Vegan Tuna Salad Sandwich/Sushi and Carrot Ginger Mojito

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

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

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

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Vegan Chickpea ‘Tuna’ (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tin chickpeas/ 1.25 cup cooked chickpeas

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup onion, diced

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

3 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar

3-4 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon himalayan pink salt / sea salt

1 sheet nori (cut into 5 cm strips) or  3 tablespoons crispy seaweed

Method:

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

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

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

*Makes over 1 cup

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Vegan Chickpea ‘Tuna’ Salad Sandwich (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

sliced bread ( I used  toasted multigrain vienna sourdough)

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

sliced tomato

fancy lettuce or mixed lettuce

any other salad items

Method:

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

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 Vegan Chickpea ‘Tuna’ Salad Sushi (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 nori sheet

3 tablespoons cooked quinoa or sushi rice

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

sliced tomato

fancy lettuce or mixed lettuce

any other salad items

Method:

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

2. Top quinoa with vegan tuna and salad items.

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

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

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Carrot Ginger Mojito (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

4 small carrots

2 apples

small knob ginger

3 cm wide round slice lemon (including skin)

mint leaves from 2 sprigs

cold sparkling water

Method:

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

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

*Serves 1

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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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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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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.

Zucchini Basil Fritters with Lemon Cumin Mayo

I have been in such a rut with cooking since I’ve been back from holidays. I have still been cooking everyday, but I have been lacking inspirations and finding it hard to get back into a healthy routine. I’m not sure if its me still being in holiday mode or because of my anger towards my electric stove (I miss mums gas stove!).  But today I’m back on the wagon.

Last night after work I went and did my shopping for the week. Normally when I shop when I’m hungry I’m DSC01738overflowing with ideas and can’t wait to get home to cook. But yesterday it wasn’t the same. So I thought I’d go back to the basics and just fill my fridge with healthy vegetables, fruit and spurge on some coconut yogurt. I came home and baked some petite potatoes, red onions and this beautiful little pumpkin that I found in my DSC01740garden. While  I was waiting for it to cook I finally got some inspiration. I made these little fritters with some leftover rice and some organic zucchini. They were very good!

This morning I pushed myself to drink a healthy smoothie.  I made delicious Mixed Berry Kale Smoothie with Coconut Yogurt and Almond Milk. Can’t believe I’ve been avoiding smoothies and juices. Now I remember how good good they are.

Do you ever get in a rut with cooking or eating healthy? What do you do to snap out of it?

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Zucchini Basil Fritters with Lemon Cumin Mayo (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

To make Zucchini Basil Fritters:

Ingredients:

1 cup leftover basmati rice

1 medium zucchini, grated

2 garlic cloves, diced

20 basil leaves, diced

2 teaspoons egg replacer, mixed 4 tablespoons water)

1/2 cup plain flour or gluten free flour

1 tablespoon lemon juice

sea salt and black pepper to taste

olive oil

Method:

1. Take a mixing bowl and combine the basmati rice, grated zucchini, garlic and basil.

2. Add egg replacer, flour, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper to taste. Stir through well.

3. Heat a non stick pan with olive oil on medium heat. Take a heaped tablespoon of the mixture and make into a pattie with your hands, then drop into the pan. Cook fritters for a minute or two on both side.

4. Continue Step 3 until you have no more mixture yet. You should be able to make eight Fritters.

To Make Lemon Cumin Mayo:

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon lemon juice, or more to taste

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients and serve with the fritters.

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