I had been pondering this decision for some time for a few different reasons.
Firstly, I had been having some stomach problems for a while and eating meat (and wheat) seemed to aggravate them.
Secondly, I had just read Alicia Silverstone's 'The Kind Diet' and the gentle way she speaks about her lifestyle choices, and the benefits of a vegan diet had me inspired to see if such a change would have similar effects for myself.
I had also started running a little more seriously and become devoted to 'No Meat Athlete', a fabulous vegetarian/vegan running blog.
I had chosen a somewhat challenging time to begin my new lifestyle as I was just about to depart for Italy, the land of salumi, bresaola, prosciutto, not to mention spaghetti bolognaise, bistecca all fiorentina (beefsteak Florentine) amongst other meaty and fishy delights.
While I was travelling I enjoyed gorgeous cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetables, amazing porcini risotto, spaghetti with zucchini flowers, gelati in a rainbow of colours, and countless other delights.
Upon returning home I learned how to prepare different beans and lentils, started cooking new grains, and discovered some enthusiasm in the savoury side of the kitchen that I thought was reserved for baking alone.
Also, in the grand tradition of this chickpea, I purchased quite a number of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks and collected recipes wherever a scent caught my taste buds.
Over the past twelve months I have discovered a way of eating that works for me, that makes my tummy tingle with excitement at every meal time (and in between). I still cook meat for my omnivorous family and friends, and although I have tried and enjoy some of my vegan baking adventures I still cook with eggs and real butter.
More important than labels though is that I have found a way of eating that leaves me at peace with my body, and every mouthful I take. I believe that everyone is a little different in what works for their body, and for me, plants are the way to go!
To celebrate Mum, Dad and I had Sundried Tomato Lentil Stuffed Field Mushroom with Baked Kipfler Potato and Caramelised Leek Salad.
Sundried Tomato Lentil Stuffed Field Mushrooms
Serves 3-4 depending on the size of your field mushrooms!
1 400g can of brown lentils (or equal amount of lentils cooked from dried)
1 onion, diced
3 sundried tomatoes packed in oil, 1 teaspoon of oil reserved, tomatoes chopped finely
1/4 cup of black olives, chopped
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
Pinch of dried oregano
3 - 4 medium field mushroom, stalks removed
1/3 cup grated cheese
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius and place mushrooms on a lined baking tray, undersides up.
- Once the oven is at the right temperature, put mushrooms in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, then remove.
- Now, use the reserved olive oil to fry off the onion then add lentils, sundried tomatoes, olives, tomato paste and dried oregano. Cook until warmed through then remove from heat.
- Spoon lentil mix into mushrooms and then sprinkle with the cheese and place back in the oven to melt the cheese.
Baked Kipfler Potato and Caramelised Leek Salad
500g Kipfler potatoes, scrubbed and thickly sliced
1 leek, white and light green parts only, chopped
1 cup green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
Large pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons flaked almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons macadamia or olive oil
Large handful of rocket leaves
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil and the sea salt. Scatter over a lined baking tray and bake for about half an hour , until nice and crispy.
- While potatoes are baking fry leeks with the remaining oil until soft. Add flaked almonds and continue cooking until almonds are lightly browned, remove from heat.
- Steam beans in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.
- Place potatoes, leeks mixture and beans in a bowl and toss with another pinch of salt and the rocket leaves.
After dinner, since it isn't really a celebration without some cake! I made Mum and Dad an apple and walnut cake from Tessa Kiros' charming 'Apples for Jam' and served it with ice cream and freshly whipped vanilla bean cream.
After smelling this brown sugar, cinnamon and walnut apple delight baking in the oven all afternoon I will definitely be working on adapting it to a more chickpea friendly version.
Now, I'm off to enjoy the end of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the original with Gene Wilder) and dream candy coated dreams.
Happy weekend everyone.