Happy Blogiversary!

Today is Live Blissful’s 1 year Anniversary! I can’t believe my vegan journey has made it this far. A year ago I really didn’t know if I this was something that I could actually do. Although I’m not completely perfect, I have managed for the most part to completely change my diet as well as my reluctant fiance’s.  Now that I have made it a year I know that this is something that I can live by long term. I really want to thank all my fellow bloggers and readers for your encouragement that has kept me going.

Over the past year making the change to vegan has not been completely smooth. Although I have achieved more then I thought I would. I have discover new ingredients and different ways to cook without needing animal products. I have made a conscious effort to buy animal free products. I have also found and sampled many vegan/vegan friendly cafes and restaurants around Brisbane and other Australian cities.

The biggest challenges I  have faced over the past year seem a lot less insignificant now, then when I first began this journey. Unkind comments and awkwardness from family and friends were probably the hardest thing to swallow. But I learned to stop apologizing, because choosing to live a healthy life is not something to be ashamed of. The second biggest challenge was the feeling of despair every time I could not find something to eat in a restaurant. Now I try to make more informed choices when choosing a restaurant. When I have been invited out I try to organize something special with the chef and usually leave feeling happy and satisfied. As for cravings, these have been probably the easiest thing to over come. My tastes have really changed and I don’t really crave the same textures and flavors that I use to.

Another anniversary that I almost forgot about was Marco and my 6 year Anniversary. It actually fell on the 19th, but we both forgot. Now  we are engaged I’m not sure which anniversary we are meant to celebrate. Maybe we will just celebrate all of them. We had a pretty quite weekend. Poor Marco has had work at 4 am. So I wanted to make him some home cooked meals that I know he would like. I was going to also make a cake, but after he found a mysteries  jumbo muffin in my fridge (not sure where that came from), I thought we could both do without.

This breakfast was inspired  by the loads of apples in my fridge crisper. I only usually use green apples for juicing. But my mum keeps buying all these red apples that no one eats. This was surprisingly filling and very creamy. In fact I’m about to have it again for morning tea now.

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Raw Apple Breakfast Pudding (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon agave (or other natural sweetener)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 apples

1-2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons flax seeds

2 teaspoons chia seeds

fresh fruit to garnish

Method:

1. In a high speed blender add the cashews. Once they are starting to break down, then add the water, agave and vanilla extract. Don’t worry if its not really smooth.

2. Roughly grate the apples with the skin on.

3. Add some lemon juice to the grated apples so they don’t go brown and taste fragrant.

4. Combine the apple with the cashew cream. Stir through some flax seeds and chia seeds

5. Serve raw apple pudding with fresh fruit to garnish

*Serves 2

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This stew was inspired by all the leftovers veggies that needed to be used. I cooked up so many organic split kidney beans a few days back and then nobody was there to eat them with me.

I have never done a dumpling topping before. I was just flicking through a Jamie Oliver cook book and saw different stew toppings. I added Cheezly White Cheddar Style, which gave it a really nice savoury flavor. This is something else that I needed to use up. One bad thing about vegan cheeses is that they don’t last many days after opening.

I really loved the dumpling topping. This is definitely something I will make again for my next stew. It tastes so lovely and savory and just as nice as having fresh bread with an oven hot stew.

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Kidney Bean and Vegetable Stew with Cheddar Dumplings Topping (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients for Kidney Bean and Vegetable Stew:

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 large brown onions, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 bunch shallots, diced

2 sticks celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

4 baby or 1 red capsicum, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1 teaspoon sweet hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

1 teaspoon lemon thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1 can good quality tomato pulp

2 zucchini (diced)

2 cups cooked kidney beans

2 cups vegan chicken liquid stock

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Dumplings:

200 g self raising flour

100 g grated Cheezly White Cheddar Style/vegan cheddar

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

6-7 tablespoons ice cold water

5 tablespoons Nutellex Lite/vegan butter)

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Method:

1. Heat a large oven proof pot with olive oil. Then add onion and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes and as it starts to brown, add celery and shallots and cook for a further 5 minutes.???????????????????????????????

2. Add carrots, capsicum and white wine. Continue to cook until the wine is absorbed.???????????????????????????????

3. Add the paprika, liquid smoke, lemon thyme, bay leaves and parsley.

4. Saute the vegetables for a couple of minutes, then add the tomato pulp. Continue to cook until the carrots start to soften

5. Add the zucchini, kidney beans, liquid stock, sea salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then leave on a simmer for 30 minutes. ???????????????????????????????

6. In the meantime preheat the oven to 180 degrees. ???????????????????????????????

7. Before placing the stew in the oven, prepare the dumplings. In a large mixing bowl add flour, cheddar and parsley. Then add the nutlex and mix it through with your hands. Then add cold water one tablespoon at a time, until it forms a dough.

8. Roll the dough into about 12 balls.

9. Top the stew with the dumplings on the outer edge.

10. Bake for 30 minutes, then serve.

*Serves 6

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Tropical Veggie Pizza with Cashew ‘Mozzarella’

As much as I still enjoy pizza without the cheese there is one thing that still bugs me. I can’t manage to get my ingredients to stay on top of the pizza. Even when I have tried using pre-bought vegan cheeses, the ingredients  still slide off and don’t stick the way that regular dairy cheese does. Ok its probably partly my fault. Even though I love real Italian pizza with minimal topping, I just can’t help myself from adding when I make my own pizza. So my pizza ends up so heavy that I have to eat it with a knife and fork. Marco does the same, but his cheese manages to keep his together.

A couple of days back Marco decided we were having pizza, which is always a good since he likes to make the dough himself. He preferred using white flour, but luckily we only had lots wholemeal and a little bit of tipo 00 flour to use. I didn’t have any vegan mozzarella so I got online trying to find a cheesy alternative for my pizza. I remembered seeing Vedged Out’s recipe for Fresh Moxarella Cheese. I also found another similar recipe from Vegie Project, Cashew “mozzarella”. I decided to go with the Vegie Project recipe since it Nutritional Yeast.

I was really easy recipe to follow. I just put everything in the Vitamix, then heated the mixture over the stove. The recipe makes enough for 2 large pizzas. The consistency and taste is similar to other vegan cheesy sauces, but the color is much lighter. It also has a stringly texture, which is similar to melted cheese. The recipe is gluten and soy free as well.

To make sure that my ingredients stuck to the pizza I put some Cashew ‘Mozzarella’ under the ingredients as well as on top. I didn’t cover the whole pizza it in, rather I tried to drizzle it around the pizza. The ingredients I used include red capsicum, yellow capsicum, green capsicum, red onion, garlic, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, mushrooms and tuscan kale.

I was really happy with the result of my pizza. The cheese managed to hold just about all the ingredients in place and the taste was really nice and creamy. I let Marco taste mine and even he agreed it was pretty good for a vegan pizza and would be happy to have that ‘next  time’.

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Tropical Veggie Pizza with Cashew ‘Mozzarella’ (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients for Pizza:

1 wholemeal pizza base (or gluten free pizza base)

2-3 tablespoons homemade/bottled pasta sauce

variety red capsicum,  yellow capsicum and green capsicum, chopped

red onion, diced

garlic, diced

cherry tomatoes, halved

pineapple, chopped

mushrooms, sliced

tuscan kale, sliced

Ingredients for Cashew ‘Mozzarella’ (enough for 2 pizzas):

1/4 cup cashew nuts

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons arrowroot flour (tapioca starch)

1 small garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. Place all in the ingredients for the Cashew ‘Mozzarella’ in the Vitamix or high speed blender. Blend until smooth.  Then heat mixture in a small pot for 3-5 minutes until the mixture has thickened. Stir constantly while it is cooking.

3. Roll out pizza dough, then spoon on pasta sauce on the base. Drizzle or blob some Cashew Mozzarella on the base as well.???????????????????????????????

4. Top with the rest of the ingredients. Add some more Cashew mozzarella in blobs ontop if you like.

5. Bake pizza for 15 min or until base is cooked.

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Doggy Days, Pancakes and Black beans

I haven’t posted in a few days, since I have been quite stressed out. I have still been cooking, but not anything too exciting. I have been stressed because a couple of days ago??????????????????????????????? I caught my crazy religious fanatic neighbor on my property trying to scare my dogs, by screaming and barking at them. I had a big argument with him and had to call the police. This is not the first time he has barked at the dogs. Both my dogs hate him and go crazy when ever they see him walk in the street. However, this is the first time I found him inside our front gates. After the police spoke to him they  realized he was crazy. They told him the next time he trespasses into my property or makes a public nuisance by barking at the dogs, then he will get charged. I know this isn’t over. He intend going to the council about my dogs barking and being ‘dangerous’. I’ve spoken to the council, so I just have to wait now and hope they side with me. Who could ever thing these two little guys are dangerous. I took them to the dog park today. They haven’t been in over 6 months, so I was a bit scared what would happen. But they were really good. Well Albie did have a tussle with the first dog that arrived. But then ten more arrived, so he realized he had to get along with them, because he was out numbered. I just can’t believe how big he has grown. He was the biggest dog there today. It was funny seeing a couple of the dogs run straight to him, since he was the biggest. Once they got the ok from him, they knew they wouldn’t have any trouble with the others. Little do they know how much of a baby he is.

A couple of days back when this all happened. I had plans of making Nachos with Black Bean Chili from scratch. However, it got to late and Marco thought it was better we bought the Nacho Topping and Corn Chips, since he was too hungry to wait. We used Old El Paso Nacho Topping, with Pinto beans and Mission Corn Chips. Both of these products weren’t too bad. I don’t usually buy Mexican products anymore, but I was happy with ingredients in these ones. For the cheese sauce I used Avocados and Ales recipe, Vegan Nacho Cheese. This is a really delicious nutritious alternative to using store bought melty cheese. I promise you won’t be able to tell the difference with the taste and texture. I will definitely make this vegan cheese alternative again. I served this with the leftover Cashew Sour Cream and Guacamole  So happy avocados are back in abundance at the moment.

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I have still been juicing everyday. Marco is also really been enjoying the juices and is getting use to eating raw vegetables for breakfast. Our favorite combination is Apple, Orange, Spinach, Celery, Carrot, Broccoli, Lime, Beetroot and Spiralina???????????????????????????????. I also love ginger, but Marco is not a fan. Other ingredients I have added include Plums, Zucchini, Parsley, Pumpkin, Cucumber, Mandarin and Lettuce. I really like the taste of lettuce and plums. But still not a fan of parsley.  So what have been the outcomes? In 7 days my skin cleared up and I can actually sleep at night and don’t wake up until 7 hours later, when I feel really refreshed. I also don’t feel like I need coffee. In past 20 days I have had one after having a terrible headache for a couple of days. I think I had coffee withdrawal, since the headache disappeared after I drank coffee. But I haven’t had another headache. Unfortunately, my skin is not as perfect as it was, since I gobbed up two jumbo Anzac Biscuits, that Marco’s boss made. I was told that it was dairy free, but turns out they weren’t and that the guy didn’t realise butter was dairy. So I will be juicing my way back to better skin again.

Yesterday, I took a break after 20 days of juicing and made Tiramisu Pancakes for breakfast, from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts.  These were amazing and hands down the best pancakes I have ever made. You can find the recipe here. I used whole wheat flour and used vanilla extract instead of dark rum. Although this batter is not sweet, since it only calls for maple syrup, the chocolate chips sweetened it nicely.

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Tonight I made a Cuban classic, Black bean Soup or Sopa de frijoles negros. This rich, spicy soup is typically prepared in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Brazil and other nations in Latin America. The ingredients usually present are black beans, salt, ham hocks, onions, garlic, tomatoes, chili peppers, powdered cumin seeds, oregano and vinegar. It is often pureed smooth or can be left more chunky and rustic.

I looked at numerous recipes to come up with the right ingredients. I am not sure how authentic mine is, but it tasted really, really good. It had almost a meaty texture and taste. It also got Marco’s seal of approval, he had two serves. I also made Homemade Nachos (baked corn chips) to go with it. I used suckitupnotin recipe, Homemade Nachos. Instead of Garam Marsala, I used Cumin. Other then that I followed the recipe. I recommend not cooking them any longer then 12 mins, as the longer they cook the harder they go.

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Cuban Black bean Soup (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 serrano chilli, diced

1/2 green capsicum, diced

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground cayenne or chili powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

450g cooked black beans

4 small tomatoes, diced

3 cups vegetable liquid stock

1 tablespoon lime juice (and more to garnish)

sea salt & black pepper to taste

2 shallots, diced to garnish

coriander leaves, diced to garnish

red capsicum, diced to garnish

vegan sour cream to garnish (Cashew Sour Cream)???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add red onion, garlic, serrano chili and green capsicum. Saute for 4-5 mins.

2. Add cumin, cayenne and dried oregano. Saute for 2 mins.???????????????????????????????

3. Add black beans, tomatoes and liquid stock. Bring to the boil, then place on a simmer and cover for 30 mins.???????????????????????????????

4. Add lime juice, salt and pepper and cook for another 10-15 mins.

5. Puree half the soup with a bar mix or processor, then combine again and reheat.

6. Serve soup and garnish with shallots, coriander, red capsicum, vegan sour cream and fresh lime.

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Eggplant Parmigiana

It’s been so long since I have had Eggplant Parmigiana. I’ve been dairy free for nearly 4 years, so it was before that that I last had it at my Nona’s house. It has always been one of my favorite dishes. So I’m not sure why it has taken me this long to make it. I did make Eggplant Rolls stuffed with Quinoa and ‘Mince’ a while ago, which believe me doesn’t look as good as it tasted.

Eggplant Parmigiana or Melanzana alla parmigiana or Parmigiana di melanzane,  is a stew made of eggplant, that can be eaten freshly baked out of the oven or cold. It is a southern slide-450Italian dish, that is similarly prepared throughout the south.

The name and the origin of this dish is often debated. Some believed that its name is from the city of Parma or Parmigano cheese. However, this dish is not found in Parma cuisine. Rather the word parmigiana actually refers to the method in which the vegetable is sliced and arranged in alternating layers. Some believe it is from the Sicilian word parmiciana, which means overlapping wood strips on the shutters. Others believe it refers to the way that Parmigiani (people from Parma) cook their vegetables in layers. alimenti_e_ricette_da_duchi_1

It is also often argued that this dish is from Naples, which was the capital city of a large kingdom that included Sicily and Southern Italy, some centuries ago. This recipe is for Parmigiana was first documented in the treatise Il Cuoco Galante by Vincenzo Corrado. It was a dish served to the most prestigious families in Naples during the 18th and 19th century. However, it was not eggplant that was used but rather zucchini, pumpkins, parsnips and tomatoes. It wasn’t until 1837 that Eggplant Parmigiana was first documented by Ippolito Cavalcanti, the Duke of Buonvicino, in his most important work, Kitchen theoretical practice.

This dish is made by first shallow frying sliced eggplant, then layering with cheese (mozzarella/Parmesan/both) and tomato sauce and then baking it. Some recipes use flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs before frying the eggplant.258454-chicken-parmigiana

There are many variations of this dish using breaded meats (veal/chicken), which have also become popular outside of Italy by Italians migrates. The Chicken Parma or Parmy  is a very popular pub dish in Australia and is served with a side of chips and salad. It is often topped with sliced ham or fried eggplant, tomato sauce and cheese. In Argentina, it is called Milanesa (beef/veal) or de Pollo (chicken) or de Berenjena (eggplant) or de Cerdo (pork) and is topped with a slice of ham, melted cheese, tomato sauce and a slice of tomato and served with chips or salad. In America and Canada, both the Veal Parmigiana and Chicken Parmigiana are often used as fillings in Sub Sandwiches or served with with pasta. In England they even have their Parmo, which is made of either pork or chicken.

The recipe I made is how I remember my mother and Nona cooking it. The eggplant is dusted in flour, dipped into soy milk instead of eggs and then dipped in corn crumbs instead of bread crumbs. I then layered it with vegan mozzarella and fresh oregano from my garden. It did take me a long time to prepare it all, since there was a lot of eggplant. But it paid off. It was absolutely delicious. Even though its dairy free and gluten free version, it tastes just like I remember it. This is definitely a dish for those who want to indulge and is also great to share with friends. Me and Marco are the only ones that got to share this dish tonight. He really, really liked it. I fear we might be a few kilos heavier in a few days, once we have finished devouring it.

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Eggplant Parmigiana (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant, thinly sliced into circles or half-moons

1/2 cup arrowroot flour or gluten plain free flour

3/4 cup whole soy milk

1 cup corn crumbs or other gluten free bread crumbs

olive oil or canola oil to fry

1.5 jars x 500g tomato pasta sauce

2 cups vegan mozzarella (I used Notzarella)

1/3 cup oregano leaves

salt & pepper to taste???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Preheat oven 200 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. Sprinkle salt on the eggplant slices and wait 10 mins to get the bitterness out. Then wipe off the salt and moister that comes out. ???????????????????????????????

3. Coat the slices of eggplant in flour and shake of any extra flour. Then dip into soy milk, shake of the excess. Then dip into corn crumbs. Continue until all the eggplant is coated.???????????????????????????????

4. Heat a large pan (I prefer to use a wok) and heat oil. Then shallow fry eggplants pieces, until golden brown. Leave them on paper towel to draw out any excess oil.

5. Take an oven prove dish, then place some pasta sauce on the bottom. Then add a layer of eggplant, sprinkle sea salt & black pepper, then a layer of Notzarella and some oregano leaves. Continue to do another 3-4 layers, until all the ingredients have been use.

6. Cook in the oven covered with aluminum foil for 20 mins.

7. Uncover and cook for a further 10mins or until the vegan mozzarella has browned a little. I had to cook mine for a further 10 mins as the Notzarella took time to melt.

*Serves 8-10

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Parmigiana di melanzane <http://ricette.giallozafferano.it/Parmigiana-di-melanzane.html>

Libro di cucina/Ricette/Parmigiana di melanzane <http://it.wikibooks.org/wiki/Libro_di_cucina/Ricette/Parmigiana_di_melanzane>

Parmigiana di melanzane <http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parmigiana_di_melanzane>

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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Risotto alla zucca, Brazil Nut Parmesan, Zucchini Fritters with Mint and Banana Blueberry Overnight Oats

Good evening or morning guys. Tonight I made another Italian traditional dish. In the north, pumpkin is plentiful and in the past was typically eaten by the poor farmers. In Mantova this dish is very popular. I have previously made some dishes from this city, including Tortelli di zucca and Sbrisolona in past posts.

I veganised a recipe from the Italian website Giallo Zafferano. Instead of using rosemary, I used thyme, which gave it a beautiful fragrant flavor. I topped it with Brazil Nut Parmesan. This Parmesan was just as good as Cashew Parmesan. It is really creamy and savory. I am addicted!

I also made these zucchini fritters. Marco didn’t like the mint, but I think it gave it a really nice fresh taste. If you don’t like mint, add basil or italian parsley. There are no eggs needed in this recipe. The moisture from the zucchini, flour and touch of soy milk is enough to bind the fritters. These can be made gluten free by just using gluten free plain flour.

This afternoon we went to the Rocklea Markets and got this delicious loaf of Organic Spelt Bread. We also heaps of vegetables. I can’t believe for $17 I managed to fill a whole box of food. So if you live in Brisbane I really recommend doing your food shopping here and see how much you save.

Lastly, I wanted to share these delicious overnight oats I had for breakfast. Our bananas have been going nearly off, as no one has been eating them, so this was a perfect way to use them. Overnight oats are really filling and a perfect quick way to start the day. For more flavor ideas check out my Recipe Index.

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Risotto alla zucca (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons vegan butter

1 brown onion, diced

350g pumpkin cut in small cubes

500g arborio rice

1-2 tablespoons thyme leaves

1/2 cup white wine

1 litre vegan chicken/vegetable liquid stock

vegan parmesan

Method:

1. Heat vegan butter in a pot, then add onion. Cook for 4 mins or until the onion has soften.???????????????????????????????

2. Add pumpkin and cook for 5 mins so it has softened.

3. Add rice and thyme cook for 10 mins. Constantly stirring. While it is cooking boil liquid stock.

4. Now begin ladling hot liquid stock, one spoon at a time. Constantly stiring. Continue adding stock till all has been absorbed and rice is cooked.

*Serve with vegan parmesan

Serves 6

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Brazil Nut Parmesan (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup brazil nuts

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Method:

1. Grind all the ingredients till ground.

*Makes 1 cup

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Zucchini Fritters with Mint (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 large zucchini

2 garlic cloves

1 handful of mint

1/2 cup wholemeal (or gluten free flour)

1 tablespoon unsweetened plant milk (oat or rice; soy or almond if you can tolerate)

sea salt to taste

olive oil to fry???????????????????????????????

Method:

1. Grate zucchini and garlic. Chop mint roughly.

2. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well so all the flavour goes through.

3. Make small patties and fry in hot oil. Cook patties for 1-2 mins on both sides or until browned.

*Makes 10

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Banana Blueberry Overnight Oats (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup instant or rolled oats (preferably organic)

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

2 whole overripe bananas

1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

1 tablespoon maple syrup (I used blueberry maple syrup)

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients in a container and stir through.

2. Cover and place in the fridge over night.

*Serves 2 or 1 big serve

Red Wine Barley & Brown Rice Risotto with Mushrooms and Spinach, Vegan Parmesan and Turkish Bread Pizzas

Good evening guys, hope you had a good weekend. We just caught up with friends and finally celebrated our engagement with my parents. So didn’t do a lot of cooking. I have been feeling really tired lately. It’s not as hot as it was, but still a bit sticky. I have been finding myself craving meat, chicken mostly. Its strange because I really don’t want to eat it and it’s been the only thing I think I haven’t even tasted since I stopped eating it all together. I am still eating a bit of fish, but I know my body is craving whole grains and fresh greens. So I have been trying the past couple of days to get back on track.

I have also been trying to get back into exercising. Six months ago I was walking every where all day and all night. Now I have been barely walking, except for the occasional dog walk. It’s started to cool down as I said so there is no more excuses for not going for more walks and started back up with pilates. I went for a couple of walks today and it was really nice to get out by myself. The sun stays out till 6.30 and there are lots of people about walking. I won’t take the dogs by myself again, after what happened a couple of days ago. My dogs went crazy at a woman who walked too close to us, then they saw a cat, then a man walking a baby, then two people walking two boxes, then another couple walking a dog. They were out of control. I still have sore arms and blisters on my hands from them trying to pull away from me and attack all these ‘threats’. It was very embarrassing and scary situation. They were scared and they knew I didn’t have full control of them. But it is not their fault, so more walks are needed for them to get more social and for me to get back in shape.

Tonight I wanted to make something with a little bit of barley I had in the cupboard. I didn’t have enough so I also used brown rice to make a risotto. I adapted this recipe, Red Wine Barley Risotto with Silverbeet & Mushrooms, from Madison. I was a bit scared using merlot in the cooking, so I used a bit less then I could have, but it turned out lovely with a mild hint of the wine and gave the grains a beautiful color. Although not a traditional risotto, the vegan butter really brought a creaminess to it at the end.

Since I couldn’t use parmigiano, I looked for a vegan alternative. I found this lovely recipe for a Vegan Parmesan Cheese from Veggieful. It is made from cashew nuts and nutritional yeast and it tastes amazing. I actually never liked parmesan. Even my Nona knows not to put parmesan on my pasta from when I was a little girl. I always thought it smelt like throw up. But this parmesan is delicious! It is soft, with a creaminess to it and a bit of a cheesy salty taste. I really recommend it, even if you don’t like parmesan either.

Lastly, I put in a simple recipe from the night before. We weren’t going to have dinner, since we had such a late lunch. We made turkish burgers with Fry’s Traditional Burger patties (can’t get enough of these). But after a long walk with the dogs we got really peckish late that night. So this is what we came up with.

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Red Wine Barley & Brown Rice Risotto with Mushrooms & Spinach (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

4.5 cups (1 Litre) vegan chicken or vegetable liquid stock

1.5 cup filtered water

1.25 cup merlot

1 cup pearl barley (use another cup of brown rice instead to make gluten free)

1 cup brown rice

4 tablespoons olive oil

20g dried skiitake mushrooms, soaked & sliced if not already

5 white mushrooms, sliced

4 garlic cloves, diced

1 red onion, diced

200-300 g baby spinach, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons parsley, diced

50g vegan butter

sea salt & pepper to taste

vegan parmesan to serve (optional, recipe below)

Method:

1. Take a large pot and bring to the boil the liquid stock, water and wine. In the meantime rinse the barley and brown rice.P1000605

2. Once pot comes to a boil, add the barley and rice and let that come to a boil. Then let it continue to boil uncovered for 30 mins. Most of the liquid should be absorbed during this time. Remove any excess material from the top of the liquid as it cooks. Once it is finished take off the heat and put the lid on it and leave it for at least 5 mins before adding the rest of the ingredients.

3. Take large pan and heat the olive oil on medium heat. Then add the red onion, garlic and all the mushrooms. Cook for 10 mins. P1000606

4. Add the baby spinach and parsley to the mushrooms and cook for 2 mins or until spinach has wilted.

5. Then add the barley, rice and any extra liquid from the pot to the large pan and stir through.

6. Add the vegan butter  and season with sea salt & pepper. Heat through on a medium heat for 1-2 mins

* Serve with vegan parmesan

* Serves 5-6

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Vegan Parmesan (from Veggieful) (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 cup cashews

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp sea saltP1000604

Method:

1. Whiz in the processor or grinder until it becomes a powder.

* Makes about 1 cup

* Store in the fridge in air tight container. Should last a few weeks.

Turkish Bread Pizzas (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/2 whole turkish bread

olive oil

cherry tomatoes

garlic, crushed

roasted capsicum

marinated buffalo-style tofu mozzarella (or store-bought vegan mozzarella)

baby spinach, chopped

fresh basil or parsley

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to grill.???????????????????????????????

2. Slice the turkish bread in half, lengthwise.

3. Combine the tomato, garlic and olive oil in a small bowl. Then spread onto the turkish bread base. Then add roasted capsicum, tofu/vegan cheese, baby spinach, herbs and sea salt.

4. Grill in the oven for 5 mins or until the bread is toasted

* Serves 2

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Merry Christmas to all!

Hope everyone had a good Christmas  I spent the 24th-26th preparing food and eating it. We had Marco’s Birthday Lunch with his family, Christmas lunch and dinner with my family and Boxing day celebrating with his family again for lunch.

We are off to Melbourne tomorrow  I can’t wait! All my family are down there and I haven’t been for a few years. But I am also eager to discover some of the great vegan eats down there too. I have heard that Melbourne is the best state for vegans and vegetarians. I hope I have time. Its difficult to find time to do your own thing when visiting family. I feel guilty for ditching them or that I am not making the most of my time with them. I have a very big italian family. My mum is one of 10 and most of  her siblings live down there with their kids and my father is one of four and his parents and grandmother are still alive. There is always a bit of jealously when I go between one family to the other. I also don’t know how they are going to take my new diet. They love meat down there. I know people think well they others should respect their lifestyle choice as vegan/vegetarian, but I always feel like I should be as little trouble as possible when I stay like people. Thats just the way I have been brought up and if you go against the norm then you are a problem. I am hoping I am worrying about nothing and it will all turn out well!

Over the last few days I cooked for Christmas with my family and for Marco’s family. I made another Rosemary Galette with tomatoes and zucchini, Chat Potato Salad, Sweet Potato CroquettesStone Fruit Slice, and a Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake. I ended up making everything except the Cheesecake for Christmas with my family. Unfortunately none of them even tried or asked about what I cooked. I was a bit annoyed after going to all that effort. This part of my family is very pro meat and milk. They don’t believe that food is important to be healthy and it shows. I hope they don’t read this. Its their choice anyway. At least they didn’t put caesar dressing on the other salads, so I could eat them. It’s something I suppose. They did eat my fudge, which  also brought and Marco served out. Didn’t get any feedback, but considering the plates didn’t come back with any left over I guess they liked it.

I ended up taking the Sweet Pototo Croquettes and both cakes to Marco’s the next day for his family. Considering when I met this Serbian family they ate meat for nearly every meal, they have come a long way. Most of them don’t drink dairy and make a conscious effort to not eat so much meat. It isn’t just my influence, but also cancer, intolerance and a lot of reading that has really changed their eating habits over the past 5 years. So they were really happy with everything I brought and it cheered me up.

Their were also a lot of vegetarian options at their lunch. One of the ladies brought their traditional pita, but instead of putting cheese in them, she put some with semolina and some with grated potato. They were really really good. I couldn’t stop eating them. I wish I took a photo of them. The Serbian’s have traditional called Slava, where they don’t eat any meat or dairy products for a day. So they do have a few vegan friendly recipes. Hopefully I can learn a few.

Below are some of the foods I prepared for Christmas:

 

Rosemary Galette with Tomato & Zucchini (vegan, nut free)

Adapted from Chloe’s Kitchen???????????????????????????????

Ingredients:

1.25 cups plain flour

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

1/2 cup nutlex (vegan butter)

5 tablespoons ice cold water

olive oil

2 truss tomatoes

1 small zucchini

Method:

1. Preheat the oven 180 degrees and start the dough. Take a large ???????????????????????????????bowl and combining flour, sugar, salt, rosemary in a bowl. Then adding nutlex in small chunks. Use your hands to combine so it becomes like bread crumbs, then add the water, so that it becomes like a dough. Place in the fridge for 10 mins.

2. Roll out the ???????????????????????????????dough with rolling pin on baking paper. Cut out a large circle about 20cm and place into a circle baking pan. Refrigerate for 10 mins.

3. Brush the dough with olive oil, fan sliced tomatoes in the center and add the thinly sliced zucchini around the edges. Then fold down the edges on top of the zucchini and season it all with salt. Refrigerate for 15 mins.

4. Bake for 30-35mins and serve.

DSC01542.1

Chat Potatoes Salad (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

500g chat Potatoes

olive oil

sea salt

200g soft tofu

1/4 cup olive oil

1  garlic clove

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

4 shallots, chopped

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

vegan sour cream (I used Chef Chloe’s recipe)

1. Preheat oven 180 degrees. Coat the chat poatoes in olive oil and sea salt. Bake for 40 mins or until soft. ???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????2. In the meantime prepare the sour cream. Blend the tofu, oil, garlic, lemon, mustard and salt and place in the fridge till you need it. Should make 3/4 of a cup.

3. When potatoes have cooled down cut the potatoes in halfs or quarters. Add sliced shallots and sliced sun dried tomatoes.

4. When ready, coat in sour cream and sea salt.

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Mixed Fruit Slice

This is adapted for my Stone Fruit & Berry Slice. I used nectarines, peaches, kiwi fruit, pineapple, green grapes. One thing I really changed was adding a cup of soy milk to the base of the slice when I was making the dough. I also didn’t add maple to the fruit. I just squashed them on top and added a sprinkle of raw sugar.

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Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake

This recipe is from The Veggie Nook. Really easy to make. Next time I wouldn’t add so much banana and put a bit more maple syrup in the filling. It was sweet enough for me, but not for Marco.

DSC01535

These are a couple of recipes I have made from leftovers this week, while I was cooking:

Tempeh ‘Tuna’ Salad (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

I have been hearing about this mock tuna for a while, but I never got around to trying to make it. I looked at a few recipes, but didn’t have all of the ingredients for them. It does have the texture of tuna but not quite the fishy taste. I will have to keep trying. But otherwise a good creamy salad filling for a sandwich.

Ingredients:

75g tempeh

2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced

2 tablespoons celery, finely diced

1 small dill pickle, finely diced

1.5 tablespoons vegan mayo

1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Steam tempeh in a steamer for 20 mins (to remove bitterness)

2. Combine all the ingredients and season to taste. Serve in a sandwich, on toast or with a salad.

DSC01507

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese (vegan, gluten free option)

Ingredients:

100-150 g Macraroni (or other short pasta, use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

1/4 cup mashed pumpkin

1/2 cup milk

2-3 tablespoons nutitional yeast

2-3 tablespoons vegan sour cream (I used Chef Chloe’s recipe)

sea salt to taste

corn crumbs

Method:

1. Boil Pasta according to instructions. Then strain and set aside.

2. Heat pumpkin with soy milk. Stir till it becomes a thick sauce, then add nutritional yeast and stir. Add pasta and take off the heat.

3. Add sour cream and season with salt, then place into a baking proof dish. Top with corn crumbs and cook in the oven for 10-15mins or till golden brown on top.

DSC01530

Roasted Cauliflower & Garlic Soup and Spinach & Mushroom Galette

Last nights dinner was inspired by what was left in the fridge. I had vegetable stock, coconut ceam,  cauliflower, spinach, mushrooms, and heaps of kiwi fruit. I went a bit over board with dinner, but now I can relax for a couple of days.

Since I had time, I  decided to roast the cauliflower and garlic before making the soup. It payed off, as the soup had the flavors from the roasting. Marco wasn’t a big fan of the soup last night, as he doesn’t like cauliflower. But today he said it tasted better. I think he just needed to get use to the taste of cauliflower. I have heard you need to try something at least 10 times till you develop a taste for it. After forcing mushrooms, spinach and avocado on him for last 5 years he has finally came around. I really like the soup. I don’t usually like cauliflower at all. My mum use to only make it steamed with a bechemel and cheese, which I hated. But lately I have been exploring more ways to cook it and have found that it is quite a tasty vegetable. It is also extremely healthy. It is a good source of vitamin C, manganese, vitamin K, and is high in fiber.  It also has a broad spectrum of antioxidant, which ‘helps lower the risk of oxidative stress in our cells’. It is a cruciferous vegetable from the same family as broccoli  kale and cabbage. It originates from the Asia Minor as a wild cabbage and later evolved and became a important vegetable in both Turkey and Italy in ancient times [1].

The garlic tasted really, really good roasted  I often dice it and add to roasted vegetables, but I don’t often roast it on its own. I bought heaps of Spanish garlic from Aldi the other day. I prefer it over Chinese garlic. China exports about 75 % of the world’s supply of garlic and accounts for about 90% of garlic in Australia. Chinese garlic is very white and and very cheap. The problem with this garlic is that it doesn’t meet the food safety protocols in Australia. According to Henry Bell (Australian Garlic Industry Association), Chinese garlic  is drenched in chemicals in order to stop sprouting, to whiten it, and to kill insects and plant matter. He even states that it is often grown in untreated sewage [2]. If you can find local garlic that is probably the best option. I also prefer garlic that have a purple color, as they have a strong flavor the the whiter ones.

I recently bought wholemeal spelt flour, as I have been eating too many things made of regular flour and I needed more variety in my diet. Spelt is an ancient grain that was used Europe and the Middle East and is still used today. It is very special, because ” unlike wheat, where vital nutritional nutritional bran and germ are usually removed during milling, the vital substances of spelt are found in the inner kernel of the grain”. “Spelt also has high water solubility, the grain’s vital substances can be absorbed quickly into the body. The nutrients are made available to the entire organism with a minimum of digestive work. The body cells are then nourished, strengthened, and prepared for their optimal performance while the body is flooded with vitamins and other nutritional substances. Spelt contains more protein, fats and crude fiber than wheat and also has large amounts of Vitamin B17 (anti-carcinoma). It also contains special carbohydrates which play a decisive role in blood clotting and stimulate the body’s immune system so as to increase its resistance to infection.”

Another great reason for you to eat spelt is, if like me, you have had or have a gluten intolerance you should be able to tolerated spelt. This is due to the “larger quantities of available protein found in spelt are soluble and, therefore, can be easily assimilated by the body with the minimum of digestive work” and therefore can be tolerated by people with gluten intolerance [3]. In many cases you can use it to substitute wholemeal flour, but I always like to check online before substituting for everything. When making pizza dough with the spelt it stuck to my tray. So sometimes its better to mix it with other flours.

Anyway, when I was looking online for some ideas to use my wholemeal spelt flour, I came across this recipe, Spinach Galette with Wild Mushrooms, on Yummy Supper. So I adapted it with the ingredients I had on hand. I used spelt flour instead of plain flour for the crust. Since I couldn’t use Parmesan in the crust,  I made a paste with water and nutritional yeast. Also to make the filling more creamy and cheesing I used Tofutti cream cheese, mixed with nutritional yeast and soy milk. It turned out really well. It was also good cold today. This is definitely something I want to recreate with some different ingredients.

As for all the kiwi fruit, you can see my dessert on the next post.

Untitled

Roasted Cauliflower Soup (vegan, gluten fre, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 head of cauliflower, chopped

1 head of spanish garlic, unpeeled (about 18 cloves)

rosemary leaves from 5 sprigs of rosemary, minced

1 yellow or white onion, diced

4 small potatoes. peeled & diced

3.5 cups vegetable liquid stock

sea salt & black pepper to taste

3/4 cup coconut cream (about 1/2 can)

Method:

DSC01024

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Take a baking tray and add cauliflower, garlic and 2 tbsp of oil. Cook for 15-20 mins or until cauliflower is tender. Once cooked peel the garlic cloves.

DSC010262. Take a large pot and add 1 tbsp oil. Add onion and rosemary and cook for 3mins or until garlic is browned.

3. Add potato and cook for another 3 mins. (add a little bit of  water if it begins to stick.

4. Add cauliflower, garlic and vegetable stock, salt & pepper.  Cover and bring to the boil, then let it simmer for 30 mins or until vegetables are soft.

5. Blend the soup so that it is smooth and silky.

6. Add coconut cream to the soup and heat through, then serve.

*Serves 5

DSC01054

Spinach & Mushroom Galette (vegan, nut free)

Ingredients for Crust:

1.5 cup wholemeal spelt  flour

pinch of sea salt

5 tablespoons cold nutlex (vegan butter)

6 tablespoons ice water

Ingredients for Filling:

olive oil

1 medium red onion

160 g baby spinach

100g sliced mushroom

3 tablespoons nutrtional yeast

1 tablespoon water

5 tablespoons toffutti cream cheese

2 tablespoons soy milk, sea salt to taste

Method:

1. First you need to make the crust. Take a large mixing bowl and add flour and salt. Stir through. DSC01028

2. Then add vegan butter and use your hands to mix it all through.DSC01038

3. Add water and make it into a dough. Roll into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

4. Preheat the oven 180 degrees.

3. Take a pan and heat 1 tbsp oil, then add onion. Cook for 3 mins, then add baby spinach. Cook for 1-2 mins (till soft) Place in a strainer, to strain out the water.

DSC010404. In same pan heat 1 tbsp oil, then add mushrooms. Cook for 3 mins then add to strainer.

DSC010415. Take large chopping board and place parchment paper with sprinkle of flour and roll out dough on top. Roll into a large circle. Trim edges and add to the centre and roll into dough.

6. Take two small bowls. In one bowl place 2 tbsp nutritional yeast and 1 tbsp of water and make into a paste. In the other bowl add 5 tbsp tofutti cream cheese, 2 tbsp soy milk and 1 tbsp of nutritional yeast and stir with a fork.

7. Place the paste around the outside of the dough, leaving a little bit of room around the edges. This will be in the crust of the galette.

DSC010438. Take the pan and add the vegetables and cream cheese. Stir through and adjust seasoning.

9. Place the mixture in the centre of the dough and then fold the edges up to form a crust.

10. Cook in the oven for 35-40mins. Serve warm or cold.

*Serves 4-8, depending on the serving size.

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[1] WHFoods, Cauliflower,  <www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=13>

[2] The Age, Fresher and smellier, <http://www.theage.com.au/news/epicure/fresher-and-smellier/2005/07/18/1121538895265.html>

[3] Bio-Distributors, Spelt grain, <http://www.biodistributors.com.au/ProdInfFiles/spelt.php>

Baked Panzarotti with Mushrooms, Sun-dried tomatoes & Pine nuts

Tonight’s Panzarotti were the best vegan version I have made thus far. In the past I have made them with fakin ‘bacon’, vegan cheese & tomato; onion, cavolo nero & tomato; or potato, vegan cheese & tomato. But they were never as good as Marco’s tuna & potato or ham, cheese & tomato. But I think tonight’s filling  topped his  (so long as you like mushrooms of course).

If you haven’t seen my early post and wondering what Panzarotti is, it is like a miniature calzone pizza, which can be fried or baked. If you are in the USA or Italy you probably heard of it, but I discovered it in Milan, Italy. It is one of my favorite dishes and is a great crowd pleaser. We use to fry them, but now we bake them. Baked they are way more healthier.  They can be made with gluten free or whole wheat pizza dough.

Marco made the pizza dough this afternoon and he used this Taste recipe. Considering the yeast is not activated separately in warm water before being added to the flour, the dough rose very well and baked perfectly. He made his with tomato (passata sauce) ham/salami and mozzarella cheese. But for mine I used the filling below. I really love this Redwood Co ‘mozzarella’ style cheese. It taste really good uncooked and melts really well. But if you don’t have any vegan cheese, you can go without with this filling.

Baked Panzarotti with Mushrooms, Sun-dried tomatoes & Pine nuts (vegan, soy free)

Ingredients:

Pizza dough (recipe made 13 Panzarotti)

garlic

mushrooms

sun-dried tomato

fresh basil

pine nuts

sea salt

tomato passata sauce

vegan ‘mozzarella’ cheese

Method:

1. After making dough, letting it rise,  separate the dough into 13 small balls and preheat oven to 200 degrees. 

2. Cut the garlic, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, basil.

3. Take a pan and heat the olive oil, then add the ingredients you just chopped and the pine nuts. Saute till the mushrooms are browned then set to the side.

4. On a floury board, roll out you dough balls into a flat circle shape. Then add 1 tbsp of passata sauce and then add the cooked ingredients and seasalt. Top with vegan cheese and fold the dough over like a half moon shape. Close the ends with your fingers or with a fork.

5. Cook in the oven for 15 mins or until the dough is cooked.