Vegan Chilli

This chilli is vegan deliciousness! Spicy and filling. It’s great as is, or with dumplings or tortillas. Or if you are so inclined, pour it over chips or french fries to make a healthy version of Frito Chilli Pie. Whatever strikes your fancy! I just eat it as is. It has a full balanced meal in it already.

Ingredients:
Vegan Chilli Veggies
  • 1 lb Eggplant (aubergine)
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 red or yellow pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 bulb of garlic (about 6 pieces)
  • Chilli powder or Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Coconut Oil
  • Half a block of firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup jasmine rice
Instruction
  • Dice all the vegetables.
  • Brown the garlic and onions in coconut on medium/high heat in a large saucepan.
  • Add the mushrooms gently browning.
  • Add chilli spice, salt and pepper to taste. I like hot spices, so I put 2 tsp in my mix. About 1/2 tsp should do if you’re not keen on extra spicy food.
  • Add the rest of the raw vegetables, gently stirring for a couple of minutes.
  • Pour about 3 cups of water into the saucepan and stir well. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low/medium. Cook for about 30-60 minutes. I usually turn mine down very low and leave it cooking for a couple of hours while I do something else. Keep it covered with an air vent to release the steam pressure. Check on it frequently, adding more water as it evaporates.
  • When all the vegetables are cooked through the mix should start looking like a chunky soup. You could indeed just eat it like this, as a chunky spicy soup. But to bulk it up and add some protein, add the tofu and rice. It should take about 10 mins for the rice to cook through, soaking up all  the flavors of the vegetables. I like to use broken rice as it cooks faster and makes the mix thicker.
  • Serve. This recipe is great to store and eat next day too. You have to add more water to the mix though. The rice continues to soak up the liquid overnight and it gets very thick and goopy.

Vegan Asian Noodle Soup

This is a fusion recipe inspired by my love of Singapore Rice Noodles, Pho, Miso and stir fried veggies. Add egg if you aren’t Vegan, and meat if you aren’t Vegetarian at all. Substitute the rice noodles for Ramen if you like too. Play with the soup stock based on your tastes. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Singapore Rice Noodles (fresh or dried)
  • 1 onion
  • Sprouting broccoli
  • Fried tofu
  • Miso stock or vegetarian soup stock
  • Soy Sauce
  • Ground Pepper
  • Water
  • Sesame Oil
  • Chili Sauce (optional)

Instructions:

Boil noodles for 1-2 minutes. They really don’t need long. So don’t walk away from them. Add Miso/vegetable stock to the water to taste.

Stir fry the chopped onion in oil, adding in broccoli and tofu. Splash with soy sauce and a little water to avoid burning without adding too much oil.

Serve noodles and stirfry in a large bowl. Add more soy sauce, pepper and chili sauce to taste.

Tips:

Buy fried tofu in an Asian fresh market. If you can’t get hold of it, you can use regular tofu from the grocery store. It has a different flavor and texture, but still makes a wonderful soup.

If you aren’t likely to use a lot of Miso stock for all your cooking needs, a way to cheaply and quickly make a batch of this soup without wasting money, is to use a cup-of-soup single serving packet instead. Here’s an Organic Miso Soup in a cup from Tesco, UK.

Broccoli Parmesan Potato Cakes

This is one of my favorite leftovers recipes. In this case, left over steamed broccoli and mash potatoes from a holiday dinner.

Ingredients:

  • Potato
  • Parmesan Cheese grated
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Broccoli
  • Eggs
  • Ghee

Instructions:

Make sure your leftover mashed potatoes are stiff. If they are too creamy, your cakes will not stay together. You can add bread crumbs, or bread to the mix to make it more stiff if necessary. You can also try other healthier filler options, like oat bran flakes also.

Mash the steamed broccoli into the mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, add Parmesan cheese to taste and bind with an egg. Add more egg if you have a large amount or if the mixture seems too dry to bind.

Form into patties. Make them quite thin so they cook through easily and more crust forms, which always makes it more tasty. Saute on medium heat with ghee, flip until brown on both sides. Serve.

Book Review – “Dying To Be Me” by Anita Moorjani

Anita Moorjani's "Dying To Be Me". Hayhouse.
Anita Moorjani’s “Dying To Be Me”. Hayhouse.

“Dying To Be Me” is Anita Moorjani’s true account of her battle with cancer, her near-death experience (NDE) and the events surrounding that event. The most compelling parts of the book being about her NDE, where she claims to have died, experienced another realm, and chosen to come back, knowing that she would fully heal within days, even though her 4 yr battle with cancer had left her physical body with Stage 4 Lymphoma that had shut down her organs, produced massive skin legions, and developed into multiple lemon sized tumors throughout her body, leaving her in a coma. Her doctors were just waiting around for her to die, her family surrounding her in her dying moments, expecting the worst.

This book is for anyone who is open to unconventional, nonreligious ideas about what lies beyond this world after we die. If you identify strongly with one religion, Anita’s words may offend or horrify you. However, I don’t discourage you from reading it if this pertains to you – even Moorjani herself doesn’t discourage the means by which you achieve happiness and experience oneness, stating that meditation or prayer can aid in reaching both. But she does step outside the boundaries of all conventional religion with both her opinions and her NDE account. She also talks about the confines of religion preventing its practitioners from finding happiness and oneness.  I for one resonated with her opinions and found her NDE recount intriguing, provoking and inspiring.

Moorjani recounts experiencing a oneness with the universe while in her NDE. She claims that it was like waking from a dream, leaving her physical body and becoming one with everyone and everything, transcending time and space. She claims that she knew about everything that pertained to her, including where around the world her family members were and what they were doing….what the doctor in another room was saying about her to her husband….all facts that were later known to be accurate.

She also talks about feeling the essence of her loved ones that had passed on around her. She could feel them and became them, understanding everything they felt all at once. She could see other lives she had lived, in another life time, though she says linear time didn’t exist as we know it in our physical bodies, so it was as if she was living other lives all at once.

The biggest take away her book reveals, is the importance and strength of love. She says that in her NDE she felt an overwhelming sense of love. A universal love that transcends everything. She says that love accepted her unconditionally. That this love is God. That God is all of us, because we are all one. The oneness and love she felt IS God. She basically claims that we are all part of the universal love. Our essence or spirit, or soul, whichever one you chose to identify with, goes back to this realm of pure unconditional love when our physical bodies are no more. I found this a consoling condition to look forward to, as someone who previously questioned the many seemingly nonsensical versions of life after death that most religions have to offer.

It’s hard to find just one quote to do her words about her NDE justice, but in her words, this is part of the experience:

“The further outward I expanded, the less unusual it felt to be in this miraculous state – in fact, I had no awareness of it being out of the ordinary. It all seemed perfectly natural to me at the time. I continued to be fully aware of every detail of every procedure that was being administered to me, while to the outside world I appeared to be in a coma.

 I continued to sense myself expanding further and further outward, drawing away from my physical surroundings. It as as though I were no longer restricted by the confines of space and time, and continued to spread myself out to occupy a greater expanse of consciousness. I felt a sense of freedom and liberation that I’d never experienced in my physical life before. I can only describe this as the combination of a sense of joy mixed with a generous sprinkling of jubilation and happiness. It stemmed from being released from my sick and dying body, a feeling of jubilant emancipation from all the pain that my illness had caused me.

 As I continued to plunge deeper into the other realm, expanding outward, becoming everyone and everything, I felt all my emotional attachments to my loved ones and my surrounding slowly fall away. What I can only describe as superb and glorious unconditional love surrounded me, wrapping me tight as I continued to let go. The term unconditional love really doesn’t do justice to the feeling, as these words have been overused to the point of having lost their intensity. But the physical battle I’d fought for so very long had finally released its strong hold on me, and I had a beautiful experience of freedom.”

(P. 65 –  2012, 1st Etd.)

Moorjani was raised Hindu, in an Indian family living in Hong Kong, surrounded by Chinese and British ex-pats. Her upbringing was a cultural and religious mash up that led to her confusion and fear of the world and everything in it. She attributes a diagnosis of Stage 2 Lymphoma on her fear of cancer among other things, having watched her best friend and a family member suffer through aggressive cancer treatment. She speaks candidly about her religious conflict in the first few chapters of the book, even telling the story of her unsuccessful brush with arranged marriage.

She blames fear for manifesting disease in all of us. She talks about how to “live your life fearlessly”, not depending on approval from anyone, including yourself. That you have nothing to actually prove to yourself at all. That the universe created you perfectly already. You are here for a purpose that will manifest itself to you without you having to pull teeth to find it. In fact, she recommends following your heart, doing only things that make you happy, forgetting worries about money and success and peer approval, and allowing your heart to tell you what you need out of this life. Beyond this life, nothing you do will make you less loved or change where you end up – no heaven and hell, no karma, or whatever you want to call it. She talks about Heaven being a state, not a place.

The book wraps up with a Q&A from some of her many live talks, trying to further express the experience and the lessons she learned in her NDE. From her perspective, she talks about her experience being like that of a blind man who has never seen, getting to finally see, then losing his sight again. Now that he has seen, he remembers what it felt like, though he can’t access that sense anymore. Throughout the book she does her best to use analogies like this to express what she deems an experience near impossible to recount in words.

What is clear though, is that the experience opened up a new found wisdom and clarity for Anita that has allowed her to enjoy her life to the fullest, appreciate it and spread the word of love and acceptance, and her message of oneness to thousands across the world – Not to mention it having been the moment she made a miraculous recovery from certain death.

I found the book an infectious and easy read. I literally didn’t put it down from cover to cover, taking a day to finish it. However, its the type of book you’ll want to pick up again, maybe highlight, maybe make notes in. I had planned to pass the book along to a friend on completion, but have since changed my mind. I will be keeping my copy close at hand, and will be buying additional copies to distribute to anyone who I think will give Anita’s words the time and energy they deserve.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an open mind… and if this woman and her incredible story interest you further, here’s a video of her talking at TED:

Update: 6/27/17

Anita Moorjani and I at Sprouts

Today I bumped in to Anita Moorjani at Sprouts grocery store in Torrance, CA. We both turned in to the same aisle coming from different directions and as she progressed towards me our eyes met. I couldn’t stop staring at her, thinking “Is that her?” So I said hello and asked if it was indeed her. She was elated to be recognised and gave me a huge hug right away. I started thanking her for her book, as for me it made a massive difference in recovering from dealing with the loss of my mother and the aftermath dealing with my grieving father. She was so friendly and personable, it felt like she was a friend I hadn’t seen in a few years. She was so happy to hear my story and how much her book had inspired and helped me. She told me I had made her day. This woman in person is everything I expected her to be; relaxed, glowing, warm, friendly, very much at peace with herself and the world around her. She got so much joy from talking to me, and I felt so appreciated for having stopped her to say thank you.

So cool.

The 4-Hour Workweek

I’ve been reading ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’, a best seller by Timothy Ferriss that I stumbled across in Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago.

It’s message is strangely in line with my recent practice, goals and aspirations. Ferriss talks about being smarter with your time, so that more of it can be spent doing what you love, what ultimately excites you and makes you tick. He talks about how most people spend 30 years working unfulfilling  jobs and busting their butts for a mediocre pay check and a modest pension that leaves them too broke to fulfill their retirement dreams. He talks about ways to avoid falling in to this trap, leaving you free to do the things you want to do in life, now, instead of later, or even never.

I’m only about a 5th of the way through the book, but it makes perfect sense. Why spend your whole life doing something you don’t want to do, just so that you can retire some day and do nothing? Why work and save your whole life, just so you’ll have loads of money? What does the money matter in the end? What matters is the journey of life and Ferriss gets that. He talks about making mini retirements to do the things you want to do in life while you’re able. About starting businesses doing what you love every day, in places that you want to be every day.

I’m taking his suggestions to heart as I push forward with my business ventures. Ultimately, being financially independent, and untethered to my business would allow me the time and energy to pursue my more lofty altruistic goals.

So far I would really recommend this book. Pretty much everyone I know could get something out of it. It’s about dreaming big, doing the impossible, having no fear and living the best life you can have every day.

Relay for Life update

Tish, our team captain for the Torrance Relay for Life says we’ve now raised a total of $950 for the American Cancer Society. So we’re just $50 away from our team goal of $1000. Not bad. There’s still a couple of months to donate through our team if anyone wants to help out. You can donate through my facebook profile page. There’s a widget on the left side if you scroll down a little. Thanks 🙂

Relay For Life

We just finished the Relay For Life this past weekend. Rick and I raised $270. It’s not much, but it’s something. It’s really hard to get people to donate for things. Our team raised about $700 ish total, I think. Though it’s still possible to donate through the Facebook widget for several months yet. So please contribute if you can! It’s not too late 🙂

We had a good time camping out on the track. They played Avatar for the kids in a big tent, had live music throughout the day and a luminary ceremony in the evening. Rick and I took the evening shift from 8.30pm through till 8am. We were pooped by the time we got done. All for a good cause though.

Relay For Life

Rick and I are participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, in Torrance on April 24th-25th. It’s a 24 hr relay to raise money for the charity. Your donation towards the cause would be much appreciated. You can click this link to go straight to my donation page and make a pledge. Even if it’s as little as $5, it will make a difference. Thank you 🙂

Healthcare Reform

I watched a couple of days worth of the House Representatives going back and forth over the Health Care Bill this past week and was pretty much disgusted by the whole thing. I wouldn’t call myself a staunch Democrat, or a Republican either. So watching these two political parties bicker about Health Care so childishly and selfishly really was disappointing. I read somewhere that it’s perfectly legal for politicians to feed the people plain outright lies. Apparently if there were a penalty for lying, it would be a breach of the right to freedom of speech. I find this very disconcerting. Essentially, it’s OK for politicians to make up whatever they want and tell you it’s the truth. From what I can tell, this is mostly done to better their own personal situation, whether that be wealth, position, polls…. it’s shameful. When someone comes along that actually wants to do something good for the people, the opposition will do whatever it takes to fight for the exact opposite of whatever it is, even if that means hurting most of the people that they represent in the process. Now I realize that it’s the job of the ‘opposition’ to ‘oppose’….but how insane is it that they can NEVER agree or compromise fairly for the sake of the people that put their trust in them. From what I can see, altruism is a word that died with George Washington, reviving itself periodically, only to be beaten back by special interests and corporate greed.

If everyone in Washington actually worked as a team, so much would get done. But instead it’s like a High School Cold War, with constant predictable wars of words, occasionally spawning prepubescent-like brawls, threats, spitting and name calling, finger pointing, passing the buck and big fat lies.

And so as our leaders conduct themselves so well, it’s only natural that some of the people have come to adopt these behaviors. I’m sad to say that every day I have to meditate on my disappointment in people, friends that I consider intelligent and accomplished, all bickering on facebook, texting and tweeting maliciously and mindlessly. I too, have circummed to the temptation to interject in these offerings, wanting my opinion to be heard amongst those speaking out about theirs. But I’m coming to realize that it’s to no end. You can’t change a person’s opinion about something by arguing with them. They just get pissed off. They don’t want to see your point of view.

The irony is that half the time, I suspect that those making the most noise don’t really even know why they’re making it. I will be working on dissipating my anger and necessity to speak out every time I hear ignorance, even if I speak for a true cause, my words are lost on deaf ears, muffled by the 8 worldly concerns, and I must work hard not to get lost amongst them too.