Wednesday, January 28, 2015

new adventures!

Hi everyone! If you'd like to keep following my food, wellbeing and creative adventures, feel free to check out my page or follow me on instagram @nourishyoursoulwiththerainbow 


Thursday, September 19, 2013

tastay satay

My good friend Jacqui from Sydney visited me one weekend in 2012. This was exciting as I hadn't seen her in ages and it was my first (and probably only) overnight visitor for the year :)

We went to the Gorman Art House markets where I enjoyed satay chicken from the Thai food store. The dish was more than enough and great value for money as it costed below $10. The sauce was delicious, sweet but had some peanut-like depth to it. This was accompanied by cucumber pieces marinated in some sweet vinegar dressing that I was not familiar with. I googled up thai salads with cucumber and it seems like its common to dress cucumber with sugar, vinegar, fish sauce and chilli flakes in salads. I couldn't finish the dish at the end but I was pretty content at the end.

asian desserts and more

During a drunken stroll in Melbourne's CBD on a Tuesday night ages ago (gotta love holidays), Dan, his friends and I went to Dessert Story, a place serving Taiwanese and Hong Kong desserts. I was at a point where I could barely eat/drink anymore but proceeded to get the tofu with mixed fruit (pic in the middle). The others got similar desserts or the shaved ice with black sesame.

Although I was already bursting at the seams, my dessert was like a nice and healthy treat... Since the tofu was pretty bland by itself, this dessert is definitely for tofu lovers and those who are very familiar with its taste. The dessert could have had more fruit syrup to penetrate the slight tartness of tofu.
As usual, I was taking pictures of the food for this blog and someone expressed an off-hand or half-hearted comment that it was very Asian of me to take pictures of food. I can't deny that many many Asians do this (see Many Asians take pictures of food cos they think it looks 'cute' and they think the foods' aesthetics are worth showing off to facebook friends. Sometimes they do it to glorify well known eateries and brands without identifying whether or why it is different (or the same) as other food. Sometimes I take pictures of food because I think it's aesthetically pleasing or whatever. However, in my blog I critique it to expose and raise awareness of other ways of preparing food and broader societal and philosophical issues. I don't see food as 'just' something consumed for survival. There are many reasons why people (who happen to be Asian) take pictures of food. I hate being stereotyped.

avocado sauce?!

There was an avocado sale at my local markets (c'mon, not only Asians seek bargains) as they must have been in season. Rather than using avocado in typical ways such as in salads or as a spread in a sandwich, I made an avo sauce/paste. This was made of avocados, apple cider vinegar, tahini, fresh herbs such as chives and basil and (maybe) fresh lemon juice. I blended all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth. If I had more herbs, this would make a wonderful pesto-like sauce.

The sauce was tangy and creamy and the colour was cool in a odd way. It complemented boring carbs such as rice as it gave it a risotto or pudding texture.
 And pasta.

And I replaced conventional tomato paste used in pizzas with the avo sauce.

Surprisingly, the avocado sauce/paste kept well in the fridge without turning brown. The vinegar or lemon juice probably contributed to this.


After I realised that I don't have much calcium in my diet, I had to think of tasty ways to have more dairy. I tried to drink glasses of unflavoured soy milk and other plant milks, but this was boring and felt like drinking medicine. Then I rediscovered the wonderful world of smoothies.

My core ingredients for smoothies are any type of plant milk such as almond, soy, oat and a ripe banana. You can use pretty much any fruit you like but I experimented with kiwi, raspberries, strawberries and mango. The same goes for nuts, seeds and many other flavourings. I love adding nuts/nut butter for a kick of protein, cocoa powder or carob powder as it makes the smoothie chocolatey, cinnamon to spice it up, rolled oats, dates or natural sweeteners. I love the versatility of smoothies.

Add yoghurt for extra creaminess.

And even baby spinach - and no, it doesn't taste like a salad.

In the middle of winter, I would add oats to my banana cocoa smoothie and warm it up in the microwave. It was like a creamy vegan hot chocolate :). Amazing.
If you are slightly frugal and want a different way to use the last ends of your jam or nut butter jars, you can pour your smoothie (or oatmeal) into your jar. When you scrape the last bits of your drink/food, you'll get extra tasty bits from the jar. Below I ate oatmeal out of an cashew nut butter jar that was on its last ends. And I gained tasty bonuses for finishing my meal!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

tandoori trauma

After I came off my restrictive diet earlier this year, I realised how many of my pantry items I neglected and how close they were to expiry. Driven by an odd urge to ‘not waste food’, I overzealously researched and made a list of all the recipes I could and would cook in order to use up these neglected items. Over 2 weeks, I panicked and pondered at insensible hours of the day. Luckily, this obsession was short-lived. While I still prefer to not waste food, I’m okay with chucking things in the compost and letting food rot. Thank goodness this passed quickly!

One of these neglected items was a jar of tandoori paste. I found some recipes for tandoori baked vegetables that sounded delicious. I chopped up firm tofu, zuchinni, mushrooms, capsicum and onion. I also added finely grated garlic and ginger. I marinated all ingredients with a small tub of yoghurt, some lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of tandoori paste and some spices including smoked paprika, cumin and coriander. I added spices for authenticity because I felt guilty taking a short cut and using paste. It was probably a redundant addition.
After marinating the ingredients for a couple of hours, I baked it in the oven for about 30 minutes. The whole house unmistakably smelt like tandoori.

I forgot to cook rice so I had the tandoori dish with a slice of bread… WOW it was hot hot HOT. I didn’t eat much that day so after two mouthfuls, my stomach became really uncomfortable from the heat of the spices and from bloating (I was sculling water and milk at the same time). I probably used too much of tandoori paste/spices.

It was a bit full on. Even though I’ve got 5 leftover servings of tandoori, I’m avoiding it. This makes me think – there are heaps of people who have had a bad experience with certain foods and avoid these foods for years and maybe their whole lives. This may sound like ‘I don’t like the taste of [certain food] so I will take it out of my dish’ or ‘I don’t like what [certain food] does to my body, but it’s not like I’m intolerant to it or will die if I eat it’ or ‘I had a bad experience with [certain food] once, so I don’t want to eat it’. Rarely do people make the effort to re-eat the food and dissociate their bad experience from the food.

It’s normal for people to have bad or traumatic experiences with food then develop preferences for some foods over others. On a tangent… maybe you can replace food with other necessary aspects of life, such as relationships, shelter, sleep etc. If a person has a traumatic/bad experience with one of these, is it normal to avoid certain aspects of these things?

6 years ago, I had a traumatic period where I experienced a sudden breakup (with deception, lies, manipulation) and the sudden/accidental death of my best friend. Today, when I’m reminded of particular things about the past (stressors), I respond oddly. I become hyper vigilant or freeze or freak out. This doesn’t mean that I’ll necessarily break down if someone asks me about the past but I'd get uncomfortable if I feel like these events are replaying themselves in a different format. It's inevitable that these memories will arise in my everyday life, but after some time, it gets difficult to manage. I need to strip it down to basics again and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel vulnerable at times.

When I think about it, people avoid certain types of food and I try to avoid certain types of people/events/scenarios. It’s about self-preservation and knowing what’s good for you. If it’s okay for someone to avoid lemons because they are sour, it should be okay for me to feel uncomfortable with people who are super secretive etc or to always have a back-up plan if my closest friends/family aren’t there for me when I need them the most. 

It’s not like I’ve been living like a hermit in fear for the past 6 years. And I’m not saying that once you’ve had a bad experience with a partner/close friend, avoid relationships at all costs. I’ve actively tried to rebuild myself over time and confront my fears. I’ve done quite well until things re-emerged in the past couple of years. Anyway, I wanted to vent about this because I’m trying to overcome my guilt and self-judgment and want people to know in some vague hope that I'll be able to cope better in the future... it gets more complicated but maybe that’s for another time. I realise there are people who are going to be judgmental and not understanding. But think about how you’d react if you were forced to eat that food that you’ve hated for ages.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

hot air balloons and brekkie

Ever since my first year in Canberra, I wanted to see the Balloon Spectacular – a festival of hot air balloons that begins at dawn. I figured that I’m probably not going to be in Canberra for the long run so I wanted to make the effort this year to attend the festival. And I did it! Yay!

Waking up at 4am and facing the morning cold was worth every second of the festival. I felt like a child again where anything was possible.

By 7am ish, I was starving so my friend and I went to the new café in Curtin called My Gourmet Delights. I ordered a brown rice veggie pattie which came in a toasted sandwich… unfortunately it was pretty disappointing. The pattie was dry and was akin to eating old brown rice. There were extra carbs from the bread and they didn’t tell me that it came with cheese (which I didn’t feel like eating)... boo… oh well. At least the balloon festival was rewarding!

breakfast pizzas

We must have been super hungry and energetic one morning because we made pizza for breakfast. I remember it being really darn good. Turkish bread with a tomato based and topped with spinach, green capsicum, Jarlsberg cheese, shredded ham and an egg. We popped it in the oven then under the grill to cook the egg and yum. I loved having the half cooked egg as the yolk dispersed among the pizza ingredients and made it ever so moist. You can use whatever bread you want and add whatever toppings you want. If someone gave me the same meal today, I don’t know how I’d fit it in my stomach. It was good back then though!

Down the alleyway to a Himalayan restaurant

Dan and I used to get take away for dinner every few days and we quickly got tired of our options. I probably got frustrated quicker as I usually prefer to eat ‘something different’ whenever possible. Instead of sticking around our geographical location, we ventured to Manuka. Normally when you go to this suburb at 6pm on a Friday evening, it takes about 20 minutes to find a decent park. However, we ventured there on a rainy Monday or Tuesday evening and wow the streets were quiet! It felt like there was a zombie apocalypse and it was kinda refreshing.

I pulled him down one of the alleyways of Manuka… towards the ‘Taste of Himalaya’. This restaurant has always intrigued me because Himalayan/Nepalese food isn't very common and because the restaurant is in an odd location.

We ordered the Chicken Shush Tawook (bottom dish in picture) which was boneless grilled chicken marinated in Middle-Eastern spices topped with Spanish onion, tomato and rocket salad served on a bed of tortilla bread with hommos dip. We also got the Daal Jhaneko (top dish in picture) which were lentils cooked with fresh garlic, ginger and spices, flambéed with cumin, tomato and coriander. We ordered plain rice to go with it but should have ordered the pounded rice instead, even if it was against the advice of the waitress… and to try something different. Apparently the pounded rice has the texture of corn flakes. Imagine eating a spicy food with that!

The chicken dish was tasty and all the components complemented each other – juicy and spicy chicken wrapped in a fresh tortilla. The salty hommus added a punch to the dish and it was all balanced out with a refreshing salad. The lentils were not bad, but we couldn’t help but compare it to a daal in an Indian restaurant that we eat at frequently. We were looking for a punch that we couldn’t find in this dish.

I’d probably go to the restaurant again but, in my style, order something different.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

tofu and kale 'pie'

I have an aversion to red meat due to it's environmental impact, taste and cholesterol density compared to other meats. However, this means that I have to find other sources of iron etc. I was slightly excited to get my hands on a bunch of kale, which boasts high iron and calcium and lots of other good stuff. Since I can only buy kale in large bouquet-size bunches, it's always a challenge for me to finish it all within one week. However, I sorted this out by modifying a vegan recipe for savoury swiss chard pie

I blended the cashews, silken tofu, spices, soy milk and cornstarch in my food processor til it was the consistency of yoghurt. I also half cooked the kale, onion and garlic in a pan.

Then layered the ingredients in a pie dish and baked it in the oven until the tofu was firm.

Each slice of the pie crumbled upon serving - if there was a higher tofu to kale ratio, the tofu could have seeped through to the kale mixture and act as a binding agent. However, it was delicious and I could enjoy it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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