Eating vegan for two months

It has been slightly over two month now that I’ve been on the plant based diet, consciously avoiding meat, dairy and eggs. Two month vegan

I dare not label myself as a vegan though, as I still own clothes with wool or duck feathers or leather in them but I’m going to continue using them till they last as throwing them away immediately will be such a waste. Nevertheless I’ll try to be more conscious of the new things that I’ll plan to get.

But so far so good – I’ve lost about 4 kg now. I probably could lose even more, but I like to eat junk food sometimes … Potato chips are vegan and living in Italy, it’s so easy for me to just grab a piece of pizza rossa or marinara 😛 Two month vegan

Apart from my weight, there are also other effects :

  • I seem to need less sleep now.

When I used to need about 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep to feel refreshed, nowadays I could go to bed at 11pm and wake up at around 4 to 5 am. Is that normal? I don’t get it.

  • Going to the toilet is really easy now

But that’s just TMI

  • Uh. Wind.

It takes time for the digestive system to get used to the high amount of fibre and produces gas as it breaks it down. While first couple of weeks was quite lively, it has gone down now, although I don’t believe that it’ll be gassy free – as long as we eat food like legumes and cruciferous vegetables.

  • I dream of eating meat

Literally. Sometimes when I sleep, there will be dreams when I’m with friends and we’re enjoying a plate of plate of fried chicken or ice cream. At first I’d be confused, like something isn’t right but at the back of my mind, I knew that this wasn’t real so I’d just enjoy it anyway.

  • The past two months hasn’t been that difficult

I’m not sure for the whole of Italy but fresh produce is easily accessible here. There are temporary markets in my neighbourhood at least 3 times a week and no matter where you live here, there will always be a vegetable seller within walking distance. So we are pretty much settled at having fresh vegetables at hand. Fresh produce at Nuovo Mercato Testaccio

Even in regular supermarkets, there is an increasing amount of vegan or vegetarian options. Heck, there is a special section in Ipercoop and Panorama and as much as possible, I try to get more vegan items from supermarkets as they tend to be cheaper compared to specialist shops. Two month vegan

  • Eating out has been ok.

There are lots of vegan restaurants compared to a few years ago and even in regular places, I’ve noticed that there are some which labels their dishes which are good for vegans or you could simply ask for dairy or eggs to be omitted for the dishes and 90% of the time, they’ll comply. Two month vegan

Understandably when going over to other people’s houses, sometimes they’d be confused at what to serve, but one nice thing to do is to bring a nice vegan dish for all of us to try and enjoy. Like roasted veggie pasta or vegetable paella. Yummy!

  • I find myself cooking more

Cart claims that he doesn’t know how to cook vegan dishes, so I find myself having to cook for the both of us. Sometimes I do have lazy days, but I don’t mind that much, as there are loads of ideas on the internet and I’ve found quite a bit of recipes that I really enjoyed. One would be this bean wrap that I had for dinner last night. It was seriously so good. I’d be more than happy to make it again. Two month vegan

Anyway, there have been some who have been asking me why I’ve started on my plant based diet and I find it a little complex on how to explain it. True, weight loss is one of them but at the same time I don’t think that it’s right to dedicate all the limited resources that we have when it can be used and redirected to other more needy channels. Two month vegan

And this in tune with my philosophy of minimalism and living simply.
I’m just one person – I probably can’t solve world hunger by myself. Nevertheless I will never impose anyone to think the way I do. Cart still consumes cheese and milk. Even I still think that it’ll be better for him not to, for health reasons. (He did tell me that he lost weight while in Singapore because he didn’t eat any cheese)

Lets see how this path brings me. I just wonder how it’ll be when I go back to Singapore. You know, with my family and all. Uhmm…

The most stylish urn

When guests come over to Rome, one of the things that I’d recommend that they get as a souvenir is a moka pot. It’s something that I think that is symbolic of Italy – since coffee is such a way of life here. And using a moka pot lets you enjoy espresso quality coffee at home.

Bialetti Moka Pot

Here’s a video I did about 6 years ago on how to use a moka pot. My command of Italian is rather awkward in this video, and I can spot out a lot of mistakes now but oh well 😛

Probably the most famous brand here is Bialetti. You can easily recognize it by the cute logo that it has in front.

Bialetti Moka Pot

The caricature of the man is actually Renato Bialetti. While he didn’t invent it, this was the man who made Moka pots famous around the world.

We have 5 moka pots ourselves in our household – 3 of them Bialetti. And when we travel, Cart would make sure that we at least have good coffee packed in the luggage.

Which was why, at first glance at this picture, I thought that it was kind of cool to see this priest with a big coffee maker in front of him. I was imagining that he’d be sharing some coffee after his sermon, maybe.

Bialetti Moka Pot

It was only later when I found out that it was actually an URN! Containing the ashes of Renato Bialetti who died about a week ago.

As dark as it is, I think that it’s a stylish way to go.


Eating vegan for a week now!

I’ve been eating a vegan based diet for about a week now. Surprised? Don’t worry, it’s nothing too radical. I’m not going to start being all self righteous and preach about environmentalism and animal cruelty. Vegan Cheese

I’ve been interested in eating vegan for its health benefits and now that I’ve eaten (almost) everything that I’ve been craving for in Singapore, it’s now a good time to start. So far it hasn’t been that hard as Cart is vegetarian so I’m quite versed in vegetarian cooking and food places.  Only this time round, I had to cut out a bit more – like eggs, milk and honey.

The first couple of days was a bit awkward, especially during breakfast – Even though I did do a meal plan for the week, I like the taste of butter on my toast and honey with my morning tea. Lunch used to be easier as I’d naturally make pasta al pomodoro with parmigiano, or cream pasta with mushrooms and peas. Fresh produce at Nuovo Mercato Testaccio

But after the second day of having pasta al arrabbiata in a row, I thought, enough is enough and Cart and I headed to a vegan store in Nuovo Mercato Testaccio where I discovered a lot of cool things there quite by accident, among which, Rainbow Chard and Purple Cauliflower.

This is Vegan Cheese : Vegan Cheese

If you were curious, these cheese are made up of plant fat such as coconut oil and starches. To compare this to real Parmigiano and Cheddar is like comparing skim milk to full fat milk. It doesn’t taste the same, but I’ve never expected it to. Nevertheless, it has been a decent enough substitute. 

(But at 7 euro for a block… I wouldn’t want to get them too often)

I made Sheperd’s Pie with the cheese and soymilk, and I’m pleasantly surprised that it still tastes yummy.

This is soy strips : Soy Strips

At 4.50 euro, I thought that it was kind of expensive for such a small bag, but I found out later that a handful is more than enough for two as it expands when you soak it. So this bag should last a while and so far, I made spezzatino con patate with it. I liked it so much that I couldn’t help but to take seconds and thirds. I’m thinking up of other ideas on what to cook with this 😀

This is Agave Syrup : Agave Syrup

I’m on the fence about this. It’s not that I hate it, but it tastes much more delicate compared to regular honey and it makes just the tiniest bit sweeter in my English breakfast tea.

Eating out hasn’t been too much of a hassle – an easy choice would be an ortolana pizza with no mozzarella or pizza ai funghi. Tonight we’re going to an Asian Restaurant, so I guess I’ll get myself some fried veggie noodles with no egg inside. I’m not such a fussy eater. Pizza Ortolana

On the other hand,  I’d like to share a story of what happened to me a couple of days ago. I was craving for some chocolate croissant, and there was a vegan cafe which was less than a kilometre from where we live. We had a good dinner there and the owners gave us some croissants to go when we left – it was the yummiest, dairy free croissant that I’ve ever had. I was looking forward to having them, so imagine my surprise when we found that the place was closed! The place was still pretty new, as far I knew. I was sad to see it go.

So Cart and I headed to another bar nearby and I was momentarily dumbfounded when I had to choose something for breakfast – they didn’t have soy milk, and I’m not fond of coffee so in the end, I simply had tea.

So … has there been any changes during this week? Did I get vegan powers?

Not really. I still feel like myself, meaning, I don’t feel like I’ve transcended.  But I do I feel hungrier. And every two hours or so, I feel the need to munch on something which I guess kind of defeats the purpose as I don’t see any weight loss so far.  Nevertheless I’m easing myself to exercise regularly – circuit training, aqua-gym and maybe jogging a couple a times a week.

(As a side-note, I’m quite indignant that Singapore City Race cancelled their event without even an update on their facebook page as I’ve trained for it. On the other hand, there was a heatwave when we were in Singapore and I didn’t feel in good form, so I guess it’s a sort of blessing?)

On the other hand, my tummy seems to be less bloated compared to before, which is something that I’m liking and my skin seems to be slightly clearer now that haven’t been consuming any dairy in my diet. Marina makes a vegan lunch

Now that I’ve been eating vegan drama free for a week, I think I’d like to try to continue for at least another week and see how it goes.

As a side-note, something that just occurred to me. There has been a number of people who’ve asked me, mainly about Cart’s eating habits. What’s wrong with eating meat? It’s permitted by God. I don’t really know how to answer it in a diplomatic manner, so I’ll normally answer, he doesn’t like the taste of it. You know, like durians, I like the taste of it, but he doesn’t but I wouldn’t want to force him to eat it.

What I find shocking is how there are people who try to feed Cart food with meat items on purpose, saying that it’s safe for him to eat. I know they mean well, but I don’t think that’s nice…

DIY Ice Cream Parlour at Fresco Gelateria

While I was on my way back home, I stumbled upon a gelateria. Fresco Gelateria Artigianale Fai Da Te Roma

Curious, I went in and it’s not like anything that I’ve seen so far. At first glance, it looks  it looks quite minimalistic with it’s white and silver apparatus. It reminds me a bit of a science lab. Fresco Gelateria Artigianale Fai Da Te Roma

I soon found out that it was a DIY type of ice cream parlour, which is something new which I haven’t come across before in Rome.

If you chose a cone, you could put anything your heart desires in your ice cream for a fixed price. And if you chose to have a cup, it’ll be charged accordingly by weight. Fresco Gelateria Artigianale Fai Da Te Roma

It’s such a cool idea. You could only imagine how excited I was being in there. Fresco Gelateria Artigianale Fai Da Te Roma

First I chose a cone and lined it white chocolate, and then stuffed it with hazelnut and vanilla ice cream and when I was done, topped it with caramel syrup.

There wasn’t that many varieties of gelato flavours, but the ones that I tasted, was flavourful. Fresco Gelateria Artigianale Fai Da Te Roma

I could of course cover it with chocolate syrup which would make a nice shell and then sprinkle it with even more toppings but I should be good – my teeth wouldn’t be too happy! Fresco Gelateria Artigianale Fai Da Te Roma

Fresco – Gelateria Artigenale Fai Da Te
Via Oderisi da Gubbio 250, Roma

La Romana Gelateria in Porto Fluviale

While not exactly a touristy place, Porto Fluviale is an interesting place to see, and take pictures at – with the numerous colourful murals decorating the area. La Romana Gelateria Porto Fluviale

Once youre done, you could stop to take an ice cream break here at Gelateria La Romana.

It appears to be a very popular place. Even though I’ve been living in Rome for a while, I’ve never thought to stop by because there is always a long queue whenever I pass by. But when my friend Alessandro recommended it, I finally gave it a try. La Romana Gelateria Porto Fluviale

Luckily it didn’t take too long for us to wait, as I admired the interior. It’s a charming place. I like the vintage and yet clean look, with it’s white wooden furnishings.

You queue up, make your choice between a cone or a cup and its size and then pay at the counter. La Romana Gelateria Porto Fluviale

While normally I prefer cups, I found out quite incidentally that if you choose a cone, you could have the choice of lining it with white or milk chocolate from the fountain. Just the smell of liquid chocolate flowing down was so deliciously tempting. La Romana Gelateria Porto Fluviale

Once you’re done, you can choose from a lot of interesting flavours like : La Romana Gelateria Porto Fluviale

And once you’re done, you could have it’s topped up with a choice of 3 types of whipped cream – classic, eggnog and cocoa. The entire combination made me so childishly happy when I finally got my gelato. La Romana Gelateria Porto Fluviale

Considering that I have sensitive teeth, the combination was probably a bit too sweet for me. Nevertheless, it was really nice being in there. I wouldn’t mind going queuing up again if I’m in the area 🙂

Gelateria La Romana
Via Ostiense, 48, Roma

The McVeggie Burger in Italy

Cart and I I don’t normally go to McDonalds. There are a lot of things that we can’t eat there. But on a fateful evening not too long ago, the pizza al taglio joint where we wanted to go to was closed, so we had no other choice but to drop by the only place which was still open where we had a pleasant surprise.

In lieu of the opening of the Expo in Milan, the Mcdonalds in Italy has created several menus inspired by various places in the world. So far they have the McAngus Bacon to represent Argentina, The McLobster to represent Canada and the McVeggie to represent India.

We tried the McVeggie Burger, which looks like this : McDonalds McVeggie Italy

The buns are probably the same soft buns used for their fillet-o-fish, the patties are made of a combination of potatoes, broccoli, peas, carrots and corn. It’s topped with rocket leaves, a slice of provola affumicata, a slice of tomato as well as a type of red pesto sauce.

I actually like the entire combination. And I find it very tasty. The rocket leaves gives it a hint of peppery taste, there is the sweetness of the tomato, the creaminess of the cheese and the tanginess of the sauce.

Watch the video advert here :

Unfortunately, despite how tasty it is, I don’t think that it’ll last for too long. Vegetarian food aren’t very popular with a lot of people in Italy. Also at 7.50 euro, it’s quite a costly meal, so I guess we’ll just enjoy it till it lasts.

Or we could just make home made chickpea burgers.

If you like this post, you might enjoy :

How to make chickpea burgers

When I was a kid, steamed chickpeas in a newspaper cone was something commonly seen. I’d always see friends carrying it around and munching on it – the simple joys of childhood. Chickpea Burger

Picture from

That was the memory that I had as I was trying out making chickpea burgers. Probably inspired by the burger that we had at Fonzie’s the other day, it very actually simple to do. Apart from all the soaking, it didn’t take much labour time. And it was so delicious that it was worth the wait.

You will need :

  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 100 g dried chickpeas
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tbs flour

Soak the chickpeas in water and if you like, add a dash of Turmeric powder for a subtle earthy taste. Leave overnight or for at least 6 hours. Chickpea Burger

Look at how much the chickpeas expanded!

Pour away the soaked water and add more than enough fresh water to cover the chickpeas. Add a teaspoon of salt and then simmer them in low fire for about an hour.

In the meanwhile, grate the carrots finely, beat the egg and then put them aside.

When the chickpeas are cooked, drain the water away, and let it cool down for a bit. At this point, the chickpeas are already tasty enough to eat on it’s own. But resist the temptation and put them in the food processor with mashed garlic, the dried spices and blend them together till it looks rough but well mixed. Chickpea Burger

Add the mix to the grated carrots and fold them in together with the beaten egg. Add enough flour to bind them all together together and then form them into patties. Leave them in the fridge till needed and then fry them in a little bit of oil for about 4 minutes each side.

When they are done, they are absolutely delicious on it’s own but they are even better as burgers – I’d normally dress them up with mayo, cheese, ketchup, mustard, sliced onion, pickles on homemade toasted buns. Chickpea Burger

It’s a taste that you’d really love – hearty, savoury, punchy taste, satisfyingly crunchy with a hint of sweetness They are SO very good and I really hope that you give them a try. They are so delicious that I bet that even meat-eaters would appreciate them.

Definitely going to make them every week 🙂 Chickpea Burger

Om nom nom nom nom nom!

Mad about fries?

I love fries. Maybe even too much. Who would have thought that something so basic could be so delicious?

I was at a pizzeria the other day which specialises on fried pizza. And they happened to be promoting ‘patatine’. Unfortunately, they were sold out when we arrived. I was a little disappointed, but that got me thinking of how great it’ll be if we had a shop in Rome selling ONLY fries since everyone loves fries.

A couple of days later, Cart and I stumbled upon this joint by chance while we were walking to San Pietro. It was such a coincidence!

Fries is a place that sells only fried potatoes. There are variations from – chips to tornado fries, but I think the highlight would definitely have to be the fries.

The potatoes were thickly cut and fried with the skin on and sold in 3 sizes – small at 3 euro, medium at 4 euro and large at 5.50 euro. We both got the medium sized one each. Which turned out to be quite a helping in the end, and we found out that that each was enough for for two to share. Luckily we didn’t have dinner prior to that, as I doubt that we would have finished our fries if we did.

We had to wait a while as they were made to order, but it was worth the wait. When they arrived, it was served in a red and white gingham cone and it was warm and comforting to hold in the cold, windy autumn evening.

I saw tall, small square tables with 4 holes in them, and only made the connection much much later that you could put your cones in them while you eat. It would be a lot more comfortable to eat that way if you had a larger sized  cone.

Fries were said to originate from Belgium and I’d love to visit there just to try the fries. But you’d have to be careful where you order as I read that in a lot of places, they fry it in beef tallow before cooking it the second time in vegetable oil. Here, the potatoes are fried in vegetable oil making it friendly for almost all practises.

There is also a board telling you if the sauces were vegan or gluten free. And there were loads of sauces to choose from – I got for myself sour cream while Cart chose ‘cacio e pepe‘.

For me, a benchmark for knowing how good a fry is, is that it should taste good without additional condiments. And it was such a delight to eat! Crispy, warm and rustic and a little bit salty. But with the combination with the sauce, it hit the spot for me. Aaahhhh…

I don’t mind going back there again!

Apparently there are more ‘patatinari’ opening in Rome – there’s another joint in Viale Marconi and another one in Ostia. Got to try them all!

Via di Porta Cavalleggeri, 19
00165 Roma

How to make pasta cacio e pepe

Pasta Cacio e Pepe is a simple Roman pasta dish which is basically condimented with Romano cheese and pepper. Pasta Cacio e Pepe

Despite it’s simplicity, I actually like this pasta but it can get cloying after several bites. Two places that I know of that serves good Pasta Cacio e Pepe is I Clementini as well as Fraschetta.

But it’s easy enough to try to make it on your own. Do take care though, and make the creamy cheese mixture first because if you put the hot pasta directly on the cheese, it’ll coagulate and look really horrible. #truestory