Veganuary Challenge 2017

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Some of my readers may have heard of Veganuary. For those who haven’t it’s a food challenge where you eat vegan foods for the whole month of January. So that’s no products that come from an animal – including cutting out honey and even some wines!

The purpose is to raise awareness of animal suffering, help the environment, but also showing that being vegan is not as limiting as people think. I was definitely a curious carnivore but also reluctant to give up my favourite food groups…

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Quinoa Tabbouleh

 

I used to love eating tabbouleh. It is fresh and a perfect side dish for summer. The only problem is that since becoming gluten intolerant, I can’t eat cous cous, which is one of the main ingredients in tabbouleh. For years I have had to say no to the delicious mix of tomato, onion and parsley. But a while ago I saw the idea of using quinoa as a substitute… Whilst I always have quinoa in my kitchen, I never tried this recipe… Until recently.

My street has a regular Christmas street party BBQ and we all bring along some meat and a side dish. I wanted to bring along a dish of something that was different, but fresh and delicious summer dish. Quinoa tabbouleh seemed like the perfect dish to bring!

It is a little time consuming to make, but I thought it was well worth the preparation.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup parsley
  • 4 tomatoes (I used 3 large Roma tomatoes and one medium sized Truss tomato)
  • 1/2 Spanish onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (approx 1 lemon)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional: lemon wedges and parsley leaves to garnish

Method

1. Rinse quinoa under cool water before cooking. Cook in boiling water until quinoa is light and fluffy. Rinse and set aside to cool. Stir quinoa with fork to keep fluffy and speed up cooling process.

2. Dice onion. Place onion into a small bowl. Cover onion with water and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. This will soften the onion and make it more pleasant to eat.

3. Dice tomatoes and place in large bowl. Mince garlic clove and finely chop parsley, and place in bowl. Once quinoa is cooled, add to bowl as well. Drain onion from water and also add to large bowl.

4. In another small bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Add oil and lemon mixture to large bowl with all other ingredients and stir thoroughly. 

5. Allow tabbouleh mixture to sit for a hour or two in the fridge. There may be some excess moisture from the oil and lemon juice – this will eventually be soaked up by the mixture.

6. After an hour or so, season with salt and pepper. Stir again before serving and garnish with lemon wedges and parsley leaves. Serve as a side for barbecued meat. This tabbouleh mixture will keep for a few days in the fridge.

You can also add a tablespoon of finely chopped mint leaves to this mixture to give it an extra freshness kick! I didn’t have any mint so I decided not to use it and I think it turned out great without the mint, but other people may find that the mint gives it the little extra something it needs.

What do you think of my Quinoa Tabbouleh? Do you have a similar recipe or a recipe for Tabbouleh? Share your thoughts and links in the comments section!

Bye for now,

Vintage Barbie xoxo

All opinions in this post are my own. Unless otherwise stated, this post has not been sponsored and I have not been paid for this post

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Aussie Health Products

Teatox Giveaway!

I’m so excited – It’s my first ever giveaway!

The weather is warming up and it’s time to start thinking about getting your body bikini ready. I have decided to complete a Teatox thanks to Teatox Australia, and one of my lucky readers could also win a Teatox!

A Teatox, combined with clean eating and moderate exercise, is a great way to kick start your health and weight loss journey. People who undertake teatoxes often report weight loss, feeling less bloating, having more energy, having decreased appetite, loss or reduction in cravings, better sleep and improved skin.

There are many teatoxes available, but I recently chose to use Teatox Australia for a few different reasons. Teatox Australia has both 14 and 28 day programs meaning you can choose one that suits your lifestyle better. It is also caffeine free and uses organic, natural herbs and ingredients. The main reason I chose Teatox Australia though is because it is gluten free, unlike many other teatoxes that consist of Sensa, an ingredient containing gluten.

I’m pretty excited to try it and definitely want one of my lucky readers to enjoy one too!

The prize

1 x 14 Day Teatox from Teatox Australia

1 x Pack of 6 Flower Bombs From Teatox Australia

1 Teatox Australia Calico Bag

To Enter

It’s super easy to go in the draw for this prize – just head on over to my Facebook page “The Adventures of Vintage Barbie – Blog”, like the page, and share the Teatox Giveaway photo on your wall.

Competition closes 11.30PM AEST and is open to Australian residents only at this time. One entry per person. Must “like” Facebook page as well as publicly share competition photo on wall.

Winner will be announced 1/10/15.

Good luck!

Cupping Room Friday Lunch

There’s been a lot of buzz around The Cupping Room in Canberra City. Everyone is always posting Instagram pics and checking in on Facebook at this location, plus there are a heap of blog posts on this place.

Although it is just around the corner from my work, I never really think about going there for lunch, or even just for coffee. Probably because the last time I went there was in October last year and it took me 20 minutes to get a takeaway coffee…

However the other day a work friend suggested we go get lunch together. She mentioned the cupping room and we decided to check it out. She did warn me that it is expensive, but at least the food is really good.

When we got there it was around 1.15pm and the place was packed. It was no surprise that the staff told us that there would be a wait. I was surprised when this wait was less than a minute! We were seated over by the window on the bar like stools. This gave us a great view of the passing people and traffic – I always love a bit of good people watching!

The first word that comes to mind when describing this place: hipster. It is full of skinny jean man bun wearing male staff, androgynous female staff with heavily adorned with tattoos. Despite this look, another surprise was that (most) staff were super friendly. I did get a vibe of I’m-too-cool-and-I-don’t-care-what-you-think vibe from one staff member, but he was still helpful in explaining how their coffee system works.

Which is another interesting point: they don’t do your standard cappuccino, latte, long blacks etc for your coffees. They have these special blends that they like to use. To be perfectly honest, it was a lot of information at once and I got a little lost, so I just ordered a chai latte instead.

This was deliciously creamy. I often don’t like chai lattes with full cream milk, and instead opt for the soy milk option. But this was the first chai latte that I thoroughly enjoyed. It had a strong spicy aroma to it. There was also a lovely honey taste to it that I noticed just as I was finishing my sip.

My friend and I both ordered the winter salad, and I got mine with chicken.

It took quite a while for the food to come out. I actually chose a salad for the very reason that it should be quick! After all, not everyone is a public servant with super flexibility about how long they take their lunch break for!

When it did come out, I was pretty happy, because with it being 2pm, I was starving! I am not entirely sure it it looked generous because of the presentation, or if it actually was a large serving. It was layered with baked beetroot and Brussel sprouts, thin shards of deep fried sweet Potatoe, rocket, capers, and three chicken tenderloins strategically placed on top. There was also a creamy sauce in small spoonfuls around the dish, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the Brussel sprouts! I don’t remember what they taste like as we rarely had them when I was a kid (I guess I was luckily like that!). They appeared to have been baked as they were slightly crunchy on the outside. My friend I even started discussing how much we enjoyed them and that we wouldn’t know first thing about cooking Brussel sprouts!

They were a great combination with the baked beetroot and the creamy sauce. The baking of the beetroot meant that it was not sweet and juicy like the tinned variety. This is exactly how they should be for this kind of dish.

All the tastes and textures complimented each other in this dish.

The only thing I would criticise is the use of the thing sweet potato shards. They were so thin that you could not get them on your fork without crushing them into tiny pieces. Or if you did manage to get some on your fork, then they would somehow escape the fork before reaching your mouth. So it made eating the dish a little difficult.

I’ve decided to introduce a new method for rating my restaurant and cafe review posts – hopefully this will give my readers a clearer idea about the restaurant and a snapshot for anyone who feels lazy and doesn’t want to read the whole post 😉

Atmosphere: 3.5/5 | Customer Service: 3.5/5 | Speed of Service: 3/5 | Presentation of Food: 4/5 |Taste: 4.5/5 | Value for Money 3.5/5

Overall Score: 22/30

I enjoyed my Friday lunch at The Cupping Room and I think I will go again to try out some more food as well as eventually try their different style of drinking coffee.

 

 

 

Kale, Beetroot and Feta Salad

Is it just me or is “kale” the new buzzword? Actually, it’s more like “superfood” is the buzzword but kale is definitely the flavour of the month…

We hear it everywhere: add it to smoothies, it’s on the menu at the hip new restaurant, blah blah blah.

Well I decided that I should just see what all the fuss is about. I picked up a pre-made salad at the grocery store with kale, capsicum and quinoa. I figured this was a good option because if I didn’t like it I could easily buy something else and I haven’t wasted too much money nor have I wasted time on preparing something I didn’t like.

Then my taste buds discovered something… Something amazing… It was one of the most delicious salads I’ve ever had! I think even those who don’t like salads would enjoy this one. It was tasty, filling and of course good for me.

So after this delightful experience, I decided to buy kale and make my own meals with it. But I was kinda stuck with what to do with it. Sure, there’s an abundance of recipes online, but maybe there’s too many. And some of them just seemed too complicated. There were a lot of ingredients I didn’t have in my pantry. Unfortunately I’m not 100% clean eating or paleo or whatever the current trend is (although I am on a gluten free diet…) so I often don’t have the expensive, hard to find items in my pantry. Finding kale in the grocery store was hard enough, let alone using other ingredients in som of these recipes.

This lead me to create my own recipe. I decided I should go with what I know and hope for the best.

Well, it appeared to turn out quite well. I used to always have a spinach salad with items like feta and baby beetroot. I could sit there and eat that salad for days. Especially Danish feta – I love it’s soft texture and smooth taste. It’s also the right amount of saltiness without going overboard.

Then, I remembered one of my healthy salad dressings. Tahini (ok it’s a somewhat obscure ingredient in my pantry) is a sesame paste that works great for dressings. It can easily be mixed with vinegar, oil, herbs or lemon juice to create a tasty dressing.

With all that previous food knowledge, I thought I should be able to combine everything together to create a delicious and healthy salad. Follow my recipe below to create your own healthy kale salad.

To serve one main meal or two side salads

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of kale leaves
  • 1/2 cup of grated carrot
  • 4 baby beetroots
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp tahini
  • Pinch of salt & pepper
  • Pinch of dried chilli flakes – optional

1. Remove the stems from the kale and roughly chop the leaves. Grate carrot and roughly chop almonds. Quarter the baby beets. Place ingredients into large bowl.

2. Add all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

3. Pour dressing over ingredients in larger bowl. Mix until dressing fully covers all ingredients.

4. Transfer salad to bowl or plate. Crumble feta over the top. Sprinkle sesame seeds over salad.

5. Can be served as a main or a side dish – have it served however you like! I served mine with a kangaroo steak for a super healthy dish. It was delicious!

Have you tried kale? What’s your favourite dish including kale? If you have any kale recipes, be sure to comment below with the link to the recipe so I can check it out 🙂

Pineapple & Coconut Smoothie

It feels like summer has finally hit us here down under! The last few weeks have had cool mornings and average days. There’s been rain and storms almost every afternoon for the past 3 weeks, making a trip to the pool or river the last thing on everyone’s mind.

One thing that doesn’t depend on the whether is having delicious smoothies. There’s some that would remind you of summer. Most people would say mango is one of these summer flavours. Unfortunately in am one of very few people who really dislikes mango.

You’re probably thinking “how can someone not like mango?” Well, I don’t like the smell and the texture gives me chills – the bad kind! Plus the taste just grosses me out. So you will see that there will never be mangoes in any of my recipes!

One fruit that is a definite summer fruit for me is pineapple. It’s so refreshing and can be used in a variety of ways. I’ve used it for all kinds of meals and I continue to find new recipes to use pineapple in. One of the quickest, easiest and one of my most commonly used ways to use pineapple is in a smoothie!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup diced frozen pineapple
  • 1 banana, cut into pieces and frozen
  • 200ml coconut milk (about half a can)
  • 1 cup soy milk

Method

1. Chop up pineapple and banana. If you are going to make this recipe latr, then freeze fruit in a ziplock bag.

2. Add fruit to blender. Add milks. If using fresh fruit, add a few cubes of ice.

3. Blend to your desired consistency. Fill a glass with smoothie. Add a slice of pineapple to the edge of the glass, put in a straw, then sit back and enjoy!

This recipe serves either a late smoothie for one, or two medium smoothies to share.

Health and Happiness

Those close to me they know that I’ve been suffering from a low mood of late. I thought it was just the post travel blues but it might be more than that. Struggling to find full time work, working late nights, juggling three casual jobs, having a lack of money, not having a licence or ability to get one, feeling isolated from my partner, friends and family… All these things can turn into a snowball effect and leave you feeling lost and unsure about life.

It’s not fun when you feel this way. Often when we feel upset or down, we harm ourselves more by using unhealthy coping mechanisms. Socially isolating or withdrawing yourself in one of those things. Self medicating with alcohol is another. Or some people put all their energy into one aspect of their life and neglect other aspects.

So it’s important to acknowledge when you are feeling down and find ways to help yourself. Now that I’m in a part of my life where I’m struggling to stay positive, I remember some rules that have helped me get back on track in the past and I would like to share them with you

1. Talk to someone. It seems obvious but people don’t do it. People may not realise that you are suffering or that something is bothering you. Not everyone knows how to start this conversation, because it is scary and can be difficult opening up to someone. I have found that sometimes you just need to say “I need to talk to someone” to begin this process. It might start off awkwardly but keep talking. You will feel better afterwards.

2. Write it down. If you can’t talk to anyone or you are not ready to, write down your thoughts. This also helps if you’re angry or upset at someone. Write it down and read it. It will help you understand why you feel that way, even if there is no actual reason why. You will also be able to gather your thoughts. It doesn’t have to make sense. Not does it need to follow a logical form. Just write down what comes into your head.

3. Get some exercise. Even if it is just a quick walk, the exercise will help you in the long run. Did you know that exercise releases the same endorphins in the brain that chocolate releases? And it’s free! It’s the most underuse antidepressant… I can often be hard to be motivated to exercise when you feel low, so start out small and build up your exercise routine. You will defitely start to feel better after some consistent exercise!

4. Try to eat a balanced diet. Eating junk food might make you feel good in the short term, but people often suffer the food remorse after they’ve eaten that big block of chocolate! If you eat healthy foods you will start to feel better about yourself and have more energy.

5. Limit the amount of alcohol you consume. If you drink regularly, try to have a few alcohol free nights. Otherwise, try to go alcohol free at that next work function to birthday party. If people question you, say it’s for health reasons and leave it at that. Alcohol is called a depressant for a reason, and I’m not just talking about the physical effects on your body…

6. Do something for you. Sometimes we are so caught up in making sure everyone else is happy and that all our responsibilities are met, that we forget to make time for us. So for me, I used to go get my nails done. It made me feel good about myself and it was a relaxing experience. Now that I can’t afford this, I have to find new ways to do something for me. So, for example, I might give myself a pedicure, or have a bubble bath.

7. Be grateful for what you have. Positive thinking and being grateful can go a long way. People who are grateful for what they do have in their life are often more positive people and have higher overall happiness than those who are not. So start a gratitude journal.

8. Smile. Even if it’s fake, put a smile on your dial. Studies have shown that by smiling regularly you can trick your brain into thinking you are happy. So you can basically smile yourself happy! Do this in the mirror after you brush your teeth in the morning so you’re ready to face the day with a smile on your dial!

9. Repeat positive affirmations. Another way to think yourself happy. Think of what it is you want to change in your life and repeat this mantra every day. Even if you don’t believe it at first, keep repeating it. Eventually you will believe it, and most likely it will come true. Some good affirmations to start with could be “I am a happy and loveable person” or “I will succeed in finding a new job”.

10. Engage socially. Social interactions are imperative for our mental health. So go to that party or function and socialise. Join up for a team sport. Volunteer for a community event. Whatever it is, make it a positive experience where you can meet up with friends or meet new people.

Making positive changes in your life to improve your emotional and mental well being is so very important. I hope my little tips help people who might be lost, confused or sad.

Please note that these are generic and basic coping methods. Whilst I have studied psychology I am not a trained psychologist and if you or someone you know is experiencing a prolonged depressed mood, I urge you to seek professional help.

Please go to Beyond Blue to get more information on depression and anxiety or to seek professional help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Capsicums

I love finding new recipes and trying them out. Although I always tend to change things and substitute, so it’s never really the same as the recipe. This is because I’m one of those annoying gluten intolerant people, so I need to carefully consider every ingredient that goes into a dish – otherwise I will be regretting it later!

I also get bored if I make things the same time and time again. And sometimes I just think on the spot about what to add, hoping for the best!

This recipe for stuffed capsicums was something that came along by accident… I had some capsicums/bell peppers that I hadn’t yet used and they were sitting in the fridge about to waste away, so I decided to make some stuffed capsicums. I read a couple of different recipes online and nothing really screamed “Cook me!” So I decided to improvise and hoped for the best!

This is a great recipe when you’re trying to use leftover incredients before your regular grocery shop. It’s so easy to change and substitute, and I’ll tell you some of my variations below. For now, here’s the recent version of the recipe:

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Ingredients 

  • 500g Turkey Mince
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed oil (or olive oil)
  • 4 medium sized capsicums / bell peppers
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp dried corriander
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp Pesto
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 400g Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 5 button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup tasty cheese
  • Pinch each of Salt & Pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups of boiled white rice

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Method

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Begin to cook rice as per normal. Wash capsicums and cut in half. Scoop out seeds and inside flesh of capsicums until they look like hollow bowls. Wash out insides and allow capsicums to dry on a paper towel.

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2. Add mince and oil to pan and brown. Chop onions and add to pan with garlic and ginger. Once onions are cooked, add salt and pepper as well as coriander and basil.  Reduce heat and allow to simmer.

3. When mince mixture is cooking, put capsicum havles in a baking tray, skin side down with hollow bowl facing upwards. Bake in oven for 20 mins on 180 degrees (150 for fan forced oven).

4. Add pesto, tomato paste and crushed tomatoes to mince mixture. Stir in until all ingredients are combined.

5. Grate carrot and thinly dice mushroom. Add carrot, mushrooms and peas to mince mixture. Once vegetables are cooked, add in the Parmesan Cheese. Allow mixture to simmer for 5-10 minutes. If mixture becomes thick, add a small amount of water to mixture until it reaches a medium to thick consistency.

6. Take capsicums out of the oven. There may be some excess moisture gathering in the bowls – this is normal and ok as the mince mixture will soak up this excess moisture. Add a spoonful of rice to the inside of the capsicum. Spread out the rice so it creates a ‘bed’ at the bottom of the capsicum bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of the mince mixture until it covers the rice. Add some grated cheese over the top and place in the oven for a further 5-10 minutes.

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7. Once the cheese is melted, take out and serve! A delicious meal is ready for you and will surely be a winner!

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Variations

  1. I often use Turkey mince with this recipe, but beef, chicken or lamb could also be used
  2. Cheese is not necessary – I just like to add it for that decadent taste 😉 It makes the mince mixture creamy and gives another texture to the dish. But you can certainly make the dish without it.
  3. I used flaxseed oil but olive oil is fine.
  4. You can add vegetables of your choice – eggplant, zucchini, beans, other capsicums, corn, and so on.
  5. This definitely works with brown rice rather than white rice if you’re after a healthier alternative. And there have been times when I have taken the rice right out of the dish for those days when I feel the need to cut back on carbs.
  6. I have made an Asian Stuffed Capsicum – I use pork mince instead of turkey, I use soy sauce & fish sauce instead of tomato, pesto and tomato paste, swap the basil with chilli flakes (or fresh chilli), and don’t use cheese in the mince mixture. I bake with the rice in the capsicum, then garnish the finished dish with grated carrot, cucumber and lime juice.

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The beauty of this dish is you can make it the way you like it – add or subtract what you want to make it your dish! Next time I might try a Mexican version with some kidney beans and sour cream – YUM!

 

Let me know if you tried this dish and how it turned out for you. Does anyone have some suggestions on some good variations?

 

Vintage Barbie xoxo