Baked Butter beans and Zucchini

A few of days ago I heard some really sad news that Jessica Ainscough passed away after losing her battle with cancer. I didn’t know her personally but I did follow blog and go to her Wellness Warrior Live Australian Tour about a year ago (post). She also wrote a great book, Make Peace with Your Plate: Change Your Life One Meal at a Time, which spoke of her own struggles with her health and how she changed her life by focusing  on nourishing her body with healthy food and living. She was a great inspiration of mine and I really value what I learned from her. There has been a lot of negative things written about her, which I don’t think is fair. Unless your are in someone else shoes I don’t think you have the right to judge what kind of treatment someone chooses when they are faced with a life threatening illness. I hope never to have to face such a difficult situation and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else. There are no guarantees in life and I believe she thrived in a terrible situation. Normally I’m never usually that sad when a well known person passes, but I feel differently this time. I guess because after hearing her story and meeting her at the book signing, she seemed really real, kind and relatable.

Over the past few days I have been making more recipes from my favourite recipe book of the moment, The Oh She Glows Cookbook. If you haven’t seen the book or Angela’s blog, Oh She Glows, I really recommend both. I am determined to cook as many recipes as I can. They are always delicious and easy to make. She also has recently had a baby and I have been enjoying reading all her posts and has been very eye opening to me for what to expect. I might start a new cookbook project with her book. My last one was not very successful. I have had more fun cooking Angela’s recipes. So this is some more recipes that I made over the last few days.

Since I’ve been pregnant I’ve often have cravings for granola. I have bought a few different brands but end up devouring the whole box with in a few days. I was flipping through Angela’s book and found this easy recipe for Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters. I absolutely love this recipe. It tastes so much better then storebought. I had everything already on hand so it was really easy to make. For the dried fruit I used dried figs and raisins. The recipe makes a fair bit and can last a couple of weeks in the fridge. Mine didn’t last that long. I had it with coconut yoghurt, over overnight oats and raw buckwheat porridge or simply with some almond milk. Marco also got very excited about it as well and enjoyed it for afternoon tea at work or a late night dessert snack.

In fact, something else that really paired well with this granola was Angela’s Creamy Vanilla Almond Milk. I did make it a few weeks back and used cheese cloth and made such a mess. Never again. I bought my own nut bag from a health food shop and it was so much easier, quicker and zero mess. Homemade almond milk taste so much better then store bought, that can have a bit of a strange taste. Plus this recipe uses 1 whole cups of almonds, which is way more than store bought, that usually only contain 6 almonds if your lucky. So it is way more nutrious and extremely creamy. Marco even used some to make a cappuccino and it creamed up really well. As you can see below I finished most of my granola by the time I took this picture. 

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Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters, The Oh She Glows Cookbook

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Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters with Creamy Vanilla Almond Milk, The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters with Raw Buckwheat Poridge, Oh She Glows Cookbook

Ultimate Nutty Granola Clusters with Raw Buckwheat Porridge, The Oh She Glows Cookbook

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On the mend Spiced Red Lentil-Kale Soup, The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Another recipe I made was the On the mend Spiced Red Lentil-Kale Soup. It doesn’t look like much but it is packed full of flavour. Marco wasn’t so excited about this soup until he tried it and he was blown away. Usually he doesn’t want to eat the same thing twice but he was happy to have it three times till it was gone. This recipe is something I came up with when I ran out of green veggies and was left with a zucchini and a can of butter beans. It’s very easy to make and makes a great main meal and leftovers can be eaten for breakfast on toast. I enjoyed mine with mashed potatoes and white wine mushrooms. I didn’t think Marco would like this one but I snuck it in his work lunch anyway and he really enjoyed it. DSC03851

Baked Butter beans and Zucchini (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 brown onion, quartered, sliced thinly

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium zucchini, chopped into cubes

1 cup good quality tomato pasta sauce (about 250 grams)

1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

pinch of raw sugar

sea salt and black pepper to taste

1 can butter beans

4 tablespoons good quality bread crumbs

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

4 small roma tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes, sliced

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Heat olive oil in an oven proof skillet on medium heat, then add the onion. Cook for about 5 minutes or until soft and browned.

3. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.

4. Add the zucchini and sauté for another minute

5. Add the tomato sauce, water, italian seasoning, liquid smoke, red wine vinegar, sugar. Bring to a light boil, then place on a simmer for 10 minutes.

6. In the meantime combine the bread crumbs, nutritional yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt in a small bowl.

7. Add the butter beans to the skillet and season with salt and black pepper. Then take of the heat.

8. Top the skillet with the bread crumb mixture and some sliced tomatoes.

9. Bake for 20 minutes and then serve.

*Serves 4-6 DSC03846

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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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Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms, Sundried Tomatoes and Peas

A couple of days ago I finally received my copy of Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen. I didn’t even know Chloe Coscarelli had written another book, but as soon as I found out I added it to my Amazon order. I have a been a long time fan of Chloe and have previously bought and cooked recipes from her other books, Chloe’s Kitchen and Chloe’s Vegan Desserts.

I am really excited about this new book because it combines my two favorite things, italian food and guilt free delicious vegan recipes. You probably noticed on my blog that I have many Italian inspired recipes that are recreations of the food I grew up with and other traditional dishes that I have eaten in Italy or always wanted to try. So I am so excited to get some ideas on how to better veganise my favourite recipes.

You can see a sneak peak of Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen on Amazon and Google Books.

Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen: My Vegan MoFo Cookbook of the Week

This recipe below was adapted from Chloe’s White Wine Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms and Peas from Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen. I used dried shiitake mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes in mine. Both have really strong flavours that really shone through. Marco was a bit scared when he saw the shiitake mushrooms, but he ended up being really happy with the taste of this risotto and wanted to have the leftovers for lunch the next day.

DSC03179Risotto with Shiitake Mushrooms, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Peas (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

6 cups vegetable liquid stock

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

1/2 cup dried shiitake mushrooms (soak for 10 minutes and slice in strips if large pieces)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1 cup arborio rice

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/4 cup chopped fresh italian parsley

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

ground black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Take medium pot and heat the liquid stock.  Leave it on a simmer while you start cooking the rest of the recipe.

2. Take a large skillet and heat olive oil on medium to high heat. Then add the onion and shiitake mushrooms. Saute until the onions have softened and are translucent.

3. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. Saute for 1 minute so that the garlic is fragrant.

4. Add the rice and the white wine. Stir through and cook until the white wine has been absorb.

5. Begin to ladle about one cup at a time of liquid stock into the skillet. Stir frequently. Add another ladle of liquid stock once the first has been absorbed and continue until the rice is cooked and there is no more stock. This should take about 20-25 minutes.

6. Add the peas, italian parsley, sea salt and ground black pepper. Stir through until the peas are warmed through. Adjust seasoning if you need and then serve.

*Serves 4

DSC03183So far I have made a couple more dishes from my new favorite cook book. Last night I made Lemon Herb Cannellini Beans (Cannellini all erbe e limone) with Spinach and Mash Potatoes with Garlic and Sea Salt (Purè di patate con aglio e sale marino).  This was the most delicious creamy, cheezy bean dish I have ever had and was really simple and quick to make. The main ingredients are cannellini beans, garlic, nutritional yeast, plant milk and lemon juice. The Mash Potatoes were also really creamy and delicious thanks to the fresh garlic and plant milk.

For dessert I made Olive Oil Pancakes (Frittelle all’olio di oliva). I’ve never cooked pancakes with olive oil and I usually don’t use that much baking soda, but they came out so fluffy and delicious. For a recipe with only 5 ingredients I was really happy with the results and so was Marco. Usually he lathers his pancakes with nutella, but was content with natural maple syrup. Can’t wait to serve this the next time the mini-Marco’s come to visit.

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Great Northern Bean Casserole with Sliced Potato Topping

Last night I really felt like a flavoursome, creamy beany casserole with potatoes. I knew exactly what I wanted but couldn’t find a similar recipe to get some ideas. I also needed to use the opened unsweetened soy milk that was on its last legs and some great northern beans I had cooked up that afternoon. So this is what I came up with. I probably shouldn’t of started cooking at 7pm but it was worth the wait. Marco loved this dish so much. He was even happy to eat it again for his next two home-made work lunches.

What’s your favourite vegan bean casserole?

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Great Northern Bean Casserole with Sliced Potato Topping (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients for Casserole:

1 cup great northern beans, soak for 8 hours or overnight or 2.5-3 cups cooked beans

1 medium brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1 teaspoon sweet hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

sea salt

2 cups vegan chicken or vegetable stock

1 cup unsweetened soy milk

3 tablespoons arrowroot flour

Ingredients for Potato Topping:

4 medium potatoes, peeled

sea salt

olive oil

black pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves

Method:

1. First place the soaked beans in 3 cups of water. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer and cook for 40-60 minutes or until tender. While the beans are cooking skim the foam of the top of the water. Once the beans are cooked drain the water and leave to the side to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

3. Place the potatoes in a medium pot with water and a pinch of sea salt. Bring the water to the boil and cook for 10-15 minutes. Afterwards drain the potatoes and leave to cool down.

4. Take a large oven safe skillet and heat the olive oil on medium heat. Then add onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

5. Add the carrots and celery. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

6. Add the white wine, tomatoes, hungarian paprika, mixed herbs and half teaspoon of sea salt. Stir through and allow the wine to absorb into the vegetables. This should take about 5 minutes.

7. Add vegan chicken stock, soy milk and great northern beans. Bring to the boil, then leave on a simmer for 20 minutes. While its cooking add the arrowroot flour and stir frequently while it thickens up.

8. In the meantime slice the potatoes into rounds and leave to the side.

9. Take the skillet off the heat and top with the sliced potatoes. Start from the outside and then work your way in.

10. Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and season with sea salt, black pepper and thyme leaves.

11. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Then if place the oven on grill and brown the tops of the potatoes for 5 minutes before serving.

*Serves 6 as a main

*I recommend serving this casserole with steamed vegetables or a fresh salad

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Delicious leftovers for a hungry pregnant woman…

DSC03155Like this recipe? Then you might also like my…

Cottage pie with  Borlotti beans and Porcini mushrooms

Cottage pie with Borlotti beans and Porcini mushrooms

Kidney Bean and Vegetable Stew with Cheddar Dumplings Topping

Kidney Bean and Vegetable Stew with Cheddar Dumplings Topping

 

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

Ingredients:

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

1/2 large 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 (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons 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 (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 garlic cloves, diced

bunch tuscan kale, chopped into ribbons

1-2 tablespoons golden raisins

1-2 tablespoons 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

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

Ingredients: 

7-8 potatoes (for mashing), chopped

1-2 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium or 1 large onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, diced

4 spring onions, chopped (optional), 

3 tomatoes, whole

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

2 teaspoons dry vegetable stock

2 small carrots, chopped

1 tablespoon thyme leaves (fresh/dry)

1 teaspoon 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 tablespoons 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 sautéed leafy greens!

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