Day 141: ‘Kreativ Blogger’

Hello darlings.

Sorry that I have abandoned you for a while.  Deadlines are fast approaching and I didn’t plan on writing any new posts until all my work has been handed in.  However, today someone passed me a Kreativ Blogger award.  That someone is Becky, from http://veghotpot.wordpress.com/ and I wanted to say thank-you.  I really enjoy reading veghotpot and it is filled with some brilliant veggie and vegan recipes that I must try, especially all the chocolate related ones.  It also has some lovely restaurant reviews (through reading these, I discovered that we must live fairly close to one another).

The Kreativ Blogger award is to encourage people with their blogs and to let them know that the blog is being read and appreciated by others.  There are rules to the award, which makes it seem similar to a chain email.  However, I would love to share some wordpress blogs with you.

So here are the rules (feel free to break them):

  • Thank the nominating blogger and provide a link to that blog.
  • Spread the love by nominating seven other bloggers, including their links here.
  • Tell your readers seven things they may not already know about you.

Seven things about myself:

1) When I was about five, I won a talent competition in Tunisia for my rendition of a rhyme about rabbits.  I don’t think this poem exists anymore, as I was unable to find you a copy.

2) I chose ‘Ursula’ as my confirmation name.  After the saint, not the sea witch from the Little Mermaid.

3) My favourite film is Pulp Fiction.  Combine this with my love of nail polish and you will find that Uma Thurman wears Chanel no.18 ‘Rouge Noir’ on her nails for the film.  (Some argue that she wears the ‘Vamp’ shade).

4) As an English literature student, I couldn’t possibly pick my favourite book.  Thomas Hardy and Sylvia Plath win my award for poetry.

5) I think that wearing ball gowns and tutus should be acceptable every day behaviour.  Yes, I want to go to the supermarket wearing Vera Wang gowns.  Elie Saab would suffice.  Ditto Valentino Haute Couture.

6) Writing on each side of a piece of paper makes me feel nervous and ill.  I will avoid doing so at all costs.

7) Frank Ocean’s voice completes my life. If you want specifics, listen to ‘Acura Integurl’.

Blogs I nominate:

1) http://bariatricbeginnings.com/  My reason for choosing this blog is that it is incredibly well written and funny.  The title summarises what the site is about.  The blogger has found blogging to be a form of therapy, as they share their journey to a healthier life. Bariatric beginnings talks about things such as weight loss and depression.

2) http://foodimentary.com/  I love this blog because it provides the history behind popular dishes such as eggs benedict. Today (18th April), he is celebrating National Animal Cracker day and there are some great images.

3) http://merrylittleworld.wordpress.com/  A simple, but relevant fashion . lifestyle blog.

4) http://hungrycupcakes.wordpress.com/ The title says it all!

5) http://morethangreens.wordpress.com/ Quote: “There’s so much more to vegetarianism than rabbit food”.

6) http://domesticdivamd.com/ Providing the world with recipes and humour.

7) http://2busybrunettes.com/ Some very original arts and crafts ideas.

For my UK readers, some of the blogs above are American.  This means that recipes can be confusing (we don’t use the ‘one cup of…’ measurements).  But, they still make a great read.

That’s it from me today.

Blog Love,

The award-winning Asparagus.

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Day 134: Self-Esteem

Good day to you.

I hope that you have had a lovely Easter and are suitably filled with chocolate eggs. Today’s post is not linked to vegetarianism, but it is related to health and well-being.

A few days ago, an advert caught my eye and I wanted to share it with you.

The Silly Asparagus can relate to the advert, having suffered from low self-esteem for as long as I can remember.  When I was younger, I used to go to dance class.  I was a chubby child, and memories of putting on a green unitard twice a week still makes me shudder.  My feet also grew a lot faster than the other girls.  I would dread ordering new dance shoes and would delay doing so, because I knew that my dance teacher would make her usual jokes.  I made it through the worst (being a teenager), but when I approach a mirror I still have to make a very conscious effort to look at myself with a positive attitude. I know that I am not alone and suspect that you could share some similar stories.

Samantha Brick has been causing quite a stir in recent weeks — I’d be very surprised if you haven’t heard of her.  The gist of the story can be found here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2125138/Samantha-Brick-Daily-Mail-writer-goes-viral-controversial-Im-beautiful-article.html?ito=feeds-newsxml.  In a matter of hours, Samantha became a laughing stock. Social media sites turned savage, tearing the woman apart for her confidence and appearance.  I too found myself staring at this woman in disbelief and laughing at her comments.  Yet, if Miranda Kerr or Rosie Huntington-Whitely had said the same thing, we would all agree with them and admire their beauty.  Maybe we all need to be a bit more like Samantha Brick?  Maybe everyone should stand up and recognise their good points.  I often want to shake sense into my friends, when they call themselves fat or ugly. Continuous self-deprecation is not a desirable trait, is often untrue and is irritating for everyone involved.

In the past, Dove have featured ‘real women’ in their adverts.  Their new campaign focuses on improving the self esteem of young girls.  Their website states that “The Dove Self-Esteem Programme was founded to ensure that the next generation grows up into happy and content adults, free from misconstrued beauty stereotypes and the burden of self-doubt.”  Dove will donate money from their products to charity.  The website also provides helpful resources for children, parents and teachers to use (http://www.dove.co.uk/dsep/support-tools/workshops.html).

There are always debates about what causes low self-esteem and issues with body image.  Because it is continually being discussed, I feel that people are becoming bored or  desensitised with the topic.  The problem is only getting worse, so brands like Dove bringing the issue back into the spotlight will hopefully help combat problems.

The only negative aspect of the campaign is that it is aimed solely at females.  Whilst things such as eating disorders are more prevalent amongst females, males also suffer.  Plastic surgery figures amongst males are continuously rising.  There are items for sale like ‘guyliner’ (eyeliner for men). Males also feel the same pressures to look good and ‘improve’ themselves.  However, the charity that Dove are supporting, Beat (http://www.b-eat.co.uk/) does help people of all ages and gender.

I hate to sound cliché, but remember that you are beautiful.

With love,

The Silly Asparagus

Day 129: Dairy Débâcle

Hello darling.

If you haven’t guessed from the title, this post is about dairy.  Last summer, whilst on a diet, my skin became quite bad.  Through a process of elimination, I realised that it was milk and certain cheese that angered my face.  After cutting out these products, my skin showed an instant improvement.

My findings were strengthened in Elle UK.  The April issue of Elle features a brilliant article about dairy products, ‘Truth About Dairy’. There are so many quotes I would love to share with you, but that will have to wait until I get my copy back — I left it at university and Elle May is now gracing the shelves.

What the article outlines are the reasons that cow’s milk is unsuitable for humans.  I am not a scientist, but the general gist is that a lot of humans do not have enough of the enzyme, lactase.  Lactase is needed to breakdown lactose (the sugar found in dairy).  Approximately 70% of people show some degree of lactose intolerance (it does not have to be severe).

Since January, my diet has not been particularly healthy.  It is time to replace my love of bagels for breakfast, with Weetabix again.  Ah, but what to pour over them asked Goldilocks?

Soya milk? Too typical.

Rice milk? Too high in carbohydrates.

Almond milk? Just right!

I very much enjoyed my first encounter with almond milk today.  It’s slightly sweeter than cow’s milk, which is great because I no longer need to cover my Weetabix in sugar (The Silly Asparagus has a very sweet tooth).

Almond milk is suitable for vegans and high in antioxidants.  Other benefits include being lower in fat and calories than semi-skimmed milk.

If you are anything like Mother Asparagus, you will start defending cow’s milk.  What about calcium? Almond matches semi-skimmed to the milligram when it comes to calcium.  Foods like sesame seeds and nuts contain more calcium than cow’s milk.  Okay, B12? Eggs contain more B12 than cow’s milk.  If you are a peschatarian, clams and mackerel are extremely high in B12.  Protein?  Pumpkin, squash, nuts and cheese are just some of the products that have higher protein levels than milk.  For Vitamin C, think peppers, broccoli, kiwi and orange.

I have not even reached the ethical questions that surround the treatment of animals in the dairy industry.  I won’t discuss ethics now.  However, I remember vegan tutor (learn more about him here: https://sillyasparagus.wordpress.com/2011/12/02/day-4-im-spartacus/) shuddering over dairy, stating that “The dairy industry is even crueller than the meat industry”.

Well, I hope that has given you some food for thought.  Time to get back to my Weetabix.

The Silly Asparagus

Day 127: TACO!

Hello darlings.

Today, I made dinner without the use of a microwave!  Things are looking up for The Silly Asparagus.  I made Quorn tacos and they were delicious.  The best part of the meal was when Papa Asparagus told me that I had cooked the chicken well.  Ha!  “IT’S QUORN”, I shouted with delight.  Victory for Asparagus everywhere.

Here is the recipe, which serves 2 (wow, I’m spoiling you this week):

You will need:                                                                                                                        1 teaspoon olive oil                                                                                                                  1 small onion, chopped                                                                                                      175g (6oz) Quorn chicken style pieces                                                                                    1 garlic clove, chopped                                                                                                      230g can of chopped tomatoes                                                                                    Sprinkle of dried chilli flakes (add more depending on how hot you fancy it)                        4 taco shells                                                                                                                          15g (1/2 oz) reduced fat grated cheddar

Serve with green salad and 2tbsp tzatziki

  • Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and Quorn pieces and cook for 5 minutes (until beginning to brown).
  • Add the garlic and cook for a minute.
  • Add the tomatoes and chilli.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes, until pulpy and fairly thick.
  • Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200 /fan 180°C.
  • Heat the taco shells for around 1 minute in the oven.
  • Spoon the Quorn mixture into the taco shells and sprinkle cheese on top.
  • Return to the oven for around 3 minutes.
  • Serve 2 tacos each, with salad and tzatziki.

This recipe was taken from a Weight Watchers magazine.  For those counting points, there are just 8 ProPoints in what you see above.  I will certainly cook this again.  For the recipe I have given you, I have lowered the amount of time the taco shells are put in the oven.  This is because mine went quite soft and split.

For dessert, I combined frozen yoghurt, meringue nests and strawberries.  Again, this is a Weight Watchers recipe and there are 2 ProPoints per serving.

I love strawberries, and I am now mature enough not to cover them in sugar.  I continuously praise Marks and Spencer, and it is easy to see why when it comes to strawberries…

Left = Standard Strawberry. Right = M&S Strawberry.

That’s all from me today.

With Love, The Silly Asparagus.

Day 126: Pat-a-cake…

Over the weekend, The Silly Asparagus finally spent longer than five minutes in the kitchen. Before you get excited, I did not cook a vegetarian banquet.  Instead, I baked around 40 cupcakes for the birthday of Uncle Asparagus.  The cupcakes turned out well.  I did not take a lot of photos of them though, as I feel they could have been decorated better.  I definitely found some cute candles though…

Cupcakes are one of the most simple things to bake, and they are definitely still having a moment.  Until I went to university, I thought it was impossible to make a bad one.  I was wrong.  During my time in halls, people would make cakes and leave lovely signs that read ‘EAT ME’.  These signs should have said: ‘DO NOT EAT’, or ‘EAT AT YOUR OWN RISK’. These darling cakes will not go wrong if you follow my recipe:

To make 12 cakes, you will need:    

115g Unsalted butter                                                                                                         115g Caster sugar (sifted)                                                                                                 115g Self-raising flour                                                                                                              2 eggs (make sure they are free-range)                                                                                  2 teaspoons Vanilla extract                                                                                            Splash of milk

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350) Gas 4.
  • Once butter has softened, beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl, until pale and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  • Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in.
  • Stir in the vanilla extract and milk.
  • Spoon the mixture into cake cases.
  • Bake in the preheated oven, for around 15minutes.
  • Allow cakes to cool before decorating them.

For the vanilla buttercream:

85g unsalted butter (at room temperature)                                                                       225g icing sugar (sifted)                                                                                                          1 tablespoon milk                                                                                                                    1 teaspoon vanilla extract                                                                                                 Food colouring of your choice                                                                                       Choice of decoration, e.g. sprinkles

  • Put the butter in a bowl and beat until creamy.
  • Gradually beat in the sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Add drops of food colouring until you have reached the desired colour.
  • Mix well.
  • Swirl the icing on top of the cupcakes, or pipe it on.
  • Decorate.

Unfortunately, this recipe is not suitable for vegans or those watching their waistlines.  If you are looking for a British touch to add to your cupcakes, I would recommend these paper cases (from Sainsbury’s).

If you prefer to buy your cakes, visit Candy Cakes (http://www.candycakes.com/).  There are four Candy Cakes outlets in London, and their flagship is in Windsor.  If you can’t get to one of their bakeries, they deliver to anywhere in London.  Their cakes are delicious and their window displays aren’t too shabby either:

As a lot of Candy Cakes have sweets on the top, make sure you check which ones are suitable for veggies!

I hope you have enjoyed today’s visual feast.

With love,

The Silly Asparagus.