Guest Interview – Charanya from ‘Yes! I am Vegan :) ‘.


** all pictures are copyright ‘Yes! I am Vegan:) ‘ and are used with permission.

As goes without saying, considering I am a blogger, I just love reading food blogs, and one of my favourite blogs is written by the vegan blogger Charanya from ‘Yes! I am Vegan:) ‘.

Chaz blogs from Sydney, and her recipes and photos just look so inviting and gorgeous. Her food is unique, and truly gourmet. Check out the divine looking Plantain koftas in a Fijian Indian Curry. This is one dish I am aching to replicate, and Husband-Gusto has been tasked to locate plantains next time he goes to London.

Chaz very kindly agreed to be interviewed for this blog, and I was extremely honoured that she took the time to chat with me.

1. Hi Charanya! I am just loving your blog. So I guess to start with – tell us a little about yourself!

Before anything else, thank you so much for the interview.

I am an IT lecturer by profession-my students call me Chaz (It’s an Aussie thing to add ‘Z’ at the end-few dear ones take it a step further and call me Chaza). I was born in India and we moved to Australia few years back. I recently got married to the love of my life and we live in Sydney. I love to read books (yep, IT books inclusive), cook and travel. So far, my favorite place is Tasmania and would love to move there for good someday. Looking forward to what life has in store

2. When and why did you first go vegan. Was it a gradual shift or an overnight change?

I have always been heavy (Birth Weight: 4.2 kilos) I got into running when I was young, but asthma put a full stop to that. I loved food. My family is vegetarian and I was brought up as vegetarian as well. Thanks to dairy, I managed to hit 98+ kilo mark when I turned 25. That was it. I decided to lose weight.

First, I went in to see my doc-she suggested to quit all food products that are white in color. ‘No Dairy, egg, white rice, white sugar, semolina’. I was so committed, I decided to go ahead. In my very first week of going vegan, I lost 7.5 kilos. I was amazed what to see what dairy had been doing to me. I stayed strong for 30 days and I had a meltdown. My now husband, then boyfriend took me out and I had paneer (Indian cottage cheese) for entree, mains and dessert. Came back home and threw up. This routine went on for 6 months. I loved my cheat day.

Then, I watched a documentary about treatment of Australian cattle in Indonesia. One search lead to another and when I looked up why people went vegan, I saw few videos about what cows had to go through for my glass of milk, my slice of cheese or a spoon of butter. The fact that a calf gets separated within hours of entering this world from its mother; I can never erase the image of that cow’s pain being separated to this date. And that was the turning point. Now, I have been vegan for over 2.5 years now.

3. What was the hardest thing about going vegan?

I have to say, it is learning to live vegan in this non-vegan world. It’s kind of a re-birth. You learn about what to eat, what could be substituted, where to find vegan products, when you go to restaurants-what do you ask them to do. It took me 3-4 months and now, I love veganizing pretty much everything

4. How did your friends and family react, and have they followed suit?

My husband has always been supportive from day 1. He has never pushed his beliefs and I don’t push veganism on people except when someone asks me ‘Why do you do this to yourself?’ My mum and dad were not as understanding and were shocked (Duh!). When I explained to them, it was for my health, mum cooked vegan meals and now, they are proud of what I am today. Also, my husband’s family-they ensure I get vegan products what so ever -to an extent that, when I refused to wear silk for my wedding, they got me ‘Ahimsa Silk’ which means ‘Silk without killing silk worms’. My husband eats vegan food pretty much every day, but once a week leans towards dairy and eggs.

5. what is your first vegan cookbook, and what recipes do you love from it?
I don’t own a cookbook. However, I have a gift my husband’s granny gave me and it was her recipes written and bound as a book. That’s what got me into cooking. I treasure her ‘Yogurt curry’ (I use Vegan Yogurt now) and ‘Minty Vegetable Rice’

6. What are your three fave recipes that you cook regularly?
1. Raw Buckwheat Porridge for Brekkie


2. Cheesy Hummus for lunch /dinner


3. Carrot and Dates Kheer for Dessert


7. When I am tired and can’t be bothered to cook, I just make avocado on toast. What is your no fuss go to recipe?
My Signature Zucchini Chickpea Fritters (takes no longer than 15 mins).


8. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I write a blog on where I post recipes that are vegan and gluten-free. After a surprise gift (Nikon D5200), I am thinking about getting my own domain and taking a step further in this Social Media era.
Thanks once again for the interview

Thank you, Chaz. I can really recommend her blog. Her pictures are fabulous and her recipes inspiring. As I said, check out the Plantain Koftas…… seriously….. how good does this dish look?!


Daily yoga


It is amazing to me that it has taken me just so long to really ‘get’ the wonders of the internet. I have a proud internet history. If anyone asks me anything, I will google it. Husband-Gusto and I keep a notebook beside the tv to write down random things that occur to us to google which we might forget later ; (The origin of the word ‘mews’. The weight of a red kite compared to a buzzard. The national dishes of Finland – I might have blogged about the last one.) I have been devouring food blogs since 2005 at least. Yet, for some years now it never really occurred to me that the magic of the interwebs would bring me – yoga. I have some (boring) chronic health problems relating to an accident two decades ago. And as I grow older (rising 41 anyone?) my body is noticeably deteriorating each day. I have tried to get to beginners yoga classes before, and the timing never works, or the location never works, or it just does not ‘work’.

So, why on earth has it taken me all this time to google ‘beginners yoga, you tube’?

At the weekend I did. And came across Tara Stiles. Her you tube channel has simple workouts that last about 9 minutes. They are ‘simple’ but not ‘easy’. Especially not for me who cannot touch my own toes. But after 4 daily sessions, I am already starting to feel better.

One day I will post a photo of an uber-bendy Gusta. That day is not today, but it will come, I know it.



”Mexican beans and rice”


I suspect this is an utter travesty of a name for people who eat genuine Mexican beans and rice! This is becoming¬† a bit of a ‘go to’ staple for us on school nights. I basically heat up some olive oil in a pan, then mix cooked boiled rice with diced onions, celery, yellow peppers and a tin of red kidney beans. Cook it until warm and the vegetables are tender. For Baby-Gusto I take a portion out, then with the remaining add chilli, a teaspoon of cumin, chopped parsley, salt and the juice of a lime. This we eat with corn on the cob, warmed tortilla wraps, broccoli and sliced avocado.

B-G loves it. He likes to pick at the rice and beans at a leisurely pace. This evening I said he could have pudding when he was finished and he said ‘I am still eating my broccoli’. I am hoping against hope this means his fussy phase is over!

All too organic

All too organic