In between complaining about the cold and longing for summer salads, I sometimes remember that winter is one of the best times to get creative with your meals, and that ‘winter’ and ‘salads’ are not mutually exclusive. In fact, winter salads have become one of my recent go-to dishes. They take full advantage of unique seasonal produce and flavours, delivering a hearty meal that combines the health benefits of eating an abundance of fruits and veggies with the warmth we expect from winter cuisine.
Salads like this one display how healthy eating has to be neither difficult, nor boring and insubstantial even for an appetite as grand as my own (lol), provided you do your research and look beyond how salads are portrayed in popular culture. The key to making them filling usually involves adding a starchy base, such as potatoes in this recipe, and/or a protein. Tofu has to be one of my favourite protein sources for salads because not only can you cook it in such a wide variety of ways, but it also adds a chewier texture to accompany the overall ‘crunch’ of the dish. And if you aren’t a fan of tofu? No problem. Simply emit it or replace with a protein of your choice, such as black beans, lentils, tempeh… The possibilities are really quite endless.
The recipe whatismaria.com brings to you today (since when have I started talking in third person?!) is luxurious as both a main dish and a side. The subtly sweet, velvety flavour of the aubergines harmonises with the ‘crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside’ potatoes which in turn decorate your home in an aroma you will wish to retain for as long as possible (provided you don’t burn them, that is). Serve this straight away, or if meal prep is your cup of tea – store in the fridge for a quick, nourishing pacelunch.
Recently, a week or so of sub-zero temperatures and even a few snowflakes that melted before their collision with the ground gave way to milder temperatures, rendering anything that is not a steaming bowl of oatmeal or soup somewhat socially acceptable. Hence, I will be eating plenty of winter salads over the upcoming weeks. Let me know in the comments if you give this one a go, and whether you like to eat salads in winter too or prefer to keep them reserved for the summer!
Potato and Aubergine Winter Salad With Tofu
Luxurious and full of seasonal flavours, this salad is ideal as a comforting main course or a side. Serve straight away or keep refrigerated.
- 750g new potatoes, chopped into quarters
- 1 small aubergine, chopped into thin circles
- 1/2 block firm tofu (around 200g)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup purple cabbage, chopped
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- 1/2 cucumber, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- salt and pepper
- soy yoghurt, to serve
- Preheat an oven to 20 degrees C / 392 F. Boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, until soft.
- Meanwhile, chop the tofu into bite-sized pieces and toss together in a bowl with the ketchup, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 tbsp soy sauce and the lemon juice. Leave to stand aside.
- Drain the potatoes and wash with cold water. Cover a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper, and lay out the potatoes, sprinkling with the turmeric, the dried rosemary, the remaining paprika and 1 tbsp olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, until crispy on the outside.
- Cover a separate baking tray with a sheet of baking paper, and lay out the aubergine slices. Drizzle with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp olive oil, the chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat some cooking spray in a non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add the tofu and fry for around 10 minutes, stirring at frequent intervals, until firm and slightly crispy.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, the tofu, the cabbage, the spinach leaves, the cucumber, the cherry tomatoes and a pinch of sea salt if desired. Serve with the roasted aubergine slices and a few tablespoons of soy yoghurt.
Lots of love, Maria ♡
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Before you run away screaming, I am not here to regurgitate the same sentences weaved into the net of health-conscious media, waiting to catch anyone with even a slight appetite for self improvement. Countless articles promote an identical vision of what a morning looks like in the life of a successful human being: waking up at 4:00am, drinking green smoothies (sorry, but I am more of an oatmeal/toast kinda gal), meditating as the sun rises above the horizon…
If this applies to you, fantastic. But if you are someone who is more productive at night, or simply has a work schedule that renders early mornings impossible, you keep doing you. There isn’t an objectively right or wrong way to live, and if your current routine works in your favour there may be no reason to change it. However, I am here with no purpose other than to tell you my personal story, of how I turned from a night owl into an early bird (meanwhile turning negative intentions into something positive), outline the benefits I’ve derived from this change and offer some helpful tips to anyone who wishes to start waking up earlier for whatever reason.
My whole family has a propensity towards rising at what some may consider to be ungodly hours. My dad is usually up at 5 and Mum struggles to sleep in part 6:30. At one point in my life, however – I believe between the ages of 12 and 14 – I wholeheartedly embraced the night owl lifestyle as a means of emulating the habits of my peers. During the school term, I would sleep in as much as my schedule would allow, and during the holidays – threw tantrums over having to wake up earlier than 9. As foreign as it may seem to me now, going to sleep at 6 and waking up at 3 in the afternoon was a common occurrence in my life back in the day.
So, why did I drastically change my lifestyle and sleeping pattern? Well, it often makes people laugh that the main reason as to why I started forcing myself to wake up at the same ungodly hours as my parents was a newfound ‘love’ for makeup. At the start of year ten I used social media on a on a regular basis, I learned about contouring and highlighting, liquid eyeliner, clip-in hair extensions. At times, my ‘getting ready’ process would take a staggering and a desire, shared by many at that age, to be the ‘pretty girl’ sidelined my love for staying up until ridiculous hours to watch TV series. Gradually, I woke up earlier on weekends due to my unprecedented commitment to an extensive beauty routine. Continue reading “Why and How I Became a Morning Person”
I think we can all agree that December is a hectic time for many of us. On top of work and/or education, we have the added pressure of buying Christmas presents, attending Christmas parties, and if you are brave enough, sticking to a Blogmas schedule (I seriously applaud anyone who is brave enough to attempt it, you are the real MVP).
I’m in quite a fortunate position because the vast majority of my family members live in Russia and do not celebrate Christmas. I can focus on the enjoyable side of the holidays a bit more while taking it easy on my bank account. However, there have certainly been periods in my life – for example, when I was preparing for exams in May earlier this year – when I could not focus on anything other than a particular objective and ended up neglecting my exercise routine, which for me happens to be a vital form of self care.
And by ‘neglecting my exercise routine’, I do not mean I went to the gym five times a week as opposed to six. I literally did not move from my chair for a wholesome twenty days except for walking to and from the train station, which is a decision that I lived to regret: finding some spare moments each day to get in physical activity would have only boosted my productivity, without being the dreaded waste of time I feared it would become. Moreover, when I eventually returned to the gym, my strength and endurance had decreased by at least a third, and I could not perform even the most basic exercises without a pain in my joints. Continue reading “How to Work Out When You Don’t Have Time”
Hi everyone! Before I jump into this post I would like to issue an apology for my absence – these last weeks were full of studying and I literally had no time for anything else, but now that my workload has eased I will be back to posting on a regular basis. Thank you all for sticking around and I cannot wait to be involved in the blogging world once again, and I have managed to accumulate a nice list of ideas while I was away so be expecting a lot of content in the run up to Christmas!
Okay, now let’s leap into the main topic of this post: when you’re just starting out a new exercise programme, it can understandably feel like climbing Mount Everest, in particular if you’ve never been athletic before. To some people, sport can feel natural and easy, while to others it connotes hours of difficulty and pain, and this category of people may not understand how others workout for fun rather than just for the physical benefits. Whether you’ve started a fitness journey to build muscle, lose weight or prevent one of the diseases associated with living a sedentary lifestyle, those first few weeks of jumping between exercise machines may be anything other than enjoyable and as a consequence, many people quit because ‘they don’t like exercise’.
I have been going to the gym for around four years at this point, and prior to joining I have been sporty for my entire life. Despite the fact that at certain points my relationship with exercise has been less than optimal, as a whole I love movement. Going to the gym is one of my favourite parts of the day. However, even as a ‘seasoned’ gym goer, I experience dips in motivation. The time I dedicate to my workout goes by much slower than usual and every exercise just fundamentally feels harder and heavier. Sometimes, I do workouts I don’t wholeheartedly adore (e.g. spinning) because I know of the health benefits they deliver and that accomplishment I experience afterwards. In both cases, I have to implement a few tricks to make the workouts feel ‘easier’ without compromising the actual difficulty of the workout. Sounds contradictory, but hopefully you all know what I mean.
Continue reading “How To Make Exercise Feel Easier”
If you live in the south of England, you most likely are familiar with the little gem that is Brighton. I am very lucky to live within a ten minute train journey from an abundance of vegan cafes, a shopping centre and of course, the beach which remains beautiful even on gloomier days. I can’t say I was 100% content with standing bare-legged under the most unpleasant drizzle (I am the sort of person who holds back from wearing tights until it is far too cold to consider otherwise) but nothing brings peace to my heart as much as gazing at an expanse of water. And of course, blog photos are not going to take themselves!
The central purpose of this post, however, is not to dwell on the beauty of my local area. I always find it interesting to learn about the people behind my favourite blogs, and since I’ve been blogging consistently on here for slightly over a month, I believe the time has come to do your generic ’30, hopefully interesting, facts about me’. Since scheduling this I’ve been nominated for the Liebster award (thank you Joy!) which I will undertake in the upcoming weeks – so in short, buckle your seatbelts and uncover what lies beyond my ability to make pretty food in jars 😉.
1. Let’s start with the basics: my name is Maria, I am 18 years old and as established above, I live near Brighton in the south of England.
2. I am almost 100% Russian with a bit of Ukrainian and Greek mixed in (hence I tan easier than most Russian people).
3. Next year, I will hopefully be starting a history degree but for now I am embracing the opportunity that has been given to me to take a gap year, gain work experience and travel like every basic teenage girl ever.
4. I am trying excessively hard not to start each fact with ‘I’ or ‘my’ but this is thirty facts about ME which perfectly justifies a bit of self indulgence!
5. I think chewing gum should be made illegal because the noise is simply. too. much.
6. Growing up, big chain restaurants virtually didn’t exist in Russia, and healthy eating has always been a big part of my life because a non-Westernised Russian diet contains many fruits, vegetables, legumes etc which is very reflective of how I eat now (with the exception of no animal products). Continue reading “30 Hopefully Interesting Facts About Me”
Treating, or alleviating the symptoms of, mental illness is subjective. Articles on miracle cures, tips from fellow sufferers and Pinterest infographics fill the Internet and when researching self-help tips, at times I am more overwhelmed by the abundance of information than the oncoming panic attack.
Many people do not realise I suffer from anxiety, even though it has loomed over me throughout my life, whether as a side effect of another mental illness or in a generalised form. Perhaps this is an outcome of my body having developed a profound ability to mask any physical symptoms. I make that pre-rehearsed phone inquiry through my stomach doing literal summersaults. I cling onto my pen in exam halls and regurgitate two years’ worth of knowledge in forty minutes. Once, I delivered a presentation in front of a very substantial audience and came close to unconsciousness, yet when I mentioned this to my friends a few hours later, I received a few raised eyebrows in response.
‘We didn’t notice – at all,’ they said. ‘You’re a natural at public speaking.’
The shirt I had to throw away due to excessive perspiration certainly didn’t think so. Continue reading “The One Trick That Actually Helps My Anxiety”
Ever wondered what a vegan keeps in her pantry? Well, look no further than this – just joking, I’m not going down the route of cheesy blog post opening lines.
Anyway, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten ingredients you’ll always find in my cupboard. I eat a vegan diet composed mostly of wholefoods, but this is suitable for anyone who wishes to expose themselves to the joys of eating more plants and having plenty of healthy ingredients within reach.
These items are affordable and many can be cooked in bulk for the week ahead as a means of saving time, money and energy. Moreover, they act as a basis for the majority of vegan recipes out there. When it comes to cooking, I like to plan ahead and will buy ‘fancier’ extras whenever they are required (i.e., those magical superfood powders sourced from the soils of Narnia – I admit I can never hold myself back from diving head first into food trends) but always ensure my kitchen is well stocked with the basics because no one likes getting to their chickpea curry night and discovering they have no chickpeas.
Before I give myself the opportunity to ramble on for three thousand words, here are my pantry staples:
You knew this one was coming. I am in love with my beans and pulses. These contain an abundance of micronutrients such as iron and potassium, and are often the main protein source in vegan diets. As someone who is trying to build muscle, the latter is enough to make me stock my cupboards with an excessive amount of black beans.
I keep both canned and dry in my kitchen. Canned is great for convenience, but I use dry whenever I have a bit of extra time, as they require soaking and cooking, and want a ‘fresher’ taste. My favourites include:
- Black beans – these are a great option for buying fresh and soaking overnight
- Chickpeas – roast them with some agave nectar and paprika and thank me later!
- Cannellini beans
- Red kidney beans
- Lentils: red, green and black
- Dried soya mince – an incredible meat free alternative for spaghetti bolognese!
- Giant lentils
Continue reading “My Top Ten Vegan Pantry Essentials”