Saturday, 24 October 2009

Sometimes I surprise myself

Not for the first time she reflected that there were many drawbacks to being a swordswoman, not least of which was that men didn’t take you seriously until you’d actually killed them, by which time it didn’t really matter anyway. Then there was all the leather, which brought her out in a rash but seemed to be unbreakably traditional.
The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett

Training can get a little (okay, make that a lot) exhausting and boring at times so sometimes it's good to mix things up a little and do something a little different...

How about a spin class on the top of a tall hotel/apartment complex in town overlooking the harbour? Oh, and how about adding some rain, wind and sun too?! Yes, it's possible! Last Saturday was Skyspin, a 12-hour event of various different spin classes throughout the day on the top of the Waldorf Apartment Hotel. A friend of mine was taking one of the afternoon classes so a group of us from my gym thought we'd better show up and give some support (oh, and it was for a good cause...hospice). SO much fun (although rather wet and windy!).

Anyway, let me introduce you to my favourite dish of all time, even managing to scrap ahead of Food Alley's claypot. I can't believe I only discovered it a couple of months ago when my flatmate was having it.

So what could it possibly be?

(Tofu) Sausage Salad!!!

Not only is it super quick and basically just uses any kind of salad item you have in your possession but it's also ridiculously tasty. My flatmates and I eat these on a very regular basis that it's becoming a bit of a joke around here.

So how do you make such an awesome meal?! Well it's pretty simple and you can basically use what ever you like but below is how I made the salad above...

Firstly, layer your bowl with a handful of baby spinach leaves then sprinkle some grated carrot over the top. Next, add a sliced tomato and some chopped capsicum (yellow is my favourite to eat raw). Then top with half a sliced avocado and some chopped, dried dates. Drizzle over a little balsamic salad dressing and add a couple of dollops of roasted garlic hummus. Finally, top with two sliced tofu sausages and some chopped walnuts. It just couldn't get any better!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The garden city adventures: part four

'Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin,' thought Alice; 'but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!'
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

My final day in the garden city, Monday, dawned perfectly clear and fine so our mission was climb outside at last! But first, breakfast...

We'd decided we were going to go back to The Lotus Heart to try out their breakfast menu. The sun was streaming in through the window by our table overlooking Cathedral Square and while we waited for our breakfast to be served I had a chai latte made with rice milk.

Believe it or not I had never had french toast, vegan or not, until this morning. Once I tried to come here for brunch to order it but we missed brunch by about 10 minutes so today I was determined!

This was so delicious - grainy bread for the french toast with caramalised bananas sandwiched in the middle and served with fresh fruit salad and maple syrup. It filled me up for hours. I'm going to have to learn how to make my own french toast now!

After breakfast we let our food settle before I set off for a short run to stretch the legs and B biked round the block. We debated trying somewhere new for lunch but were running short on time so settled on going back to
Soul Food. We both picked this delicious flavoured green tea drink to try...refreshing.

I was hoping they'd have a vegan BLT left but unfortunately we were obviously a bit late and the cafe had been super busy so there was none left so I ordered the vege burger (same as B ordered on Saturday) and salad instead.

Delicious (but not as good as the BLT). Why can't we have food like this easily accessible in Auckland? Or am I looking in all the wrong places?

Anyway, after lunch we headed off to the Port Hills (the only real hills in Christchurch!) and to a patch of rock called Rapaki where we met up with one of B's climbing friends.

Climbing outside is quite different to climbing on a wall inside. For a start you can use anything you can as handholds or to put your feet but it isn't immediately obvious what you can use. We climbed fairly easy climbs since it was my first outdoor experience but it was still tough work as it was so different (and SO hot).

Look at that view off the side of the was such an amazing experience. I am totally doing this again (I've become seriously hooked on climbing).

A glorious end to what was quite possibly one of the best weekends I've had in a long long time. As I hopped on the plane I was kind of wishing I didn't have to leave...although my body sure was glad to be able to resort to normal eating habits!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

The garden city adventures: part three

The attendant looks the body up and down and shakes his head. He slides it back inside on near-silent rollers. A heart attack, they say. Extreme shock and terror, they say.
So, the attendant wonders, why is the corpse smiling?
Nonstop from Rite by Tad Williams

Sunday morning did not quite start off as planned (this being last Sunday, not today in case anyone was confused). We had planned to go to
The Orange Tree for brunch but it was closed. So off to the art centre market it was for souvlaki from the Dimitri's stall instead! It might not be what I'd typically see as brunch food but you really can't go to Christchurch and not have a souvlaki.

Yep, that's one HUGE falafel souvlaki because B made us both get doubles. Seriously could not finish this but it was delicious. We washed them down with fresh lemonade from the market whilst lazing in the sun. Awesome.

Once we got home we also might have snacked on some chocolate biscuits B had picked up from the supermarket...

Once brunch had settled (which took a hell of a long time!) we headed off to
McLeans Island.

While B fitted in some mountain bike training I ran round the walking track and took the detour out to the river. I wish I'd had my camera out there as it was beautiful.

Not much is open on a Sunday night in Christchurch but we did manage to find somewhere, the
Dux de Lux, which used to be a vegetarian restaurant/bar but has since added seafood to their menu. They still have a good selection of vegan options though. Both B and I picked options that we could share.

My meal came with salad and I picked the rice and the carrot salads. Very tasty and I had to restrain myself from eating all of it whilst waiting for the rest of my meal to be served.

I ordered the sweetcorn and vegetable fritters which came with a beetroot chutney.

They were huge and delicious with a crunchy outside and a gooey, creamy inside and the chutney went really well. Filled the spot perfectly.

B also picked the rice salad and also went with a couscous salad which we weren't fans of.

For his main B ordered the Indian curry which was served with rice, chapatti, raita and mango chutney.

The curry was pretty delicious and hearty but the chutney was best avoided...tasted like eating a really sweet mango jam which would be fine in some contexts but not this one.

Because we were starving and getting quite good at ordering (and eating) WAY too much food, we also ordered some kumara fries on the side with sweet chilli sauce. I love kumara fries and we polished them all off despite being so full we couldn't move!

Because we hadn't had dessert (which was a requirement for the weekend challenge!) we made brownies (yes, crazy I know)!! Using an
Orgran Chocolate Muffin Mix, we followed the vegan version but used soy milk instead of water and added peanut butter and chopped chocolate (I think we got a bit carried away on the chocolate chopping front but hey, chocolate is all good) and then cooked it in a large square cake pan.

It turned out really well especially when served warm with
Lite Licks Hokey Pokey ice cream. Just to state the obvious, I was ridiculously full after this again! Hmmm...perhaps the theme of the weekend?!

Friday, 16 October 2009

The garden city adventures: part two

I walked on the muddy foreshore of the river with my baby on my hip and tried not to know that it was happening. The wind blew gently up the river and a seagull called mournfully over my head.
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Saturday started with a slice of peanut butter and banana toast which I couldn't be bothered photographing since it was terribly unexciting and not part of our food challenge. Then we set off on a short run round
Hagley Park from his flat (we are going to be doing this race together next month).

By the time we'd got back, found we were locked out in the freezing cold and rain (I was turning purple), knocked on people's doors to find a ladder, managed to scale the side of the house to get back inside and finally showered and defrosted, we were starving so we set off for lunch at
Soul Food. It was a bit of a challenge to find but that may have been because we hadn't looked on the map beforehand and were starving!

I started with a cola.

It didn't last long.

After reading about the Vegan BLT on
The Fairest Feed I knew as soon as I saw it in the counter that it was what I wanted.

I have to say that it totally lived up to expectations. It was SO good - the bread was deliciously fresh, the bacon was awesome but I think it was the sauces that really made it (vegan aioli or mayonaise?). The side salad was also delicious. So if you ever find yourself at Soul Food...get the BLT!

B ordered the Vege Burger which was also vegan. This had a pattie made from brown rice (and a few other things) as well as vegan aioli and served inside a grainy bun.

It was pretty tasty (I snuck a bit off his plate) but not nearly as good as the BLT.

Finally they had some sweet vegan options so dessert was required. I got a muffin which I think was apricot and apple...maybe (okay, I'm sure about the apricot part but not about the apple part).

It had a really nice texture which reminded me of spelt and a delicious dob of icing on top. Yay, lunch mission accomplished!

After lunch (and having a bit of a lie-down after eating too much!) we headed off to
The Roxx, the indoor climbing wall at Christchurch. We were hoping to head outside for my first taste of climbing on real rock but the weather wasn't up for it.

The Roxx isn't nearly as big as
Extreme Edge which is where I climb in Auckland but it has some pretty crazy climbs. Good fun but I was a bit disappointed we couldn't climb outside.

Dinner was planned for
The Lotus Heart restaurant in Cathedral Square, which we'd both been to before. Since we were running late we didn't bother going home to change and just rocked up in our climbing gear (minus the harnesses and stuff...we're not that crazy!).

I am rather partial to a good ginger beer so when I noticed they had a housemade ginger beer on the menu that had to be ordered.

Delicious (although it could have been a bit more gingery). I liked how it wasn't super fizzy either. We started off the meal with a bowl of fries with tomato sauce because, well, we could...

I don't know what kind of seasoning they used but it was very tasty.

For some reason I really felt like a burger despite having had a sandwich for lunch and their Sun Burger caught my eye. It's described as a "live" burger pattie with salad, salsa and vegan aioli in an essene bun.

This was a seriously good burger - delicious and also a bit different. Their vegan aoli is really good and totally made the burger otherwise it might have potentially been a bit dry and helped make the burger not taste so dense. This meal was probably the highlight of the day.

The Lotus Heart has an actual dessert menu and as a vegan you have more than one option! Having come here before I knew I had to try something different from
last time.

Yeah, chocolate cake caught my eye! Served with raspberry sorbet (which was really good despite the fact I don't normally like berry sorbets) it was intensely rich and awesome. I didn't want it to end!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The garden city adventures: part one

The fog was thick and yellow, the colour of pease pudding.
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

So, I've just had a long weekend eating, running and climbing my way through
Christchurch. My friend B and I set ourselves a challenge to eat out at as many vegetarian places in Christchurch as possible (and eat as much as possible while we were there!)...oh, and do a bit of training (running/mountain biking) and climbing. I have a truckload of photos (naturally, 'cause we ate a truckload!)

Today's post starts at Auckland Airport on Thursday night. I didn't have time to have anything to eat once I got home from work (yep, still had to do some packing!) so I picked up some food at the airport - a hummus and roast vege sandwich and a fruit salad from

Not very exciting but at least Wishbone labels its food really well and a full list of ingredients can be found on the back of all their food. Kept me from being hungry on the flight.

Friday day was not part of the great challenge as I was spending time with another friend but I was dropped of at B's house around dinner time that night...about time to head into town in search of good food and the beginning of our quest. Rules were laid down (basically something along the lines of ordering excessive amounts and if there is vegan dessert then it must be eaten...oh the pain!).

First stop (Friday dinner), Krishna's Cafe (otherwise known as
Govinda's Vegetarian Restaurant). We both ordered the full dinner menu thingy (I'm sure it had a flasher name but I can't remember now): curry, savory pastries, rice, dahl, chutney, salad and dessert. Yes, that is a lot of food and I couldn't even finish it all so I didn't get off to the best of starts in the food challenge!

On the whole it was okay especially for the price but lacking a bit in flavour (especially the curry and the pastries). We both agreed that the salad plate was really nice though.

The dessert that comes with this dinner special wasn't vegan so I was given an awesomely delicious ginger slice instead. I haven't had ginger slice in years and it reminded me of school and living at home when Mum used to bake things like this for our school lunches. I think B was jealous of my dessert!

So that wraps up the first meal/night of the challenge. Do not gets better but you'll have to wait until the next post (I promise it won't be too far off)!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Packing to eat through life

It's right, he thought, everything here is right, but it could go wrong - has started going wrong already, I think. I'm being allowed to feel as much of that wrongness as I can bear...but what is it? And what can I do?
The Waste Lands by Stephen King

Just a quick hello before I head off down South for a long weekend (running late as usual and I still haven't finished is amazing how much sports gear you need just for a few days).

This week is
Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand and on Saturday it is World Mental Health Day. I had high hopes of something interesting for this post but life and work have been chaos this week and my brain has turned to complete fuzz...

Last night I thrashed my previous fastest time for running home by 1 minute and 18 seconds and got under the 50 minute barrier. Since then this has, consequently, put me in a more positive frame of mind. Hoping I can keep it up over the weekend. Tomorrow is going to be tough...

Anyway, my best friend B and I are going to eat our way through Christchurch over the weekend (as well as do a bit of training for
this event and scale some real rock walls which is freaking me out 'cause I've never climbed outside before but I do have a new harness so that's exciting!) so I will be back next week with the results!

Here's a recent dinner to tide you over...
fake chicken stir-fry on wholemeal pasta (which you can't see 'cause it's buried under everything else).

Oh, and our little wolf (
Keisha) is growing up so fast! She'll be full-sized (which is HUGE) before I know it.

Right, back to packing!