An all salad restaurant sounds like the type of thing I would politely decline. Although I love eating healthy and exploring nutritious food options, I don’t advocate eating solely lettuce as a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
I sound like a salad hater, and that’s only because the salads on restaurant menus are usually comprised of whole cherry tomatoes, 3 salad leaves and a weak amount of dressing if you’re lucky.
If a salad can be done deliciously.. I’m all in.
Greenhouse Asian Salads has just opened in Sydney and offers a range of exotic salads, which experiment with green tea noodles, chicken wontons, green papaya, white sesame and more.
I decided to head over because reading the menu, every single option had a mix of flavours that sounded mouth-watering.
I opted for the Green House #1, a vegan salad with tofu, green tea noodle, avocado, cucumber, carrot, red radish, cashews and sesame seeds. However, what made it wonderful was the coconut soy dressing. This tied the whole dish together with a sweet tang that left me wanting more.
Mum went for the Naughty Tuna, which was delicious – a mix of tuna, green tea noodles, edamame soybeans and cashews with wasabi dressing.
Unexpectedly this café trumped a lot of dining places I’ve been to this year, many of which have menus that offer a range of wonderfully diverse cuisines and dishes.
So, I’ll take back my salad prejudice and highly recommend this very green, very healthy and VERY yummy lunch destination.
I’ve always been interested in trying out different diets I discover (Banting, Keto, Paleo, Vegetarian, Mediterranean you name it). Except I’ve always had a hard time with straight veganism, because of how many food groups it cuts out.
The benefits that the Vegan diet provides to the environment and to animals are undeniable. (If you have any shred of doubt about this check out the facts here).
However, I am sceptical about whether it is a viable option for maintaining balanced nutrition and fuelling my body with everything it needs to function. Whilst I am surethat there are ways to get all required nutrients whilst being vegan, as there are fewer options to choose from, it requires a commitment to ensure that the body is deficient in anything.
To elaborate; when committing to a vegan lifestyle you must ensure you are still getting enough protein (1.3 x your weight in kilograms, in grams), iron, omega 3 fatty acids, zinc.
So, I decided I was only allowed to judge it once I’d given it a go, and try being the all-scary, waiter-frustrating, plant-based eating, VEGAN. For a week.
Sunday DAY ONE
I’ll start here by admitting that the vegan diet was meant to start yesterday (Saturday). However come Saturday lunchtime, with the all-good intentions of being vegan, I bought Dal and Naan from an Indian shop I wasn’t familiar with. When my food arrived I found the Dal was made with creamy ghee butter and the Naan was smothered in cheese. With my steaming Dal and gooey, cheesy naan staring up at me, I decided veganism would have to wait until Sunday.
Hint 1: When ordering out at new places, always ask what ingredients are in dishes.
Sunday, my first day of being vegan. My boyfriend and I went out for brunch at a local cafe that does the generic big brekkies, bircher muesli’s, porridges, pastries etc. for breakfast. I was shocked to find that not one of the twenty-or-so dishes were vegan. I had to Build My Own Brekkie and ordered half an avo, roasted cherry tomatoes, and a slice of toasted sourdough for AU$12.50.
For dinner, I went out with a friend to Coco Cubano, a restaurant that serves flavour-packed Cuban food, including Fajitas, Nachos, Pressed Sandwiches, Burgers, Burritos, Churros and exotic cocktails (reminds me of an up-market Guzman Y Gomez). I went with their quinoa salad – and opted not to have a topping of chicken/steak/halloumi – with a side of guacamole and plain corn chips. My problem: The meal was delicious, but I was still peckish afterwards. I had to have a handful of roasted cashews and almond milk tea to save me rolling about with hunger pains all night…
Monday DAY TWO
I didn’t have any big plans today (eating-wise) but I did have my weekly Game of Thrones night with my friend, where she always cooks dinner for me. I have to admit, I did feel a little uncomfortable mentioning that I was Day Two of my vegan streak, and when I sheepishly mentioned my diet restrictions I realised I had to bring a dish along so I wouldn’t be a pain.
Hint 2: Offer to cook/bring your dishes to other’s houses.
Tuesday DAY THREE
I worked all morning and decided to treat myself by going out for a late lunch afterwards (a habit that’s become a little too regular lately). Usually, I would head for Guzman Y Gomez, Sushi Train, or Grill’d, but I spotted a restaurant that’s recently opened up, called Nudefish Poké. I chose to go with the Down to Earth poké bowl which hosted tofu, mushrooms, beetroot, pickled carrot, ginger, snow peas, radishes and tamari almonds, brown rice and avo in a salty-sweet soy sauce. I definitely wouldn’t have usually chosen this option, but it turned out to be a delicious choice I’ll go for again.
Wednesday DAY FOUR
I was off to uni today, which meant I needed a big, filling breakfast if I was going to last the day without breaking the budget and splurging on another bought lunch. I put together a homemade brunch, taking inspiration from Niomi Smart’s Butternut Cashew Wholemeal Pasta (she calls it vegan Mac n’ Cheese), which filled me up until 4pm.
I realised here that I was halfway through the diet. Had I noticed any changes in my mood/appearance/health? To be fair, I was only four days in, but I had noticed my skin had mysteriously cleared up – it was looking a lot fresher and livelier… could cutting out animal products be working?
Thursday DAY FIVE
Thursday was a full on day of work and uni, but I managed to squeeze in a quick dinner at Sushi Train with a couple of friends. Straying away from my usual sashimi, soft shell crab and tuna/avocado rolls, I went for the avocado seaweed salad (with soy sauce dressing), a large bowl of miso soup packed with creamy tofu, and edamame beans. The meal combo was so good, that I’ve decided I’m going to go for it the next time I’m there, regardless of being vegan or not.
Friday DAY SIX
I’m coming to the end of my seven days, and I’m in shock that I’ve made it so easily… I thought I’d slip up with the temptations of baked goods, Gelato, creamy sauces and chocolates that had been staring at me from shop windows all week.
On the way home from work I stopped by at McDonalds, to check out if the menu had any vegan options – I was expecting to be told that I would only be able to have a glass of water. To my surprise, that was not the case.
Hint 3: The sodas, apple pie, bread, hash brown’s and juices are all vegan approved.
Saturday DAY SEVEN
I’ve come to the end of my vegan week and went out with a bang with dinner at one of my favourite Indian restaurants; Cumin.
The Verdict: I had a wonderful week exploring new food options and meals, and I respect the lengths Vegan’s go, to protect animals, their health and the environment. However, the limitations with ordering out, and the guilt I felt inconveniencing others when I ate at their houses were major drawbacks for me.
However, noticeable changes in my mood, skin and weight (after just one week) has motivated me to look for more animal product alternatives (nut butter, nut mylk, soy mylk and egg replacers) and to cut down on my meat intake.
Do you have any diets you swear by? Let me know xx
On the weekends, I try to whip up something a little fancier than protein and veggies for a bit of a change – Thai green curry, lamb roast, or laksa for example.
Tonight I decided to keep it simple and throw together a pizza. It turned out to have quite an eclectic mix of toppings because I had bits and bobs of leftover food I wanted to use.
I used butternut pumpkin, asparagus, basil, low-fat mozzarella, a tomato, roasted peri peri chicken slices, shallots and a tin of champignon mushrooms (the mushrooms were a bit random.. don’t know if I’d do it again).
For the base, I used Picasso Kitchen Cauliflower Base! It was delicious! Only 282 calories in the entire base. You can also make your own Cauliflower base if you are feeling creative.
The best part was that it was only 15 minutes from when I started cooking to serving the meal. This was perfect because I was having a hungry day and I just wanted to eat!
I winged the tomato sauce by blending 3 tbsp greek yoghurt, basil and 1 whole tomato. All the pizza needed was 10 minutes at 200˚C in the oven before it was ready to eat.
We ate our pizza’s while watching The Intouchables – if you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it.
As mentioned in my previous posts, I am a huge snacker.
To stop me from standing in the pantry and eating everything in sight, I have five healthy snacks that I go for when hunger strikes.
Carrot sticks & Hummous – carrots are my favourite veggie because of their sweetness. I buy Pilpel Hummus to go with them, as it has so much flavour and is basically just chickpeas.
Dried fruit/nut mix – I go for a mix of pecans, pepitas, dried apricots, sultanas and walnuts. The fruits satisfy any sweet cravings and the nuts fill you up.
Carman’s Nut Bar – Carman’s does such a great range of healthy and filling muesli bars. If your local supermarket stocks them I would recommend checking them out. They are the perfect snack, and funnily enough, I got up at 2am the other night because my stomach was rumbling, and the Carmen’s nut bar was the perfect fix to send me back to sleep.
Popcorn – try to avoid popcorns that are doused in butter, just plain corn kernels will do the trick.
Sugarless banana & oatmeal cookies (see recipe below)
Sugarless Banana/Oatmeal Cookies Recipe
I have been making batches of these for longer than I can remember because they are the perfect moreish snack, especially when I’m on the go.
You will need:
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Sprinkle of salt
1/4 cup olive oil (be ready to add more in case your mixture is too dry)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sultanas
2 soft bananas
1/3 cup pepitas
2 tbsp maple syrup
Handful of pecans (to decorate)
Feel free to add chocolate chunks if that’s your thing – I LOVE Pico Super Dark chocolate to bake with.
Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Mix the oats, flour, cinnamon, salt, sultanas, bananas and pepitas together in a large bowl. Then, add the olive oil, vanilla extract and maple syrup and stir to combine.
Add extra olive oil until the mixture is cookie dough consistency. Roll into small balls and whack in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes (or until golden brown).
After stopping swimming last year I picked up quite a bit of weight from uneducated eating habits. I want to stress – there is nothing wrong with excess weight gain. But for me, it was important to get a professionals help with making healthier choices, to reduce my chances of future health complications (read about my weight journey in detail in the About Me section of my blog).
This year, I decided to get a sports dietician to help me with the transition from an athlete’s diet to an active (more normal) 18 year old’s diet.
There are a lot of misconceptions around working with a dietician. A lot of people assume dieticians are helpful only for over-weight people looking to go on a diet. Whilst dieticians do offer this service, they can also help anyone of any weight transition to a healthier lifestyle, work with digestive issues (such as IBS) and allergies, build muscle, work on positive body image, implement meal plans and strategies for eating out, and picking up weight.
In my case, I wanted help transitioning from my younger mindset that was happy eating chocolate for breakfast, to one that was focused on attaining balance with my diet and nutrition.
I focus on BALANCE here because getting a dietician does not mean eating only broccoli and protein powder. My goals were to maintain a healthy weight whilst still incorporating the foods I love.
The hardest part for me is eating out. My friends and I are foodies who love to explore different restaurants in Sydney (Queen Chow, China Doll,Sunset Sabi, Bare Naked Bowls, Laneway Cafe, Turka and Le Bouchon are amongst my favourites!). Of course, enjoying delicious food and exploring new restaurants means that making healthy choices is more difficult. My dietician is working with me to choose options that I still love, but that are more nutritious and rewarding for my body. That being said – a treat night is always okay!
I’ve documented a sample day of eating to give an idea of how I eat.
I started the day with a take on the classic bacon and eggs. I wanted to make sure I had healthy fats as well as a good amount of protein. I had 1 poached egg, cherry tomatoes, 1/2 avocado, 2 bacon rashers fried in coconut oil (try to avoid olive oil for frying – if it gets too hot, it starts to lose it’s health benefits).
I broke up the morning with some honey & ginger tea and a banana.
Then for lunch, I made a delicious chicken stir fry...
To make this you will need:
1/2 cup chopped green beans
1 scrambled raw egg
100g chopped raw chicken
sultanas (just trust me on this one)
1 handful of chopped walnuts
Paprika, Salt, Garlic powder, to season
Place the walnuts in a large frypan on medium heat and drizzle with coconut oil. Place a pan lid over them for 3 minutes.
Whilst the walnuts are toasting, cook the chicken in a separate pan on medium-high heat until cooked through. Add the green beans to the pan with the walnuts and stir fry until green beans are crispy. Add all ingredients into the larger pan and stir fry until egg is cooked. Then reduce heat. Season with paprika, garlic powder, and salt. Enjoy!
Afternoon tea was Natalie’s Health Honey Cinnamon Cookies – I made the batch at the start of the week. I use 1/2 cup stevia instead of the 3/4 cup coconut sugar. If you don’t like stevia – try using mashed bananas or extra honey instead.
Dinner was my sweet potato and chickpea curry. I roasted some sweet potato (see my Roast Pumpkin recipe – substitute sweet potato), and threw it together over medium-high heat with lite coconut milk, cooked quinoa, drained chickpeas, and paprika/garlic/salt. Use 1 cup vegetable stock, if too much liquid evaporates.