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

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked black beans

1 large clove of garlic

1 cup grated beetroot

juice from 1.5 limes

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon onion flakes (or onion powder)

1/2 tablespoon 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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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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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 (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil (more to cook burgers)

1 small red onion

2 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon 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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Sweet Potato Sage Risotto with Hazelnut ‘Parmesan’

Now that I know the secret to making a good risotto it is one of my favourite midweek meals to make. I have never made it with sweet potato or sage before and to be honest I was a bit worried how it was going to turn out. However this has to be one of the best risotto’s I’ve ever made. I was worried that the sweet potato would be  too sweet, but it rather completed the risotto rather then overpowering it. The sage also gave the risotto a really nice aromatic flavour. With the addition of hazelnut ‘parmesan’ it was a winning combination.

What’s your favourite ingredients to add to Risotto?

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Sweet Potato Sage Risotto with Hazelnut ‘Parmesan’ (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

3 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 cups), peeled and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons hazelnuts

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups risotto

1 large brown onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1 litre boiling vegetable stock (I used steamer water and Marigold Swiss Bouillon Powder)

20 sage leaves, roughly chopped

Method:

1. Steam the sweet potato. Once it is cooked set aside and mash.

2. In the meantime place the hazelnuts and nutritional yeast in a coffee grinder. Grind into a flour and add sea salt to taste.

2. Heat olive oil in a large pot, then add risotto. Toast the risotto for a minute, then add the onion and garlic. Saute for another minute.

3. Add the white wine and allow it to absorb into the rice. Stir continuously.

4. Ladle spoons of boiling vegetable stock into the pot, one at a time. Allowing the rice to absorb the stock and before adding another ladle. Stir continuously. After you add a couple of ladles of stock, add the sage leaves.

5. Once the rice is just about cooked, add the mashed sweet potato and stir through. Adjust the seasoning with sea salt to taste.

6. Serve the risotto topped with a generous couple of spoons of the Hazelnut ‘Parmesan’

*Serves 6

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To complement the risotto I made a great big salad with fresh organic lettuce, kale, pea sprouts, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and red onion. To dress it I used my homemade Sun-dried Tomato Basil and Almond Pesto.

Pesto is also my new weekly obsession. Every week when I go to the Farmers Market I get a big bunch of basil and just blend it with olive oil, nutritional yeast and what ever nuts I have on hand. It’s great to use as a spreads, salad dressings, to add to sauces, etc. Actually tonight I used the remaining pesto to give my homemade burgers an extra kick. I am too tired to post that recipe tonight, so it will be coming out soon.

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Almost Raw Chocolate Cheesecake for Valentines / Pod Espresso

Happy Belated Valentines! This Valentines I got my gift early from Marco. He surprised me early in the week with some lovely lilies and some vegan cupcakes. He also put together our new desk, which I have been harping at him for the last few weeks. Considering he forgot our engagement anniversary and didn’t get me a DSC01932present for Christmas, he wanted to make sure he got in early this time.

For his gift he wanted me to make a nice dinner and following by a Chocolate cake. I spent most of the last couple of days at work looking a different recipes online. I didn’t want to make a traditional chocolate cake, I wanted to make something a bit more special. I came across The Ultimate Chocolate Fudge Pie by Chocolate Covered Katie and thought I had to try this. I love vegan cheesecakes and pies. Whenever I get the chance to order one I always do. I never tried to make one myself so I thought this was my chance.

I adapted the original recipe a bit by making a brazil nut base and changing the amounts of ingredients a little to taste. This recipe was really easy to make and doesn’t take long to make at all. It was also really delicious and I swear you can’t taste the tofu. Marco didn’t even know that it was made of tofu and he can usually pick these things. He was a little disappointed he didn’t come home to a death by chocolate cake, but he still did like it. He also took a nice big piece to work and professed this afternoon that it was much better then he thought.

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Almost Raw Chocolate Cheesecake (vegan, no bake, gluten free)

Ingredients for base:

1 cup brazil nuts

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon vanilla essence

3 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons cacao peanut butter

Ingredients for filling:

1 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips (I used Sweet Williams)

350g organic tofu (semi firm)

1 tablespoon vanilla

3 tablespoons cacao

3 tablespoons coconut oil

3 tablespoons plant milk (coconut, rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate; more if you need)

Method:

1. First make the base by placing the brazil nuts in a process and wizz until they have broken down a little. Add the rest of the ingredients for the base into the processor. Don’t over process the brazil nuts too much, leave a little chunky.DSC01954

2. Take a springform baking pan and place baking paper on the bottom and grease the inside edges with coconut oil.

3. Place the base mixture into the pan and push down with a cake spatula, making sure that it is equally distributed.

4. Next prepare the filling. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler use a small heavy based pot and add a couple of tablespoons of milk, so that it doesn’t stick.DSC01963

5. In the processor add the tofu, melted chocolate and the remaining ingredients. Continue to process till smooth. While its processing you may have to wipe down the edges with a cake spatula so that all the ingredients combine well.

6. Pour the filling on top of the prepared base. Smooth the top with the cake spatula.

7. Place the cake into the fridge or freezer until ready to serve. The longer it sits the firmer it will get. I put mine into the freezer until it firmed up a little, then into the fridge and served about an hour later.

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Before I go I wanted to share a new vegan friendly cafe just down the road from my place. Pod Espresso is a little cafe in Stafford just of the main road. They serve great coffee, breakfast, lunch, desserts, cold press juices and smoothies. They are more then just a cafe, they are also an organic supermarket. They sell organic packaged and fresh products and were quite reasonably processed.  Marco and I went in for brunch last weekend. I wasn’t sure if they were vegan friendly, but I have seen many vegan options on their facebook page.

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On the day they only had a couple of breakfast options. I ordered the Avocado on Sour Dough with Dukkah, Rocket and Lemon juice. It was really delicious and a nice change from the usually Avo on Toast.

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Next I had to try their coffee and Vegan Mint Lamington. I haven’t had a lamington in years and I have never seen a vegan one before. This was absolutely delicious. I just wish Marco ordered his own so I didn’t have to share. The coffee was also great.

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We are very happy that we have such a nice cafe so close to home. Hope to visit Pod Espresso again soon.

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Marinated Rainbow Carrots

This dish was adapted from the recipe Carote marinate from one of my favourite Italian blogs, Memorie di Angelina. Its a simple side dish that can be prepared ahead of time or while you are waiting on other dishes to cook. I used rainbow carrots because I love the colours and the more mild flavour. I chose to steam the carrots, so that they would retain more nutrients.

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Marinated Rainbow Carrots (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 bunch rainbow carrots

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1/2 small lemon

1 small garlic clove, crushed & diced

small handful italian parsley, diced

sea salt to taste

Methods:

1. Scrub the carrots with a vegetable brush. If they are quite large chop in half and half again the top half, so that they are equally around the same size.

2. Steam the carrots until they have softened but are still a little crunchy. Rinse in a collander, so that they are not hot.

3. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Stir the carrots through and cover. Leave to marinate for at least 1 hour. Leave on the bench to marinate if you don’t want them too cold or place in the fridge.

*Serves 4 as a side dish

Roasted Potatoes two ways with Cashew Coriander Sauce

Now that Marco has his new BBQ he needs to BBQ every weekend and pretty much any other chance he gets. I’ve never liked BBQ, unlike most people in Australia.  I never liked the charcoal overcooked taste of meat. Last Sunday when it was BBQ o’clock again, I decided to prepare something special for myself, but it ended up being a fabulous side dish that everyone loved.

Marco has always hated coriander. But when it was blended into this delicious sauce it tasted more like a pesto with a twist. The fresh garlic also gave it some heat. I paired it with Roasted Sweet Potato Mash and a couple of days later with some spicy Roasted Kipfler Potatoes. Both ways tasted really good with this sauce. This sauce is also great as spread or dip.

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Cashew Coriander Sauce (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup cashews

4 garlic cloves

1 cup fresh coriander

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup water, sea salt to taste

Methods:

1. Just add all the ingredients into a Vitamix or high speed blender. Blend until smooth.

*Makes about 1 cup.

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Sweet Potato Smash with Cashew Coriander Sauce (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato (or 2 medium)

1/2 cup Cashew Coriander Sauce (recipe above)

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

Methods:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Place whole sweet potatoes a tray with baking paper and puncture the skin with fork (about 4 times).

3. Roast the sweet potato until soft and mashy inside. Should take about 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of your sweet potato. If you using a larger sweet potato chop into pieces.

4. While it is cooking you can prepare the Cashew Coriander Sauce.

5. Dry toast the pumpkin seeds in pan on a low heat. It should only take a couple minutes till they start to pop.

6. Serve mashed sweet potato flesh topped with the coriander sauce and toasted pumpkin seeds

*Serves 4 as a side

*Makes 1 cup of Cashew Coriander Sauce.

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Roasted Spiced Kipfler Potatoes with Cashew Coriander Sauce (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

500g kipfler potatoes

1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon cajun spice blend (or 1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper)

sea salt to taste, olive oil

1/2 cup cashew coriander sauce (recipe above)

Methods:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Wash and brush the dirt from the potoatoes. Then slice into halves or quarters.

3. Toss potatoes with olive oil, spices and sea salt and place into a baking tray.

4. Roast pototoes for 40-50 minutes or until cooked and golden brown.

5. Serve roasted potatoes topped with Cashew Coriander Sauce.

*Serves 4 as a side

Rich Roasted Tomato Soup

During the week I was flipping through one of my Jamie Oliver book’s and I came across the most delicious looking Tomato soup. I have never had a real tomato soup. When I was a kid we use to eat a lot of can soup, including the Campbell’s Tomato soup. I never really like it though. I just found it tasted like tomato juice, which I wasn’t a big fan either.  But I thought I would give it another chance. I adapted this recipe from Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals. It was so delicious and really celebrated the essence of the tomato. The tomato and basil tasted really fresh and fragrant. It was also really creamy without the add of any dairy or dairy substitutes.

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Rich Roasted Tomato Soup (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 large tomatoes

500g variety cherry tomatoes (heirloom, orange, red)

4 garlic cloves

1 large red chilli (or 2 small)

olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

2 medium red onions

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup filtered water

1 handful basil leaves

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

2. Chop the large tomatoes into quarters, crush the garlic cloves and remove the chilli seeds and stem from the chilli. Add all the tomatoes, garlic and chilli to a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and black pepper. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until tomatoes soften.

3. In the meantime, roughly chop the red onions. Then heat a pan with olive oil and add the red onions. Cook on a medium heat until the onions start to soften. This should take about 5 minutes.

4. Add balsamic vinegar to the onion and allow it to cook through so that the onions are sticky and sweet.

5. Place the onions, roasted tomatoes, roasting liquid (from the tomatoes), basil leaves, water, sea salt (to taste) in high speed processor. Blend until smooth.

6. Serve immediately or reheat in a pot.

*Makes 5 cups

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Satay Noodle Soup with Grilled Tofu

This soup was adapted from Shredded chicken satay noodle soup. Not such a great idea while we were having a heat wave, but still delicious and very healthy.

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Satay Noodle Soup with Grilled Tofu (vegan, gluten free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 large red chilli, diced

1 tablespoon diced ginger

2 medium brown onions, chopped

5 tablespoon natural peanut butter

3 tablespoon soy sauce

2 litres vegetable stock

sea salt to taste

1 x 400g tin coconut milk

2 bunches buk choy/other asian green

2.5 serves bean thread noodles/other noodles

2 x 200 g packets of marinated satay tofu (or homemade)

coriander (optional)

Method:

1. Heat coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and red chili. Saute for a 5 minute or until the onions are browned.

2. Stir in the peanut butter and soy sauce.

3. Add the vegetable stock and whisk so the peanut butter mixes well through the stock.

4. Bring to the boil, then leave on a simmer for 30 -40 minutes. Season with sea salt or more soy sauce.

5. Wash and slice the buk choy and leave to the side.

6. Bring the kettle to the boil, then fill a pot and soak the Bean thread noodles for 5 minutes, then strain.

7. Add the coconut milk to the soup and season with more sea salt if you need.

8. Add the buk choy, let it wilt, then turn off the heat and add the noodles.

9. Before serving the soup,  slice the tofu and grill it. Then serve the tofu on to of the soup. Also top with some fresh coriander if you have on hand.

*Serves 6

Vegan Polish Potato Pancakes

I was reminiscing of my time in Poland and got a craving for Placki Kartoflane (Potato Pancakes). This had to be one of my favourite dishes that I had in Eastern Europe, that is still vegan friendly. 182507_10151023948612292_459393868_nThey are usually served with Sour cream, but I ordered my with a spicy paprika sauce. You can find different variations of Potato Pancakes across Europe. I even made some delicious Italian-Austrian in my cooking class in Italy, that I will definitely have to be making soon. The potato in Polish Pancakes are much more finer and very crispy.

Although I didn’t completely nail mine, they were still pretty good. I served them with Cashew Sour Cream, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple Wholegrain Mustard Glaze and Pickles.

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Vegan Polish Potato Pancakes (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

4 large potatoes (about 4 cups tightly packed grated potato)

1 large brown onion, diced  (about 3/4 cup tightly packed)

2 egg replacer (2 teaspoon plus 4 tablespoons water)

3 tablespoons gluten free or unbleached plain flour

sea salt & black pepper to taste

rice bran oil or other vegetable oil to fry

Method:

1. Grate the potatoes and onion finely. Use a processor to grate or hand grate then place in in the processor to get finer.

2. In the process add egg replacer, flour, sea salt and black pepper and mix well.

3. In a pan heat oil, then place 2 tablespoons of the potato and flatter with the spoon, so it resembles a pancake. Cook for a couple of minutes on both side.

4. Drain oil from the pancakes with paper towel, then serve with some vegan sour cream.

*Makes 10 pancakes

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple Wholegrain Mustard Glaze (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients

20 brussels sprouts

2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard

1 teaspoon maple syrup

3 tablespoons rice bran oil

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Remove the outer leaves from the brussels spouts. Chop of the woody end and slice in half.

3. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well.

3. In a larger mixing bowl add brussels spouts and coat in the mustard maple mixture.

5. Roast the brussels sprouts for 20-30 minutes or until the brussels sprouts are cooked.

*Serves 2-3 as a side dish.