Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Vegan Daily Meal Plan #1

Since I became a vegan a few months ago, one of the most common questions that my friends and family ask me is "what do you eat every day".  So I thought that I'd create a daily meal plan on a page.

Of course, this meal plan is not set in stone.  It's just what I've been eating a lot of lately.  Sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts are in season and the weather has been getting a little cooler lately so a nice warm bowl of vegetables is the perfect lunch or dinner time meal.

The recipes in this meal plan are below:

Lemon-Tahini Sauce

This is my number one 'go to' sauce/dressing.  It's a pretty simple recipe too.  Take a couple of lemons and and squeeze all the juice into a blender.  Add a little grated lemon rind too.  Add a couple of tablespoons of tahini, garlic cloves and a little salt and pepper.  

Then blend away!  Take a teaspoon and try a little.  If it needs some more acid, add lemon.  If it is too acidic add more tahini.

Once you have the combination of flavours how you like it, put it into a bowl in the fridge.  Then try to keep away from it!  

I add it to everything!  Lunch bowls, salads, roasted vegetables.  It is the most delicious dressing for anything you like!  

Mushroom Stir-Fry

This mushroom stir-fry was one of the first vegan dinners that I ever made.  When I first became in vegan (only a few months ago), I started with trepidation and enthusiasm.  But it didn't take long before I started to come home and make pretty much the same meal every single night.  Mushrooms (almost a kg of them) with either brown rice or toast.  As much as I love mushrooms, I needed more variety to keep my interest and to provide a diverse range of vitamins and minerals.

So here is a simple stir-fry that is fast and easy to make.  The beauty about stir-fries is that you can change them up every single time you make them.  Just use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge or freezer.  I like to stop at our local vegetable market on the way home and pick up whatever is in season to add to my stir-fry. If you don't have fresh baby spinach, you can use frozen spinach.  Just defrost it first and give it a good squeeze to get rid of all of the water. 

This particular stir-fry included mushrooms, onion, beans, spinach and udon noodles.  My very strict vegan friend told me to swap udon noodles for rice noodles or brown rice.  But that's because she also avoided eating any gluten.  I say to eat whatever grains tickle your fancy.

I used an electric wok to make my stir-fry but you could also use a fry pan if you wanted to.  

  • garlic, sliced
  • ginger, grated
  • mushrooms, sliced
  • brown onion, sliced
  • green beans, whole
  • fresh baby spinach (or frozen, see note above)
  • udon noodles
  • lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons) 
  • soy sauce, about 1-2 tablespoons


1.   Heat wok to medium-high heat and add sliced mushrooms.  Don't stir them.  Just let them sit for a few minutes then give them a stir.  This reduces the amount of liquid that they release and (usually) stops it from becoming a big watery stew.  If there is liquid in the wok/pan just tip it out into the sink and keep going.
2.  Once mushrooms are soft and brown remove them from the pan and set aside.  We will add them back in in a sec.
3.  Add onions to the pan with a teaspoon of water to stop them from sticking.  Also add garlic and ginger and cook onions until soft.
4.  Add any vegetables that you have - I used green beans this time but sometimes I add broccoli and carrots etc.  Cook for just a few minutes or so.  Don't let them get overcooked and too tender (that is, mushy)
5.  Now it's time to add the mushrooms back into the pan along with the baby spinach leaves.
6.  Add lemon juice and soy sauce and give it a good stir to mix everything through.

This recipe is part of a meal plan - click here to see the whole day. 

Lunch Bowl

I just love a lunch bowl for lunch!  I've even had one for breakfast last week!  Like most vegan food, there is so much choice and there are no rules! 

This lunch bowl included brown rice, black beans, rocket, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, corn, brussels sprouts, rocket and spring onions.  I drizzled lime juice and lemon-tahini sauce all over before eating (demolishing).

We have just come off a really long hot summer and now that the weather has finally cooled, I've been roasting a batch of vegetables a few times a week.  I used the same flavours this time for each of the vegetable types just because it was easy.  But it would also be great to mix up the herbs and spices for each vegetable type as well.  

  • head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • zucchini, sliced lengthways
  • sweet potato, roasted
  • brussels spouts, cut in half
  • fresh corn
  • brown rice, cooked
  • black beans, rinsed, soaked and boiled
  • rocket
  • spring onions, sliced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • lemon-tahini sauce
  • dried oregano
  • olive oil, about a teaspoon per group of vegetables
  • salt and pepper to taste


1.  Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
2.  Cook the corn in boiling water for five minutes and then cut the corn from the cob and set aside.  
3.  Mix the each of the vegetables (cauliflower, zucchini, brussels sprouts) with a teaspoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and dried oregano.

4.  Spread the vegetables on a tray lined with baking paper, making sure that there is enough space surrounding the vegetables so that the hot air can circulate and make them deliciously brown and crispy.
5.  Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until brown and crispy.  After around 10-15 minutes, give the pans a shake to turn the vegetables over so that they are browned on both sides.

6.  Once the vegetables are cooked, let them cool a little.
7.  Assemble the lunch bowl by layering the brown rice on the bottom, followed by some rocket, black beans and more rocket.  Then place the roasted vegetables on top along with the corn and spring onions.
8.  When ready to serve, drizzle lime juice and lemon-tahini sauce and mix through all of the layers.

Note:  This recipe is part of a meal plan.  For the daily meal plan, click here.  

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The most delicious sweet potatoes

Ok so this just happened and it was awesome.

I have always hated cooked orange vegetables. Give me a grated carrot any day of the week but cook it in any way and I won't touch it. I've had friends and family try to convince me by making them with sesame seeds and honey (so gross). 

Same goes for pumpkin and sweet potato. So it astounds me that I found 4 sweet potatoes in the fridge. They must have been selling at a great price or the fairies magic'd them in or something. 

Since so many people rave about them, I thought I'd give them another go. And if I didn't like them well I'd never put myself through it again! 

Sweet potatoes are now going to be a regular at our house. I feel like giving myself a bit of a slap for dissing them for so long. What an idiot!!  

Here's how I converted myself to a card-carrying sweet potato lover. I sliced one sweet potato into rounds and placed them into a large bowl. Was still not loving them at this stage. Even though they were begging me to. 

Then I added some olive oil, dried thyme, flaky sea salt and garlic cloves that were finely (ok, not that finely) diced. Using my hands I mixed it all together making sure I coated the sweet potato well. 

Then I laid the pieces of sweet potato on a baking tray lined with baking paper and baked them in the oven (200 degrees Celsius) for 30 minutes or so - until they were brown around the edges and soft when I poked them with a fork. 

Then I tried one. And they were outstanding! So so so so good that I ate the entire sweet potato. I drizzled some tahini lemon sauce I made earlier all over them and it was a match made in heaven. 

So good were they that I pulled another two sweet potatoes out of the fridge and made another batch which I will eat for lunch this week.  I'm cooking up a big batch of black beans which will go nicely with the sweet potato and tahini lemon sauce. 

So if you think you don't like sweet potatoes, give them another go.

Post-holiday smoothie

Our almost-two-full-weeks at the beach came to a sad end yesterday. We had perfect autumn Queensland weather with warm, sunny days. We spent our days by the beach, building sandcastles and splashing in the warm ocean. 

The downside to being on holidays was food related. For the first time in three months I strayed away from a pure plant-based diet by eating cheese and chocolate. I'm not going to beat myself up over this. So today I'm back to whole-plant based eating. 

And is there any better way to start then with a delicious smoothie? I'm desperate for some greens and usually I would as kale or baby spinach to my breakfast smoothie. But since we haven't done a grocery shop yet, I'm left with whatever is still viable after sitting in the fridge for 10 days. And that, my friends, was cos (romaine) lettuce. I pulled away the outer leaves which weren't looking too good and underneath there were crunchy lettuce leaves - perfect for a smoothie I get that this may seem a little strange to some of you (kinda like how lettuce soup seems a little weird) but rest assured, you don't even know that it is in there. 

I always try to have frozen bananas on hand, as well as bags of frozen fruit. I had medjool dates that I brought home with me from our holiday. So I blended frozen banana, frozen blueberries, two pitted medjool dates, a teaspoon of cacao, cos lettuce and 500ml (2 cups) of ice water. 

What a perfect start to a Sunday morning.  

  • frozen bananas
  • frozen or fresh blueberries
  • 1 tbs of cacao
  • handful of greens (baby spinach, kale, cos lettuce etc)
  • 2 cups of water (add more or less depending on how thick you like it)

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Edamame. That is all.

Since converting to a plant based diet in early January 2015, I have discovered so many new foods.  Instead of craving sugary, sweet snacks I now look forward to eating a variety of vegetables....yes, vegetables!

One of my favourite snacks is edamame.  Edamame are soy beans in the pod, usually available as a side dish in any sushi restaurant.  Not that I had ever eaten them when we went to get sushi. 

Now I cannot get enough of them!  I buy them at our local supermarket (in the frozen section), throw them in some boiling water for a few minutes.  They are already cooked so it's just about warming them through.  Then I squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice and add some cracked black pepper. 

Only the soy beans inside should be eaten as the pods are stringy and tough. 

They are a favourite for our kids too - such an easy and healthy snack for the whole family. So look out for them next time you are at the supermarket and pick up a bag (or 20). 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Awake at 2am

My son woke me up and I can't get back to sleep yet. My mind is too active. 

I read stories about how other people have lost weight and they always talk about what they did, like change their eating and exercise but they never really talk about what they felt and the struggles that they went through to lose the weight. 

For me it seems to be a constant struggle. I sometimes wonder if I am capable of doing this. Do I really have what it takes to lose weight?  

I really need to look at weight loss as an hour by hour focus. So when self sabotage occurs (and let's be realistic, it will occur at some point) it's a case of getting back in track in the next hour. 

Not in two weeks time. Or on a Sunday  to 'restart'. No it's about accountability then and there. 

I really need to get some sleep so that I don't use this as an excuse to not exercise at 5am which is only three hours away. Gulp. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New year, new beginnings

I've been done this road many times before. I can't how many times I've told myself that things will be different. And, like these countless times, today I seek change. The most obvious, outward change is my physical appearance, my weight. 

But that's only part of the change needed. And I guess that's what scares me. How can I make other changes in my life if I haven't been able to change my weight?

I don't have the answer but I am going to look for it, in myself. One thing is for sure. My life has to be focussed on the positives. 

To pull out a much used cliche, this is a journey. There are no quick fixes. Sometimes it will be hard. Sometimes I will feel like I'm failing. And sometimes I will be. It's about harnessing the strength inside and believing that I can change. It's about the actions that I take and the behaviours that I demonstrate consistently

Today is day 1. 

Today is about eating well and listening to my body and to stop eating when I'm satisfied and not full. 

It's about love and showing love to my family around me who shouldn't have to deal with the fallout of my mood swings. 

It's about me too. I am important. 

Here is today's breakfast - rolled oats, homemade yoghurt, fresh nectarines (it's summer here!) and chopped almonds. 

And today for the first time in more than six months I stopped listening to the excuses and I got on that treadmill and started the couch to 5km (c25k) challenge. 

The I did a few yoga poses because Thai body of mine has never been flexible. My goal is to be able to touch my toes without having to bend my legs #startsmall

Here is my yoga pose with the legs against the wall. 

I feel good. 


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