DRAGON FRUIT SMOOTHIE BOWL

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This creation was inspired by the most beautiful bright pink flesh of a dragon fruit we saw at the OZC Farm Market last Saturday. Our weekends usually involve a market morning and the purchasing of some incredible fresh produce. This Saturday was no different!

As we were strolling between the market stalls the bright pink fruit caught my eye while marvellously displayed on a wooden tray. I am definitely more of a chocolaty smoothie kinda girl, but after tasting this tropical delight I may actually be converted! I immediately bought one and decided to create something fun with it. And so my dragon fruit smoothie bowl was born!

I have started noticing that the more I create recipes and plan meal ideas, the more creative I am becoming. Food is something we consume every single day, we might as well put some time and creativity into it every now and again! I hear from friends on a daily basis that they do not enjoy cooking and that makes food more of a health obstacle than anything else. This is why I recommend putting yourself in situations where food can feel inspiring and exciting, like a produce market! These situations have the ability to transform how we see and think about food.

Now, onto this insanely yummy smoothie bowl. The trick to the best smoothie bowl ever is freezing your fruit! This creates the most amazing ice-creamy texture.

This smoothie bowl is:

  • Vegan
  • Tropical
  • Thick & creamy
  • Naturally sweet
  • Healthy
  • Dairy free
  • Delicious
  • Nutritious
Overview:

Serves: 1

Prep & freeze time: Overnight

Blend time: 1 minute

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen dragon fruit

1 cup frozen mango

1 cup frozen banana

Dash of water or nut mylk

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Method:

Throw all the ingredients into a blender or NutriBullet and blend! The blending process may take a while to get moving smoothly, give it a minute or two and slowly add in liquid if necessary. The less liquid the thicker and more ice-cream-like the consistency!

To serve:

Top your smoothie bowl with fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut chips or granola (see my recipe for a Coconut Cranberry Granola). The options are endless. Have fun with it!

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COCONUT CRANBERRY GRANOLA

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This last minute granola recipe turned out to be one of my favourite recipes yet. Quick and easy with guaranteed natural goodness. I have always loved granola but in the back of my mind I knew I was consuming all the added sugars and preservatives. This was definitely the motivation behind this recipe and I was so impressed with it that I thought I would share it with all of you!

Most of the ingredients used in this recipe are staples in my kitchen, which made the process super simple! I did a quick food haul at Atlas Trading Company in Cape Town to stock up on all the ingredients I was short on and I highly recommend giving them a visit when looking for nuts, seeds, dried fruits, grains or spices if you are in Cape Town. Their prices are brilliant.

Feel free to play around with different combinations of seeds, sweeteners or dried fruits, it is all about what is accessible to you and what you will enjoy most!

This recipe is:

  • Healthy
  • Delicious
  • Plant-based
  • Vegan
  • Simple
  • Naturally sweetened
  • Light
  • Crunchy
Overview:

Serves: 8

Prep time: 2 minutes

Bake time: 5-10 minutes

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Ingredients:

3½ cups rolled oats

1 cup coconut chips

½ cup cranberries

4 Tbsp coconut oil

3 Tbsp maple syrup or honey

2 Tbsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp vanilla essence

Mixed seeds*:

2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds

½ cup flax seeds

2 Tbsp sesame seeds

4 Tbsp chia seeds

*A pre-made seed mix will do perfectly and will be a cost effective option!

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°c.

Spread the granola out evenly on a baking tray and leave in the oven for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown. You may want to add the coconut chips towards the end of the process to prevent them from burning.

Tip: Mix the granola around every few minutes!

To serve:

This granola can simply be eaten with some nut mylk (almond mylk is my favourite) or coconut yoghurt, topped with fresh fruit. It could also be used as a topping for smoothie bowls!

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A WARM OR COLD ROASTED VEGETABLE COUSCOUS SALAD

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When my boyfriend and I decided to become plant-based eaters our initial question was, what do we eat??? We loved everything we were learning about the benefits of fruits, vegetables and whole-grains on our bodies, but that didn’t come with a meal plan.

A few hours after our decision to change our lifestyles we were faced with a daunting dinner time approaching with absolutely no idea what to eat, so we did what any sane being would have done, decided to take the easy way out and throw together a whole lot of random vegetables and roast them up!

I must say, the results had us unexpectedly pleased, I mean who doesn’t like roasted vegetables? All it took was a sprinkle of salt and we were more than impressed with our first attempts at being plant-based eaters.

This has brought me to want to share a super simple recipe that takes me back to our early stages and will hopefully help you through yours, and if you struggle to get your vegetables in, roasting them is definitely an amazing way to make them super delicious and will have you devouring them in no time.

I hope you absolutely love this simple lunch or dinner idea, as it is:

  • Fresh
  • Healthy
  • Satisfying
  • Nutritious
  • Seasonally versatile
  • & super delicious
Overview:

Serves: 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

 Ingredients:

10 carrots (get creative with different variations)

5 Courgettes

1 Red pepper

10 Baby tomatoes

Salt & pepper

Paprika

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

Olive oil

1½ cups whole wheat couscous

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°c and place the washed and dried vegetables on a roasting tray. Top with olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and even a sprinkle of paprika. Mix these together well to coat each vegetable as evenly as possible.

While your vegetables are roasting in the oven, dice up an onion and combine with a splash of olive oil in a pot.

Once the onion starts to become slightly translucent, add in the 2 cloves of minced garlic and allow to simmer until fragrant.

Add in the dry couscous and stir through for a minute or two before adding enough boiling water to the pot to cover the couscous well (make sure the water line is about 2cm above the couscous).

Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven once the carrots are soft enough to pierce.

Slice up your roast veg into the desired sizes and combine with the couscous mixture. I like to keep a few carrots whole. You could also cut up your vegetables before roasting them, I just prefer to let them cook whole as they tend to turn out sweeter that way!

To serve:

Serve as a hot meal or as a cold couscous salad. A dollop of hummus or pesto is a lovely addition to either, and a side salad of baby spinach as your greens is also a winner!

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EASY HOMEMADE VEGAN BAKED FALAFELS

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My ultimate favourite Saturday morning ritual involves the most delicious falafel bowl at the local market near our home. As the weekend approaches, I am always so incredibly excited to be a day closer to the delicious falafels I have craved throughout my week. This is what inspired me to create an easy and delicious homemade falafel recipe for us to enjoy during the week, while I eagerly wait for Saturday ‘s arrival.

Another plus to this falafel recipe is that it is baked and not fried, in fact, this is an oil-free recipe if you decide not to oil your baking tray.

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If you are a fan of parsley the way I am, you’ll love the fresh bursts of flavour throughout the falafel. If not, finer dicing of the parsley will ensure you won’t be getting any green mouthfuls along the way – although I look forward to these moments!

I was so happy with the crunchy texture of these when I first made them, and I am yet to make a batch that hasn’t been crunchy on the outside and warm and crumbly on the inside, they are simply delicious and so quick to make! I served mine as an addition to a Buddha bowl, or they could be enjoyed as is, with a side of hummus of course. It is completely up to you!

Overview:

Serves: 2-3 people (makes 12 medium sized falafels)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Bake time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cans of chickpeas (400g)

2 Tbsp ground flaxseed

1 onion (diced)

6 cloves garlic (diced)

4 Tbsp chickpea flour (or any other flour)

2 Tbsp tahini

½ tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 cup fresh parsley (I used Italian parsley)

Salt & pepper to taste

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Method:

Add both cans of chickpeas to a food processor and blend until a paste-like consistency is reached.

Fry your diced onion and half of the diced garlic together in a pan until the onions are soft or translucent.

Put the chickpea mixture into a mixing bowl and place the remaining ingredients into the food processor to blend.

Combine both mixtures well, along with the fried onions and garlic and form the desired shape for your falafels (this could be a ball or patty shape).

Once combined, further salt to taste.

Preheat the oven to 200°c, then turn down to 180°c and place the falafels on the baking sheet or tray. If placing the falafels directly onto the baking tray, I suggest lightly oiling the tray with olive oil.

Remove the falafels after 15 minutes or once the falafels are golden brown and crispy, turn over for another few minutes if the underside is not yet golden.

To serve:

These golden falafels can be served as an addition to a meal, as patties for a burger, or as a simple side dish. Enjoy with a dip, salsa or hummus. Serve warm.

MUSHROOM, MANGO & CUCUMBER SUSHI

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If you have read my previous post you will know how I started on this journey of eating plant-based, although from day one there was always one food I truly struggled giving up… SUSHI. Michael and I decided (in the early stages of transition) that we would allow ourselves a sushi date on special occasions like a birthday or anniversary, although this was a huge problem as it really made cutting that final string more difficult than it needed to be! As of January the first 2018, we have fully cut non-vegan sushi from our diets!

It was pretty clear that after learning the negative effects of animal products on the human body, each piece of salmon sushi felt more and more conflicting. We went from full-on sashimi eaters to ordering pieces with majority rice and cringing at the thought of how we used to devour salmon slabs at the ready.

Once I had made my own vegan sushi at home I realised that the small piece of fish would never be missed again. I decided to try out a combination that was a little different, although to my surprise it was absolutely perfect! Not too bad for a first attempt? I think not!

This recipe is a super simple one, although it is packed with flavour. This combination is the perfect reason to try out a sushi recipe at home, I really could not recommend it more! I used the cucumber and avocado interchangeably, cucumber in the first 5 rolls and avocado in the remaining 5! The cucumber adds an amazing freshness and crunch factor, while the avocado is, well, it’s avocado. What’s not to love?

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The preparation of the rice is the most timely aspect of this recipe, although while the rice is cooking on the stove you can get to work slicing up those fruits and vegetables and pop the brown mushrooms into the oven to get soft and juicy.

Overview:

Serves: 2-3

Prep time: 45-60 minutes

Rolling time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

Sushi rice – cooked as per package instructions (incl. rice vinegar, salt & sugar)

10 sheets Nori

6 big brown mushrooms

1 ripe mango

1 ripe avocado

1 cucumber

Sesame seeds (optional)

Sides:

Low sodium soy sauce or any dipping sauce of your choice

Pickled ginger

Wasabi

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Method:

Cook the rice as per package instructions. This should include the use of rice vinegar,  along with a small amount of salt and sugar.

Place the brown mushrooms into the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. If you would like a spicy mushroom variation, top with dried chilli flakes.

While the rice and mushrooms are cooking, begin to slice up the cucumber, mango and avocado into long and thin slices. Try to keep the sizes similar to ensure easier rolling later on.

Once the rice is cooked, place it in a colander and rinse gently with cooler water to bring the temperature down. Then add the rice vinegar, salt and sugar mix and combine well.

Remove the mushrooms from the oven once they have browned and softened and slice into long strips.

Place a sheet of nori onto a rolling mat and cover about one third to half the sheet with the sushi rice. Trick: keep a bowl of water nearby to help with sticky fingers!

Begin to add the cucumber/avocado, mango and mushroom to the roll.

Gently and slowly roll the nori, as tightly as possible.

To close the sheet, wet the end strip of nori and stick it down.

To serve:

Cut the rolls into bite sized pieces or enjoy as a sushi burrito. We did both!

Serve with pickled ginger, low sodium soy sauce and wasabi, and top with sesame seeds. You could even add a drizzle of vegan sriracha mayo if desired! The combination of a bit of spice and the mango is delicious!

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WHY I BECAME PLANT-BASED

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It’s been over six months since starting on this new path and I would like to share with you exactly what started it all, the ups and downs of the journey and what I have learnt along the way.

It all began with a documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, which I spoke briefly about in a previous post about the Eco Cabins we stayed in while visiting the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. I came across the documentary completely by accident one day while on YouTube, and after watching it I could not wait for Michael (my boyfriend) to get home so I could share it with him. A few hours later he and I were watching it together, me now for the second time. What this documentary did for me was completely open my mind and started me on a journey towards mindfulness.

When I think about how my journey all fell into place I get goosebumps, I mean a documentary like Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things has nothing to do with food or eating? Although it led me to want to learn more and not live a life simply following the socially expected norms. This is what got me knowledge hungry and led me to watch other informative films rather than mindless series or movies.

The next documentary I came across was What the Health, which then led me to similar documentaries such as Forks over Knives and Food Choices. What can I say? I was hooked. What these documentaries focus on is the innacurate information we are told about meat and dairy with regards to our health. For years I believed that a healthy diet consisted of animal products, only to find out that it was all a lie. Plant-based eating is shown to be the most healthy way to eat to both prevent and reverse disease, a diet we can not only survive on but thrive on!

I know there is a stigma behind documentaries, as they are shot with a goal in mind, a one-sided debate some would say. This is exactly why after watching these I was inspired to find out the truth for myself and do my own in-depth research into food and the effects food has on our bodies.

As a result, what I found was completely mind-blowing and it reaffirmed all I had realised while watching the films. We as a society are so easily manipulated by the industries which rule over us with their money and power. This applies to materialism, food, medicine and so many other industries, it really was a frightening realisation. What was difficult for me after making such a discovery and feeling insanely enlightened was the fact that now I had become some sort of conspiracy theorist living in a world of people who thought I was utterly bonkers. I struggled to relate to those around me as I found myself bubbling over wanting to share my newly found knowledge. I must have sounded like a crazy person!

What I would like you all to understand after reading this post is that after my research, six months thereof, I decided to take my life and health into my own hands and not simply believe what billion dollar industries tell me through the media and other money-propelled mediums. I was now on a mission to create my own truths, after all, no one cares more about my personal health than I do.

What I discovered along the way

  1. Consumerism is a real thing. We have been brought up from young children with the nature of wanting more and more material possessions. This has been instilled in us every birthday and Christmas celebration. Not to mention the media which fully supports this idea of “I will be happy when I have that…”.  I can honestly say that now having found meaning in something so much more real than materialism, the constantly unfulfilled hunger for STUFF is gone, and I have the time and energy to focus on who I am as a person, what I would like to contribute to the life of others, and my new found passion, what I put into my body through what I eat.
  2. The meat and dairy industries are amongst the richest industries in the world. That brings me to the question, with so much money in selling meat and dairy products to the public, would these industries ever communicate the dangers in the consumption of these products? The answer is, unfortunately, no – as has been proven 1000 times over. If we stop eating animal products, these billion dollar industries will stand to lose A LOT of money.
  3. Animal products are killing us and causing disease.
  4. Plant-based eating is the only way forward, for our personal health and well-being, the health and well-being of animals and most importantly at this point, the survival of our planet.
  5. The consumption of meat is the biggest cause of global warming by far. Us eating meat is killing our planet and the industries do not want us to know about this.
  6. It may seem like changing your diet is a small aspect of your life, but what I want everyone reading this to know is it changed my entire life. I will never be able to go back to living life the way I was because I see life so differently now. This journey has not only stopped me from eating animal products, it has made me more compassionate towards myself, others, animals and our planet and has given me meaning the way nothing ever has before. These discoveries even inspired my new career path as now I aim to teach others what I have learnt and to help those who need it step by step along their own journey towards being a plant-based eater.

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We are all completely different, but at the same time so similar. We would all like to feel happy with who we are and live a life full of happiness which in turn will allow us to feel fulfilled. What I can suggest is watching the following documentaries and doing your own research in order to take control of your life the way I have chosen to. Below are the documentary films which opened my eyes and put me on this positive journey.

Watch these documentary films in the following order:

  1. Minimalism – A Documentary About the Important Things (It’s all in the title)
  2. Food Choices (Exposing the correlation between animal foods and disease)
  3. What the Health (Exposing industry lies at the expense of our health)
  4. Forks Over Knives (A good look into the China Study)

Most of these you can find on YouTube, and all of them can definitely be found on Netflix!

Give it a go, what do you have to lose? I would love to hear from any of you who have been on a similar journey or watched any of the above films!

All my love, Amber X

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SUN-DRIED TOMATO HUMMUS

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I have been so excited to share this recipe with you all! It is such a simple side dish which needs only half a dozen ingredients – as you may have realised by now, I love quick, easy and affordable recipes.

I decided to try out a new type of hummus as my boyfriend isn’t much of a garlic fan, and therefore my plain hummus isn’t his favourite (to my disgust). Although, this one allows for the flavour of sun-dried tomato to shine, and may I add that he loved this one! Sun-dried tomato fans, this one is for you! In addition to tasting delicious the nutritional value in a bowl of hummus like this is great, as the chickpeas are acting as the source of protein and are full of nutrients.

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Overview:

Total time: 2 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup rinsed chickpeas

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup water

1 tbs tahini

1-2 cloves garlic (to taste)

Salt & pepper (to taste)

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Method:

Throw all the ingredients into a blender of some sort and have at it! Yes, that’s it!

To serve:

I love having hummus with veggie crisps, or even over a salad! It is a perfect addition to most plant-based meals just dolloped on the plate. I topped my hummus with black sesame and pumpkin seeds, with a few sun-dried tomatoes too (completely optional).

Please let me know if you have tried and like this recipe, I would love to hear from you! Also be sure to tag me in any of your photos!