Thursday, September 19, 2013

tastay satay

My good friend Jacqui from Sydney visited me one weekend in 2012. This was exciting as I hadn't seen her in ages and it was my first (and probably only) overnight visitor for the year :)

We went to the Gorman Art House markets where I enjoyed satay chicken from the Thai food store. The dish was more than enough and great value for money as it costed below $10. The sauce was delicious, sweet but had some peanut-like depth to it. This was accompanied by cucumber pieces marinated in some sweet vinegar dressing that I was not familiar with. I googled up thai salads with cucumber and it seems like its common to dress cucumber with sugar, vinegar, fish sauce and chilli flakes in salads. I couldn't finish the dish at the end but I was pretty content at the end.

asian desserts and more

During a drunken stroll in Melbourne's CBD on a Tuesday night ages ago (gotta love holidays), Dan, his friends and I went to Dessert Story, a place serving Taiwanese and Hong Kong desserts. I was at a point where I could barely eat/drink anymore but proceeded to get the tofu with mixed fruit (pic in the middle). The others got similar desserts or the shaved ice with black sesame.

Although I was already bursting at the seams, my dessert was like a nice and healthy treat... Since the tofu was pretty bland by itself, this dessert is definitely for tofu lovers and those who are very familiar with its taste. The dessert could have had more fruit syrup to penetrate the slight tartness of tofu.
As usual, I was taking pictures of the food for this blog and someone expressed an off-hand or half-hearted comment that it was very Asian of me to take pictures of food. I can't deny that many many Asians do this (see Many Asians take pictures of food cos they think it looks 'cute' and they think the foods' aesthetics are worth showing off to facebook friends. Sometimes they do it to glorify well known eateries and brands without identifying whether or why it is different (or the same) as other food. Sometimes I take pictures of food because I think it's aesthetically pleasing or whatever. However, in my blog I critique it to expose and raise awareness of other ways of preparing food and broader societal and philosophical issues. I don't see food as 'just' something consumed for survival. There are many reasons why people (who happen to be Asian) take pictures of food. I hate being stereotyped.

avocado sauce?!

There was an avocado sale at my local markets (c'mon, not only Asians seek bargains) as they must have been in season. Rather than using avocado in typical ways such as in salads or as a spread in a sandwich, I made an avo sauce/paste. This was made of avocados, apple cider vinegar, tahini, fresh herbs such as chives and basil and (maybe) fresh lemon juice. I blended all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. If I had more herbs, this would make a wonderful pesto-like sauce.

The sauce was tangy and creamy and the colour was cool in a odd way. It complemented boring carbs such as rice as it gave it a risotto or pudding texture.
 And pasta.

And I replaced conventional tomato paste used in pizzas with the avo sauce.

Surprisingly, the avocado sauce/paste kept well in the fridge without turning brown. The vinegar or lemon juice probably contributed to this.


After I realised that I don't have much calcium in my diet, I had to think of tasty ways to have more dairy. I tried to drink glasses of unflavoured soy milk and other plant milks, but this was boring and felt like drinking medicine. Then I rediscovered the wonderful world of smoothies.

My core ingredients for smoothies are any type of plant milk such as almond, soy, oat and a ripe banana. You can use pretty much any fruit you like but I experimented with kiwi, raspberries, strawberries and mango. The same goes for nuts, seeds and many other flavourings. I love adding nuts/nut butter for a kick of protein, cocoa powder or carob powder as it makes the smoothie chocolatey, cinnamon to spice it up, rolled oats, dates or natural sweeteners. I love the versatility of smoothies.

Add yoghurt for extra creaminess.

And even baby spinach - and no, it doesn't taste like a salad.

In the middle of winter, I would add oats to my banana cocoa smoothie and warm it up in the microwave. It was like a creamy vegan hot chocolate :). Amazing.
If you are slightly frugal and want a different way to use the last ends of your jam or nut butter jars, you can pour your smoothie (or oatmeal) into your jar. When you scrape the last bits of your drink/food, you'll get extra tasty bits from the jar. Below I ate oatmeal out of an cashew nut butter jar that was on its last ends. And I gained tasty bonuses for finishing my meal!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

tandoori trauma

After I came off my restrictive diet earlier this year, I realised how many of my pantry items I neglected and how close they were to expiry. Driven by an odd urge to ‘not waste food’, I overzealously researched and made a list of all the recipes I could and would cook in order to use up these neglected items. Over 2 weeks, I panicked and pondered at insensible hours of the day. Luckily, this obsession was short-lived. While I still prefer to not waste food, I’m okay with chucking things in the compost and letting food rot. Thank goodness this passed quickly!

One of these neglected items was a jar of tandoori paste. I found some recipes for tandoori baked vegetables that sounded delicious. I chopped up firm tofu, zuchinni, mushrooms, capsicum and onion. I also added finely grated garlic and ginger. I marinated all ingredients with a small tub of yoghurt, some lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of tandoori paste and some spices including smoked paprika, cumin and coriander. I added spices for authenticity because I felt guilty taking a short cut and using paste. It was probably a redundant addition.
After marinating the ingredients for a couple of hours, I baked it in the oven for about 30 minutes. The whole house unmistakably smelt like tandoori.

I forgot to cook rice so I had the tandoori dish with a slice of bread… WOW it was hot hot HOT. I didn’t eat much that day so after two mouthfuls, my stomach became really uncomfortable from the heat of the spices and from bloating (I was sculling water and milk at the same time). I probably used too much of tandoori paste/spices.

It was a bit full on. Even though I’ve got 5 leftover servings of tandoori, I’m avoiding it. This makes me think – there are heaps of people who have had a bad experience with certain foods and avoid these foods for years and maybe their whole lives. This may sound like ‘I don’t like the taste of [certain food] so I will take it out of my dish’ or ‘I don’t like what [certain food] does to my body, but it’s not like I’m intolerant to it or will die if I eat it’ or ‘I had a bad experience with [certain food] once, so I don’t want to eat it’. Rarely do people make the effort to re-eat the food and dissociate their bad experience from the food.

It’s normal for people to have bad or traumatic experiences with food then develop preferences for some foods over others. On a tangent… maybe you can replace food with other necessary aspects of life, such as relationships, shelter, sleep etc. If a person has a traumatic/bad experience with one of these, is it normal to avoid certain aspects of these things?

6 years ago, I had a traumatic period where I experienced a sudden breakup (with deception, lies, manipulation) and the sudden/accidental death of my best friend. Today, when I’m reminded of particular things about the past (stressors), I respond oddly. I become hyper vigilant or freeze or freak out. This doesn’t mean that I’ll necessarily break down if someone asks me about the past but I'd get uncomfortable if I feel like these events are replaying themselves in a different format. It's inevitable that these memories will arise in my everyday life, but after some time, it gets difficult to manage. I need to strip it down to basics again and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel vulnerable at times.

When I think about it, people avoid certain types of food and I try to avoid certain types of people/events/scenarios. It’s about self-preservation and knowing what’s good for you. If it’s okay for someone to avoid lemons because they are sour, it should be okay for me to feel uncomfortable with people who are super secretive etc or to always have a back-up plan if my closest friends/family aren’t there for me when I need them the most. 

It’s not like I’ve been living like a hermit in fear for the past 6 years. And I’m not saying that once you’ve had a bad experience with a partner/close friend, avoid relationships at all costs. I’ve actively tried to rebuild myself over time and confront my fears. I’ve done quite well until things re-emerged in the past couple of years. Anyway, I wanted to vent about this because I’m trying to overcome my guilt and self-judgment and want people to know in some vague hope that I'll be able to cope better in the future... it gets more complicated but maybe that’s for another time. I realise there are people who are going to be judgmental and not understanding. But think about how you’d react if you were forced to eat that food that you’ve hated for ages.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

hot air balloons and brekkie

Ever since my first year in Canberra, I wanted to see the Balloon Spectacular – a festival of hot air balloons that begins at dawn. I figured that I’m probably not going to be in Canberra for the long run so I wanted to make the effort this year to attend the festival. And I did it! Yay!

Waking up at 4am and facing the morning cold was worth every second of the festival. I felt like a child again where anything was possible.

By 7am ish, I was starving so my friend and I went to the new café in Curtin called My Gourmet Delights. I ordered a brown rice veggie pattie which came in a toasted sandwich… unfortunately it was pretty disappointing. The pattie was dry and was akin to eating old brown rice. There were extra carbs from the bread and they didn’t tell me that it came with cheese (which I didn’t feel like eating)... boo… oh well. At least the balloon festival was rewarding!

breakfast pizzas

We must have been super hungry and energetic one morning because we made pizza for breakfast. I remember it being really darn good. Turkish bread with a tomato based and topped with spinach, green capsicum, Jarlsberg cheese, shredded ham and an egg. We popped it in the oven then under the grill to cook the egg and yum. I loved having the half cooked egg as the yolk dispersed among the pizza ingredients and made it ever so moist. You can use whatever bread you want and add whatever toppings you want. If someone gave me the same meal today, I don’t know how I’d fit it in my stomach. It was good back then though!

Down the alleyway to a Himalayan restaurant

Dan and I used to get take away for dinner every few days and we quickly got tired of our options. I probably got frustrated quicker as I usually prefer to eat ‘something different’ whenever possible. Instead of sticking around our geographical location, we ventured to Manuka. Normally when you go to this suburb at 6pm on a Friday evening, it takes about 20 minutes to find a decent park. However, we ventured there on a rainy Monday or Tuesday evening and wow the streets were quiet! It felt like there was a zombie apocalypse and it was kinda refreshing.

I pulled him down one of the alleyways of Manuka… towards the ‘Taste of Himalaya’. This restaurant has always intrigued me because Himalayan/Nepalese food isn't very common and because the restaurant is in an odd location.

We ordered the Chicken Shush Tawook (bottom dish in picture) which was boneless grilled chicken marinated in Middle-Eastern spices topped with Spanish onion, tomato and rocket salad served on a bed of tortilla bread with hommos dip. We also got the Daal Jhaneko (top dish in picture) which were lentils cooked with fresh garlic, ginger and spices, flambéed with cumin, tomato and coriander. We ordered plain rice to go with it but should have ordered the pounded rice instead, even if it was against the advice of the waitress… and to try something different. Apparently the pounded rice has the texture of corn flakes. Imagine eating a spicy food with that!

The chicken dish was tasty and all the components complemented each other – juicy and spicy chicken wrapped in a fresh tortilla. The salty hommus added a punch to the dish and it was all balanced out with a refreshing salad. The lentils were not bad, but we couldn’t help but compare it to a daal in an Indian restaurant that we eat at frequently. We were looking for a punch that we couldn’t find in this dish.

I’d probably go to the restaurant again but, in my style, order something different.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

tofu and kale 'pie'

I have an aversion to red meat due to it's environmental impact, taste and cholesterol density compared to other meats. However, this means that I have to find other sources of iron etc. I was slightly excited to get my hands on a bunch of kale, which boasts high iron and calcium and lots of other good stuff. Since I can only buy kale in large bouquet-size bunches, it's always a challenge for me to finish it all within one week. However, I sorted this out by modifying a vegan recipe for savoury swiss chard pie

I blended the cashews, silken tofu, spices, soy milk and cornstarch in my food processor til it was the consistency of yoghurt. I also half cooked the kale, onion and garlic in a pan.

Then layered the ingredients in a pie dish and baked it in the oven until the tofu was firm.

Each slice of the pie crumbled upon serving - if there was a higher tofu to kale ratio, the tofu could have seeped through to the kale mixture and act as a binding agent. However, it was delicious and I could enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

carrot deliciousness

Somehow, I ended up with 3 x 1 kilo bags of carrots in my fridge. As I have a pet hate for wasting food, I found some interesting carrot recipes on the net and my favourite food blogs.

Carrot cake oatmeal
What? Carrots for breakfast? Well why not? Carrots are as sweet as fruit and fruit is often consumed at breakfast so I figured it could be used as a substitute in my breakfast. Plus, I liked the idea of having carrot cake for breakfast. I used a recipe from Oh She Glows, a healthy vegan blog.

I don't have an amazing abundance of stuff in my pantry, so I used the following ingredients listed in the recipe:
*1 heaped cup of finely grated carrots
*1 cup oat milk plus extra where necessary
*1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp nutmeg
*1/2 cup oats
*A bite size chunk of banana
*Toppings: raisins, pumpkin seeds, coconut shavings and yoghurt

The method is a one pot simplicity. I soaked all ingredients except the toppings in a bowl overnight as this would speed up the cooking process the next day. The next morning, I put these ingredients in a pot, boiled and simmered away as I would when cooking normal porridge. After around 10 minutes, everything melted together. Excited...

You can add sweeteners to the oatmeal, but I thought it was sweet enough as the carrots and banana were a natural sweetener. Yoghurt added extra creaminess and the pumpkin seeds/coconut gave the meal a crunch. As the oatmeal on its own looks like a mysterious orange glob, the toppings make the porridge look more palatable.

Carrot hummus
I forgot where I got the recipe for carrot hummus, but the end result was pretty delicious. It was the standard hummus recipe with a can of chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice... plus two slightly boiled carrots and a bit of fresh minced ginger. These are my work snacks for the week :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

scrambled tofu

Just some pics of one of my favourite meals to have - scrambled tofu. I use either medium or extra firm tofu and add turmeric and tamari sauce which gives the tofu an egg-like appearance. Toppings include mushrooms, fresh herbs (e.g. chives), onions, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini and basically anything in my fridge! I eat this as breakfast with a slice of toast, for lunch/dinner or as a healthy snack.

I feel pretty lazy at the moment and want some warm comforting food such as scrambled tofu. I went to Sydney for the weekend and it was good to get a change of scenery. However, with my back pain and other things, I over exerted myself so I don't feel like I got much of a weekend. Socialising and being in my home town wasn't as satisfying as I had wished. Oh well. I'm going to try to do something for myself this weekend. Maybe I'll start a creative project. Maybe I'll write about my project on this blog :).

Thursday, July 4, 2013

tofu pancakes

I took a much-needed day off work to relax, rest and recuperate. Somehow, I spent 6 out of 8 hours of the day cooking. I'm not sure if it was exactly relaxing and I felt slightly hopeless for using up my day on chore-like activities. I probably need more hobbies other than cooking or those that revolve around food. Oh well. Let me embrace it for a moment.

I've read many recipes that include silken tofu in pancakes. Many of these recipes are vegan and tofu is used as an egg/protein substitute and can lighten up the texture of the pancake. However, I wondered whether tofu can be used to complement conventional pancakes that use eggs. Are eggs really necessary in pancakes/tofu pancakes? I tried making both.

My recipe consisted of gluten free self raising flour, oat milk, silken tofu and 1/2 egg for one pancake. I used egg in the batter and pancake shown on the left whereas the batter/pancake on the right has no egg.
Both pancakes are a similar colour to their batter - the egg added a yellow tinge to the left pancake whereas the pancake on the right remained a beige tofu colour. Both pancakes cooked decently. As you can see, the pancake with only tofu broke a bit, but this isn't significant.

I was experimenting with pancake batters so I thought I'd take it a step further and try out different pancake toppings. I microwaved frozen raspberries and added fig jam to it to remove the berries' occasional sourness. I also used rice malt syrup.

The tofu pancake with egg was light and fluffy. The taste of the tofu was noticeable so I probably wouldn't recommend it to tofu haters.

The pancake without egg was a bit more mushy and had the texture of firm porridge. It was less like cake and more like a moist pudding. I still enjoyed it but if you try this, don't expect it to taste like the conventional flour, egg, milk, butter pancake.

I would definitely cook tofu pancakes again. They were also pretty light on the stomach. I prefer the one with egg as I anticipate a cakey texture when I eat pancakes. If I cooked the one without eggs again, I'd cook it for a bit longer on a lower heat. Also, tofu pancakes would probably be fluffier and rise more with wheat flour, rather than gluten free flour.

zucchini dill and feta pie

I've got a love/hate relationship with cheese. When I was young, my family was infamous among my friends for our cheesy remake of McCain's frozen pizza. My family would often have McCain's Hawaiian pizza for afternoon tea or when friends came over. At the request of my brothers and I, my mum would pile an extra ton of shredded cheese on the pizza, bake it and serve it with corn.

My teenage years marked the beginning of a very long phase of not liking cheese for its high fat density. I enjoyed the taste of most cheeses but disliked how it was often used to complement large dishes where the cheese becomes barely noticeable. It adds fat to the dish but not much taste.

Then when I went to university, I studied exchange in England. With their supermarket aisles of specialist cheese and a French housemate who constantly snacked on cheese, I started to eat cheese again, like a child rediscovering ice cream. I realised what type of cheese I liked and how I could use it more efficiently in dishes.

I don't often eat feta cheese as I find it extremely salty. However, it's amazing in Belinda Jeffery's recipe for zucchinni, dill and feta pie. Actually, the whole recipe is amazing. I cooked this around 2 years ago:
I remember it being very tasty yet not overwhelming. There wasn't too much cheese in it but it was still moist after a few days. It was perfect winter home food and had a fluffy and heart-warming (awww) texture.

chirashizushi (sushi bowl)

When I see my mum in Sydney or if she visits me in Canberra, she often provides me with an abundance of food, ranging from home made minced beef, to abalone soup and fish/corn stirfry. Last year she gave me a couple of packets of Japanese style eel, something that I love eating in restaurants... but haven't figured out how to cook.

I've also been trying to overcome my fear of eating carb-dominated food at any meal except breakfast. When I say carbs, I mean brown rice, wholemeal pasta and bread rather than the carbs you find in fruit/veges. However, I realised that I need carbs for longer term energy (2-4 hours) rather than relying on the sugar boost that fruit will give me. I stomached the courage to remake chirashizushi, which is sushi in a bowl. I tried it once in a Sydney restaurant and loved it. I made this before but burnt the eel by overcooking it in the microwave. Silly me.

My nutritionist recently advised me that if I continue to maintain my underweight BMI, it is likely my bones will crush and I will have huge skeletal surgeries when I'm an old shruken lady... okay not exactly, but being underweight is a huge risk factor in having low bone density and all sorts of issues in the long term. So this is the first meal I've cooked in ages that has rice.

The base of the dish should include sushi-style rice (rice cooled with sushi vinegar). At the last minute, I realised that I didn't have sushi vinegar so tried to substitute it with rice wine and white vinegar... haha and it was nothing like sushi rice.

I topped the rice with blanched carrots, snow peas, green beans and chinese cabbage. I also added shitaake mushrooms marinated in soy sauce and mirin. I made a Japanese style omelette - this consisted of egg, soy sauce, mirin, sugar and salt and I tried rolling in the way Japanese restaurants do. (visible in the second picture). This time I didn't burn the eel (yay). I added some wasabi for a kick and sesame seeds. 

The second time I prepared this, I also add bits of seaweed. More of a sushi experience! 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

guilty eating

One evening, Dan and I spontaneously attempted to make 'chocolate banana ice cream'. We had to freeze the bananas then blend it with a little cocoa and milk until it's the consistency of soft serve. However, we were pretty impatient and didn't wait til the banana was completely frozen... So we ended up with a cocoa banana mousse. It was a bit sickly to eat on it's own so I put it on top of a gingernut biscuit.

The quality of this photo isn't the best. It's difficult to differentiate between the light brown colour of the biscuit and the dark brown creation in the background and there's too much white balance in the background. The pictures and content in my blog aren't perfect either.

I'm quite self-critical in areas of my life, especially with what I eat. Society doesn't really set achievable standards either. In particular, females always chuck around invisible standards of the 'perfect diet'. For example, I could be out with a group of friends having lunch at a cafe. We all order salads but one girl orders chips and gravy. She sees that her choice isn't as 'healthy' as everyone else so makes excuses for herself such as 'Oh I'm just being a phat bat today' or 'I should really eat better like you all'... there's like an invisible standard that salads are the norm and chips are a 'guilty' treat. Should the girl have to feel 'guilty' about it and compare herself to others? I understand that it's not nutritionally healthy to eat chips all the time, but it's about the feeling associated with eating chips. Guilt and like you've done something wrong.

These social dynamics appear in heaps of situations. People (females) at work snack on chocolate and often saying 'oh I'm being bad today'. Screw that. Treats should be a considered a normal part of a healthy diet - it shouldn't be considered a 'bad' thing.

Although I criticise these social norms, I'm definitely not above them when I choose what to eat. I rarely choose to eat chips/gravy or chocolate. But if I do and express how guilty I feel, people around me would say 'oh it's okay, you eat healthy normally and you are skinny so it's okay'... People don't really know what it takes for me to stay skinny. To me, this implies it's okay to eat junk food because I try so so hard to stay skinny by eating small amounts, restricting my diet and exercising when it's thundering.

I'm trying to be more aware of what feeds (pun not intended) my self-critical nature so some day I can eat chips/gravy/chocolate/junk food without feeling an intense amount of guilt.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Far out. It's 8am and I'm already exhausted. I've taken rec leave from work today to attend a few appointments so hopefully I'll squeeze in some time to relax. I don't want to waste my time by meaninglessly staring at Facebook, but watch movies, write in my journal, read etc.

To start off the day, I've made a vegan avocado cocoa spread for my toast. The spread is pretty delicious and is like a healthy version of nutella. I got my mini food processor and whizzed some avocado, cocoa, rice malt syrup, vanilla essence, oat milk to thin the spread and some hazelnuts to give it that Nutella taste that I love. The spread was a bit chunky, but I think it adds character to the spread.

And here I am, sitting next to my warm radiator, blanketed by my night robe. Amazing.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

hot cross buns, hot cross buns

I know its months past Easter but I still want to post up pictures of my favourite hot cross buns from Easter.

I've been living with my current housemates for about one and a half years now. During that time, my male housemate frequently mentions that he gets a free batch of hot cross buns from the Silo Bakery every year as his parents know the owners. For those not familiar with Canberra, the Silo Bakery is quite well known in town for its bread and pastries. Its situated among the popular cafe scene of Kingston.

I'm a bit skeptical of 'popular' eateries. Is it popular because it has a 'unique' brand but the food is actually the same as everything else offered in the area? Is it popular just because its sophisticated for Canberra but in the grand scheme of things (aka v.s. other cities) its actually bland? Is the eatery trying too hard to be cool that it becomes contrived?

I woke up on the Thursday before the Easter weekend and it was a major struggle to get out of bed. I was pleasantly surprised by a package waiting on the kitchen bench - free hot cross buns! They looked kinda rustic.
The hot cross buns were actually really good. There weren't too many sultanas and there was a good balance of spices. The top of the bun was glossed with a nice marinade. And the buns were satisfying - none of the 'just spiced fruit bread' bullshit.
That day, I also tried Woolie's 'sticky date and caramel' hot cross buns for the first time. I was intrigued by the concept but the buns were pretty ugh - bland fruit buns with overpowering hits of tough caramel. 

I remember I ate 2 hot cross buns that day, not doing any exercise and feeling bloated and guilty. I'm probably too hard on myself - I guess I don't eat fruit buns all year round.

black sesame rice paper

I was browsing the Asian grocery stall at the Mawson shops and came across a suspicious looking product. They were like Vietnamese rice paper rolls with black sesame seeds. I'm a huge fan of Asian black sesame dishes so I thought I'd give this a try. Each pack was around $3 and came with 3 sheets - half the quantity of packets of normal rice paper rolls. I prepared them like rice paper rolls by dipping the sheet in very hot water and rolling them up. I was quite intrigued by the texture:

Each sheet was quite thick, became a bit slimy and was very hard to roll up. They were also quite tough and chewy to eat. I soaked the sheets for a bit longer, but even after 10 minutes, they were unpalatable. Makes an interesting looking dish though! Like ants or sea animals swimming?
After some googling, I realised the rice paper was meant to be warmed up in the microwave or in oil, allowing the rice paper to fluff up like a prawn cracker. Whoops and cool! I served them like sang choy bow, using the rice paper as a bowl for marinated veges. Fun and crunchy!

brb, i'm just going to warm up an apple in the microwave

I usually snack on apples at work but since the winter cold has hit Canberra, I haven't really been tempted to bite into the cold crunchiness of apples. Instead of wasting the lot of apples I bought for that week, I needed to adapt... how could I prepare them another way? I realised that work has cooking appliances that actually apply heat to food - amazing! This included microwaves, sandwich presses, toasters and ovens. During a mid week hump hour (1-3pm ish after lunch when my energy usually crashes), I prepared an apple in a microwave safe dish. I cored it, stuffed it with frozen raspberries, popped it in the microwave for around 4 minutes and voila! The raspberries melted creating a moat of juice around the apple that helped stew it. The inside of the microwave was pretty colourful afterwards - it looked like something from the planet Mars decided to have a mental breakdown and splatter everywhere. Nevertheless, with a dollop of natural yoghurt, the baked apple was delicious and homey.
And I tried again another day by chopping up the apples and with mixed spices. The cut up pieces of apple reduced the cooking time by half.
And the name of this blog entry comes from a conversation I had with a colleague, who recently inspired me to get back into food blogging! It helps to be open and honest with the right people.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

work snacks

To celebrate surviving hump day of the working week, here are a few pictures of snacks that get me through the 9 to 5 day:

Banana pieces 'iced' with cashew nut butter and sunflower seed butter

A garden looking snack. Carrot crudites with a spinach garlic dip.

Broccomole (guacamole made with broccoli and silken tofu) with carrot crudites. I got the dip recipe from this website, with a few amendments to make it less spicy.

Monday, May 27, 2013

zucchini fritters/omelettes

I eat half a handful of nuts everyday and if I'm lucky, I might have some meat/tofu/legumes with lunch or dinner. I realised that I need more protein in my diet, so I bought a packet of eggs... other than morning pancakes, I've lived without eggs for so long that I kinda have no idea what to do with them. Fritters maybe? I've had some pretty good fritters from restaurants and cafes.

I grated one zucchini, mixed it with one egg and some gluten free flour (this was leftover from my diet earlier this year). It looked kinda promising. I also put some spinach in a couple of fritters.
As I poured the mixture on the pan, I gradually realised that they looked like mini omelettes... I waited with patience...
And who would have known, they tasted like omelettes too... (of course, you idiot). Nice and mushy on the inside. I think they had too much liquid in them, probably from the zucchini. I should have squeezed the water out of the zucchini beforehand. Or I should have put in more zucchini to increase the solid:liquid ratio. Oh well... next time!

gluten free bread: Deeks Bakery

Ever since my non gluten/soy/nuts/dairy diet, I've become more appreciative and aware of what food substitutes exist for key food groups and how these can help form a balanced diet. During my diet, I remember craving the texture of bread. I then discovered gluten free flour and it felt like I was alive again.

Deeks Bakery is a specialist bakery in Canberra offering a complete range of gluten free products, from loafs to sweet baked goods. Their loafs can also be found in major supermarkets such as Coles and Woolies. During one boring work lunch, I decided to browse Coles, and bingo - Deeks' bread was on sale.
With gluten free baked goods I've eaten, the key difference between them and and produce with gluten is the elasticity. Biting into Deeks bread was like biting into cake - there was no stretching of the bread, no bounce and no 'tearing' across the grain of the bread. But this isn't a bad thing, it's just different. The bread probably doesn't fill me up as much as, say, Burgen bread would, but I could definitely live on it.

veggie patties attempt

I love eating pre-made veggie burgers and sausages from the supermarket. But as usual, I wonder how natural these products are, how much unnecessary sugar/salt/flour/vegetable is added, how different would it taste if an ingredient was substituted for another. I've made my own veggie patties in the past but they were unsuccessful as they would either crumble in a heaped mess or taste bland. However, I gave it another shot.

I wanted something that was dominantly vegetables rather than legumes/beans. I used mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, home grown herbs, home made wholemeal breadcrumbs, brown lentils, garlic and onion.

I put all the ingredients, except the lentils, in my food processor (first pic below)... however, the mixture crumbled everywhere as I tried to assemble the patties. I was almost close to giving up, then thought I should pop half the lentils in the food processor. Out came a mix that looked like dog food, felt dense and compactable (second pic below). I could then assemble the patties.

I used a cookie cutter to shape the patties and baked some of them in the oven til they were crispy (I froze the rest). They looked adorable! The texture of the cooked patties was good, but they needed more flavour, perhaps through the addition of more herbs, spices or a nice sauce.

I sauteed some mushrooms in a home prepared Moroccan spice, tossed them with some raw spinach and voila! I made myself 4 lunches and many more to come.

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