Day 2 Seattle – Veg Heaven

We were so incredibly fortunate to have absolutely glorious weather for our day in Seattle.

Us girls had to kill some time waiting for the boys.

Apple Girls

We headed down to Pike Place to buy some breakfast delights from Cinnamon Works. Maple Cinnamon Rolls, blueberry gluten free muffins (all vegan), smoothies from the market and coffee from the first ever Starbucks

Apple cider, strawberry and peach smoothies. Organic don’t you know!

First ever Starbucks at Pike Place

Lemon Poppy Seed muffins… Vegan? Yep!

My favourite kind of breakfast!

Our view during Breakfast.

Clear view of Mount Reinier

Pike Place. One of the most beautiful markets I have ever seen.

Then we had a little stroll through the Pike Place market full of local produce.

Mushrooms Galore!

Always reminds me of Hanoi’s flower market

We went our separate ways as we did our own errands. I explored downtown Seattle. I went to Sephora to buy some new makeup. We said goodbye to Heather and Simon and then Seb and I headed down to the campsite for the night. We are ‘glamping’ (glamourous camping) this trip and I love it. We have a wifi hotspot in the car and we can have all of our gadgets with us. We have a comfy air mattress and a comforter.We have a larder and an enormous cool box. While Seb set up the kick ass campsite, I prepared dinner which was chilli, guac, sourcream, daiya cheese and some of Elisa’s amazingly delish biscuits from yesterday.

Cooking up a storm at the Koa Campsite

Camping. We’re doin’ it right!

Pecan and Apple Muffins

These muffins are from the Joy of Vegan Baking. I adore these muffins and they are certainly better than regular muffins fof the following reason.

1. Ground flaxseed. Get your omega 3s from flaxseeds rather than egg. Using egg means that your can’t lick the bowl, it makes your muffins contain cholsteoral and of course there was no suffering my any sentient beings to produce them. Flaxseed will keep indefinately (Keep ground flax in the freezer as it will go rancid). Eggs can spoil. Who wants to risk cracking an ‘off’ egg in to their muffin mix! Eggs also don;t have any fibre. Flax is chockers with the stuff.

2. Pecans. A find from my recent trip to Bali. Whole nuts in your muffins gives you fibre, stacks of protein and other fab stuff.

3. Apple and apple sauce: Some natural sweetness, reduces the need for as much oil and of course there are all those lovely phytochemicals that we need in our diet.

4. Wholemeal flour. While this recipe is not exclusively wholemeal flour makes up a quarter of the flour. Better than most refined muffins.

All the dry ingredients

How are my apples chopped so uniformly? Answer? A mandolin. One of fav kitchen tools.

The dough

Ready for the oven

Seb’s eaten 4 already.

A Week In Review

I made these muffins this morning. Seb absolutely loves them as he is a manic blueberry fan. These were baked in my new mega extra large muffin pans. I also substituted 1 cup of white flour for wholewheat so increased the nutrition a bit. This big size means they are essentially 2 muffins in 1. I warned Seb about this, but he ignored my advice and ate 2 of them anyway. I worked out the calories on these and found out that they are 460 per muffin, which means that Seb essentially just ate 920 calories of muffins for breakfast. Nutritionally, they are OK, however, as usually his love of blueberries has got him in to trouble again.

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The reason I made Seb muffins is because I committed several serious errors this week in the kitchen department. Let me backtrack. I had a breakfast party planned for my students. My last ever lesson with them was at 7.50 in the morning. This isn’t really the time to be feeding children with junk, so I decided to make them breakfast. I wanted them to have a treat, but at the same time, make it packed with nutrition.  This is what I made:

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A smoothie with mixed berries, banana, flaxseed ice and soy milk. The school blender is not a Vitamix. This upset me.

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Chocolate ice cream. This ice cream has two thirds of the calories of dairy based icecream, and there was a bit of sugar. However, there isn’t anything wrong with soy and of course no cholestoral. But yes, high in calories due to the sugar and choc chips. It was a decadent treat, but a nutritionally dense one.

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These were waffles from vegweb. This time I made them with the optional applesauce added. I won’t do this next time. It made them more heavy.

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Here are the jam-filled oat bran muffins I made and it was these muffins that got me in to trouble. I prepared these the night before. Seb was excited about muffins, but I told them I was taking them to school. He went on and ON about the injustice of this, so I promised I would leave him a couple. I used up all the jam to make the muffins, and then failed to remember to leave him any muffins thereby meaning he had no jam for toast and no muffins. A very irate sms reached me not long after I got to school

Anyhoo, the students seems to like most of the food, despite their suspicions at first. The whole week was filled with lots of food with class parties and parents bringing in food to share, but of course I was a bit horrified with it all. Aside from a few small and generally uneaten exceptions the food they ate was either terribly bad for their health (think cancer causing processed meats and cheese) or had zero nutrition (bread buns made from refined flour or snow cones; ice with flavoured sugar syrup on top). They certainly enjoyed it though… Sigh….

So, it was my last week at my current job and along with quite a few other people moving on to pastures new, there was lots of farewelling to be done. I felt pleased to be able to say goodbye to my students I have worked so closely with this year by cooking them breakfast. I was also made to feel very special. My line manager and good friend made a lovely speech. I have enclosed a copy of here. I was certainly expecting a reference to what I am passionate about, and it would have been easy to make a few humourous jokes about it, but no. He wrote a lovely thoughtful speech which you can read a copy of here.

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While I know I have lots of faults and it is considered polite not to mention them in farewell speeches, I felt that he truly seemed to get how I try to live my life and having something so nice written about you was a truly humbling experience. I will certainly be re-reading this when life presents me with some challenges.

I thought that would be tough to beat, but then I had a little farewell from my department. Sigh… How well they know me…. A donation of 25 trees made in my name… Such a lovely gift and just the kind of gift I get excited about… I was pretty composed until they presented me with this… I will miss the excellent comraderie and support I received from these kind and lovely people.

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I also got other lovely cards from students, fellow teachers and a mention in the end of year speech from the principal in the final assembly.

All in all , I feel appreciated this week. I have had such a wonderful time at my current job. I have learnt so much from the people I have worked with. I started my time in BKK with serious doubt about my ability in pretty much everything, having come out from a very stressful period in my life. I’d had quite a few emotional downs and wasn’t particularly healthy or fit. I leave Bangkok certainly more confident and physically and mentally stronger in all aspects of my life. Bangkok and the people who have been part of my life here, you will never realise just how healing you were.  Thank you. 🙂

Banana Date and Walnut Muffins.

I just made these beautiful muffins. It was only after I ate two of them, I realized that there was no added fat!

Reflections on a Wonderful Holiday

So, even though I had plenty to post during my holiday, I kinda failed a bit. I ate incredible well EVERY meal but didn’t get around to taking pictures as often as I should have done, but I have a few, so a summary will have to suffice. In my defense, if you look at where I was staying, then I think you’ll agree that outside was a lot more fun!

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We ate really well in Canada and it was so easy.  With the help of Happy Cow and its Iphone app, we could find excellent compassionate meals no matter where we were (although some places were closed over the holiday period). While we ate out a bit, most meals were cooked at Seb’s family’s house. To say that Seb’s mum was prepared to accommodate us is a gross understatement. She studied her vegan cookbooks before we arrived and had every conceivable vegan ingredient under the sun in her pantry. She was so open to new recipes and new ways of cooking and the whole household pretty much ate completely vegan while we were there, I really was just blown away by not only her attitude, but also Benoit’s preparedness to give everything a try and complement our attempts. When I hear the stories of other vegans and how their new diet causes so much family anguish, I realise just how lucky we are to have family that not only respect our wishes, but are prepared to make considerable changes too. I really hope that when I am their age, I am able to listen and be as open to new ways of doing things as they are. I also hope that they enjoyed the meals that I cooked for them and maybe they learnt a few techniques on how to prepare delicious food without all the cholesterol normally associated with traditional baking and cooking.

We had a completely vegan Christmas without us even indicating our wishes to Seb’s family and as usual Colleen Patrick-Goudreau expressed Seb’s and my feelings about this the significance of this meal.

 I can’t think of anything more sacred than preparing life-giving rather than life-taking foods for my loved ones, knowing that no one was (intentionally) harmed to bring us sustenance and pleasure.”

Pauline and I created an incredible Christmas meal which I will post about another time when Seb brings the photos back. 

Here are some pictures of what we created over our time in Canada. This really is just a small part. We had wholesome soups, stews and salads too.

Seb was incredibly excited at the range of veg meats available. While we have a small selection in Thailand, the range and taste of the Canadian ones were much better. While we did go a bit-vegan-processed-food crazy, which was not only expensive, but not as healthy as whole foods, we guessed that once every two years is probably ok! It was also so exciting to try some of the products that I have been reading about for so long. As a family, we did discuss the issue of processed foods a lot. Seb’s family eat very little processed foods and avoid it.I think this is def the most healthy way to eat, but  I think we also need to be careful about labeling (no pun intended) all processed foods with the same brush. While I would totally agree that processed foods they are not as healthy and cheap as whole foods, I think we should think twice about whether eating them is harmful to us. While we need to be careful about long and difficult to pronounce ingredient lists, we also need to recognize that some processed foods are worse than others and that there are some that probably that pose no negative concerns at all.  I have noticed that most vegan companies are very open about their manufacturing processes. Concern was expressed over the Tofurkey which we tried at Christmas. However, when I checked their website, I saw that they give such a lot of information and leave the door open to ask them other questions. What more can we ask from food companies?  I still believe that using Earth Balance over butter is the best choice if we only consider health even though it is more processed than butter and I would argue until the day I die that milk is not a natural product. Will I buy Tofurkey again? No… It was expensive and my cashew nut layered nut roast was 100 times more delicious.

Here’s Seb’s sandwich and pasta salad that he was keen to replicate it in Canada.

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We were both very keen to give Daiya cheese a go, having heard so much about it in all the blogs, and it really is as amazing as everyone says. Much more delicious than Follow Your Heart’s .Here’s a Reuben sandwich with a side of Kale chips. Really incredibly fun to eat but very high in fat, but maybe the kale chips cancel that out? Of course they don’t really, but they throw a really fun nutritional punch in to the meal.

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This is French toast, and it is an excellent recipe.A couple of friends came over to ski with us one day and they said it was the best French toast they’d even had. Seb’s mum also said it was good. I made a couple of small adjustments. I added a teaspoon of vanilla and used Earth Balance to fry it. I only used a tiny bit, and made sure it was all spread around before adding the bread. I also added a tiny bit more when I flipped it so that it would be golden brown on both sides, but hopefully a bit less fat. This dish is a treat. I would never have this everyday as there is no nutrition in this really, but heck. It’s Christmas!

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To the left of this picture you will see a batch of blueberry muffins. These were actually raspberry, although we made them several times with blueberries. These were honestly the most amazing muffins I have ever eaten, and quite a few people agreed with this assertion.

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This was a meal we had out on a trip to Naam restaurant.  I had a tempeh reuben burger and Seb had a regular burger platter. It was really delicious. We loved the miso gravy which you can buy in all grocery stores.

I also stocked up on a crazy amount of ingredients at Whole Foods and received a stack of cookbooks which I will be trying out in the coming weeks. I am looking forward to eating really healthily for the next few weeks.

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