Endive Intimidation

This morning I took my very first Bikram Yoga class, and I am glad to say that is was very doable. No fainting, no nausea, no collapsing, and no dying (hurray!). I like to think my Mexican roots make me more heat resistant, and ofcourse I was very well prepared (hydrated and with an emptyish stomach). Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I was any good at it. My body could by no means be called flexible and my standing leg was as wobbly as a bowl of jelly pudding. But afterwards I felt GREAT and I now get how that feeling is highly addictive ('look at the sky! I see clearer! I love this fresh air! I can smell better! I love everyone! Why the hell is it raining again and why are all these tourists clogging the bike lanes!').
Well, let's see how I hold up at my second class.

In the meanwhile I am on a slight 7 day detox of only fruits and veggies (and lots of green monsters), battling a last few excess pounds. So no recipes from me for you, even though I am very anxious to try some of the delicious recipes in my recently acquired copy of Veganomicon.

And I need your help. I picked up my vegetable subscription today and while unpacking at home I was confronted by a very intimidating killer monster sized head of endive (which has, in my humble opinion, no legit reason for being in a one-person-veggiebag). What's a girl to do? I cannot eat all of it as a salad, I'll turn green!


More Than I Can Chew

Oops! I've been taking an unexpected blog break, sorry for that! Life's been busy and I've been trying to (as Donny Hathaway sings) hang onto the world as it spins around. I've been singing, swinging, working, AND cooking a lot. I am also very pleased to announce that I've been hitting the gym again and (inspired by The Fruit Pursuit's Sabine) finally decided to try out Bikram Yoga classes starting this monday. For those of you who are not in the know: it's 90 minutes of doing 26 yoga poses in a heated room (approx 40 degrees celsius). Yep. I'll let you know how that went, IF I survive and don't drown in my own puddle of sweat.

All very well and all, let's talk FOOD. Good, lovely, comforting and nourishing veggie food that makes you feel like you've been hugged by a fluffy unicorn. I don't feel like typing out recipes so you'll have to do with a bunch of pictures. Food porn, as we bloggers like to say. Well if my pictures are food porn, I do hope they are on the classy side, not the cheapo german mustache kind.

We vegans love our tofu scrambles, this one's with tomato, mushrooms, garlic and fresh parsley.
(crumble tofu, fry in a pan and season with salt, pepper, turmeric and nutritional yeast)

My friend Marieke came over and because I love her very much I made her raw zucchini pasta with cashewsauce, grilled eggplant and oven baked sweet potato fries.
I visited my sister and because I love her very much as well I did a rerun on the raw zucchini pasta. She watched and learned and is now as hooked as I am.

Almost every single day I start off with a Green Monster. Yeah, that's the kind of health freaky girl I am. This particular one was a spinach, banana and coconut water mixture.

Some days my Mexican roots speak up and scream in my ear about baked black beans, guacamole, jalapeno peppers and cilantro (and green beans, and vegetarian nuggets). There is no escaping those cravings, so there.

And last but not least, a pasta (actually, a very fancy wild garlic spelt spaghetti) with parsnip, rocket salad, tomato and sunflowerseed pesto.

That's it for now people, I'll try and be a better blogger and be back soon.


Coco's Carrot Cake

I finally baked something! Raise your hand if you approve! After hours, days, months of drooling over other blogs' sweet food porn pictures, I finally found the perfect opportunity to bake my favourite cake: packed with carrots, walnuts, a lot of spice and everything nice. I already mentioned before that tomorrow I'll be singing at an Amy Winehouse Tribute Session. Host and organizing wonderwoman of this session is my friend and Very Good Singer Coco. Within a week she managed to get together a whole band, with horn section and everything, and about 15 vocalists all singing their own favourite Amy song. So for rehearsals today, I chose to contribute by bringing everyone the joy of CAKE. And it worked, the thing was more popular than me, even though I was sporting a red dress and matching lipstick. Let's hope some of it's shine'll stay with me on stage tomorrow.

I roughly followed the recipe by Hell Yeah It's Vegan and made a few alterations, inspired by the carrot cake in Lisette's Ecofabulous book. Less oil, more applesauce, less sugar and more coconut. And MORE SPICE because I like it like that. There we go! (You see a part is missing from the cake? No idea how that happened, it certainly has nothing to do with me wanting to try the cake and not being able to stop 'trying' little pieces and hoping noone would notice. I swear.)

Coco's Vegan Carrot Cake

2 1/2 cups pastry flour (I used spelt)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp allspice (piment)
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with
1/2 cup warm water
3 egg substitutes (No Egg or EnerG)
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup agave syrup
1 cup applesauce
2 cups shredded carrots
1 thumb fresh ginger, grated
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 pack Tofutti Creamcheese
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
juice and zest of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350F (gas mark 4). Cover the bottom of a 24cm baking pan with parchment paper, grease the sides with sunflower oil and dust with a little flour. Mix together the flour with the spices and baking powder and soda. In a large bowl, mix up the flax 'eggs', the egg substitutes, oil, agave and applesauce. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until fully dissolved. Finally fold in the carrots, walnuts, ginger and coconut. It'll have the consistency of a thick cake batter. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 40/45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

When completely cool, whip up a frosting with the creamcheese, sugar, lemonjuice and zest and cover the cake. Enjoy with your friends while singing along to some Amy Winehouse.


Vegan 'smoked salmon' pasta

In the last few months I have been focussing mostly on new culinary adventures, using earlier neglected vegetables, legumes (ahoy puy lentils!) and soyproducts, and on learning new techniques. But the time has come, my friends, to start a new project. Sometimes I will succeed, sometimes I'll have to take my defeat as a self proclaimed kitchen heroine, but there is no way around it. It is time to start veganizing some of my own 'before-vegan' staple dinners. There are a few dishes I always used to come back to, in times of no inspiration, lack of time or because I had guests coming over and wanted to stay on the save side. Or mostly, because I wanted to crawl into their loving comfort food arms and purr like a pussycat.
One of those dishes was a pasta dish that simply asked for sour cream, mushrooms, smoked salmon and a heap of fresh dill. And pasta, ofcourse, otherwise ceci ne'st pas une pasta dish. A difficult one to veganize, for googling 'vegan smoked salmon' did NOT get me a lot of ideas, other than creating 'vegelox', which involves carrot pulp and dulse (seaweed) flakes and did not sound all that appealing. So I decided not to substitute the actual salmon, but to use the combined flavours of the original dish as a starting point. Please give a big hand of applause to smoked tofu, salicornia and oat cream. And yes people, I can truly say, my first veganizing mission was more than accomplished. I hit gold. (and future dinner guests, you will know I love you if I decide to serve you this)

Vegan 'smoked salmon' pasta
(2 servings)

1 block of smoked tofu (200 gr)
250 gr brown mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 red onion, minced
2/3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 hands salicornia (about 1 1/2 cup)
250 ml of non-dairy cream (I used oat cream and that worked out great)
white wine (optional)
1 large bunch of fresh dill
black pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 portions of your favourite pasta (I used spelt penne)

Slice the tofu into thin strips, about 1/2 cm thick and then cut them in half. Fry the tofu strips in sunflower or coconut oil until goldenbrown on either side and season with some seasalt and black pepper. Take them out of the pan and place on plate covered with kitchen towel. In the same pan, use the remaining oil to sautée the chopped garlic, onion and mushrooms over medium heat. In the meanwhile, boil up some of your favourite pasta. Add the non-dairy cream to the mushrooms (and some white wine if you really want to get this dish a gold medal) and bring to a soft boil. When your pasta is almost finished, add the salicornia, fried tofu strips and chopped dill to the sauce and season with black pepper and salt to taste. You won't need a lot of salt because of the natural saltiness of the salicornia. Serve on top of the drained pasta and finish off with a squeeze of lemonjuice. Try and find your marine-themed plate to make it look even more fishy and EAT!


Magical Healing Black Bean Soup

Wow, it's been a week since I last posted. Time flies, especially when you're busy and having (a little bit too much) fun. It was a crazy week, with working, singing and volunteering in a kitchen at a vegan dinner for 150 (!) people, which was amazing. But I'll post about that later. Also, seeing this amazing speech by Gary Yourofsky inspired me to work on a post that goes a bit deeper into my transition to vegan, my no-doubt-about-it keeping up of this lifestyle and the questions and comments I got in the last few months.

But, save it for another day, right now it's all about food. Yesterday I wasn't feeling too well, to say the least. My throat hurt and I just wanted to sleep all day and stay under my blanquet, waiting 'til everything got better. And I wanted magical healing soup. Coming from a Mexican father, I am a sucker for black beans (and cilantro, ofcourse) and I think this simple and classic dish really has magic powers. You know, I might put it up behind a mic in a candle-lit room and have a healing session. For an adequate entrance fee, ofcourse, that is how these things work. For all you believers, here's the recipe.

Magical Healing Black Bean Soup

1 can of black beans
1 can of peeled tomatoes OR
3/4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 red pepper
1 lime
1 tsp ground corianderseed
1 tsp dried epazote OR
1 tsp dried oregano
pinch of salt
1 ripe avocado
fresh cilantro
Chop up the onion, garlic and red pepper and sautée in some oil. Add the tomatoes, black beans, corianderseed, salt and epazote and let simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. Mash it up (I used a hand-held blender) until soupy but still chunky. Sprinkle with limejuice, avocado and cilantro.

This afternoon I was feeling a lot better and I had two recipes to try out so I went to work in my tiny lil' kitchen. I made the baked pistachio falafel by Green Kitchen Stories and some creamy hummus using Vegangela's amazing tip (it's all about taking them skins off!). It was all very yummy and tasty, paired with steamed carrots with a drip of buttery canola oil, sundried tomatoes and slices of raw red beet in lemonjuice and vinegar. Just have a look and tell me you wouldn't be a happy camper when presented this rainbow platter.

Now, I'm off to work on my new blogpost, cleaning up the kitchen while listening to Amy Winehouse in preparation of an amazing tribute I'll be performing at this sunday together with about 14 other singers. Amy, I will not drink to you but I WILL sing to you.


Seitan vs. TVP: The Satay Showdown

Today the game is on. In an ultimate battle, two chunky meat replacements fight for the top spot.
OR: I wanted to make some nice vegan satay and I couldn't decide if seitan or TVP would be better, so I decided to make both. As always, the whole idea started with a vegetable and a craving, in this case a big bag of fresh organic green beans and an unexplainable wish for spicy satay sauce. Yesterday, during Tuesday Juiceday Schmuesday, I made some fresh seitan, soaked some TVP chunks and let them marinate overnight. I am not sharing a whole recipe here, mostly because in all my enthousiastic and instinctive cooking I didn't think to write down exact amounts of what I threw in the bowl. I was way too busy singing along with some Aretha Franklin and pretending to be a TV chef whirling around the kitchen, with all the neat little bowls of ingredients and all. But let me tell you that the marinade I made consisted of shoyu, lime juice, agave, ground corianderseeds, ground laos, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, shallots and a real hot red chilli pepper, all mixed in the foodprocessor. 
An unexpected advantage of vegan cooking is that you have to be a lot less scared about cross contamination. Ain't it great that I used the marinade as a base for the peanut sauce? I just sauteed the whole lot on a medium fire with some extra garlic and onion, added some organic peanutbutter, coconut cream, ginger syrup and shoyu and there was my perfect little darling calorie bombing sauce. 

 Now for the Satay Showdown: as I was putting the TVP chunks on the sticks I already noticed they were a bit 'tough'. As for the seitan, it was still nice and moist. I had my grill on high heat and everything was ready in just a few minutes (after a slight accident with my grill catching flame and me not being able to see because of al the smoke, but let's not talk about that). Result time!

The seitan had really taken in the flavours, the texture was juicy but a bit on the chewy side. Also, it didn't respond too well on the hot grill and the little amount of fat. Frying might have been a better option for this baby. I'd rate it at a 7.

The TVP was taking the grill love a lot better and looked pretty promising. But after the first bite I knew it would not be able to compete. Marinating it overnight had not made it soft and flavoury, but tough and chewy. No good honey, no good! So much for good looks, ladies and gentleman. I'd say: an astonishing 4 for effort. 
In the next few weeks I'll be trying some more of the same style grilling with tempeh, tofu, kebabs from De Vegetarische Slager (The Vegetarian Butcher) and more. And then let the best of the best battle in a big finale with a whole testing panel! And some tv camera's and me in a new dress! Yeah! 

Today's actual winner was the green bean & peanutsauce combo. And the sweet and sour cucumber/raw zucchini salad I paired it with. Another victory for greens! (And yes, that is cilantro sprinkled on top, ofcourse)


Tuesday Juiceday Schmuesday

I really needed to do some detoxing and balancing out after all the food & alcohol last weekend. Luckily the scale didn't go all ballistic on me, but as we know weight is only weight and not an indication of health. So today I blessed with the name of 'Tuesday Juiceday Schmueseday'. Nothing but green monsters, fresh fruit juices and raw vegetables today. Let's see if I can do this on a weekly basis!

This morning started with a very friendly Green Monster consisting of fresh spinach, banana, blueberries and water.
It gave me plenty of energy to go and get a fair amount of vegetables, herbs and spices at the Albert Cuyp market, and pick up my bag of organic vegetables from my subscription. AND, while I was at the 'Blokker' in my ongoing search for a good and not too expensive salad spinner (in which I failed again, this is becoming a real quest) I picked up a lot of spice jars that were only 50 cents each. It's official now, I'm getting old, I get excited by just organizing my kitchen cabinets and putting labels on spice jars. And then taking pictures of them and putting them up on Facebook. This is not good, people.

Now I'm off to work, with a tupperware bowl of fresh tomato and bell pepper gazpacho. Tomorrow I will be back with a very special something something for which I just put some homemade seitan and some TVP chunks in a very spicy marinade. The game is on, and tomorrow, there will be only 1 winner. I'll let the tension build up from here...


Some kind of wonderful weekend

I am still in recovery from this crazy weekend. As in: I am lying in bed drinking detox tea and planning a lot of trips to the gym. Yeah, planning that is, I am not quite ready to get up and actually GO there. Luckily, planning my gym visits already make me feel fit so I can just stay here under my blanket, guiltfree and watching movies while the rain is throwing a legendary party outside.
The wedding on friday turned out to be the only sunny day this week so it was no less than perfect. The party was organized (by yours truly) as an 'American style BBQ' so everyone brought in loads and loads of food and drinks. People even brought a lot of vegan food so instead of chewing only a few pieces of cucumber I had about two whole pumpkinbreads with 3 kinds of hummus, 21 vegetable kebabs and two buckets of olives. AND a very small piece of non-vegan wedding cake. AND, because it was such a festive day, ofcourse I had about a bottle of cava per hour to wash it all away. Oh, the joy of marriage.

Saturday I woke up slightly (right) hungover but also happy and excited because I was going to perform at a very big festival called the 'Zwarte Cross'. Long story short: it was my best performance ever up to this day. We did a tribute to Janis Joplin and the crowd was crazily enthousiastic, singing along and cheering. I have some video proof. The food at the artist catering? Not that great, but there was a salad bar and I wasn't in need of a lot because of the food fest I had allowed myself the day before. The rain was, again, going out of it's way to just keep on keeping on so we decided not to stay at the festival. I was not really feeling the whole 'camping in the mud' thing, and sunday morning I was very pleased to be waking up in my own bed with my own hot shower and my own favourite whole foods store just a 5 minute walk away. My new ideal is to really listen to what my body is craving and give it just that. This particular sunday, everything inside me was opting for green lentils, garlic and fresh pesto. Yeah, I have a body that talks about food like that, I don't really know how it got that way. Anyway, I made a simple pasta and it was all divine goodness and managed to please my culinary snobbish stomach.

Green lentil comfort pasta & homemade walnut/sunflowerseedpesto

250 gr. brown mushrooms
1/4 cup dried green lentils
1 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 tbsp capers
dried thyme
dried oregano 
dried rosemary
seasalt, black pepper
whole wheat pasta (I love spelt penne)

1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
Leaves of 1 whole basil plant
1 clove of garlic
olive oil

Cook the lentils in a pot until tender, mine took about 35 minutes. In the meantime, slice up the mushrooms. Chop up the red onion and garlic, but not too small, you want to keep the chunks kind of 'rustic'. Bake the mushrooms in a large skillet with some fat or oil (I use coconut oil). After a few minutes, add the garlic and onion and keep stirring. Then, add the chopped tomatoes, capers and seasonings to taste. Go easy on the salt, the capers already add a lot of saltiness! Finally add the cooked and drenched lentils, put a lid on it and keep the whole thing on very low heat. In the meantime you can boil some water for your pasta and make the pesto by putting all the ingredients in a foodprocessor. I like to add only a little bit of olive oil to keep it low-fat and chunky but you can make it as runny as you like.

Stir in your pasta with the tomatosauce and serve with a good spoonful of pesto. Enjoy with a simple movie, leave the dishes for tomorrow and happily fall asleep.


'Almost Perfect' Broccoli Burger & Baba Ganoush

There was a large eggplant in my vegetable subscription bag this week, and it must have found it's way into my dreams because this morning I woke up with the irresistable urge to make baba ganoush. So at ten o'clock in the morning I found myself roasting the incredible vegetable in the flames of my gas stove. After putting all the lime & cumin flavoured goodness in the fridge to rest I had to think of something to pair it with for dinner. Something falafely. I also wanted to cram in as many vegetables as possible knowing I would probably not be eating home for the next three days (and I predict a lot of fun but not a lot of greens on the upcoming wedding bbq and music festival). I decided to create a broccoliburger. Yep.

Actually, it turned out great, green and delicious, with a nice bite because of the TVP (in Dutch we call it 'sojabrokjes' which sounds even more appalling than 'textured vegetable protein'). The taste was what I had been craving since morning (and probably what I dreamed about last night). Only thing is, the damn burger would not stay together. It fell apart while baking, so next time I'll make it a bit less moist by adding some chickpea flour. It will work, the burger will see my power and submit to my will! You can see on the picture how I niftily got the deconstructed burger out of sight by bringing in some slices of cucumber. Looking good, aaight?

Broccoli Burger (4 patties)

1/2 head of broccoli
1/4 cup red lentils, cooked
1/2 cup TVP, soaked & drained
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 small red onion
1 clove of garlic
2 flax 'eggs' (2 tbsp of ground flaxseed, combined with 4 tbsp of water)
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp harissa paste
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp chickpea flower

Baba ganoush:
1 eggplant
1 tbsp tahin
juice of 1/2 lime
ground cumin
cayenne, salt

For the baba ganoush: punch some holes in the eggplant with a fork. Then stick the fork into the bottom and put directly into the flames of a medium gasfire. Keep turning around until all blackened. Then put in a bowl with a lid on it for about 15 minutes, and after the skin should be easy to peel off. Chop up or process in blender with tahin and lime juice, and season to taste. Let sit in the fridge for at least a few hours.

For the burgers: chop the broccoli and put in a foodprocessor with the cooked lentils, cilantro, onion and garlic. Put in a bowl. Then let the foodprocessor work it's magic on the tvp and flax eggs. Mix everything together in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and form into 4 patties. Bake for 5 minutes on either side, in sunflower- or coconutoil. Serve with the baba ganoush on some salad or in a whole wheat pita.


Quinoa sushi & cucumber salad

Today, autumn prematurely kicked in. I woke up to a very grey and rainy morning and I don't believe it stopped pouring all day long. No problemo, if seated inside with a hot cup of soy chai, but that good fortune was not mine to enjoy. No ma'am, I had to go out and get groceries, run errands and find outfits for a wedding and an upcoming show. So after going around on my bike from one side of town to the other doing Very Important Things like returning a malfunctioning salad spinner, I was cold, tired and soaked. On top of that, I did not succeed in buying a nice outfit. But hey, let us count our blessings and our little moments of win:
- I got myself some very cute blue old school rain boots for only 8 euro's
- I went to the juice bar and they supersized my spinach/ginger/pineapple juice for free
- I got my money back for the salad spinner without having to make a hassle
- all the biking must have burnt some serious calories

In the 'old days', after a day like this, I would have probably gone for some cheap and easy deep fried food and a pint of Ben & Jerry's to comfort me. But those days are over! Instead, I decided to make myself something tasty and superfood-good. In comes: Quinoa Sushi! I read about this idea on a few blogs and it made perfect sense to me. Sushi is wonderful and easily veganized and makes you as happy as a ray of sunlight from a carebear's tummy. But all the white rice is actually just a heap of simple and nutrition-lacking carbs. Quinoa, on the other hand, is a complete protein and even considered a 'superfood'. Guiltless indulgence, I'M LOVING IT.

Quinoa sushi & cucumber salad
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
4 sheets of nori
filling: avocado, carrot, cucumber,
shii take or spring onion
japanese soy sauce

1/2 cucumber
pickled ginger
mirin (sweet japanese rice wine)

For the sushi, boil up some quinoa (takes about 15 minutes), spread out and let cool. Sprinkle it with some rice vinegar. Then roll it into some nori, with whatever filling you prefer (I had mine with avocado and carrot slices). I am still no expert, so pleace check Youtube for sushi rolling tips. I find that a bamboo mat is quite necessary to get a sushi that is handsome enough to be served to guests. Serve with soy sauce and, if you're anything like me, a serious amount of wasabi.

For the salad, chop up the cucumber in thin strips. Combine with chopped up pickled ginger, some mirin and soy sauce. For extra goodlooking credits, sprinkle with black sesame seeds.


Eating out & pink monsters

Yesterday, I was in the lovely little town called Boxmeer. I had rehearsals at the not so humble 'studio in a garden' of one of the band members for our big Janis Joplin session at the Zwarte Cross festival this weekend. After a very very good, long and inspring session (I am SO psyched to be hitting the stage again this saturday), me and the band were hungry as bears and we decided to go out for dinner. There was a recently opened restaurant in town so we went to try it.
As I expected, there were no vegan options on the menu and the only vegetarian dish was something with lots of cheese. So when the waiter came to take our order I put on my friendliest smile and asked him if he could ask the kitchen to make me a big plate of vegetables, and maybe some potatoes or pasta (hold the cheese and cream, please!). He looked a bit confused and pointed to the vegetarian cheese dish, so I repeated the question, still smiling like I meant it. The waiter left, and I closed my eyes and crossed my fingers.

When the food came, I was presented a plate with as much as about two tablespoons of ratatouille and some carefully placed stripes of tomato ketchup, all centering a minuscule, credit card sized piece of 'red onion tarte-tatin'. I was a bit too hungry to take a picture of my plate but I think you understand this dish was as filling as a breath of air. It's crazy, just because you eat vegan, people tend to think you probably eat almost nothing at all. As a result, I started grazing on my table companions' complimentary fries and decided to allow myself a glass of white wine (and another one). I have to add that except for the food, it was a great night eating outside and discussing fellow musicians. I just didn't feel too good about myself after eating a whole bag of trailmix from the gasstation on the way back. That was very, very, extra unnecessary (I am listening to Nat King Cole while writing this).

So today, I feel like having a 'balance day' and I'll be having nothing but a whole load of fruits and vegetables. Starting this morning with a pink monster (green apple, beetroot, zucchini, celerystick & mint)

And, after yesterday's question for a good pumpkin achar recipe, Hiske (who I'll, upon request, never again call 'my foodie friend') sent me this one by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I am now off on a pumpkin hunt!


Cauliflower mock couscous & okra's

Time for some food. This cauliflower salad has no actual couscous in it, but you couldn't tell that by just looking at it. So it's actually a mock couscous, and a nice one for dieters who are still trying to get their carb intake down. But most of all, it's tasty, spicy & sweet and after I finished my plate in minutes I wanted to take off my shoes, dive into the bowl and finish every last crumble. True story. I paired the salad with some boiled okra's and pumpkin achar that I bought from a nice lady at the last 'underground boerenmarkt' (an underground food fest where home chefs sell their homemade cookies, syrups, chutney's etc.). I finished the jar with this plate so now I'll have to go hunting after the recipe. Anyone?

Cauliflower mock couscous salad

Blend together:
1 head of cauliflower, chopped in foodprocessor 
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup yellow raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

fresh mint, chopped

fresh cilantro, chopped
1 red onion and 1 clove of garlic, chopped and sauteéd

And dress with:
1 Tbsp. harissa paste
juice and zest of 1 lime
1 Tbsp. agave syrup
sprinkle of olive oil
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt


Here to stay

So there we are. One more foodie adding to the pile of blogs. I've been thinking about it a lot, since changing my eating habits drastically in april this year. I've been wanting to write, about the why and how of vegan food and my temperamentful love affair with healthy eating. I love to cook, I love to eat, I love to inhale chocolate. Only a few months ago I was an omnivore, a meateater, a sugar addict and a frequent drinker of wine, gin & tonics and full fat cappucino's. Hell, I even used to smoke, which is pretty darn crazy for someone who wants nothing but to go through life as a professional singer. I also used to weigh about 11 kg more than I do today. I used to feel tired and unhealthy. I had been using make-up on my face almost every single day since I was about 18 years old. And I used to close my eyes for the fact that I was munching on dead animals, produced in an industry that has nightmare-like proportions.

And one day it hit me. I still don't know what really happened as it went so quickly. I was fed-up with my weight and inspired by a friend to do a 10 day lemonade fast. You know, 10 days of nothing but water, lemonjuice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. I pulled through and I dropped some pounds but more importantly; it got me thinking. Your mind tends to change during a fast, and mine sure did. I read about 'Skinny Bitch', bought myself a copy (best gift I ever gave myself) and devoured it in two days. I cried. I finally opened my eyes to what is happening in the world. The horrors of factory farming. The craziness of modern food industry. The diet hysteria that makes us scared of carbs. The way we stopped thinking for ourselves. The way we are slaves to alcohol, sugar and caffeine. Then I read 'Eating Animals' by Jonathan Safran Foer and my mind was made up. I was going vegan overnight.

People around me thought I was 'going through a phase'. Some of my best friends called me 'crazy', and a fanatic. I had a hard time explaining myself while trying not to be preachy. Ofcourse, it was a bit strange for people to accept the sudden and extreme changes in my lifestyle. God, before I was a drinking bulldozer, a hamburger baking rock 'n rollster. I used to think of vegetarians as 'smelly people' and I wasn't that big an animal fan (honestly, I am still not that fond of horses). And there I went, all idealistic and glowing with health, talking about animal rights and the future of the planet. For some friends, it was a bit hard to believe. 'Who are you and what have you done to Laura?'

Today, I couldn't be feeling better. I don't eat any animal products, I try to eat no refined sugar at all, quit the coffee and sold my espresso machine and I seriously limited my alcohol intake. I visit food festivals, meet other vegans, follow a bunch of vegan/vegetarian foodblogs and became a regular at my local whole foods store (Biomarkt). My kitchen cabinets are filled with dried legumes, healthy oils and whole-grain pasta's. I have a this really nice 'groentenabonnement' that gets me a bag of organic fruits and vegetables every week. And who knew I would start to love all soy products? One of my foodie friends Hiske now lovingly calls me a 'Tofu Warrior' (or a Teenage Mutant Vegan Turtle).

I love it. And I need a place like this to share my ideas and recipes, and to connect to the big vegan scene in the United States (the reason I write in English). You better recognize, because this Veggienista is here to stay.