Braai Day: The Vegan Way

Yesterday was Heritage Day in South Africa – or these days better known as National Braai Day. While most South Africans opted for a corpse to chow, a group of us decided to celebrate tradition the compassionate way. Vegilicious and the South African Vegan Society co-hosted a stupendous vegan Braai Day Braai at Mowbray Bowls Club. Over 100 likeminded folk grabbed their tongs and gathered around for a plant-based feast!  Fry’s Family FoodsNobleway Foods Artisan Seitan, Utopia Foods, and Phat Fox Frozen Fun were generous enough to sponsor our little get-together, and sample their yummy veggie treats.

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As Don was up in Durban for his own Braai Day event, I volunteered to bring (and braai) 100 Fry’s chicken-style nuggets and around 40 chicken-style burger patties for the grill. I also made a big bowl of vegan curry noodle salad as a side. We braai’d the nuggets prior to the rest of the goodies to provide the crowd with a little nibble while they mingled. Other bite-sized snacks included a variety of seitan from Nobleway Foods (my favourite by far was the Noble Red Pepper & Black Sesame Seed flavour), coconut yoghurts and cashew cheese from Utopia Foods and mini ice cream cones from Phat Fox Frozen Fun (I confess… I had four)!

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The braai was a bring & share, so everyone who arrived popped a bowl of something veggie on our overflowing table. There were quinoa salads, potato salads, bean salads, kale salads, brownies, cakes, corn in the cob, veggie skewers, pumpkin tart, incredible doughnuts from Rumsy’s Noose, stacked chicken-style burgers, and even a braai pie that would make Suzelle proud!

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Even more exciting than the food, was the people. I bumped into a few familiar friendly faces such as Pamela (who is filming a documentary about black vegans in SA at the moment), Dylan and Jo from Vegan Review and SA Vegan Society, Kirtanya from SMILE UCT and Adien from Plant. I also had the pleasure to finally meet Francesca Rose, who’s beautiful Insta account I’ve been following for many months, and Carissa’s funny friend Charles Yip.

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The day was about so more than just braaing veggies. It had a sense of togetherness, equality, and unity. We were friends sharing fantastic food as family. It was such a privilege being a part of possibly the biggest vegan event in Cape Town and I can’t wait for our next event happening soon. Keep your eyes peeled to the Vegilicious and SAVS Facebook pages for more info on upcoming feasts near you.

Love,

Leo xx

{Review} Nooka Café

One of my favorite veggie restaurants in the Mother City has to be Nooka Café. This vegetarian & vegan coffee shop is situated in Roeland Street, Cape Town and serves a variety of hearty Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean dishes. It’s my absolute go-to place for a falafel fix since I can’t get my hands on Falafel Fundi’s fluffiness.

Nooka opened its doors in November last year, by good friends Eliav Vanunu and Or Sivan. The idea was simple – to complement the existing veg/vegan restaurants in Cape Town but bring their own twist into the mix with atmosphere, flavor, and design. Eliav told me that both him and Or believe in following a healthy, meat-free lifestyle (yay!) and so they wanted to share their views and love for Israeli cuisine in this fast-growing market. All their dishes, health drinks, and juices are freshly made/squeezed and they try to support local suppliers as far as possible. They are also part of our phenomenal Green Monday movement and promote eating plant-based foods at least one day a week.

Nooka Cafe Cape Town

As mentioned, the menu offers a combination of Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean flavors, which is the essence of Israeli cuisine. The most traditionally Israeli dishes are the Nooka Shakshuka and Sabich on a Plate – omit the egg and you have yourself a fine vegan meal. I’ve been to Nooka Café more than a couple of times and tried many of their marvelous dishes, but my old-time favorite is starting off with The Nook (a tahini, banana, dates & soy milk drink @ R33) and then ordering a few smaller items to share around the table. For two pax, I suggest ordering the following:

  • 2x Nooka Lentil Falafels (@ R30 per portion) because you’ll want more than two balls each!
  • 1x Hummus plate (@ R50 per portion) but ask for an extra pita bread.
  • 1x Nooka Home Fries (@ R30 per portion) – trust me, they are not the fries you have in mind.
  • 1x Salad of your choice… I like the Pan Salad without feta (@ R70) or, of course, the Vegan Salad (@ R65)

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Nooka Café is open from 7am to 6pm Monday – Saturday, but hope to keep their doors open for late night snacking during the silly summer season. They offer free Wi-Fi which makes it a great spot for a quick business lunch (hence the reason Galia and I were there again yesterday), but parking is just always a bit of a b*itch. The exciting news is that they are looking to expand! As soon as they secure a top spot in Sea Point, they’ll open up branch number two.

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Pop into Nooka Café and delight your taste buds the next time you find yourself in the Gardens area. You can also follow Nooka on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Vegan love,
Leo xx

Vegan Mac & Cheese Bake

Happy Election Day! With a stain on my thumb, I decided to cook up a comforting dish on this cloudy & grey Cape Town day. This vegan Mac & Cheese Bake is an ultimate favourite – so I thought I’d share it with you too. Traditional Mac & Cheese is not one of the healthiest dishes around, but this recipe is actually pretty good for your heart – and your waistline. No cream, no oil, and no cheese… but just as flavoursome as the real deal. I adapted it from the Green Monday version: I use Fry’s Thick Cut Chunky Strips instead of seitan, whole-wheat macaroni instead of elbow macaroni and fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. I’m actually not a big fan of the breadcrumbs either. I did add it today, but decided to omit it in the future. Hope you enjoy this hearty dish as much as I do!

Vegan Mac & Cheese Bake

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 1hr
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 250g whole-wheat macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (just to add to your water so the macaroni doesn’t stick)
  • 1 box Fry’s Thick Cut Chunky Strips, defrosted
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 cup firm tofu, drained
  • 1½ cups Almond Breeze, unsweetened
  • 1 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs (optional)

Directions

  1. Cut the Fry’s chunky strips in small blocks & let it marinate in the soy sauce.
  2. Boil a pot of water, add a dash of olive oil and cook the macaroni until it al dente.
  3. While your macaroni is cooking, add all the other ingredients (except the breadcrumbs) to your blender and blend until frothy. Set aside.
  4. Transfer your marinated Fry’s to a pan and cook over medium heat. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Preheat the oven to 190° C. Spray a baking dish with Cook & Spray and set aside.
  6. Drain the cooked macaroni, rinse with water, and return it to the pot.
  7. Add the Fry’s blocks and sauce mixture to the pot, and heat it up over low heat. Mix the ingredients well. (Don’t keep it on the heat for long, just heat it up slightly).
  8. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish, sprinkle with the breadcrumbs, and bake until the crumbs are nicely browned (about 25 minutes).
  9. Serve hot.

TIP: You can also use 4x Fry’s Spicy Asian Burger instead of the box of Chunky Strips and you can swap the tofu with a small can of coconut cream.

Adapted from Green Monday SA

Vegan Dining in Durban – Part 2

It feels like only yesterday when I blogged about my trip to Durban – and here I am at it again. This time around, Don & I skipped the bunny chows and opted for wholesome meals. We are both following Dr. Greger’s daily dozen program and so nutrition was our primary focus when dining together. That said, I did want to revisit a few of my favourite foodie hangouts in Durbs, and managed to add one more to the list:

Chilliplum:
This gastronomical gourmet vegan restaurant turned 1 on Friday, 8 July, and so Don, Mandy (Fry’s social media manager) and I met up with two Miss Earth finalists for celebratory snacks. Mireesha Narsai and Melissa Schreiber are both so lovely and inspirational – two humble, beautiful girls that wish to make a difference in the world. Please give them and their Mss Earth SA campaigns some support on Twitter and Instagram! Since we were on our way to a trampoline session, we just opted for a light snack – Don & I shared a portion of vegan sushi and mini soft tortillas with black bean chilli and slaw, topped with guacamole, vegan cream cheese, and fresh salsa.

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Mugg & Bean:
Have you tried Mugg & Bean’s new coconut, carrot & ginger soup? Every vegan in town has been raving about this new green addition on their menu, but I’ve been reluctant to try it. I’m honestly just not a fan of ordering soups in restaurants, my dad makes killer veggie soups and so I see them as a waste of money (funny enough, I used to feel the same about steak…sis). As the Pavillion Shopping Centre was my office this time around, I decided to give this soup a go. Man, has Mugg&Bean done well! This sweet and spicy soup has super salivating status. The sourdough slices soak up its creamy comfort with each dunk. I take back what I proclaimed about soups – this one was every penny’s worth!

Falafel Fundi:
We couldn’t resist the deep fried crunchiness of Falafel Fundi, and so after an hour of jumping around, Don and I treated ourselves to a little cheat meal. We were such fatties – we swapped the eggplant side in the Mediterranean platter for extra falafel balls AND ordered four more after finishing our platter. I’d love to know how they get their falafels fluffy on the inside. Guess we’ll just have to return for more until we solve this mouth-watering mystery.

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Earthmother:
Every time a new health cafe opens up around the corner, the world smiles a little brighter. Apparently, Earthmother isn’t that new, but when they moved to the busy Musgrave area, they became an instant it-spot. The restaurant shares their premise with a beautiful little boutique and a chiropractor. It also boasts a deli with farm-fresh veggies, super powders, and eco-friendly household products. We only popped in for a quick snack before our half-day spa session (thanks again babe) and so our 39-minute meal consisted of two smoothies and a shared falafel wrap. It was yummy, but they should do with Falafel Fundi’s balls.

Palki Restaurant:
For Green Monday, and my final night in Durban, Don and I popped into Palki for a hot date. Literally! We shared the most amazing starter I have ever had at an Indian eatery: Vegetarian Manchurian – an Indian Chinese recipe of deep fried cauliflower balls in a sweet, spicy & sticky sauce. For mains, we shared a chilli mushroom curry as well as a chickpea curry with a big bowl of basmati rice on the side.  Take a quick squiz at their menu over here.

Palki

I’ll be visiting Durban again mid-August. If you have any recommendations of where else to go, please do let me know!

Leo xx

{Demo} 10 Steps to everyday cruelty-free makeup

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  Wow, what a week it was! Not only am I down with the flippen flu but our little Staffie pup, Zeus, got hit by a car on Wednesday evening. Our neighborhood is still traumatized by my mortifying bawling in … Continue reading