What I Ate: the Healthier Weightlossier edition, part II

Last week I blogged about what I ate, with a weight loss slant.  I continued with my oil-free cooking (ie not using oil from a bottle), no bread/pasta/crappy carbs eating this past week as well as continuing to cut out sugars (apart from fruit), watching my portion sizes and not giving in to my ‘inner Labrador’– that woofy voice that tells to me sniff around the kitchen for tidbits all day long.

So last week I was pretty happy with my loss of  1.5kg/3.3lbs (I’m recording my weight here weekly for interested parties!) but I’m not a person who goes much by numbers on the scale.  I care about how my clothes fit, how I feel and how un-bloated I look!  Scale readings can be dodgy from one day to the next, though I have been weighing daily in case I one day decide to put those numbers up publicly somewhere for some reason.  Truthfully, I don’t care for daily weighing, happy to do weekly but for me monthly is where I would probably get a more accurate idea of how I’m going.  I’m also not counting calories, weighing or measuring food at this point while I do have quite a lot of body fat to lose.  Once my stupid feet injuries are history and I begin training again when I have (hopefully!) lost lotsa fat, that’s when I’ll begin paying more attention to eating for fuel and recovery.  For now, I’m just getting myself back in to healthier eating habits that I can maintain daily long term.

This week I have lost 900g (1.98lbs), making a total weight loss of 2.4kg (5.2lbs) in two weeks.  I’m not doing anything strictly though I do prefer to use fruit in smoothies at breakfast time and not during the day. I’m avoiding using oil and throughout the day I keep a mental note of where I’ve eaten fats. I’m drinking more water too and not eating sweets though as you will see below, going out to dinner is the exception to the rule!

Okay, this week’s foodie goodness!

On Monday we had Easter lunch at my mum and dad’s house.  I’m avoiding things like rice and potatoes at home but I put a little on my plate along with some black pepper tofu.  Look at me having an okay portion size.  In other words, measly. Mum had made some stuffed vine leaves and dip made with roasted red peppers, eggplant, walnut and garlic:

dolmades

easterlunch

Dessert was the Banana Coconut Pie I made from one of Brendan Brazier’s Thrive books:

thrivebananacoconutpie1

thrivebananacoconutpie2

That morning’s early breakfast was a smoothie made with a hemp milk, banana, a few greens, orange and lemon:

breakfastsmoothie1

On Easter Sunday DeeW fell over at a park and broke her arm in one, possibly two places. Husband and I decided that DeeW and I should stay with my parents for a couple of days, just to allow her to chill out a bit more and also be closer to the hospital if she needed to go back for some reason.  This meant I had to go back home and scramble fast, like Goose and Maverick, to get all my gear together for a sleepover.  This included taking one of those big plastic storage tubs on wheels, carrying my blender, meals I’d cooked for the week, nooch, hemp protein, dressings, stuff from the veggie crisper drawers and canned beans.

I had (over) sauteed some kale and pak choy in water then added in a small batch of red quinoa I’d previously cooked and frozen.  I wanted to add this to meals throughout the week.  First up was a variation of the Pizza Bowl from Isa Does It.  I roasted some eggplant using only a little olive oil spray and well, this makes the eggplant turn out all dry and blergh.  I already had a little amount of pasta sauce in the fridge I’d made for DeeW, using an Aldi ‘Just Organic’ pasta sauce with some spinach and lentils added.  To that, I followed the Isa Does It recipe for the sauce and I add a small handful of raw cashews, a bottled roasted red pepper a tablespoon of tomato paste that had been in the fridge for almost-too-long, veggie broth and lemon juice.  I forgot to soak the cashews, because when I use my power blender I don’t have to soak.  But I forgot I was using my food processor when I threw cashews in to the mix, so they didn’t mix well (couldn’t mix them in the blender because there wasn’t enough sauce and it would have gathered under the blender blades).  The Isa Does It recipe uses vegan sausage but I used the roasted eggplant and some of Johanna’s Tomato Nut Roast with Buckwheat that I had frozen.  This was quite a filling meal though next time I’d want to follow the Isa Does It recipe to the letter… because here you can see the bits of cashews that didn’t whizz up well:

pizzabowl

Another Isa Does It recipe was the Citrus Tahini bowl.  Here, I marinated some firmer tofu overnight in sesame oil (less than what the recipe states, a couple of drops were enough for flavour), orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic and ginger (I leave out the sweet stuff like agave or maple syrup). The leftover marinade is mixed with tahini and used as a dressing. I served this over those overcooked greens and the not-very-good roasted eggplant.  Yum!

citrustahinibowl

A breakfast smoothie was made with fresh figs, banana, plant milk, cinnamon and hemp protein.  I can’t find my photo but it was delicious.

Mum cooked up some big bean things with carrot and potato.  I wasn’t very hungry when I ate this because I’d just had those dolmades, so this isn’t my usual dinner.  Because there’s not enough of it:

greekbeans

I asked Mum if she could make some of her Greek lentil soup without oil and with all the leftover veggie bits we had.  So this soup is made with brown lentils, onion, a bit of garlic, carrots, broccoli stems and kale. I admit that taste wise, this isn’t that fab because the olive oil is what adds that spark.  But I kinda feel that every now and then I need something that’s just a simple healthy food, without needing loads of flavour.  I need to break out of the mindset I have when it comes to food, I want everything to be fantastic and hate bland boring stuff, even if I know a dish is really good for me.  In other words, I’m a spoilt foodie brat.  As in, if I’m really hungry and whining about having nothing to eat because we’re going shopping the next day, Husband will suggest I eat toast. And then the scene looks like this:

groverblue

Anyway, here’s the soup.  I had this many times:

kalelentilsoup

I’ve been in a quiche craving mood lately so I decided to try these fab looking Mini Crustless Tofu Quiches from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.  After reading through the comments I decided to use a packet of the Morinaga tofu that you find in the non-refrigerated aisles.  It seems that using soft or silken tofu that we get here in Australia would not result in a ‘set’ quiche.  I thought I had the same problem when I tried to take a quiche or two (or three…) out of the mould after they’d cooled down to warm, but when I let the rest cool completely they came out of the moulds fine.  I really liked these but predictably, my fussy family didn’t.  I’m going to use the filling recipe as a base for lots of other stuff.  I have some vegan vol au vent cases that may work:

minitofuquiches

This is the non-weight-lossy bit.  Friday was ANZAC Day here in Australia and we usually always make ANZAC biscuits.  Traditionally they contain butter which can be replaced with a vegan alternative, but this year I looked up healthy vegan versions online.  I found one using almonds and coconut oil, but I won’t link to it because it was a bit blergh.  I ended up adding some Nutellex because the amount of coconut oil wasn’t enough and I didn’t want to use up the little bit I have remaining.  This year I used maple extract instead of vanilla, just for something different.  I wouldn’t call them ANZAC biscuits at all, as ANZAC biscuits are something that stand on their own and healthier versions like this are just too different to even call themselves ANZAC biscuits.  I’d say the ones I made should be called coconut almond biscuits:

notquiteanzacs

Another non-weight-lossy bit was dinner at Loving Hut on ANZAC Day.  All healthy bets are off when it comes to meals out!  Though I did factor in what I’d eaten that day and that I had about four meals worth of lentil-veg oil free soup at home to make up for it all a bit!  I had some of the fried entrees (spring roll, crumbed prawns.  I ordered Husband the wrong spring rolls and he had one and didn’t like it much so I had the two leftovers…)  Then for my main I decided on the spicy lemongrass chicken with vermicelli noodles and a lemongrass dressing.  The bowl was loaded with mint and coriander which I love and some some salad ingredients.  The flavours were great but it was pretty spicy.  The ‘chicken’ was layers of (possibly) bean curd sheets and was quite chewy. I only ate a bit because I was already full and took the rest home to have for lunch the next day.  Aaaaand I maaaay have ordered the salted caramel coconut ice cream by Zebra Dream…

lovinghutlemongrasschicken

I saw plantains in a supermarket and decided to try them out.  I’ve never had them before and see so many American recipes using them:

plantains1

I had no idea what to do so I followed instructions for slicing the plantains in to 2mm slices, spraying with a little oil, then a little salt and lemon juice then bake.  They looked nothing like the photos of roasted plantains.  I didn’t like them at all so I think an expert has to prepare them for me next time:

plantains2

Okay, that’s about it.  I’ve just realised I haven’t got any meals prepared in advance for this week and I haven’t sat down to flip through cook books.  Apart from that lentil soup.  I have one plantain left so I guess I should do something with that as well as all the veggies.  I’ll probably end up with a veggie and chickpea/bean curry and I’d love to replicate the meal I had up there at Loving Hut.

Hope you all have a fabulous Monday!

Loving Hut Northcote: The Return. Again.

We love Loving Hut in Northcote.   Today we went with my sister and her partner for his belated birthday. This was their first time there and they really enjoyed it.  My sister no longer eats meat and although she considers herself ‘more vegetarian’, most of what she eats is vegan.  When she cooks, it’s vegan and when she chooses a meal from the cafeteria at work, she chooses something vegan.  Her partner is still omni but he’s very open minded and will try anything.

I ordered our usual entrees, which consists of fried stuff (spring rolls, moneybags and crumbed prawns) and we got the 7-piece serve of the southern fried chicken to share.  My sister and her partner loved it.  Their entree were the rice paper rolls with the crumbed prawn fillings served with two dipping sauces.  I forgot to take a photo when it came out:

loving hut rice paper roll

I went for the vegan sushi entree in the hopes DeeW would eat it.  She eats avocado maki rolls but unfortunately she removed all of the filling here and nibbled at the rice and nori:

loving hut vegan sushi

For our mains, I decided to break from the usual homemade curry and try something different.  I enjoy the homemade curry so much that I always say “I’ll get something different next time”.  So I went for the katsu style breaded duck in plum sauce with some plain rice on the side:

loving hut duck katsu

This was a massive serve.  As you can see, it’s all the mock duck with a little onion.  I find dishes like this really difficult to finish on my own so I was glad that we all picked at eachother’s plates.  Even so I took the leftovers home.  The plum sauce was more a coating on the dish, which I prefer instead of the duck pieces drowning in sauce.  I’d recommend this more for a party that are sharing the food around, as a meal for myself it’s just too much, with no veggies to lighten it.

My sister ordered the pad thai which was listed on the daily specials board.  Again this was a big serve and after the entrees, my sister barely put a dent in it.  She left enough to fill a takeaway container.  I tasted some and it was pretty good, there was tofu and bean shoots throughout:

loving hut pad thai

Sister’s partner got the ‘shrooms dish with rice on the side.  He loves mushrooms and said his meal was great.  I tried a bit and it was quite nice, though I am a total wimpazoid when it comes to anything other than button mushrooms.  Even cutting shiitake slightly freaks me out:

loving hut shrooms

We were absolutely stuffed and waddled back to our cars.  As usual, the men serving us were lovely and our meals arrived quickly.  We got there at 5:30 and there was only one other couple but by the time we left more people arrived.  It seems everyone orders the southern fried chicken!

Loving Hut Northcote is located at 377 High Street in Northcote.  I blogged about a previous visit here

Linda from the Lentil Institution has posted about her trip to Loving Hut Northcote here.  Cindy and Michael from Where’s the Beef have also visited.

Loving Hut in Northcote

Today I met up with my buddy T and we headed off for lunch at the new Loving Hut in Northcote.  Wheee!

Loving Hut Northcote is very spacious with lots of room for prams:

Loving Hut Northcote

There are fridges and freezers stocking lots of Asian vegan products like mock meats:

Loving Hut Northcote

For our entree we shared the crumbed prawns and money bag dumplings:

Loving Hut crumbed prawns

Loving Hut money bag dumplings

T got the tofu and veg curry with brown rice.  I had a bit and I think this is what I’ll order next time though to be honest we both kinda felt it was a little light on the veg for a $15 dish:

Loving Hut veg tofu curry

I got the southern fried chicken after I’d read one or two great reviews about it.  It did not disappoint, though being a dry dish there was no sauce for the rice.  Just a mayo dipping sauce.  It wasn’t an issue for me because the ‘chicken’ itself was really good, but usually I’m disappointed when I order something with rice that then turns out to be a dry dish so I end up eating plain rice.  I put some of T’s curry on my rice:

Loving Hut southern fried chicken

Service was efficient and friendly and I will definitely be going back there the very next chance I get.  I can’t remember the exact prices of everything, I think my dish (with three pieces of chicken) was $12 and the bill total was $40.

Now we just need a Loving Hut around Brunswick so I don’t have to travel to Northcote or Richmond!

This Loving Hut is located at 377 High Street in Northcote.  Their Facebook page is here.

New Places and Random Stuff

I’ve taken pics over the past few months but never blogged about where I went, what I did, what products I received for Christmas and so on.  I always meant to write up stuff but time got away from me so now I must lump it all in to one blog post.

Okay, new places!  In Melbourne we have a new vegan store in town called Mad Cowgirls Vegan Grocery in Preston.  The Facebook page for Mad Cowgirls has more info so check there first. I visited back in December but a lot of stuff had sold out and not able to be ordered back in for a while as suppliers were closed for Christmas.  Compared to a place like Radical, Mad Cowgirls is much smaller in size and naturally, the selection of products wasn’t as extensive but the business is still in its early days.  I asked about a couple of things and the owners said they would look in to stocking it, which was much appreciated!  Service was friendly too, always a plus!

Mad Cowgirls Vegan Grocery

Aaaages ago, I went to Shokuiku on High Street in Northcote.  It was a quick visit more to see what they had in there, as Husband and the kids were waiting in the car.  I’m a bit on the fence about my experience.  The place was not busy at all (one table had a couple seated, after I placed my order two more customers arrived for a take away order, so not busy at all).  I asked for a piece of the raw mocha choc cake in the fridge display to take away, paid, and then proceeded to wait.  And wait.  And wait.  There was absolutely no reason for the delay apart from the staff person just taking their time… which ended up being eleven minutes.  Eleven minutes of me standing there as useful as a half sucked jellybean as my mate T would say, with the cake right between myself and the staff member, who took her sweet time serving others after me instead of just taking twenty seconds to put my cake in the box. Just as I was about to ask if she could please do it now (instead of wiping down the counter area!) she decided it was time to get my cake.  I’ve since had people tell me how painfully slow the service was for them too, so yep… not really a place I’d go to again, despite being a fan of what they had on offer.  The cake was great though:

Shokuiku cake

shokuiku1

Now for gift ideas!  When my sister asked what I wanted for Christmas, I said a 1kg tub of tahini.  I use it all the time and I love it, so to me it was the perfect present:

1kg tahini

I love Botanical Cuisine’s products and I bought the Lemon & Dill raw vegan Cheese from Mad Cowgirls.  Oh my goodness.  You know how there are some foods that make your eyes roll back with how good they are?  For me it was THIS:

Botanical Cuisine lemon dill cheese

When browsing those specials aisles in Aldi, for things I never really need, I saw these fruit jellies.  Husband likes them so I bought a packet.  Got home and realised they’re vegan!  No gelatin!  Well… I’m hoping they’re vegan.  The ingredients list looked completely vegan:

fruitjellies

I went to a real deal op shop recently.  Real deal as in cramped, over crowded, dirt cheap and musty smelling.  Look at this amazing score for ONE DOLLAR:

icecubetraysI looooove cutesy ice cube trays, that can double as chocolate moulds, and these are divine!

I also loooove the green tea flavour of Nushie’s ice cream.  My sister bought this for me and kept it in mum’s freezer for my next visit:

nushiegreentea
I’m really pleased at how vegan offerings in Melbourne seem to be increasing all the time, ditto for raw food.  I think I’m more pleased about those ice cube trays though!

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Muffins from ‘Naturally Sweet and Gluten Free’

I’m pleased to share today’s baking adventures with you.  Because of THIS:

nsagf

My copy arrived a fortnight ago and I swear my eyes just kept popping out a little more with every page.  Although I’ve blabbed on about going gluten free on my blog before, I have slacked off but Ricki’s book and blog have really made me sit up straight and make more of an effort.  Ditto for changing the way I use sweeteners, and what sweeteners I use.  I use white sugar rarely but there are times when I’ve used white caster sugar.  I use more brown sugar and raw sugar but again, I want to move away from those. I’ve fallen in love with coconut sugar though, so I have to be mindful not to start baking too much!

Ricki is the author of the blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs, though her site is now found at http://www.rickiheller.com.  In the past I used Ricki’s walnut-cauliflower ‘meat’ recipe in my vegan moussaka. From there I was sold and Ricki’s recipes have worked out well for me since.  Although I tested negative in all my coeliac-y tests I do sometimes feel blergh after gluten (and sometimes outright sick after eating something with vital wheat gluten) but the most important consideration here is my children and I would like to improve their diets further.  I would like to bake a couple of times a week but even then I’m mindful of that they’re eating.

I was also super pleased to see fellow Melbourne veg blogger Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe post up an interview with Ricki. And to add to the excitement, Johanna has made the exact same recipes I bookmarked to try first!  During the past week I shopped and waited for deliveries to arrive and now everything is here, wheee!  I went down to Naturally on High in Thornbury to get some supplies:

naturallyonhigh

From there we drove down to Fruit Pedallers.  I wish I had more time to look around but Husband and kids were in the car and the shop was packed so I decided to get out of there as soon as I could (because I was hungry and the very glutteny Lord Of The Fries was a ten minute drive away):

fruitpeddlers

I really like this part of Melbourne:

highst1

highstreet1

When we got back home it was baking time.  I had previously cooked, pureed and frozen some sweet potato so I had it ready to go this afternoon.  The rest of the ingredients were easy to get together, including Ricki’s own flour mix (there’s a recipe for that at the start of the book). One of the flours in Ricki’s mix is garfava flour, which I’d never heard of before and briefly worried about how I’d get it in Australia.  I then discovered it’s garbanzo (chickpea) and fava bean, whew!  Bob’s Red Mill garfava flour is sold in Australia.

Enough chat.  How did the muffins turn out?  Good!  And blurry:

sweetpotatochocchipmuffins

Now ah, you may notice the choc chips are white choc chips.  That’s because I can’t find Sweet William small dark choc chips anywhere.   I have found the white choc chips and buttons and the dark choc buttons but not the dark choc chips.  So this part of the muffins was probably using refined sugar, gahhh.  And I guess the dark choc chips would be the same, right?  I don’t like carob chips so if anyone can suggest another vegan choc chip, please leave a comment!

For me, the muffins didn’t have that strong taste of bean/chickpea like some “I swear you can’t taste the beans!!!” recipes have. You can’t taste the sweet potato either, if you’re worried about that.  I was surprised at how light and delicate they were, I was expecting something more dense, like every other sweet potato baking recipe I’ve tried.

The flavourings (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla) in my opinion are just right.  I found these helped to disguise the taste of the flours.  Husband said he would have preferred them sweeter and he found the aftertaste a little strange, however that’s how I felt when I started using things like besan and millet flour.  The kids liked them but I think next time I will make them in the mini size.  I suspect the regular size resulted in too much “strange tastes”.  I’ve used things like millet and quinoa flour before but not in things they liked, so I think they need to get used to the taste.  Arthur absolutely hated soy milk and tofu once upon a time, now he asks for tofu, or stuff made with soy milk, or vegan ham and cheese pizza.  I confess I must also get used to the gluten free flours and different sweeteners, though it’s easier for me now as I know what is better for me.

I’m looking forward to making more recipes and sharing them here (like the marbled halva and brownies, yummm.  And I don’t even like brownies much)  😀