Tag

vegan

It was the year 2010, my grandpa, my sister and I were sitting at sidewalk cafe in Singapore and I spotted the words passion and fruit on the menu. I am certain that we like food upon tasting or smelling it but that day, it was love from the first sight, the sight of the passionfruit on the smoothies menu. I had never tried passionfruit before but since then, it has held a special place in my heart. Or shall I say, gut?

Okay, my love song is over and now I’ll share with you how I eat/drink my passionfruit.

Mango x Passionfruit

For every mango, I add 1-2 passionfruit. To make a smoothie, I add mango and passionfruit to one cup of filtered water and blend. For a smoothie bowl, I half the water.

Top tip: add chia seeds for an extra nutritional boost.

Watermelon x Passionfruit

For every quarter of large watermelon, I add 2-3 passionfruit. I usually deseed my watermelon, blend it with one or two passionfruit, pour into a glass and then top with one passionfruit.

Where do I get passionfruit, you ask? Sunny and Seoudi supermarkets have imported passionfruit but recently Gourmet started stocking a local variety.

There you have it, I embraced the minimalist in me and avoided an unnecessary serenade for a fruit.

Lots of love,

Amira

One of the questions I’m constantly asked about my diet is how expensive it is. Today, I’ll address this question by breaking down what I eat, how and where I buy it and more.

Let me begin by saying that there are 3 main things that raise the $$ of food:

  • Eating out frequently and eating processed foods
  • Splurging on superfoods
  • Eating all organic

I don’t think anything is wrong with either of those habits but we all have different reasons on why we would prefer to spend less. For some people, it is not an option, they just really cannot afford it. But most people claim that it’s not affordable to them while it really is.

Here’s how I eat wholesome vegan food without breaking the bank.

Pick your produce one vegetable at a time

I personally prefer to go to the farmers market and pick my vegetables. I pick food that is rich in color, for example, if I’m buying tomatoes, I’ll pick the reddest, most plump ones. Shopping that way means that most of the food I get is package-free and that I don’t end up with any bad produce. Less bad produce means less waste. Less waste means spending less money on food. If you can spend less money on food by adopting this technique then you can spend the same amount of money on organic produce (no waste) and non-organic (with lots of waste).

Since I eat 60% fresh vegetables, this accounts for the bigger chunk of my food budget.

Top tip: at my favorite market, the one at Nun Center, I start at Sara’s Organic Food and My Kitchen Garden, because most items are not packaged. I then make my way to Makar, Thai Farms and Tabi3y to buy whatever I couldn’t find at the first two vendors.

Grow your own

I don’t think I know of an easier crop to grow than arugula and its one of the healthiest. Most vegetables and herbs are extremely easy to grow and many can grow in pots. I would recommend you start with mint and arugula. Then add zucchini, eggplant and romaine lettuce. Tomatoes need a bit more work. Root vegetables need a bit more experience. Basil, oregano, rosemary and most herbs can grow in small pots. If you have a garden, I highly recommend investing in a mulberry tree. They grow very fast and produce insane amounts of fruit. Lemon trees, and citrus in general, are invaluable, especially since we use lemons every day.

There are endless resources online on how to grow your own food. I think this is a skill we should be taught in school but even if we’re not, it’s very easy to learn online and from experience. On the short run, it saves a lot of money. On the long run, it saves your life.

Buy local grains, buy nuts, seeds and legumes in bulk

We buy ridiculous amounts of brown rice and quinoa, which we can’t find unpackaged or in bulk, unfortunately. But we do buy the ones produced locally. I honestly cannot find a difference in quality that justifies the price difference or the extra CO2 emissions.

As for nuts, seeds and legumes, we buy those in bulk. It is definitely much cheaper to buy from the attar 2 kilos of whole flax seeds then to buy them packaged at a supermarket. Same goes for dried legumes and pulses. Why buy a can of chickpeas with added salt and sugar and packaged in a can while you can buy them dried, in bulk, for much cheaper?

Grains, nuts, seeds and legumes account for about 25% of my diet.

DIY everything

We make our own nut milks, we cook our own legumes and pulses, as previously mentioned and I even tried making tofu. Here’s the thing about making your own food from scratch, it’s a relationship. It’s a give and take. It’s an exchange. You give your food love and in return, it gives you a lot more than energy, it becomes supercharged with good stuff and nourishes you from within. Now, that’s not exactly science so you don’t have to believe me but you can try it for yourself.

I understand that it is time-consuming, I can’t pretend like it’s not. But being organized is key here. For example, I soak my chickpeas overnight and then boil them in the morning while I’m practicing yoga or even if I’m working from home. If you can’t do that, try switching this out by soaking the chickpeas before you leave to work and then boiling them as soon as you’re home, as you shower or make dinner or watch a movie. The point here is that it works, it’s cheaper, it’s healthier and it’s over all kinder to you, your wallet and the environment.

Avoid processed foods

The number one reason I try to avoid packaged food is because they’re mostly processed with palm oil, an ingredient I avoid at all costs. This isn’t one of the items I allow myself every once in a while, or anything of that sort. It is not a joke. Palm oil is an environmental disaster to produce and I will never, knowingly, pay for that.

Back in the day, I used to walk into a supermarket and buy snacks for hundreds of pounds. This wasn’t a daily habit but it really adds up. This habit is now replaced with splurging on artisanal vegan foods or sweeteners; items like maple syrup or matcha tea.

Splurge smart

Now, believe me when I say I splurge big time. But I’m also extremely smart about it so here are some examples.

I love berries, but why buy fresh if the frozen is riper and is much cheaper? Both are packaged anyway so the best deal is to buy frozen.

I prefer hass avocadoes but they’re only in season for about one month of the entire year. During that month, I eat a ridiculous number of avocadoes. For the rest of the year, I think I eat an avocado once every two weeks. I know that when I buy other varieties, I waste a lot so why bother?

I know that the cleanest brand of coconut milk is available for much cheaper at a small shop in an area I almost never go to. So instead of buying it whenever I need it, I go once and buy a few.

When traveling somewhere I can get a good deal, I allow myself to go all out. For example, I discovered that I can buy a kilo of coconut sugar in Germany for 9 euros. How’s that for a deal?

I also buy maple syrup, agave, coconut sugar and other expensive items but if I also know that consuming lots of those means that I’m not getting enough fresh produce. I now eat pancakes or waffles with maple syrup once or twice a month, which means I go through 150 EGP worth of maple syrup in about 4 months. Now, is that really expensive?

In a way, we’re lucky the vegan industry isn’t thriving yet in Cairo

When I’m in Germany, I buy all sorts of vegan chocolate bars, donuts and pizzas. Because plant-based milk in available everywhere, I have too many cappuccinos. In Cairo, the options are much limited, which means I mostly eat my fresh produce at home. Needless to say, I eat more at home when I’m in Egypt than Germany. And even though vegan food in restaurants in picking up in Cairo, I still make sure I eat out less to benefit from all the points I mentioned before.

I hope this essay answer the question of whether or not a vegan diet is expensive. I would love to hear from you if you have any other opinion on the topic. I’m also very interested in discussing the topic of the real value of food, so stay tuned for that!

 

Much love,

Amira

This recipe first appeared on bindubyohoud on December 12, 2016

During the winter, we all crave something warm. Something earthy and warm. Despite popular belief, tomatoes won’t make you fat, in fact this recipe is nutritionist-approved since tomatoes are only mildly acidifying and are nutritionally dense. I’ve been making this for a year or two and I even have it in the summer sometimes! The best thing about this recipe is that it’s very versatile, some days I’ll skip the garlic and some days I’ll skip the onions. You can change up the seasoning and you can replace the red bell pepper with carrots and celery! I sometimes even skip the olive oil when I’m trying to avoid added fat to my diet on a certain day. Aaaand you can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Since the typical Cairene home isn’t equipped with heating, here’s a blanket in a bowl for you!

 

 


Print Recipe
Roasted Tomato & Red Bell Pepper Soup
Course Soups
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35-40 minutes
Servings
1-2 people
Course Soups
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35-40 minutes
Servings
1-2 people
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven. I don’t really set the temperature; I turn it on to the maximum setting.
  2. Slice the tomatoes and onions into rings, the red bell pepper into thin slices, and the garlic into halves. Take care not to thinly slice the onions or garlic since they burn very quickly.
  3. Spread everything on an oven tray or Pyrex, drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle the peppers and herbs.
  4. Place the tray in an oven for 30-45 minutes but make sure to check on it every once in a while after the first 20 minutes have passed. The tomatoes would have released their juices at that point so stir the ingredients if they look like they’re drying out and the juice from the tomatoes will prevent sticking.
  5. While everything is roasting in the oven, boil one glass of water (or a bit more in case you like your soup thinner)
  6. When everything is browned and aromatic, take it all out of the oven, dump all the ingredients in a blender along with the boiling water and blend until smooth. I like mine very thick but feel free to add more water if you like yours lighter.
  7. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar (optional) and herbs. Serve with bread or crackers, or even better a light green salad!

A couple of weeks ago, my sister, my friend and I visited Be Good to You and we basically feasted on the vegan items on the menu. Everything was so good that we ended up spending about 3 hours there… for breakfast!

Before going there for the first time, I was quite skeptical to be honest. Healthy in Cairo can mean anything from skimmed milk to baby chickens and that is not really my kind of healthy. I was very impressed by the variety of vegan items that are actually healthy. Matcha lattes in Cairo? I wouldn’t have dreamed of that one! And so the feast included avocado on toast, smoothies, a baked falafel salad, brownies, apple crumble and more… The star of the show, though, was that smooth and silky mushroom on toast dish. Amanda, the friend, was hooked!

I drove Amanda to the airport this morning and went straight to the grocery store, picked up some fresh mushrooms and then hurried to the kitchen. Amanda, who’s a great UrbanEarthlings supporter had been trying to get me back to writing and I figured there’s no other way to say thank you for the support. I had to recreate this for her!

Panda, as you make you way back to Germany, I’m breaking my fast on creamy mushrooms to test this recipe. It’s a hit! By the time you get home, this post will be up and you can indulge in it too!
ps. I totally cried too!

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Print Recipe
Panda toast aka El Funghi Coconut Toast
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 2-3 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
1 person
Ingredients
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 2-3 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
1 person
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cut the mushrooms into 1-2 cm cubes and add to a pan. Turn on the heat to low and add water as needed to avoid the mushrooms from sticking. Within a couple of minutes, the mushrooms will release their water.
  2. Add the diced garlic clove and cook on low heat for a few minutes.
  3. Add the salt and pepper followed by the coconut milk and stir. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to the lowest setting and cover the pan.
  4. When the mushrooms have softened and most of the water from the coconut milk has evaporated, add the nutmeg and remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Let the mushrooms cool a little bit before serving on toast to avoid the toast from crumbling and falling apart. Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle the nutritional yeast and dill over the top. Serve warm and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

I would totally add some spring onions next time I do this so consider adding them early on with the mushrooms.

Until a couple of years ago, driving from Heliopolis to Maadi randomly to satisfy my French toast cravings was not unusual. I remember trying countless times to make them at home but they would always come out soggy and never as perfect as I wanted them to be.

And then I stopped eating eggs, milk and butter.

And my cravings were occurring more regularly.

And then I discovered that if you can veganize anything and that google is a life-savior (or should I say stomach-savior?).

Now, I don’t even crave this as often as I used to, I rarely consume processed flour and I don’t always have some stale bread on hand but every once in a while I just feel like it so I just go for it. Basically, what I’m trying to say here is that I’m not trying to promote this as a “healthy” recipe but more of “healthier” form of an old comfort food.

The most important thing about this recipe, or any French toast recipe, is to either use stale bread or to put your bread slices in the oven for a few minutes to get rid of some of the moisture. Fresh and soft bread soaks a lot of the liquid making it impossible to cook properly on the inside. Tip: do not ever use sourdough bread to make french toast. It just doesn’t work out!

Other than that, the recipe is based on using flax meal as an egg-replacement and a classic cinnamon and nutmeg mixture. I tried many recipes calling for ground almonds, chia seeds or sugar but I find that this basic flax one is so quick to make since I always have ground flax on hand. It’s also so delicious and my non-vegan friends and family highly praise and approve of! For us, this is the perfect winter weekend breakfast.

If you make this, I’d love to know how it came out. You can always comment down below and tag it #urbanearthlings on social media!

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Print Recipe
Eggless French Toast
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
1-2 people
Ingredients
Course Breakfast
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
1-2 people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Slice your bread into 1 cm thick slices. I had a thin loaf so I made bite-size pieces. Bigger slices work as well. If your bread isn't a day or two old, then go ahead and put them in the oven for about 5 minutes to get rid of the moisture.
  2. Combine the flax meal, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl and then add the plant-based milk(s) and whisk. Set aside for a couple of minutes so it thickens.
  3. Heat a non-stick over medium heat and then set it to the lowest heat.
  4. Soak the bread slices one by one, on each side and then place on the pan immediately. A whole baguette will take me about 3 rounds on the pan. Cook for 3 minutes then flip and cook for about a minute or two.
  5. Serve the french toast bites with a drizzle of sweetener and a handful of fresh berries. Enjoy!

I was walking in the dark alleys of a random Persian supermarket in Germany… I picked up a bag of black beans and some masala and headed home to make dal. The next morning, I realized that I’d fly back to Cairo before I finish up the beans so I decided to make tacos…

Fast forward, four months later, I still didn’t make those tacos but I made this, over and over again!

This bowl is hearty, easy to make and cheap. Because the ingredients are usually canned, it can be put together in any season and it’s definitely a crowd pleaser so go ahead and try serving it next time you have people over and let me know what they think!

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Print Recipe
Plantbased Mexican Bowl
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
1-2 people
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
1-2 people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cook rice according to package instructions.
  2. Chop the onion and cilantro and set aside.
  3. If using canned beans and corn then drain and rinse them, then set aside to air dry.
  4. After the rice is cooked, let it cool down for a few minutes before stirring in the juice of half a lime, quarter of the chopped onion, the chopped cilantro and the spices. Taste to adjust the spices according to your personal preference.
  5. Once the rice is ready, combine with the corn and beans and serve in a bowl.
  6. For the guacamole, mash half an avocado with the juice of half a lime, the rest of the chopped onion and the same spices. Serve the guacamole on top of the rice, bean and corn mixture, and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

I realize that black beans are not easy to find in Cairo but red kidney beans could work very well in this recipe.

This dish can be served warm or chilled, according to the season and your preference. All you need to do if you want to serve it chilled is to let it cool down to the room temperature and you're good to go!

I could be anyone…

The girl sitting in front of you in class,

The shy boy who lives across the street,

The woman working at the finance department who sips on orange juice all day,

The man you see walking to the bus stop with the headphones on weekdays.

I could be anyone…

And everyone.

In fact UrbanEarthlings has many faces but lets start with one.

My name is Amira. I’m a twenty-something earthling. If we’re friends on Facebook then you’ve probably seen pictures of me stuffing my face with Australian burgers, McDonalds fries or a big pepperoni pizza…

If we went to school together then you probably know that I didn’t stand out… I was pretty standard! Good grades, average looks, an average sense of humor… lots of friends but well… nothing out of the ordinary…

I always loved life though. I love the sea… I love animals without exception… I love food and new places and every thing that life has to offer…

So, as a young girl, my grandpa took me to the zoo, my parents took me to the sea world… we ate frog legs on lake Michigan and then my grandpa took me to Singapore and Thailand… more zoos and aquariums!

And then I was suddenly 20 and I traveled more often… I was still eating everything and anything… I tried lots of new things… I went to every zoo and every aquarium I came across… I had oysters at the Nord See, clams on the Balearic sea, tried camel burger in morocco and kangaroo meat in Germany.

I don’t regret much in life… but I wish someone had told me…

I didn’t know that my lifestyle contributed to so much suffering in the world…

During the past few years I changed a lot… from the books I read to the people I met. I was developing intolerance to animal abuse like no other, I’d cry over the dead giraffe at the zoo, argue with the man hurting the bleeding donkey and scream and yell and kick for the dead dog on the side of the road.

One of the first things that sparked my interest in veganism came in the form of… “The monk who sold his Ferrari.” Since reading that book, the raw diet was somewhere in the back of my mind and I’ve always known that I’d make it happen someday! After all, I will need to clean up all the junk that has been piling up inside my body… but I always though, someday… as if that someday can not be today..

On a cold February, two years ago, my mom and I were driving late and I saw a cat that had just been hit by a car, it was seizing and dying slowly… I screamed “stop the car, stop now,” She wouldn’t stop, she knew I’d go mad if I go anywhere near the dying cat. I was traumatized. I cried alone all night and I couldn’t speak properly for a couple of days!

On the 7th of March of the same year, my life changed. I spent the weekend alone with everyone I know out of town. I got up early, practiced some yoga and then made myself some pancakes with milk and eggs and of course I topped it with nutella. I put on a YouTube video and fortunately, I started binge watching “what I ate today” videos… I came across a link that said “101 reasons to go vegan” and I thought “hmm, why not?”

I started watching, not knowing that this is an hour-long lecture that would change how I viewed everything… within 30 minutes I was crying hysterically and by the time I finished I quickly started writing to Annie, the girl who led me to the video.

I have been on a plant-based diet since then…

Do I ever look back? No.

Do I miss meat, dairy or eggs? No.

Is there anything that I don’t like about the vegan diet? YES…

Why didn’t I know about how easy this is before? Why don’t we think about the source of our food? Why haven’t I been on a vegan diet since… umm forever? Why is this misunderstood? Why is it regarded as an extreme?

Being a vegan has been an eye-opening, life-changing experience for me and this is why I’m here. I have been gradually changing the way I live and I realize that there are so many people out there, especially the young ones, who are looking for this but do not know how to access it. I will share everything I know but before I do, I want you to know one thing… I have absolutely nothing to gain from this… in fact I have a lot to lose… I am only tying to win you over because I was YOU before and I only realized how glad I am that things changed, long after they changed.

But for me, this is not about food anymore. This is simply about existence.

So, here’s what to expect on the UrbanEarthlings during the next few months (or hopefully years)

  • Restaurant reviews and how to eat vegan in different restaurants around Egypt
  • Plant-based Recipes
  • Interviews with people who are trying to improve the quality of our lives
  • Veganism and Religion
  • Attempting to live a greener more sustainable life in Egypt including concepts like slow food, slow fashion and zero-waste
  • Eating vegan while traveling
  • Ethical, mindful or conscious travel
  • Animal rights and rescue donations
  • and a lot more..

If you have any suggestions or comments please feel free to contact me here. I’d love to hear from you!

Befriend UrbanEarthlings on social media and help us build a conscious green community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Youtube!

I’ve also complied a resource page for you. You can check it out here!

 

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist; I am not a doctor, a certified trainer, a health coach or anything of that sort. Ever since I switched to a plant based diet, I have been reading and researching the topic from many aspects and everything I will be sharing will come from personal experience or else will be cited.

 

 

 

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