Vegetarian/Vegan Thai Coconut Soup for One

thai-soup-for-one I’m back! And you know I’m back from my super-sunny Queensland trip when pretty much the first thing I do is put a second jumper on.

I loved how awed everyone was when they wandered around Noosa beach on the first day of winter with the sun shining and them regretting their choice of jeans. But it was also pretty fun to come home to a brisk breeze and the sound of trams. And soup. There will be SO MUCH SOUP this winter – especially now that I’ve cracked the thai soup code after many years of sub-standard effort.

For this Thai-style soup, I’ve been using the Five Tastes Thai Red Curry Paste, and this vegan fish sauce, a splash of Massel Chicken Stock (which is vegan), and whatever coconut milk and veggies I have lying around. Occasionally I boil some noodles in a separate pot and make a laksa. It’s quite the combination, and so quick to whip up. Seriously, less than ten minutes.

I’m a fan of cubes of tofu, bok choy, mushrooms, spring onions, cherry tomatoes, a little bit of kale or spinach, and thin slices of carrot. But I’ll put just about anything in!

Is it getting chilly where you are? I’ve finally cracked and put the heating on at night ;-)

thai-soup-for-one-2

Vegetarian/Vegan Thai Coconut Soup for One

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Red curry paste
  • 1/2 cup Massel chicken stock, or veggie stock
  • 3/4 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegan fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 Small squeeze lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cubed tofu
  • 1 cup chopped mixed vegetables (carrots, spring onion, spinach, capicum, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, mushrooms)

Directions

Step 1
Heat the curry paste in a small saucepan over medium heat for one minute.
Step 2
Add the stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil.
Step 3
Return to a simmer, add the vegan fish sauce, palm sugar, and lime juice, and all of the veggies.
Step 4
Leave on a bare simmer for five minutes or until veggies have softened but are still crisp. I often even take it off the heat.
Step 5
Taste for seasoning and make sure it has a balance of salty, sour, and sweet.
Step 6
Enjoy!

Meatless Monday – Lemony sprouted lentil salad

sprouted-lentil-saladWhen I saw Aldi were selling little sprouters for $5, I thought it was high time I delved into the world of sprouting. I think I grew sprouts as a kid with a jar and some cheesecloth, but I’ve never tried sprouting anything else. I wasn’t entirely convinced it was necessary, and it looked a bit too fiddly.

Well I still mostly feel that way, but this sprouter contraption thingy is pretty easy to use! Soak a bunch of lentils in water overnight, pop them in the top of this thing and pour water over them 2-3 times a day. After three days or so, you’ve got crunchy sprouty lentils! And they taste pretty awesome. I remember texting my friend and telling her they weren’t going to even make it to the salad at the rate I was going.

Do you sprout? Do you have a sprouter? Do you prefer cooked lentils? Do you like salads? Who are you? What’s your name? Too many questions…

Anyway, this is my final Meatless Monday link up instalment! I will probably still post from time to time, but you’ll find the new linkup over at Lila’s blog from mid-January. I’m so excited to see it in its new home! I will see you there :)

GIVEAWAY: Bare blossom chemical-free, cruelty-free vegan mineral makeup {ended}

Congratulations Brigette, Sonia, and Kym. the hairspray! haha!

BARE BLOSSOMIt’s a little bit fun to find Aussie peeps creating new products and turning dreams into reality. It’s even more fun to find that they’re creating products that are eco-friendly and socially conscious. The funnest bit of all is when they are low in toxins, chemical-free, and without animal products, or being tested on them.

Adriana Woolf always loved makeup. After being diagnosed with Secondary Reynaud’s, and a connective tissue disorder, she was advised by her doctors to avoid contact with toxins and chemical (found in many makeup and skincare products) to avoid penetration of her skin and potential harm to her organs.

When she couldn’t find anything that quite fit her needs, she combined her passion for beauty with her entrepreneurial spirit and made her own line of makeup at Bare Blossom.

Alongside her husband (who has an Honours degree in Biological Science), Adriana works at bringing safe, cruelty-free mineral makeup and makeup products to the masses. All while they both work as lawyers (Adriana also has a degree in Psychology) at their Brisbane law firm! Inspiring stuff.

Adriana is an advocate for animal rights, and Bare Blossom is registered with PETA and the UK Vegan Society, which is super-rad. Bare Blossom products also do not contain things like parabens, propylene glycol, phalates, sodium laurel sulphate, and sodium laureth sulphate (among others). It is safe for use during pregnancy, is gluten-free, and is formulated for use with most skin types.

Bare Blossom has a full range of products including foundation, eyeshadow, blush, lipstick, nail polish, and mascara; as well as brushes, sharpeners, blotting paper, and skincare products.

I am just blown away that Adriana has managed to create makeup that is beautiful, trendy, and of such high quality, all while keeping it low-tox, chemical-free, and animal-friendly. It can happen, people! And the best part is that it is totally affordable (for example, eye shadows are around $20). I was sent a foundation and cute little vegan kabuki brush, and while I was initially skeptical of mineral foundation’s ability to cover my uneven skin tone (and being sent quite a light foundation colour), I was pleasantly surprised with the level of coverage. It does feel slightly drying on first application, but my skin’s natural oils soon work their magic to create a really lovely overall colour and breathable coverage. It lasts quite well during the day, and while I haven’t tried it with the accompanying blush or eyeshadow, I can see that they would blend really well with it. There’s also a mineral cream foundation for those of us who are a bit wary of powder foundations, which I’d like to try.

Adriana has very kindly offered readers the chance to win one of three Mineral Foundation Powders, worth $45 each. All you need to do is leave a comment on this blog telling us your funniest makeup memory. Were you a fan of blue eyeshadow in the ’80s? Did you commit the crime of darker lip liner and light lipstick (tell me you didn’t!). I have plenty of makeup fails in my repertoire, which I now look back on quite fondly.

Three winners will be chosen next Monday, December 16 at noon Queensland time. I will notify them by email, and also name them on this blog post. Winners can choose the shade that will work best for them, and they will be posted by Bare Blossom.

Thanks so much everyone, and good luck!

 

Are you getting enough iron as a vegetarian? Here’s everything you need to know.

I’m handing this post over today to one of my favourite people on Earth: Katie 180. She cuts though the bullshit you find about nutrition and gives you the straight-up facts. With a side of hilarious. She is a qualified nutritionist with an advanced diploma of nutritional medicine, and therefore is much more well-placed to dispense health information than I am! I’ve been reading about iron for a long time, and have asked her to come here today to give us all what we need to know in a nutshell. Everything you need to know about iron

Hello Vegetarians and Veggie-curious folk! Today I’m visiting Veggie Mama to have a wee chatty about the mineral iron.

Meeting your iron needs is a common concern around a non-meat-eating diet.

Forms of iron:

When we consider dietary iron there are two forms: haeme (heme) and non-haeme (non-heme), perhaps for the purposes of spellcheck I’ll just go ahead and use the American spelling eh? We know Veggie Mama likes the USA so I’m sure she won’t mind.

Iron is a trace nutrient, which means that we only need small amounts of it ~ in fact only about 10% of dietary iron is absorbed leaving 90% to be excreted! But this is a good and protective thing, as too much iron actually contributes to disease as it stores in tissues with no way of getting out except for blood loss.

Heme Iron: is bound to protein in animal tissue and is cleaved (removed from the protein portion) within the small intestine. Heme iron remains soluble (can pass easily between the digestive tract and blood stream) during digestion, which is what makes it more readily bio-available.

Approximately 55 – 60% of the iron in animal foods is heme iron and the remaining 40 – 45% is non-heme iron.

Non-heme Iron: comprises the total iron of all plant foods and it is bound to components (phytates, oxalates) of the plants that make it less easily absorbed, but this does not mean that a diet based on plant foods is unable to provide your iron needs.

In fact, individuals with insufficient digestive secretions, enzymes and co-factors which are required for the breakdown and absorption of heme iron can experience impaired iron absorption and subsequent iron deficiency even if they eat a diet rich in animal foods.

 

Factors that enhance the absorption of iron.

Inadequate or low iron status and likewise periods of rapid growth such as pregnancy ~ the body will ensure it absorbs more iron from the diet to accommodate.

Intake of animal sources of iron.

Acidic foods.

Sufficient gastric acids.

 

Factors that inhibit the absorption of iron.

Adequate or high iron status ~ yes the body will only store what it needs.

Phytates in whole grains.

Oxalates in dark green leafy veg, tea and chocolate.

Polyphenols in tea and coffee.

Malabsorption such as experienced in celiac disease, Chron’s disease, leaky gut, intestinal parasites so on and so forth.

Overuse of antacids.

Other minerals such as calcium, zinc and manganese – but really only in supplemental form (or diets that are abundant in dairy.)

 

Functions of iron:

Oxygen transport ~ via the heme found in haemoglobin, myoglobin and cytochromes found inside the energy producing parts of all cells.

  • Haemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells, that binds oxygen molecules for transport in the blood.
  • Myoglobin is a protein found in muscle tissue, which also binds oxygen and is called upon during exercise.
  • Cytochromes are heme-containing molecules in the energy production chain located within all cells.

Immunity ~ iron participates as an anti-oxidant by comprising part of two enzymes: catalase and peroxidase; which break down hydrogen peroxide (baddie) into oxygen and water (goodies.)

Iron also performs as a pro-oxidant by increasing free radicals in order to destroy bacteria.

Growth and development ~ iron is involved in the synthesis of DNA.

 

Adequate daily intake of iron as recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC.)

Children and Adolescents

Both sexes 1 – 8 years old: 9 – 10mg/day.

Both sexes 9 – 13 years old: 8mg/day.

Boys 14 – 18 years old: 11mg/day.

Girls 14 – 18 years old: 15mg/day.

Adults

Men: 8mg/day.

Women up to 50 years old: 18mg/day.

Women from 50 years old: 8mg/day.

Pregnancy: 27mg/day.

Plant food with higher levels of iron and their iron content per 100g:

Spinach, raw: 2.7mg.

Kale, raw: 1.7mg.

Rocket, raw: 1.5mg.

Kelp/seaweed: 2.8mg.

Tofu: 1.2g.

Pumpkin seeds: 15mg.

Sunflower seeds: 5.2mg.

Prunes: 3.5mg.

Dried apricots: 2.7mg.

Medjool dates: 0.9mg.

Parsley, raw: 6.2mg.

Almonds, raw: 3.7mg.

Walnuts, raw: 2.9mg.

Soybeans, cooked: 5.1mg.

Lentils, cooked: 3.3mg.

Chickpeas, cooked: 2.9mg.

Quinoa, cooked: 1.5mg.

Blackstrap molasses 1 tablespoon: 1.3mg.

Basically you’re looking at a diet abundant in dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains and dried fruit ~ nothing outrageously outside of a whole foods diet.

When you include foods rich in vitamin C you get the synergistic relationship between this acid and iron that increases its absorption. Nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains also provide the B-group vitamins B6 and B9; which are required for red blood cell and DNA synthesis.

Missing from the B-group vitamin line up however is B12, as this is only available in animal tissue, so supplementation with B12 is advisable in strict vegan diets.

Common early signs and symptoms of iron deficiency:

Fatigue, shortness of breath, pale skin, inflammation and soreness of tongue (a ‘beefy’ looking tongue), dizziness or lightheadedness, cold hands and feet, tingling in the extremities, brittle hair and nails, rapid heart beat, weakened immunity, easy bruising and bleeding.

If you are thinking of making the lifestyle change to a vegetarian/vegan diet or if you are a long-time vegetarian/vegan I would advise a visit to your GP for an iron studies test, firstly to have a reference point for future tests and secondly, to assess current iron levels so as to navigate your diet with education and confidence.

Should iron be low and supplementation required, be mindful that not all iron supplements are created equally and I recommend visiting a qualified natural therapist for a practitioner-only iron formula with synergistic co-factor nutrients to maximise your iron supplementation and avoid unpleasant side effects of some over the counter iron supplements, such as constipation and black, tarry stools.

Go forth and eat well, Katie, x

Meatless Monday: Vegan split pea soup

vegan split pea soup in the crockpot

I don’t have very good memories of split pea soup (or pea and ham soup) from when I was a kid, for I was quite the food phobe. Plus, the version I had tried contained barley and barley was weird, man.

I do, however, have great memories of singing the pease porridge nursery rhyme, and this is sort of the same!

I needn’t have worried, because I eventually grew into it, and when I had the idea to veganise it for the crock pot, I realised how delicious it really is. I’m trying to think up lots of crock pot recipes this year, and I remember pea and ham soup being a bit of a staple in it growing up. I thought about how I would replace the smoky ham flavour, and then realised I didn’t really want a hammy-tasting soup. The smoke I like, the ham… not so much. I would normally use a liquid smoke for the same effect, but I’m all out, so I turned to my backup – smoked paprika.

Then I saw Veggieful had posted a split pea soup recipe and figured I must have been on the right track! Do you read their blog? It’s irresistably gorgeous.

Anywho, if you’re up for a creamy soup full of flavour, then this one’s for you. Winter warmer at its best.

Vegan split pea soup

Serves 4-6
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 6 hours
Total time 6 hours, 30 minutes
Dietary Vegan
Meal type Main Dish, Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Large onion, diced small
  • 1 Large stalk celery, diced small
  • 1 Medium carrot, diced small
  • 2 Large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 cup green split peas
  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 5 cups homemade vegetable stock
  • 1 Large bay leaf
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Step 1
Sweat the onion, celery, carrot and garlic over low heat for 20 minutes, until it caramelises and the flavour deepens. Add paprika for the last few minutes. This can be a bit of a drag if you're just looking to throw everything in the crock pot and go, but is much nicer. By all means, throw and go, though!
Step 2
Put the sweated veggies into the crock pot with the split peas, the thyme, stock, bay leaf, salt and pepper, and cook on low for 6 hours. You don't want any bite in the split peas at all, they should have simmered into a thick mush (add extra stock or water if too thick). Check for seasoning and don't be afraid to be liberal with the salt if you have used a homemade stock.

Show your mum you love her with a Pana Chocolate giveaway {raw, organic and handmade!}

This competition has now ended. Congrats to Lizzie B and her whimsical, fun-loving, imaginative mum! 
mothersdayboxYou know you want to.

Pana has caused a bit of a stir recently with its little packs of cacao goodness, and found devoted, life-long fans among us.

Made only from cacao solids, virgin cacao butter, dark agave nectar, raw cacao powder, virgin coconut oil, wild carob, cinnamon and pure himalayan crystal salt, it’s a guilt-free way to indulge.

chocolatemaking_processAnd they’re open and accountable for the production process, from cacao grown in an organic environment, to being mixed and packaged by hand into boxes straight to you.

They want to make excellent chocolate that is good for you and good for the Earth’s sustainability. it is low-GI, vegan, and gluten free with no dairy or soy. They also eschew preservatives and artificial sweeteners. What’s not to love?

mothers_gift_box2__91768.1365041131.615.410

If you’re into that sort of thing, then do please enter the giveaway to win a box of delicious chocs for your mama (and one for yourself!). The I Love You Mum gift box contains a pack each of the Mint, Rose, Raw Cacao, and Coconut and Goji flavours, and is valued at $28.95.

All you need to do is leave a comment answering this question: What is a lovely little thing your mum used to do for you when you were a kid?

Answers are based on creativity, and the competition will end on June 25 at 5pm EST. The winner will be notified by email and announced in this post.

Go ahead – make mum’s day!

Black bean and sweet potato tacos

I am obsessed with Thug Kitchen.

For the uninitiated, it is a vegan tumblr that talks about not eating overly-processed crap and gives recipes and tips for eating healthy, veggie-packed food. Only it is doing it with a bucketload of attitude and extreme swears. I cannot get enough.

It has only been around since late last year, but it has already won the Saveur Award’s Best New Food Blog. And with calls like “it’s taco time, bitches”, it not only cracks my shit up, but a bunch of others too.

black-bean-and-sweet-potato-tacos

I made the Sweet Potato and Pinto Bean Tacos, only I didn’t have no pinto beans so I used black beans. I soaked them all day and then cooked them for two hours, before following Thug’s directions. They were magical. We ate ours with avocado, onion, tomato and coriander.

You need these tacos in your life. I made corn tortillas to go with ours because I’d never made them before. I knew they had to be better than store-bought, because everything is! They were pretty fiddly and you have to do one at a time, so I can’t imagine I’d be doing them constantly! But the recipe (here) made heaps so I have a ton left over. They got easier, so who knows I might be a tortilla ninja more often.

 

It’s taco time, bitches.

Wholemeal banana and peach muffins: egg-free and refined-sugar-free!

vegan-banana-peach-muffins

Oh yeah, and vegan.

Lately I’ve been going back through all my old favourites and my mind has been boggling at what refined crap I used to eat like it ain’t no thang. Well, ever since I had babies and they started to eat the food I made, I wanted to do better by them. I was afraid of baking with wholemeal flour because I thought it tasted weird, except I was wrong. I also started to think twice about adding sugar, I really just don’t think a kid that’s not even two needs sugary things. Each to their own and all, and I don’t mind the occasional treat or whatever, but… yeah.

I remember thinking my banana chia muffins weren’t so bad, even though I know recipes like that are pretty much just cake. In muffin form. So I decided to change it so I could feel good giving it to my kids, and also eating it myself. Nobody gets fueled properly with white sugar and white flour, and boy I need all the proper energy I can get!

I removed the egg and replaced it with flax meal and water. I don’t even know why. You can either use the flax meal option or add an egg. Whatever you like!

I also freeze these and pop into lunchboxes.

vegan-banana-peach-muffins-bite

Wholemeal banana and peach muffins: egg-free (vegan) and refined-sugar-free

Serves 24
Allergy Egg
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Breakfast, Lunch, Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups wholemeal self-raising flour (or wholemeal plain flour and 1.5 teaspoons baking powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Large bananas, mashed
  • 2 Large peaches, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flax meal (mixed with two tablespoons water)
  • 1/3 cup oil (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Directions

Step 1
Preheat your oven to 200C.
Step 2
Mix all ingredients until combined but lumpy. Spoon into muffin tins and bake 20-30 minutes until cooked all the way through.
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