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 (nf)

Ingredients:

2 tbsp 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 tsp sea salt and more to season

black pepper to taste

2 cloves garlic, diced

1 tbsp 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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Winter Warm Risottos

Unless your living in Brisbane you probably don’t believe me that I am freezing right now. Winter in the sunshine state is has become bone chilling. To stay warm I’ve been drinking lots of herbal teas and warm meals of roasted vegetables, soups and risottos. These are a couple non traditional risotto’s that I have been enjoying over the past week.

I’ve never added quinoa to a risotto before. But I often cook a quinoa brown rice blend which is delicious and a pain to clean out of the rice cooker. Quinoa gives an extra protein kick to this risotto and doesn’t compromise the taste at all.

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Roasted Pumpkin and Quinoa Risotto (gf, sf, nf)

Ingredients:

1/4 kent or butternut pumpkin, sliced into thin pieces

1/2 or 1 small head of garlic

olive oil

1 cup arborio rice

1 cup quinoa

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1 litre vegetable stock

2 cups baby spinach

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

italian parsley to garnish (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat oven 200 degrees.

2. Place pumpkin and garlic head in an baking tray and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes or until both are soft.  Once both are cooked well place in a small bowl and mash with a fork. Keep it aside to add to the risotto.

3. Take a pot and fill with the vegetable stock and leave to boil, then place on a simmer.

4. In the meantime take another large pot and heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add the onion. Cook till it softens

5. Add aborbio rice and quinoa to pot and let it toast for a few minutes.

6. Add the wine to the pot and cook until its been absorbed.

7. By this time the liquid stock should have boiled. Begin by ladling a spoon full at a time of the hot liquid stock to the rice and constantly stir. Once one spoon full has been absorbed into the rice, add another spoon full. Continue for  cooking for 15 mins or until the rice and quinoa is cooked

8. Add the mashed pumpkin and garlic. Stir through and then add baby spinach. Continue to stir until the baby spinach has wilted.

9. Take off the heat, then add the nutritional yeast and season with extra seasalt and black pepper. Serve with some chopped parsley.

*Serves 4

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Cauliflower has historically been one of my most hated vegetables from birth. My mum use to steam or microwave it with cheese and bechamel. I never liked cheese and always found cauliflower to be strange in texture and bland in taste. But I have a new love for cauliflower now. I love using it in Italian pasta dishes to coat pasta. It also tastes amazing in soups, on pizza, roasted and in a pie.  Here are some of my favourite cauliflower dishes that get the Marco tick of approval.

Pasta al Cavolfiore

Penne al Cavolfiore

Cauliflower Red Onion and Garlic Pizza

Roasted Cauliflower, Beets, Capsicum and Chickpeas with Tahini Sumac Dressing

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Steak

Broccoli & Cauliflower Pakoras

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Corn Soup

Cauliflower Cheezy Thyme Pie

For this Cauliflower Risotto I used both the stalks and florets of the cauliflower.  I diced the stalks and sautéed them with the onions and added the florets to the vegetable stock which I ladled to cook the risotto. I stole this idea from Jamie Oliver’s Cauliflower risotto (Risotto ai cavalfiori). Its a great way not to waste any of that cauliflower goodness.

Oh and by the way in case you haven’t tried Kale with Pine nuts and Raisins put it on your to do list. The bitter, sweet and nutty flavors make it one of my favourite side dishes and goes great on top of this Cauliflower Risotto.

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Cauliflower Risotto topped with Sautéed Tuscan Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins 

Cauliflower Risotto (gf, sf, nf)

Ingredients:

1-2 tbsp olive oil

2 cups arborio rice

1 medium onion, diced

2-3 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 medium cauliflower, dice stalks and chop the florets, keeping each separate

1/2 cup white wine

1 litre vegetable stock

handful italian parsley leaves, diced

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

sea salt & black pepper

Method:

1.Take a pot and fill with the vegetable stock and cauliflower florets and leave to boil, then place on a simmer.

2. In the meantime take another large pot and heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add the onion, garlic and diced cauliflower stalk. Cook for a couple of mintues.

3. Add aborbio rice and let it toast for a few minutes.

4. Add the wine to the pot and cook until its been absorbed.

5. By this time the liquid stock should have boiled. Begin by ladling a spoon full at a time of the hot liquid stock with the cauliflower florets to the rice. Stir constantly and mash the cauliflower florets as it cooks. Once one spoon full has been absorbed into the rice, add another spoon full. Continue for  cooking for 15 mins or until the rice  is cooked

6. Take off the heat, then add the nutritional yeast and italian parsley. Season with extra sea salt and black pepper.

7. Serve with Sautéed Tuscan Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins (recipe below)

*Serves 4

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Sautéed Tuscan Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins (gf, sf)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1-2 garlic cloves, diced

bunch tuscan kale, chopped into ribbons

1-2 tbsp golden raisins

1-2 tbsp pinenuts

Method:

1. Heat olive oil in a pan. Then add the garlic cook for about a minute

2. Add the kale, raisins and pine nuts. Saute until the kale has wilted.

3. Serve on top of the Cauliflower Risotto or as a side dish.

*Serves 2-4 as a side

For more risotto recipes check these out:

Sweet Potato Sage Risotto with Hazelnut ‘Parmesan’

Green Spring Risotto

Risotto alla zucca (Pumpkin Risotto)

Risotto ai funghi porcini (Mushroom Risotto)

Red Wine Barley & Brown Rice Risotto with Mushrooms & Spinach

Sad times, comforting foods

Hi all, I don’t really know how to write this but here I go… You may have noticed my absence for the past few months. The reason being is that my father died on 17th April. Prior to that I was working hard, stressing lots and going for lots of pre-baby testing. So when it happened I was completely blind sighted. I was so wrapped up in my own life that I never imagined this could happen.

Since it has happened I found it hard to return to normal life. I stopped cooking, blogging and enjoying life in general. It has been a very sad and confusing time due to the circumstances which are very complicated and painful to talk about. I have had to take some time away from work and slowly I am trying to grief and get back to some kind of normality.

My father was unique to say the least. He was charismatic, entertaining and the most determined person I know. He has left a big hole in our family which won’t ever be filled. He was also the proud creator and owner of Pasta al Naturale, the gluten free pasta factory in Melbourne.

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Over the past few months I have been collecting photos of some of the brighter moments in life. Although I haven’t had appetite for food or much motivation in general I am happy that my wonderful partner Marco has been pushing me to get out when I can.

Since everything happened I have travelled down to Melbourne a couple of times for the funeral and the mass. In between visiting with family I did manage to get out occasionally for some vegan eats. I manage to visit Mister Nice Guys Bake Shop a few times to get my sugar fix on. I also brought some cupcakes back for my family who really enjoyed this vegan alternative.

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variety of cupcakes

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Pebbles (Raspberries + white chocolate cake w coconut frosting + raspberries)

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Peppermint Mocha – already slipped

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Curried Tofu égg’ salad Bagel {curried tofu, homemade mayo and chives}

While I was in Melbourne I drank a lot of coffee with my caffeine addicted family and went out occasionally for brunch. Here are some of the vegan eats I managed to find not far from my grandparents home in Brunswick.

Vegan Breakfast Tortilla from Small Block, Bruswick East

Vegan Breakfast Tortilla from Small Block, Bruswick East

Roasted Vegetable Panini and Soy Flat White from Brunetti's, Carlton

Roasted Vegetable Panini and Soy Flat White from Brunetti’s, Carlton

Foccaccia Roasted Tomato, Capsicum & Mushroom  from Crumbs Organic Bakehouse, Ascot Vale

Foccaccia Roasted Tomato, Capsicum & Mushroom from Crumbs Organic Bakehouse, Ascot Vale

Foccacia Roasted Tomato, Carmelised Red Onion and Black Olives  from Crumbs Organic Bakehouse, Ascot Vale

Foccaccia Roasted Tomato, Caramelised Red Onion and Black Olives from Crumbs Organic Bakehouse, Ascot Vale

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Joan’s Baked Beans with Organic Multigrain Bread, Pope Joan, Brunswick East

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Bonsoy Cappuccino, Pope Joan, Brunswick East

I also managed to visit Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant again. This is probably my favourite Vegetarian restaurant open after dark.

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Avocado Magic – avocado wedges and red capsicums rolled in thin eggplant slices then ‘tempura’ fried in a rice batter, served with a jade green sesame coriander puree

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Special- Eggplant Tagine with Spiced Rice, Fried Onions, Peas and Toasted Almonds (can only really remember it tasted really good)

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Laksa Hebat- organic japanese udon noodles, young spinach, mushrooms and bean sprouts in a ginger flower and lemongrass flavoured, midly spiced coconut stock, topped with fried tempeh, tofu, seitan and fresh herbs.

When I got back from Brisbane Marco took me to the The Cardamom Pod at Broad Beach to cheer me up.

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Dahl, Saffron Rice, Vegan Mousakka

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Veggie Curry, Saffron Rice, Spinach and Paneer Samosa and Tomato Gravy

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Raw Peanut Butter Slice

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Raw Raspberry Lime Cheesecake

He also took me to Ironbark Superfoods Cafe at Samford with our mums for some coffee and dessert. I loved this place. The raw desserts were some of the best I’ve tasted.

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For my cousins birthday I was invited out to dinner to the Turkish restaurant Efes One. I was a bit worried there would be nothing for me there, but I managed to get Vegetarian Platter. This included Hummus, Falafel, Dolmas, Fresh beans and Grilled Eggplant, Zucchini and Potatoes.

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Then on 2nd of July it was my birthday again. I wasn’t happy to be another year older, but Marco cheered me up by taking me to my favourite vegan cafe, Green Edge Cafe for Breakfast.

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Baked Beans on Toast- sour dough topped with guacamole and homemade baked beans

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The Other Scramble -tofu scramble with kale, tomato, and capsicum served on toasted Turkish with guacamole.

After that we took a road trip to Byron Bay. I finally got to see the lighthouse. The view is absolutely amazing from up here. It really is a must see if you visit Byron.

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We stopped into OzyMex Cafe for a quick snack. I got a soft taco with beans, guacamole and salad. So delicious and very cheap! This a great place for a quick lunch and has gluten free, vegan and dairy free options.

After that we went to dinner at Kinoko Sushi Bar Restaurant. They also have a few of vegetarian and vegan options. Sorry forgot no photos of dinner. I really loved this place though. Probably my favorite Japanese restaurant I’ve been too. After that we had dessert at Bella Rosa Gelateria Espresso Bar. They have a great range of vegan flavors to choose from. My favourite is the Dark Chocolate Sorbet.

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The next day we visited Manna Haven again. I got the most amazing Gluten free golden waffles served with fresh berries, maple syrup, berry coulis, and cashew cream. Silly Marco got a sausage in bread at the Byron Bay markets before and was regretting that choice. Lucky for him this was a big enough serve to share.

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Before we left we visited The Source Bulk Foods. I loved this place! I bulked up on all different organic grains, legumes and flours. The sales assistant mentioned they may be opening up a store in Brisbane soon! I really hope so because they had the best range of bulk foods I’ve seen and the prices were pretty good as well.

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So since being back I have been trying to get back into cooking. Since I have found it hard to get back into the kitchen I have been trying to push myself to make some dishes from my favourite cookbooks. Hopefully I will be back on track soon to share some of my own recipes.

Tempeh Piccata from Chloe's Kitchen (Chloe Coscarelli)

Tempeh Piccata from Chloe’s Kitchen (Chloe Coscarelli)

Lentil Stew form The Kind Diet (Alicia Silverstone)

Lentil Stew form The Kind Diet (Alicia Silverstone)

Indian Lentil-Cauliflower Soup from Oh She Glows (Angela Liddon)

Indian Lentil-Cauliflower Soup from Oh She Glows (Angela Liddon)

Cottage pie with Borlotti beans and Porcini mushrooms

Cottage pie is really the prefer comfort food for a drizzly rainy day. Some people think rainy days are miserable, but I love them. Its an excuse to eat warm wholesome foods and cuddly up on the couch with a movie or a good book.
 
If you thought my weekend was pretty lazy it was not! I was a busy bee giving my house a spring clean and searching for eco friendly, toxin free products for when we eventually move up stairs to our bedroom.
Finding organic chemical free organic quilt covers that were affordable and not all white was almost impossible. But I managed to find a Australian distributer for West Elm. Although not all of their Organic Cotton Quilt covers had the GOTS Standard, I did manage to find a couple with this standard on Sale!  Their postage to Brisbane is also quite reasonable and the Sale price was much cheaper then conventional sheets. 
I did try to investigate whether the Organic quilt covers without the GOTS Standard were made without chemicals. However,I could not get a definete answer from their customer service staff. This is something to investigate if you are thinking of upgrading your current bedding. 
For more information on buying organic chemical free sheets check out A Buyer’s Guide to Organic Sheets.
 
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Cottage pie with  Borlotti beans and Porcini mushrooms (gf, sf, nf)

Ingredients: 

7-8 potatoes (for mashing) (chopped)

1-2 tbsp olive oil

2 medium-large onions (chopped)

2 garlic cloves (diced)

4 spring onions (optional) (chopped)

3 tomatoes (keep whole)

1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms (soak in 1 cup filtered water)

2 tsp dry vegetable stock

2 small carrots (chopped)

1 tbsp thyme leaves (fresh/dry)

1 tsp corn flour mixed with 1/2 cup filtered water

1 tin borlotti beans (preferably from BPA free tin or 1.5 cup cooked beans)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk (I used Bonsoy)

3 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional) 

 

Method: 

1. Preheat the oven to 80 degrees.

2. Place potatoes in water and bring to a boil. I used about 1 litre filtered water to cook them in. Allow them to cook until they are soft.

3. Bring another pot to the boil, then drop the tomatoes in whole. Leave for about 30 seconds, or until the skin begins to peel back. Then immediately remove and drop into cold water. Then peel and chop.

4. Heat an oven proof skillet (or regular skillet) with olive oil. Then add onion, garlic and spring onion. Sauté until the onion starts to brown.

5. Add the porcini mushrooms and the water they were soaking in, tomatoes, carrot and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil then leave to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the carrots start to soften.

6. While the skillet is simmering add corn flour mixed with some water. If your potatoes are ready add a couple of the starchy water the potatoes were cooking in. Also you can add the borlotti beans and stir through.

7. Remove the potatoes from the pot if it is too watery. Then add 1/2 cup plant milk, sea salt, black pepper and nutritional yeast. Leave to the side till your ready to assemble the pie.

8. If you are using an oven proof skillet then simply top the vegetables with mash potatoes. If you are using a regular skillet, then place the vegetables in an over proof dish and then top with mash potatoes.

9. Back cottage pie for 20 minutes or longer to get a crispier top.

*Serves 6

*Taste great with some sauted leafy greens!

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Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich/Sushi and Carrot Ginger Mojito

Canned tuna is one of those things that I have struggled with giving up since trying to make the change to vegan. It just has something about it that I crave. If you are one of my non vegan friends, you are probably thinking why would anyone want to give up tuna, its delicious? Well mercury toxicity and BPA toxicity are a couple of reasons that I really try to avoid any canned fish in general. Overfishing and unsustainable fishing methods is also another couple of reasons I discovered this when I blogged on this issue a while ago (The canned tuna debate).

I admit I have actually been better in recent times to avoid canned fish entirely and other seafood.  A big thing that has stopped me craving tuna is re-educating myself on the reality of the detriment it may have to my health and trying avoid toxins while I endeavour to start preparing myself to have a baby. By the way that’s still a secret! I am still in the stages of getting all my tests done and get any deficiencies sorted before we start trying. I am about to start another detox soon with guidance of my new naturopath, which I’m really excited about! Marco thinks I am the only person in the world excited about doing a detox, especially since my first detox a few years back was so difficult. However, over the last 3 and a half years I have learned a lot and my tastes have really changed. I feel more in control and equip to be able to enjoy the ride this time.

Anyway back to cooking… I tried to make a Mock Tuna Salad with tempeh a while ago. If found the texture was there, but not the fishy taste. So I tried again with chickpeas, umeboshi vinegar and nori. This time I managed to get the taste, but the texture was probably a little to fine. Besides that I much prefer this recipe and found it really versatile for making sandwiches and sushi and it passed the flavour test with Marco and Mum (who said I thought you don’t eat tuna any more).

Tuna Salad 2

Vegan Chickpea ‘Tuna’ (gf, sf, nf)

Ingredients:

1 tin chickpeas/ 1.25 cup cooked chickpeas

1/2 cup celery (diced)

1/2 cup onion (diced)

2 tbsp olive oil (optional, leave out for thicker consistency)

3 tsp umeboshi vinegar

3-4 tbsp vegan mayonnaise

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp himalayan pink salt / sea salt

1 sheet nori (cut into 5 cm strips) / 3 tbsp crispy seaweed

Method:

1. Place chickpeas, celery, onion and olive oil into the processor. Process until the chickpeas have broken down. You may have to keep wiping down the sides with a spatula.

2. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the nori strips. Process until you are happy with the consistency

3. Add nori sheets and adjust seasoning if you need to. Then process for until the nori has been mixed through.

*Makes over 1 cup

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Vegan Chickpea ‘Tuna’ Salad Sandwich (gfo, sf, nf)

Ingredients:

sliced bread ( I used  toasted multigrain vienna sourdough)

2-3 tbsp vegan tuna per sandwich (recipe above)

sliced tomato

fancy lettuce/mixed lettuce

sliced bread ( I used  toasted multigrain vienna sourdough)

any other salad items

Method:

1. Spread vegan tuna on one side of the bread. Then top with salad items and other slice of bread and enjoy.

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 Vegan Chickpea ‘Tuna’ Salad Sushi (gf, sf, nf)

Ingredients:

1 nori sheet

3 tbsp cooked quinoa or sushi rice

2-3 tbsp vegan tuna per sandwich (recipe above)

sliced tomato

fancy lettuce/mixed lettuce

any other salad items

Method:

1. Place quinoa in the middle of the nori sheet in a line down the middle.

2. Top quinoa with vegan tuna and salad items.

3. Roll the nori into a sushi roll. Slice in half and enjoy.

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For a mid-afternoon beverage to enjoy while I watching FMTV I made this delicious juicy mocktail. Perfect for this muggy weather and to get into the spirit of detoxing.

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Carrot Ginger Mojito

Ingredients:

4 small carrots

2 apples

small knob ginger

3 cm wide round slice lemon (including skin)

mint leaves from 2 sprigs

cold sparkling water

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients except the sparkling water in a juicer.

2. Place the juice in a tall glass or large jar and top with some sparkling water and some mint leaves to serve.

*Serves 1

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48 Degrees Raw Cafe

A couple of Saturdays ago Marco and I visited a new cafe that I have been itching to try since I first heard about their opening. 48 Degrees is Brisbane’s first completely raw cafe on the Northside of Brisbane. They are situated inside Genesis Gym in Windsor. This cafe is run by two female health and wellness coaches, who also reguarly hold Raw Food Workshops. In the cafe they serve a variety of cold press juices, smoothies, organic coffee and different raw breakfasts and lunches options daily. Prefect for gym junkies and the health conscious. Although they aren’t completely organic they do follow the EWG Shoppers guide for the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen to limit pesticide exposure in their food and drinks.

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Since 48 Degrees is know for their smoothies we just had to try one. I ordered the Superfoods Smoothie, which had YOR Supergreens, chia seeds, cacao, goji berries, hemp seeds, dates, cinnamon, maca and banana. Marco ordered the Go Green Smoothie with had avocado, banana, kale, lemon, almond milk, baby spinach, YOR Supergreens and dates. Both were really delcious and pretty filling for the small size.

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For brunch we orderd the Raw Buckwheat Cacao Pancakes and the Raw Sushi with Parnip Rice. Even though I wanted the sweeter breakfast I found myself enjoying the sushi more and Marco prefered the pancakes. They were both beautifully presented, but I think considering the price the sushi probably needed a side.

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All in all I was please with my experience at 48 Degrees. Although Marco has really embraced his new lifestyle diet that I impose on him, raw wasn’t so much his thing. But hopefully I will be able to visit this raw cafe again with our without him.

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Other recent news is that a few weeks ago I won a large organic box from Home Fresh Organics. I was so please with the quality, quantity, variety, price and convenience that I have been ordering a box every week since. Best part is that you can customise the set box, so you are not stuck with things you don’t eat.

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Lime spiked Black bean and Beetroot Dip

I am completely black beaned out for the week. I was so proud that I found time to cook a big pot of beans on monday after work. I forgot to mentioned that I also had a black bean burito earlier that day. So after boiling 2 cups of beans, Marco and I have had to eat them for just about every meal this week. I still had two cups left last night so this is what I came up with. The lime and coriander gave my old beans a new lively freshness and the beetroot gave the dip a very nice hue.

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Lime spiked Black bean and Beetroot Dip (gf, sf nf)

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked black beans

1 large clove of garlic

1 cup grated beetroot

juice from 1.5 limes

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp onion flakes/onion powder

1/2 tbsp smoked paprika

ground cayenne pepper to taste

sea salt to taste

1 cup loosely packed coriander leaves

Method:

1. Place black beans, garlic, beetroot and lime juice in a high speed blender or processor. Blend until smooth.

2. Add the spices and sea salt to taste and blend through.

3. Lastly add the coriander and pulse till it has broken down a little, but so you can still see specs of green through the dip.

*Makes 2 cups

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Creamy Sweet potato, Black bean, Chia seed Soup

Hi all, hope you having a great start to your week. I’m always most energetic on Mondays. I feel like I can achieve just about anything on my way home from work. I could prepare all our lunches for the week, do some pilates or even finally put together my new compost bin. Unfortunately I didn’t get to do everything I hoped for this afternoon. But I did get around to making a selection of jarred cold pressed juices, boil some black beans and make a delicious healthy soup. Lucky for Marco he’s at work tonight. So I even managed to clean  up the huge mess I made in the kitchen by my self.

I’ve never added chia seeds to a soup before and I didn’t really know what to expect. But I was pleasantly surprised. They weren’t crunchy or gluggy at all. They also didn’t change the texture to the soup. What they did do is add some extra protein, fibre, antioxidants, calcium, vitamin C, omega 3, potassium and iron to my soup!

How do you like to include chia seeds in your diet?

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Creamy Sweet potato, Black bean, Chia seed Soup (gf, sf, nf)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 brown onion (diced)

1 large clove garlic (diced)

1/2 green/red capsicum (diced)

1 large celery stick (diced)

1 large sweet potato (chopped, cubed)

1 1/2 tbsp cumin

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or more to taste

1 tsp dried oregano

4 cups vegetable stock (I used 4 cups filtered water with 4 tsp Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon)

1/2 tsp garlic salt/ sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

2 whole dried bay leaves

2 cups cooked black beans

juice from 1/2 small lemon

1/3 cup chia seeds

diced roasted peppers, pan fried corn kernels and sliced avocado to serve

Method:

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Then add onion, garlic, capsicum and celery. Saute for a few minutes.

2. Add sweet potato cubes, cumin, oregano and cayenne. Saute for another couple of minutes.

3. Add vegetable stock, garlic salt, black pepper and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the sweet potato has softened.

4. Add cooked black beans and lemon juice. Take off the heat and remove the bay leaves.

5. Place most of the soup with a high speed blender, leaving about a cup of the soup in the pot. Then combine again and stir through the chunky beans and sweet potato.

6. Add chia seeds and stir through.

7. Serve soup topped with diced roasted peppers, pan fried corn kernels and sliced avocado or whatever else you have on hand.

*Serves 4

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French lentil and Kale Ragout with Pesto Polenta

Another week has nearly gone by and I just can’t wait for the weekend. Today was the kind of day that made me want to run away from my responsibilities and crawl into my cupboard. Normally after a day like this I go home and become a couch potato. However today I came home inspired to cook a healthy wholesome meal for one. Probably because I spent my long bumpy bus ride home reading my new book that I just couldn’t put down. This book is Starch Solution, by Dr John A McDougall and Mary McDougall.  If you haven’t heard of it look it up. Its a great book for anyone looking for answers on how to be healthier and shed some pounds. I was just happy to have someone agree that carbs should be on the menu tonight. Especially since I’ve been eyeing the organic polenta in my cupboard ever since I bought it and been putting it off for a lighter alternative. And boy did it make me feel better. I also got to use left overs vege in my fridge, right in time for my organic set box delivery tomorrow from Home Fresh Organics. I just found out earlier this week that I won a free box, after attending the Inspiring Living Events last week. Looking forward coming home to fresh produce tomorrow! 

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French lentil and Kale Ragout with Pesto Polenta (gf, sf)

Ingredients: 

1/2  cup french lentils

1 tbsp olive oil

1 brown onion (diced)

2 cloves garlic (diced)

4 large tomatoes (diced)/ 1 can good quality crushed tomatoes

1 cup vegetable stock/water

1/2 cup white/red wine (optional)

1 tsp raw sugar, 1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 cup filtered water

2 cups tightly packed curly kale leave (chopped)

1 cup organic intant polenta

3 cups filtered water

1/2 cup home-made pesto (more to serve) (made from pine nuts, garlic, basil, evo, nutritional yeast, sea salt, black pepper)

italian parsley to serve (optional)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Method for the French lentil and Kale Ragout:

1. Bring a small pot to the boil and add the lentils. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until tender.

2. In the meantime heat olive oil in a large pan and add onion and garlic. Saute for a few minutes until they soften.

3. Add diced tomatoes, vegetable stock and wine. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer.

4. Add raw sugar, basil and sea salt to taste. Leave sauce to simmer for 25 minutes or until it has reduced and tomatoes have completely softened.

5. Add another cup of water and the kale and lentils. Stir through until the kale has wilted.

6. Serve French lentil and Kale Ragout over Pesto Polenta with some extra pesto sauce and italian parsley

Method for Pesto Polenta:

1. Place polenta and water in to a pot on a medium heat. Stir polenta continuously for 3-4 minutes, until the water has been absorbed and the polenta has become thick.

2. Add the pesto and sea salt to taste.

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Aussie Beetie Burgers

Hi all, hope your having a great week. Mine has been quite busy so far. Last night I went to the Hungry for Change Film Night, held by Inspiring Living Events at Kangaroo Point. It was really great to be around people who share the same passion for healthy living and meet health experts living and working in my city. Even though I’d seen the film before it was more enjoyable to watch it with other people. They also had some delicious vegan finger foods. Unfortunately I left my camera sim card at home, so I can’t share the lovely food that was provided by a new organic cafe Bang Bang Lulu. I’m also really happy that I found a new Naturopath last night, that also supports my vegan journey. I haven’t been feeling the best recently, so I’ve been planning to organise an appointment with somebody, but I know my former nutritionist doesn’t share my passion for vegan food. I’ve already booked in to see this new Nathuropath for a couple of weeks time when I can finally take some toil time from work. I will let you all know how I go.

Below is a recipe I whipped up over the weekend. I really felt like a burger, but all I had was some old beets and mixed grains left in the fridge. I added some leftover home-made pesto, lentils and some Aussie BBQ seasoning. The seasoning and pesto really gave the burgers an amazing flavour. The Aussie BBQ seasoning I used contained pink rock salt, paprika, garlic, onion, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, lack pepper, thyme, oregano, chilli, chives and basil. It has no extras ingredients, preservatives or artificial flavours. Believe it or not I got it from Aldi. It really helped give my burgers that Aussie flavour that you usually find in Aussie beef burger patties and rissoles. The leftover mixed grains that I used where from one of those new brown rice products, that have quinoa, black sesame seeds and red rice mixed through. All you do is steam the rice and serve like you would normally.

I cooked the first batch of burger patties  in the pan with olive oil. They were still moist after they were cooked, but they were very hard to flip.  I’m really bad a flipping anything in a pan and I didn’t have Marco here to do it for me. He may not be able to cook to save himself, but he has a talent for flipping pancakes, omelettes and burgers. So the next day I decided to baked the rest. They were a little drier but much easier to prepare and they kept their shape a lot better when I served them. I served them with balsamic red onion and tomato sauce. Delicious!

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Aussie Beetie Burger Patties (gf, sf)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp coconut oil/olive oil (more to cook burgers)

1 small red onion

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp apple cinder vinegar

1 cup grated beetroot

1 cup mixed cooked grains/brown rice

1 cup cooked brown lentils

1/2 cup homemade pesto

Aussie BBQ seasoning to taste (or other spice mix you prefer)

Method:

1. Heat coconut oil on medium heat, then add red onion. Cook for 5 minutes or until it starts to soften.

2. Add garlic to red onion and saute for 1 minute, then add apple cider vinegar. Saute for another couple of minutes till the onions brown a little and get a little sticky. Take the onions off the heat and allow to cool down.DSC02001

3. Combine the remaining ingredients the processor and blend until combined. Don’t over process as you want some texture to the burger.

4. With damp hands form burger patties and place on baking paper. Leave in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer, to allow the burgers to harden.DSC02006

5.If you are going to bake the burgers, preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place on a tray with baking paper and bake for 20 minutes. If you are going to cook them on the stove, heat a tablespoon of oil in a nonstick pan on medium heat. Cook the burgers a few minutes or until it is cooked to your liking.

*Makes 8 burgers patties or 4 thicker burger  patties

Cooked in the pan

Cooked in the pan

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