Vegan Story – Blackfire Vegan

Get to know another passionate Aussie vegan – Blackfire Vegan!!

What caused you to become vegan?
Primarily I became vegan for health reasons. I’d just come from a year of personal disasters, a year of low carb, very low calorie abuse of my body. I’d lost 30kg in less than 6 months. Several people close to me had been diagnosed with either cancer or diabetes and the reality of my own mortality was hitting hard. I decided I didn’t want to do it anymore. I wanted to cherish the body I’d been given.

I went on a google campaign to understand the best thing I could to for my body. Over and over the message was that a diet excluding animal products was the best thing I could do, to heal both my body and my mind. Since I made that decision 2 years ago to become vegan. The longer I was vegan – the more my circle of compassion has increased and now it’s just as much for the animals as it is for me, the planet and for us all.

What was the most challenging part of your transition?

Initially dairy was the biggest issue for me. Not just because I was such a fan of cheese, but because it was so hard to eat out without at least milk/cheese somewhere. I travel a lot for work, so this made it harder and slower than it could have been. I’ve got this down pat now though! I pack snacks, I’ve learnt the places that have food along the highway and I stay in serviced apartments that have a kitchen where I can cook my own food 🙂 (plus I maybe sometimes take my vitamix with me :/)

The lack of support was also hard. But if I’d had realised the breadth of communities available on social media two years ago, it would have been easier!! Regardless of the type of vegan you are – there is a community of like-minded people out there. Go forth and discover it!!

How do you perceive your life now?
There’s been a lot that had happened these passed two years since I became vegan. But knowing that I’m treating my body right, that I’m making the right choices has freed up my focus for other things. I’ve rediscovered myself. I’m reconnecting with my passions and I’m much more active then I’ve ever been before. Every day is an opportunity to improve, to change and to grow.

What helped you through the transition?

Social media without a doubt has been the only way I’ve made it through. I live in a small country town, and I’m sure I’m alone in the crowd. However, I can still talk daily to other vegans and I’m slowly building a group of friends that share my ideals. One day, I’ll have a real life vegan friend that will be as excited about the vegan day out as I am, but for now, I’ll share vicariously through social media.

How do you help the vegan community?

I love showing that veganism is not just possible, but easy. I’ve managed to rustle up a vegan meal at a steakhouse, spend half my time in another city surrounded by strangers and a few non-vegan friends, all without compromising my beliefs. I try to be as active as possible on IG – posting pretty much everything I eat, regardless of how pretty it is, even if it isn’t healthy!!

What is your favourite vegan recipe?

I tend to mostly use a recipe once or twice, then make it from memory and tweak the crap out of it. The only ones I don’t, are cakes and the like, there’s a science behind that stuff and I’m not messing with it! This recipe makes the most amazing fluffy pancakes, I like to eat them with peanut butter and jam or bananas and maple syrup! http://m.allrecipes.com/recipe/191885/vegan-pancakes/

Vegan Story – Jessy Wallace

I’m sure you’ve seen the glorious food pics by Jessy all over Instagram and her blog, and now you can read her Vegan Story!! Enjoy x

What caused you to become vegan?

At first it was for my health, trying to manage my anxiety and IBS and not feel so weighed down. Then I watched Cowspiracy and a few other documentaries and realised it was so much more: you can’t block those things from your mind and heart once you’ve seen them.

What was the most challenging part of your transition?

The food part wasn’t too hard, I had already cut out all dairy about three years ago, and once I started making the proper connection, seeing meat being cooked was less “yum” and more just thinking “dead flesh of an animal”. The most difficult part is dealing with people who are either ignorant or want to dish out the criticism but don’t want to listen to the facts.

How do you perceive your life now?

Healthy, full of energy, awake, aware, not the only species on the plant, compassionate.

What helped you through the transition?

Amazing inspiration all over Instagram, and just knowing that the food I was eating wasn’t causing harm to any being.

How do you help the vegan community?

I post a lot of food photos to my Instagram page (@jessy.wallace), hopefully people get some inspiration and ideas from that! I try to spread knowledge subtly, as I know people don’t like confrontation of their habits. I get a fair few messages from non-vegans who I’ve inspired to cut back on their animal product intake, and they also try my recipes with great response. I post most of my recipes to my blog.

What is your favourite vegan recipe?

I could be plain and say that I can’t live without gluten free pasta as that’s a staple! But currently my favourite would have to this Vietnamese rice noodle peanut salad I’ve been making; homemade peanut sauce, rice noodles, cucumber, carrot, mint leaves, lettuce, fried shallots, peanuts, avocado, lime juice… only the best thing in the world!!

Blueberry and Apple Pie

INGREDIENTS:
Pastry
125g plain flour

  • 55g icing sugar
  • 55g margarine (I use Nuttelex)

Filling

  • 4 granny smith apples
  • 400g frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 sheet puff pastry

METHOD

Heat oven for 180 degrees. Oil a 20cm deep dish pie tray.

In a food processor mix the pastry ingredients until it forms a dough. You may need to add a touch of soy milk to bind it fully. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Once the dough has chilled, roll it out on a floured bench or a silicone dough mat. I found it really hard to roll so you may need to work quicIMG_4140kly or add a bit of moisture to prevent it crumbling too much. Once the dough is round and large enough to place in the pie dish flip the dough on the top of the pie dish then push the sides down to create the pie base and walls.

Blind bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Whilst the dough is resting, prepare your filling. if you have a mandolin/spiralator use that to thinly slice your apples, if not then slice by hand in rounds. Juice the lemon over the apples and toss to prevent browning then add the blueberries, vanilla, brown sugar and cornflour and toss again until there are no cornflour lumps. Place in the blind baked pie crust and then slice one sheet of Pampas puff pastry into 2 cm strips. Arrange the strips in a lattice (or however you wish) then place in the oven again for 25-30 minutes or until puff pastry is golden.

Serve with Zebra Dream ice-cream of choice.

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Yo My Goodness BURGERS!!

Last week I was one of the few blessed individuals 😛 that was invited to the YOMG VIP launch night of their new Glen Waverley store. Now I frequent YOMG probably more often than I care to admit (generally Glenferrie Rd, Malvern) but this store was just a little bit special. Not because the store was all swanky with an open-plan layout with the wall of glory (the yoghurt bar) beckoning you towards the back, not because of the free flowing champagne, not because it was just around the corner from my house (!!!) but because BURGERS. Yes, that is right friends, burgers. And chips, or loaded fries, as they like to call them. And smoothies. So much goodness YoMyGoodness!

Welcomed at the door, my plus one and I were told to enjoy and to order anything we pleased. So, naturally I ordered one of their vegan AND gluten free burgers, call the hipster – of course – some chippies (hold the chicken salt thanks) and a kale and pineapple super blend (aka smoothie).

Now I’ve had a fair whack of gluten free bread myself and generally you know its gluten free – it can have that rubbery, stale texture and just an overall weird flavour. But my hipster burger of ‘pulled mushroom, Asian slaw and cashew nut mayo’ was smushed between two soft buns ready to go. YOMG, you have done very well my friends. The chips were super-dooper-extra-crunchy just the way I like ‘em and the super blend, despite involving kale, didn’t taste very ‘green’ at all – more pina colada than anything.

Pineapple superblend + chips

Pineapple superblend + chips

The Hipster

The Hipster

And just ‘cos we weren’t already full enough we helped ourselves to the froyo taps. I have tried many different froyo places around Melbourne town but YOMG is always always my fav. Their vegan soy berry and soy chai flavours have the best texture by far! And always topped with halva + oreos, other things optional.

 

YOMG Glen Waverley menu

YOMG Glen Waverley menu

FROYO Baby!!

FROYO Baby!!

 

To end a fabulous night of eating and mingling (got to be in the vicinity of some of the Insta greats like @jimmysburgers and @theplateproject!!), we were given a take home tub!

Thanks again YOMG for the special invite. You’ll probably get to know my order – its scary how close I live to this fabulous new store! Vegans of Melbourne – be sure to check out the new kid on the block!

YOMG Glen Waverley
Burgers, Shakes & Frozen Yogurt
Ground Floor 65 – 67 Kingsway
Glen Waverley VIC 3150
03 9560 2288

 

Banana cake with caramel frosting and maple walnuts

For those times when you have a pile of brown bananas staring at you for a couple of days – can be made with/without the icing (but, trust me you won’t regret it!)

Ingredients
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup Nuttelex, at room temp
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well
2 cups flour (1 cup self raising flour + 1 cup plain)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup soy milk, mixed with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup walnuts (toasted)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Banana cake

Banana cake

Directions
Preheat oven to 180C. Spray loaf tine with non stick cooking spray and line bottom with baking paper

Sift together flour, baking soda, nuts, salt and spices.
Cream together the Nuttelex and sugars. Add bananas, soy milk (with vinegar) and vanilla.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix well. Pour batter into pan. Bake for an hour to an hour 10 minutes.

Icing
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup of icing sugar
1/2 cup Nuttelex (room temp)
1 tsp of vanilla extract

Beat Nuttelex and sugar then add vanilla and mix again. Mix until creamy and fluffy.

Walnuts
1/4 cup of walnuts
3 tbsp pure maple syrup
Salt

Toast the walnuts in a pan then add the maple syrup. Continue stirring until the syrup thickens over the walnuts. Cool.

Maple coated walnuts

Maple coated walnuts

Iced cake

Iced cake

To assemble:
Place the cool cake on a rectangle plate then add the icing and pile the maple walnuts into the middle of the cake.
Store in an airtight container.
Serves 10-12

Epic.

Epic.

Vegan Adventures

Eating – toast. so. much. toast. (with peanut butter cos, duh)

Reading – Not that Kind of Girl

Doing – not studying when I should be…epp!

Seeing – Pitch Perfect 2: Rebel, you do Australia proud girl!

Loving – that little bit of sun you get in the afternoon and mornings spent in bed (with toast and tea)

Cooking – epic layered banana cakes for bae [WATCH THIS SPACE]

Listening – to some good ol’ retro tunes like Doctor Jones and Whole Again and A Thousand Miles

Dreaming – about days when I won’t have a schedule. Please, holidays, come faster already.

Jamie Oliver’s chocolate brownies

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Grease a square baking tin (roughly 20cm) with a little oil, then line with greaseproof paper.

Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the base doesn’t touch the water. Break 150g of chocolate into the bowl and allow it to melt, then set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, sieve the flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl, then stir in the sugar and a pinch of salt. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the seeds, then add them to the bowl. Stir in the oil, soya milk and melted chocolate until combined.

Roughly chop and stir in the remaining chocolate and most of the pecans, reserving a few for the top. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle over the remaining pecans, then place into the hot oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked on the outside, but still gooey in the middle.

Leave to cool for around 5 minutes, turn out onto a wire cooling rack, then serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if you’re feeling extra indulgent.

Live Below the Line: Diary – Day 4 & 5

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LIVE BELOW THE LINE IS OVER!!

On one hand I am endlessly grateful – grateful for this life I have and everything that comes with it; the security, the ease, the textures of different foods, the variety, and on the other hand I am uneasy to know that whilst my 5 days of LBL are over, for over a billion people on this planet, they don’t have a end goal. That is their lives.

I never would have thought that I would have learnt so much doing a 5 day challenge like that. The saying, ‘you never understand one’s situation until you walk a day in their shoes.’

In saying this, it was a tough 5 days. The last two being the hardest. On day 4 (Thursday) I went to my normal ‘coffee catchup’ with a group of friends and I sat there miserably as they all had their lattes and cappuccinos. Generally, I only have one coffee a day, but the lack of coffee and the sheer amount of refined carbohydrates I was consuming (rice rice rice) I felt so sluggish all week. On day 4 I woke up with a headache which didn’t subside after breakfast and copious amounts of water and, again, I came very close to throwing in the towel. At the end of the day though, I made it through!

The last day (Friday) was somewhat easier simply by knowing it was the last day of porridge and rice that I would be having and that a breakfast with girlfriends was just one sleep away. And coffee. Boy, I was soooooo very ready for a soy latte. Another day of sleepiness and headaches seemed not so bad when I thought about how far I had come!

My LBL experience was a great opportunity to reflect on how much we consume and how much money we spend on food and food products yet it also makes you realize how different life would be if you were living below the poverty line; throughout the week I didn’t go out to coffee, for lunch or to friends houses like I normally would. But at the end of the day, when I move out, I know that if worst comes to worst, I can still feed myself on $2 a day!

Live Below the Line: Diary – Day 3

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Half way through!! I heard along the grapevine that Wednesday was going to be the worst of all of the days and no one could be more right!! I came very-nearly-too close to giving up at numerous stages thoughout the day; when a friend offered me some hot chips and then again when I was offered a coffee, A FREE COFFEE!

It is tough. And everytime you can’t have something that you want, it hurts a little. But that hurt makes you think about the people who this is normal to. The people that arent just doing it for 5 days, but their entire lives. I am grateful for the emails that the LBL crew send out daily giving you a good little pep up for those moments you need it most.

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The best/worst part of yesterday was having a sleepover with Steph who is also doing LBL, and although we couldnt do normal girly sleepover things like movies, chocolate and popcorn, we got to have our LBL meals together, laugh about it and share struggle.

3 days down, 2 to go. Saturday cant come fast enough!!

Live Below the Line: Diary – Day 2

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Day 2

Not excited for my porridge. Nup. Not one bit. After yesterday’s glue experience I was dreading it. However I added a touch more coconut milk and soaked the oats before cooking them and in the end it wasn’t all THAT bad. I miss my cereal and soy milk 😦

Again, I got hungry quite quickly and would probably give my pinkie for a coffee. Its amazing how quickly you realize how much you consume and the sheer price of it!
One coffee is about 2 and a 1/2 days worth of food on LBL. One coffee! It is so easy to forget that gum, mineral water, juice, piece of slice that you have throughout the day.

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LBL is definitely teaching me lessons that can only really be experienced. And whilst this isn’t a true representation of the daily struggle that people living below the poverty line experience, I get a little taste of what it would be like.
I get excited for my lunch and dinners but not so much for breakfast. Continually reminding myself about the cause!!!

I am also very grateful that my best buddy Steph is texting me throughout the day for updates and chats about how ‘exciting’ our food is haha.