Wednesday, August 12, 2009

vegan DHA and Veganpet

The weird places you find stuff.

For the past few months, I have become interested in a dietary supplement called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which is a type of Omega 3 fatty acid. Vegetarians / vegans get told all the time to take flaxseed oil for Omega 3, but flaxseed oil is high in a different type of Omega 3, alpha-linolenic acid, which can convert to DHA in the body, but not especially efficiently.

Fish oil is high in DHA, although as a non-animal eater, this is not much use to me - so I recently went on a hunt for a vegan DHA supplement available in Australia. For a while it became a bit of an obsession for me.

There are many available in the US, but the only vegan DHA supplement that I could find in health food shops or Australian websites is Udo's DHA oil. The problem with Udo's is that it is algae-derived DHA oil added to other types of oil, so the recommended dose is a tablespoon for 100mg of DHA. Apart from being a lot of fat (albeit good fat) it also means a 250ml bottle doesn't last long. Supplements available overseas provide at least twice as much DHA in a single capsule or drop. (I considered shipping supplements over from the US, but the shipping costs and potential Customs hassles put me off.)

Anyway, my husband was purchasing our dog food online ( and it turns out, our dog food supplier imports vegan DHA supplements for humans! I scour the net for an Australian source of vegan DHA, and I accidently come across the answer months later when buying dog food!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No, I'm actually wearing a basketball up my shirt, but thanks for asking.

Dear Agony Aunt,

I sometimes get the urge to ask strangers and very vague acquaintances if they are pregnant. Is this okay?

Yours truly,

Hapless Dreg.

AA: No.

HD: What if they really look pregnant?

AA: No.

HD: What if I like babies?

AA: No.

What if I am / have ever been pregnant, and want to compare notes?

AA: Not even then.

HD: What if I’m really, really curious and just can’t contain myself?



I seem to be a magnet for these kinds of people, so here is the etiquette of such situations: DON’T. Restrain yourself. If this person plays any role in your life, and is indeed pregnant, you will find out in due course.

If you hardly know them, then it is none of your freaking business.

Here are some reasons why it is a BAD, BAD IDEA to directly or indirectly ask someone about their ‘pregnancy’:

· Unless your eyes have ultrasound beams, it stands to reason that THEY MAY NOT ACTUALLY BE PREGNANT, in which case you have essentially just said, “Excuse, me, but I can’t help but notice that you are weirdly out of proportion, or possibly just fat. Tell me, while I stare at your stomach, why is that so?”

The above reason neatly sums up my own personal situation, but just for kicks, here are some others I can think of.

They are pregnant, but:

  • It was unplanned and they haven’t decided how to proceed, or are still coming to terms with it.

  • They have a history of miscarriages / complicated pregnancies, and don’t want to announce the news until the pregnancy is more advanced.

  • They haven’t told important people in their life yet.

  • They are in a position where they might be discriminated against or thought differently of because of pregnancy – maybe they have a lousy boss, or maybe their culture disapproves of unwed mothers and sex before marriage.

  • They don’t want to discuss their private life with you.

Alternatively, they are not pregnant, but:

  • They want to be, and being asked if they are (when they are not) is really awkward.
  • They have a medical condition that they don't want to discuss.

  • They intend to remain child-free, and resent being asked, as if it is inevitable that all women want babies or something.

  • Maybe they feel self conscious about their body shape, in which case being compared to a pregnant person really doesn't help things.

In any case, it is a really, really bad idea to ask. I am amazed that so many people feel it is okay to ask this question – always women, always people who don’t actually know me very well or play any important role in my life. To them, I say: Go and live in a cave until you acquire some social skills.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

...while making Mexican food

Every time I hear a four-syllable word or phrase with the emphasis on the first and third syllables, I get an irresistible urge to sing it to the tune of the Hallelujah chorus.

"Gua---camole. Gua----camole, GuacaMOLee, GuacaMOLee, gua--AH-CAAH-moLEE."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Vegan Zebra Cake (Jaffa)

I saw a link to this amazing-looking cake on

(image from I thought I'd give it a go. Looks impressive, but the technique for achieving the stripes is miraculously easy. However, I thought I'd have a shot at veganising it rather than using the recipe provided, so that my egg-and-dairy-eschewing Beloved could enjoy my handiwork.

The original recipe uses chocolate and vanilla stripes, but I thought I'd use up an orange and make it into a jaffa cake. I adapted the recipe from another chocolate cake I use all the time - it's the easiest cake on earth, made from ingredients I always have on hand, plus it's juicy and fluffy.

Vegan Zebra Jaffa Cake recipe:

Batter 1:

1 cup S.R. flour
2 tbsp cocoa
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
3 tsp white vinegar
4 tbsp oil
Pinch salt

Batter 2:

1 1/4 cup S.R. flour
2/3 cup sugar
Juice of 1 orange, plus water to make 2/3 cup
Grated rind of 1 orange
1 tsp white vinegar
4 tbsp oil
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 180C / 350F.

Make up the two batters - just put everything in and stir.

Now for the fun part. Into a greased circular pan, spoon a couple of tablespoons of batter 1. Into the middle of this puddle, spoon a couple of tablespoons of batter 2. Continue this process until all the batter is gone. By some miraculous process, the two colours won't combine, but will push each other up vertically into stripes.

For a photo tutorial, try here.

Bake, checking after 40 minutes with a skewer, and removing when solid.

Here is how mine turned out:

I iced mine with a ganache based on one in the awesome book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

1/8 cup soy milk
50 grams good-quality vegan chocolate (I like Lindt 70%)
Dessert spoon of syrup - maple or rice syrup work well

Heat up soy milk in microwave. Break up chocolate into little bits. Add chocolate to hot milk and stir stir stir until it melts and becomes smooth and glossy. Stir in syrup. Use.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Gap

I can't remember if there was ever a time when my thighs didn't brush past each other when I walked. I'm assuming so, because I remember a couple of summers ago when I realised that wearing bike shorts under skirts made them a lot more comfortable, so presumably before that it wasn't an issue.

I've become fascinated with The Gap. I covertly watch people walking down the street in front of me, to see if their legs touch or swing freely. Until that recent summer, it never really occurred to me that some people have freely swishing legs and some don't. Now I look for it all the time. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Australian music in the 90s

Last night, my Beloved's iPod shuffle function dredged up a song I used to love about ten years ago, but had since wiped from my mind entirely - Greater Expectations by Sandpit. Such a great song, wistful yet upbeat. I immediately went into a nostalgic reverie, jumping up and down and squealing.

It made me remember just how awesome and exciting Australian music was in the 1990s, and how much of my time I used to spend in the cosy, cave-live interior of the Au Go Go shop - Snout, Sandpit, You Am I, Jebediah, Tomorrow People, Tumbleweed, Bodyjar, Regurgitator, Drop City, Dreamkillers, Spiderbait, Powderfinger, Pollyanna, Screamfeeder, Augie March, Something For Kate, Non Intentional Lifeform, Effigy, Even, Grinspoon, The Mavises, Ammonia,  Not From There, Front End Loader, The Fauves, Voodoo Lovecats, Magic Dirt.... it was such a time.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

So very sad

This Sweet Juniper post is so sad, I could just about cry. I can just imagine the organiser afterwards, tears welling up as they pack up the paper plates. *Sniff*