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Monday, February 27, 2017

5 simple steps for reducing your plastic waste (and saving money!)


Did you know that plastic never goes away? Literally every piece of plastic, big or small, that has ever been produced is still existing somewhere today. It doesn't degrade, it doesn't compost, it lives on.

Hopefully the plastic that comes in and out of your house is disposed of appropriately and recycled to become something new, but there is already too much plastic in the world and while it's great to buy recycled and recycle again, it's even better to eliminate the plastic all together.

Here are 5 simple ways that you can reduce your plastic use and create a healthier environment.

1. Bring your own grocery and produce bags. 
Probably the easiest, most convenient way of reducing plastic. Keep your re-usable calico or cotton bags in your car or by your front door so you don't forget to bring them with you. If you live in an area like mine that charges for plastic bags, considering that the average price is 15c and the average weekly shop uses 6 bags, bringing your own bags saves an easy $50 per year. Take it a step further by also making or purchasing fabric produce bags. Instead of pulling a plastic bag off of a roll to keep your apples in, put them into a reusable bag. I made mine out of some cheap cotton and a very old sewing machine, before that I used laundry linen bags. You can find produce bags at various retailers, I've linked a few here and here.

2. Shop in bulk stores
Everything in my pantry is stored in jars, so it makes sense to shop in jars as well. Find a bulk store close to you and take in your own jars or produce bags to shop with. That way you're only buying what you need and there's absolutely no waste. Your bulk store will weigh your jars before you shop so that they can subtract the weight from the total. It saves a decent amount of money too!

3. Ditch the plastic wrap and zip lock bags
Not only are they bad for the environment because they can't be properly recycled, they're also made with bis-phenol A (BPA) which is bad for your health. Store your leftovers in glass containers or jars and wrap sandwiches in paper bags or resuable sandwich wraps. If you can't resist a snap lock bag, buy reusable ones that will last you for years.

4. Buy a metal, glass or BPA-free drink bottle
Australians buy more than 118,000 tonnes of plastic drink bottles every year. That's more plastic than recycling plants know what to do with. Save money by investing in a reusable drink bottle and filling it up at home or when you're out. Bottled water can cost $2-3, even if you only buy two bottles a week that's still taking more than $300 out of your savings each year. Cafe's will happily fill your drink bottle for you free of charge!

5. Reduce your single-use consumables
Plastic forks, take away coffee cups, plastic take away containers, plastic straws, all of these single use items don't go away when you throw them away, they live forever. Think twice before accepting them. Ask for no straw, keep a metal fork in your handbag, keep a reusable take away coffee cup in your car or at your desk and if you're feeling super eco-friendly, bring your own container to your take away shop of choice and ask them to use it. A lot of cafes offer a discount of 50c to $1 for bringing your own take away cup (putting an easy $200 back into your pocket each year) and I've received plenty of free coffees from baristas who were impressed by my eco-friendly coffee purchase. I promise you'll feel like mother nature afterwards!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Super Sexy Pad Thai (Vegan, Gluten Free)


Pad Thai is amazing, but Pad Thai is even more amazing when it's eaten cold for breakfast the next day, the only problem is that there's usually so much oil sitting in the bottom of the cardboard carton that it's enough to flip anyone's stomach. When I created this recipe I really only had one thing in mind. Leftovers.

The leftovers needed to still have soft noodles, still needed to be coated in an amazing sauce and needed to not be sitting in a pool of fat but still have that signature soft slick when you're slurping up the noodles. 

I call this Sexy Pad Thai because it has all the elements you look for in a Pad Thai but doesn't make you feel bloated and sluggish after eating it. It's refreshing served warm, even on a summer night, and it's delectable served chilled the next day. 


Ingredients
Serves 2-3, see bottom of post for substitutions*

Base
1 tbsp of Coconut Oil*
1 Red Capsicum (Bell Pepper), sliced thin
1 large head of Broccoli, chopped into small florets 
1 Carrot, julienned or sliced thin
2 cloves of Garlic, minced.
1 cup of Kale, shredded*
1 cup of Red Cabbage, sliced thin.
200g Pad Thai Rice Noodles.
200g of firm Tofu, cubed small*.

Sauce
1/4 cup of Rice Malt Syrup*
1/4 cup of Tamari*
2 tbsp of Sweet Chilli Sauce*
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar*
2 tbsp Lime Juice
1 tbsp Sesame Oil

Garnishes
1/2 cup of crushed Peanuts
1/2 cup of fresh Coriander*


Method

Alright, let's start by making he sauce and marinating the tofu. 

Combine all of the sauce ingredients into a small bowl and mix together until combined, add the cubed tofu and and set aside to marinate. 

Heating the coconut oil on medium heat in a large saucepan and add in all of the vegetables and garlic. Sauté by moving the vegetables around the pan until they reach your desired texture. Traditionally, Pad Thai vegetables will be softened but still have a soft crunch to them. This will take about 5 minutes of sautéing to achieve. If you like your vegetables soggy as hell then keep cooking them until they're soft. 

While the vegetables are cooking, boil water on the stove in a separate sauce pan and add the Pad Thai noodles, continue to boil for 6-7 minutes, until soft. Boiling the noodles instead of soaking them is the secret to perfect leftovers. When the noodles are cooked, drain the water, put them back into the saucepan and add the vegetables. 

In the pan you used to cook the vegetables, remove the tofu from the marinade and fry on medium heat for 2 minutes, flip and fry for another two minutes. 

Add the fried tofu and the rest of the sauce into the Pad Thai. Garnish with peanuts and coriander and you're ready to serve!





Substitutions:
Coconut Oil - Extra virgin olive oil will work also, virgin nut oils are okay as well. Try to avoid processed vegetable oils.
Kale - Any leavy green is fine, I've made it with rocket (arugula) and spinach.
Tofu - You can leave this out if you want too, if you're a little scared of tofu you could try buying a pre-marinated thai tofu which yields more flavour.
Rice Malt Syrup - Brown sugar will give he same result. 
Tamari - Soy sauce or liquid aminos are fine. 
Sweet Chilli Sauce - I like a mild spice to my foods, if you like it hotter you can add any hot sauce.
Apple Cider Vinegar - Rice vinegar will work.
Coriander - Flat leaf parsley is a good substitute.






Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What I Ate Today #2


Disclaimer: This isn't what I eat every day. This is what I ate on this day. I eat a plant-based diet and try to get 80-90% of my calories from carbohydrates. The remaining 10-20% are divided up evenly between fat and protein. I don't follow any specific guidelines on what I should eat and when, I listen to my body and just go with it. I'm not saying this is what you should eat, it's just what I eat. This is a healthy diet.




I started off with a fruit salad made from 4 tangelos, 3 kiwi fruit and 2 apples. I woke up late and wasn't super hungry this morning so I snacked on this for about 30 minutes.

At lunch time I had two bowls of pumpkin soup and 2 pieces of bread before going grocery shopping. I garnished the soup with roasted pumpkin seeds and cracked black pepper.

Then for an early dinner I ate roughly 2 cups of cooked rice, a corn cobb, a head of broccoli and a few small bunches of bok choy. I added about a teaspoon of vegetable stock to the rice water before I cooked it to give some more flavour and then I seasoned it with black pepper after serving.

I'm planning on doing a video on why I eat such a carbohydrate heavy diet but the simple reasoning is that in my (decade) of research and understanding of the human body, I've learnt that carbohydrates are the key to peak health. After more than 10 years of dieting I can finally eat healthily and happily. I've never felt so energetic and alive and I lose weight at a steady pace without ever restricting what I eat. In my opinion this is the ideal human diet.



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What I Ate Today #1

My Instagram has unintentionally turned into a Foodstagram. I can't help it, I cook a lot and I love food I make. This has prompted plenty of people to ask me for my meal plan or what I eat in a day. I tried writing several posts but I couldn't make it entertaining or exciting with just words and pictures so I cracked open iMovie for the first time and put together the video you see below.

I've added a brief description of my meals below the video.

Disclaimer: This isn't what I eat every day. This is what I ate on this day. I eat a plant-based diet and try to get 80-90% of my calories from carbohydrates. The remaining 10-20% are divided up evenly between fat and protein. I don't follow any specific guidelines on what I should eat and when, I listen to my body and just go with it. I'm not saying this is what you should eat, it's just what I eat. This is a healthy diet.



Alright, I start most mornings with a fruit smoothie. Today I had 4 bananas and 1 1/2 cups of blueberries. If I won't be able to eat throughout the morning I'll add a handful of raw oats into it to give me a bit more of an energy boost. I blended it with 375ml (one bottle) of coconut water.

An hour later I followed it with 500ml of orange juice. I buy bottled orange juice rather than squeeze my own (who has time for that?) but I make sure I buy 100% orange juice, no nasties added.

For lunch I went to the market and ate a chickpea and salad wrap. I'm big on chickpeas at the moment.

In the afternoon I snacked on two huge fuji apples and fresh peanut butter. This peanut butter is made from only peanuts, there's no added oil, salt or sugar. I bought mine from a health food store where I can grind my own but you can also find it in supermarkets.

I made the most of the remaining summer fruits by eating a few hand fulls lychees. There were probably 20 lychees in total.

For dinner I chopped up 4 large dutch cream potatoes that I also bought at the market. I sprinkled them with some garlic and herb seasoning and served them with sweet chili sauce. I try to have a few dinners a week that are just plain, simple carbohydrates. It gives your digestive system a rest and keeps you full throughout the evening. 

Let me know if you like this type of post, I had a lot of fun making it and if you enjoy it then I'll definitely make more.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Favourite Green Smoothie



I know this isn't the first green smoothie post you've ever seen. I know you're brain is probably thinking 'ew, seriously?' at the thought of blending spinach with your sweet banana breakfast smoothie but your body is actually squealing with delight and will love you indefinitely if you start your mornings with one of these.

Kale is the most nutrient dense food on the planet. It's rich in vitamin B6 which promotes brain development and healthy hormone activity. It helps your body to metabolise carbohydrates and form red blood cells. You'll also find a good dose of Riboflavin (vitamin B2) in a standard serving of kale which helps vision and skin health as well as strong energy production. It's jam packed with fibre for healthy digestion, calcium for strong bones and potassium for heart health. Don't worry, the list continues. Iron for muscle function, hemoglobin formation (the protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body and returns carbon dioxide from the body back to the lungs). Magnesium which is used by every organ in the body for bone and protein formation. It helps your muscles to relax and recover at night and is required for healthy insulin levels. It's high in omega-3's which help with anti-inflammation in joints. Folate for heart, brain and reproductive health and niacin for healthy cholesterol levels. 

I don't like the taste of kale. It's quite bitter and has a strong after taste. That's why I add cucumber to my green smoothie. The refreshing, watery taste overpowers the kale and makes the smoothie far more pleasant. Kale is virtually tasteless when combined with cucumber. 

On it's own, cucumber is a rich source of vitamin K which protects your body from infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease and promoted strong overall brain health. It's also goes hand in hand with vitamin D, you can't absorb one without the other. 

Spinach is a powerhouse of plant protein and it's is a good source of vitamins A, B2, C and K, and also contains magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium and potassium. It's the third most nutrient dense food, coming in behind kale and watercress.

Spirulina is a blue green algae and it has more than 100 nutrients packed into a small teaspoon of fine powder. I'm not going to list them all because I just made you read all about kale. You'll have to just trust me on that one. It smells like a fish tank but it's completely flavourless in a smoothie.



I sweeten my smoothies with fruit and coconut sugar. I'm not on board with the current coconut craze. I don't like coconut water and I avoid eating coconut oil. However I do have a soft spot for coconut sugar. 

Coconut sugar is made from the evaporated sap from coconut palm trees. It's principals are similar to maple syrup. It has a similar sweetness to regular white sugar but it has reasonable amounts of vitamins and minerals which push it closer to 'superfood' status. Let's be clear though, coconut sugar in no way a 'superfood', it's just an alternative to other sweeteners. 

My favourite smoothie fruits are bananas and berries. Every cell in your brain runs off sugar carbohydrates. I flood my body with plenty of natural sugars every morning to give me the best possible start to the day.

All of these ingredients combined will fill you up and give you an incredible energy lift without bringing on an energy crash later in the day. You need to remember that all of these ingredients are very low calorie and calories are what give you energy. Use a lot of them and take your time drinking it. I usually make a big jug, I'll drink half of it as soon as it's ready and then sip the rest of it while I'm getting myself organised in the morning. 

Let me know if you try it!



Recipe:

1 big handful (5-7 leaves) of kale with the stalks cut off. 
2 handfuls of baby spinach
1 teaspoon of spirulina
1/2 a cucumber
1 tablespoon of coconut sugar (optional)
3 bananas
2 cups of frozen berries
1-2 cups of water, depending on how thick you like your smoothie

Blend all the greens together with 1 cup of water until they're a thin liquid (about 30-60 seconds). Add the bananas, berries and coconut sugar and blend until completely combined. Add more water if you like your smoothie to be thinner. 

Enjoy!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Goodness Me Box Introduction and November Box Review


We've all heard of monthly subscription boxes, I've been subscribed to many of them over the past few years but Goodness Me Box is a little different. Instead of beauty products Goodness Me sends you a lovely little box each month filled with healthful food. I gave it a go this month to see what it was all about. 

The sign up process was easy, I set up a month-by-month automatic payment through PayPal. After signing up I was prompted to take a short survey to disclose my eating preferences and any restrictions I have in place (gluten-free, vegan, etc).

I've been keeping an eye on what other people have received in the boxes on social media and there have been a couple of different ones that were sent out this month. Everything I received in my box was vegan and I am presuming it was done on purpose because I said that I only ate vegan food in my sign up survey. Goodness Me box does say that they will try to be accommodating to all food preferences but there may be months that you receive something you're uninterested in trying and I'm okay with that. 

I have to say that I am really impressed with the selection in the November box. The $25 price tag was a little steep for just a 'sample' box but I'm really happy with the value I received.

November Box

The first thing I saw when I opened the box was the Sam Mills Gluten Free Fettuccine. I love Sam Mills pasta and eat it several times a week but I've never seen it in any 'spaghetti' form before, only in penne and spirals. It's made of 100% corn meal and it tastes incredible. I haven't gone back to eating regular pasta since I found it. I'm not a gluten free eater but Sam Mills pasta is just that good. This product is 500g (full size) and retails for about $2.99.

To compliment the pasta I also received a box of Ceres Organics Chopped Tomatoes in Tomato Juice.  The brand says that their unique 'box' style packaging keeps the product fresh without additives so you get an authentic taste upon opening. I've never seen this brand before but I use tinned tomatoes all the time so I'll definitely get use out of this. The product is 390g (full size) and retails for $3.15.

Moving onto some delicious snacks you'll also find a Luv Sum Chocolate Chia and Nut Energy Ball hiding away in the box. I've seen these posted so many times on Instagram but never actually seen them in a store myself so I'm glad I get a chance to try it for myself. They're packed with antioxidants, omega-3 and protein so they're great for a quick hunger busting snack. The product is 43g (full size) and retails for $3.50.

Next you'll find little snack sized pouch of Bite Smart Paprika Dusted Cashews, Pepitas and Chick Peas. They're a great fibre hit during the day and are convenient to keep in your car or handbag for a quick snack. I'm eating them as I type this in fact. The snack pouch is 35g (full size) and retails for $3.50.

I always make my own granola because finding a vegan one is difficult but I'm excited to try the Mama Bickie's Grain-O-La that came inside the box. It's made from oats, nuts, maple syrup and coconut and is made in a completely gluten free environment so it's wonderful for those with sensitivities. The granola is a snack sized sample, the full sized 420g box retails for $15.20 so I estimate this 75g sample to be about $2.70 in value. 

Next I received an old favourite, Camu Powder from Bioglan. I've used Camu powder before but the price tag puts me off of repurchasing it as often as I'd like too. Camu is a 'superfood' that boasts about it's ridiculously high level of vitamin C. It's a fantastic immunity boosting supplement, it's filled with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. It's often referred to as a 'beauty supplement' because it has wonderful effect on the skin. I'm glad I received it, I love using Camu powder in my smoothies. The product is 100g (full size) and retails for $26.99.

I think I'm the only person in the world who doesn't like coconut water. Is that weird? Either way I received a can of Nakula Organic Coconut Water inside my Goodness Me box. Coconut Water is absolutely wonderful for you but I personally can't drink it straight up. I'll use this in smoothies though, I'm thinking some kind of coconut water and pineapple pina-colada breakfast. This product is 330ml (full size) and retails for $3.95.

Then we're left with a few samples. Higher Living put 6 organic tea bags in the box, I've never heard of the brand before but I drink tea a few times a week so I'll give it a go. I'm especially interested in the Cacao and Chili tea! A box of 15 tea bags retails for $3.96 so with 6 bags this adds about $1.60 in value to the box. 

And last of all, a cute little sample of Norbu Natural Sweetener. This sweetener is made from Monk fruit and has 96% less calories than sugar. It's promoted as being fructose free and non-GMO. It's great if you follow one of those 'sugar free' diets but that's not for me. I'll try it and see if it adds an interesting flavour to my food. A box of 40 sachets retails at $4.99 which means this sample adds $0.12c to the box. 


I'm actually thrilled with Goodness Me box, I'll use all of these products, almost everything was full size and I received a great combination of foods. $25 may be higher than most monthly subscription boxes but when it contains almost $50 worth of products that I will actually use I'm more than happy to keep my subscription going. 

I'll review the box again next month and see if Goodness Me keeps up their awesome value!



Animal disclaimer:
All of the products mentioned are vegan friendly. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Current Favourite TV Loves

Yes, yes, yes! Spring has sprung which means all of my favourite TV shows are returning. There's nothing quite like cuddling up on the couch at the end of the day with a cup of herbal tea and diving into someone else's life for a few moments. Here's a look at just a few of my current faves:


The Mindy Project
The Mindy Project is one of the best television shows ever made. There, I said it. It has comedy perfectly suited to my humour, it has characters I want as my best friends and Mindy Kaling is basically super woman in the television world. The show revolves around a modern day obstetrician (Mindy) and her constant quest for love while balancing a hectic personal and professional life. It's perfectly timed comedy and it's fantastic.

Witches of East End
I've only just found this show but I've already binge watched my way through the first half of season one. The story revolves around a family of witches, the two adult daughters have only just learnt of their powers and the curses that haunt their family. It's kind of a mix between The Vampire Diaries and an adult Sabrina the Teenage Witch. It's a light drama with some really good plot lines.

Gotham
To say I was excited for Gotham to start would be a serious understatement. I was ecstatic, especially with the casting of Ben McKenzie as James Gordon. Perfect! The story is set in the city of Gotham before there was Batman, before Penguin, before Catwoman, before everything. I've been watching it on iTunes but the series will be premiering in Australia this week and even if you're not a Batman fan I suggest giving the show a chance.

A-Z
This is a brand new sitcom and I believe it doesn't start in Australia for another few months but it's available to purchase on the US iTunes store. It's basically 500 Days of Summer turned into a TV show. Only two episodes have aired so far but I'm really enjoying the story. In the beginning of episode one we're told that the two characters, Andrew and Zelda, will date for eight months, three weeks, five days and one hour. After that, we have no idea what happens. The series is supposed to delve deep into their relationship and everything that goes right or goes completely wrong.

Vampire Diaries
This series is jumping into it's sixth season and after the final amazing episodes at the end of season five I am so excited to see where these characters are going. It keeps getting darker, more twisted and leaves really exciting cliff hangers. I thought that season five was the best yet so I have huge expectations for season six.

The Good Wife
My boyfriend and I watched our way through 5 seasons of The Good Wife in a little over a month, once we started it didn't take long for us to become absolutely hooked. The drama follows Alicia, a litigator returning to work when her States Attorney husband is put behind bars due to a sex and corruption scandal. I really enjoy Alicia, I like seeing this type of female lead where relationships are still relative but the main focus is on her talent as a lawyer and how she translates this into her personal life.


An honorable mention needs to go to Awkward which has been so hilarious this season. To the new ABC sitcom Selfie which had a really great first episode. Brooklyn Nine Nine, Big Bang Theory and Modern Family all get shout outs for their consistent brilliance.

I'm still waiting for 2 Broke Girls and Suits to return but they are two of my absolute favourite shows and I know they're not going to disappoint.

What shows are you hooked on at the moment? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter on Instagram @ohrebeccalife