Thursday, 27 September 2012

week 9

Ok, as I am a bit late posting, I thought I'd start by giving you Angelica's recipe for the vegan pasta as promised.
I've made no amendments as I didn't want to mess around with the goodness.   So here it is in all it's glory.
If I was to make this dish, I would substitute the olive oil with coconut oil.

Vegan spinach, pumpkin & pinenut ravioli
serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side or light meal

Ingredients


FILLING

SPINACH
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bag of washed baby spinach
2 cloves of garlic

PUMPKIN
1 tablespoon olive oil
Half a butternut pumpkin, chopped into cubes
3 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pinenuts

Method

Preheat the oven to 150 degree
Place pumpkin in casserole dish and toss oil. 
Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven until soft and cooked through.
Heat a fry pan over medium heat. 
Add oil and 2 cloves of crushed garlic. 
Sauté garlic in oil for 2 or 3 minutes. 
Add spinach to the pan turn leaves in warm oil until they wilt. 
Season the wilted spinach with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
Place the pumpkin, spinach and pinenuts in a food processor and wiz until combined. 
Set aside until the dough is ready.

PASTA DOUGH

200g white flour
150ml warm water
1 tblsp olive oil
Pinch of salt

Method

Put the salt and flour in a large bowl and mix. 
Make a small circle in the middle and pour the water in a little at a time, mixing with a fork. 
Once combined, knead the mixture your hands until smooth. 
Wrap in glad wrap and let rest of 20 minutes. 
Once rested, cut the dough into 4 pieces and use a pasta maker to roll out the dough. I rolled it out to notch 5. 
Dust with flour and lay to rest while you repeat with all pieces. 
Cut circles out of the rolled pasta dough with a cookie cutter and place a teaspoon of filling into the center of each. Brush the edges with a little water and place another circle of dough on top. Pinch edges to seal. 


SAUCE

1 Brown Onion, diced
400g tinned Tomatos 
400g passata
1 tblsp olive oil
½ cup Fresh Basil
Pinch of powdered vegetable stock
Pinch of salt and pepper

Method
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan
Add the onion and the vegetable stock and fry on a low heat. Do not brown the onion. 
Add the remainder of ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.

Boil some water in a large pot.
Add in the ravioli and cook for about 5 minutes
Remove from heat once al dente and drain
Add in the sauce and serve. 

vegan cook off tasting plate
Now that's out of the way I will make a confession.  I have turned into a baking machine this past week.  It started off with a banana bread, then I experimented with a banana and mango bread, then I went somewhere I've wanted to go for a long time, and that was baking some cinnamon scrolls.  But not just any cinnamon scrolls, no, these were a much healthier alternative, with no oil added and with wholemeal flour.  Although I promised myself it would only be a treat, I couldn't help but scoff two down as soon as they were out of the oven.  What can I say, tasting is part of cooking :)

Cinnamon, pumpkin and apple rolls
makes 7 (odd number I know)

Dough

1 cup almond milk
1 yeast sachet
2 cup wholemeal plain flour
1/2 cup white plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBS cinnamon powder
4 TBS pumpkin puree

Filling

1/4 cup apple sauce (homemade using stewed apples which I blended)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 TBS cinnamon

Icing

1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 TBS almond milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

coconut oil for greasing or baking paper

Method


Heat almond milk in a small saucepan until tepid, add in yeast, stir and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin.  Pour in milk/yeast mixture and mix with your hands. Be gentle, try not to over mix.
The mixture will be sticky but don't worry.
Pour some plain white flour onto a clean surface and knead your dough.  Keep adding flour until you get a ball that holds together and is a little elastic.
Use a rolling pin to spread out your dough in as close to a rectangle as possible.  Don't make it to thin or else it will be hard to roll, about 1 cm thickness is good.
Spread the apple sauce on top and then add the mixed sugar and cinnamon.  Get as much coverage as possible.
Roll your dough from one end of the other.  Go slow so you don't end up with a broken mess!!
Slice into desired thickness, I did mine about 4 fingers width.
Place in a baking dish that's been greased with some coconut oil or lined with baking paper.  
Leave to rest either overnight or for at least 20 minutes.  This will cause the dough to rise.
Bake in a moderate pre-heated oven for about 25-30 minutes.
Let cool slightly before icing.
For icing, mix all ingredients together until you have a nice runny consistency.
Drizzle icing on top and serve stat!!





























I don't just love these because they taste so damn good.  I also love them because they smell so good!  It makes the house feel welcoming and nurturing, hmmmmm......warm fuzzies all round :)

Now with my cake fix completed, I endeavoured to experiment more with gluten free recipes seeing that I will be going full steam ahead with that challenge in 4 days!!  YIKES!!
And what better way to experiment than with pizza!  
Definitely a favourite meal at our place, and we normally make our own using wholemeal lebanese bread and a range of toppings.  My daughters prefer pineapple, mushrooms and ham. The hubby loves lots of veges with chorizo or ham and I used to eat olives, basil and anchovies.
But now that I am on a plant based diet, I have to be honest, I've been avoiding it.  No cheese and no anchovies?  What's the point?
But, I do love mushrooms so here is my recipe for a gluten free "pizza" that's filling and full of vitamin B.
I got the idea for this recipe from a portuguese friend at work. Sometimes she brings polenta squares that she bakes and then eats with whatever side she makes.  It made me think about how well it would be as a pizza base because it holds it's shape really well and you can bake it, or just cook it on the stove and let it sit until it becomes solid.

Mushroom Pizza
serves 8 as a light meal

Ingredients

Base 

2 cups water
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sea salt
1 TBS coconut oil
1 cup of polenta

Topping

4 cups mushrooms of your choice, sliced
1/3 cup brown onion sliced
1 kale leaf torn into slices
3 TBS pine nuts toasted
1 TBS coconut oil
Pasta sauce*
handful fresh parsley/basil
salt and pepper to taste

Method

Bring water to boil in a medium sized saucepan.  Once boiling, add oil and seasoning.
Pour in polenta in one thin stream whilst stirring.
Keep stirring for about 5 minutes or until the polenta is thick and creamy.  
Once cooked, pour your polenta into a square or rectangle pan that's lined with baking paper.
Use a spatula to evenly spread.  Don't use a wooden spoon, it won't work as polenta will get stuck to it.
Whack it in the fridge to harden (about 30 mins).
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and bake your polenta base for about 40 minutes.  Set aside.
Whilst there is still 15 minutes left of cooking time for the polenta base, heat oil in a frying pan, sauté onions and add mushrooms.  
I like mine soft so I usually put the cover on and let them sweat a bit.  Season with salt and pepper.
Add the kale and sauté until bright green.  Remove from heat.
Spread tomato sauce onto polenta base, sprinkle on your pine nuts and then arrange your mushrooms and kale over the pizza.
Cook in the hot oven for 15 minutes or until the kale starts toasting.
Sprinkle with fresh parsley and enjoy.
You can substitute any topping on this recipe so go nuts!



*I used a basic pasta sauce for this, if you're rushed for time, you can use store bought or maybe some tomato paste sprinkled with some dried oregano.
Next time, I'll make a batch of Angelica's tomato sauce for sure.

This next recipe has more of an Indian flavour to it, thanks to the cumin seeds and turmeric.  I served it with some rice, lentils and quinoa for dinner, than I had a big bowl of it on it's own for lunch the next day.
It's a good meal to cook because the left overs taste better the next day after the flavours have had time to develop.
Another thing I love about this recipe is that it's super easy and you can use whatever vegetables are dying in your fridge as long as you have an eggplant as it's the main point of the dish.
This recipe was adapted from one I found in Mr. Wilkinson's favourite vegetables cookbook.  A lovely birthday present from miss Italy herself xx

Eggplant Casserole
serves 4 as a side or 2 on it's own

Ingredients

1 TBS coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 large eggplant cubed
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 brown onion diced
1 zucchini cubed
2 squash cubed
2 carrots cubed
1 can chopped tomatoes
1/2 TBS caster sugar
2 cups kale strips
1 lemon juiced
2 TBS continental parsley chopped

Method

In a large heavy based saucepan, add your coconut oil and heat on medium heat.  Add your onions and garlic and sauté.
Add the rest of your vegetables except kale, and cook until eggplant is soft and a little mushy.  Add your tomatoes and sugar and cook until other vegies are soft but still have a little bite to them, and the sauce is a little reduced.  About 10 minutes.
Add your kale and lemon juice and cook for a further 3 minutes.
Take off heat, taste and adjust seasoning as required.  Stir in parsley.
Serve straight away and store left overs for tomorrow's lunch.

The next recipe is really good for those that are time poor and I usually have it for lunch at work because it requires minimum preparation.  It's also a go to meal on Mondays, when I'm exhausted and don't feel like cooking dinner for myself.  I normally make a big batch of brown rice a couple of times a week so that I can just make meals as I go.  This is a perfect example of a meal on the run for me.

Brown rice bowl with tofu and sesame
serves 1

Ingredients

1 cup of cooked brown rice
handful of mixed salad greens
1/4 cup cucumber julienne
1/4 cup carrot julienne
1 TBS coriander finely chopped
1 TBS tamari
1/2 TBS sesame oil
1 TBS sesame seeds
1/2 cup of firm tofu diced

Method

Put your brown rice at the bottom of your bowl (hot or cold, up to you).
Add your vegetables, herbs and tofu.  Sprinkle on your sesame seeds and drizzle with oil and tamari.
Mix it all together and enjoy.
Can't get simpler than that!!
Feel free to add whatever vegetables your belly desires, steamed or raw broccoli go well in this, or any other asian style vegetable. 

The next gluten free recipe is rice pudding.  You know I can never finish without a dessert!!
Growing up in Peru, rice pudding was a popular dessert and I remember that it always made an appearance at birthday parties.  It was served on it's own with a sprinkle of cinnamon, or with a side of mazamorra morada which is a dessert made from purple corn and it is delicious. As a combination, it's killer.  Everytime a family member returns from Peru, they always bring sachets of instant mazamorra morada for us.
Eating rice pudding brings back warm memories of my family and my dad's rice pudding is the best.  Always creamy and sometimes he would add raisins which would turn into soft plump little pillows. 
Here's my recipe, and I topped it with some stewed pears and chia for some added sweetness.

Rice pudding with stewed pears
serves 2

Ingredients

Rice

1/3 cup arborio rice
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup water
1 cinnamon stick

Pears

2 medium sized pears
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
1/2 TBS chia seeds

Method

Put rice, water and cinnamon stick in a small heavy based sauce pan over medium heat.
Bring to the boil and cook until the water has nearly absorbed.  
Add the almond milk, turn heat to low and cover for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove lid, rice should be getting close to ready, stir gently and cook until liquid is reduced and rice is cooked and creamy.

Slice your pears, and place in small saucepan.  The pears won't be covered by the water but they will drop some liquid so don't despair.
Cook them on medium heat until soft and liquid has reduced by half.
Stir in your chia seeds and cook for a further few minutes or until mixture thickens slightly.
Remove from heat and stir in your vanilla extract.

Place your rice in glasses and layer with stewed pear.
Or you can just pop it in a bowl, top with pears and gobble it up!



OH my goodness, only 3 weeks to go! I can't believe it, I feel like I've only scratched the surface of my vegan journey and I feel that stopping at 12 weeks would really not be in my best interest.  I still have SO much more to learn about a plant based diet and living as cleanly as possible.  
Needless to say, I'm excited about the possibilities! 
I'm actually very excited about a couple of things, first of is that I was able to get a table at Quay restaurant at very short notice for next week, thanks to a certain crazy Indonesian goddess.  It's the boy's birthday and I'm going to surprise him (don't worry, he doesn't read my blog)!!
I know that they are pretty good catering to dietary restrictions so I'm waiting to hear back about what they say in regards to accommodating a vegan.  If it goes ahead, you can bet I will be photographing every dish so that I can share it with you.
You don't just get three chef hats for nothing, and it's rated number 29 restaurant in the world.  Not to mention that executive chef Peter Gilmore won chef of the year for 2012 in Australia.
Check out their amazing menu here.

I'm also excited because I'm doing a raw vegan workshop at the end of October at that little raw vegan cafe I told you about in a previous post, sadhana kitchen.
It's only for 3 hours but I imagine that I'll learn a lot and I'm really looking forward to the ebook that the chef, Maz Pugoy, is bringing out about embarking on a 14 day raw food adventure.  Yay!
So if there is any Sydney peeps out there who are interested, check out the above link for more details and I might see you there.

Next thing I'm excited (and terrified) about is that I'm embarking on a 3 day juice cleanse.  Yes, it's been a long time coming and I've been putting it off because I'm scared about not being able to actually munch and chew food but I think that if I'm going gluten free and then sugar free, I might as well start with a cleanse to get everything going.
I've had a look at some juices that are recommended by different sites and I think I have a few good ones to get me through and also give me the required nutrients I need to get through the day.

I've started experimenting with some and here's a cleansing tonic that I got from ecosalon.

Morning Liver Tonic


Cup of freshly boiled water
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
Juice of 1/2 lemon


And here's one that I think I'll have whilst on my cleanse, probably at night time as it feels nurturing and the blend of cinnamon and almond milk would be nice just before bed.
Thanks to the folks at Urban Remedy for the list of ingredients, I played around with the quantities and I think I found one I like, I also added some raw mesquite powder for added protein.

Urban Remedy ABC Dessert Smoothie

7 simple ingredients:

1. Almond milk
2. Coconut water
3. Filtered water
4. ABC nut butter*
5. Four dates
6. Raw cacao
7. Cinnamon

These are the quantities I like:

200 ml unsweetened almond milk
200 ml coconut water
1 TBS ABC nut butter
4 dates
1 tsp raw cacao
1 tsp raw mesquite powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Blend and serve with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.
I didn't add any water but I imagine you could add more water to make it more filling.


So wish me luck on my cleanse, I'll be sure to fill you in on what happens on Wednesday night when it's all done and dusted.
I'm hoping I can carry it out, 3 days seems a long time but I'm confident that I'll get through it.......just!

Peas, love and mungbeans

xxb


Just a little update, I got a call from Quay restaurant and they've accepted my vegan challenge.  SO bloody excited! Can't wait to see what they come up with!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

week 8

Week 8 is nearing it's end and I've got some lovely recipes for you.  Not all of them are mine, in fact, the majority are from my lovely non-vegan friends.
We had a long overdue get-together over the weekend and being the amazing girls that they are, they all made vegan meals so that we could all eat to our bellies content.
All of them cooked vegan recipes that they had never cooked before, and it all turned out amazingly yum.  This just goes to show, that there's nothing to be scared about when it comes to vegan food.  In fact, it's probably easier and less time consuming than waiting for a roast to cook, or making sure you don't overcook the scallops, e.t.c.
I must admit though, vegan food can take some preparation, specially when making raw meals.  Otherwise, I think it's pretty simple.  But don't let me tell you that.  Give it a go and see for yourself.

I'll start with my dish because I've been flogging it since it was made for me.  This recipe was inspired by my neighbour, she is a self-described non-cook, but she made me the loveliest, most moorish salad I've had in a long time.  I've used the base of her recipe and added some plump juicy figs that I thought really worked well with the flavours.  Thanks Leanne for the idea, I think you're a great cook :)

I made the grains and legumes the night before and stored them in air-tight containers.  This meant that I could assemble it quickly the next day and not worry about being stuck in the kitchen the whole time.  In fact, you can prepare all the ingredients ahead of time and just assemble when you are ready to eat.  Perfect!


Protein Power Salad
serves 8 as a side

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice
1 cup quinoa 
1 cup french lentils
1/2 Tbs coconut oil
1 1/2 cup fennel diced
1/3 cup raw almonds
1/3 cup sunflower seed and pepita mix
1 cup fresh mint chopped
6 figs quartered
1/2 lemon juiced
evoo
sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Method

Cook brown rice, quinoa, and lentils separately and to packet instructions.  Remember to always rinse your grains and legumes, especially quinoa, as the rinsing removes the bitter taste you can get otherwise.
Heat up your coconut oil in a frying pan and add your fennel, heat gently until fennel is soft.  Put aside to cool.
Heat the frying pan again, this time no oil is needed, and roast your almonds until golden.
When they are cool enough to handle, chop them into slivers.
Rinse your grains and lentils once they are cooked.  About 20 minutes for quinoa, 30-40 for brown rice, and 30 for the lentils.
To make the salad, you just toss all the ingredients together in a bowl, adding the figs last so that they don't break apart when you are mixing it.
Check your seasoning and adjust as required, same for the lemon juice.  I like mine zingy but everyone is different.



The following recipe is by the lovely Natalie, and it's one she got from here.  It was really delicious, and so colourful and the dressing is THE bomb.  I have made the dressing since then and have added it to other salads and also the rice salad and i'm happy to say that it goes really well with just about anything.  You could even use it as a dip, it's that good.

The next dish was made by the sweet Angelica.  She's little, she's Italian, and she makes the best pasta this side of Sicily.  And would you believe it, she made egg-free pasta for us! There was no left-overs of that one, otherwise, we would've all been fighting for the last perfect little ravioli.
I'm still to get the recipe for this, but patience is a virtue and I will practice it.
The ravioli was filled with a mixture of baked pumpkin, garlic and spinach and it was divine! I could have eaten the whole platter.
Ange tells me that it was really simple to make, just flour, water and some olive oil for the pasta.  But I have never made vegan pasta before and I'd rather have the right amounts before I go covering myself in flour and oil.
The sauce itself was outstanding too, so I will post up this little gem as soon as I get it.
As you can see, there was no real theme for our lunch, just that it had to be vegan.  This next recipe was so yummy and for some reason, silky comes to mind when I'm remembering the textures.
This dish was cooked by a crazy Indonesian girl called Dea, and it was just delish.
It was a delicious blend of enoki mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, tofu, and chinese greens with a vegetarian oyster sauce.  A side of soba noodles, the perfect accompaniment.  You can get the recipe here.
Of course, every good kitchen needs a good prep chef, and we had that in the lovely Briana aka Jazzy. Thanks lady for the cheese (yes, the non-vegan kind for the non-vegans) and for your assistance in making the dishes happen.

And last but not least is the dessert I made.  
I must admit, this was a first for me.  Not the dessert making, but this recipe. I was initially going to make a salted caramel and chocolate tart and I still did make that but it just turned out different to what I initially had in my head.  I was aiming for a dulce de leche type tart that I was going to cover in melted dark chocolate so that I would have a hard chocolate top with a soft caramel centre and a crumbly base.  However, the dulce de leche was an experience in itself and I thought that it would be too rich to have the caramel and the hard chocolate on top, so instead, I made a more creamy chocolate topping to go with the salted caramel.  Enjoy.

WARNING: This dessert requires you to have a lot of time, and is best to make ahead of time as you will need to soak, freeze and stand in one spot for at least two hours!  But well worth it.

Salted Caramel and Chocolate Tart
Makes 20 cm tart 

Ingredients

Crust


3/4 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup walnut and pecans
6 pitted medjool dates
1 Tbsp coconut oil
pinch of sea salt

Method

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until crumbly but able to hold together when pressed.
Press the mixture into a lined springform tin, using some to come up the sides.  Bake in a moderate oven for 10 minutes or until lightly golden.  This last step is optional, but I like it because it gives it a toasted coconut taste.  Alternatively, you can toast the coconut before you process your ingredients. I just didn't think of that at the time.



 Dulce de Leche
Yields about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

2 cans of coconut milk full fat
3/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of sea salt

Method

Place coconut milk and sugar into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat stirring occasionally.  When it begins to boil, turn heat down to low and cook for about 2 hours.
Yes, that's not a misprint, 2 HOURS!!
Add the salt at the end and stir to dissolve.
Make sure you keep stirring every few minutes to stop the mixture from burning or sticking to the bottom.
Now this is what happened to mine, I left the stove because I could no longer wait to go to the toilet and when I came back, the mixture had curdled.  ARGH!  You can imagine my annoyance, having stood in front of it patiently, crossing and uncrossing my legs, for the past two hours!  Now what was I to do? My dream of making vegan dulce de leche had gone, just because I had to wee.  
But not all was lost my friends.  In my desperation to make this work, to not let the past two hours be a waste of time, I did what any self-respecting girl would do.  I drained off the liquid that was floating on top, which was just oil after all, and after a little bit more stirring, about 5 minutes, I was left with the most delicious dulce de leche.  YEEEAAAHHHH!!
This taught me a very important lesson.  Always trust your gut, it'll let you know what to do :)
Pour dulce de leche in a jar or glass container and let it cool in the fridge.
Liquid Gold!

Chocolate Filling

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked overnight or for at least 4 hours
1/3 cup coconut oil liquid
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup almond milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

Method

To liquify your coconut oil, stand the container in boiling water.
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until creamy and smooth.  
You will need to scrape down the sides a couple of times.

Assembly

Pour your cool dulce de leche into prepared tart base.  It will be considerably more thick than when you first poured it into the container.
Smooth it out to cover the bottom.
Pour your chocolate mixture on top of the dulce de leche and smooth the top.
Cover and place in freezer.  Take out of freezer a couple of hours before you are going to serve it.  Store left overs, if any, in the freezer and just cut off a slice whenever you fancy.
Ta-Dahhh!
So that was our vegan cook-off, not bad if I do say so myself.  We all had happy bellies and I was floating on my happy cloud for days afterwards, it's amazing what good company and good food can do :)

With the end of the challenge nearing, and feeling pretty confident about eating a plant based diet, I've decided to add a little more challenges to my challenge.
So for the month of October, I will be doing Gluten Free and for November, I will be bidding farewell to my friend Sugar.
I anticipate that both will be, to say the least, um, challenging.  But, I'm always up for a hard slog so there you are.
I anticipate that No-sugar-vember will be a tough battle.  No sugar means no fruit, which means no green monster smoothies, no berry-chia jam, no chocolate tarts, no vegan dulce de leche, no dried fruit, no stewed apples in my porridge, no banana peanut butter gelato, no raw vegan chocolate......oh dear, the list is endless!!
I have done a no sugar challenge before so I know what lies ahead. The nausea, the headaches, the lethargy, the irritability.  Yes, I will be a sugar junkie seriously crashing from a sugar high.  I plead with you to keep your treats to yourself and away from my face, or I might eat your face!
But seriously, the bad part only lasts a few days and then it's all good.  I'll be on top of the world, feeling smug and silently snickering behind your back when I see you eating a chocolate, feeling rather holy at the fact that I can kick sugar, even for just one month.  Maybe I'll have a cat, maybe the cat and I will sit by the window sill and drink liquorice tea and read books and stuff.  But hold on, I'm not sugarless yet, why am I delirious?  Oh yes, it was just the idea of having no sugar that's sent me loopy.  Oh dear.
But then I will become normal again and celebrate, and we can hold hands while we slurp a delicious green monster smoothie, filled with sweet bananas, yay!

What will October bring I wonder?  A month of no bread, no cakes, no pasta.  It really is the only way I can see to ease myself into dreaded No-sugar-vember.  Yes, babysteps indeed.

Til next time lovers, dreamers and cat owners

Peas, love and mung beans

xxb

ps, i don't have anything against cats or people who love them.  I just prefer dogs.






Wednesday, 12 September 2012

just a quickie.....

it was a little chilly when I woke up this morning, so I decided to make some delicious porridge.  It always makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
I never understand when I hear that people don't like porridge, it makes me think that their experience was marred by substandard, gluey porridge that was cooked wrong.
What I say to those people is this:  Make yourself a bowl by following the next few simple instructions and you will never look back.

Basic Porridge
serves 1

Ingredients

1/3 cup wholegrain oats (you can use any type of grain here, and quinoa/brown rice works well for those with a gluten intolerance)
2/3 cup non-dairy milk 
1/3 water
pinch of sea salt

Method

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil on medium heat.
Stir whilst cooking to avoid sticking on the bottom and to make it super creamy.
Remove from heat when it thickens and becomes creamy.
Serve with your favourite topping.

Now, my favourite combinations are:

  • grated apple and cinnamon 
  • stewed pears and vanilla
  • berries and cacao powder
  • cacao powder and coconut
  • banana and cinnamon
  • pumpkin spice with pecans/walnuts
I also love it with nut butter and some delicious jam.

Here's a recipe for jam I came up with by accident but it's a good one.

Berry Chia Jam
makes 2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups of strawberries
1/4 cup blueberries
2 Tbsp chia seeds
3 Tbsp maple syrup

Method

Place berries and syrup into a saucepan and cook on low-med heat until berries begin to soften and break down.
With a fork or potato masher, mash some of the berries but leave some chunky also.
It should be a little bit syrupy by this stage.
Add chia seeds and stir.  Mixture will thicken after a few minutes.
Turn off heat when it reaches your desired consistency.

Easy peasy!

Cashew butter
makes 2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups of roasted and unsalted cashews
3 Tbsp dairy-free milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
1/4 tsp of sea salt

Method

Blend until smooth in a food processor.  You may need more milk if you're not using syrup.  You could also use water but do it a bit at a time so you don't end up with a liquidy mess.  The desired texture and consistency is up to you so adjust as you go.

I store both in a glass jar and so far, they keep pretty well.

The cashew butter is quite thick, like almond butter, so what I like to do before I add it to my porridge, is mix it with some more dairy-free milk and pinch or more of cinnamon.

Here's what I had this morning.























Have it on  some crusty sourdough or homemade bread that's fresh out of the oven.

Or use it to make some Berry Chia gelato.

YUM!




    








And here's a photo I took of the pumpkin spice porridge.


It was my send off to winter, and it was delicious.

Peas, love and mungbeans

xxb




Tuesday, 11 September 2012

week 7

So i now only have 5 weeks left of the challenge.  I feel like the time has flown.  I am really entrenched in this way of eating now, and I'm wondering how I'm going to give it up, if it is that I decide to do that at the end.
Whatever the case, I feel like eating to nourish your body is not always a 'be all and end all' type of scenario.  It's more about what works for you, your body and your morals/ethics regarding food and food production.
This is not an easy idea to accept, specially for people like me who are stringent followers of the rules.  I've chosen to eat a plant based diet, and I am enjoying the ride, however, I don't want my health to suffer as a result of developing deficiencies, so my hope is that I can work through this and maintain this way of eating.

Now that we've got the serious stuff out of the way, let's look at some delicious summer treats that I've been playing around with.

I can smell summer in the air, it just keeps getting warmer in gorgeous Sydney, and there's nothing I love more on a warm sunny day, than stuffing my face full of ice cream.  

That's right, I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!!

These two recipes are sugar-free but feel free to add a sweetener of choice if you like things a little extra indulgent. Personally I don't think you really need it, so give it a go without it.  I dare you!

Berry-coconut gelato
serves 2

Ingredients

2 bananas frozen
1/4 cup berries of your choice (i used frozen raspberries)
1.5 Tbs coconut cream
1 tsp sweetener of choice (optional)

Method

Place all ingredients in a food processor and whiz until it reaches the desired consistency.



Banana Peanut Butter Gelato
serves 2

Ingredients

2 bananas frozen
1 Tbs natural peanut butter
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp of sweetener of choice (optional)
1 tsp crushed peanuts for topping

Method

Place all ingredients except crushed peanuts into food processor and whizz until you reach ice cream consistency.
Serve with a sprinkle of crushed peanuts on top.
You could add the crushed peanuts and stir it through the gelato, I think that would add a really nice texture.  Crunch Crunch Crunch :)



Do you get the picture now?  
This is the simplest, most easiest way to make delicious, healthy ice cream in minutes, so there's always a new flavour that you can whip up at a whim.
I always have bags and bags full of bananas in my freezer.  It's such a good way to store them if you have them turning brown.  
I use them to make banana bread, cakes, smoothies, and of course, ice cream.
I picked up 2 kilos of bananas the other day for $2.50!!  Just because the skin is spotted and a little brown doesn't mean the insides are dying.  As long as there's no soft bits and black bruises, they're as perfect as unspotted ones.

Now, as you can see, the banana peanut butter gelato is not alone.  Next to it is a delicious serving of vegan chocolate mousse.
This indulgent treat is delicious on it's own, and also makes a great filling for a chocolate tart.

I have tested this out on my non-vegan friends and told them the secret ingredient afterwards and they couldn't believe it.
Give it a go and see for yourself.

Chocolate Mousse

serves 6 on it's own or makes one 8 inch pie tart

Ingredients


2 cups of avocado flesh (about 2 1/2 avos)
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup non-dairy milk of choice (i used oat milk for this one)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs arrowroot powder
1 Tbs almond butter
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup raw cacao powder (you can use cocoa powder if that's what you have)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 block of dark chocolate (i used Lindt 70% as it doesn't contain any dairy)

Method

Place all ingredients in a food processor except for the chocolate.
Blend it until smooth, you will need to scrape the bowl a couple of times to make sure it's all incorporated.
In a double boiler, or in a bowl placed over some simmering water, melt your chocolate until smooth and there's no more lumps.
Add to avocado mixture and blend again until all mixed through.  Mixture will thicken into a delicious smooth blend.  Try not to eat it all!!




The mousse will harden somewhat when refrigerated, and if you are using as a filling for a tart, make sure you place it in the freezer for a couple of hours before you serve it.  It will make it easier to cut.
I have some recipes that work well for tart bases but I will post that up next week as I will be making some salted caramel and chocolate tarts this week.
I have made this as a tart before and it it delicious.  The best thing is that you can freeze the left overs and cut off a piece as you go.
It definitely is a rich chocolate flavour, so a small serving is really enough to satisfy your chocolate craving.

Now that we've had dessert, how about a main?

As I've said before, I HATE waste, so I made the following recipe with the left over risotto I put up in my previous post.  
I made a big batch of the sauce from my spaghetti veganese recipe, and used the left over to make a pasta for the family that included chorizo (they are NOT doing the challenge).

All you have to do is stuff your capsicum with the risotto, spread the pasta sauce on top and a little on the bottom of the baking  pan, and stick it in the oven at 180 degrees celcius and bake for about 30-40 minutes.
Once out of the oven, sprinkle some chopped herbs and some nutritional yeast flakes for some added vitamin B.
Add a side salad and there you have it!  

Now for another savoury dish. 
I was playing around with making some vegan pesto and this is what I came up with.

Tomato Pesto
makes approx. 2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup basil leaves
1 1/2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup semi dried tomatoes
1/4 cup evoo
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Method 

Place all ingredients in your food processor and process until nearly smooth.  Now, it will be a little bit thick so I added about 1 Tbsp of water at a time until I got the desired consistency.  I ended up adding 3 Tbsp but it's personal preference.



This is good to have on hand when you are stuck and need to jazz up a meal.  Here's two I used it with.

Quinoa Topped Mushrooms
serves 6 as a light meal

Ingredients

1 cup of quinoa rinsed and drained
1 tsp of vegan stock powder
1 1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 garlic clove minced
1/3 cup brown onion diced
1/3 cup squash diced
6 sundried tomatoes cut into strips
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh basil
3-4 Tbsp water
6 large field mushrooms
pepper to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.  Clean mushrooms by wiping with a paper towel to remove dirt.  Place clean mushrooms, caps down on lined baking tray and place in oven for about 30 - 40 minutes.
Whilst your mushrooms are in the oven, place the rinsed quinoa in a medium saucepan with water and stock powder and bring to the boil over medium heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for about 15 - 20 minutes, or until all liquid has evaporated and quinoa is translucent and cooked.  Turn heat off.
In a frying pan, add your coconut oil, garlic, onion and squash. Cook until squash is a little soft but still has some crunch in it.  Add to quinoa.
Process your herbs and water with a hand held blender if you have it and add this mixture to you quinoa, along with the sun dried tomato strips.  Stir gently to combine.
Return the quinoa to a low heat and cook uncovered until there's no more liquid, this should only take about 3-5 minutes as there's not really that much water added.
By now, your mushrooms should be ready.
Take them out of the oven and place them on a plate, top with herbed quinoa and your tomato pesto.
Bon appétit!

Mediterranean Pasta
serves 1 

Ingredients

Wholemeal pasta or pasta of choice (enough for one person)
1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/3 cup of eggplant strips
1/4 cup brown onion diced
1 garlic clove minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
4 sundried tomatoes cut into strips
6 kalamata olives chopped
3 Tbsp tomato pesto (or more if you like)
1 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped
2 tsp nutritional yeast 
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method

Cook pasta to packet instructions
Heat coconut oil in frying pan and add garlic, onion and eggplant, cook on medium heat until eggplant turns golden.
Add oregano, chilli flakes, sundried tomatoes and olives.  Cook for a further 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and add to hot drained pasta.  Stir in pesto and parsley and mix until well incorporated and covering every inch of pasta.  Add your seasoning at this stage if you feel it needs it.
Plate it up and sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
Serve with some crusty bread and a basic salad.

I also use the pesto as a spread on my sandwiches, and stuff them with salad and baked pumpkin. Yummo!

On the body front, I am still losing hair :( but I have started taking the supplements and it's early days so I'm hoping it will stop soon.  I guess I have to give it some time.  I think about 4 weeks should be long enough to start to see some difference.  Fingers crossed!

Otherwise, energy levels are good, my sleep is still great, give or take a few nights when work has been really hectic, or my girls have a bad night.  But these are normal everyday things that would happen regardless of eating habits.

I've started doing some meditating, just small 5 minute intervals at this stage.  Trying to find a regular time to do it is the only problem as you can imagine.  At this stage, I can only do it at night after the family are all tucked in and asleep.
I know it's best to practice first thing in the morning but alas, it's a rare occasion when I wake up before everyone else.  I'm usually woken up by my youngest poppet calling out 'maaamiiiiii!' from her cot!!
But never fear, I will persevere.

Peas, love and mung beans

xxb