Friday, 30 January 2009

In love with vegan chocolate cake

The first time I wrote here about cakes was after my first chocolate cake I tried to cook in Europe and it wasn't a good experience. After that, I gave up on the cake mixes and decided to cook the real cakes. And it's going very well. In Italy I cooked some carrot and chocolate cakes and everybody loved them. Vegan cakes are the kind of food that everybody asks how it can be vegan but when tasting one says that it's as good as all other cakes.

After moving we stayed some months without cakes because we had a lot of house stuff to buy and not enough money and some kitchen stuff had to wait. But now we have everything and I can cook all the cakes I want.

Our (me and Matteo) favourite one is the chocolate cake. And I always use a great and easy recipe that my friend Raquel sent to me: chocolate with nuts. I wish I could eat this cake every day, but I would become a ball have no time to do it!

Here the recipe:

1 ½ cup white flour
¾ cup sugar
½ cup crushed nuts

2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ¼ cup water or soy milk
½ cup oil

Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix. Add the oil and then the water or soy milk. Mix until you have a consistent and smooth mass. Put in the oven for 30 minutes (180ºC).

I usually make a chocolate topping cream too with soy cream and cocoa powder. Just put them together in a pan and cook for 5 minutes after boiling. It will still look liquid. Wait until it gets cold and you'll have a delicious cream. Another option is make this topping cream with soy milk and a bar of dark chocolate.

And to my Brazilian friends, the recipe in Portuguese:

1 ½ xícara de farinha de trigo
¾ xícara de açúcar
½ xícara de nozes moídas
1 colher de sopa de cacau em pó
1 colher de chá fermento
1 ¼ xícara de água ou leite de soja
½ xícara de óleo

Peneire todos os ingredientes secos em uma vasilha. Misture e junte o óleo e depois o leite (ou a água). Misture até obter uma massa consistente e lisa. Leve ao forno por 30 minutos (180ºC).

Cobertura: leve ao forno um pouco de creme de leite de soja e cacau em pó (eu coloco as quantidades bem de olho aqui, quanto mais, melhor!) e deixe ferver por alguns minutos. Ela vai parecer ainda líquida, espere esfriar até que se torne cremosa. Uma outra opção é fazer a cobertura com leite de soja e barra de chocolate amargo ou meio amargo (se quiser bastante cobertura, use uma barra inteira!)

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Fast and furious delicious

I love Italian food. Since... always. Even before being vegan it was one of my favourite food. And in my first years of veganism I used to eat a lot of pasta because it was easy to find without eggs and easy to cook.

Well, now I'm married with an Italian guy (and love him too!), so it's easy to figure out how much pasta we eat.

Today he went to the kitchen to prepare some fast food to us and the result was amazing: pasta with funghi and tofu. He chose the tagliatelle and while the pasta was cooking, he made the sauce: unsweetened soy cream, mushrooms and olive tofu. Put the oil in the fridge with garlic and onions chopped. Add the mushrooms, a little bit of water and some herbs (he used parsley and basil). Wait the water to boil to cook the mushrooms and keep it this way until just a few water is left. Add the vegetable stock cubes (we use it but you can use what you want to spice it up), the soy cream and the diced olive tofu. Let everything cook for 2 or 3 minutes and it's ready. Mix with the pasta and enjoy your fast and delicious meal!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Choose to walk or to go by bicycle

I don't like to do some things, as everybody. And one thing that I don't like and wasn't used do to is to walk when I have to go out. I was used to take how many bus it was necessary to go everywhere and after I got a car, just use it. But I know it is not the best choice when you think about the planet, about live in a better world. And as I always try to remind here, being vegan is also to care about a better world.

So I decided to try to reduce the use of my car when I was still living in Belo Horizonte. It's not easy because it's a city in the middle of the mountains, so it's not that good to go to some places walking. But I started with small distances. And after coming to Europe I am doing it more often. In Italy, Matteo's family lives in a small town, so everybody is used to walk or use the bike. And there I started to ride a bike too. It works to me just because it is a small city, I'm afraid to ride a bike in big cities (even knowing that it's safe here because everybody respects pedestrians and cyclists). Well, I'll try it here in Dublin some day in the future because I really enjoyed to ride a bike again after so many years.

After moving to Dublin, I started to walk again. Dublin is a flat city and our house is close to the city centre. Fifteen, twenty minutes walking. I have to confess that to me it is still a long distance. But it's worth it. Now we know that there is a bus with a stop close to here that take us to the city centre too, but we try to keep walking. And as I can see, most of the people here do the same every day. We can see a lot of people walking or riding a bike to go to and come back from work. It's something cultural too. In many cities of Europe people do that. And the most important, drivers respect them. Regardless of laws, is also a matter of education.

It's awesome to see this habit here. It is healthy and environmentally sustainable. And it is easy to do. Everybody can try it. If not riding a bike, walking. Good for you, better for the planet.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

All about... colours!

It's usual to read that a healthy and balanced diet can be noticed by the colours in a plate. We always try to cook different vegetables here to make our meal full of colours. Try to consume, every day, at least one dish with these different colours: red, yellow and orange, purple and dark blue, green and brown. It's not that easy but you can get better day after day.

Here some example of food by colours:

Red: tomato, red pepper, watermelon, cherry, raspberry, blackberry, papaya, guava.

Yellow and orange: carrot, mango, orange, pumpkin, peach, corn, apricot, banana.

Purple and dark blue: grapes, plum, figs, beets, eggplant, cabbage.

Green: leafy vegetables, broccoli, green pepper, spinach, parsley, herbs, asparagus.

Brown: Nuts, oats, whole grains.

To me the hardest food colours are purple and dark blue because I really don't like some of them. I like grapes, but my husband hates them. The only one I learnt to like in the last years is eggplant. But I can't eat figs or beets. I remember that in Brazil I used to eat beets cooked with beans, but it's not good anyway...

And about you, how many colours has your plate?

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Best Brazilian combination

There are just a few things that I miss from Brazil. And it includes some kind of food. Today (a really cold Sunday) we decided to cook the best Brazilian combination ever: rice and beans! It's not the original way too cook the beans and I added some sausages, but it was awesome! And to complete the meal, some fried olive tofu. An easy way to make our day happier ;o)

Friday, 16 January 2009

About... my best friend

This post should be about the lunch menu of today, but I changed my mind. The food I cooked today is inspired by my best (Brazilian) friend Raquel. We use to call it “parmegiana burger”. It is a different way to cook it because we use potato puree and tomato sauce over. Well, my friend Raquel really knows how to cook the best vegan “parmegiana burger”. Not just that, she is a brilliant cook. In Brazil, we used to go to her house every week (sometimes two or three times a week) to talk or watch a movie and eat. And it was always one of the best things of my days. And last year we did it more often than usual because we knew it would be for just a few months, before we move to Europe.

Today, cooking my vegan “parmegiana burger” I couldn't stop thinking about her, about how she became my friend and about how much fun we had together. 2008 wasn't a good year for her and I feel bad to be so far. I wish that Ireland was closer to Brazil. It would be great to be close to her always. I don't know if she knows how much important she is to me, how much I love and care about her. She is one of the best people I have ever met in my life. She is good, nice, smart and funny. And this kind of friendship is rare nowadays. She is more than 10 years younger than me, but it doesn't matter because we really have a lot in common. And we love to eat, we love to cook and we love to talk about food.

Today she told me she is not inspired to cook good vegan food these days. And she should be! She should cook with pleasure again. She should be happier. She deserves all the best in her life, always.

Raquel, I miss your food. I miss our laughs. I miss you every single day. Be ready, when I go to Belo Horizonte I want many great days of vegan food, laughs and talk!

This is the "parmegiana burger" with the potato puree and tomato sauce (still missing the cream cheese I put after)

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

My way to eat salads

Most of the people thinks that all vegan and vegetarian people love salads. And it is not like that. Some do, others don't. I grew up without eating a lot of vegetables. My family hadn't this habit. We used to eat vegetables like potatoes, carrots, broccoli, just cooked with other food, never in cold and traditional salads. So I just started to try to eat salads after becoming vegan. So when someone asks me "But does vegan people just eat lettuce?", you can imagine my face (and answer)... I think even after becoming vegan, I could count the days in my life I have eaten salad.

I am definitely not the kind of person that asks for salad in a restaurant. I just do that when I really have no other option. So, you may be asking, what do you eat? The rest of the food! I love all kind of pasta, risotto, lasagne, rice and beans, everything cooked with potatoes, salted pies... and the list goes on.

But my life is changing. In November I decided to start a diet. I won some extra weigh after turning on the 30s and it's time to say goodbye to them. So I talked with one of my best friends, Clarissa, who is vegan and is almost a nutritionist. And the first part of this diet is about change some habits to have a healthier and more balanced diet. Yes, I still can be healthier! So she asked me to start eat more vegetables, with salads, not with the food. So I did it. It's not that easy and it's not that good too. But I am eating green salad and tomatoes every single day.

These last days, I decided to add some fried red tofu to the salad. I know that everything fried is good but not healthy. But you don't need to use oil to fry the food. Just let it in the pan for some minutes (around 8) and it will taste a lot better. So this is the (best) way I figured out to eat salad! Yesterday I did the same with vegan sausages. I know I won't do it every day, but it's helping a lot to keep the new (and good) habit.

And the other great option is eating tomatoes and lettuce with the sandwiches at night! This is really amazing. Vegan cheeseburger is better like that. You know, we don't eat food at night, just have a meal with sandwiches (the opposite of Irish people that eat sandwiches at lunch time and food at night).

I can say that I am starting to enjoy the salads and I'll try more options. This is an habit that I will keep (we'll keep because my husband is eating too)! Thanks, Clarissa, for the great job. I am doing my best here!

Monday, 12 January 2009

The first pizza ... we never forget!

One of my first posts here was about how much I love pizza. Last saturday we finally cooked our first vegan pizza. I mean cooked the dough too. We made it using the recipe of the awesome blog What The Hell Does a Vegan Eat Anyway? and just changed the toppings.

For the toppings we used: tomato sauce, garlic, mushrooms, vegan sausage, red tofu and cream cheese.

I don't know if it was because the dough wasn't that perfect, but it took more time to bake it than it's written on the blog, but in the end everything went right! I can say that our first pizza was really good and we'll have many chances to make it better!

This experience was amazing and I can tell you again that it is always worth to cook with pleasure!

Friday, 9 January 2009

All about... plastic bags

This week I read a post of a friend talking about the (bad) use we do of plastic products. And I remembered that I wanted to write a little bit about this topic here too. When you decide to be vegan, you don't change just your way to eat but, mostly, the way to think. Sometimes I listen to people asking why worry about animal rights instead of human rights or the environment and I can't understand. One thing doesn't exclude the others. They should walk together. But this is a topic for another post, I just want to say that vegan people should worry about a better world.

You don't need to be vegan to worry about our planet. You don't need to be even vegetarian to want a better place to live or to raise your children. There are some things everybody can do, day by day, to make it happen. So, let's talk a little bit about plastic bags. We use plastic for a lot of things. And this is not the best material for the planet. The plastic is recyclable but not biodegradable. Each year, 1 million sea birds and about one hundred thousand marine mammals die by ingestion or suffocation by plastic (thanks for the information, Lucas!).

One small – but important – thing we can do to reduce the use of plastic products is to stop using plastic bags. Or to try to replace them as much as we can. I started to do it in Brazil but just after coming to Europe I really saw how easy it can be if everybody worries about it. Of course the cultural factor helps a lot. In a city like Dublin, with much influence of England, people know more about vegetarianism, veganism and taking care of the planet. So, it's easier to see people caring their reusable bags. The supermarkets and stores usually give you a paper bag, but it's not the best option for the planet too. So, the best option, are the cloth bags. You can choose the model, size and colour. And you can have more than one if you want.

One good thing the supermarkets do here is charge for the plastic bags. In Italy they cost 5 cents. Here, in Dublin, they cost 22 cents. I think if the Brazilian supermarkets start to charge for them, people would think better about other options. When things reach their pockets, people change their mind quickly. Some people may be remembering the old bags that our grandmothers or our mothers used to carry to the market and may think: “Isn't this a step back?” Maybe. But I can tell you that this “step back” means a lot of steps forward for the planet.

This is just one step, there are a lot of other things you can do to replace plastic products, but the important thing is to start with something. I use my cloth bag everyday. And don't think that I bought it here in Europe, it was a birthday gift from my brother's wife, in Brazil (by Natura)!

My cloth bag

Click here to read an article about where to find some cloth bags in Brazil.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


These days I am a little bit lazy (or just weak). I spent my New Year sick and maybe I'm still a little bit weak, that's why I am not writing too much here... But let's start 2009 talking about a wonderful place.

I went to Prague a couple of times. Both in a hurry. I still want to come back, with more time to stay there because the city is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life! Being close to Russia, the city is different of the other tourist places in Europe. “It contains one of the world's most pristine and varied collections of architecture, from Art Nouveau to Barogue, Renaissance, Cubist, Gothic, Neo-Classical and ultra-modern.” (thanks Wikipedia).The last time we visited the city was last summer, in July. It was a beautiful sunny day.

I don't know anything about the typical food of the country, but our option is always vegan food, no matter where we are. And Matteo knew that there is an amazing restaurant there, in the middle of the city centre, called Country Life Vegetarian Restaurant (Address: Melantrichova, 15). And we went there, of course!

They have a big vegan buffet and vegan desserts and the food is not expensive. Also, the place is alcohol and smoke free. Ah, and they have a shop where you can stock up vegan goodies (you can find a lot of Provamel products there). It is really a good place to have an awesome meal and spend some time!

For the rest of the day we walked around the city centre, taking pictures and enjoying the day, like the good tourists we are! Hope I really can come back there to have more tips and more beautiful memories. Prague is just... unforgettable!

Friday, 2 January 2009

All about... 2008

I was thinking if it would be a good idea to write about 2008. I can't say it was a great year to me. But I can't say it was bad too. So I decided to write some lines. If I had to choose one word to define my year, it would be “messy”. 2008 was the year of changes. I changed my life. And we started 2008 knowing about that. And I thought I was prepared. But looking back, I know I wasn't and it was not that easy. But I am happy with my choice, so I know things will be fine in 2009.

Because we knew we would leave Brazil, we decided to spend all the time we could close to the people we lovefamily and friends. And our best way to do that is being together, having fun together, and eating together. In this way, we celebrated as much as we could. We made parties at all friends' birthdays until July (when we came to Europe) and we tried all the vegan food we could. We knew those moments wouldn't last forever and we enjoyed them. It wasn't that easy try to leave everything done to move while going out as much as we could with our friends. But I couldn't do different. This made a huge difference to me. I said “goodbye” to all of my favorite Brazilian vegan food and to my best Brazilian friends. I spent my time with my family and laughed together. We celebrated Matteo's birthday in April and mine, in July, some days before we traveled. Even when I wasn't in a mood to go out or celebrate, we decided to do it because it was worth it. And the last time I saw my friends in 2008 was at the premiere of “Batman - The Dark Knight”, with popcorn and lots of fun.

And now, looking back, it's so easy to think about all these days and smile. Each vegan food has a specific memory. Garlic bread at New Year. Donuts at Digao's birthday. Chocolate cake at Matteo's birthday. Raquel's awesome snacks all those Friday nights. Pizza and burgers with friends at lunch. Mom cooking great soups some weekends. And the list goes on... Full of happiness.

Then July came, it was time to say goodbye to everybody and to everything. We were so excited with the new life that was difficult to be sad. We spent two months in Italy with Matteo's family and going to some hardcore shows and festivals around Europe. We deserved some vacation. Being in Italy is always good and we eat a lot there too because, as you all can notice reading this blog, my sister-in-law is an amazing vegan cook. There, I decided to create this blog. Not just to talk about food. To talk about things I care about and that bring me some happiness. These include vegan food, vegan lifestyle and a cruelty free life.

Since October we're living in Dublin and things are still messy around here. But we're happy to be here and we started to build a new life that already has great memories. And to share this new life with people that care about me and about a better world, a vegetarian/vegan world, I kept this blog alive.

In 2008 I had completed 11 years being vegan. And I still care about it. More than I cared when I decided to be vegan. And it's really good to know that I care so much when most of the people I know just gave up. I feel happy being vegan. And even in a year confused like my 2008, this is always a sure thing in my life.


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