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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

An Invitation to Self-Discovery through a Vegan Lifestyle

A year and a half or so after going vegan, I met with a friend and she asked, "Are you still vegan?"
And naturally I still was, of course. But it kind of struck me to get such a question because when I made the decision to become vegan, I knew there was no going back. I knew this wasn't going to be just an experiment; this wasn't going to be just an "ok, let's try and see..."

Why am I telling you this is because I come across so many people who tell me that to be vegan needs a lot of willpower or courage and effort and they could never make the change. This makes me realise that what felt like the most natural thing to me, isn't actually the case for a good number of people.

I started reflecting on this as to why that may be the case. Most people, after becoming aware of the cruel animal industry, just cannot resolve to consuming meat and animal products again. The repulsion is so great that they automatically reject these and try to find substitutions. This is what initially happened to me. I went through a transitioning phase, as I didn't become vegan overnight. I gradually dropped one thing at a time and allowed myself to find the substitutions I needed. In doing this I realised that I also allowed my body and mind the time to adjust to the change.

One big question people face is "how am I going to manage all this?". When you first embark on the vegan journey it seems very time consuming and requires a lot of effort. This is true, I won't deny it. But you know, I enjoyed this phase so much because I had not only embraced a lifestyle change but also embarked on a journey of self-discovery.

The Mind
You see there is a connection that happens with your inner self when you make that decision. At first it seems a lot of effort because you have always been ruled by your mind. Now that you have become aware of the nature of things, the mind doesn't like it. It doesn't like it because you are disturbing its cosiness (human beings are creatures of habit), and to what it has been used to. It doesn't like it because you are forcing it to think outside of the box. It doesn't like it because you are forcing it to wake up and get real. You are now reprogramming it to distinguish between what the system wants you to believe and what you really want to do about it. In other words, you are forcing your mind to trash the trash!
"Veganism is more than a lifestyle;
it is one of the many inner quests to self-discovery."

There are always two sides to the coin. You can say that you are experiencing suffering or discomfort (that is, it is too hard to be vegan) but that does not have to be the case. This experience (of trashing the trash in your mind), you can either decide to suffer that experience or just observe it and not get involved. By not getting involved I mean to let your thoughts about this experience be just like clouds that are passing; a cloud passing above does not affect you. The experience in itself is non qualitative. You have the choice to attach whatever attributes you like to it. So, leave the mind alone and embrace the change you have decided upon. It will be forced to come to terms with itself at some point and when that comes, the mind will then become your greatest assistant.

The Body
Then alongside the mind comes the body. Some people may take a great toll on the body with the change. Initially, they may become sick and feel that this new diet isn't great after all. The body, just like the mind, also needs it’s time to adapt to the new diet (given that you are eating the right vegan food). It has been used to a different chemistry all this time. The time it takes for your body to adjust and make the necessary changes to accept the new diet may be expressed sometimes as illness and tiredness symptoms. This is merely a phase where the body is cleansing itself from all the 'not-so-good' stuffs (toxins) that it's been receiving; this phase will pass.

Moral support, if you are not getting it, is another factor that comes in when making this lifestyle switch. People around you may be quite discouraging and you may feel disconcerted and unsure.
Moral support helps a lot but what do you do when you do not get it? Where do you turn to?
You could visit forums, groups and meet like-minded people if you can find some close to you. These will provide you with some kind of support but ultimately you will be left to your own self.
Well, allow me to tell you this: your own self is the key. This is where you turn to when you do not get the support around. Infact, even if you do get some support, your own self is what will keep you going strong into this journey.

The Self
What do I mean by turning to your own self? You see, veganism is perceived as fighting for the animals, an act of compassion; all attention is being brought to the outside. But where does this start? It starts from a calling from inside. This is not your mind, it's not an idea; it is just your very own self.

Let me put it this way. When I first became vegan (in 2007) and people would ask why I've made this choice, I would have all the vegan arguments to affirm myself as an avid animal rights fighter and the health benefits of a vegan diet. While this is all the more true, I have come to realise that I am vegan because I can see beauty in this embrace of the lifestyle. There is an element of beauty in having just plants on my plate. I cannot even cultivate the thought of the body of a dead animal on my dinner table. Through the years it has come down to just that; what my utmost inner being finds aesthetically pleasing. This utmost inner being is what I am referring to as your true self, a ‘you’ that just knows, a ‘you’ that is not governed by rules and games of the mind or ideas. Indeed, all the battles that we fight are merely inside and not out there.

The thought of this beautifying experience alone, in a way, summons all the energy required to go through the process of embracing veganism. Indeed, an incredible amount of energy resides within ourselves if you pay close attention. Over the years, being vegan has not only helped kindle and feed that energy but in return this energy is what has kept me going. So much that now, it has become effortless for me to be vegan. It will be an effort again not to be!

"Veganism is more than a diet, it is a lifestyle". True. But it is much more than a lifestyle. If you can see this aspect of things when becoming vegan, you are bound to have the greatest experience of your life through the whole journey from effort to effortlessness.
Veganism is more than a lifestyle; it is one of the many inner quests to self-discovery.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Galway! Part 2 (Co. Clare Tour)

 A bit late but as promised, here is Part 2 of the photos of our Galway trip. I have so many photos from that trip that I had a hard time making a selection. We went for a tour around County Clare and the Cliffs of Moher. So, these photos are actually outside of Galway.

Dunguaire Castle

Poulnabrone Dolmen

The Cliffs of Moher

 The Cliffs of Moher 

A nice enchantment with a woman playing harp on the Cliffs

Places we visited:
Dunguaire Castle which is a 16th-century tower house on the southeastern shore of Galway Bay in County Galway
Poulnabrone Dolmen which is a portal tomb in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland, dating back to the Neolithic period, probably between 4200 BC to 2900 BC.
Cliffs of Moher - very popular attraction in Ireland; it receives nearly one million visitors a year.

We stopped at many more places on the way. We brought our own packed sandwiches lunch that we prepared in the hotel room before leaving; there weren't going to be much vegan options eat outs on the way. It was a really nice tour with unbelievably beautiful scenery and a stillness in the air that you only experience outside of Dublin.

Stay tuned, there'll be a Part 3 coming at some point!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Jewelry Joy: I Was Interviewed!

Some of Corrinne's creations.
The lovely Corrinne from Pin and Tack offered to interview me about my handmade jewellery making. She is actually hosting a grand Jewelry Joy week at her blog featuring different artists and their work. Corrinne is such a creative person herself and I am very fond of her handmade cards which remind me so much of the ones I used to make for the family and friends. She does a lot more than cards though!

If you would like to read more about me and how I got into making jewellery, head over to this post at Corrinne’s blog where she also featured my 'How To Make Paper Beads' tutorial. For this Jewelry Joy week, I am also offering a 20% discount on anything in my shop until the 30th May. 

Get the discount code from Corrinne’s post then use it at checkout in my shop.

There are also some other giveaways/discounts happening at her blog at the moment from other artists. So, have a look!

I hope you enjoy! 

123Smoothie Dessert

At the Lovlie Cocoon, we bake a vegan cake almost every week. Be it at tea time or dessert, cake always saves the day! But this week I really needed a break from cake but still wanted some kind of dessert. Something lighter than cake... And then it came to me while pondering over the big basket of fruits sitting on the top of our kitchen cupboad. Nature's generous bounty of fruits have made their way in my (almost) daily breakfast smoothies but it was time I called them in a smoothie dessert.

The good thing is that, as luscious as it looks, this dessert is really made in a whiz; all you need is a blender or hand blender (which I used). It doesn't leave you with a guilty conscience since it's all fresh fruits with no added fat or sugar but most important, it tastes great! If you've got friends coming over but don't have the time to spend making an explicit dessert, this one is sure to impress; it will look like you've spent quite some time and effort making it. You could also be whizzing this up while you are entertaining your guests.
This is one dessert that will be loved by adults and kids alike. I call it my 123Smoothie Dessert because there is only just 3 quick and easy steps.

Ingredients (2 servings)
Bottom Layer:
1 avocado
1/2 banana
1 tablespoon maple syrup or 1 pitted date (optional)

Top Layer:
200g fresh strawberries
1/2 banana
1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)

Any fruit of your choice, cut into small pieces. I chose oranges. Melons are a great choice too!
Maple syrup to drizzle on (optional)

  • Add the ingredients for the bottom layer in a blender (alternative use a hand blender). Process until smooth. Spoon the mixture equally into 2 cocktail glasses.
  • Scrape the blender clean.
  • Then add the ingredients for the top layer in the blender. Blend until smooth. Pour equally in the glasses.
  • Arrange the fruit pieces on top. If you are not serving this immediately, you can leave this out and arrange just before serving. (The fruits will gradually sink to the bottom otherwise).
  • Decorate with some fruits pieced through a toothpick. Make a slit in the bottom piece of fruit to secure it on the rim of the glass.

Voilà! Easy as 123Smoothie!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Break It!

I've been testing out some vegan chocolate in the Seed & Bean brand lately. So, I wanted to post a mini review.
I've found 4 flavours at my local Holland & Barrett store and these are:
Mandarin and Ginger

My favourite is the Ginger one. It has tiny ginger nibs with the percentage of chocolate being just right for how I like it. And I love ginger chocolate in general. The Mandarin & Ginger is okay. The Chilli is not for the faint hearted. I ended up cooking it in a brownie mixed with some plain chocolate! Then the Lavender... hmmm! I was all excited about this one when I bought it but it turns out, I didn't like it at all. Maybe that's just me but I felt like I was eating a bar of soap.

So, the only one I'd purchase in this brand is the Ginger flavour.

And here's a funny quote that I quite like:
Strength is the ability to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of those pieces.
~ Judith Viorst
Isn't that just true?

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Yummy. Tempeh. Sushi. Vegan!

tempeh sushi

At the Lovlie Cocoon we are big fans of sushi, vegan of course! Before we discovered how tasty tempeh sushi could be, I used to make it using pan fried tofu.
But tempeh sushi rocks so much more!

What is tempeh? If you are unfamiliar with it, tempeh is made from soy beans. I am not a great fans of soy products in general and we try to limit our consumption of soy. However, what makes tempeh a preferred soy product is the fermentation process that it goes through. This makes it much easier for the body to digest the soy beans.

Tempeh originates from Indonesia where it has been a staple source of protein for several hundred years already. Like I was saying before it is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybean particles into a cake form. The process involves cleaning, cracking, dehulling, cooking, then inoculating with a starter culture, and finally incubating. During incubation the important phase of fermentation occurs. Tempeh owes much of its flavour, texture and nutritional properties to the process of fermentation.

The starter culture (rhizopus oligosporus), a friendly culture, is a filamentous form fungi. As the culture spores germinate they bind the soybeans together into compact white cakes. The chunky cake of beans has a mild, nutty flavour with a firm yet tender, meaty or chewy texture.

tempeh sushi

Tempeh can be used in many recipes. I've used it in curries, stir fries, sandwiches but my favourite way of eating it is in sushi preparation.

Sushi is actually relatively easy to make. You may need a little practice with the rolling part but if you have a sushi mat, it is not that much of a challenge.

For the sushi rice:
Ingredients (for 4 nori rolls)

250 g sushi rice
40 ml mirin (or rice vinegar)
1 1/2 tablespoon demerara sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
1 courgette
1 avocado
250g tempeh block
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 - 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for pan frying

Prepare the rice:
  • Wash rice until water runs clear (or almost).
  • Place in a deep pan and add water. Place your finger in the water so that it is only touching the rice, the water level should be at the first knuckle. (This is the correct amount of water to use) Boil the sushi rice until cooked but not mushy. (All water should be absorbed).
  • While rice is boiling you can prepare the seasoning. Add sugar and salt to the miring and warm on a gentle heat until sugar completely dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • Spread rice on a large plate, pour on the mirin while mixing with a spatula. As you are mixing the (still hot) rice with the mirin, fan it to cool it down. Fan and fold in the mirin. Keep doing this process until all is well mixed and rice has completely cooled.

Prepare the filling ingredients: (you can do this while the rice is boiling).
  • Cut the tempeh in long strips (defrost tempeh beforehand if using frozen). Marinade in the soy sauce and lightly pan fry with 1 - 2 tablespoons oil. They will be done relative quickly, once they get a golden coating.
  • Cut the courgette in julienne.
  • Cut avocado in half, remove the stone, then peel them. Cut into long strips. (Avocados should be more on the creamy texture than firm, so use ripe ones preferably).

Make the rolls:
  • Lay the sushi mat on a chopping board. Place a sheet of nori.
  • Cover with a layer of rice.
  • Lay the courgette, avocado and tempeh strips in a line on the side closer to you.
  • Roll using the mat, make sure you tuck in the ingredients properly with the first turn.
  • Dab the other end of the nori with a little water (so that it will stick and close well), then roll completely.
  • Unroll the mat, cut through the nori roll with a sharp knife. (It helps to get a cleaner cut if you wash the knife after cutting each roll).

tempeh sushi

Serve with soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger.

tempeh sushi

Sunday, 13 May 2012


Oh how I love these succulents! On my wishlist...
From Succulents Galore on Etsy.

succulentsgalore etsy

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Popeye, We Love You!

spinach smoothie, flu buster

I call this my Popeye Flu Buster Smoothie! Whenever I feel a little flu coming, this smoothie seems to keep it at bay. If you've tried green smoothies already, you know the amazing health benefits that comes out of every glass.
Well here's my own flu buster concoction.

2 cups baby spinach leaves
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons maple syrup (adjust to taste)
1 apple (I usually peel)
Water as required if too thick

Place all ingredients in a blender (alternatively use a hand blender) and blend until smooth.
It's best consumed immediately.

And just a little analysis on the ingredients:
Spinach for its great amounts of antioxidants, chlorophyll, vitamin C and iron. We all know that antioxidants are essential for optimum health. Chlorophyll, because they enable the body to be more receptive to sunlight, enhances the immune system, purifies the blood and rejuvenates the body (according to some experts). Iron helps boost the immune system. A deficiency in iron results in anaemia and weakens the body's immunity which makes it more prone to catching infections.

Lemon juice for vitamin C that also helps in the absorption of iron.

Maple Syrup for magnesium which also supports a healthy immune system and regulate blood sugar levels.

Apple for added vitamins and taste :).

Green smoothies are great for all the vitamins and minerals they bring to the body but most importantly they are alkalinising foods. Viruses cannot thrive in an alkaline environment and keeping a proper alkaline balance in the body makes it difficult for viruses to survive. You can do your own research on alkaline diet and foods. While there is no convincing scientific or medical evidence of the benefits of an alkaline diet, a lot of people have and are benefiting from such a diet which has in some cases proved to cure cancer and many other diseases. So, this one is up to you to research.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or naturopathist / herbalist, this is not a prescription for flu but only my own experience as an avid embracer of kitchen table medicine and natural remedies. So, always consult your doctor if you have a particular condition before consuming anything you are not sure of.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

How To Make Paper Beads

paper beads how to, bijouxlovlie, vegan jewellery, vegan jewelry

It's been a while since I posted some crafty things on here. Ever since I got my first batch of paper beads from Paper to Pearls, I have been fascinated by them; they look so gorgeous that you wouldn't think they are made of paper. The batch I got have a nice selection of beads from which I've made a lot of nice jewellery, earrings being my favourite.

paper beads how to

However, I kind of wanted to make some of my own. Not that I will stop buying from Paper to Pearls and support them, but I have a lot of paper, junk mail leaflets, old magazines, left-over gift wrap paper etc around the house that could benefit from a little upcycling and turned into great looking and eco-friendly jewellery.

So, here's how I make them myself - a little project that might keep you busy if you are after some crafty thing to do.

How to make Paper Beads

You will need:
  • Colourful pages from old magazines, calendars, gift wrap paper or any colourful paper. You will lose the designs on the paper as you roll them into beads, so just try out different papers to see the effects you get. But remember the thicker the paper the fatter the bead!
  • Scissors
  • Pencil or pen
  • Ruler (preferably a long one)
  • Toothpick (or needle)
  • Liquid glue (paper or all-purpose craft glue will do)
  • Resin or Clear varnish - most clear varnishes from local store will do or nail varnish.
  • Any other jewellery items like wires, threads to make the beads into jewellery.

paper beads how to

First lay your paper flat. Measure 1cm intervals on one side. On the other side start with 0.5cm then 1cm intervals from it. Score the paper. Depending on the size you want your bead to be you can increase / decrease the width.

paper beads how to

You can experiment with different shapes of paper cutting; this will result in beads of different shapes.

paper beads how to

Cut along the lines.

paper beads how to

For the next steps:
  1. Take your toothpick and starting at the thickest end of the strip.
  2. Start rolling it tightly around the toothpick. Using your nails to catch it in at first.
  3. Ensure to keep the paper central.
  4. Apply a dab of glue at the end.
  5. Roll the last bit and press down on it for a few seconds to hold the bead in place.
  6. The finished bead.

paper beads how to

The finished beads.

paper beads how to

If you are making a small batch, you can leave them on a toothpick each (this is what I tend to do). Some people thread the beads on plastic wire or fishing string. Whichever you choose, make sure the string is thick enough for a snug fit and the varnish cannot seep in to block the holes.

If using resin, prepare according to package instructions. I use a 2 part epoxy resin.

paper beads how to

Start varnishing. I use a brush and give them at least 2 coats of resin / varnish. Leave to dry for 2-3 days, and your beads are ready to use!

paper beads how to

You can use some firm foam or anything you can hold the toothpicks on. The only thing I had on hand was a potato!

paper beads how to

Make into jewellery: earrings, pendants, necklaces... You can add other beads and charms, hooks and wires; I leave it to you imagination. I hope you've liked this tutorial.

paper beadspaper beads

But then again, if you already have enough to do and would rather just buy some, you may want to have a look at some paper bead jewellery in my shop.

paper beads how to, bijouxlovlie, vegan jewellery, vegan jewelry

paper beads how to, bijouxlovlie, vegan jewellery, vegan jewelry

paper beads how to

By the way, if you are looking for more awesome craft projects with paper, check out this book: Paper Made!: 101 Exceptional Projects to Make Out of Everyday Paper:

For more handmade jewellery visit the Bijouxlovlie store.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Da Vinci on Veganism

The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.
~ Leonardo da Vinci

leonardo da vinci vegan

Friday, 4 May 2012

Coriander Chutney with Savoury Crêpes

vegan savoury crepes, coriander chutney

Coriander chutney is a popular raw condiment in Mauritius, usually eaten as part of a main meal or with snacks to enhance flavour. It is a nice sauce to go with many savoury cakes and in this case savoury crêpes.
I like to use leftover chutney as a salad dressing too.

The recipe is very quick and easy to make; it is also raw and a great way to eat raw coriander. Originally it is made with onions and garlic but since I don't eat those, I have substituted with ginger. Feel free to add these in if you like, 1/2 small onion and 1 garlic clove should be enough.

Easy Coriander Chutney
3 - 4 salad tomatoes
1 bunch coriander (about 25g)
2 - 3 green chilies (or to taste)
1 teaspoon ginger, minced (or use an-inch cube size piece, cut into fine pieces)
1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Place all ingredients in a blender (or use a hand blend) and blend until a puree consistency is obtained.
vegan savoury crepes, coriander chutney

And here's an easy peasy vegan crêpe recipe:

Savoury Vegan Crêpes
Ingredients (about 16 - 20 crêpes)

1 cup plain white flour
1 cup strong white flour (substitute with plain white if you don't have this)
550 ml  water
100 ml oat milk (I found oat milk to give the best results among other non-dairy milk)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon curcuma or turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 - 3 stems scallions or coriander, finely chopped

  • Mix flours with baking powder, curcuma and salt. Add water, stirring with a hand whisk to avoid lumps. Add oat milk and scallions.
  • The crêpe batter should be smooth.
  • Heat a crêpe pan on medium heat.
  • Laddle the batter and spread around into a nice circle shape.
  • Cook for about a minute until the bottom side is no longer sticky.
vegan savoury crepes, coriander chutney
  • Then flip over onto the other side and cook for another minute or two. You can flip again if required.
  • Remove and stack on a plate. Stacking them will keep them softer and warm.
Spread with coriander chutney, roll and serve while still warm. This makes a delicious brunch or snack anytime.

vegan savoury crepes, coriander chutney

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Vegan Bake Sale 2012

As promised (if you have been following me on Facebook or Twitter), here are a few photos I took for the Vegan Bake Sale we had here in Dublin last Saturday (28th April 2012).
I donated a Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Coconut. I took a few shots while I was making it. But I haven't had the chance to write down the recipe yet. So, just some photos for now.

I like to use fresh pineapple instead of canned ones because the taste is so much nicer! I corked out the centre with a small knife.

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie, vegan pineapple upside down

Then, I greased the bottom of the pans and laid the pineapple rings. I sprinkled with a little soft dark brown sugar.

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie, vegan pineapple upside down

Poured in the batter.

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie, vegan pineapple upside down

All baked! Out of the oven!

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie, vegan pineapple upside down

I used fresh coconut that I grated and lightly toasted in the oven.

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie, vegan pineapple upside down

I iced the cake with vegan buttercream frosting and the toasted coconut.

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie, vegan pineapple upside down

At this stage I was dying to have a slice for myself!

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie, vegan pineapple upside down

I packed it in a box with the lid at the bottom...

Now some photos of the bake sale. (Sorry about the poor quality of these ones, it was a cloudy day and not much light was entering the hall. I thought they would be better shared despite this.) It was a great day! The cakes went away quickly and it seems everyone had a good time.

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie

Here are some baked goods from others who donated:

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie

I got myself a few yummy treats:

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie

And I got a shot of the inside of the Pineapple Upside Down cake:

vegan bake sale, veganlovlie, vegan pineapple upside down

So, that is all for now.

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