Saturday, 22 September 2012

Mini Seitan Satay Sticks- vegan

Seitan satay
Seitan is a cheap to make protein food produced by isolating the gluten from white flour. To find out how to make it click here for my step-by-step instructions.
This recipe can be a light meal or party food if you team it with crudites as shown above, or you can make it the basis of a meal by adding salad or roasted veggies and brown rice. The satay sauce is quite rich, so keep your accompaniments simple. It is fairly quick to prepare if you have already made the seitan, as you can get the veggies and sauce ready while the sticks are marinating and baking. If you don't have powdered galangal, then ginger will do. The amounts give here serve about 4 people: 20-ish sticks with 3 seitan cubes on each stick. You will need cocktail sticks which have been soaked in water, and a quantity of seitan from the above instructions.

50ml soy sauce
2 tabs oil such as peanut or ricebran
1 1/2 tsps grated fresh ginger
2 tabs lemon juice
1 tab agave nectar (optional)
Satay sauce:
150ml smooth peanut butter (if using unsweetened, add agave nectar to taste)
1 tab tahini
2-3 tabs soy sauce
1/2 tsp compound hing
a pinch of chilli powder (or more if you like it hot!)
1/4 tsp or small pinch powdered galangal- be careful as it has a strong and unique pungency
1/2 cup (125ml) warm water
  • Dice the seitan into 1.5cm cubes and soak in the marinade, which you make up by simply mixing all the ingredients together. (I only had minutes for this rather than hours, and the flavour turned out just fine.) Thread 3 cubes onto each of the soaked cocktail sticks and  bake them in the remaining marinade at 200C for about 20 minutes, or until slightly chewy but not too dry.
  • While the seitan sticks are in the oven, make the satay sauce by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and whisking in the water with a balloon whisk.
  • Serve the seitan sticks with a small pot of satay sauce and crudites for each person.
For more seitan recipes, click here and here.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Vegan Greek Salad

This salad has a satisfying combo of textures and flavours and is a complete meal in itself
Another idea from our recent Greek holiday, for a light lunch that is a complete meal in itself. I always loved Greek salad, but have found a straight swap of tofu for feta rather disappointing; much as I love tofu, it just doesn't seem very at home in this dish - maybe because a more salty, gutsy flavour is called for to contrast with the moistness of the salad vegetables? Not having access to tofu where we were staying anyway, we were looking for a protein substitute for the feta/ tofu and we happened to find a mix in the local shop called "Cocktail nuts". The mix involved mini rice crackers, peanuts, crunchy dried beans and corn. I think its saltiness and slight spiciness is what made it work so well with the local olives and extra-virgin olive oil. Any nut and/ or seed-based salty mix would do. The rest of the salad consisted of locally-grown sun-ripened vine tomatoes and crispy cucumber, with perhaps a little sliced capsicum. We didn't find lettuce so omitted it, but you could always add it back in (Cos lettuce, of course!) or perhaps a few baby spinach leaves. In some parts of Greece, they even use young dandelion leaves, which are bitter but good for you. To finish it off, we bought some wonderful unbleached rustic-style bread from the village bakery, as there's nothing quite like mopping your plate with it, to soak up the olive oil and tomato juice....

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

My Fitness Diary 1

I dug out my swimming goggles and dusted off my old trainers...

Much as I cringe with embarrassment at writing about myself, I'm following my husband's suggestion to post about my own personal journey into fitness, which I began recently whilst on holiday. He pointed out that good health and balanced lifestyle has to include the element of excercise as well as diet. I'll update regularly on what I am doing, how I am feeling and how my life has been affected by it. (I'm about 3 weeks in and already noticing a few changes.) I'm hoping that my ability to focus on meditation will also be enhanced by taking some exercise. I will share the lows as well as the highs, and by telling all to you, my readers, knowing that you will be waiting for the next instalment, I hope to stay motivated- so please feel free to support me by commenting and perhaps we can inspire each other to even better health and wellbeing... (and no, there will NOT be any "before" and "after" pictures of me!)
I took my health and fitness so much for granted when I was younger; being a dancer and having grown up by the seaside where I could swim every day of Summer if I wanted- it was second nature to do things that kept my body moving. Later on, I would always go to dance and yoga classes, and as I am a non-driver me and my daughter would walk everywhere too. It seemed that without even trying I could maintain a basic level of activity, with all the benefits that brings such as keeping trim and feeling positive. But all that changed about 7 years ago when I married my lovely husband and came here to the city. He is always happy to give me a lift in the car, and there are buses and trains when he can't do that. Moreover, we have such a busy life at the moment with our kids, work and doing up the house that spending the extra time to walk anywhere has actually become a luxury we cannot often afford. I have been working full time for the last 5 years, and when I get home exhausted it's all too tempting to spend any spare moments slumped in a chair munching on snacks rather than doing something that involves yet more physical effort... does any of this sound familiar to you?
Result: I have gradually put on weight, and despite a pretty healthy diet I lost a lot of physical stamina, felt tired all the time and suddenly looked a lot older. After returning from holiday this year, where I had been swimming loads every day I decided to keep up the excercise; and amazingly, I have continued to lose weight despite not having swum since returning. I have been running, though. This is my program:
  • A short run- not jog- round the block (about 3/4 mile 5 or 6 times a week after work or in the morning at weekends. Running is free, doesn't take long, and you can do it virtually anywhere.
  • Swimming once a week (I want to start soon- it's just finding a local pool that opens in the evenings for lane swimming.)
  • Walk the 3 miles to work 2 or 3 times a week with a colleague who lives nearby. We have done this once so far. We kept up a fairly brisk pace, despite chatting the whole way, and did it in about 40 minutes.
  • Join a yoga class for some much-needed stretching after all that hamstring-shortening running. (Haven't done this yet.)
The "Plus"es: So far, I find I'm feeling more comfortable and looking better in my clothes, which colleagues and family have commented on. This has made me feel more confident and positive about myself (I didn't realise how bad my self esteem was until it started to get better!) and I've had more energy and been more efficient at work. After running I actually feel more energised, and have been a lot more on top of the household chores, which means it doesn't all get left until the weekend, which in turn means I have had a bit more free time to relax and/ or do some more exercise...
The flip side (Tue 18.9): When I went for a run today my legs felt like lead; I only managed half my usual distance as although I was no more out of breath than usual, I just couldn't shake that heavy feeling. Maybe I was too tired from taking the class swimming at work today? Maybe I didn't warm up enough? Maybe I hadn't eaten enough during the day?