Haloumi with lentil salad

Well, the vego challenge is over. Phew. Actually, it wasn’t too bad, and I’ve still been enjoying quite a few vegetarian meals. One of my fave recipes while I was a temporary vegetarian was a haloumi and lentil salad. The haloumi makes it a bit rich, but absolutely delicious. I thought I’d share it with you – courtesy of taste.com.au.

Recipe serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 x 400g cans brown lentils, drained and rinsed (I used dried lentils and soaked them in boiling water)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (I hate onion, so left this out)
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, halved, sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, shredded
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 250g block haloumi cheese
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Method

Combine lentils, onion, cucumber, tomatoes, mint, lemon juice and oil in a bowl. Season then toss to combine.

Cut haloumi lengthways into 8 slices. Pat-dry with paper towels. Dust lightly with flour and shake off excess.

Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook haloumi, in batches, for 2 minutes each side, or until golden.

Drain haloumi on paper towels. Serve lentil salad topped with warm haloumi.
Yum!
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Vego Challenge – 6 days to go!

Only six days to go of the vegetarian challenge – hooray! I have been surprised at how I’ve pulled through and stuck to this goal. There have been some difficult times when I’ve come home to the smell of my boyfriend cooking chicken and my mouth has watered… but I’ve not wavered.

I’ve been finding lunches the most difficult, because if I don’t bring in my own lunch, the vego options in the food court next to my work are not really that tempting.

I think that even after this challenge is over I will try and cut down my meat consumption and probably increase the fish that I eat. No particular reason for doing so other than now knowing that I don’t need to eat meat all the time.

I will be honest and say that I am looking forward to having some meat when the challenge is over and have been thinking about the options… a big fat juicy steak? Chicken quesadillas? My favourite Portuguese Chicken? Hmmm… making me hungry already.

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Kinda published… Goal #55

I’ve started a new blog, which features one of my passions – travel. All the things I want to say about travel don’t really fit on this blog, so I decided to start a separate blog that focuses purely on the travel experiences I’ve had, travel advice and plans for A LOT of future travel.

I only started it this week, and wrote my first post about a trip to East Timor that I took in late 2008 (yep, it’s taken me a while to even get around to writing, very slack!). I loaded it on Tuesday night and then woke up on Wednesday morning to find that it was featured on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed! What a surprise!

Goal #55 is to be published – but I don’t think I can say I’ve ticked this one off given that I wrote the story and then published it on my own website. But to receive kudos from WordPress – and a lot of wonderful comments from other bloggers – was pretty amazing! It’s really inspired me to write a lot more and share my experiences.

I guess I’ll still have to keep on working on this goal though – and maybe one day get a travel story published in a newspaper or magazine!

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Life is what happens…

My friend’s mother died last week. From a brain aneurism. Unexpectedly. Quickly. Peacefully. But her husband and children didn’t get a chance to say a proper goodbye.

It reminded me of how precious life is, and how we have to grab every opportunity possible, and do everything that we can to make our lives our own. A colleague said something to me today, which I’ve heard a thousand times: “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” So true.

It made me think that you can’t keep going through life saying “Maybe next time I’ll do that…”, “one day…” or “I wish I had done that…”. You can’t make excuses about work and other things that life throws at you that you think prevent you from doing the things that you want to do. You can’t hold grudges. You can’t go to bed angry or not having said something that you wanted to say. You can’t live life with regrets.

“If only. Those must be the two saddest words in the world.” -Mercedes Lackey

That’s not to say that there aren’t going to be legitimate things that happen in life that really truly do stop you from doing something that you’ve always wanted to do.

Just don’t wait til those things happen. Get out there and enjoy everything that life has to offer.

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Trippy Taco

Week one of the 30-day vegetarian challenge is complete! I do gaze wistfully at the meats in the deli section, and crave bacon on a Sunday morning, but I am getting there.

Dinner on Friday night was a breeze, once I had the menu of Trippy Taco in front of me. A very funky little vegetarian / vegan cafe in Collingwood, Melbourne, Trippy Taco offers absolutely delicious Mexican food with a vego twist. Everything is made fresh and is ridiculously cheap – for about $8 you can chow down on an enormous grilled tofu burrito or quesadilla stuffed with tofu and guacamole. Like, can’t-move-or-see-my-feet-over-my-full-belly-sized meals. Squeezed into small tables (the whole cafe seats only about 20 people) with class Snoop CDs playing, Trippy Taco has a very cool vibe.

I will definitely be making it a regular haunt throughout this month.

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Sunrise and sunset

I’ve done it. Sunrise and sunset in one day. And not in the way I thought I would do it.

Sunday 25 April was ANZAC Day, a day where Australians and New Zealanders remember the fallen. All around these two countries, in cities and small towns alike, people gather for the traditional dawn service.

I’ve never been to a dawn service before. But this ANZAC Day I did manage to drag myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of 4am to be at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance for the service. And I’m glad I did.

It was a terribly moving experience, compounded, I think, by the poignancy of being in the dark. The call of the bugle is particularly haunting. Hearing the stories of those who died decades ago – most of them pretty much teenagers or young adults – it was hard to imagine the horror of it all. After all, the worries of today’s first-world kids centre around having the latest gadgets and wearing the right brands. It did make me think how we would cope today if forced into going to war through conscription. Not that I would ever wish it upon this generation or future generations.

I do not like war. I don’t think it’s necessary, nor do I think it solves problems. Diplomacy and understanding are much more powerful. If only our leaders realised that.

But despite how I may feel about war, I do respect those who made, and also who now make, the brave decision to fight for one’s country, knowing full well they may never return home.

While I did need to go back to bed for several hours, I did manage to see both the sun rise and the sun set it one day. I’m glad that I’ve ticked this one off the list, and I’m glad for the way in which I did it.

Lest we forget.

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Day 1 of Vego Challenge

So it’s Monday early afternoon and the vego challenge – goal #100 – has begun. Currently eating lunch at my desk – a sandwich sans meat and surviving so far. Day 1 seems easy… but let’s see how I am at day 10… or even day 3…

I made sure to eat plenty of meat on the weekend, including savouring a breakfast burrito yesterday morning filled with crispy bacon…mmmm… but must not think about such things now.

Continue to search for great vego recipes – let me know if you have any faves I can try!

Now, back to my meat-less sandwich…

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Go Veg!

Goal number 100: Go vegetarian for a month. For a lover of food, particularly junk food, this is going to be a tough one. Starting Monday, I will be vegetarian for 30 days. That means no chicken parmigiana, no McDonalds fix for a hangover (one of their salads can’t do what a sausage McMuffin can), no steak thrown on the barbie for dinner.

I’m also a pretty big eater and don’t do so well eating just salads… I do try, but then end up snacking on chocolate and drinking cans of coke later in the day to fill me up.

How will I do this??

I’ve somehow managed to coax my boyfriend into joining me, but I don’t know how long he’ll last…

I’ve printed off lots of yummy-sounding vegetarian recipes to try. I think a lot of planning will be required – thinking about what to have for dinner and lunch so that I have the right ingredients at home.

I’m hoping that I do achieve this goal and that I actually ENJOY it. Perhaps I’ll start incorporating more vegetarian meals into my diet after I’ve finished the 30 days… For both ethical and health reasons, being a vegetarian is something to be admired, so number 100 is one I want to tick off.

Do you have any tips for me, or recipes that I can try?

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Inspiration

Last night I went to see my beautiful friend Emily Trembath play at Edinburgh Castle in Brunswick. Not only is Em one of the loveliest, sweetest people I know, she’s also amazingly talented.

I first heard Em sing when we were sitting in a remote village in East Timor. She had some tracks on her iPod that she’d recorded and I was blown away. She later entertained the family we were staying with by singing some of her songs and playing the guitar. The family then joined in and played some of the songs that were sung during the times of conflict that plagued that country for so long. It was a pretty special moment, bonding through song with a family with whom we didn’t even share a common language.

Watching Em on stage last night I was so proud of how far she’s come in the last year and a half. Not only does she now have an EP but she’s playing around Melbourne and no doubt wowing anyone who is listening.

As well as being proud I was also seriously inspired. For a long time I have wanted to sing in a band but my extreme shyness (which is quite strange because most people would describe me as outgoing and confident – I’m obviously doing a good job at fooling everyone) has held me back. I also wonder if there’s something in me that is subconsciously attempting to sabotage the chances I have to achieve this dream.

For example, this year I did take a step towards joining a band (#75 on the list). A friend and I started jamming (his words, not mine) at his place. We got together a couple of times to play some covers and it really worked well. But then I started making excuses. I didn’t practice. I was too busy at work so couldn’t come to his place after work. I had to hang out with my boyfriend on the weekend so couldn’t find time to sing. I doubted myself and my ability. Pathetic. This coming from someone who drives her boyfriend crazy singing louder than the contestants on Australian Idol and who will always be found humming a tune around the house or at the office.

Does anyone else have any experiences with being held back by yourself – with silly excuses – from achieving something that you always dream about?

So tomorrow I will see my friend at work and I’m going to talk to him about getting a little more serious with this band thing – no more excuses, we need to lock in a regular band practice time and do this.

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Kanteen

Kanteen

150 Alexandra Avenue, South Yarra

www.kanteen.net

This morning we ventured over the other side of the river to South Yarra for a friend’s birthday brunch. Kanteen was our destination, a cafe which is apparently an old toilet block that’s been refurbished.

Kanteen has a limited breakfast wonmenu, but everything on there sounded delicious. I decided on a healthier option (well, healthier than anything fried) – black sticky rice coconut milk, strawberry and banana. Very yum and perfectly filling for the time of day, although I think the rice could have been cooked a little longer. One surprising thing that wasn’t on the menu – and which means the cafe won’t make it to any hangover cure lists – was bacon. What’s brunch without bacon??

The cafe has a nice feel with lots of high tables and chairs, overlooking the river. But any place that charges a 10% surcharge on Sundays immediately goes into the bad books for me. But I’d consider going back there on a Saturday.

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Filed under Food, Goal #99 - Eat lots

Gingerboy

http://www.gingerboy.com.au/

I can’t believe I’ve never been here before. A few weeks ago a journalist took me and a colleague out to lunch and I could have eaten everything on the menu! Unfortunately at the time I was on my 30 days of vegetarianism so was limited to what I could eat.

Highly recommend this place if you’re ever in Melbourne. Apparently the cocktails are killer too!

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