I believe in plant power. That our diet needs to include more plants, the less processed the better. The truth is the current western diet has been linked to cancer and due to globalization South Africans are eating more sausages, bacon, white bread flour, cheese etc. Animal products such as meat and dairy as well have been linked to various diseases like coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Therefore, we could all benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables, it is better for the environment as well. Paying attention to your diet is an essential component of self-love. This will help lead you to your best life, where you feel light and healthy.
There is a misconception that meat tastes better than vegetables. This isn’t true, some of the tastiest meals I have made are vegan. Vegan means a plant-based a meal that is free of animal products, meat (including seafood), eggs and dairy. I love vegan meals, actually I used to be a full on vegan for 1 whole year. I was so dedicated, but my life went in a direction in which I felt I could not control. This made me unhappy as the plans I had for my life were abruptly halted. I was a girl, interrupted. Therefore, I had to move back home and I stopped caring for myself the way I used to. I stopped cooking for myself and ate what my mother or sister prepared. Now, I am well. I am in a place where I feel joyful, grateful and inspired every day. I did feel guilty about abandoning my plant power ideals, but now I have a more integrated approach where I eat vegan meals, not a strict vegan diet.
I love vegan meals. There is something homely about vegan food, it’s real food which is unpretentious and comforting. Vegan recipes are tasty, hearty, nourishing and keep you feeling light. I have come across some absolutely delicious vegan recipes that I can share with you. I have a few plant-based culinary creations of my own as I do enjoy cooking and preparing food. Hopefully, I can muster up the courage to transcribe and record a vlog for any who are interested. Until then I have some vegan recipes that I can vouch for.
1Easy Szechuan Vegetable Stir-Fry by the Kale Sandwich Show
This recipe is the GOAT. Seriously it’s so good. It’s a vegetable stir fry with a peanut Szechuan sauce. This sauce the magic sauce. Szechuan or Sichuan is a Chinese province that is known for cooking food with a lot of chilli pepper and garlic. There is also the beloved Sichuan peppercorn that is used in Chinese cooking. This recipe is for stir fried vegetables and noodles. I just use spaghetti as a substitute for Chinese noodles as they are similar. You can use rice as your starch and yes I have tried this recipe with pap (maize meal) and it was good. But, I prefer the drama of rolling and or slurping the noodles/spaghetti as part of the eating experience. When following recipes don’t get discouraged by not having all the ingredients, just freestyle and look what you have in your kitchen that is similar. Also, google is your friend, search what are the substitutes for certain ingredients.
To stir fry means to cook food with a little oil on a high temperature, a temperature so high that if you were to leave the pan (or wok) unattended the food would start to burn. Therefore, you have to continuously stir the food to prevent it from burning. What this does is add a delicious smoky flavor to the meal. It also keeps the texture of the vegetables firm to the bite and their colour remains vibrant in comparison to other forms of stove top cooking. Stir Frying also cooks the food quickly.
The Kale Sandwich Show is run by a vegan Canadian couple, they are second generation immigrants from Asia. At a certain stage they ran a restaurant and this recipe was one of the most popular at their restaurant. Di and Raj are lovable, quirky and have great taste in music.
Ingredients for the Peanut Szechuan sauce
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbsp Sriracha (hot sauce)
- 1 tbsp ketchup (In SA we call this Tomato Sauce)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp chili pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp ginger finely minced
- 4-5 cloves of garlic finely minced
It is recommended that you use 1 tbsp of the peanut Szechuan sauce per 1 cup (128 grams or 240ml) of vegetables. You can use any vegetables you have in the fridge that you can sauté and will cook through in a short time period. In the video the Di and Raj used “a simple mix of cabbage, bell pepper, carrot, broccoli and onion but feel free to create your own medley and use any vegetables you like.”
Watch the YouTube video to see how it is prepared and follow the steps
2Ratatouille by Laura in the Kitchen
Ratatouille was one on my favourite meals to make as a university student, particularly in 2015. I actually created it without knowing that it was already a well-known French meal. My friend who was vegetarian at the time came over for a visit and I offered her the vegan meal I had prepared for myself as I didn’t know she was coming over. And, she was like yes! I love ratatouille and I was like what? This is my own creation…Here I am thinking this is my own recipe. It was uncanny because it’s known that rosemary and thyme go well together but the rest of the ingredients? How did I replicate the exact recipe? I guess the answer, is my intuition is on fleek and that I know a thing or two about flavor combinations. If I don’t compliment myself, who will?
Ratatouille is known as a ‘peasant’ meal, because it is meatless rendering it cost effective. However humble its origins, it is tasty and satisfying. Laura Vitale is one of my trusted youtube cooks and she has taught me a few things about cooking. She is originally from Naples Italy where she helped run her families authentic Italian restaurant, however due to the global financial crash of 2008/9, the restaurant closed down. Then Laura and her husband Joe moved to America in search of opportunities. I enjoy her recipes because they are easy to follow and she explains the reason why she takes certain steps, she educates you about cooking. I grew up watching cooking shows and the celebrity chefs and cooks often don’t tell you why you should do a certain step or why it’s important to do things in a particular order. Whereas Laura explains the basics of boosting flavor and that empowers you to experiment in the kitchen.
Ingredients for Ratatouille
- 1 Large Onion, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 Bell Peppers, seeded and cut into chunks
- 1 Medium or 2 Small Eggplants, cut into chunks
- 4 baby marrows, cut into rounds
- 1 Head of Garlic, peeled and left whole
- About 6 Tbsp of Olive Oil
- 1 Tsp of Fresh Thyme, Chopped
- 1 Tsp of Fresh Rosemary, chopped
- 4 Tomatoes, cut into chunks
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- ½ cup (64g) of Fresh Chopped Basil
Click here for Laura Vitale’s Ratatouille Recipe and meal preparation steps
Watch her prepare this delicious vegan creation in the YouTube video below
3Simple Russian Zucchini Spread- The Kale Sandwich Show
Part of the hassle of going vegan or trying to eat healthier in general is that we have become so accustomed to eating sandwiches on the go or meals that are quick to prepare. We don’t want to spend too much time thinking about what we are going to eat. Particularly when you are hungry, you just eat what you grew up eating and what’s in the kitchen/fridge. Therefore, what we eat is habitual, breaking this habit is the difficult part of eating healthy because now when you buy groceries you have to read the labels and plan different meals that are healthier, more alkaline and plant-based.
The vegan sandwich/toast spread options are avocado, peanut butter with or without sliced banana, hummus (Middle Eastern chickpea spread), sun-dried tomato pesto and Melitzanosalta (Greek eggplant spread), the last three are usually found in the same section in the grocery stores of Spar or Pick and Pay. You can also use these as dips to snack on your veggies or crackers if you are alone or entertaining friends. I offer you an additional plant-based spread to add to your arsenal of healthy spreads and it is flavourful indeed. When eating sandwiches I suggest making them more nutritious by adding sliced cucumber, fresh tomato and green leaves like lettuce, rocket or baby spinach. Avoid iceberg lettuce because its not nutrient dense. This also provides a crunch to the sandwich making the eating experience more pleasurable. You can also fry up some mushrooms in a little oil and seasoning and you have yourself an epic sandwich.
Ingredients for Zucchini Spread
Zucchini is a squash and is also known as Marrow or Courgette. In my experience in South Africa it’s easier to find Baby Marrow.
- 1 med zucchini
- 1 med carrot
- 1 med onion
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 2-3 med tomatoes
- dillweed or any herbs you like (bay leaf, rosemary, thyme)
- salt and pepper to taste (In the video they used about 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
“Slice zucchini and carrot into 1/2 cm rounds. Thinly slice onion. Roughly mince garlic. Cut tomatoes in half. Mix zucchini, carrot, onion and garlic with oil, herbs and salt & pepper in an oven safe dish. Top with tomatoes cut side down and bake at 400 degrees fahrenheit (200 degrees celsius) for about 1 hour or until veggies are soft when pierced with a fork. Cool for 20 minutes before blending (it is very hot so be careful). Blend to desired consistency and store in an airtight container or jar for up to a week in the fridge. Enjoy!”The Kale Sandwich Show
Watch the Vlog below to see how it is made
For more Girl Boss Health and Wellness content click on the links below
- Beauty Secrets
- Improve Your Wellness By Eating One Raw Vegan Meal A Day
- Spirulina Is Still The Rage!
- Keep Hydrated To Look Good & improve Overall Productivity
- 5 Easy (But Healthy) Things To Do With Your Overripe Bananas
- The Healing Powers of Celery
- Why Eating Mango Is Good For You
- Finding Different Ways To Exercise
- Not Keen On Gym? Try Hiking In Nature