Thursday evening was KORA & Tom Organic‘s first fabulous collaborative event From The Inside Out (celebrating holistic wellbeing on International Women’s Day) and the exquisite takeaway goodie bags were replete with extraordinary loot – including Forage Cereal.
It’s been incredible. The newly-found self-confidence. The sideways glances. The compliments.
Especially since right now it’s pretty hot in Australia and we’re all just that little bit more – well – naked. To feel genuinely comfortable in my skin for the first summer in well over ten years, I can only describe as exhilarating.
The Back Story:
I adopted an almost entirely plant-based diet just under a year ago. I’d been a nutritional vegetarian for two years prior to this exciting new phase in my foodie journey, so it wasn’t a big leap for me to make – either culinarily or psychologically.
After having gotten schooled up on the hows and whys, I splashed out on a juicer (for my greens), swapped a stack of conventional produce for organic, and got my vegan on.
The first few months were all about trying stuff out: discovering new alternatives to the claggy dairy that we had become used to, reading the fine-print on the backs of packets, and over compensating with waaaay too much bread. (Way too much.)
All the while, I was managing to cart my ass to yoga maybe once or twice a week, and squeezing in 20-30 minutes’ walking 5 days a week if I was lucky – punctuating a working lifestyle that had become scarily sedentary.
I was maybe a tiny bit healthier, but hardly the energy-filled spunk-rat I wanted to be.
Then all of a sudden there was an overseas wedding to attend. We jettisoned off to Singapore where the searing heat meant that (for cosseted Melbournians like us) the majority of our waking hours had to be spent poolside, or in the heavily air-conditioned gymnasium. There were noodle dishes, gluten-based meat substitutes, sweet iced coffees, G+Ts, and mirrors everywhere. I felt at total and utter odds with my body, and my – let’s be honest – fairly crappy overall health and fitness.
It was time to overhaul my whole lifestyle. So, when I returned to Melbourne, I started working with a trainer to change and up my exercise. I re-read Crazy Sexy Diet and Skinny Bitch from cover-to-cover (it’s not actually as insanely LA as the title suggests, trust me). I got back on the raw-juice wagon in earnest, and cut out the white bread, the sweetener and the rather hearty soy-based smoothies that had slipped into my daily diet.
I cut my alcohol consumption down to almost nil, and weeded out almost all processed, substitute-style foods. I sought out the purest, organic, cruelty-free products to use on and around my body, too.
At the same time I started eating more raw fruit and vegetables. Stacks more. I embraced salad-creation as a way of life. I drank chilled, filtered water like a muthaf**ker. I learned how to lightly steam. Priceless.
Jump-cut a teeny-tiny two months: From this declaration of newly-found-health-dom to the lead-in to the silly season, I’d lost 7 kilos (that’s about 1.1 stone, or 15.4 pounds depending on where you live). Not Biggest Loser-style masses, but enough for people I hadn’t seen for a while to start to notice the difference. It was about 10kg (1.6st/22lb) short of my ultimate goal. But despite this, I’d gotten to a place where I was happy to take my cardigan off in public – plus my skin was glowing with radiant, veggie-love.
And then the new year hit in full force. Friends and family went on annual leave and flew into Melbourne (or at least just back into our social calendar), apple cider (the alcoholic type), pinot noir and gin and tonics once again became a regular fixture in the schedule; the white-bread creep was inexorable, irresistible, deadly; soy ice-cream visited her havoc upon me.
The scales stopped moving. Sort of. To be honest, they actually started moving in the opposite direction. Mild hangovers and insane heat started making regular exercise something to be avoided and then put off altogether. I have felt the old patterns sinking in.
But this time, instead of conceding to the inert apathy about what I put in my mouth and how much I move my booty, I decided to seize my health by the balls and slam home those last ten (okay, now eleven) kilos with absolute love and commitment.
Enter, Living Clean:
What a great opportunity! To take my fired-up journey to better health and a fitter body via pure, kind and conscious living choices and turn it into a whole resource for Superéthique readers to make healthy and practical changes in their lives and for the planet and its inhabitants.
I started out adopting a plant-based lifestyle for largely ethical and environmental reasons. At the same time, I learned about the significant health benefits (longevity, increased libido, avoidance of serious diseases anyone?). But then… I noticed the tangible changes to the way it made me look and feel.
Living cleanly has been the greatest lifestyle choice I’ve ever made, and certainly the one with the richest (and most holistic) rewards. It’s not a fad, it’s not a diet, it’s not a regimen. It’s a whole-life approach. And whatever it is you’re wanting to achieve in 2012 – be that getting fitter, looking better, losing weight, being more mindful about the choices you make (even changing your job, or earning more money!) this approach will support you 100% of the way, and positively impact your success in both direct and indirect ways.
So, let’s get started! Because today’s post is an introduction to Living Clean, I’ll be posting again on Monday morning with the first “official” installment in the series. From there on in, you’ll hear from me and the Living Clean project every Friday. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the things that you can expect to get:
- Lifestyle tips for re-framing your approach to shopping, eating, et cetera.
- Recipes, recipes, recipes… delicious and simple, but wildly nutritious.
- Tricks that I use to keep myself on the wagon, easily.
- Inspiration, motivation and a links to research-reading if you’re interested in it.
- Hat-tips to my favourite brands (and businesses) that keep me Living Clean every day.
- Lots. Of. Photos. (& maybe even a couple of videos…)
Sound good? Great. Let’s do this! Oh – and don’t forget to sign-up to our eNews: you’re going to want to get access to the awesome 2012 giveaways we’ll be doing regularly – including a few from Living Clean features (cunning plans afoot!).
I’ll see you on Monday, sweetpeas!
Santé! Ming-Zhu. xx
This li’l section of Superéthique has just been in Singapore for a week and busily trawled the streets for ethical and humane eating/lifestyle options.
I discovered it’s a lot easier to eat vego & vegan in Singapore than I thought it would be. For starters, there are large Hindi, Buddhist and Muslim populations, whose combined dietary restrictions equal a broad variety of culinary options, and a diverse range of businesses who cater to them.
Secondly, the heat means that everyone consumes far more super-chilled beverages. Smoothies, freshly pressed juices, iced awesomeness – these are a regular part of the day for many Singaporeans – the healthier options (even in “basic” shopping centre foodcourts) are therefore abundant.
But I had some stand-out favourites. These were:
- NutriHub – modest but replete with the good stuff, NutriHub is all about health education, and is a temple to raw & vegan.
- Lins Smoodees – run by the gorgeous, entrepreneurial super-maven, Adeline (and helmed by her mum as head-chef), Lins Smoodees started out as a home-delivery service of fresh, raw, live green smoodees for reinvigorated health. Her website is a veritable treasure-trove of green goodness, and her branding is second to none in this industry. My favourite page is Sight Effects. Brilliant. Adeline is also looking to franchise out, so if you’re interested boyz and girlz – get in touch.
- Real Food – it’s a café, grocer & bookstore. No – really. And it’s an absolute paradise. Real Food was our saving grace in Singapore – it looked different enough from the interiors of most shopping centres to make us feel a little sane, but at the same time it was comfortable, perfectly air conditioned, and the food, drink and non-edible products there were diverse and comprehensive. They even had a soft indie-chill playlist going on which included the likes of Laura Veirs, Regina Spektor, Bat for Lashes and Yael Naïm – a rare find for us in Singapore. Plus, they served Singapore’s first ever vegan ice cream, Brownice (made from brown rice – seriously delicious!) – over eight flavours’ worth (including Masala Chai!). We sat there for hours, and well – chilled.
Enjoy the pictures!
- Ming-Zhu. x
Raw food is my new obsession. And I’m not just talking salads.
A raw vegan diet (also often known as eating “live food”) is extraordinary nutritionally, taste wise, and… yup for keeping your waistline (and buttline) under control. The less processed something is – naturally – the more nuts, fruits, seeds and vegetables retain their nutrients and flavour, and the more they fill you up. Seriously fill you up. And all of the above mean that you need less food overall to get the body-and-flavour-lovin’ you need.
I’m currently trying to get our household menu to about 50-60% raw, with some cooked ingredients mixed in with uncooked, or cooked meals in the evening if we’re feeling really tired, sooky and in need of some couch + cozy, hot soup-ness.
The first priority of the day is always a great, big fresh green juice, Kris Carr style. My favourite at the moment is:
The Lean Green Clean
- 1/2 cucumber (or whole if Lebanese) – peeled if not organic
- 2 x celery stalks (include the leaves)
- 2 cups of baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 – 1 lemon (peeled)
- a good thumb-sized knob of ginger
- 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves
Sometimes if we make too much, I pop the remainder into an old agave bottle or jar, whack it in the fridge, and leave it to enjoy later onwards in the day. It beats a 3pm caffeine and sugar jolt hands-down. We use the Breville Ikon/Juice Fountain Plus, which is roughly the equivalent of this one.
My husband, Nick is away teaching acting in Bendigo at the moment, so I have much more license to go on long, experimental grocery shopping journeys, and potter around our tiny kitchen for hours with a recipe book and bags full of ingredients (although, he’s going to be kicking himself that he missed last night’s adventure in raw foodism).
I started early because I wanted to adapt and make up recipes as I went along, and also because I had a new toy to play with. (No. We’re really not sponsored by Breville. I just use a truck load of their gadgets.)
I decided to make a small, Mexican-inspired feast for one, influenced in part by Annie Phyo’s Fresh Tomato Chili recipe here – you’ll need to scroll down (except I soon realised that I was sans tomato. And corn. Oh, well! Substituting in recipes is my favourite thing.)
Ming-Zhu’s Raw, Green Chilli
So the first thing I made was the Nutamole – great Guacamole is a raw vegan recipe anyway, but I was missing a few core ingredients, so I used:
- Cashews (raw, organic) soaked for 3-4 hours in purified water and then drained – about 2/3 cup
- 1 x avocado
- Juice of 1 x lemon
- 2 x tablespoons of tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 2 x tablespoons of sunflower seeds
- 3 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil
- Cumin & Herbamare to taste.
I zhuzhed all these in the zhuzher (ie: the stick blender with the S-curve cutting attachment) until they were creamy smooth. I then set this aside in the fridge to chill while I got on with the rest.
- 1 x green chilli
- 6 x 10cm long stems of coriander
- 2 x cloves of garlic
- Red Paprika
- Tamari sauce (counter intuitive, I know – but trust me on this) – about 2 tablespoons
- Apple cider vinegar – about 2 tablespoons
- Juice of 1 x lemon
- Sea salt
I roughly chopped the chunky ingredients, and placed them in the zhuzher with the liquids and spices and salt to taste. I then blended until it looked like a dark, deep red & green-flecked salad dressing. I placed this in the bottom of a large salad bowl, and began to add the following ingredients in order, all finely chopped in approximately 5mm x 5mm cubes:
- 2 x portabello mushrooms
- 2 x celery stems (no leaves)
- 1 x small carrot
- 1 x small lebanese cucumber
- 1/2 cup green cabbage (if I had tomato, I would definitely have used it in place of the cabbage)
I then left the mix to soak (turning frequently) for about 5 minutes before I spooned the Nutamole on top, and served up.
The verdict? Hot, spicy, fresh, deeply flavourful chilli bliss. I don’t miss the trad old meaty-cooked chilli con carne at all when I’ve got this dish – and it’s perfect for weather such as this, as it’s starting to warm up, all spring-like.
And then, of course – I had to do dessert (although how I fit it in, I have no idea, a I polished off the whole Chilli in pretty much one sitting…):
Deep, Dark Chocolate “Mousse”
- For about 1 1/2 hours, I soaked:
- 2 x tablespoons of almonds
- 2 x tablespoons of walnuts
- 1 x tablespoon of raw pistachio kernels
- 1 x tablespoon of goji berries
- 3 x fancy dried apricots
I then drained off the liquid, added them to the zhuzher, along with
- about a 1/4 cup of blueberries
- A little raw agave syrup (maybe a teaspoon?)
- 3 x heaped teaspoons of raw, organic cacao (I use Loving Earth’s amazingpants business. Go, get you some now!)
These were all zhuzhed until smooth-ish (I wanted to still feel the texture of the nuts, so not completely creamy, but you could totally go there). I also added a little purified water along the way to aid in the emulsification of the mix, because I realised that there was a whole stash of hearty solids in there.
It made enough for 2 still quite hungry diners. There’s some left sitting in the fridge waiting for me (and I can’t wait to finish writing this post to go and eat it…) – it’s as its name suggests: deep, dark and rich. Fruity, soft but, honey – it’s got bite. I would love to try making it again with a little chilli powder, too. Oh, yeah. It could also be softened nicely with a little raw almond or cashew milk. or some coconut butter, to give it even more of a mousse-y texture.
And there we have it. My Mex-inspired raw feast (and a green juice for the morning after, in case you have a chocolate hangover…); really very simple, with hardly any prep, but yielding incredibly rich and sophisticated flavours.
- Ming-Zhu. xx
Don’t forget to jump on our mailing list for the weekly round-up, coming out on Friday. We’re doing a giveaway of Suvana Organic Paw Paw and Honey Balm (petrochemical free!), so you definitely want to be in the running for this. Put your email address in the box below to be in it to win it.
When I am feeling spankingly organised, I like to blend my own chai. Sadly, these moments of life-lucidity are few and far between these days. However, happily, there’s an easily-come-by, quality antidote to my chaos and need for spiced tea.
I was first introduced to chai as “masala tea” made by hand at my father’s restaurant in Hobart. Our recipe was very different from the “brewed masala chai” that work colleagues used to buy me from a Brunswick Street Indian restaurant when I worked at a dodgy (and now defunct) furniture store in the early noughties.
It wasn’t until about 4 years later when I was dating a dude who was hip with all things organic and world music (hey, at the time it was a quirk) that I discovered one could brew chai at home without having to pound spices in a mortar and pestle. Magico! Enter: Hari Har Chai. I’ve been using it as my wingman for a time-challenged spice hit ever since.
I use the original blend (check out their website, they’ve expanded dramatically) with Bonsoy (bien sûr), and I sweeten it with raw Organic Agave Syrup from Loving Earth.
Hari Har is mild, because of the ratio of low-caffeine black tea to spices (I sometimes chuck in a few extra cloves, cardamom pods, star anise and ginger just for good measure), but when you brew it strong it gives your day punch and a rich, earthy kapow.
I’ve been experimenting around with flavour combining with this puppy and have found that cocoa blends smoothly and effortlessly with Hari Ha for a gorgeously decadent rainy-afternoon treat. We’re using Abundant Earth Organic Cocoa at the moment.
And finally, la pièce de résistance: the most recently discovered taste sensation (it’s blowing me away right now) is home-combined Dandi Chai. Now, you can buy dandelion chai in stores, but I’ve found many of them to be weak and, well – just a little… meh. Hari Har make a blend of Dandi & Chai themselves (as well as Chocolate Chai, I believe), which I haven’t yet stumbled across in my travels – so I can’t speak for that particular blend, and it could very well be amazeballs.
However, we have a container of Symington’s Instant Dandelion on the shelf that was originally purchased to try to wean The Husband off his 5-coffee-a-day addiction (I’ve since given up), and that I’ve since been trying to work out what to do with. I’m not a massive fan of the stuff on its own (neither, would it seem is The Husband), and I’m loathe to chuck such expensive nutritional assets out.
So, yesterday arvo, sitting still at the computer for far too long and getting a little chilly, I decided my best option for instant warmth was to jump up and down a few times and make a pot of chai. I was in a “what the heck” mood, so I dumped one and a half teaspoons of Symington’s Dandi at the bottom of my cup, along with my agave. I poured the soy-milky, spicy brew in on top, stirred rapidly and sipped. Heaven. In. A. Cup. I. Kid. You. Not.
If I weren’t careful, I could get addicted to this stuff. Hurrah for Hari Har!
- Ming-Zhu. x
Don’t forget: the inaugural giveaway is happening in three days’ time! To make sure you’re in with a seriously decent chance of winning your very own BYO Coffee Cup (I often use mine to sip my chai on the way to yoga, en fait); put your email address in the box below. Miam, miam, miam.
I went vegetarian a couple of years ago while reading a book. Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals to be precise. In fact, I went vego after chapter 3, such were his powers of verbal persuasion. Foer is unique in his ability to lay out the truth, and to add even more truth – that is to say, humanity – to stories of the way in which we connote emotional attachment and sentimentality with food (but not – is so often the case – with our treatment of animals).
I went vegan this year while reading a book. The gorgeous, Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr. It’s a NYTimes best-selling “advice & misc.” tome – a magazine-style antidote to the bloated, wheat-sugar-meat fuelled, fast-fed western diet. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kris Carr’s work, she hosts a dynamic health-focused blog, Crazy Sexy Life which was inspired by her journey from finding out she had one of the rarest forms of cancer known to humankind, to becoming a green-foods-fuelled, happy, minxy and purpose-driven cancer survivor. Pretty yummy stuff.
Books. Vegetables. Two of my greatest passions.
They’re both utterly indispensable in my life – I rely on them equally for sustenance of varying kinds… They just – well, they just go together.
I discovered that the café at Dymocks in Melbourne’s CBD via the Mister Nice Guy Vegan Cupcakes website (more on them anon). Dymocks were the only stockist of these sweet wonders in my local area, so feeling somewhat sugar-deprived, I put on my skates and popped down.
Oh, honey. Not only do they do Mister Nice Guy Vegan Cupcakes, but their entire menu is very sympathetic to both vegan and gluten-free diners. “What!? This strange wing off the back of a chain bookstore who attracts (it would seem) mostly senior citizens in search of a quiet, hipster-free afternoon tea, and book-launchees for young adults’ literary vampire franchises!? Something’s a bit amazing-slash-weird here.”
I started to poke around, and I found that the book store itself (the last remaining general bookstore in the Melbourne CBD, I might add) has a phenomenally diverse and exhaustive vegetarian-vegan-raw-food-wholefood-gluten-free-and-allergies cookbook section. Yes, my darling hearts – Dymocks Melbourne is pure book+veggie heaven. (I now get lost for hours browsing the aisles of green recipe wonder-loveliness, and have to wrench myself away with all my Popeye strength so as not to blow the budget.)
So, being the intrepid Superéthiquers that we are, Cassie (the sympathetic non-vego) and I decided that we owed Dymock’s CBD (the book+veggie paradise) a proper lunchtime visit.
We were greeted by Café owner, the-lovely-Joanna who told us that the awesome-diet-friendly approach to the food & drink business was inspired by one of their former staff being coeliac, and struggling to find decent food in the city that met her needs. So, they started bringing a few gluten-free options to the menu, and it grew from there.
Joanna also grows an abundant and diverse vegetable patch at home out of which she began experimenting with different plant-based dishes for her family. While she’s not vegan herself, she strongly believes it’s important for us all to eat a truckload more veggies, and fewer animal proteins, and doesn’t see what the big fuss is about. “It’s really easy,” she explains, “I don’t understand why people think it’s hard to have really amazing, yet simply created vegan and gluten free food. It’s not hard at all.” Well, exactly.
The bookshop itself is a different business. The owners, according to Joanna, “aren’t actually vegetarian themselves – they’re just very interested in promoting healthier ways of eating.” Hence the incredible range of green-friendly cookbooks. My kind of people.
We ordered enough lunch for three (my hubby, Nick came and joined us), and Joanne came and surprised us with bonus bits and pieces of vegan-delights, just so we got a taste of the full range.
The Café carries Funky Pies (100% plant-based pies – yes, it’s possible, and yes, they’re freakin’ amazing), as well as making their own patties and nut balls that sit alongside a diverse range of mostly-raw and freshly prepared salad.
We very much enjoyed the following:
- Sweet potato pattie with an incredible white bean & lemon curd dip (no, seriously – it was great): vegan & gluten-free;
- The Funky Chunky pie: shiitake mushroom in a to-die-for gravy and flaky, flaky pastry shell (not gluten-free, but totally vegan) with a homemade chutney;
- A nut ball (I didn’t catch it’s actual name, I’m afraid). This contained egg and I believe wheat, but was very much vego;
- Quinoa & zucchini salad (V, GF)
- Quinoa, burghul & chickpea salad (V)
- Beetroot salad with walnuts (V, GF)
- Carrot salad (V, GF)
- Coleslaw (V, GF)
- Lentil salad (V, GF)
The beetroot was definitely my pick of the salads, followed hot on its heels by the straight quinoa & zucch, and lentil & carrot. Cass loved her nut ball and the kumera pattie; I died a little orgasmic death over the Funky Chunky shiitake pie.
We then rounded the whole trip off with a good hour of Superéthical philosophising over coffee and Mr. Nice Guy Vegan Cupcakes. One chocolate and one orange (to match our respective hair colour, yo). And their soy coffee? Not too shabby either, muchacha.
The Dymocks Café does not do a truckload of marketing. They don’t trumpet themselves via supa-megaphone as a vegan and gluten-free haven. They go quietly about their business, they make good food and they change a few people’s eating habits along the way.
We did however after visiting there properly, want very much for you to get to know this place for yourself if you’re at all vegetabley inclined. It’s tucked snugly out of the way in the basement of Collins 234 (this link will take you to the listing on Google Maps), on Collins Street in Melbourne’s CBD. Oh, and honeys – don’t expect the seventh wonder of the interior design world. This place, decor-wise is about as anti-cool as it gets. Which is kind of why we like it. A delicious secret shared by the Superéthicals & arvo-tea nonnas of the healthy eating world. Enjoy.
Stop Press: Mister Nice Guy Vegan Cupcakes are having the Grand Opening of their brand new cupcakerie in Prahran this Saturday 24th September 2011 at 163 Commercial Road (Prahran Market). They’re giving away free cupcakes on the day, dear sweet-toothed ones (from 9am – 5pm) and the 100th person to get a free cupcake wins a box of 6 cupcakes. Which is kind of like free awesomeness for free awesomeness. We’ll be there & will chow-down on Mister Nice Guy in-delicious-depth in the very, very near future.
- Ming-Zhu. x