Tempeh in a Tomato Red wine Sauce with Spaghetti

I have had the worse flu this past week. I haven’t been this sick in over a year. I never take medication for the flu or get the flu shot and and normally I’m only sick for a couple of days. This time however it has been  a lot harder for my body to spring back from. Perhaps because I’m pregnant. But slowly I’m getting better and less reliant on my tissue box.

So I haven’t been that inspired in the kitchen this past week. Today I was feeling a little better so I tried to create a delicious tempeh dish that Marco would actually eat. Marco hates tempeh with a passion. So I haven’t cook it in a while. Luckily I took a gamble today and he actually enjoyed lunch.

Tempeh Piccata from Chloe's Kitchen (Chloe Coscarelli)

I was inspired by Chef Chloe’s Tempeh Piccata that I made a while ago. I absolutely loved that dish. But haven’t made it again after the reaction I got from Marco and his mother. I assured them they would like it but they really didn’t. They aren’t big fans of capers or acidic flavors which I think made it a lot worse. I wanted to try making something similar but with a tomato based sauce with lots of flavor so that no one knew they were eating tempeh. Marco’s dad certainly didn’t know what he was eating. He asked what meat is this and then asked that I leave him some for dinner. So it was a tempeh success!

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Tempeh in Tomato Red wine Sauce with Spaghetti (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

300g tempeh, sliced into thin triangular pieces (I used Nutrisoy Organic Tasty Tempeh)

1 small red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup red wine

2 tomatoes, diced

sea salt and black pepper to taste

250ml good quality tomato pasta sauce (I used Aldi’s Just Organic Basil and Garlic Pasta Sauce)

250ml filtered water

4 serves of spaghetti to serve

Method:

1. Take a large heavy based pan and heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium. In batches brown the tempeh on each side. Remove from the pan and leave to the side.

2. Add some more olive oil and then add red onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes and once it starts to brown add the sun-dried tomatoes and saute for a couple more minutes.

3. Add 1/4 cup of red wine to the pan. Once it has been absorbed, return the tempeh to the pan, add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and another 1/4 cup of red wine.

4. Once most of the wine has been absorbed add tomato pasta sauce and water. Allow it to come to a lite boil, then leave on a simmer for at least 10 minutes or until the pasta is ready. If it starts to dry out add some pasta water to the sauce.

5. Cook the pasta according to packet directions and serve with the sauce.

* Serves 4

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Adzuki Bean and Pumpkin Stew

One of the first macrobiotic dishes I ever tried was Adzuki beans with Squash. I remember the first time I made this dish my family and our international students really didn’t like the look of this dish. They thought I was a bit crazy to put these ingredients together and refused to try it. I guess back then I thought it was a bit weird too, but we have all come along way since then. This time I decided to spice this dish up a bit with some additional ground spices and more veggies. It is a very hearty nourishing dish, which pairs well with steamed brown rice.

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Adzuki Bean and Pumpkin Stew (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

filtered water

1 cup dry adzuki beans

1″ x 1″  dry kombu

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small brown onion, sliced thin

1 garlic, diced

1 medium carrot, sliced thin in half moons

1 leek, white parts only, sliced thin in half moons

1 celery, sliced thin

1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon himalayan sea salt

4 cups pumpkin, remove skin (optional) and chopped into large chunks (I used kent, but you can use kabocha or butternut pumpkin if you prefer)

1 tablespoon tamari or shoyu

Method:

1. Soak the adzuki beans overnight with filtered water and kombu.

2. Drain the beans and place the adzuki beans and kombu in a pot with some fresh filtered water. Bring to the boil, then cover on a low heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until the beans are cooked. Then strain and leave to the side.

3. Heat olive oil in pot or large pan. Then add onion and garlic. Cook on a medium to low heat for 4-5 minutes until they have browned.

4. Add the carrot, leek and celery and cook for a further few minutes, until they begin to soften.

5. Add the ground cumin, ground sweet paprika, ground ginger, ground cinnamon and himalayan sea salt. Stir through the vegetables and cook for another minute or until the spices are fragrant.

6. Add pumpkin and a cup of water. Bring to the boil, then leave on a simmer for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is cooked.

7. Add the aduki beans and tamari. Cook for a further 5 minutes and then serve.

*Serves 4

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Sweet potato, Red Lentil and Piquillo Pepper Soup

Soup again tonight! After 43 degrees over the weekend, it has really cooled down here, especially in the evening. So I thought I’d get my soup fix in before summer really arrives. This soup is thick, creamy and has a smoky spicy kick. Exactly what I needed to keep me and bub nice and warm.

DSC03024Sweet potato, Red Lentil and Piquillo Pepper Soup (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

3 medium sweet potato, cut in to cubes (about 6 cups)

olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup red lentils

5 cups vegetable stock (1/2 cup water)

8 roasted piquillo peppers, plus more to garnish (or 4 roasted capsicums)

1  teaspoon liquid smoke

cayenne pepper to taste

sea salt to taste

natural coconut yoghurt (or savoury soy yoghurt) to garnish

black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

2. Place sweet potato on a tray, drizzle with some olive oil and roast for 30-40 minutes or until cooked.

3. In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and then add the onion and garlic. Saute for 4 minutes or until translucent.

4. Add the cumin, ginger, cinnamon to the pot. Sauté for 1 minute or until the the spices are fragrant.

5. Add the red lentils and 1 cup of vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and then put on a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until the lentils are cooked. Add 1/2 cup water if too dry.

6. Place the roasted sweet potato, red lentils, piquillo peppers and 1 cup of vegetable stock in a Vitamix or blender and blend till smooth. You may need to do in 2 batches. Alternatively you can place all the ingredients in the pot and use a bar mix to blend.

7. Return the ingredients from the Vitamix to the pot. Add 3 cups of vegetable stock, liquid smoke, cayenne pepper and sea salt and stir through. Bring to the pot to the boil, then place on a simmer, season with more sea salt if you need before serving.

8. Serve the soup topped with natural coconut yoghurt, ribbons of piquillo peppers, black pepper and drizzle some olive oil.

*Serves 4-6

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Second trimester so far (Week 20)

I’ve finally made it to my pregnancy half way mark! It’s week 20 already and I can’t believe how quick time has gone. Ever since I hit week 13 I immediately felt so much better. No more nausea, food aversion drastically improved, no more constipation or breast soreness and I was way less tired. I was feeling almost too good that I didn’t know if I was still pregnant. I barely had put on much weight either. By week 16 I finally had my first appointment the birth centre, where Marco and I got to hear the baby’s heart beat for the first time. I couldn’t believe how fast it was in comparison to mine. I had only put on an extra 2.5 kg by that stage and was getting a bit concerned that my appetite hadn’t improved. However my tummy has continued to grow and by week 18 everything changed. I suddenly started to needed to snack between meals and felt the baby kicked me for the first time. I wasn’t sure at first that it was the baby but over the past couple of weeks I find that my baby has become more active in the evenings and early morning. My little one had decided that stretching out diagonally is the most comfortable position, since my stomach usually sticking out to the right. Since the baby has started kicking so much I have become an eating machine. I am constantly hungry, that my stomach growls if I don’t give into my hunger straight away. Below you can see the growth of my tummy. I was really confused why I my tummy looked so big in the photos and not in real life. Marco assured me that yes the camera wasn’t lying and then I realised a few weeks ago that I have a skinny mirror in my bathroom.

16 weeks 5 days

18 Weeks

18 Weeks

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20 weeks 2 days

20 weeks 2 days

20 weeks 2 days

Today we went for our long awaited 20 week morphology scan.  Since I opted to not get down syndrome screening, I haven’t seen the baby since it was only a little sesame seed at 7 weeks. In fact I haven’t even seen the doctor or had thorough appointment with the birth centre. So you can imagine how excited I have been for this appointment. I had trusted my body that I would produce a healthy baby and all would be well. But I found myself feeling increasingly nervous during the ultrasound that something might be wrong.  So I am delighted to say that according to the sonographer the baby appeared to be completely healthy. We also asked to find out the sex of the baby. Until now we have just been calling it Peanut, so I am happy to start referring to it as a her. That’s right I am having a girl! Well of course its not 100 percent until I see her again when she is born. But I am very happy that I should be having a little girl in 4 more months. To be honest I really did want a girl from the beginning but when I started to feel the kicking I wasn’t too fussed. Marco just wanted a healthy baby from the beginning and didn’t understand why I had such a strong preference. I guess I just really wanted a mini me.

Its a Girl

Over the past two weeks I have been trying to track everything that I eat. In the past when I was trying to loose weight or make health changes I tried to writing down everything I ate. It really did help me keep on track and to see where I was going wrong. I really wanted to make sure that I was giving the baby as much variety, as well as different flavour threads to enjoy. In the first week I managed to eat 58 different foods and 5 flavour threads (Italian, Indian, Mexican, Thai, Turkish). Last week I managed to up that to 75 different foods with 3 flavour threads (Italian, Japanese, Mexican). I am really happy with this improvement with my diet and hoping the baby is enjoying all the different flavours through her amniotic fluid. I have also been adding juices and smoothies back into my routine. I haven’t been able to get fresh organic apples for a few weeks now so I decided to make a juice with the abundance of oranges that I order every week. My favourite juice at the moment is Orange, Carrot and Ginger. Marco is also a really big fan, even though he’s not a big juice fanatic. It went down really well after the crazy heat wave we had yesturday in Brisbane. Can you believe it was 43 degrees celsius! Only 2 days before I was wearing cardigans and sleeping with a douna… DSC02989 Orange, Carrot and Ginger Juice

Ingredients:

2 oranges, skin removed and sliced in quarter

2 carrots, washed and sliced

1 knob of ginger, washed

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients in a cold press juice and enjoy!

*Serves 1

Another fanatic recipe that got me through first trimester nausea was Ginger Lemon Tea. My naturopath actually told me about it and it was really easy to make. It also lasts for ages as the lemon preserves that ginger.

http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/delicious-drinks-support-your-immunity/rise-and-shine Morning Sickness Ginger Lemon Tea

Ingredients:

1 knob of ginger

1/2 lemon, skin removed and sliced in half

filtered water

agave, honey or other natural sweetner to taste (optional)

Method:

1. Place the ginger and lemon in a cold press juicer. This should make about 100ml, so store the rest in an airtight container.

2. Add 1-2 teaspoons of the ginger lemon juice to a cup with some boiled water. Add sweetener if you like and enjoy.

Cream of Broccoli and Potato Soup

One of my favourite soups in recent times is broccoli soup. I usually add at least one potato for creaminess and then let the Vitamix do most the work. This is not one of Marco’s favourites. I usually threaten him with my broccoli soup when I don’t feel like cooking so that he will go pick up some Thai. However he really liked this recipe. He was a bit apprehensive at first but thoroughly enjoyed it. The cashews give an extra creaminess that was missing without the cream. I promise  your family won’t know this recipe is dairy free when you use cashew cream.

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Cream of Broccoli and Potato Soup (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cashews, pre-soak for an hour if you can

1/4 filtered water (plus 2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 medium dutch cream potatoes, chopped in cubes

1 medium broccoli head, roughly chopped (include the stem and leaves)

3 cups vegetable stock

sea salt and black pepper

hemp seeds and nutritional yeast to serve

Method:

1. If you haven’t already pre-soaked the cashews, then place them in a small pot of water and boil for 10 minutes to soften.

2. Place cashews in a high speed blender with 1/4 cup of water. Add more water if the consistency is too thick. Scrap out of the blender and leave to the side. No need to clean the blender.

3. Place the potatoes in the steam and steam for 15 minutes.

4. Place the broccoli in with the potatoes and steam for an additional 5 minutes or until cooked.

5. In the meantime heat a large pot with olive oil, then add the onions and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

6. Place onions, garlic, potatoes, broccoli and 2 cups of vegetable stock in the high speed blender. Blend until smooth.

7. Add the blended ingredients back to the pot and place on a medium heat.

8. Add the cashew cream (leave some for garnish later) and 1 cup of vegetable stock to the pot and heat through.

9. Season with sea salt and black pepper.

10. Serve with a teaspoon of cashew cream, hemp seeds and nutritional yeast.

*Serves 3 large serves or 4 medium

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First Trimester

Although I’m already 19 weeks pregnant I thought I would share some of my experiences from my first trimester. Looking back now it feels so good to be past this period of my pregnancy. I really had no idea what I was in for, but it was still worth it, even if it didn’t feel so much at the time.

Just before I found out I was pregnant I was going through a major transition in my life. After my father’s death I decided I needed a fresh start. I applied for post graduate studies and finally worked up the courage to quit my job. I had also convinced my darling Marco that yes I was going to get an amazing new job to help pay our home loan  and renovating costs for our new dream kitchen. I still wanted to have a baby, but I thought I could get a jump start on making these changes and then I would be ready. At the time I had also been told by my doctor, psychologist and naturopath that I should wait a little longer till I tried to get pregnant. They were worried that it wasn’t a good time for me and were all convinced that I wouldn’t be able to fall pregnant anyway due to the stress I had been under the past few months. So I took their advice… Well by the time I did there was already a little person growing inside me.

Three days after quitting my job, Marco suggested that I take a pregnancy test (5th August). I didn’t think I could be pregnant, but he thought something strange was going on with me. I started smelling foods in the house that weren’t there. Fairy floss, fish and chips, spaghetti bolognese. I didn’t realise at the time but these phantom smells were my childhood favourites foods.  Something else that also convinced Marco that I could be pregnant was my increasingly large breasts. I didn’t think much off it. Yes my period was late and my breasts were enlarged, but I had a really irregular cycle that I had only just started tracking for my doctor in recent months. Was it always this irregular? I’m not really sure but we just assumed it was due to stress. I usually tracked my period by the increased size of my breasts a couple of days before it was due. The only really strange thing was that my nipples were so sore that I felt like had been breast feeding. This was not a sensation that I had ever  felt before. Anyway so after breakfast and delicious coffee we took a trip to the chemist and bought a test.

In preparation for the pregnancy tests I had to drink a lot of water. I usually have a pretty weak bladder, but for some reason after 2 litres of water nothing was happening. It was like my bladder was too scared to tell me the answer. After an hour of waiting it finally happened. After taking so many pregnancy tests in the months before the last thing I expected was to see two purple lines. I flew down the stairs and told Marco the good news. To my surprise he was really, really happy. He just couldn’t stop smiling and neither could I. So after we calmed down a little from all the excitement I booked myself a doctors appointment and messaged my naturopath.

Pregnancy Test 2 (2)

About a week later we got the confirmation that we really were pregnant. The doctor assumed we were six weeks, but I needed an ultrasound to confirm the age of the fetus. So next we were off to the radiologist and got to see our little baby for the first time. We couldn’t believe how tiny it was, only about as big as a sesame seed. At the date of the scan our little baby was 7 weeks and 3 days.

Baby 7 weeks and 3 days (2)As soon as I found out I was pregnant I made a few changes straight away. I stopped taking my happy herbal tonic and gave up coffee. I also began monitoring what I was eating, so that I made sure I was getting a good combination of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Within the week I began taking a new lot of special supplements for the baby’s nutrition.

First trimester symptoms started pretty much as soon I as found out I was 6 weeks pregnant. On top of terrible coffee withdrawal migraines, I began having all day morning sickness. This led to severe food aversion. The only thing I could really eat was bread and avocado. The thought of anything else made me want to throw up. The smell of coffee or the thought of a healthy green juice also turned my stomach. I also couldn’t cook. Just chopping a vegetable made me sick. Unfortunately being the only person in this house that can cook I was forced to suck it up and made lunches and dinner for Marco and his father. Other first trimester symptoms included falling asleep by midday,  feeling dizzy when I got up from sitting down, getting fatigued from walking up the stairs, headaches, waking up 5 times per night, going to the toilet every 20 minutes, terrible constipation and a strange rash on my back.  Feeling so terrible really took the excitement out of being pregnant. I didn’t realise that the first trimester comes at you so hard and fast. On the upside my skin looked amazing. I stopped wearing make up all together.

By week 11 I started to feel a little bit better. I had began eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and I could last until about 2pm before going for a nap. Most of my extended family found out I was pregnant by this stage as well. My mother was so excited that it just kept ‘slipping out’. I busting to tell people as well but I was scared of an early miscarriage so I tried to hold my tongue.

On week 12 I took a trip down to Melbourne for a couple of family birthdays. It was there that I finally cracks and ate animal products. I had previously spoken to my naturopath about my limited diet and she suggested that I include a few clean animal products in my diet so that my baby would get some protein. I was completely off beans and grains so I was scared off the effect my diet had on my baby. My family also didn’t know what to make for  me and I could tell they found my diet a little bit annoying. I bought some hummus and tofu, which I was eating at just about every meal with some bread and avocado. Anyway it was the slow cooked lamb shanks and cannoli that made me give me. I had been craving meat like crazy for weeks, probably due to the lack of iron in my diet. So as bad as I felt I also felt a lot better. I didn’t give in to the home-made chicken schnitzel though, which was hard watching everyone enjoy it.

While I was down there, mum and I did go a bit crazy on baby clothes. I discovered the Purebaby factory outlet and tried to buy as much unisex baby clothes as I could. Purebaby is an organic baby clothing brand that also don’t use any harsh chemicals or dye. The clothes are so adorable, well made and affordable.

By week 13 I had arrived back from Melbourne. So Marco and I got some baby announcement photos taken by my mother’s partner, Ted. It felt so good to finally announce to the world that I was pregnant. Although I wasn’t showing too much I still felt the need to tell even strangers that I was pregnant. I was also on a high because I found out I had been accepted by Brisbane’s only mid-wife led birthing centres. It is still in the hospital, but is designed for women who want to have completely natural births with only a midwife present. I was considering a home birth since I didn’t want to give birth in a hospital. But this was a good compromise that made Marco and my mother feel a lot better.

I’m back and I’ve got some news…

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As much as the first trimester felt like it was going to last forever it has gone past really quick. I was scared that I was going to be one of the few that continue morning sickness throughout the pregnancy but by week 13 everything changed. I still had food aversion but the nausea was completely gone. When I did start to feel better I was a little sad that I didn’t feel so pregnant anymore.

During this period I was also at university doing Post-grad Museum Studies. Studying was really hard with baby brain and headaches. I found it hard to focus on what my lecture was saying or retain much information. Luckily I had only enrolled into one subject, so I was able to take my time for all of the assignments. In the end I was really happy in what I achieved. I got really good grades and successful put together an extensive museum exhibition proposal. So all in all I really enjoyed this short period of my life.

 

Potato and Green Lentil Curry

Tonight I have another curry for you. This is the first Indian curry that I have ever made that actually tasted Indian. I’m not sure why but whenever I try to cook something Indian, even if its from a cookbook, it never actually tastes that Indian. I have to admit though it did taste more authentic the next day, when we ate it again. I usually use pre-made spice pastes. But this time I blended onions, garlic, ginger, chilli and tomatoes into a liquid and then add it to some simmering ground spices. Perhaps that was the key or maybe it was a fluke.

What is your secret to making an authentic tasting Indian curry?

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Potato and Green Lentil Curry (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 onion, roughly chopped,

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2-3 small red chilli

2 tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 small knob of ginger

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups vegetable stock

2 medium dutch potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes

1/2 red green capsicum, sliced

1.5 cups green lentils, cooked

steamed brown basmati rice, to serve

Method:

1. First place the onion, garlic, chilli, tomato and ginger in a blender. Blend ingredients so that they are mostly liquefied.

2. In a large pan heat coconut oil  on medium heat until it has melted. Then add all the spices. Cook for a minute or two until it is fragrant.

3. Add the blended ingredients to the spices in the pan. Cook for another 2 minutes.

4. Add the vegetable stock and potatoes. Bring to the boil, then leave on a simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Add the capsicum and lentils and cook for a future 10 mintues, or until the capsicum has softened.

6. Serve the curry with steamed brown basmati rice

*Serves 4

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I’m back and I’ve got some news…

After a long break from Live Blissful I am back. I am feeling so much better then I was back when I last posted back in July. So much has changed since then. And I am now ready to get back in the kitchen and reignite my passion for cooking.

As most of you know my father died back in April. It has taken me a long time to get past it. It was a long hard journey to get back to feeling well again and many changes in my life had to be made. I initially had a couple of months on leave from my job as I wasn’t coping at work. This meant frequent visits to the doctor, psychologist and naturopath. Although I had a team of people trying to get me well, nothing really seemed to get me off the couch. I no longer enjoyed cooking and had no interest in eating. My doctor recommended that I start taking antidepressant, but my instincts told me that I shouldn’t. I had been previously trying to get pregnant and I didn’t want to effect my unborn child if I did get pregnant. I also didn’t think that taking a pill could stop me grieving. It is natural and synthetic drugs are not. So then my naturopath suggested I try to take a herbal remedy, which included saffron oil and st johns wart. I was sceptical and so was Marco. My doctor was horrified, thinking that this natural remedy was more risky. Well as it turned out within a couple of days I began to feel better. My brain was no longer on the same loop of denial and despair. I was still grieving of course but it didn’t seem as hard as before. Within my last few of weeks on leave I applied to go back to university to do post grad studies and got accepted. Meanwhile Marco was tried to inspire me to go back to work by getting me lots of quote for my new dream kitchen. In the end I had to decide whether to take more time from work, go back to work or leave. I realised in order to get better I needed a fresh start. I was so happy with my decision and leaving was a lot less painful then I thought it would be. Then 3 days later I found out I was pregnant!

I didn’t think getting pregnant would happen so fast. Especially after two months of tests showing that I wasn’t ovulating. Guess we were testing on the wrong day. I was so happy and made the decision from that day that I would be better. I now had something to look forward to and someone to look after. This blissful feeling didn’t last long once the morning sickness kicked in. For 6 long weeks I struggled to eat, everything I cooked tasted terrible and everything made me want to throw up. I got just about every first trimester symptom (the list is long).  Although I decided not start a new job, I did do one semester at university in post grad museum studies. It was hard to study when I felt like throwing up constantly, but I am so happy I had something else in my life to focus on. Over the last couple of weeks I entered trimester 2 so feeling so much better now. I have finished university for the semester (and possibility the next year) and enjoying my pregnancy.

I am currently 18 weeks pregnant and over the past couple of days I have just started to feel the baby in my belly. I just get these weird tiny tremors mostly the right side below my belly button. My tummy is starting to get bigger, but not enough yet that I don’t feel the need to tell everyone I didn’t have a big lunch I am actually pregnant. Another high point is that I got accepted into the only midwife led birth centre in Brisbane. They only take really low risk women and their philosophy is for their women to have no medical intervention and just deliver the baby naturally with a midwife. I also will have a lovely big suite and will be in the hospital, which makes Marco feel a lot better.

So yes a lot has happened. My focus now is to eat the most nutritious food as possible for my growing baby. I hope to start creating and cooking delicious recipes for this blog again.

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As I mentioned in my first trimester I found it hard to eat much. The thought of beans, tofu, rice, quinoa and anything green just made my stomach turn. I had no appetite at all. Being the only cook in our house it was very difficult all our meals when even cutting a vegetable made me want to gag. So I was mainly living on bread, avocado, fruit and oats (on a good day). After talking to my vegan naturopath my terrible pregnancy diet, I decided that I may have to bring some animal products back into my rotation for a short time. I was a bit upset as I wanted to do my pregnancy completely vegan. I was scared that I would be giving my baby unnecessary toxins from meat. At the same time I was craving meat like crazy, which apparently isn’t normal for pregnant woman. Most mothers I’ve talk to couldn’t stand the smell or thought of meat. Has anyone had this happen to them? I know the cravings were more to do with my body’s need for iron rather then a need for meat. I began eating meat and eggs once or twice a week and buying out vegan meals with legumes and rice. So I haven’t had the perfect vegan pregnancy that I hoped for. I know a lot of women before me have been able to, but I’m not perfect. I don’t know if I ever will be, but I can always try. Now I am in the second trimester getting back to my plant-based diet has been much easier. Yes I still have organic eggs in my fridge but at least if I really want one I have good quality and ethically sourced eggs. My diet has become way more balanced and I have been able to include plant-based protein sources in most of my meals (grains, nuts/seeds and legumes).

Now that I have rediscovered my love of food and the weather has heated up, Marco and I took a trip to the coast for some beach time and a delicious vegan lunch last weekend. We visited Giri Kana Cafe, a vegan/vegetarian cafe at Southport. They offer a range of hot foods, salads, burgers, fresh juices, coffees and desserts.

DSC02927For mains we shared a Veggie Burger, Tangy Veggie Kofta balls, Basil Pesto Pasta Salad and Sesame Tofu Salad. It was all delicious and the variety was exactly what my baby needed.

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For desserts we shared a raw vegan Passionfruit Cheesecake and vegan Tiramisu. Both were really tasty, but I had some strange reaction to my tongue from the passionfruit. Couldn’t stop eating it though, especially after Marco declared he prefer the tiramisu and wouldn’t share lol.

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DSC02924Mangoes are finally back in season! This is an easy recipe to whip up with some probiotic coconut yoghurt. Marco says this is the best smoothie he’s had in a long time.

DSC02928Mango Lassi (vegan, gluten free, nut free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 mango

3-4  tablespoon coconut yoghurt (Coyo)

2 cups coconut milk (Organic Coco Quench)

Method:

1. Add all the ingredients to the blender and whizz till smooth.

*Serves 2

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Korma Curry with Pumpkin and Peas

I miss ordering Korma Curry when I go out to Indian. I don’t order it any more as it is always made with cream. I usually opt for Vegetable Madras, that is made with coconut milk. This recipe uses coconut cream instead and ground cashews to give an extra rich flavour.  I used pumpkin and peas as they are quick to cook and give the curry a nice sweet taste.

What’s your favourite vegan Indian curry?

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Korma Curry with Pumpkin and Peas (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 small brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 teaspoon ginger, diced

3 tablespoons (or more) Korma Paste (I used Mudgeeraba South Indian Korma Paste)

1 tomato, diced

1 small green capsicum, sliced into thin strips

3 cups pumpkin cubed

1 cup vegetable stock

1 cup frozen green peas

1/4 cup cashews, ground into a powder

1 can coconut cream

sea salt to taste

brown basmati rice, steam to serve

Method:

1. Heat coconut oil in a large pot, then add the onions, garlic, ginger and korma paste. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onions start to go translucent.

2. Add the tomatoes and green capsicum. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add some 1/2 cup of water or vegetable stock if it starts to stick to the pot.

3. Add pumpkin and stir through. Then add 1 cup of water or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then leave on a simmer for 15 minutes or until the pumpkin starts to soften.

4. Add the baby green peas, cashew powder, coconut cream and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Bring to a light boil, the leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Season again if you need and serve with steamed brown basmati rice.

*Serves 4

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Below are some dishes I made from my favourite Cookbooks.

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Baked Peaches with Gooey Nut Crumble, Kind Mama, by Alicia Silverstone

Since I bought Kind Mama I’ve been excited to try Alicia’s Baked Peaches with Gooey Nut Crumble. It contains peaches topped with rolled oats cooked in brown rice syrup and water, raisins, black sesame seeds, chopped walnuts and chopped almonds. Although the recipe didn’t call for it I added some panela (evaporated cane sugar) on top to bake. Marco found it wasn’t sweet enough for him so I added some extra agave syrup when I served it. It was quite delicious for a healthy clean dessert.

Fall Harvest Vegetable Chowder, Forks Over Knives

Fall Harvest Vegetable Chowder, Forks Over Knives: The Cookbook

I really haven’t cooked much from my Forks Over Knives cookbook. I am usually missing on main ingredient, or don’t have enough of the ingredients the recipe calls for. I ended up halving the serving so that I could make this dish. It contains yellow onion, celery, carrots and vegetable stock, zucchini, yam/sweet potato, bay leaves, thyme and corn which are cooked till vegetables are softened. Then blended and heated through with some extra corn and spinach. It was very easy to make and satisfying on a cold night.

Skillet Italian Sausages (vegan) with Potatoes and Peppers

I’ve been on my vegan journey for nearly 2 years now, but I still occasionally get a meat cravings. It’s usually triggered by one of Marco’s BBQ’s, when I see my friends and family enjoying his gourmet sausages from the local organic butcher. I try to stay away from mock meat, since they usually contain soy protein and isolates. However, when I was browsing my local vegan supermarket I noticed these Tofurkey sausages that are made of Organic Tofu, so thought I would give them a chance. They were actually pretty good. They had the texture of a real sausage, which was surprising. Although they didn’t really have that meaty taste, they were still a good substitute. On the plus side it didn’t leave that strong meaty after taste and Marco didn’t mind them.

Have you tried Tofurky Sausages? What other brands vegan sausage brands do you recommend?

DSC02527Skillet Italian Sausages with Potatoes and Peppers (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoon olive oilDSC02517

3 potatoes, wash and cubed (preferably yellow potatoes)

1/2 medium onion, sliced

1 medium red capsicum, sliced

1 cup vegetable liquid stock

1/2 teaspoon sea salt and more to season

black pepper to taste

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves, diced

Tofurky Italian Sausage (4 in pack), sliced into rounds

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Heat a large skillet with olive oil and then add potatoes, onion, and capsicum. Saute for 10 minutes. When the  vegetables start to stick to the pan add 1/2 cup vegetable stock.

3. Add the garlic, rosemary and Tofurky Italian Sausages to the skillet and stir through. Saute for another couple of minutes, allowing the sausages to brown a little.

4. Add 1/2 cup vegetable stock to the skillet then place in the oven. Cook for 25-30, or until the potatoes are cooked through.

*Serves 4

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