Friday 1 March 2013

February Vegan food swap and Birthday treats!

Sorry it's been a while, can't believe I haven't blogged for the whole of February! I have had a rather busy month.

On 15th February it was my Goddaughter's 1st birthday and I was very happy that the local soft play centre offered soya milk so I was able to have a Mocha! They also had vegetarian meals for kids and adults although these contained Quorn so not vegan freindly, but a lot better then the usual offerings at these places.

I also spent an afternoon at my childhood friend's house in Brighton. Both her and her fiancé are vegan and we had a lovely roast consisting of sausages, roast potatoes, mustard glazed carrots and parsnips, garlic mushrooms, purple sprouting broccoli, rice & peas and vegan yorkshire puddings. It's a shame I forgot to take a photo!

When I arrived home from Brighton my Vegan foodswap parcel had arrived from Julie

I received seaweed rice crackers which were very tasty, a golden coconut dark chocolate bar (bountyish) this was lovely and I gobbled it down soon after opening the box. I also had apricot filled biscuits which were lovely with a cup of coffee. The dark chocolate contains raspberry pieces which I didn't realise at first as it didn't say on the packet (although there is a mssive raspberry on the front!) this made a nice change. The best part of the box was the homemade vegan fudge.

This was so nice it didn't take me long to finish off the whole bag, I did manage to share a couple of pieces with my Mum though! I asked Julie for the recipe so I can have a go at making this myself. I would say this was the best fudge (vegan or otherwise) I have ever tasted!

It was also my birthday in February. I received a lovely owl bag from my Dad from Vegan Cross, I haven't taken a pic yet but here is the item on their website I also took a trip up there myself to spend some of my birthday money, I bought some soya spray cream, dark bubbly chocolate (aero-esque), cappuccino white chocolate, vegan oreos, hazelnut chocolate spread and vegan doner meat. I had the doner meat for dinner one night last week with crudite, houmous and a ciabatta roll, it was delish!

For my birthday meal my boyf took me to Manna in Primrose Hill
My phone had no battery so sorry for the lack of pics! For starter I had a cannellini bean slider with smoky paprika potato wedges and the boyf had mushroom and pepper quesadilla which he really enjoyed, I think this was the first time he had had vegan cheese or sour cream. For main I had the Caribbean platter which consisted of a stew, aromatic rice, a jerk tofu, roasted onion and plaintain kebab served with a pineapple, ackee and courgette salsa. The boyf had mushroom and asparagus risotto strudel served with a truffled jus, roasted tomatoes and seasoned greens. At this point I was starting to feel full but there was no way I was skipping dessert! We both went for the sticky toffee pudding with brandied pecan vice cream and caramel sauce and it was truely divine!

I have had a month off healthy eating owing to all the birthday celebrations, so I haven't weighed myself but will be back on it this month!

I have quite a vegan month coming up with Vegfest Brighton and I am going on a forage in Essex at the end of the month.

Until next time vegheads!

Vgirl Xx

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Itadaki Zen - Vegan Japenese in King's Cross

Now the weather has thawed out a bit (although the wind is blustering hard) vegetarian colleague and I decided to head North from the City to try out some quality Japanese cuisine.

Itadaki Zen is not far from King's Cross station and their website says
"Itadaki means ‘to take the food life’; Zen means ‘to fix, to mend’. The primary end of the Itadaki-zen cuisine is not merely an agreeable taste, but its healing qualities."

We went for the Kansei-han Tanno set at £17.00 and the Kimpab Chapche set £ 15.00 and shared it all

The Kansei-han Tanno set consisted of Kansei-han -Blended barley, millet, yellow split, peas, lentils, golden linseed, bulgar wheat, konbu seaweed, umisiba seaweed, mung beans, rice, mochi rice and black rice Ryokusaimaki - Fresh roll, cabbage leaf lightly boiled sheet enfolding Okara and vegetable filling
Seasonal vegetables with marinated peanut dressing, Marinated peanuts, Tofu with Yangyeom sauce & 3 vegetable dishes with delicate dressing or special salt seasoning and miso soup

The Kimpab Chapche set consisted of Chapche - Fried Noodles made of sweet potato starch cooked with vegetables, Kikurage (Mushrooms) and Shiitake mushrooms, Kimpab, 2 deep-fried spring rolls and Miso soup

Everything was delicately flavoured and went well together. It was nice to be able to order these set menus rather than selecting a number of dishes from a long menu. There were a number of other set menus ranging for about £12 - £28 so everyone would find something within their budget. For dessert I had a light, soft and sugar free cake, made with Kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), jujube and chestnusts; topped with tofu and vanilla cream which was served warm. It was delicious!

The staff were very friendly especially as we were very late for our reserved booking! The restaurant was quite small but there were quite a few customers for a Tuesday evening. I would definitely recommend and will be sure to return when I am in the area.

In the building I work in there is a parade of shops at the bottom. A new food place has opened up just yesterday in one of the previously vacant unit. They were giving away free lunches so unsurprisingly the queue went around the block! they are a healthy food enterprise and have a few vegan options. They do soups, salads, wraps, sushi and shwraps which are like a big sushi rolls along with healthy snacks and treats. I had their udon and dumpling soup today and was quite impressed. All their vegan options are clearly marked and the staff were very helpful.

On the BBC site today they had an article about taking photos of food definitely one for me! I haven't ever seen somebody else take photos of food in a restaurant but I often see the results online so we are a growing breed! I'll use these tips and see if my food photography improves in future posts!

On Saturday I'm going to Brixton so will share all the delights I sample there in my next post

Until then Vegheads!

Vgirl Xx

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Blue Monday Motivation?

Yesterday was Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the new year. The weather's still bad, bills have started to come in after Christmas and most people are starting to give up on their resolutions.

At work if we meet or exceed our monthly targets the company buys us breakfast one day the following month. As we exceeded our annual 2012 target the management declared yesterday "summer in the city" we were bought breakfast and a buffet lunch and we had to dress up in summery clothes. In our team the girls were in summer dresses and the boys in shorts and even a couple of the guys had come dressed for cricket! We had inflatable parrots, pictures of palm trees up and even a lilo! Our efforts didn't go unrewarded and we won best dressed team. We will get a 2 hour brunch on the company sometime soon. I managed to join in foodwise too! I had beans on toast for breakfast and at the buffet they had vegan falafel wraps, crudite and houmous and some crisps.

When I weighed myself yesterday I had lost 2lbs! This is the first time since about November. So only 12lbs to target! Got a couple of weeks til I do my measurements so hopefully they will have improved too!

I also sold some clothes on eBay so this is helping towards my saving mission for the year. I have been trying to run down my cupboard and make as many meals from staples as I can. Lots of bean soups, breads and dips. This should also help towards the weight loss mission.

I had been very unmotivated with my studying. I started an assignment got stuck on the second question and gave up. I managed to write a few pages of notes on a chapter but haven't picked it up since. I spoke to my study buddy yesterday and we're meeting on weds so last night I managed to get my re-write done! Two of my colleagues are sitting the other unit I'm sitting in April so I think that will help with motivation. I have 7 assignments that need to be completed by 22nd March and I need to write up notes on 6 chapters. I have to book my exams by 27th Feb so hopefully I will be in much better place by then!

How are you getting on with your missions/goals for 2013? Have you started to waver or are you still going strong?

Let me know Vegheads

Until next time

Vgirl Xx

Sunday 13 January 2013

Jan 2013 Vegan Food Swap

This month I received my parcel from Christine, in my special requests I asked for no chocolate as I have loads left over from Christmas, and said I was interested in trying halva, coincidentally Christine had just returned from Turkey and had brought some home with her. She put together a nuts and seeds themed parcel and it was great!

Christine made me some almond cookies which tasted great and I've never received something homemade in my swap before. The halva contained pistachios, I tried a bit out of the packet which was great and then I looked online to see how it was supposed to be eaten, most people said just on its own so I grabbed my spoon and dived right in!
I had some instant porridge with brown sugar, nuts and dried fruit. Really easy, just add boiling water. Great for busy mornings.
Also in my parcel was some trail mix, I don't think this had a proper name in the UK just fruit and nuts. I think I'm gonna add this to my porridge otherwise I'll just munch through the packet in one sitting.
Last but not least was the smoked almonds, I love smokey flavours and this make a nice change to just salted nuts.
I sent my box to Zoe and she requested a healthy theme. She received miso noodles, chai green tea, mango yoyo's, berry nakd bar, mints, berry goji energy brownie, seed/fruit mix and vegan pesto.

I made some bread today, I just use the dough from a pizza recipe, with some houmous and edamame dip. All from cupboard/freezer store. Hopefully will do me a few lunches this week.

Vegan drinks this week organised by at Tibits, can't believe its come around so quickly!

Hope you have a great healthy week

Until next time Vegheads

Vgirl Xx

Friday 11 January 2013

Vegetarians Paradise Bhel Poori

Last night on my vegetarian colleague and my monthly veggie meal out tried this vegetarian Indian restaurant in Bloomsbury.
It was a nice sized room and there were a few diners there when we arrived around 6.
They serve a lunchtime and evening buffet both reasonably priced and this is what my colleague opted for. There was a variety of curries with rice and breads and mixed starters like onion bhajis, samosas and pakoras.
I went a la carte and had a potato cake on a bed of chickpeas to start followed by a masala dosa, a pancake made of lentil flour filled with a spiced mashed potato, I also had some chana masala (chickpea curry) the waiter did point out I'd ordered a lot of chickpeas but I was aware of this and hey I love them!
It was all very good food. I think the dosa could have been half the size as it was enormous and just been filled with the potato it was a bit samey, the coconut chutney that came with it was really nice and quite sweet.
We were well attended to and not rushed at all, I think we were there over two hours chatting! I had masala tea and my friend had a coffee as we were too full for dessert.
Prices were very reasonable and our total bill came to £22 incl soft drinks.
This is a great place for veggies and meat eaters alike. Great tasting reasonably priced food with service to match!

Next month we're checking out the Japanese restaurant in Kings Cross

Til next time Veg heads

Vgirl Xx

Thursday 10 January 2013

The Gate Vegetarian Restaurant Islington

I've been a bit slack since Christmas, but got lots of vegan related things going on so will be posting more. Last night I went to see Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty at Sadler's Well in Islington with my Mum. It was AMAZING! A truely modern interpretation set from 1890 to 2011. (A real 100 years sleep!)

Beforehand we went for a meal at The Gate. I have been to their branch in Hammersmith twice, always good when seeing a show at the Apollo. We booked as I know they get busy and last night was no exception. They had a pre-theatre menu for £15 for 2 courses. This was what my mum went for, there were 2 choices for each course (1 vegan option each) but unfortunately the soup of the day was Mexican bean and the main was tacos, as much as I love beans I didn't want a double helping! My Mum is omni but regularly enjoys vegetarian food and looks up new recipes online for when I go to hers for dinner.

She had the Mexican soup and Butternut, Sage and Stilton Risotto. 

I had carciofini -baby artichokes stuffed with a mushroom duxelles with a lentil salad and aioli. It was heaven! When I get a free afternoon I may try stuffing and deep frying artichokes and this is something you will want to try again! And I love artichokes just eaten straight from the jar!

For main I had Roasted Vegetable and Chickpea Tagline with pomegranate tabbuleh. The tagline was quite sweet with dates and really rich, took me straight back to Marrakech! The tabbuleh was refreshing with parsley and the pomegranate and it complimented the tagine nicely.

The only disappointment was the dessert menu, there were no specially vegan dishes, only ones that could be veganised, and those just seemed a bit standard. I'm not usually able to eat dessert in a regular restaurant so veggie places normally go all out. Well it saved on the calories at least!

I'm on my monthly meal with my vegetarian colleague tonight to Vegetarian's Paradise Bhel Poori House. So will let you know how that goes!

Til next time vegheads

Vgirl Xx

Sunday 23 December 2012

Missions for 2013

I don't really do resolutions but I'm going to set out my goals for the coming year.

Lose another stone in time for my holiday to Jamaica in May, I've managed 2 stone so far and once I achieve another that will be 3 in a year. I've lost 3 stone a few times in my life (although I'm only 6lbs off my lowest adult weight) so the real mission will be to keep it off.

Pass four modules, I'm planning on taking two in April and two in October. If I achieve this I will only be two modules away from being an associate of my chartered institute.

Save enough money to take my boyf to Russia for his graduation trip and do the following works on the flat:
Replaster the hallway
Replace the floor in the living room
Redecorate the bedroom
Replace the bathroom suite

Apart from that I want to continue with my journey of vegan awesomeness, actually make lots of dishes from my library of cookery books and not buy anymore until I have.

Following on from my last post here are some examples of what I did with the seitan I made including my vegetarian colleague's teriyaki marinated seitan

I hope everyone has a happy Christmas and a wonderful new year!

See you in 2013 vegheads!

Vgirl Xx