Friday, 30 September 2011

Trying to find a balance

Healthy lunch x sugar bomb

Days like today make me wonder if I'm really balancing my diet. Sometimes I feel like a complete failure trying to avoid sugar and sweets. It's not that I have tons of them, I don't. What I'm trying to do is to balance my diet, something that I was already doing before and I'm just more careful now. Hopefully I'm doing things right!

Today I baked a few chocolate cupcakes and filled them with black cherries and peanut butter frosting to celebrate the Vegan Baking Day! I ate just one and it was really good and it's good to do this kind of stuff which involves celebration towards vegan stuff.

Talking about vegan events the Internet is very excited this week about the beginning of another edition of VeganMoFo (Vegan Month of Food)! I'm not taking part of it this year (again) but I'll try to read as much as I can from the bloggers that are involved.

And how about you, do you try to balance your diet in a daily basis?

Monday, 26 September 2011

One more vegan pregnant in this world - Part I

Before going to the subject of this post, I'd like to thank everybody who let comments on my post about keep going with the blog or giving up, it was very important to me to read your thoughts and I've decided to keep posting, even if I'm not to do it frequently :)

Now, the pregnancy. I usually avoid writing personal stuff here but I think it is important to share vegan pregnancy experiences and I'm close to the end of the second trimester (already!) so I think it's time to write about the first three months. 

I know I'm not the first (and even less the least) vegan pregnant in the world but I still feel that information is never too much. I think it's not a big deal to be vegan and pregnant, I have to say, I don't feel special or anything, but I think it is pretty cool to know that this new life is growing in a vegan environment (for now, my belly and all I eat). I also think that the fact that I am having my first pregnancy away from my country, family and friends is more outstanding than the fact that I am having a vegan pregnancy.

My pregnancy was very well planned and expected. Because of this I had plenty of time to prepare my body and my mind, what I think it was pretty good. I was taking folic acid since last year and in the beginning of 2011 I started to take Solgar Prenatal Nutrients. I was already eating healthier (more vegs and fruits) but I was still drinking soda, coffee and eating a lot of sweets (you know I have a sweet tooth!). 

I spent my first pregnant month (that one I have no clue I was pregnant) practicing to play with Purification in South America and then traveling and playing. After that I stayed with my family in Brazil for another 2 weeks and I had the chance to share the news with them and with my closest friends in person (and this was priceless). Also, I could go to see my gynecologist (who is also an obstetrician) and this was very important to me cause she has being my doctor since I was 19 years old. She was very relax with the fact that I am vegan and she said I was doing everything right.

I came back to Europe and was luck enough to have the only obstetrician I know in Dublin taking care of me. She and the maternity staff are being amazing and she also gave me tons of security about being vegan and pregnant. My blood exams so far are great (she pointed out that B12 rates are lower in pregnant women and that she would go through my exams to see if I needed more supplement or not - and I didn't need it until now). And she said something that I remember every day: "Can you imagine how many vegetarian women give birth in countries like India and they're completely fine? Don't worry, we in West Europe are not used to this but you'll be fine. You're probably healthier than the majority of the 'normal' pregnant women around".

And here I am. Taking care of my pregnancy not like a vegan mom-to-be but as a very conscious mom-to-be. I'm eating more vegetables and fruits, I'm not drinking coffee (this was my personal choice) and I'm trying to avoid sugar (this is being hard and I'm still eating sweets and chocolate in a regular basis, but I'm having more raw sweets and using just brown sugar at home). One thing that I really want to stress here is that this has being my personal experience. Every pregnancy has its own characteristics and I'm really blessed that I am being capable to keep vegan and healthy until now. But if you are experiencing healthy issues, seek for professional help (try to find doctors and nutritionists who actually have some knowledge about veganism) and do the best for you and your baby.

All I want is the best for me and my baby and I want him to have love and respect since the early beginning. For animals, for other people, for the world.

PS. Three important things I forgot to mention:
      * I didn't suffer with morning sickness and this was for sure the best part of my first trimester;
      * I didn't suffer with any constipation, probably cause the vegan diet is full of fibers and I started drinking more water too;
     * I had a lot of gas and this was pretty bad. I also think it was due to all beans and broccoli that I eat, so if you're suffering with this you could change some foods. What helped me a lot were some teas, such as fennel and a organic tea from Yogi called Stomach Ease (they also have Mother to Be and Nursing Support options)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

One image to replace my words today

I was thinking about writing a post about being vegan and health but I just finished this:

Chocolate cake with 
raspberry jam and 
chocolate ganache fiilling

I won't eat it. Baked for some friends who are staying with us a couple of days, but still, it sounded controversial to my chosen topic.

Monday, 19 September 2011

And I'm still here!

Lately I feel like blogging less than I expected and I've questioning myself a lot about keeping or not this blog. I think everybody goes through this question after a few years doing a blog. I still love writing here but I feel a lack of theme or focus and I really don't know how to feel about it.

I've started this blog to share my new adventures in the kitchen and also in Europe and that's what I'm trying to do. I'm not a chef or a master in recipes, I just enjoy cooking, eating, sharing food and sharing stories. And I really think it is important to keep showing the world that vegan people are everywhere and that we eat delicious things (it's hard to believe that people still think it, but it is true). And because of that I still think it is worth it to keep this space. It's incredible to see that more than a thousand people like the blog page on Facebook but I'm not sure if everybody that really comes to the blog to read the posts. I miss receiving more comments and interacting more with readers but I also know it is my fault cause I'm not blogging that much.

I won't use the excuse (or justification, who knows) of time because it is normal not having time to do everything we want. But it was good to me to focus on my dissertation in the first semester and it sounds right to focus on my pregnancy now. The fact is that I'm not cooking many new stuff or trying different recipes and I've being really lazy on taking pictures even considering that I do have a good camera now. I'm also not traveling that much anymore and routine just sounds boring sometimes to write about it.

Well, let's see how things go. I still have some thoughts and adventures I'd like to share here, so I'll try to keep the blog as much active as I can. And to show you a little bit of effort, I just took this picture (using my good camera and not my phone!) of the chocolate-white-chocolate cookies I baked a few minutes ago! I used the recipe of Veganomicon and the entire house smells good!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Gotta love... polenta (really?!)

Have to start this post saying I'm having a great week. Good news coming, first one being that my Master results came today and I'm approved with honours and this makes me feel very happy cause it wasn't that easy to do a Master in different country, about this country that I don't know that well and in another language. My dissertation name was "Food and Media: How the Irish Press Covers the Subject of Food". I'll write more about it someday here.

The second news are the BIG news that I was waiting a appropriate moment to share here. Me and Matteo are expecting a baby boy! I have no words to describe how happy we are and I have some information prepared to share with you about my experience being a vegan pregnant. I'm with 22 weeks now and I'm feeling great! And this big news brings me to the topic of this post: polenta. I'm not craving nothing strange but I'm eating a lot of food that I didn't like that much before and this would include polenta.

For those who don't know, polenta is a popular Italian dish (made with ground yellow or white cornmeal) and it comes from Lombardia, the region where my husband is from. And polenta is one of his favourite dishes ever. And I never loved it and I know how frustrated he always was about it but I couldn't do anything about it. Until last month. When we're deciding what to cook, from time to time he suggests polenta (and my answer was always no!) but one day he asked me and I say myself saying a shy "yes". And for my (and his) surprise I ate it and I really enjoyed. And I had it again and again and I'm enjoying it even more. I'm sure this half milanese boy I'm carrying has something to do with this!

I'm not the one who's cooking the polenta but I'm glad to share two recipes that Matteo is making to us: polenta concia and polenta with beans. As some other Italian dishes, the secret of polenta is in the sauce. The polenta itself is easy to prepare, even more considering that today you can find instant polenta to buy and it tastes as good as the traditional one (which take at least one hour to cook).

Polenta concia: originally this polenta is cut on half while very hot and filled with butter and gorgonzola and on top there is an egg and parmesan. The vegan version has margarine and your favorite cheese in the middle (if you live in Europe and can get Vegusto cheese to use on it, please do it!). Usually Matteo eats it just with nutritional yeast on top but you can make some scrambled tofu too. I'm still not a big fan of polenta concia but this is Matteo's favourite for sure!

Polenta con intingolo di fagioli: this fancy Italian name means polenta with beans sauce! This is the one I'm eating and all you have to do is to cook some white beans (or even red beans) with tomato sauce, garlic and onions and serve on top of the polenta. Pretty easy, no?

Do you like polenta? Have you ever had any of these Italian ways of eating it? How do you prepare it usually?

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Gotta love Lush

There are some non food related topics that I want to write, so let's start now while I'm (still) not cooking new stuff and living basically of pasta, risotto, salads, pizza and all the food you already you know I love!

One thing that I really thing is still not that easy to find information on line (and also in books) is vegan cosmetics and clean products. There are so many amazing blogs about food in the internet but I still feel it should be more of those blogs around (if you have some good tips just let me know, I'd love to follow pages I still don't know!). And I'm not an expert to write about these subjects too, so from time to time I just share my personal experience.

I have a lot of bad hair days. Really. I'm not sure if this happens with all women on Earth but it's not easy to make my hair look like I really wanted. And I still didn't find vegan shampoos or conditioners that I love more than anything in the world. I like some and I hate others and I just keep trying. But for the last few months I've been using Lush bars and I'm enjoying it. Because my hair is thick (and a lot and rebel) I always use both shampoo and conditioner. To find out a Lush combo that worked well to me, I added a moinsturiser.

So my actual hair combo is:

And I can't say that I don't love Lush because I've always loved their bath products. And considering that most of the residences in Dublin have a bath tube I'm using them a lot since we've moved here. But I have to admit that I don't remember the last time I had a relaxing and warming bath and I'm about to change this today with this delicious (my favourite Lush product ever!):


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