A New Venture

Hello faithful blog followers.
I thought I’d write and let you all know I’ve been busy working on a new venture (hence I haven’t been writing many recipes recently). I’ve just completed my training as a Yoga Teacher in Wales. I’ve started a new business called Womankind Yoga Wales and next month I’ll be starting my own yoga class at a dance studio in Swansea. If any of you fancy a look, my new website is www.womankindyoga.com. There is also a blog on there which I’ll be posting yoga related articles on.
With best wishes to you all,
Helen.

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Ashima and Our Diet

Hen

By Ahimsa, Patanjali meant the removal of the desire to kill. All forms of life have an equal right to the air of maya. The saint who uncovers the secret of creation will be in harmony with nature’s countless bewildering expressions. All men may understand this truth by overcoming the passion for destruction. Sri Yukteswar to Paramahansa Yogananda

Ahimsa is simply, not causing pain. In the modern world, if we are observing Yamas as part of our yoga practice, then this, many believe means abstaining from meat, fish and even dairy products.

One of the clearest interpretations of Ahimsa is that we should not condone cruelty to any living being, whether human or animal nor the planet we live on.

Not only does consuming animal products contribute to many major health conditions including cancer, heart disease, stoke and obesity, the means by which the meat goes from field or barn to plate involves a process of great suffering and pain.

The roots of non-injury, non- killing and non-consumption of meat are found in the Vedas, Agamas, Upanishadas, Dharma Shastras, Tirumurai, Yoga Sutras and dozens of other sacred texts of Hinduism.

In our culture and civilisation, we do not need to rely upon meat from animals to provide us with protein. We are no longer hunter-gathers and can easily get all the nutrients we need from a plant-based diet.

No matter which way you turn, the consumption of animal products inherently has involved the fear and suffering of the creature it has been derived from. By going vegetarian or vegan makes a statement that you no longer wish no part in this cycle of suffering.

The meat and dairy industries also cause massive damage to the environment through production of more greenhouse gases than all the world’s transport systems put together, so observing AHIMSA in terms of animals also recognises a love and respect for our planet.

As we grow spiritually, we can experience a great deal of love, compassion and balance with nature and with others following a similar path. Living in peace and with respect for all life creates a wonderful common bond between people and animals.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by the way in which its animals are treated. Mahatma Gandhi


How One Great Cafe Does Vegan

Vegan Breakfast at Roots Cafe, Taunton

My job and unstoppable love of food has taken me far and wide across the UK in search of the very best places to eat vegan. Believe me – I’ve had a lot of hot dinners!.. sandwiches, curries, snacks, burgers, gourmet meals, cakes, glorious smoothies and other concoctions…

My latest triumphant find is Roots Cafe, in my once hometown of Taunton in Somerset. My best friend had told me they had an impressive selection of vegan dishes, alongside a meat-dairy based menu. Seeing was believing. Congratulations to them for producing one of the most imaginative vegan menus I have seen outside a 100% veggie venue.

I ate a wonderful cooked breakfast, which included  Scrambled Tofu, Courgette Rashers, Portobello Mushroom, Potato Cakes,
Grilled Tomatoes, Baked Beans, Toast & Vegan Butter. This was followed by vegan Australian Crunch!

Here are the other really imaginative and inspiring sandwich options they offer:

Peanut Butter & Jelly
Courgette rashers cooked in soy with garlic & thyme mushroom
Avocado, Hummus & Cucumber
Fajita Tofu, Roasted Red Pepper and Avocado
Roasted Veg, Tahini & Guacamole
Hummus, Apple Slices and Sweet Carrot Chutney

Roots serve hot drinks made with all different kinds of plant milk, as well as soya, to be enjoyed with a host of cakes and sweet treats, which are also vegan.

If only some of the other cafes I have visited would take a leaf out of Roots’ book! Even though many where I live serve soya milk, some don’t and most of the time, the only thing I can eat is a flapjack! It would be lovely to be able to go out to lunch and choose a sandwich like those offered by Roots. So Swansea and South Wales, please take note! One great exception is the D-Lish Cafe on the Kingsway, which does have several good vegan options and is very welcoming.

Viva! have just published their new Catering Guide, which is free to download. It offers recipes and tons of information about how to cater for veggies and vegans. I was even lucky enough to shoot the photographs.

Shopping Vegan in a Chinese Supermarket

Goods suitable for vegans from a Chinese supermarket

Becoming vegan led me to try out lots of foods that had been previously alien to me – especially opening up the world of Asian ingredients. No longer did Chinese food just mean sweet & sour veg, or Indian just vegetable curry.

One of the best things was discovering how to navigate my way around a Chinese supermarket. You might think such a place might not have that much to offer vegans – think again. There seems to be Chinese shops opening up in many towns and cities now.

Firstly, most have a good selection of tofu products, including silken, firm, battered and marinated and it tends to be a lot cheaper than an equivalent block in a health food shop, for example. This also applies to soya sauce, tamari, sesame oil and sushi seasoning – you get bigger bottles for much smaller prices.

Japanese ingredients in general, such as nori sheets, miso paste, sushi rice and kombu (seaweed) are much cheaper than in supermarkets and health food shops.

There are many more tasty things to try. Here’s a list of just a few;

  • Deep Fry Tofu Cubes or Puffs
  • Vegetarian Dumplings – Chive & Tofu filling is nice
  • Fresh and dried Japanese Udon Noodles
  • Steamed Buns – Bok Choy & Mushroom for example
  • Inari Pockets – made of tofu skin, to be stuffed with sushi rice
  • Vegetarian Duck (most sell frozen pancakes too, so you can make Mock Duck Pancakes with Spring Onion & Hoisin Sauce
  • Instant Noodles, such as Ramen, with packet flavouring (make a quick meal, but they aren’t that healthy!)

Please be careful though – many things have fish flakes added to them – in particular some tofu products. Just because something is tofu-based doesn’t mean it’s always vegetarian or vegan.

Here’s a quick recipe to get you started, using some vegan-friendly ingredients.

Really Quick Asian Style Noodles
Serves 2
Preparation/cooking time 10-15 mins

Asian-style Noodles

Asian-style Noodles

250g/8 oz dried Udon Noodles or around 400g/14 oz if using fresh
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 carrot, grated
½ courgette, grated
100g/3.5 oz fine green beans, chopped finely
2cm fresh ginger, grated
2 sheets Nori, rolled and cut into thin strips
2 tbsp soya sauce
1 tsp rice mirin (optional)
Chilli & garlic sauce to serve (optional)

1. If using dried Udon, cook them according to packet instructions (this is usually only a few minutes in boiling water). If using fresh, add in at step 3.


2. Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add in the veg, nori and ginger and fry for 5 mins. Add in soya sauce and mirin and stir. Take off the heat.


3. Add in the noodles. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix in veg and sauce.
4. Serve immediately, with extra soya sauce and chilli & garlic sauce on the table.

Adding tofu pieces to this would also be really nice!