Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Vitamin D, veganism and information

When you're vegan you can't assume things. Searching for information is a endless "job" and I'm still impressed about how many things that are present in what we consume that we don't know what exactly they are or where they come from. In Brazil we have even less information and it's not easy to figure things out but this is one more reason to keep searching for information, writing companies, asking questions.

This week two facts about Vitamin D came to my knowledge. The first one is related to a soy milk product in Brazil, from a company called Yoki. They have a line of soy milk, with different flavours, and I read on line that the Vitamin D they use to fortify their soy milks has an animal origin (D3 and not D2, which is vegetable). This was a shocking news for a lot of vegan friends that used to consume their products to avoid consuming Ades (a popular brand that's owned by Unilever).

The second news was about Kellogs corn flakes. I read that Kellogs used to have Vitamin D2 on their cereal and recently it was replaced by D3. I don't consume them but I know vegan people who do - and one of their reasons if because these cereals are fortified with vitamins while organic ones are not.

The biggest issue for me in cases like that is that the consumer is not informed and if you don't keep reading boxes and asking for information all the time you will end up consuming something that's not suitable for vegans. I know this is a risk that everybody is dealing with when consuming "regular" products that are "accidentally" vegan, mainly because these companies don't care about veganism, they just want to reach more parcels of the consuming market. But I still believe that consumers have the right to know everything about what they are consuming.

About the Vitamin D, I'm not an expert but make sure the products you're consuming have D2 and not D3 (fortified products are the main source of Vitamin D for vegans -and also sunlight). And don't forget to check your blood from time to time to see if you need any supplements (you'll find vegan options for sure).

Friday, 25 November 2011

Nando's in Dublin

I have to say that I'm not a big fan of going to places that also sell meat products or meals but sometimes we have to face reality. Dublin has no vegan restaurants. Really. And just a few vegetarian places. And because me and Matteo cook at home every day sometimes all we want is to go out and have a good time outside. The only place we used to go that is not at least vegetarian is Rotana Cafe (and they have the best falafel in town). But yesterday things changed and we found out a new option.

I've heard about Nando's many times before. First cause a lot of my friends from the UK use to go there and second because a lot of my friends from Dublin use to go there too. But I always thought they wouldn't have anything suitable for vegans (they're a Portuguese chain specialized in spiced chicken) until a few weeks ago, when I read Hannah saying something about the place. So I decided to check the website and in their FAQ's they have a question related to options for vegans (just type "vegan" in the question box and search). So yesterday me and Matteo decided to go to the Dundrum Town Centre unit to see how things were for real.

Before we got a table Matteo asked if any of their burgers were suitable for vegans and the waitress said yes and told us they had a list of ingredients too. She brought us the menu and also a kind of brochure which has all the meals' ingredients and also marks for "suitable for vegetarians" and "suitable for vegans". I've seen in the website before that the veggie burger is suitable for vegans if you ask without mayonnaise and this was confirmed too. So we asked for a hummus starter to share and two veggie burgers with no mayonnaise and plus fries. They are also very clear about they way they prepare veggie food:

"Please note that Nando’s are not vegetarian restaurants and do not imply in any literature that we are. However we do take specific steps to segregate our vegetarian product from chicken products as follows:  A separate area of the grill is defined for the exclusive cooking of vegetarian and bean burgers; Separate utensils are always used with vegetable products; Separate bottles of the Nando’s bastes are used exclusively for basting the vegetarian products." (from their FAQ's)

The food was really good and also the atmosphere of the place. Staff was also very friendly. One other positive aspect is that they've opened a new location in town and they're open until late (23:00), which is rare in Dublin too.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

One more vegan pregnant in this world - Part II

As you know I was very late to write about the first trimester and decided to not to the same with the second one (well, I'm a little bit late again, have to admit...). Everybody says the second trimester is the easiest one and I have to agree with that even considering that my first one was really calm.

What exactly changed during this period? Not too much I have to say in regards to my diet. I kept taking my supplements and in the end of the sixth month I started to feel hungrier so I was eating more but I was still feeling great. I'm still not drinking coffee and limiting my ingestion of caffeine in general (just drinking some organic cola from time to time and chocolate, can't stop eating it). But I'm not doing that great with sugar. It doesn't mean I'm consuming that much of it but I was craving sweets a lot during the fifth month.

I've tried to add flax seed oil to my meals but it makes me feel a little bit sick so I'm trying to keep it at least for two meals a week, not that much but still a great source of Omega 3.

The biggest change is that this is the time when you actually see your belly growing and start to feel your baby movements and that's why I think it is such a special period. Also, I started with Pre Natal Yoga classes and they are great. A huge preparation to labour day (through breath techniques and poses to help you to keep moving your pelvis during pre-labour and labour) and an important exchange of experience. It's amazing to be surrounded by moms-to-be once a week.

Sometimes I think if I'm overdoing with all this supplements and I know a lot of vegan moms-to-be don't change anything in their diets and don't take any supplements too but I don't know I just prefere to sin by exaggeration than by the lack in this case. But as I've written before every pregancy – and every person- is a different experience. All I can say is this is working for me. The combo of eating well + taking supplements + keep exercising as much as I can is being the base of a quiet pregnancy and my blood tests are all good.

I'm now getting close to the end of this journey and get ready for the next fase of my life and I feel good. I don't feel like I'm pregnant forever like some moms-to-be feel and I'm glad I still have some weeks to prepare myself for the big day. Day by day I'm getting ready for the arrival of my little boy.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

(vegan) Pumpkin white chocolate chips cookies

As you can see I had enough pumpkin to make a few recipes! I've done the pie, cupcakes for the World Vegan Day and cookies (made them twice and still have pumpkin to one more batch!). I was inspired by this recipe from the blog have cake, will travel - one of my favourite blogs ever. I hadn't regular chocolate chips and decided to try the white ones, even not being sure if they would suit with pumpkin. And I really enjoyed the combination and also Matteo, who has eating most of the cookies!

I didn't follow the recipe and decided to try something new, so here's my recipe:

Pumpkin white chocolate chips cookie

1/2 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg 
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup vegan margarine
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Cook the pumpkin and when it's cold, dry the water and mash it. Using your stand mixer, cream together margarine and sugar. Stir in pumpkin and vanilla until combined. Add flour, nutmeg, salt and baking powder and mix. Stir in chips. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, place on parchment pape and flatten your cookies. Preheat oven to 180°C and bake the cookies for 15 minutes or until golden on top and around the edges. Wait 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pumpkin and chocolate cupcakes for the 
World Vegan Day event in Dublin

Monday, 7 November 2011

Pumpkin pie

Most of my friends (mainly the vegan ones) love to cook and this is great. From time to time we exchange recipes, tips and even products (I enjoy sending food gifts). Cinthia is one of these friends. She lives in Brazil and I sent her a while ago a box that had, between other stuff, nutritional yeast (we can't find it in Brazil). She made a recipe called "Escondidinho de abobora e PVT" (it's really hard to translate this cause "esconder" means "hide" but "escondidinho" has nothing close to it in English as far as I know... but "abobora" means pumpkin and "PVT" is  "TVP", texturized vegetable protein). A few weeks ago Matteo got me a huge pumpking and I really wanted to try some new recipe and I went for this one. It looks like a pie but it also sounds like a potato/pumpkin pure.

Well, let's get down to the recipe so you can figure it out what it is! And thank you Cinthia for it ;)

"Escondidinho de abobora e PVT"

- 1 kg pumpkin
- 2 medium potatoes
- 1 tablespoon vegetal margarine
- water
- 180g of fine texturized vegetable protein (TVP)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 340g ready tomato sauce
- Salt, pepper, nutmeg, sweet paprika, fresh basil, fresh oregano to taste.
Peel the potatoes and pumpkin and cut into cubes. Cook them separately in water, because they have different cooking times. When they are really soft, remove from heat. Squeeze the potatoes with a masher (or a fork). Try to dry the pumpkin first with your fingers to squeeze out excess water. In a saucepan, combine the potatoes and pumpkin,  add the margarine and salt to taste (and if necessary water). The puree can not be too much soft (got to have a firmer consistency). Keep stirring it constantly until the desired point. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, soak the soy protein (with warm water). In a heated pan add the olive voil and fry the onion and garlic. Add the TVP. Lower the heat and add the tomato sauce and a cup of water. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, sweet paprika, fresh basil, fresh oregano, and with the pot half-covered, let the sauce ascertain. Once you are done, remove from heat. Take a rectangular bowl. Place a first layer of puree, then the protein with the sauce and, finally, another layer of puree. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top and bake in the oven temperature to 200 ° C from 20 to 30 minutes.
PS. I've added a layer of spinach leaves between the sauce and the second puree and it tasted delicious.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Veganism: one more thought

In October, when celebrating one more vegan anniversary, I wrote that I'm having some thoughts about veganism in general and that I wanted to write more about it. Yesterday it was the World Vegan Day and considering the attendance of the event in Dublin some of that thoughts came back when I was talking to Matteo about it.

One thing that I'm noticing lately - and the fact that veganism is going more and more mainstream has helped me to notice this - is that being vegan seems to be more focused on the diet and the consumption. Of course not eating and not consuming anything derived from animals is a huge part (and maybe the core?) of veganism but it's not everything. You are, for sure, helping the animals but you could do more. I know you could say that everybody could do more and I agree with you, but there are some things that are not that hard or "extreme" as some people like to say to fight more for animal lives, for animal rights.

I'm not saying that I think every vegan should be an animal liberation  activist, involved in direct actions and I know there is a difference between being vegan and being an activist, but I think everybody should try to do more and more. How? Supporting your local vegan group, helping them with campaigns and protests (there are so many good causes around and most of the protests are pacific ones), organizing small events to spread the word, sharing vegan food with those who need food (this is a great way to help both humans and non-humans animals), etc. I know that our lives today are busy and crazy, but are you sure you can't do any of these things from time to time?

What all this have to do with the event of last night? Nothing really directly related to the event, which was really great and I hope Vegan Ireland will keep doing them, but with people. I think I (still) expect too much from people but I was hoping to see more people I know there (vegans and non-vegans). Vegan Ireland does an amazing work and they need all the support they can get. It's not up to me to judge what people can or can't do, want or don't want to do, but I really believe the animals deserve all of our efforts and as many voices as we can bring together to defend them.

Buying vegan products, cooking, eating vegan food (and writing about vegan food, recipes and places to eat) is truly amazing, but it's a hard battle and we need to keep on fighting.


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