Potato and Aubergine Winter Salad With Tofu

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.

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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.

Vegan potato salad recipe

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.

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Potato salad with roasted aubergines

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 salad with roasted aubergines

Potato and Aubergine Winter Salad With Tofu

  • Servings: 2 as a main, 4 as a side
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Luxurious and full of seasonal flavours, this salad is ideal as a comforting main course or a side. Serve straight away or keep refrigerated.

Potato salad with roasted aubergines


Credit: whatismaria.com

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 20 degrees C / 392 F. Boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, until soft.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Vegan winter salad recipe

Lots of love, Maria ♡

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Why and How I Became a Morning Person

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…

How to be a morning person

Waking up earlier

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.

Morning person tips

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.

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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”

How To Make a Perfect Oatmeal Bowl

Do you ever come across those ridiculously photogenic oatmeal bowls topped with exotic fruit sourced from the soils of Narnia on Instagram and sigh with jealousy? After all, given the popularity of oatmeal/porridge as a breakfast option, what percentage of the general population actually has the time to create a Louvre-worthy masterpiece before jumping into their daily routine?

How to make oatmeal

Well, first of all, let us quickly address the question of Instagram vs. reality (something that will doubtlessly necessitate a blog post of its own in the future). For many people, myself included, food styling is a creative outlet, and those pretty bowls are tailored entirely towards their respective Instagram feed as opposed to being a realistic representation of what their creators eat 90% of the time. Sometimes, I will make a bowl of oatmeal whenever my schedule allows (mostly in the late afternoon), photograph it for Instagram and store it in the fridge to be eaten the next morning. In other words, if I have to make porridge right before my six a.m. shift, only a very large sum of money could induce me to post the un-photogenic but nonetheless delicious outcome on social media.

Moreover, spicing up your oatmeal does not have to require enormous amounts of effort and culinary/artistic talent. You can make it as pretty or as ugly as you like, and adjust it in accordance with your individual preferences (this may be something that oatmeal and bullet journals have in common?!). After receiving positive feedback on my step-by-step Buddha bowl guide, I decided to build a guide to oatmeal on the same principle for anyone who wants to go beyond microwave oats in terms of both taste and nutritional value. As always, feel free to skip any of the steps I outline below and/or add anything else – after all, it is your life, your oatmeal, and no one can tell you what to do!

Vegan oatmeal recipe

1. Pick a milk  Continue reading “How To Make a Perfect Oatmeal Bowl”

Russian Pirozhki With Two Potato Fillings (Vegan)

Before we jump into my obligatory ramble about the recipe, I would first of all like to wish you all an outstanding 2018. May you achieve everything you wish to achieve, finally live up to your New Year’s resolutions. May all of your dreams and intentions come true. And if they don’t? Well, any experience whether successful or unsuccessful, is worth learning from. You still have your entire life ahead of you. My 2017 was a year characterised by uncertainty and interminable ups and downs: I experienced some brilliant moments, many lows and had to make a few life-changing decisions. I learnt a lot not only about myself, but also the world around me and how I fit into it. Regardless of what it may be, I cannot wait for anything 2018 shall bring forth.

Vegan Pirozhki recipe

Vegan Pirozhki

Anyway, as I am writing up this blog post I am totally dreaming of the celebratory meal we had last night. As you may or may not know, I grew up in Russia, and while Russian people do not celebrate Christmas, they have a strong New Year’s Eve tradition and much like Christmas it is a time for spending time with family, giving gifts, eating copious amounts of food (I am talking to the extent that at times, there isn’t enough room on the table for people to actually set down their plates). There is even a Russian Santa (‘Ded Moroz’), but he wears blue as opposed to red. And in general, food happens to be an enormous part of Russian culture: for example, if someone visits your home and you hadn’t prepared a three course meal for their arrival and brewed several cups worth of tea, you become the definition of impertinent. Continue reading “Russian Pirozhki With Two Potato Fillings (Vegan)”

Three Party Table Treat Ideas (Vegan)

There is something special about bringing a meaningful dish, a product of hard work and the occasional shed tear, to the Christmas table and witnessing all the important people in your life fall in love with it. Especially when that reaction is genuine – I’ve had a few food failures in the past that I nonetheless decided to present for the consumption of others and I could almost see the tears glistening in everyone’s eyes in response to my wannabe gourmet creations.

Vegan salad recipe

Cheesy vegan recipe

I, however, like to believe that I’ve become a much better cook since those dark days and like to make celebratory meals of any kind a pleasant experience. While I am writing this, Christmas is a mere two days away and I am very excited to cook for the family. Christmas, of course, is much more than just food and presents, the former is still a universal language that brings everyone together and makes you appreciate having the ability to sit around a table with your loved ones, enjoy the deliciousness, appreciate the spirit in which the festive season is conducted. Actually making the food is very special to me – my mum and I have different schedules and rarely find time to spend together in the kitchen, and when Christmas day comes around it is always exciting to see what we can make when we combine our best efforts. Continue reading “Three Party Table Treat Ideas (Vegan)”

Easy Pea and Avocado Pesto

I know I have been astoundingly bad at creating seasonal recipes and content in general, but I promise I will try my best to post something that is more in synch with the festive mood going around the Internet over the next couple of weeks. However, in my humble opinion this could count as a Christmas recipe? I mean, not only does its colour resemble a Christmas tree, but pasta could potentially make a delicious, even if somewhat unorthodox side dish for your holiday table.

During the winter months, I adore eating pasta whenever the chance arises. It’s very easy to make, super comforting and versatile. Definitely perfect for someone like myself, who struggles with dark evenings and cold weather (I know, I am probably the least stereotypical Russian you will ever meet). However, that is not to say that this pesto does not have a variety of other uses. It can be eaten on toast with some fresh tomatoes and dried herbs, stirred into salads, used as a dip for fries. I like to store a batch in the fridge for a couple of days and bring it out whenever I feel like adding a nice finishing touch to any of my meals.

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Vegan pesto recipe

Continue reading “Easy Pea and Avocado Pesto”

Five Reasons to Take a Break From The Internet

While you’ll see me roll my eyes and sigh like a conservative old man at certain aspects of millennial culture, the internet is not one of them. I will proudly tell anyone that I love the internet. And not just because it’s full of memes and reassures you that at any point, you are not alone in your existential crises. The internet has created millions of opportunities for everyone since its conception – to start a business, meet other people, have a creative space to share their skills and talents.

For example, take blogging. I think it’s super cool how we can share our opinions and start conversations, all while allowing other people to capitalise on our knowledge through tutorials, recipes, guides. Moreover, connecting with likeminded individuals across the world would be much slower if communication was still done via messenger on horseback: the world is faster and more immediate on the internet. While this isn’t for everyone, I love it in moderation and thrive in an environment where everything is evolving and constantly moving forward. Moreover, as much as people like to separate the internet from the ‘real world’, they are becoming increasingly interconnected and influence each other on a daily basis, often for better rather than for worse (I mean, I highly doubt delicious vegan cafes would be popping up all over the place had it not been for the world wide web allowing the vegan message to spread like wildfire, if you excuse the unoriginal simile).

Taking a break from social media

That being said, the online world has its drawbacks and from time to time, a break can benefit virtually all of us. Of course, there are people out these who depend on it to make a living, and whether you agree with such a career path or not, time off equates to less income. But in many cases, these people have found their thing and provided that they’re doing what they love, taking extensive breaks isn’t necessary except for in extenuating circumstances.

A couple of months ago, a girl I know said to me that when she goes on her annual holiday to France, she has no internet access for 2-3 weeks and simply hearing those words made my heart skip a beat because I couldn’t remember the last time I stayed offline for more than a couple of hours. For the reasons mentioned above, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. The internet is amazing, and I don’t agree with people who blindly hate it just because it is unlike ‘the good old days’. However, there must be a balance with everything in life and spending too much time online can have negative consequences, right down to an addiction. We also cannot deny that among all of the self-help resources and innovative ways to find solace in times of hardship, there are unreasonable pressures on here which can make us feel overwhelmed and impact our mental health.

Why we should unplug

Internet detox

Taking an internet break doesn’t have to mean switching off for months and retreating into a cave or living in a forest (ironic because I am in a forest of sorts in these photographs, but that is entirely coincidental). In most cases, a weekend or a set amount of hours each day is all I need. So, for what reasons may such a break be beneficial? Continue reading “Five Reasons to Take a Break From The Internet”