Saturday, 15 December 2012

summer means salads

I love this time of year, the weather is warmer, the days are longer and holidays are imminent.  Also, it's stone fruit season!  Nothing beats a fresh and crunchy nectarine whilst basking in the sunny glow of beautiful days :)
They also taste great in salads, perfect!

White nectarine and tofu salad
Serves 2 as a side or 1 as a light meal


1 white nectarine sliced into wedges
2 handfuls of rocket
1/8 cup red onion thinly sliced
1/2 lemon juiced
100 g firm tofu sliced into 0.5 cm thickness
sea salt and freshly crushed pepper to taste


Heat up a small frying pan and place nectarine wedges, flesh side down.  (I used a non-stick frying pan so didn't need to add oil)
Cook for about 3 minutes each side, they should be a little bit caramelised.
Remove from heat and now cook tofu on each side.  Again I didn't use any oil but feel free to if you prefer.
In a medium sized bowl, combine your vegetables, nectarine and tofu. Pour in the lemon juice and seasoning and get your hands in there and give it a gentle but thorough mix so that everything is coated evenly.
Serve and enjoy.

I'm really loving adding fruit to my salads lately, the flavours of sweet and savoury really work well together, and they also add a different texture depending on what you do with them.  I specially love apples in salads and here are two recipes that uses them in two different ways.

Apple Slaw
Serves 1


1/2 red apple thinly sliced (I used pink lady because of their tart flavour)
1 cup red cabbage shredded
1 TBS slivered almonds
1 cup of spinach shredded 
1 TBS dried cranberries
1/2 lemon juiced
sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Combine all ingredients in a bowl serve.

Baked apple and pumpkin salad
Serves 4 as a side


2 granny smith apples
4 cups of pumpkin chunks
4 handfuls of rocket
3/4 cup bertoli beans
1/4 cup walnut halves chopped
2 TBS dried cranberries
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Pre-heat oven to 180 degress celcius.  Line a tray with baking paper.
Peel and core apples, cut them into thick wedges and place on tray, along with pumpkin pieces.
Bake in oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until pumpkin is cooked.
Once cooked, remove from oven and leave to cool for about 20 minutes.  
In a screw top jar, add balsamic vinegar, olive oil and seasoning.  Shake to emulsify.
In a medium sized bowl, place rocket, beans, walnuts and cranberries. Add the pumpkin and apples and toss gently. 
Serve and enjoy.

And did I mention that I also LOVE figs!  If they weren't so pricey, I'd eat them everyday!!

Fig and spinach salad
Serves 1


1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 fig sliced into thin wedges
1/4 cup yellow capsicum strips
1/4 cup corn kernels
1 TBS goji berries
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper


Place spinach, capsicum and corn kernels in a bowl, add vinegar and mix gently.  Add figs and give it another gentle toss.  Sprinkle with goji berries and serve.

And now to some warm yumminess.....

Baked eggplant with spicy tomato quinoa stuffing
Serves 2


1 large eggplant
1 1/2 cups tomato pasta sauce
1/2 cup quinoa
1 clove of garlic crushed
1/2 brown onion chopped
1 TBS tomato paste
1 tsp harissa paste
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 TBS parsley chopped
6 kalamata olives sliced
1/2 vegan stock cube
3/4 cup water


Eggplant flesh (from the baked eggplant)
1/8 cup parsley
1 clove of garlic
1/2 lemon juiced
1/2 tsp sea salt


Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.  Cut eggplant in half lengthways.
In a baking dish, add tomato pasta sauce  and place eggplant, skin side down.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until eggplant is brown and golden on the top.
In a medium saucepan, add garlic, onion, spices, and both tomato and harissa paste.  Add a little bit of water and mix it all together.  Place over medium heat and cover with lid.  Cook for approximately 4 minutes, until onion is soft.  Whilst it's cooking, rinse quinoa thoroughly and add to saucepan.  Add water, olives and stock cube.  Cover and cook on low-medium heat for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked.  If it looks too dry and the quinoa is still not cooked, add a little bit more water.  Once cooked, remove from heat and stir in parsley.
When eggplant is ready, remove from oven and scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1.5 cm edge.  Keep the scooped out flesh for the dressing.  
Place quinoa into eggplant cavity.  To serve, place some of the pasta sauce on the bottom of the plate in a circular pattern and place stuffed quinoa on top.
For the dressing, blend together all ingredients and pipe on to top of quinoa.
Serve on it's own, or with a side of rocket salad with lemon juice dressing.

I've been working on some cakes, so I will post those next.  Look out for berry vanilla cake, upside down pineapple cake and a marble cake.  YUM!!

Not sure if I'll get to post before Christmas so if I don't, I just want to wish you all a great Christmas and a wonderful new year.  I hope that you spend it with your loved ones, enjoying their presence and being present in the moment.  I know for me, I will be reflecting on the year that was, and taking the time to be extra thankful to mother earth for the wonderful blessings she has bestowed on me.  Couldn't be luckier really.  So blessed.

Peas, love and mungbeans


Saturday, 1 December 2012

thank goodness for december

Now that November is over, I can get busy in the kitchen again.
Going sugar-free made me realise that I just love making desserts.  Is that bad?  Maybe, but as the kids say these days, YOLO!

To welcome fruit in my life, I made the following pillows of goodness.

Oat and banana pancakes
Serves 13x10 cm pancakes (i know, weird number)


1 1/4 cup wholegrain oats
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas + 1 to serve
coconut oil spray
Maple syrup to serve


Place all ingredients, except bananas, in a large bowl and use a hand held blender to blend until smooth.
Add 2 bananas and blend until incorporated in to the batter.
Spray a large frying pan with coconut oil and heat on medium heat until hot.
Add batter and cook in two.  About 1/4 of a cup per pancake.
Repeat process until all batter is used up, spraying pan as required.
Serve pancakes with extra banana and maple syrup.
Or do as I do, eat them on their own or covered in almond butter.

But it's not just the sweet life I love, I also love making new food discoveries.  I've recently discovered a little something called Slim Pasta.  I'd been looking at it for a while but wasn't too sure, but decided to try it out and it has proved quiet tasty and easy to use.  I just use it in place of noodles and pasta in meals and it's also easy and quick to prepare.
Here's a couple of recipes I've been making of late.

Spicy Curry Noodles with Spinach and Mushrooms
Serves 2


1 packet of slim pasta organic fettucini
2 cups of baby spinach
1 cup red capsicum strips
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup enoki mushrooms, cut in half
1/2 cup zucchini julienne
1/4 cup coriander chopped
2 TBS unhulled tahini
2 TBS tamari
4 TBS water (or more depending on preferred consistency)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
1 TBS curry powder
sprouts and sesame seeds to garnish


Prepare pasta to packet instructions.
Combine tahini, tamari, water, curry powder and chilli flakes in a bowl, and whisk to combine.  Should reach a smooth consistency. Add more water at this stage if required.
In a large bowl, combine all your vegetables and pasta, add dressing, and mix throughly.  I use my hands as I like to get every single strand of pasta and vegetable covered in the goodness.
Divide into serving plate and decorate with sprouts and seeds.

 I like to eat this at room temperature or cold, it's refreshing and really filling.  It also travels well and is a favourite work lunch/dinner.

Roasted vegetable Pasta
Serves 2


1 packet of Slim pasta organic fettucini
2 garlic cloves unpeeled
3 grey zucchini
1/2 large eggplant
2 large flat mushrooms
2 cups spinach shredded
1/4 cup basil shredded
1 cup tomato pasta sauce
2 tsp nutritional yeast
4 kalamata olives sliced
2 semi-dried tomatoes sliced


Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.  Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
Cut your zucchinis in half lengthways and cut into 1 cm slices.
Cut your eggplant into 1 cm slices and cut each slice into quarters.
Slice your mushrooms and combine them with your other vegetables and garlic.
Lay flat on baking tray and dry bake them for apporoximately 20 minutes or until soft and slightly golden.
Cook pasta to packet instructions and place in a large bowl.
Add your cooked vegetables, shredded spinach, basil, and sauce to the pasta and mix thoroughly until sauce is incorporated and everything is coated.
Serve and decorate with olives, tomatoes and nutritional yeast.
Eat straight away!
You can have this cold or warm.  Up to you.
The beauty of this dish is that you can add any vegetable you want.  Baked capsicum would go really nicely too, with a bit of chilli flakes in the sauce.

As you can see, I didn't use any oil in the cooking, so this is perfect for those watching their fat intake.  The pasta itself only has 11.8 calories per serve, so when you combine it with dry baked vegetables and a tomato sauce, you've got a really good, low-fat, low-calorie, nutrient dense meal.  You are getting some B group vitamins from the mushrooms and nutritional yeast, some iron from the spinach, and the vitamin c in the tomato sauce is helping with it's absorption.  Winner of a dish.  Really satisfying and won't leave you filling bloated and needing a nap like starchy pasta.

I've also been experimenting with some burger recipes I've found on the net.  The one I tried was from fatfreevegan and it was delicious.  I love this blog as most of her recipes are made using no added fats and they are really delicious.

I served them with a side of sweet potato chips which I dried baked and a lovely salad of spinach, carrots, sunflower seeds and capsicum with a simple lemon vinaigrette.

Inside my burger bun, i had avocado, baby spinach, and sprouts.  I also made some coriander cashew mayonnaise and pickled red onions.

Coriander Cashew Mayonnaise
Makes 1 1/4 cups


1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (4 hours minimum)
1/2 lemon juiced
1 cup coriander chopped
1/2 cup water
1 tsp sea salt
8 drops of tabasco (optional)
1/2 small clove garlic


Place ingredients in a blender and blend on high until completely smooth. 
Season to taste. 
Store leftovers in a sealed glass container.  Keeps for up to 3 days.

Pickled onions

Makes approx. 1 1/2 cups


1 large red onion thinly sliced
3/4 cup white vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 dried bay leaf
4 whole cloves


Place your ingredients, except onion, into a medium saucepan, and bring to a gentle boil until all the sugar has dissolved.
Add the onion, and stir for a couple of minutes.  Take it off the heat, place it in a glass container, and put in the fridge to cool down.  Or you can let them cool down at room temperature but I couldn't wait that long!!
And whilst we're on the topic of add-ons, I have to say that hummus is one of my favourites.  It's full of fibre, and it's super tasty and nutritious.  I always wonder why people buy it when it's so simple to make.  You can add it to just about everything, and it's such a great protein rich snack to keep those munchies away.  Here' my fail proof recipe.

The best Hummus
Makes approx. 1 1/2 cups


1 400g can of organic chickpeas
1/2 lemon juiced
1 small clove of garlic
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup unhulled tahini
6 drops of tabasco (optional)
1/4 cup water (or more depending on preferred consistency)


Place all ingredients in a food processor or powerful blender and whiz until smooth.
Enjoy with EVERYTHING!!

I don't know what it is but whenever I'm feeling a little out of sorts, I always turn to soup. It's also perfect for when I'm feeling cerebrally challenged after a long day at work as it requires minimal preparation or fussing over.  Chopping and blending is as hard as it gets.  Thank goodness for soup.

Green power cream soup
Serves 2


2 cups fresh spinach chopped
1 cup zucchini chopped
1 cup broccoli chopped
1/2 brown onion chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley chopped
1/4 cup celery chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 litre of water
1/4 raw cashews
1 vegan stock cube
2 TBS creamed corn (optional)
alfalfa sprouts (optional)


Place water, cashews, stock cube and garlic in a saucepan and bring to the boil on med-high heat.  Lower heat add zucchini, broccoli, celery and onion and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add spinach and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Turn heat off and add parsley.  
Using a hand held blender, blend until smooth.
Check seasoning once blended and adjust as desired.
Serve with a TBS of creamed corn and some alfalfa sprouts.
Again, I didn't add any oil, and you will get some good fats
from the cashews, as well as a bunch of other good stuff.

But a meal is not complete without a sweet little treat!  Now that No-sugar-vember is over, I have been able to indulge in some fruit and indulge I have!
With the temperatures reaching crazy high 30's, here's a treat to keep you cool.

Cookies and Cream Gelato
serves 2.....or 1 :)


For the cookies

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup raw brazil nuts
6 medjool dates
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1 TBS coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla essence

For the gelato

2 frozen bananas

Method for Cookies

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until you get a crumb that holds together when pressed into a ball.
Take about 3 TBS of the crumbs for your gelato.
Line a shallow tray with baking paper and press the rest of the crumb into it to make a slab.  Cover and place in the freezer for indulging at a later date.  Or you can get cookie cutters and cut out shapes, store shapes in a container lined with baking paper and keep in the freezer.  Take them out only as you are about to eat them otherwise you risk eating them all in the one go, and they will also return to their crumbly beginnings.  Don't say I didn't warn you!

Method for Gelato

Place frozen bananas in food processor and blend until it reaches a smooth, gelato like consistency.  Add your crumbs and pulse until it's incorporated into the gelato but not blended threw.

Serve and enjoy. 
A chocolaty hit without the refined sugars.  That's what I like the most.

With the festive season creeping upon us, I'm looking forward to trying out some christmas inspired recipes. I'm going to perfect a pumpkin pie, and also make some quinoa stuffed mini pumpkins for christmas dinner.  And you can't have christmas without vegan christmas pudding with lashings of vanilla custard can you?  No, that would be wrong!

Peas, love and mungbeans