this blog I not only wanted to provide cruelty-free recipes to feed the body but also nourishment for the mind and spirit. I feel now is the time to share with you my own experience and reflections that might inspire and enlighten you. (So, this post is a different one from the usually recipe/food topic).

I realized that even feeding the body properly is not enough if you want to experience yourself in your full potential of being. And the mind and spirit are too often neglected. There is a distinction between physical energy gathered from food sources, and the life force that sustains the body and the soul.

Ever since I was very young I felt a calling towards discovering myself from within and as a child I used to listen to my inner voice. When I grew up I lost that feeling a little bit for a while but then I remembered how good it felt when I was a child to connect within myself and feel this vibration and energy.

As I grew up this feeling would come and go, reminding me every now and then that there is something more to this life. When I started asking more and more questions within myself, the answers would come one after the other in different forms. Sometimes I would come across a book, an article somewhere, a dream or I would just get a flash or sudden insight from within. I am sure we’ve all had these kinds of experiences in many different ways.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the soul is much hungrier for spiritual food (or knowledge) than the body is for physical food! The more knowledge I was receiving the more I wanted. It was like my hunger would never be satisfied. I realized knowledge alone would not suffice when I came across this book from Dan Millman – The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. It all became much clearer to me.

Quoting from the book: “No amount of knowledge will sustain or nourish your spirit; it can never bring you ultimate happiness or peace. Life requires more than knowledge, it requires intense feeling and constant energy. Life demands right action if knowledge is to come alive.”

I am now still slowly putting this knowledge into practice by doing a little everyday in various ways.

Basically the mind is there to be used merely as a tool to achieve what we want. So, one way of putting this knowledge into practice is to learn how to master this tool (or this mind of ours).

A cluttered restless mind is what creates a diseased body and a messy life. Illness starts with the mind. One way towards a healthier, peaceful and happier life is to occasionally put a break and stop the mind from thinking.

And, in my own experience, the best exercise for this is meditation. Meditation exists in many forms and levels and is now actually part of my everyday life and can be practiced every moment of the day.

In the world of today where everyone is living a busy lifestyle always doing, doing and doing, we don’t even stop to take the time to think about what is it we are actually doing! Multitasking is a common practice these days. It is even listed as a skill or job requirement in so many job adverts! People are on the phone and on the computer, eating lunch on the job or at their desk while working, dealing with half a dozen tasks at once. This is why so many mistakes are made!

We could start by doing one thing at a time, paying attention to it without judgment or comment or letting the mind drift elsewhere.

A still mind means allowing the mind to think when it is required to. Of course thoughts can not be stopped! But they can be directed to stay in the present moment and give full attention to the current action.

Be in the moment. From my own experience, the most boring tasks have miraculously become richer and more interesting by just focusing on the current action. Boredom usually arises from a busy chattering mind. A still mind learns something new with every moment.

The question is now how do we address this chattering mind? I have found the most effective ways to do this by a number of meditation techniques. However, there are some processes that is too involved or complicated and that actually incurs more thinking! We want to achieve a state of ‘no thinking’. So, any process has to be simple and direct with minimal instruction and technique.

The good news is I have recently been introduced to this simple software application – Stillness Buddy.

Stillness Buddy

Stillness Buddy, is a unique software application that helps you to be more aware of the present moment, feel calmer and more at peace, while working at the computer.

It is like mini-meditation sessions that you can have all through the day. It takes quite some energy for a person to be nice and more civilized, for example. And at the end of the day especially, we tend to get a little more irritable. This is because we are tired. We feel tired because our inner life force is low in energy. The same way you would feel low in physical energy in the afternoon if you haven’t eaten for a whole day.

When I tried Stillness Buddy I was amazed as to how powerful this application was! Although I practice meditation and yoga in the morning before setting off for work, but by the end of the day, sometimes petty things still get to me! Stillness Buddy regular reminds me to stop for a moment, breathe, center myself again and then continue. It helps me refuel that inner life force and maintains my vitality and creativity all day.

When I first installed Stillness Buddy on my work computer, I was a little uncertain about what colleagues around my desk might think. I did get some questions about what this application was about and I explained. There were some blank looks but I guess you have to try it to understand its usefulness. Now I’ve had it for more than 3 weeks and it doesn’t disturb my workflow but in fact improves it and brings my energy and creativity to a next level.

I would really recommend that you at least try Stillness Buddy. It provides simple exercises that help you stay in the present moment, feel calmer, more joy and alive! The exercises are very discrete to do in the office without anyone noticing the re-connection you will be experiencing.

You can download a 30-day FREE trial and if you decide to purchase the application on the Stillness Buddy website, a user license is £23 (approx. US$37 or approx. €26), which I feel is worth the price and very reasonable considering the benefits.

I hope you enjoy it and I’ll be happy to know thoughts about it if you try it!

Quietude and joy to you all!


Stillness Buddy

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