Vegan Sense-sations

Today after a hard day of renovations, Marco, his father and I sat down to some delicious Vegan Sense-sations pies. These pies are made by Health Sense-sations. They are a vegetarian Queensland based company and their products can be found in various health food shops and small supermarkets in QLD and NSW. Until this morning I had never heard of them before. But we decided to try them after they were recommended to us by a lovely staff member at the Green Edge. I got the Thai Curry Pie and Marco and Victor got the NFB Mince & Veg Pie and the NFB Pepper Pie.

I bought the pies frozen in single packaging. Then I baked them for about 50 minutes at home. I served them with Roasted Kipfler Potatoes and Rainbow Carrots.

The boys loved their pies. Especially Marco’s father, who is a meat loving Serbian from way back. Although he has been embracing vegan home cooking in recent times. I only tried Marco’s Mince and Veg pie. It really did have that meat pie taste, but with out the grizzly bits. For me it tasted very meaty, but Marco said he could still taste the difference. As for Victor’s, well he was very happy with his Pepper Pie, but didn’t elaborate. My Thai Curry Pie was delicious! It had roasted pumpkin and sweet potato and some light spices. The pastry was also really lovely and flaky.

I would definitely recommend these pies as a vegan substitute or just for a easy prepare home meal. They are probably the best vegan store bought variety that I have tried.

Have you tried them? What did you think?

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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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Falafel, Tabouli, Pita Pockets…

I have been a bit lazy lately with cooking. I have been eating out a lot more on the weekends. So this weekend I wanted to make something healthy and special. I’ve had this bag of Fava beans for a while now, so I wanted to try making Falafel. I have never made it before, so thought I’d give it ago. The Fava beans took nearly 24 hours to soak, as they are very hard and need time for the skin detach from the skin. It took me nearly an hour to peel the skins off 500 g of them, but the results were worth it.

I decided to bake my Falafel so that they would be a bit more healthier. I also filled the mixture with heaps of fresh herbs from my local Asian market. To go with it I made Wholemeal Flax Seed Pita Pockets,  Lemon Cashew Yoghurt and Kale & Quinoa Tabouli. By the time I got our late lunch on the table it was dinner time, so the whole family got to eat with us. Everyone really liked and had seconds or thirds.

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Wholemeal Flax Seed Pita Bread (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1.5 cup warm water

2 teaspoons instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon raw sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

3.5 cups wholemeal flour (more for board)

2 teaspoons ground flax seeds

1 teaspoon olive oil

canola spray oil

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Method:

1. Take 1/4 of warm water and add yeast and sugar. Leave it for 10 mins.DSC06658

2. In a large mixing bowl add 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, ground flax seeds and sea salt.???????????????????????????????

3. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture.???????????????????????????????

4. Gradually add more the rest of the flour and warm water until you have a dough.

5. Knead the dough for 10-15 mins, until it is nice and elastic.

6. Brush a bowl with olive oil and leave the dough to rise for an hour or more (the longer the better).

7. Divide the dough into 10 balls. Then roll each ball out into a flat circle shape.

8. Heat a pan on high and spray with canola. Place the flat dough onto the pan and cook it till it puffs up. Make sure you turn it regularly so it doesn’t burn. It should only take 1-2 mins per pita.

9. While the pita is still hot, slice it in half.

*Makes 10 Pita Pockets

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Baked Fava bean Falafel (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

500g fava beans (soaked 24 hrs, then peeled)

6 garlic cloves

1 brown onion

3 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/2 bunch coriander

1/2 bunch dill

1/2 bunch parsley

sea salt & black pepper

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

1. After soaking the fava beans, peel off the skin and boil for 30 mins or until softened.

2. Finely chop the garlic, onion and all the herbs.

3. Place the fava beans in a process and make into a paste. Then add all the spices, onion, garlic, herbs and sea salt & pepper to taste.

4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

5. Make the mixture into balls and place on a nonstick tray. Bake for 20 mins.

*Makes 25-30

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Lemon Cashew ‘Yoghurt’ (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup cashews (pre-soaked/raw)

1 cup water

2 garlic cloves

3 tablespoons lemon juice (more to taste)

1 tablespoon olive oil

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. If you haven’t soaked the cashews then boil them for 10 mins.

2. In a Vitamix or high speed blender the cashews. Break them down, then slowly add 1/2 a cup of water. Blend till it becomes creamy.

3. Add garlic, lemon juice and olive oil and blend. If you need add more water to break down into a cream, but not too much, it should be thick.

*Makes 1 cup

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Kale & Quinoa Tabouli (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1.5-2 cups kale, chopped

4 shallots or green onions, chopped

1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped

3 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup cooked quinoa

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Cook quinoa according to packet instructions. Then strain and allow to cool.

2. Massage the chopped kale with sea salt to break down the fibers.

3. Combine the kale quinoa and all the remaining ingredients and serve.

*Serves 4 as side salad

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Over the weekend we ended up visiting The Green Edge on our way to visit hopefully our future house. I decided to try something different so I ordered the Noodle Bowl. It had soba noodles with twice-cooked pumpkin, served in a soy sauce-miso-shiitake broth. I doesn’t look like much but it was really nice. There was pumpkin all under the noodles as well. The rest of the family had their amazing vegan burgers, chips and salad. This was the first time my mums partner had been there. Of course his response was ‘I can believe its vegan’.

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My new favourite drink at the moment is this Frozen Peach Smoothie. I forgot about all the peaches that I froze a while ago. With the kiwi, banana and milk it tastes just like a peach ice cream.

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Frozen Peach Smoothie (vegan, raw, gluten free, nut free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup frozen peaches

1 golden kiwi

1/2 banana

1/2 cup plant milk (coconut, rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

Method:

1. Blend in a High speed blender and serve

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Over the weekend I finally tried something else that’s been in my cupboard for a while. Celebrate Health is a new brand that started appearing on supermarket shelves. Their range includes flavoured lentils, quinoa, recipe bases and stock. All their products are Gluten free, Wheat free, Dairy free, Tree nut free, Peanut free, 100% natural and Preservative free. Most are also vegan and Soy free. I had the Indian Marsala Lentil Packet. So I made this with some brown rice and Indian spiced greens. I just followed the packet directions, which were easy to understand. I ended up having to add alot more water, as it dried out quickly. They had more of a bite then I thought they would. Usually when I made red lentils they dissolve a little, but these ones didn’t.

So the verdict? Well they were quite salty and the spices weren’t that strong. They were definitely not as tasty as if I made them from scratch. However, they were quick, convenient and healthy side dish. I think I will definitely try some more of their products for those nights when I am too tired to cook anything fancy.

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Green Edge Revisited

Over the weekend we finally visited Green Edge since their move and renovations. We have been to their new store since they moved, but we hadn’t tried their cafe menu yet. I have been craving their burgers for a while and really looking forward to their return. If you aren’t familiar with them, they are the only vegan grocery store/cafe in Brisbane. They are now situated at Windsor, off Lutwyche Rd.

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The new store is really nice and spacious and there are lots of tables and booths for cafe customers. They also seem to have a bigger range of products. You can see most of their products on their website. However they also have organic vegetables now as well.  Sorry I don’t have better pictures of their merchandise. I forgot to take photos until I was out the door.

The cafe menu has also changed as well. They still have their vegan delicious signature burgers. But now they can be ordered with a side of hand cut potato chips. Other new additions include Risotto of the day, Chilli Roasted Mushrooms, Noodle Bowl, Fettuccine and Roast Pumpkin Soup. However if your not too hungry you can order one of their vegan pies or sausage rolls. They also have  range of vegan cheesecakes and brownies, Chocolate Sundae and Ice cream Dream boat for dessert.

I was going to order one of their new menu items, but I had been craving their burgers for so long. So to try something almost different I went for a burger I hadn’t tried before. I order the Mushroom Burger (marinated mushroom flats, lettuce, tomato, house dressing, mango chutney, vegan cheese), which included their house salad and hand cut potato chips.  Marco ordered their Veggie Burger (homemade veggie patty, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, house dressing, mango chutney) with the same sides and we shared a Peanut Butter Milkshake.

Mushroom Burger

Mushroom Burger

Veggie Burger

Veggie Burger

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Peanut Butter Milkshake

The burgers were just as good as I remembered them, bursting with flavor. The side salad was still just as good as before. They have the most amazing salad dressing. They chips were great too. I think they may be baked as they aren’t as crunchy, but also not oily at all. We fought over what milkshake we were going to order, but I am happy Marco won out on the Peanut Butter Milkshake. This milkshake was amazing. Not sure how they do it, but I can’t seem to get the same flavor at home.

After lunch we had a wander through the aisle. I bought some coconut yogurt, vegan chedder, gluten flour to make seitan and some bpa free organic beans. I didn’t do a really big shop as I expect to be back soon. We left very full, but we couldn’t resist splitting a vegan fudge brown on the way home. They still have the best brownies in Brisbane!

Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale!

Hi all, happy Worldwide Vegan Bake Week! I have been looking forward to this day all week. Today we went to the new Green Edge store in Lutwyche, Brisbane, for their Bake Sale. I don’t eat baked sweets that often, so I was really looking forward to eating a whole lot of sweetness in the name of  our furry friends. I took along Marcos little nieces and ???????????????????????????????nephew and spent a small fortune on brownies, cupcakes and cookies. Here is just some of what we bought today, which included Berry Patch Brownies, Fairy Bread Cupcakes (GF, SF), Pecan Slices, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. We managed to eat it all between 4 1/2 of us and now I am feeling a little sick, but it was so worth it.

Was their a Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in your city? What did you eat?

I can’t believe how many people showed up this year. Last year their weren’t as many people, at least when I was there. We??????????????????????????????? had a wait in line for a while and tried to keep those sticky little fingers away from the sweets which we hadn’t purchased yet. While I was there I bought a couple of dry goods that I haven’t tried before. I got a few organic spices for 50 cents each, The VEGG, All Natural Custard Powder, Texas BBQ Primal Strips (meat free jerky) and more Nutritional Yeast (can never have enough). I can’t wait to try out The VEGG, as I have heard its very good. Also I am looking forward to using the Custard Powder to make one of the only desserts I ate as a kid, custard with fresh fruit. I’ve never liked jerky, but it was at the counter so I thought I would try it out.

This dish below is something I made a couple of nights ago. I have been staying at Marco’s house, to keep the dogs away from my house and spend time with the kids, which has been great, but I didn’t bring much supplies with me. This was something I came up with, after it got to dark and cold to walk to the local supermarket. The sauce I made was more like of a soup consistency, as the bar mix I used didn’t blend very well and I ended up just placing half the gnocchi into the sauce. Marco didn’t like it when he first saw it, but it grew on him. He said it tasted more like a Serbian dish that his mother use to make, which was probably why his parents and niece loved it. I would have liked to use vegan chicken stock, but without any the nutritional yeast gave the sauce nice flavor.

With the leftover Gnocchi, I frozen them on trays and then used them the next day in a spicy tomato sauce with spinach. Marco much preferred this as it he loves tomato sauces better. I liked both ways. I did also find that after the gnocchi had been frozen they were more firm and cooked much better.

Another Gnocchi dish I made a while ago is Butternut Pumpkin Gnocchi, which was really delicious! The gnocchi from this batch was also really good, after it had been frozen and cooked. I hope to experiment with some more different recipes soon. I much prefer making my own gnocchi, as store bought have so many preservatives and ingredients that I really prefer not to eat.

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Gnocchi with Creamed Pea Sauce (vegan, gluten free option, soy free nut free)

Ingredients for Gnocchi:

6 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 cup unbleached plain flour, plus more for dusting (use gluten free flour if you prefer)

sea salt to taste

Ingredients for Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

500g frozen peas

2 cups unsweetened plant milk (oat or rice, soy or almond if you can tolerate)

8 tablespoons nutritional yeast or more to taste

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

To make Gnocchi:

1. First boil potatoes in a large pot of water for 20 minutes or until they are soft enough to mash.

2. Strain potatoes and mash with a potato masher. Make sure their are no lumps Season with plenty of sea salt.

3. Add 1 cup of flour and work into a dough on a floury board. If its easier split dough into 2 or 4 batches. Add more flour if the dough is too soft.

4. Roll  dough into logs about 2cm-diameter and 30cm long. Cut dough into pieces with a lightly floured knife. Then form small balls and place on a tray with baking paper. Press a fork on the top of the balls so that they form an oval.

5. Bring a pot of  salted water to the boil, then cook gnocchi for 3 mins or until they are floating on the top of the water. Strain and add to the sauce.

*If you are not using straight away place in the freeze on trays until they harden, then place into airtight bags until ready to use.

*Makes 8 Serves

To make Sauce:

1. In a large pot heat olive oil, then add onion and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes or until onion has soften, but not browned.

2. Add frozen peas and saute until the peas have lightly cooked.

3. Add milk, then blend with a bar mix or processor. Leave it a little bit chunky or puree.

4. Add nutritional yeast, sea salt and pepper  and bring to the boil. Then let it simmer for 5 to 10 mins.

5. Add cooked Gnocchi and serve.

*Sauce makes 6 serves with Gnocchi, or 8 if you want a bit thinner consistency.

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Eggplants stuffed with Israeli Couscous and Cucumber Yogurt Salad

Yesterday I paid a visit to my favorite vegan cafe in Brisbane, Green Edge. I had a Veggie Burger (best in Brisbane) and a Vegan Brownie with Soy Whip. I also topped up on some grocery supplies, such as Notzarella , Kingland Plain Soy Yogurt, Smoky Maple Bacon Marinated Tempeh, So Delicious Banana Split Minis and some loose dried legumes. If you are dairy free, gluten free, vegan or vegetarian, you will be able to find a variety of delicious products here, as well as the most delicious ‘I can’t believe its vegan’ Brownies and Cheesecakes. As far as I know this is the only vegan supermarket in Brisbane, so you will fine stuff here that you won’t see in your local health food store.

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After we had lunch at Green Edge, we paid a visit to some family, then came home late. I decided to make Stuffed Eggplants, which I haven’t made before. But I really wanted to use my Notzarella and Israel Couscous. It turned out quite nice. I probably didn’t blanch my eggplants long enough so the bigger ones had a bit of white color in parts of the shells that didn’t soften as well as the rest. I didn’t really think about a side until 5 mins before they were ready so I just made this quick Cucumber Yogurt Salad.

We were still a bit hungry after, so after some left over pizza from last night. We also had to try the So Delicious Banana Split Minis. They were sooo good! With only 100 calories and all natural ingredients they were pretty guilt free.

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Eggplants stuffed with Israeli Couscous (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

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Ingredients:

4 medium eggplants

table salt

1 onion

3 garlic cloves

1/2 red capsicum

2 tomatoes

1 large zucchini

1/2 tablespoon agave

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup water

sea salt to taste

1 cup israeli couscous

8 slices vegan mozzarella on top (I used Notzarella)

Method:

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

2. Cut the eggplants in half and sprinkle table salt the eggplants. Leave for 30 mins, to get out the bitterness. ???????????????????????????????

3. In the mean time cook the Israeli Couscous according to packet instructions, then place to the side after its cooked to cool.

4. Wipe off the moisture and salt from the eggplants. Then cut out the center flesh of the eggplants, leaving the skins of the eggplant intact and in shape. Chop the flesh of the eggplant into cubes.

5. In a large pan or pot of boiling water, blanch the eggplant skins for 5-10 mins, or until the skin goes from purple to brown. Don’t over soften, but try to make sure the inside flesh left on the skins are not white (otherwise those parts won’t be soft after cooking).???????????????????????????????

6. In the meantime chop onion, garlic, capsicum, tomatoes and zucchini.

7. Take out the eggplant skins and place on baking paper in a baking tray. Then tip out the water from the large pan/pot.

8. Heat olive oil in the pan then add onion, garlic, capsicum and eggplant. Cook for 5 mins or until softened.

9. Then add tomatoes, zucchini, tomato paste, water, agave, sea salt and black pepper. Cook for a further 5-10 mins or until it becomes a bit saucy. ???????????????????????????????

10. Stir through the Israeli cous cous and cook for a further minute. Then take off the heat.

11. Place these vegetables and couscous from the pan into the eggplant shells. Then top with Notzarella or vegan mozzarella. Bake for 30-40 mins.

Cucumber Yogurt Salad (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 cucumber

2 shallots

1 tablespoon soy yogurt

1/2 teaspoon agave

squeeze of lemon

sea salt  and black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cut the cucumber finely into slices and chop the shallots.

2. Place soy yogurt, agave, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper in a bowl. Then stir through cucumber and shallots and serve.???????????????????????????????

Cucumber Yogurt Salad (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 cucumber

2 shallots

1 tablespoon soy yogurt

1/2 teaspoon agave

squeeze of lemon

sea salt  and black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Cut the cucumber finely into slices and chop the shallots.

2. Place soy yogurt, agave, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper in a bowl. Then stir through cucumber and shallots and serve.

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Marjoram & Coriander Spiced Rice with Lentil and Cumin & Coriander Fried Tofu

We were nearly not going to have dinner tonight, since we had the worlds biggest and most delicious vegan burger from World Vegan Day Fair at Green Edge. If you live or plan on visiting Brisbane, you have to check out this place. They also sell the most amazing brownies, cheese/chocolate cakes, which are all vegan and gluten free. I first discovered this place when I was looking for casin free cheese and gluten free products, because of my milk and gluten intolerance. I have been a regular every since. Today the store was so busy, so unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to buy anything from the fridge section, so I’ll be back next week for lunch and vegan cheese.

Tonight’s dinner was inspired by a fellow blogger, Avocado and Ales. Her recipe for Salt & Pepper Tofu looked so good, so I had to try it. I just added cumin, chili and coriander to the tofu, before dipping it in cornflour. I paired it with a lentils and rice. I had a bunch of  fresh coriander and frozen marjoram. I’ve never used marjoram before. By the smell of it I thought it would go with well with coriander. I actually bought fresh poultry herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage, tarragon  marjoram) on sale last week and froze it them. Since I don’t have my herb garden up and running yet, freezing fresh herbs means I have them when I need them. Aldi also has a new range of frozen herbs, which are really great and once you add them to the food you wouldn’t know they were frozen. I prefer fresh or frozen herbs better to dry herbs, which can be really bitter. Anyway I hope you like this recipe as much as my boyfriend and mum did. It’s easy and very quick to make.

Marjoram & Coriander Spiced Rice with Lentil (gf, sf, nf)

Ingredients- 3 cups of cooked basmati rice, 2 tbsp olive oil 1 red onion chopped, 2 large garlic cloves diced, 1 carrot chopped,1 red capsicum chopped, 1 zucchini chopped, 100 g mushrooms chopped, 2 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp chili powder, 4 sprigs of majoram, 2 tbsp coriander stems diced, 1 handful coriander leaves chopped, 1 can brown lentils, juice of 1/4 lemon (more to taste), herbamare/sea salt to taste

1. Put rice to cook in the rice cooker.

2. Heat olive oil in a large pan and add red onion, garlic, carrot, capsicum, cumin, chili, cinnamon. Cook on medium heat for 5 mins or until onion is soft.

3. Add zucchini, mushrooms, coriander stems and marjoram Cook for a further 4 mins or until zucchini is soft.

4. Add coriander leaves, rice, lentils, lemon juice and salt. Cook for another few minutes and adjust seasoning before serving.

* Serves 5-6

Cumin & Coriander Fried Tofu (gf, nf)

Ingredients- Canola Oil, 190 g organic firm tofu (1/2 375 pack), 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tbsp coriander leaves diced, 1/2 cup corn flour,  sea salt to taste

1. Drain and press water out of the  tofu, then cut it into small cubes.

2. In a bowl add 2 tbsp canola oil, cumin, chili, coriander and sea salt. Then stir through tofu. Make sure all sides of tofu are covered in herb oil.

3. Cover the tofu in corn flour on each side.

4. Heat canola oil in a fry pan then fry the tofu till it is crisp and golden brown. Serve immediately.

*Serves 4

Fakin’ Bacon

This morning I wanted to try out some vegan bacon that my boyfriend’s mother bought from Green Edge the other week. We tried it in Panzarotti the other night with some Notzarella cheese. It was good, but after it was baked it didn’t taste like bacon. So I thought maybe if I pan fried it the way the instructions say then it would be more baconey. So I made a ‘traditional’ breakfast with baked beans, sauteed spinach, buttery toast and vegan bacon.

This product is Redwood’s Cheatin’ Rashers. For me it doesn’t taste as salty and strong as bacon, but it is a pretty good substitute if you really like bacon. I don’t crave bacon so I could probably go without. It also doesn’t have that strong smell.  I think perhaps it should only be used as the instructions state on the package, as it becomes more dry and harder the longer its cooked and the colour becomes a lot darke as well.

The only other vegetarian bacon that is available in Australia, to my knowledge, is Sanitarium Vegie Delites Bacon Style Rashers. This is available at the two big supermarkets, but it is not vegan, as it contains milk and eggs. I usually stay away from these fake meats, as they are usually contain milk and are not healthy alternatives.

So I think Redwood’s Cheatin’ Rashers is probably one of the more healthier alternatives. It is cholesterol free, has no hydrogenated fats, no artificial colours or preservatives and is GMO free. But don’t expect it be exactly be like the real thing.

I want to try and make my own tempeh bacon. I’ve seen a couple of recipes on other blogs  such as Tempeh Bacon Recipe. Vegan ‘Facon’ for All and Tempeh Bacon. I’ll just have to find liquid smoke, which I only heard about a week ago. Its not common ingredient here, so I may have to order it from the US.

Have any of you made your own vegan bacon or tried any store bought that you recommend???

The canned tuna debate and the Bake Sale at the Green Edge

This week I admit I’ve had a few slips up with my diet. There is this one brand of tuna that has beans in it, which me and Marco were addicted to. I have probably only had it twice this month. However I would really like to stop eating it in general. Why? Well there are two reasons. Firstly, many of the canned tuna’s we buy does not use sustainable fishing methods and destroys marine life. I just found out that Sole Mare, the brand that were buying regularly has the worst  rating out of all the canned tuna’s in Australia for the 2011 Canned Tuna Ranking. This is quite disappointing that they are not transparent with how they produce their tuna.

Another big reason to give tuna the flick is the  Bisphenol A (BPA), from can products and the mercury. BPA is synthetic estrogen, which companies use in lining of the can’s to avoid deterioration. This can leach out of the food and when consumed is really bad for our own natural estrogen. It has been known to cause men to have a decrease of 20% in sperm count and create problems for woman in regards to PMS and menopause (Natural & Organic Health). According to Choice, in Australia we do not have set in limit to the amount of BPA that can be present in the food from a can. The only brands that currently have no BPA are Eden Organic and Spiral. Nakula coconut cream does use BPA lining, however it has proven that it does not leach into the food. As far as I know the big supermarkets do not carry these brands, but I have seen them at independent health food shops.

So if that’s not deterring enough, there is also mercury problem. According to PETA, “Tuna fish accumulate toxic mercury in their flesh as a result of industrial pollution, and the side effects of mercury poisoning include finger curling, cognitive impairment, and coordination problems. A California boy, who was the subject of a front-page Wall Street Journal article, went from being a star athlete and honor student to being unable to concentrate or catch a football because he ate canned tuna. Even if he had eaten only half a can of albacore tuna a week, he still would have consumed 60 percent more mercury than is considered “safe” by the U.S.government.” So that convenient little can of tuna, doesn’t sound so good any more.

Other challenges I’ve had is eating out at friends places. These are the first friends that have dared invite me to dinner, with my dietary requirements of no dairy and most vegan. I guess its daunting to people. I know a few years ago someone told me they were vegetarian and I was like oh so you still eat fish right? Then when I had to give up the dairy I think I cried for 2 days. I didn’t know what else was out there. Most of us are alot more in the know about food, with all these cooking shows, but pretty much all of this knowledge is based in food from animals. Anyway, last night our friends invited us to a lovely Indian dinner at their place. The food was great and really authentic. I tried to only eat the vegetarian dishes, but I couldn’t help try their meat specialities as well. For the most part I felt really rude not trying it. Ok I was curious as well. It makes me worry about what will happen when I do make the complete stand that I will not consume animal products. I guess gradually I will pick up tips along the way that will help me to avoid meat. Its still early days and I think I am doing well.

Half a Veggie Burger from Green Edge

On brighter news, today I went to Green Edge with my boyfriend and our Mums’ for the bake sale for World Animal Day! We were really hungry when we arrived so we all shared a burger, well not 1 burger between 4, but 2 between 2. We all ordered the Veggie burger, which was a lentil pattie with mango chutney, aioli, tomato and lettuce. It also came with a side salad. It was really good and I was annoyed that Marco ordered 1 to share. We also all got their blueberry smoothies. I don’t know what they put in them but god they were good! The reason we ordered so little was we were really there for the sweets. They had carrot cake, raspberry chocolate brownies, cupcakes and heaps of different biscuits. I sampled 3 different ones, all for the animals of course. So it was definitely worth the trip. For all you guys in Brisbane, if you want a nice place to have coffee and really great brownie or cheese cake, I really recommend this place. Trust me you wont know its vegan! It has Marco’s tick of approval. For all the vegan desserts I have tried to make at home, that he has says “it’s nice, but I’d still prefer…”. These desserts are as he says ‘at the top of their game’. The staff are really friendly as well and can answer any questions you have and give great advice on what products taste the best. It’s also a supermarket, so its a wonderland for animal free products, including cheeses, ice creams and mock meat products.