Vegan Foodie Review: The Fussy Vegan

Vegans love food! Trust me, I'm happily obsessed with eating and love being a vegan foodie. Especially  because of the sad reputation that vegans only eat avocado on toast or lettuce. AND where do we get our protein from. That's for another blog. Today, I'm thrilled to be doing my first vegan foodie blog of one of my fave spot in Johannesburg - The Fussy Vegan!

Kimchi burger with a side of mac and cheese 

Word on the street spread quickly about the small "grab and go" vegan restaurant. My first question about restaurants in Joburg is, are they really vegan or do they have one option and call themselves vegan friendly? Also, why are they vegan? This seems like a silly question, but people choose veganism for different reason and there are also different kinds of vegans. Some people, including me, don't like to call themselves vegan, mainly because it can be an equally unhealthy lifestyle as a meat eater, with a bit less damage to the planet, but as much damage to our bodies. When I talk vegan, I'm wanting two things. Plant based lifestyle and an overall awareness that the planet needs our attention. That's why I chose this lifestyle. I had one to many people deal with cancer, I have weight issues and I'm a total tree hugger. Those three reasons are the calling for a plant based lifestyle. Don't get me wrong, there is something that has settled my soul in not eating animals, but it wasn't the reason I chose the lifestyle.

The Fussy Vegan ticks all the ethics, lifestyle and taste tantalising boxes for me. I could hardly believe it was a tiny shop on Jan Smuts Avenue and everyone who knows it calls it the spot at the vegan Caltex garage.

For the busy vegan, The Fussy Vegan food on the run

I'm always amazed at the flow of people who walk in, grab a sandwich and go. It might seem like the norm, but it's impossible for a healthy or plant based vegan to stroll into a supermarket or convenience store and find anything healthy or nutritious to eat. It's no one's fault and yes, we do make thee life choice. That's why I'm very happy to plan my day and drive the 18 minute it takes to get to The Fussy Vegan, knowing my day will be on the run and my food needs to be the same. From the pulled mushroom to the tofu mayo and BLT, the tastes and textures of the sandwiches are amazing. Can we talk about the bread for a moment. You can taste the healthiness and you know there's nothing but goodness in it.

Although the shop is small, there are a few cosy seats inside and a lovely outside area. The sit down (or take it away) menu has the most amazing variety and my trick is to take either a friend or family member to double up and taste as many things as possible with. I'm not one to crave the taste of anything meaty, but I also didn't give it up because I couldn't stand the taste. That being said, if it's going to be a steak and cheese sandwich or a hearty burger, then it must smack of something meaty and WOW, do they get that so right. The menu includes a great mac 'n cheese, as well as outstanding burritos.

Let's talk price, because there's a misconception that the vegan lifestyle is so expensive. This is where you can divide the restaurant owners and vegan food suppliers into those who are passionate about it and those who think we will pay any price for a meal. We won't! Well, I certainly won't. This place is really well priced, with a sandwich at around R30 and a hugely delicious burger for around R75.

Being plant based, but still loving that piece of cake or breakfast croissant makes this spot heavenly. I'm also conscious of my sugar intake and really try be as clean eating as possible. Their cake and dessert options have those options and it's great. The thing about going greens and beans is the delusion that you'll never have another piece of cake again, and if you do it will taste like cardboard with a blob of coconut cream. Do yourself a favour and take a non vegan friend with you, because between the black forest cake, 'milk'tart, croissants and cupcakes you'll be happily and pleasantly surprise.

To put the cherry on the vegan cake, The Fussy Vegan is planet conscious and nature loving on every level, from the biodegradable take-away containers to the products sold and of course ... there are NO harmful straws to be seen, so they definitely don't suck!

Pop in a few times and you're a regular. The team are amazingly friendly and from the heart you can feel their passion for being vegan and serving their ever growing community.

Join their Facebook page to stay updated on the latest special and what's new in the shop: The Fussy Vegan

Pop by: Caltex Waterfall Garage, Blairgowrie, Randburg

Order in: OrderIN 

Warm Broccoli, Walnut and Quinoa Salad

I'm very excited to add a vegan and plant based recipe spin into #ProjectMe, because experimenting with food has been the one thing that has made the process lasting for me. There is a perception that vegans only eat avocado on toast or flavourless tofu, but I have had more burst of flavour and exciting meals with plant based ingredients than ever before.A dear friend spotted my warm broccoli, spinach and walnut salad and asked for the recipe, so Di ... this one's for you:

Ingredients:

1 broccoli head
1 bag of baby spinach leaves
1 bunch of long green beans
1 cup of chopped walnuts
1 cup of shaved coconut
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (seasonal)
1 avo (optional)
1 fresh lemon
Salt
Mixed or All Spice

Method:

Roast the uncooked quinoa on a baking tray on medium heat, until they go golden brown. It changes the taste of the quinoa completely. Add two cups water to one cup roasted quinoa and cook on medium heat for about 15 - 20 mins. Quinoa must be soft (not crunch) and set aside to cool.

Break the broccoli into small chunks, chop beans into three and steam for 10 to 15 minutes. The veggies must still be crunch, so don't overdo it.

In a pan on medium heat, add the walnuts & coconut shavings. Stir continuously so they go golden brown but do not burn. This also changes the taste completely.

While the veggies and quinoa are still warm, toss them into your serving bowl, with the uncooked spinach leaves. This tenderises the leaves slightly.

Mix in the nuts, coconut and pomegranate.

I am a plant based vegan, so processed oils aren't in my recipes. You can add a dash of olive oil, but fresh avocado is a much better way to get your healthy fats into your recipes.

Spicing the salad is up to you. It goes very well with All Spice or Mixed Spice, which has some cinnamon in it. I add some salt and squeeze one fresh lemon. As a side note, I have readjusted my tastebuds so I hardly use any spices in my food at all. If you want to add a dressing ... go for it and do let me know how it is

Rekindling Project Me Vegan Style

I can't believe that I haven't blogged for a year, but I also totally understand why. I want to talk change for one moment and explain how I have figure out I do it. I come from a place of uncertainty first and instead of embracing what I believe will be good for me, I fear it for a long time first. There has been a lot going on in the past year, mainly because I have decide to embrace a lot of change. In reality, I have kicked of Project Me all over again and didn't really realise it until now.

Why am I blogging again?

Because I've fallen in love with my lifestyle and the fears of not getting it right or being judged for my choices have finally, completely subsided. Project me has always been about making myself my own personal project and although it's been a constant ebb and flow of getting on and falling off the horse, the one thing that has settled is my lifestyle into plant based veganism. I will do a whole blog post on the difference between being plant based and being a vegan, because there is a big one.

I learned that the hard way, when I first had the realisation that my body really didn't like animal products anymore, which I will tell you about in a moment, but let's finish about me getting it wrong. When I went vegan, I didn't use any guidelines and was still afraid of starches and having too many calories. The jury is still out, but I got serious bouts of vertigo and tinnitus (which I still have after a year) and when I went for blood tests, my vitamin B12 and D was very low. Another blog will be about no only vegans having these deficiencies, but I went back to eating eggs and dairy for a while, before overcoming my fear of not eating correctly.

Why am I vegan?

That's an easy one. I love animals and feel so much better about not doing them any harm. I also know I'm doing my bit for the planet, which you can do loads of research. However, mine is for me. It's for my health. It's for a decision I made when I went through the chemo process with a friend of mine and when I watched my sister's best friend go through the same process. Something triggered in me and I was determined to take better care of myself. It wasn't an overnight process, because who wants to give up crispy friend bacon and a cheesy, stringy pizza. Amazingly, my body heard my desires and slowly over the months, I literally could not stomach most meat. Then, one night, when at an amazing restaurant in Joburg, I got served my piece of chicken. It was huge. Far too big. What happened to our food? That was it. I woke up the next day and I was vegan.

I have done tons of research and settled into finding the majority of my guidance from Dr Michael Greger. He has an incredible book called, How Not to Die and has an App called, The Daily Dozen. Everything I am going to share with you will be from him or sources I have learned to trust, but I am not here to show you how to be vegan. I'm not even here to promote the lifestyle. I'm simple back on my next phase of Project Me. The one where I love to share my daily experiences, which have now become about testing new recipes, finding vegan friendly restaurants ... and of course, way beyond my tummy, I am moving how, writing another book, expanding my business. I'm doing Project Me!

Follow me on the hashtags: #VeganFoodie #ProjectMe