Does a 100% Plant-based, Vegan Diet Make You Feel Cold?

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Cold

Mention you’re on a plant-based vegan diet to your friends in Singapore and I betcha 90% of the time you get cute lil inquisitive remarks like these:

“Won’t you get cold and weak easily?”

“But a Vegan diet won’t work cos you’d be too Yin. There’s no Yang in your diet!”

Not surprisingly since there are only a handful of vegans anywhere, Singapore too obviously, the examples of poor health and nutrition tend to stand out because they’re, oh say, on a RESTRICTED diet that provides insufficient nutrients, and contains just plants without the valuable energy from meat…  Continue reading

Why A Healthy Diet is One That Doesn’t Have Animal Protein

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“Good health is about being able to fully enjoy the time we do have. It is about being as functional as possible throughout our entire lives avoiding crippling, painful and lengthy battles with disease. There are many better ways to die and live.”

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meat bad

Most people know that eating too much meat isn’t good for their health. But where they make the mistake is underestimating the effects of their own meat intake on their diets.

I’m going to tell you exactly why removing meat and animal-based products completely from your diet is really going to be in YOUR best interest. Fullstop.  Continue reading

In Need of Rich and Spicy Food? Try These Healthy Vegan Indian Dishes…

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Vegan Aloo Tikkis and Chutney

Honestly, no one really needs a reason to enjoy Indian cuisine. But if you need some, here’s at least one. If you’re vegan and are feeling the chills lately, get some Indian food into that belly! Indian spices like garam masala used in dishes like chana masala and biryani stimulate a gentle warmth in the body, and that’s not even to mention the how soothing these foods already are on the tastebuds!

Even if you aren’t vegan, here’s another reason why you’d like to get more of these vegan Indian foods into your diet. Veggie Indian dishes, I find, tend to be more balanced energetically, with the warmth of the spices balancing the cooling nature of veggies. Indian dishes typically aim to balance the 6 tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, astringent) which truly satisfies the tastebuds resulting in a fulfilling eating experience.

Need some inspiration getting started? Here are 3 simple dishes I learnt during Vegan cooking school – Aloo Tikkis (Potato Cutlets) and Coriander-Mint Chutney, Keralan Eggplant Curry and Vegetable Masala (Vegetable Butter Masala). These recipes are not complicated and easily made vegan should you manage to find an excellent non-vegan version to start with.

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13th Vegan Culinary Lesson — Middle Eastern (how exotic that all sounds..)

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It is Middle Eastern Vegan cooking this time and it feels like a journey to the other far side of the East with lots of legumes, couscous and tinned tomatoes. The truly beautiful thing about being vegan is how much that exposes you to the huge variety of plant foods around the world rather than the restricting world of meat people tend to get cooped up in when clinging to the likes of standard local fare.

Middle Eastern food conveys the impression of deep tasting savory spices like cumin, as well as hearty, solid fare that almost sticks to your ribs in a warm, nourishing way. Our agenda for the day was the following: Hummus with toasted Pita Bread, a warm Couscous Salad with Roast Pumpkin and a Harira soupContinue reading

Vegan Culinary Program, 12th Lesson, Vietnamese Vegan Food

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Today I discovered photo collages and thought ”How ingenious! These will save me so much time with uploading a gazillion photos on WordPress!” So I thought it was an excellent way to keep time spent uploading photos to a minimum whilst arranging them in running fashion for easy-to-comprehend viewing. But now realise I was utterly wrong, after spending a phenomenal length of time prettifying these, that collages are not saving me any time, therefore not actually speeding up my blog-updating rate which I’d originally hoped for! Nonetheless, I’m satisfied with the way the pictures turned out and I hope you like them too!

Our 12th lesson (3 more to go!) was Vietnamese themed. I’ve been loving Vietnamese food ever since dining at Wrap & Roll recently.  Continue reading

Vegan Stop for Chinese Food — Tian En Vegetarian Food @ Clementi Central

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I pass through Clementi Mall on my way to and from work everyday but have never really ventured past the Mall to explore the little provision shops, coffeeshops, much less get acquainted with the vibe of the place beyond the mall. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found this Chinese vegetarian coffeeshop stall tucked just a short distance away from the Mall whilst looking for an organic healthfood shop around the same area last Sunday.

Being just 1 – 2 minutes walking distance from Clementi MRT, I decided to give Tian En Vegetarian Food a go for a weeknight dinner.

When I arrived, I was greeted by the sight of a queue! Which actually put me to relief quite some as I believed this must be a testament to their standards since there weren’t many people at the other stalls.
Tian En Vegetarian Stall Clementi

It’s kind of hard to explain how to tell if a cai fan* stall does good food or not. But really, just a quick glance and you should be able to tell how interesting, how properly cooked, or how fresh the spread of dishes are at the time.

By 7+pm when I arrived, there was a good spread of leafy greens, mock meats, tofu, curried and saucy dishes as well as more simply seasoned dishes. Looks like they’re just getting ready for the dinner crowd! Good thing it wasn’t crowded either and seats were easy to find.
Tian En Vegetarian Stall ClementiI‘m a creature of habit, and always like my vegetarian/vegan beehoon + dishes. And I’m always ordering a curried veg, one simple green veg dish and one protein dish which feels like a most balanced combination to me. Tian En Vegetarian Stall Clementi

What immediately struck me was the strange gray tinge to the beehoon. Next thing I noticed was that everything on my plate was positively glistening, so gives me the impression that they are not shy in using oil to cook dishes. So here’s my review of the dishes I chose:

Beehoon — really moist and doesn’t feel dry when you have a mouthful of it unlike beehoon I’ve had from other vegen food stalls. It was also very flavorful. While that’s a plus, it also appears quite well coated with oil. If flavor is the most important to you though, I’d say definitely go for it!

Curry Veg — the curry veg here definitely tasted more rich and heavy. The gravy was also a darker brown rather than orange, and I somehow felt that it lacked that milky coconut milk taste reminiscent of curry veg/ sayur lodeh. This wasn’t necessarily a poor dish, rather a different sort. It also consisted predominantly of cabbage, long beans and beancurd (not taupok).

Okra and Long Beans — while simply seasoned veggie dishes may seem like a no-brainer on first sight, I find they do require some skill and technique to do right. Timing and high heat is key to making sure the veggies are cooked just right, do not become soggy and retain their vibrant green. Here, I find the veggies met these requirements plus they were flavored with galangal, which was a welcoming sign as it tells me the stallowners know how to rely on herbs for flavor rather than turn to MSG and other refined seasonings not so good for health!

Tempeh and Tofu — I adore tempeh! And a most common stir-fried tempeh dish is this type which is coated in a sweet and sticky sauce, quite similar to sweet and sour pork. While I thought this was pretty decent in terms of flavor, I wish I had more tempeh in proportion to tofu as I found the tempeh bits to be too small to be substantial enough. Another vegan chinese foodstall at Amoy Food Centre does a similar tempeh dish with petai beans that is really savory and is one of my favorites.

Red Chilli Paste: I find it generally very difficult to find tasty and fragrant red chilli pastes at most vegan cai fan stalls and I am still on the hunt. I will not bother with Tian En’s chilli paste in the future as this was like spooning sugar to mouth. It was too sweet with little flavor and spicyness at all.

Tian En Vegetarian Stall Clementi

Price: I paid $3 for my plate which I thought to be reasonable and quite standard in price. You do get quite a lot of beehoon in comparison to the veggies.

Besides rice/ beehoon + dishes, one can order a variety of other zi char* dishes and hot pot which are all pretty reasonably priced. Also, check out their specials-for-the-day below which include laksa, biryani, chicken rice, prawn noodles and bak kut teh, all vegan of course!
Tian En Vegetarian Stall ClementiI hope this review helped brought your attention to this humble stall and I look forward to reading any of your comments if you’ve been there before. Please share your experience with me!:)

* Psst.. If you’re wondering, cai fan literally means vegetables and rice and refers to stalls that let you choose a range of different kinds of dishes to have with your rice. Vegetarian stalls usually have the extra carb options of fried beehoon and unpolished rice. Zi char refers to made on order type dishes like fried rice or noodles among others.

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Vietnamese Vegetarian/ Vegan Options @ Wrap & Roll Star Vista

This is actually my third time at Wrap & Roll, Star Vista. A friend and I had chanced upon this place by accident and discovered they had a small handful of promising vegetarian* options on the menu. Despite the small variety, I find myself always going back to the same item every time – the Steamed Rice Crepe Rolls. That day, we decided to order the Vietnamese Jasmine Tea upon recommendation so my review is really going to be on these two items (see pictures of the other vegetarian options below). Given the handful of decent offerings, I do feel this is enough in my opinion to qualify Wrap & Roll as a somewhat vegetarian/ vegan-friendly Vietnamese joint.

*Word of Caution about Vegetarian Options:
Now I’d previously thought their ‘vegetarian’ logo on the menu meant vegan since 1. dairy generally doesn’t feature much in Vietnamese cuisine and 2. the options themselves don’t seem to contain egg, but upon making some inquiries as well as finding out myself that the idea of vegetarian in Vietnam is actually pretty vague, the VEGETARIAN options MAY NOT BE WHAT YOU THINK. I’ll describe more in detail at the end of this post which options are truly vegan and which are hazily vegetarian-ish.

Vietnamese Jasmine Tea

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Our tea came swiftly and piping hot, which is a sign that the tea is ready-made rather than freshly brewed and kept hot for fast dispensing. We weren’t particularly intrigued by its fragrance nor by its special label of being a ‘Vietnamese’ jasmine tea. We agreed that although our tea was indeed a normal and decent tasting Jasmine tea, it was really nothing special. Which begs the question: is Vietnamese Jasmine tea just average stuff? Or the Jasmine tea leaves they used average?  

At a dollar though, it is neither memorable nor particularly worth screaming daylight robbery.Order it if you need a thirst-quencher, but not so if you’re looking for an eye-brow raising experience.

Vegetarian Steamed Rice Crepe Rolls

ImageLet me begin by saying I love these Vietnamese rolls. That’s the only reason I’d order them again and again and bother patronising an eatery that’s not overall catered to the vegetarian crowd right?

While the run-of-the-mill Vietnamese raw spring rolls usually contain veggie fillings like lettuce, carrots, cucumber, and fresh coriander, these are really quite different in that they feature predominantly and generously of Vietnamese herbs such as Vietnamese perilla, very similar tasting to the Japanese perilla (aka Shiso or Beefsteak). Yes, the greens you see in there are all herbs, not leafy greens! And they’re wrapped around a filling of fried and grated radish, carrot, mushroom and tofu. A very similar mixture to Hakka soon pan, in my opinion. CAM01353

I know it’s hardly rocket science by the sounds of it but there’s something that shines about its unassuming nature. The fresh herb flavors offset the savory meaty fried filling really well creating a balance in the overall taste while the steamed rice paper wrap on the outside provides just that needed bit of easy-to-digest carbs that makes these rolls both filling and mild on the stomach.

Add to that a simple Vietnamese dipping sauce to add an extra oomph to these rolls. The sauce is sweet and salty, flavorful from soy sauce and marinated onions, and complements the rolls nicely. I never have enough of the sauce and usually ask for a top up.

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Below are the rest of the indicated vegetarian options on the menu, which include a rice bowl and a stir-fried pho option both consisting mainly of mushrooms and tofu:

The Green Mango Salad isn’t vegetarian, but was indicated as being able to be made vegetarian on the lunch menu outside, so I expect one may easily order a vegetarian version (without the dried shrimp) though I have not personally tried doing so myself. What do you mean by Vegetarian? Okay, now let’s go into making it clear which options are truly vegan. Wrap & Roll employs two categories: ‘No Meat’ Vegetarians and ‘No Meat’ Vegatarian + Vegetarian Sauce. The first category, which encompasses all the items labelled with the vegetarian sign plus all salads with prawns removed refer to options which do not have visible pieces of meat/seafood in them BUT still contain animal-derived sauces like oyster sauce and fish sauce. The second is the truly vegan category which is limited to just the Stir-fried Pho Noodles with Mushroom and Tofu (above), Vegetarian Samosas and Green Mango Salad (with vegetarian sauce). I suspect you have to tell them specifically not to use fish sauce for the latter else they might think just removing the dried shrimp will be enough. If you’re one of those that want to have garlic and onion excluded, you will be further limited to just the stir-fried pho and mango salad. Also note that out of the chilli condiments provided at the table, the red chilli paste is not vegan as it contains fish sauce, while the pickled green chillis are safe. I don’t really recommend them though as they thoroughly set your mouth on fire! Try at your own risk but consider yourself warned!

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All in all, I really like the fresh flavors of Wrap & Roll especially their use of herbs and fresh vegetables in their menu items. Though not particularly offering a wide variety of vegetarian/vegan options to choose from, it is nice to know that they do have decent standards.

Since finding out that the rice crepe roll uses fish sauce, I’d probably steer clear from it in the future and either order something else or go somewhere else to eat. I hope this post helped informed you vegetarians/ vegans out there about whats really in the food, or if you’re not, helped YOU determine if you’d like to bring your vegetarian/vegan friends there. Anyone tried out any of their vegetarian options besides the Rice Crepe Roll? Do comment and let me know how your dining experience was below!

Tenth Lesson and Last Raw Vegan (Un)Cooking Class…

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Time passes so quickly; it is already our last lesson with our second Vegan culinary class instructor V! I will definitely miss her innovative raw vegan recipes and learning vegan versions of Singaporean local favorites.  Today we made a raw vegan gluten-free pizza cracker bread base and probiotic cashew cheese which were used to make a raw pizza dish. Then we finished the lesson by making a really simple Fruit Rojak making use of a tahini base sauce.

Continue reading

A Bevy of Burgers – Greenzilla/ Tiong Bahru Bakery/ Real Food Cafe

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The last time I had a vegan burger I honestly didn’t think I’d particularly have one any time soon. I’m not a burger person precisely because I’m not a fast food kinda person. Well looks like I’m wrong, since there aren’t many vegan options to begin with outside, I’d be damn fortunate to find any decent nom at all. So happens I’ve had three burgers this week on consecutive days! I really do surprise myself.

First stop was Star Vista for a dinner date with a pal at Greenzilla. Continue reading

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