Pearl Couscous with Green Lentils, Kale and Caramelized Onions

After seeing my naturapath yesterday I realised I really have to amp up my bean intake and make more of an effort to combine plant-based proteins for the baby. As much as I love eating beans I always forget to put them to soak the night. Although I don’t enjoy lentils as much, they are really handy when you have limited time and are out of bpa free canned beans (which I have been relying on). I was also craving pearl couscous after that delicious dish I had from East Elevation a few days ago in Melbourne.

This dish was inspired by Mujaddara but with a few alterations. I used pearl couscous for a different texture and some kale and pepitas seeds for an extra nutritional boost. This dish usually calls for crispy fried onions on top, but I decided to not over cook the onions, to  leave as much nutrients as possible. It was a delicious combination. I hope my little one is enjoying some new flavours.

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 Pearl Couscous with Green Lentils, Kale and Caramelized Onions (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup green lentils (you only need 1 cup of cooked lentils, so cook 1 cup dry for leftovers)

2 cups diced brown onion (about 1.5 onions)

olive oil

3 garlic cloves, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon all spice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup pearl couscous

1.5 cup liquid vegetable stock (chicken or veg flavoured)

2 cups sliced kale, tightly packed (about 2 large kale leaves, large stems removed)

3 tablespoons pepitas seeds

Method:

1. Place the green lentils in a pot with enough water to cover and bring the boil. Then place on a simmer and cook until tender. Once cooked leave to the side.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and then add the onion. Cook on a low to medium heat until the onions have browned and caramelized. This should take about 20 minutes. Once they are browned remove from the skillet and place to the side.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sized pot and add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, then add the ground cumin, ground cinnamon, all spice and sea salt. Cook for a future 30 seconds or until fragrant.

4. Add the couscous and vegetable stock to the pot. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the couscous is tender. Add more stock if it starts to stick to the pot.

5. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet and then add the kale. Lightly saute until the kale has wilted and is a vibrant green colour.

6. Toast the pepitas seeds in a dry pan until they start to pop a little then place to the side.

7. Make sure the couscous is off the heat and then add 1 cup of cooked green lentils, 2/3 of the caramelized brown onions and kale to the pot. Stir through.

8. Serve the couscous with extra carmelized onion and toasted pepitas seeds.

*Serve as a main for 3 or as a side for 4

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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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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 (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients: 

1/2  cup french lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

4 large tomatoes, diced or 1 can good quality crushed tomatoes

1 cup vegetable stock/water

1/2 cup white or red wine (optional)

1 teaspoon raw sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 cup filtered water

2 cups tightly packed curly kale leave (chopped)

1 cup intant polenta, preferably organic

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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Spaghetti Squash with a delicious Sun dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce and a Lemony Cannellini bean Salad

Sometimes I get so envious of other overseas cooking blogs, with their interesting ingredients that I can’t find in Australia. One of these ingredients is Spaghetti Squash. I couldn’t believe that you could make pasta from a pumpkin. However I finally found this Spaghetti Squash in a fancy grocery store on the north side of town.

Spaghetti Squash is an oblong seed-bearing variety of winter squash. It is very nutritious and contains omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids, vitamin C,  A and B; and is rich in beta carotene. It can be baked, boiled, steamed and microwaved. After cooking, you can run a folk through it and its flesh will separates into spaghetti-like strands.

I decided to roast my spaghetti squash, since everything tastes better roasted. It acutally turned out really well. I probably over cooked mine a little, so the strains were a little mashy. I served it with a delicious rich tomato sauce. Poor Marco missed out on this meal, but my lucky mum got to share it with me. She really enjoyed it, with a lovely glass of Lambrusco.

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Spaghetti Squash with a delicious Sun dried Tomato, Olive, Red Wine Sauce (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 Spaghetti Squash (90g -100g)

olive oil

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

1 small brown onion, diced

2 garlic, cloves diced

1 red chilli, diced

6 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1 can good quality tomato pulp (I used Mutti)

1/2 can filtered water

sea salt and black pepper to taste

pinch raw sugar

2 tablespoons red wine (I used Lambrusco)

8-10 black olives

8 basil leaves, chopped

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.DSC01838

2. Cut off the stem of the squash, then cut it in half. Scoop out the seeds and remove some of the guts. Sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper and roast for 30-40 minutes or until cooked.

3. Heat a pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and add onion, garlic and chili. Saute for a few minutes until the onion starts to brown.

4. Then add sun dried tomato and saute for another couple of minutes. If you like add some of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes or olive oil.

5. Add the tomato pulp, water,  sea salt, black pepper, raw sugar. Bring to a light boil, then leave to simmer.

6. Add the red wine and black olives. Leave to cook for 20 minutes or until the spaghetti squash is cooked. Add more sea salt and pepper if you need to the sauce.DSC01842

7. Once the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, run a fork through the flesh to produce small strains of spaghetti.

8. Before serving add the basil leaves to the sauce and stir it through the hot sauce and to let it wilt.

9. Top the Spaghetti Squash flesh with the sauce.

*Serves 2

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On the side I made a Lemony Cannellini bean Salad. There is something so special when these simple ingredients are combined. It is lovely served with a rich main or can be jazzed up for the main event.

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Zesty Cannellini bean Salad (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 can cannellini beans

1/2 small red onion, sliced

1/2 tablespoon lemon zest

small handful italian parsley, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and stir through. Can be made ahead of time.

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Miso Glazed Roasted Butternut Pumpkin with Miso Ginger Satay Sauce

Since I have one foot out the door at the moment, I am trying to make use of all of our pantry ingredients. Tonight was buckwheat night. I decided to pair it with some roasted butternut pumpkin and lightly sautéed vegetables. To make it a bit more interesting I created a glaze and sauce with my nearly expired white miso. The sauce was so delicious. It tasted almost like satay, but without the peanuts. I’m so in love with Tahini at the moment. Its really delicious and full of calcium. Feeling really nice and light after such a wholesome dinner.

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Miso Glazed Roasted Butternut Pumpkin with Miso Ginger Satay Sauce (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients for Miso Glazed Roasted Pumpkin:

1/2 butternut pumpkin

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 tablespoon crushed ginger

1 tablespoon white miso paste

1 tablespoon brown rice syrup

sea salt to taste

Ingredients for Miso Ginger Satay Sauce:

2 tablespoons unhulled tahini

1 tablespoon white miso paste

1 teaspoon crushed ginger

1 tablespoon brown rice syrup (or more to taste)

2 tablespoons pure sesame oil

1/4 filtered water

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Wash the butternut pumpkin well. Then cut the the pumpkin in half and then cut into thin slices.

3. In a bowl large bowl combine the coconut oil, ginger, white miso and rice syrup. Whisk with a fork until it is all blender well. Toss in the butternut pumpkin to coat.

4. Place the butternut pumpkin in a baking tray. Pour the extra marinate on top of the pumpkin.

5. Bake pumpkin for 30 mins or until softened and golden.

6. In the meantime prepare the Miso Ginger Satay Sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl or a blender. Whisk with a fork or blend until it has blended together well.

7. Serve the pumpkin and sauce with some buckwheat or grain of your choice and some lightly sautéed or steamed vegetables.

*Serves 4

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Rolled Eggplant with Cannellini Pine nut Filling and Asparagus Green bean Salad with Caper Dressing

Now that we are so close to getting our new home, I have been trying to gather ideas for what to serve at our engagement/house warming party. Even though I got engaged back in January, we still haven’t had a formal celebration. I did want have it in a venue, but Marco has been pushing me to wait till we got a house. Although I don’t want to cater the whole thing, I think I will try make a few small things. All vegan of course. These are some of the ideas I came up with for an entree/main and a side salad. The filling for the Rolled Eggplant can also be made as a dip or spread. It was so delicious, I couldn’t stop eating it. I don’t think Marco is going to be a fan of the salad. He hates capers and green olives, but I’m hoping when he gets to try it later he will look past the salty ingredients and enjoys it as a whole. If he can’t, well then he won’t be invited to have any of my Coconana-Chia Cake that I just made! ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????

Rolled Eggplant with Cannellini bean Pine nut Filling (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients for Eggplant

1 medium eggplant

sea salt

olive oil

storebought/homemade tomato (pasta) sauce

Ingredients for Cannellini bean Pine nut Filling:

1 can cannellini beans

1/2 cup pine nuts (soaked/boil 10 mintues)

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

sea salt to taste

20 basil leaves

Method:

1. To make the filling place all the ingredients for the filling, except the basil, in the processor. Blend until the nuts and beans break down and it becomes a puree.

2. Place the basil leaves in the process and blend so that they are finely cut but still a little chunky.

3. Slice the eggplant into thin strips (at least 12 with no skin on either side) and sprinkle generously with salt. Leave for 10 minutes, to remove the bitterness, then remove the salt and moist with a paper towel.

4. Heat a griddle pan on medium to high heat and brush with olive oil. Coat the eggplant with olive oil and cook on both sides (3 mintues per slice). While cooking apply more olive oil if the eggplant dries out. Place the eggplant in a warm place so that it doesn’t get cold while you cook all the slices.

5. Place the filling in the centre of the eggplant and then roll.

6. Serve on some warm tomato sauce. *Serves 4 ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? Asparagus Green bean Salad with Caper Dressing (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients for Salad:

30 green beans (topped & tailed)

2 bunches asparagus

2 large handfuls of baby kale/lettuce

small handful spanish green olives

2-3 tablespoons flaked almonds (toasted)

Ingredients for Dressing:

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1.5 teaspoons crushed garlic

2 tablespoons baby capers

2 teaspoons agave

1/2 teaspoon dry oregano

Method:

1. Chop the green beans and asparagus into 5 cm pieces.

2. Steam the green beans and asparagus for 5 minutes or until tender. Then place straight away into a bowl with cold water and ice for 10 minutes or until cold.

3. Strain the green beans and asparagus.

4. Massage the kale with sea salt, so that it breaks down. Slice the olives and toast the almonds.

5. Prepare the dressing by placing all the ingredients into a blender/processor and blend until creamy.

6. To assemble the salad first make a bed of baby kale, then top with green beans, asparagus, green olives and flaked almonds. Drizzle the caper dressing and serve.

Cannelloni with Cashew Tofu ‘Ricotta’ Spinach Filling

After that lovely living lasagne yesterday I was really in the mood for one of my favourite things I use to prepare with Marco before I stopped eating dairy. We use to often make spinach & ricotta or pumpkin & ricotta cannelloni together. I was originally going to make a spinach tofu filling with a creamy bechamel, but I had no unsweetened plant milk in the house. So I tried to make a filling of ‘ricotta’ using cashew and tofu with some fresh spinach and topped it with a home made tomato sauce. It definitely had the texture of ricotta. I was convinced it tasted like ricotta. Marco not so much, because he still indulges in dairy products, but he said it was still very delicious. He had seconds, so that’s always a good sign. Unfortunately I was not able to get a good picture of the cannelloni, but trust me what it lacks in aesthetics it made up for in taste. Looking forward to having leftovers again tonight!

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Cannelloni with Cashew Tofu ‘Ricotta’ Spinach Filling (vegan, gluten free option)

Ingredients for Sauce and Pasta:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

750ml passata sauce

350ml water

2 pinches raw sugar

sea salt & black pepper to taste

10 basil leaves, diced

250g cannelloni shells (use gluten free cannelloni if you prefer)

Ingredients for Filling:

1 cup cashews (raw/soaked)

1/2 cup water

250g firm tofu, cubed

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

4 cups chopped english or baby spinach leaves

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Prepare the sauce first. Heat olive oil in a medium size pot and then add onions and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes or till transparent.

3. Add the passata sauce, water, raw sugar and season. Bring to a boil and then leave on a simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

4. If you haven’t soaked the cashews, cook in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, then rinse under cold water.

5. Place cashews in a kitchen processor. First break down the cashews a little, then add water while it is running. I used my processor instead of my Vitamix so that there would still be the texture of ricotta, rather then cream.

6. While it is running add tofu cubes.???????????????????????????????

7. Once tofu has broken down a bit add olive oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, while the processor is running.???????????????????????????????

8.  Add 2 cups of spinach leaves to the ricotta and let the processor run until they break down into the ricotta. Then add the next to cups but don’t break down the spinach too much.???????????????????????????????

9. The sauce should be ready now, so add diced basil leave and leave to the side.

10. Put a couple of ladles of the sauce into a large baking tray, so that you can’t see the bottom.

11. Fill the cannelloni shells with the filling and place into the baking tray. I managed to use all the filling except for two shells.

12. Top with with the sauce and place into the oven for 40 minutes or until the cannelloni shells are cooked. If you have plenty of leftover sauce use to reheat leftovers the next day.

*Serves 6

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New Beginnings

I’m back again after a little break from blogging. I finally have some time off after seeing the dentist. I have a few days off to recoup at home. Finally got out my last wisdom tooth. The one I begged the dentist to leave last time because I couldn’t have him take 2 at the same time again. This little break is also great timing for me to start packing up my things, because we signed papers to buy a house this weekend past! After two years of looking off and on and many disappointments we have finally found the one for Marco and I to start our adult life together. I say ‘adult’ because we are going to have to start doing things for ourselves. Although I love to cook I’m not a great cleaner. Marco on the other hand loves to keep his room in order, but we both can’t iron his shirts. But its time to grow up and leave the nest!

A couple of nights ago mum took us out to dinner to celebrate. We decided to try Rouj Modern Lebanese. I discovered them a few weeks ago at Rosalie. They were full with people and the reviews are great too, so they must be doing something right. After checking out the online menu I found a dish that was vegan friendly. I ordered the Vegetarian Delight, which included ftayer (pastry filled with spinach), Silver beet rice roll, pumpkin kebbi, hummus (instead of tzaziki) mjadra, tabouli, pickles, Lebanese bread. I was so full after this that I didn’t have room for anything else.

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Other vegan eats this weekend was brunch at The Green Edge. Marco was the one that suggested to go. He just loves their vegan burgers, brownies and milkshakes, but we still hadn’t tried their breakfast. We ordered a little too much but the food was fabulous! Marco and I shared the Big Breakfast, which had tofu scramble with garlic-sautéed mushrooms; smoky strips; breakfast potatoes; toasted Turkish bread with guacamole; seitan sausage patties, served with a homemade tomato relish. Mum had the special, smokey strip Turkish Sandwich with Roasted Capsicum Relish. We also all shared the Pancakes Stack with Dark chocolate chips and syrup. Can’t tell you what was my best part because I loved all of it. Lucky for me our new house is just down the road from here, so it won’t be such a big deal to travel over for a bite to eat or replenish my vegan pantry.

The Big Breakfast

The Big Breakfast

Smokey Strip Sandwich with Roasted Capscium

Smokey Strip Turkish Sandwich with Roasted Capscium Relish

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Pancakes Stack with Dark chocolate chips and syrup

Other then buying houses and eating out, the weekend before I visited the Organic Growers Fair.  Marco is obsessed with growing trees at the moment, so I picked up for him a dwarf Mango, dwarf Apple and Vanilla bean orchard. He also has a dwarf lemon, dwarf lime, dwarf mulberry, dwarf avocado, more avocado trees. At the moment they are all in pots, so hopefully we will plant some at a new home.

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Here a just a few of the trees we have transported to mine house. Isn’t he a gorgeous boy! Unfortunately he hasn’t been protecting our mulberries from the birds. He only chases people.

The following are some recipes I cooked during the week. This first one was my favourite. I have never cooked soup with old bread before. The first time I tried a soup with old bread was  the soup Ribollita in Sienna, Tuscany. The bread and vegetables were really mushy, but full of flavour. Pappa al pomodoro is another summer Tuscan soup. I used old ciabatta bread (finally some leftover). The rest of the ingredients were simple, evo, onion, garlic, fresh tomatoes, vegan chicken stock and fresh basil. This had to be the most delicious soup I have ever made. Marco was a really big fan and said it tasted like real Italian food.

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Pappa al pomodoro (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

900g fresh tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

200g ciabatta bread/other ‘country style’ bread, remove crust

850ml hot vegan chicken stock

20 basil leaves, diced

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Boil a pot of water, then add all the whole tomatoes. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until you see the skin peel back a little bit. Then place tomatoes straight in a bowl with ice water or cool down with rinse with water in strainer. Once they have cooled down, peel the skin and then dice and set aside.???????????????????????????????

2. Heat olive oil in a large pot, then add onions and garlic. Saute for 6-8 minutes on a low heat, not letting them brown.???????????????????????????????

3. Add the tomatoes to the pot. Leave on a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 30 minutes.

4. In the meantime tear the ciabatta bread into small pieces and heat the vegan chicken stock.

5. Add the bread and stir through a couple of times.

6. Gradually add hot stock and allow it to soak up all the bread.

7. Add the basil leaves and season if you need. Cook for one more minute.

8. Serve warm or wait an hour and serve at room temperature.

*Serves 4-5

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I have finally found and eaten golden beets! I got them from the Wednesday Farmers Market in the CBD. They were only small but had the leaves attached as well. They are so delicious and sweet! I really nice change from the regular beets. I’ve never tried making coconut yogurt before, but it was really simple. I just added lemon juice to coconut cream. Just be careful to not add to much or it will be too sour. I got this idea to make chickpea nuggets from The Japanese Vegetarian Kitchen’sVegan Chicken teriyaki steak. Funniest thing was Marco took leftovers to work and some of the blokes sauce his container when he was heating the nuggets. They didn’t know whose it was but they were all trying to figure out what it was.

Sweet Sumac Tahini Chickpea Nuggets with Quick Coconut Yogurt and Quinoa Kale salad with Golden Beets and Sweet Potato (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients for Chickpea nuggets & sauce:

1 can chickpeas

1 tablespoon arrowroot flour

sea salt to taste

Ingredients for Marinate:

1 tablespoon tahini

2  tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sumac

1 teaspoon crushed ginger

sea salt to taste

1 teaspoon agave

Ingredients for Salad:

4 small golden beets, sliced

1 medium sweet potato, sliced

olive oil

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

2 cups tuscan kale

sea salt

pine nuts

Ingredients for Coconut Yogurt:

1/2 cup coconut cream

1 tablespoon lemon juice (more to taste)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Then toss the golden beets and sweet potato with olive oil and sea salt and place on a tray in the oven for 30 minutes or until cooked.???????????????????????????????

2. Mash the chickpeas with a fork and add arrowroot and plenty of sea salt. Then form into nuggets. I made about 9.???????????????????????????????

3. Combine all the ingredients for the marinate. Coat the nuggets in the marinate and leave in the fridge for 20- 30 minutes. Leave any extra marinate aside for later.???????????????????????????????

4. If you have’t already, cook the quinoa and prepare the kale. Chop the kale, then massage it with sea salt until the fibers have broken down. Once the quinoa has cooled down combine with the kale.???????????????????????????????

5. Heat a non stick pan with a little bit of oil (olive/coconut). Cook the nuggets for a couple of minutes on both sides until golden.

6. Prepare the coconut yogurt by combining the ingredients the put to the side.

7. Toast the pine nuts.

8. Assemble the salad, then top with Chickpea nuts, extra marinate and Coconut yogurt.

*Serves 3

This was my veganised attempt of Sichuan Noodles. I swapped pork for brown lentils and shiitake mushrooms, egg noodles for sweet potato noodles, chicken stock for vegan stock, and hot bean paste (didn’t have any) for miso paste. Not sure how Chinese, but it was a healthier version.

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Spicy Shittake, Brown Lentil and Spinach with Sweet Potato Starch Noodles (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

100g cooked brown lentils

100g sweet potato noodles

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 tablespoon ginger, diced

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1/2 tablespoon dry sherry

2 tablespoon sesame oil

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 small red chilies, diced

1/2 tablespoon white miso or hot soy bean paste

1 tablespoon peanut butter

125ml vegan chicken stock

2 cups of spinach leaves  (chopped)

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cook sweet potato noodles according to packet instructions.

2. In a bowl combine brown lentils, soy sauce, sherry, sea salt. Heat oil in a wok and saute brown lentils for 3-4 minutes. Then add shittake mushroom and cook for 2 more minutes. Take out of wok and place to the side.

3. Add garlic, ginger, onion and chili to the wok. Stir fry for 1 minute.

4. Add miso/soy bean paste, peanut butter. Heat for a few seconds.

5. Add vegan chicken stock and bring to boil, simmer for 5 minutes or until it thickens.

6. Add lentils, shiitake mushrooms, spinach and noodles. Heat in the wok until spinach has wilted. Season.

*Serves 2

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Healthy Italian Hot Chocolate for 2 (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 mugs of coconut milk

1 tablespoon cacao

1 tablespoon maca

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon coconut sugar

1 tablespoon vegan custard powder (to make thicker, optional)

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients in small pot. ???????????????????????????????

2. Heat on the stove on a medium-low heat and whisk while cooking. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until it thickens a little.

3. Serve immediately.

Labor weekend recipe roundup

Happy Labor Day weekend fellow Queenslanders! The heat has finally arrived! This weekend has been hot and humid, but really breezy as well. I spent this long weekend with house hunting and spending time with the Mini Marco’s. Below are some of the meals I have prepared over the week.

I finally tried some recipes from Crazy Sexy Diet over the weekend. I adapted her Cornmeal Banana Walnut Pancakes. Since I didn’t have any banana or walnuts, I used dairy free choc chips, which of course the kids loved. I really loved the batter for this recipe. The polenta/cornmeal really gives the pancake a crunch. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to get any photos. Another recipe I tried was her Tofu Country Scramble. Marco and I really loved this. After a year on a plant based diet and I was yet to make a tofu scramble. This tasted really similar to a real egg scramble, but better.

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We also visited The Green Edge with our Living Social Lunch Vouchers. I got Spicy Seitan Burger and a Peanut Butter Milkshake. Marco got the Satay Tofu Burger and Chocolate Milkshake. It was all so good, but I ordered far to much.???????????????????????????????

While I was there I bought a couple of new vegan products. Sweet Freedom Natural Sweetener is made of apples, grapes and carob. Its a great substitute to maple syrup and much more cost effective. Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon powder is an organic dry vegan stock, which i really makes a really flavorsome stock and is the best one I have tried. It is also a lot more cost effective then buying liquid stock.

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Over the past couple of weeks when I haven’t felt like cooking I have been bring home takeaway from Vege Rama on my way home from work. For a less then $10 you can get the most delicious vegan thai, indian curries or even a lasagna, which is big enough  for two. Tonight I tried to recreate one of my favorite dishes from there.

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Easy Thai Pumpkin Curry (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon ginger, diced

1 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons thai red curry paste

1 small red capsicum, chopped

4 cups pumpkin, chopped

2 cups carrot, chopped

2 teaspoon vegan vegetable stock mixed with 2 cups of water

400ml coconut cream

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Method:???????????????????????????????

1. Heat coconut oil in a wok, then add onion, ginger, garlic and curry paste. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until the oil separates from the curry paste. Then add 1/4 cup coconut cream and heat for few more minutes.???????????????????????????????

2. Add capsicum, pumpkin and carrot and saute for a 5 minutes.

3. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Add coconut cream and soy sauce and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the pumpkin is soften.

*Serve with brown rice or another other gluten free grain, or some wholemeal roti

Ever wondered how asparagus risotto gets that beautiful green color? I found this tip in an Italian cook book, to blend the stems of the asparagus spears with the liquid stock before cooking the risotto. I always find that I need more then a litre of stock, so added some of the steamer water to make use of the vitamins that get lost in the water. I haven’t made risotto in so long, so this was a nice treat.

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Green Spring Risotto (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 bunch asparagus

1 bunches of broccolini

1 litre vegan chicken liquid stock

1 tablespoon vegan butter (I used nutlex)

2 cups risotto rice

1/2 cup white wine

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 cup frozen peas

sea salt and black pepper to taste

Cashew Parmesan/vegan parmesan (optional)

Method:

1. Cut the woody ends off the asparagus and the broccolini. Then cut into each spear into 4 parts.

2. Place the asparagus and broccolini in the steamer, except for the tops of them. Leave them to the side for later. Steam for 5 mins or until tender.???????????????????????????????

3. Place steam asparagus and broccolini in the blender with the liquid stock and blend until smooth. Then place on the stock to boil, so that it is ready for the risotto.

4. Heat butter in a large pot, then once its melted add the risotto rice. Toast for a few minutes.

5. Add white wine, onion and garlic to the risotto and allow it the wine to absorb into the rice.???????????????????????????????

6. Now begin adding boiled liquid stock, a ladle at a time. Allow it to absorb into the rice, until adding more. Stir the risotto continuously.

7. About 5 minutes before the risotto is ready, steam the tops of the asparagus, broccolini and the peas. If you need more boiling water for the risotto, you can used this steam water once your finished with it.

8. Take the risotto off the heat and add in the steamed asparagus, broccolini and peas, and season with sea salt and black pepper.

9. Serve with some home-made vegan parmesan.

*Serves 4 main serves, or 6 entree serves

I love eggplant, but I find I don’t it as much as I like because I need to use so much oil to cook it. This recipe is a bit lighter on the oil, but is just as flavorsome. Its also really easy to prepare and is gluten free.

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Stuffed Eggplants with Sun dried Tomatoes & Pine nuts (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 Italian eggplant

olive oil

2 small red onions

3 garlic cloves

10 sun dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons pine nuts

small handful of basil

2 tablespoons quinoa crumbs (or gluten free bread crumbs)

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. Slice eggplant in half, then use a pairing knife and a spoon to scoop out most of the flesh from the eggplant, just leave the shells.???????????????????????????????

3. Brush the eggplant shells with olive oil, then place in the oven for 20 minutes.

4. In the meantime chop the eggplant flesh into small pieces and dice the red onion, garlic, sun dried tomatoes and basil.

5. Heat a pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes, until they start to soften.???????????????????????????????

6. Add the eggplant flesh to the pan and saute for 5 minutes, until its cooked. Add another tablespoon of olive or water if the eggplant is too dry.???????????????????????????????

7. Take off the heat and add the sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, quinoa crumbs and sea salt. Stir through till combined well.

8. Take out the eggplant shells from the oven and fill with the eggplant stuffing.

9. Bake the eggplants for 20 minutes.

* Serves 2 to 4 depending on the size of the serve.

What to do when you have heaps of canned pineapple leftover from pizza night? I made this delicious dressing for my work salads. Well it only turned out to be one work salad, since I accidentally poured most of this dressing on my kitchen bench.

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Pineapple Poppy seed Dressing (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 cup pineapple pieces

3/4 cup pineapple juice

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

3 tablespoon olive oil/other mild oil

sea salt to taste

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients, except the poppy seeds in a high speed blender.

2. Stir in the poppy seeds last and serve with salad.

*Makes 250 ml

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High hopes…

Hi all, hope you all had a great weekend! We spent the weekend and most of last week organizing to go to auction for our dream house. Unfortunately although we won the auction we didn’t get the house. The owner had really unrealistic expectations of price that they only made clear the day of the auction and would not budge. It was a bit disappointing, but at least I can sleep again. Most of last week I spent tossing and turning and stressing. So its Monday morning and I’m feeling more refreshed for the week. Things could still turn around, but we will just have to wait and see.

Besides stressing about the house I spent most of last week stressing about something else. I admit since I have started my job I have put on a little weight. I spend most of the day sitting down and have found it difficult to exercise in the evenings. Beside that winter has continued into spring, I am just generally exhausted at night and have lacked motivation. However this week someone I won’t mention was not going to let me think my weight gain has gone unnoticed. I was just so embarrassed and upset that I spent the rest of the weekend trying to sustain a mostly liquid diet. All that I achieved was giving myself a migraine, being short tempered with even one and hating myself. It wasn’t until the end of the week that I realized that I don’t need to change myself for someone else. I am still a healthy size 10 and it is expected that a change in my lifestyle was going to impact my body. Which is something that I can bounce back from once I get use to my routine. People who make nasty comments only do it for their own satisfaction. It is not out of care, but to highlight imperfect in someone else to mask their own insecurities. Instead of being motivated by someone else’s jealousy, I rather be motivated by my own need to live the healthiest life I can. So I have been trying to make more of an effort to walk my dogs and be active. Looking forward to the sun staying out a little longer as we get further into spring.

Anyhow on a brighter subject, as I mentioned I tried to live on a most liquid diet. But I still had to eat some solid foods. I tried to keep it as light as possible, but I certainly wasn’t going to eat lettuce leaves. I am really not a fan of plain old lettuce tomato and cucumber as a main meal. So to sprice up my salad I added some roasted Japanese eggplant and sweet potato. This is now my favourite way to have Japanese eggplant. I just chopped them in half and lightly brush some oil roast for 20-30 mins. They taste great in a salad with Agave & Tahini Dressing. I also prepared them to accompany a Roasted Garlic, Cherry Tomato Coconut Oat soup. Marco wasn’t a big fan of oats in soup, but I just wanted to see what it would be like. It wasn’t bad, but still needs so fine tuning. A recipe I did include was Quinoa Sushi with Red Onion, Cucumber and Mayo. Marco was a bit freaked out about quinoa in sushi, but he ended up loving it. The combination was surprisingly really nice and didn’t feel like anything was really missing.

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Quinoa Sushi with Red Onion, Cucumber and Mayo (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

white quinoa

rice wine vinegar

mirin

sea salt

red onion diced

cucumber sliced

Soy Mayonnaise/vegan mayonnaise

nori sheets

Method:

1. Cook quinoa according to packet directions. Then let it cool down and add some rice wine vinegar, mirin and sea salt to taste.

2. In the meantime combine the diced red onion with mayonnaise.

3. Lay out the nori sheet then add a layer of quinoa. Then in the centre add red onion and 3 slices of cucumber.

4. Roll up the nori sheet then slice and serve.

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I have been a bit slack continuing my Cookbook Project for the recipe book Energise Your Life: Release Your Natural Energy. After the Aloo Gobi debacle, I was a bit hesitant to try something else.  I finally got all the ingredients together the Vegetable crumble, so here it is. My family really liked this recipe. I quite liked it too, but I did find the crumble a bit dry. I had a feeling when I was adding the crumble that it was a bit floury and thick, but I decided to trust in the recipe. Turns out my instincts were right and there wasn’t enough vegan butter to make the crumble that hard and crusty, so it was a bit on the floury side. But nevertheless I really liked this recipe.

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Vegetable Crumble (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

To make this recipe you will need:

1 onion sliced

2 medium carrots, sliced

2 sticks of celery, sliced

1/4 cabbage, shredded/sliced

125g vegan butter

200g organic flour

2 tablespoons flaked almonds, plus more to garnish

225g tomatoes (about 3 small)

125g hazel nuts, chopped

1 tablespoons yeast (I used 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast) mixed with 175 ml boiling water

sea salt & black pepper to taste

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First I preheated the oven to 180 degrees and slicing all the vegetables and nuts. Then I melted half the Nutlex in a large pan on medium to low heat. Then sautéed the vegetables till they were soft.

While they were cooking, I adding the flour (minus 1 tablespoon of flour), half the butter and 2 tablespoons of flaked almonds into the blender and blended it. I also dropped the tomatoes into boiled water for a minute, then peeled and chopped them.

When the vegetables were starting to soften I added the hazelnuts top heat through, then added1 tablespoon of flour.

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Next I added the nutritional yeast mixed with the water, chopped tomatoes sea salt and black pepper. I allowed it to thicken a little before taking it off the heat.

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I placed the vegetables into a greased casserole tray. Then topped it with the crumble mixture and some extra flaked almonds. I baked that for 1 hour. Since my crumble looked a bit floury I added a bit of spray oil on the top and cooked it for a further 5 minutes. I think it did help to get make the top a bit more crispy.

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This was the result. It does look a bit dry but actually the vegetables underneath were moist and caramelized nicely. It serves enough for 6.

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The cook book recommended servicing it with steamed green beans and corn, which actually really went well with the Vegetable Crumble. I just sliced the corn off the cob and chopped fresh green beans. Green beans and corn do taste a lot better fresh then frozen. Steamed they taste great, all they needed was a bit of sea salt.

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I really did like this recipe and I think its both Marco and kid friendly. It can easily be made gluten free, using gluten free flour. The only think I recommend is using less flour in the crumble.

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