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Sunday, May 23, 2010

choco cake

My partner's birthday cake!
He did ask for a chocolate cake and that's what he got. I have to say my daughter was as excited as he was. (maybe even more)

The sponge cake
dry ingredients: wholemeal spelt flour, tensai sugar, baking soda, powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt
wet ingredients: grated zucchini, stewed apple, rice milk, sunflower oil, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar

chocolate frost: raw cocoa butter, raw cocoa powder, raw cashew, avocado, agave syrup, maple syrup, vanilla,

My daughter got to lick all the spoons and utensils after making the chocolate frost! and she didn't know about the avocado...(unfortunately she is not a big fan of the nutritious fruit)

The note on Tensai sugar... It is an unprocessed sugar that is derived form beet grew in Hokkaido. (north of Japan) The most of plants grown for sweeteners are grown in warm climate therefore it has a tendency to cool the body. Tensai sugar grown in colder region is not as cooling as other sweeteners. Also it has more nutritional content than white sugar and has a bit of lactobacillus as well.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The ethics of what we eat

Today I'd like to mention about this vital read. The ethics of what we eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason.
I have personally listened to Peter Singer talk at a sustainable festival one year and it is not an exaggeration to say that the day changed my lifestyle completely.
I have a deep respect for what he has done and continues to do for animals, environment and human rights.

This book is well researched and without being preachy it gives a very important message. Yes. what you decide to buy and eat does make a greater impact than you may imagine.

The issue "ethical eating" is raised following three families in America. One follows the Standard American Diet [SAD], which contains high levels of meat consumption and fast food. Their primary consideration is availability and cost. The second, although aware of more ethical option their purchase is influenced by the available time and convenience due to their busy lifestyle and family demand. The third, a "vegan" family has managed to shun all animal foods and seek out organically grown food whenever possible. Their greatest problem is acquiring foods that meet their standards and not being able to fit in to their "average" community.

It covers factory farming, labelling, seafood, local eating, fair trading, vegan and vegetarianism.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested to know more about where our food comes from and how we could help ethically.
Our food choice is a form of political action. why give money to those who are doing unethical things in the world?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

friends of the earth

I don't know why I haven't written about FOE before. I have been working there for a couple of years now. I cook there once a week. (mainly tuesdays)

The shop has food co-op, book shop and people work for campaigns etc upstairs.

The food co-op is an ethical trader that has been going in Melbourne for more than 30 years. It provides affordable, low packaged (bulk) food, fruit and vegetables, health and eco-cleaning products. The particular emphasis is to provide natural, organic produce that is grown and prepared locally - preferably by small companies and producers.
It has a cafe and serves lunch from 12pm till it runs out. We mainly use fresh organic produce to create mixed lunch plates from monday to saturday. The menu changes everyday, using the freshest seasonal ingredients. On sunday we have vegan pies and salad. Tempting cakes, muffins etc and fair trade coffee and teas are served all day.

The Bookshop provides a diverse range of information on environmental and social justice issues, as well as wide range of eco-friendly and fairly made products, including stationery, clothing, footwear and bags.

FOE is open
10am - 6pm Monday to Friday

10am - 4pm Saturday

11am - 4pm Sunday

By shopping there you will be helping not only FOE but the environment too. It is a great community shop.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

palm oil

Palm oil is something that I try to avoid all the time. It is pretty easy for me because I hardly buy any commercially processed food and when I do I buy organic or biodynamic products as much as possible.

why avoid palm oil?

Because today, the most common cause of deforestation and fragmentation in Indonesia and Malaysia is related to palm oil development. This is costing our environment and lives of creatures who live there.
In SE Asia alone, the equivalent of 300 football fields are deforested every hour for palm oil production and typically costs the lives of up to 50 Orang-utans each week.

Australians unknowingly consume on average 10 kilograms of palm oil each year because the manufactureres do not have to label the oil in theire ingredients.

We have a right to know if the products you buy contain palm oil. However without legislation change, palm oil will remain unlabelled and you just won't know if the food products you are buying are pushing orangutans to extinction.

there are a few organisation which are trying to stop this.
Please visit their websites and sign the petition.

Meanwhile next time you go to a store to buy a product have a look at the ingredients. If it contains vegetable oil there is a good chance that contains palm oil.
If not it proberbly GM corn, soy or canola oil anyway.
avoid the products if you can.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

tonight's dinner-seitan cutlets

here is tonight's dinner.
I made seitan yesterday. I always made them myself with wheat flour but today I tried half wheat and half spelt. It did work!
Spelt flour does have gluten but a bit easier to digest than wheat gluten. I will try to make it again with 100% spelt next time to see if it works...
Seitan is not a great thing if you are intolerant to gluten but if you are not it is a great alternative to meat. the texture adds a satisfying depth to a meal and high in protein. you can purchase it at a health store etc but it is simple to make. (though takes a bit of time..)
the sauce is barley miso, kombu stock and rice syrup.

sprouted grain bread sticks

I often make my own sprouted essential bread. these bread are so nutritious as only sprouted grains and no flour is used.
Because the weather is getting colder I used oats and rye this time.
as much as I love these bread my daughter is not a big fan of it. so I decided to make a breadstick instead.

I added some wholemeal spelt flour to the sprouted grains which were mashed up in a food processor. mix with enough water to make a non-sticky dough. rest a little and bake till light brown and crispy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

omnivores dilemma by michael pollen 2

I have finished reading "omnivores dilemma".
No wonder it is one of the best selling books on the industrial food issues. The book is well written and contain lots of (scary) informations.
He mentions three options in the book.
1) look away
2)be a vegetarian/vegan
3)look and obtain yourself.
I can't look away and pretend that it is not happening. I don't think I can go and hunt my dinner. (though I do and will grow and gather) So my choice was quite obvious.

One of the very interesting topics that he talks about is a industrial organic businesses. Personally I always try to buy from small organic businesses. Though I have to admit without these industrial businesses the whole organic and sustainable industry would not have become as mainstream as it is today. Because if it is a choice between a conventional and organic/bio dynamic I will always choose latter option.

there will always be a tricky situation. conventional and local or organic and overseas? how about low quality organic products or high quality small conventional businesses?
Question I always ask myself is if I really need it. For example you want to make a lentil soup. You go to a shop and see there is a bag of organically grown lentil from china. do you really need that lentil? or can you replace that with australian organic chickpeas instead?
Do you need to have a banana that has traveled from Queensland or can you eat a local new-season crispy fuji apple? (I am in melbourne)

remember we have a choice...

Here is a picture of these beautiful fuji apples. it must be the best apple season this year
... sorry I couldn't help myself

Friday, May 14, 2010

nightshade vegetables

today I would like to talk a bit about nightshade vegetables. They are members of the solanaceae family and include tomato, potato, eggplant and peppers. Yes they are one of the most popular vegetables in the west!
They contain lots of good nutrients however also have toxins such as saponines, phenols, enzyme inhabitors and alkaloids.
Solanin, found mainly in green potatoes and in unripen tomatoes are found to have a toxic effect on digestive system, causing stomach aches, cramps and loose bowls. Combined with saponines they are found to have an ability to block activity of enzyme in nerve cells. If the activity is too strongly blocked the nervous system control of muscle movement can be disrupted.
Another main alkaloids found in nightshade vegetable is steroid alkaloid. The problem with this is the alkaloid involves damage to the joints caused by inflammation and altered mineral states. Some researches found that nightshade alkaloids can contribute to excessive loss of calcium from bone and excessive depositing of calcium in soft tissues.
For these reasons many individuals with joint problems and concern for their wellbeing avoid these foods.
If you suspect if your consumption of nightshade vegetables are contributing a health problem, try eliminating them for 2-3 weeks and see if it improves.
Even if you are not currantly experiencing any effects form these foods, it is a good idea to cut down on the amount and especially careful with potatoes.

Make sure you are not consuming any of the green spots and they had not been waxed. (waxing the potatoes can increase potato decay by cutting down on gas exchange in and out of the potato.)
Cooking the nightshade vegetables is a good idea, reducing the amount of the toxic alkaloids. (though only 40% or so)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Autumn is my favourite season. The leaves on the trees are turning colours and the air is fresher and crispier. And of course this is the season for chestnuts!
There are a few ways to prepare the little sweet delights. My usual way is to boil them whole and peel them when they are done. Just to make sure to peel straight after cooking otherwise it becomes harder to peel. you can also roast them in the oven.
I like them as simple snack, addition to my soups or with any grain. You can make a sweet tasting pate as well.
Even though they are called NUTS. they contain little fat and calories. the carbohydrate amount is quite high, having as much starch as potatoes.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

raw vegan food

Raw foods are increasing popularity. It is a diet based on fresh vegetables, fruits, sprouted grains and legumes and raw seeds and nuts.
Because the food is not cooked all the enzymes, vitamins and minerals are left. Especially by sprouting the grains and legumes you are increasing the nutritional content drastically and also making the grains more bioavailable.
And by not heating you are avoiding potential harmful effect of cooked food.
For example - heterocyclic amines (possible cancer causing by heating muscle tissues)
-advanced glycation end products (contributes to ageing and diabetes related
Lots of people decide to be on this diet for a short while for de-toxing.
It can be a great diet but also can be very unhealthy if not careful. (that of course is for any diet)
You have to make sure you chew the food very throughly to increase bioavailability of the food and also be careful with food-poisoning. More care is needed for children and pregnant, lactating women. Make sure you are getting sufficiant calories.
experimanting with Superfoods (such as maca powder, spirulina, bee-pollen etc.)can be a good addition to the diet as well

mother's day

today is mother's day.
I think my daughter was more excited than I was.
When I came back from my morning walk she had left a big sign that said "happy mum's day" and was hiding in the bed to surprise me.
She made me beautiful presents too.
I got myself an aromatherapy vaporiser and some essential oils too. The aromatherapy is one of the things I'd like to get a habit of using more this year.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Yong green food

Second time at Yong green food. I think this is my favourite restaurant cafe at the moment. There are many vegetarian restaurants in melbourne but this is one of few where I can trust their quality of ingredients.
The staff are so friendly and nice quiet atmosphere
Last time I went with a friend and we had raw sushi and lentil hot pot with brown rice. I was not so sure about the chewiness of the sushi but the hot pot was very nice. The spices were not overpowering and very clean taste which I really like.
Today I took my daughter. (well, actually SHE took me out for lunch for mother's day lunch. not bad for a 6 year old)
I really wanted to explore the world of raw food more so we ordered nacho and cashew bread.
The dips especially sunflower seed and beetroot dips were so tasty. The meals looked quite small but surprisingly filling.
I couldn't say no to a dessert afterwards. We shared a blueberry cashew cheesecake. The crust could have been a bit more nutty but my daughter loved it. She did say it tasted like my raw cheesecake.

I will definitely go back again and try more things. It can't go wrong with an organic and vegan restaurant. I hope there will be more of these opening up...

I will post a little thought on raw food soon.

date squares

I made these date squares for friday market at my daughter's school.

crust- oats, wholemeal spelt flour, sunflower oil, coconut oil, cinnamon and coconut sugar.
filling- dates, lemon juice and amaranth.
baked at 180 degrees till the crust browns nicely.

wholesome snack for anytime...

Friday, May 7, 2010

snack with Acai and pickled vegetables

After a good labour at my garden this is my quick snack.

Pickled vegetables are great to have as a tasty condiment. Because I get excited about fresh vegetables and often buy too much all at once it is an excellent way of using them up too.
I have added about a table spoon of Acai. It is know for its an amazing energy source packed full of anti-oxidasnts, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
1serve (5g) contains the same level of antioxidants as over blueberries.

my renewed garden

I have been a bit slack... My garden was looking so empty and sad. Well.. not anymore! I went to ceres and got heaps of goodies for my garden soil. And after a couple of hours (and about $80)..... great improvement!
I even made a kind of hot house for
my seeds. kale, celery, bok choy and cabbage. Now I just have to wait for a week for the fertiliser to settle and plant more seeds. (planning to plant onions, carrots, watercress etc.)
I got some live worms too for a worm farm. It was left here when I moved in and I have nev
er used it.
I hope in a few weeks I can post exciting photos (as my garden flourish!) I do need a bit of luck though I am not know to have green thumb....

Thursday, May 6, 2010

omnivores dilemma by michael pollen 1

I have started reading omnivores dilemma by Michael Pollan
It is a must read if you'd like to know more about what you are eating. Pollan follows each of food chains- industrial, organic and alternative food. When you have a meal it is no longer a simple food for us anymore. The choice you make will have a tremendous impact on not just your health but the health of our environment, plant and animal species and our future generations.
The process that goes behind the high wall is as shocking and unnerving as I imagined and more.
The knowledge is power and the important thing is to act on the knowledge too.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I'm back

After the last post nearly 6 months ago. I am back!
There were a few things in my life I had to sort out and put the energy in. It was not pleasant but it made me grow up and think about myself and well being.
We complain often about a circumstance that we are not happy with. Finding the solution to make it better and find peace can be difficult. It takes time too.
However when you come out of it you are stronger, calmer and happier person.
Happiness is a decision that you make.
I will be posting some more soon.