Thursday, 22 September 2016

Vegan Products - September 2016

A few vegan products I've recently tried...

I've been wanting to try Vegan Magic (aka Vegan Bacon Grease) for the longest time but I couldn't think about what I would use it for. It's mainly coconut oil with some salt and flavorings to mimic pork fat but it wasn't as flavorsome as I'd hoped.
In the end I decided on southern collard greens. They were pretty good!

My husband discovered Ripple for me in Target - 100% vegan, pea based milk. They were really good, the milk is very creamy so perfect for tea & coffee! First real cup of tea I feel like I'v had since going vegan!

My BFF got these Marjon tofu crumbles I think at Publix. It was pretty good, we ended up using it for nachos :)

I was pretty excited about Ben & Jerry's "vegan" range of ice-creams. So far it's only four flavors and of that only one is gluten free so that's the one I chose. Fail, Ben & Jerry's, fail!It was pretty good but I still prefer the So Delicious range. I was dubious about the sugar being vegan - the response from B&Js below.

Whenever you move to a new place there's always the struggle to find good vegan GF bread!
I found these two. Little Northern Bakehouse and DeLands. I especially love the DeLands bread range, made excellent grilled cheese

Found a new Amy's meal to try! I especially love that they made the effort to find vegan cheese!

Found Two Brothers GF beer at a health store in Jacksonville, FL. It was pretty good, very like a pilsner. My favorite is still Greens but its just so expensive so the search goes on!

I had been craving baked beans on toast for a while and I can never seem to find any that are GF and vegan. Finally found this Walnut Acres one at a health store. So yum!

New brand of vegan wine...yay!!!! Natura Organic Wine's whole range is vegan which is great.

Primal Chocolate - found this Almond Sea Salt Dark Chocolate at Fresh Market, Jacksonville FL. It was a little bitter but pretty nice.

I like to buy dried beans because it's way cheaper and pretty easy. I thought this HamBeens  15 bean soup mix was just bean mix, I didn't realise it was a soup mix so when I saw the "ham flavored" soup package I did despair...until I read the ingredients. I couldn't find anything about it that wasn't GF or vegan so I called the company just to make sure and they confirmed all their products are animal product free! Here's a link to the recipe I used, although obviously I forgo the meat and added stock cause it was a bit bland without. Was so good my kids even wanted some!

My BFF found vegan cheese at Trader Joe's! Tasted pretty similar to Daiya honestly.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

I Love Nigella

My love for Nigella Lawson is definitely not a secret. I've loved her a very long time so when I turned vegan I spent a lot of time trying to veganize her recipes. Some of them work some of them don't but I never give up. For anyone who's ever watched her programs you'll know the utter food porn you're in store for plus the kitchen. Oh the kitchen! I covet everything in that woman's kitchen and the kitchen itself...

Her newest book Simply Nigella actually has a ton of vegan recipes! In fact to be precise I counted 65 vegan recipes (with vegan egg replacers) and 20 vegetarian recipes (but you could make them vegan by substituting the dairy). That's pretty amazing! And certainly a huge leap from her other cookbooks, of which I have all ;)

I'd like to mention some of the recipes I've been making from Simply Nigella and also below a list of other Nigella recipes that I've veganized in the past. A list I'm ever adding to!

Toasty Olive Oil Granola
This was delicious. I burned my first lot because I thought I knew better than Nigella Lawson how long they should be in there for. I was very wrong, I'm sorry I doubted her! My second batch turned out perfectly and I love eating it just as a snack!

Breakfast Bars 2.0
I'd been dying to make these but it took my a while to find GF corn flakes and I wanted to make sure I had all the ingredients for the first batch at least! OMG SO GOOD!

Warm Spiced Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad with Pomegranate Seeds
This was nice but a little bland so I added a spritz of lemon juice and it was delicious! The pomegranate seeds really work adding a bite of sweetness every now and then.

Roasted Radishes 
I didn't realise radishes tasted so much less bitter when roasted!

Pea and Broccoli Soup
I really liked this despite it's simplicity - I used mint sauce because I didn't have any mint tea bags but it was still very refreshing!

I made this the minute I bought the book came out because I had read it was a vegan chocolate cake and I was like whaa whaaaa? So I made it for my birthday...and promptly ate it :)

Nigella Express

I have veganized the following recipes from Nigella Express - one of my favourite cookbooks and tv series... 

Darkest Chocolate Cake

This one come courtesy of  Nigella Lawon's "Dark and Sumptuous Chocolate Cake"newest book Simply Nigella. This is the first recipe I used because I was so excited about it and it's dark bitter chocolatey goodness...

Darkest Chocolate Cake


225 grams gf plain flour
1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
75 grams cocoa
300 grams soft dark brown sugar
375 millilitres hot water from a recently boiled kettle
75 grams coconut oil (90ml)
1½ teaspoons cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon edible rose petals or flowers (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped pistachios (optional)


60 millilitres cold water
75 grams coconut butter (this is not the same as oil)
50 grams soft dark sugar
1½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
1½ tablespoons cocoa
150 grams dark chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids, see Intro), finely chopped


You will need a 20cm/8in round springform cake tin.
Start with the icing, though first preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4 and pop in a baking sheet at the same time.
Put all of the icing ingredients except the chopped chocolate into a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil, making sure everything’s dissolved.
Then turn off the heat – but leave the pan on the hob – then quickly add the finely chopped chocolate and swirl the pan so that it is all underwater, so to speak.
Leave for a minute, then whisk until you have a darkly glossy icing, and leave to cool.
Give the icing a stir with a spatula every now and again.
Line the bottom of your springform cake tin (you will need a good, leakproof one as this is a very wet batter) with baking parchment.
Put the flour, bicarb, salt and instant espresso and cocoa in a bowl and fork to mix.
Mix together the sugar, water, coconut oil and vinegar until the coconut oil has melted, and stir into the dry ingredients, then pour into the prepared tin and bake for 35 minutes. Though do check at the 30-minute mark to see if it is already done.
When it's ready, the cake will be coming away from the edges of the tin and a cake tester will come out clean, apart from a few crumbs.
This is a fudgy cake and you don't want to overdo it.
Once the cake is cooked, transfer the tin to a wire rack and let the cake cool in its tin.
Turn to your icing, and give it a good stir with a spatula to check it is at the right consistency.
It needs to be runny enough to cover the cake, but thick enough to stay (mostly) on the top.
So pour over the unmoulded cake, and use a spatula to ease the icing to the edges, if needed.
If you wish to decorate, now is the time to do it.
In which case, sprinkle with rose petals and chopped pistachios or anything else that your heart desires; otherwise, leave it gleaming darkly and, indeed, sumptuously.
Leave to stand for 30 minutes for the icing to set before slicing into the cake.

SKS Bottle & Packaging Inc

The very kind people at SKS Bottle & Packaging Inc sent me some sample products to try! I checked out their website and there is a pretty impressive selection of container materials,  shapes and sizes. They make custom labels too! It's really great if you like to make your own products like me! Most of the products are made in the USA which is very important to me. Really worth a look if you plan to sell  or gift any homemade products and want to package professionally!

Here's a list of the products they sent me and how I plan to use them;

1. Blue PET Cosmo Rounds with Black Fine Mist Sprayer 4 oz (stock# 0027-12)
This is a mist sprayer perfect for homemade perfume or face mist. Here's a link to homemade mists and toners!

2. Amber PET Straight Sided Jars with Black Smooth Plastic Caps 16oz (stock# 0609-31)
Great size for homemade beauty items like bath salts and moisturizer, here's a link to my DIY page.

3. Footed Metal Tin 6oz (stock# 5567-02)
This is a great sealed container for homemade candles or facial moisturizer. Especially if you plan to give them as gifts or sell them.

4. Glass Amber Round with Black Bulb Droppers 2oz (stock# 4001-22)
If you buy any oils in bulk or you make your own scented oils for hair and face this bottle is a good size for everyday use with a dropper for minimal waste!

5. Clear Glass French Square Bottle with Cork Stopper 4oz (stock# 4055-14)
This bottle is so pretty and would make an excellent gift - perhaps containing some raspberry cordial or homemade vegan Baileys!

6. Clear Glass Beverage Bottle with Gold Metal Lug Caps 16oz (stock# 4034-06)
These gorgeous bottles would be perfect for homemade nut milk or juice.

7. Clear PET Boston Rounds with Black Mini Trigger Sprayers 16oz (stock# 0028-109)
Great spray bottle with a little more power for leave in spray conditioner or homemade cleaning products such as stain remover or surface spray.

8. Clear Glass Square Candle Jars 7.75oz (stock# 40160075.01S)
Perfect for making your own vegan candles! Here's a web page on how to make Soy Wax Candles.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Noodle Soup with Star Anise Broth

Based on Nigella Lawson's Noodle Soup for Needy People. I didn't have all the ingredients so I was winging it - still turned out pretty good though. I loved the subtle flavour brought by the star anise. I used matchstick carrots, fresh shitake mushrooms and bean sprouts.

Noodle Soup with Star Anise Broth


6 ounces soba or rice noodles (dried, from a packet)
3 cups vegetable or dashi broth
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 star anise
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 cup bean sprouts
3/4 cup sugar snaps
3/4 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
2 heads baby bok choy, finely sliced
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves


Cook the noodles according to packet instructions and while the water is boiling fill a nearby saucepan with stock, brown sugar, star anise, ginger and soy sauce. (When the noodles are done, just drain them and put half in each bowl.)
When the flavored stock comes to a boil, add the vegetables. 
They should be cooked before 2 minutes are up.
Pour half into each bowl, over the cooked and drained noodles and sprinkle with cilantro.

Post Baby Body Journey

I gave birth to my beautiful son in February and in the first 6 weeks I naturally lost some weight as all women do. I was around 175lbs right before he was born and by week 6 post delivery I was about 160lbs. The weight then stagnated and I realised I wasn't going to get back to my pre-baby weight of 130-140lbs without some extra help. I don't care about being skinny but I like to be healthy and I've been wearing maternity clothes for a year now - it would be nice to wear my old clothes for a change.
I figure a blog entry (although not technically about veganism) will help hold me accountable, motivate me in some way and hopefully will be helpful to someone as well :)

Tell me this face isn't worth a few extra pounds!

I want to say that I've personally always struggled with body issues like a lot of women, and I think if you're happy the way you are then more power to you! I wish that was me but I know I'm not content unless I'm fit and can feel good about myself. No body shaming here though I promise you! Carrying and delivering a baby takes a lot out of you and I'm glad my OB always told me I was gaining the right amount of weight cause I would have worried about it if I'd known I'd gone over.

Unfortunately I was not blessed with a flowing milk supply and was put on medication. The medication works but it has side affects - one being depression. I've lowered my dosage so i'm not depressed but I am still numb-ish and unmotivated so I have to push myself extra hard!

This is 2 days after baby, looking 6 months pregnant

This is 4 weeks after baby (no exercise)

In the weeks after I got the OK to exercise (after my 6 week OB check up) I started going for walks with baby. I soon discovered how out of shape I was, I was exhausted. I tried going a few times a week. Now my challenge in the last few weeks (weeks 8-11 post baby) was to do at least an hour of walking a day or its equivalent such as 20-30 mins of cardio/running. I've been able to get that walk in most days but then we had rain so I started up on my Beachbody Challenge again since I have the DVDs and can do it from home. It killed me so I realised I was too out of shape to do that everyday. I've done a couple of sessions though with breaks in between. On days when I really didn't want to do anything and I actually got some time when the baby was asleep (which is the challenge when baby isn't included) I did yoga or pilates. I did one workout on YouTube that included baby but only half of the exercises he liked, the other half he was not having at all but it might just be an age thing. I tried going to the gym to run on the treadmill but baby kept getting upset so it didn't work out so well!

I have an apple shape, I carry all my weight in my belly so post pregnancy jelly belly is what I'm trying to lose the most. It won't ever be flat and I'm ok with that - as long as I'm fit and healthy.

We are moving from Utah to Florida in a couple of months so I'm hoping the weather improvement will mean I get outside more. I'd love to start running again which I really enjoy.

At week 10 these are my measurements;
*I'm still breastfeeding so my breast measurements will be larger than normal anyway.

This is me at 11 weeks post baby after starting to get back into an exercise regime.

Here are my stats for week 11;

So I've already lost a few pounds and some 1/2 inches from around my body so I'm happy with that progress! I've been avoiding refined sugar as much as possible as well, mainly in the form of sucrose but trying to avoid simple carbohydrates as well. 


OK full confession. I'm at 5.5 months post baby now and have done little to no exercise but I do have a fairly good excuse. I had a string of overseas visitors who I did a few road trips with, we moved across to the other side of the country and still have not moved into our new home (living with a friend, who's kids are on summer vacation so home all the time and all our things still in storage). I only just started walking again - the Florida summer heat is a killer! I have to go fairly early in the morning if I want to go and to top it off the used jogger I bought for baby had a bad tire so I'm still waiting on a new one to arrive. I am currently at 162lbs, but I am completely motivated (especially once we move to our new home) to get my butt into gear. I have a trip back home to Australia planned in 3 months so I definitely need to loose some weight before then - I refuse to wear maternity clothes for another year!!

Recent road trip to Key West.
Me at 5.5 months post baby, weighing 162lbs and trying to hide it with a very un-enthused looking baby. 

My son turned 6 months old the other day, we have been moved into our new place for over a week and finally unpacked. Walking into my wardrobe is pretty depressing when I know I can only wear 2% of it! The kids have just gone back to school this week and I do get slack when they are in the house all day cause it's harder. So I have exercised the past three days in a row doing jogging/walking, spin and weights (5lbs hand weights) plus I've been eating very healthy so I'm hoping to see some results in the next couple of weeks that will motivate me to keep going! My plan was to also incorporate either yoga or pilates in each day too but haven't yet. I'm only working out the 5 days a week that the kids are in school, trying to include cardio, weights and core/strength training. Time to be held accountable!

7 months old and we had a two week spat where we were both sick (fun times) but still tried to keep to eating healthy and only had a few comfort items! So I only gained back a pound then. I'm back into it now doing running or cycling for 30mins, 3 sets of weights and just recent;y started up Pilates again which I had missed. It's made me feel great doing it again. So far I've lost 5 lbs but have not taken any measurements in a while so that's still to come!

Baby & I out for a jog!

8.5 months postpartum;
I've lost 10lbs now which really motivates me to keep going. I'm still trying just the weekdays of cardio, weights and strength. I've been trying to eat oatmeal for breakfast, lentil soup for lunch then eat dinner with the family.


It is now January 2017, my baby is nearly one year old!!! So we are at 11 months post delivery and I was doing very well with exercise etc until I went to Australia in November! I didn't do any exercise while I was away for 3 weeks and ate out a lot! You can read about that here! Beautiful jacaranda and jasmine were in bloom - gorgeous time of year to be back!

In Sydney

In Coolum Beach (Sunshine Coast)

Then when I got back there was the craziness with the three immediate family members birthday's that plague us every December and then Xmas (which we had all our relatives come and stay). So it was hectic and I know it's no excuse but I did lapse. I also hurt my foot in Australia and it's still no better 3 months later so I'll see what the specialist has to say but for the meantime a walk is about all I can manage.
I started a sugar cleanse on January 1st so I'm currently in week 3 of that. You can read about that here. I am at around 153lbs and hoping to get down to around 140lbs, or enough to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothing!
I've been walking almost every day for around 30-40 minutes and I just started back doing yoga and weights so hopefully it will pay off...especially since I'm not eating sugar ;)

May 2017 Update (16 months postpartum)

After not having that much luck with the sugar cleanse I did a Wholefood Cleanse based on the Daniel Fast. I lost 3lbs in 21 days so I was happy about that. Currently at 147lbs, I've felt like I've had more energy too so I started stepping up my walks to 1 hour, 5 days a week plus 20 minutes of yoga and some weights if I feel like it.
It's a slow journey but I'm getting there ;)

July 2017 Update (18 months postpartum)

Been jogging or walking for at least an hour a day and trying to fit in yoga and weights if I can. Being sticking mainly to whole foods. Currently at 144lbs so only 4lbs off my pre-pregnancy weight! (There was even a day when the scales said 142lbs and threw a small party for myself on the inside but it was short lived - thanks scales!)

Here is my original measurements;

July's measurements:          
                                              144       12         22.5                   31.5             39   39.5

So no difference in stomach area which is kind of sucky but hopefully more jogging and yoga will change that. I should get back into pilates, that was always great for my stomach! Still no stretch marks though - so yay cream!


July 2018 Update (2 years 5 months post partum)

After a wholefood cleanse and some running and yoga I'm down to 140lbs but I was down to the late 130's before I went to Australia in November. I had been so good about running around 4 times a week and eating helthy and my holiday threw me back into old habits. Not to mention Aussie's drink a lot of alcohol... a I was gaining plenty of empty calories. I'm back to running and yoga and "trying" to stay on a whole food diet. My goal weight is a still 132lbs (60kg) which although isn't the slimmest I've been but it's a good weight for me and easy to maintain.


Post baby struggles are about lots of things, not just body shapes. My hair, that I hadn't even realised had been falling out while I was pregnant, started to grow back. About the time my little man was 9 months old I noticed a mane-like mullet growing around my head...gross! (Sidebar - I don't use shampoo...more on that here.)

So I waited until it had grown out a bit to this... (baby about 15 months old then)

Decided since it was long enough to donate then it was time to get the chop!

Nice list here someone put together of the best places to donate hair (USA). I chose Children with Hair Loss.

I was surprised that after losing my curl during pregnancy it almost came back again when I got it cut!
Also the hairdresser had only vegan products and gave me some samples...winning!