Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Almond Butter Sauces

Yes not one, but three different sauces using almond butter! I frequently find almond butter on sale because it's about to expire, and this is a great way to use large amounts!

Almond Butter Dressing
From In It 4 The Long Run

¼ Cup of Almond Butter
1 Tablespoon of tahini
¼ Cup of Olive Oil
2 Tablespoon of warm water*
Salt and pepper to taste
*For a thinner texture, add more water

Whisk ingredients together

Creamy Garlic Almond Butter Sauce
Adapted from Imma Eat That

1 1/2 cup vegetable or vegan chicken stock
1/2 cup almond butter
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Heat in a saucepan over a medium heat whisking until frothy and creamy.

Sesame Almond Butter Sauce
From My Sequined Life

1/4 cup creamy almond butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 1/2 tsp sriracha/sambal olak, to taste
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/8 - 1/4 tsp five-spice powder, to taste
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Sesame seeds, for serving

Whisk ingredients together

Friday, 12 January 2018

Mushroom Shepherd's Pie

Someone sent me this Tasty video so I thought I'd give it a try! It was pretty good but didn't taste like Shepherd's Pie, more like potato with mushroom gravy.

Mushroom Shepherd's Pie


For filling;
4 potatoes, chopped
2 Tbls vegetable oil
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery sticks, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbls tomato paste
1 Tbls GF flour
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped finely
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped finely
2 cups vegetable stock
2-4 Tbls red wine (optional)

For mashed potato;
2 cups non-dairy milk
2 Tbls vegan butter
salt & pepper to taste


Boil potatoes in enough water to cover them and put aside once cooked through.
To a large frying pan add carrots, celery & onion to a pan and saute in oil till soft.
Add in mushrooms and garlic until soft.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add tomato paste and mix through.
Add flour and stir through.
Add sage & fresh thyme and mix well.
Add vegetable stock slowly, then a splash of red wine and simmer until thickend.
For potatoes, drain and add non-dairy milk, vegan butter and mash, season with salt & pepper to taste.
Pour the mushroom mix to an oven safe dish and spread evenly.
Top with mash potato and spread out.
Spray with a little cooking oil and broil for 10-15 mins until brown.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Cherry Ripe Bliss Balls

These are named after a candy bar we have back in Australia that I think they taste like! SO GOOD!

Cherry Ripe Bliss Balls


3 cups Dates, chopped
1 cup Cashews, crushed
1/2 cup Cocoa
1/4 cup Dried Cranberries, Cherries or Blueberries (or a combination)
1/4 cup shredded Coconut (unsweetened) + extra for coating


Blitz everything except the coconut coating in a food processor. This mixture gets very thick that's why it's easier to do the pre-chopping!
Take around 2 tablespoons of mixture and roll into a ball, coating in the coconut.
Place balls in the fridge for 20 minutes to harden and enjoy :)

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Vegan Products - January 2018

It's been a while since my last product review so hopefully I haven't repeated any of these!

Maple Holistics make some amazing and simple natural skin products. I'm loving this Vitamin C Anti-Aging Serum right after I cleanse my face and before I put on face cream. It's so firming and refreshing.

From Solomon's Ventures, discount store I got the following items...

Wildbrine Probiotic Salsa Verde - this wasn't bad but just tasted like sauerkraut, not salsa verde.

I found these Australian brand Freedom Foods Crafted Blends bars and I really liked them, especially the maca, chickpea and raisin. My toddler kept stealing them from me!

Got these BeechNut Organic pouches for the baby and they were surprisingly good! I always test the squeeze food before giving it to him just to make sure.

These Kind Pineapple Banana and Kale bars were very simple and raw, like Lara bars but tasty and toddler loved them so one for the win!

This Kaoka Dark Orange Chocolate was delicious!!!

I didn't really like these Vegan Rob's Wild Rice Chips but I try not to judge anything too harshly that has come from the discount store, they may have been stale of not stored properly.

I loved these Blue Moose of Boulder hummus and corn chips to go. The kids loved them in their school lunches too as something a bit different. Both are separately sealed too so you can split them up.

I wasn't crazy about these Jackson's Honest Barbeque chips but I honestly think it was the coconut oil flavor. the barbeque flavor was good.

I love these Dang sticky-rice chips, sriracha flavor. Not too spicy and great with beer!!

I didn't love these Coconut Secret Almond Coconut Bars and in fact the toddler was the only family member who didn't mind them. They were very coconut oily. The way I used to find Lindt balls too buttery I felt the same texture here.

I thought this Vegan Rob's Sweet & Salty Popcorn was really good but it got mixed reviews from the kids.

These Hippeas Sriracha Sunrise puffs are amazing. They were so good even a little stale that I went back to buy a bunch more. Toddler loved them too so obviously not very spicy. I've only ever seen them at Starbucks before this time.

I've had Simple Mills crackers before and have found them a bit bready but these Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil ones were pretty great with vegan cheese!

I didn't like these Made in Nature Coconut Chips. I think it was just the flavor, Ginger Masala Chai was just not a good combination.

Publix finds...

I got these Sprout organic snacks for toddler on recommendation from another mother and we loved the Curlz but the crispy chews not so much :(
I liked both but I think he thought the texture of the chews was weird and he doesn't do well with tart tastes.

Bolthouse Farms pea based plant milk is our new family favorite. Toddler loves it, hubby loves it and I love it. It tastes like regular milk. Similar to Ripple in taste (and price) but with out the after taste of Ripple.

Trader Joe's Finds...

Everyday Seasoning is fast becoming my go to for vegetables especially potatoes and avocado!

Quite baking soda-ry but I really like this toothpaste.

Their coconut aminos has less aminos than the leading brand but is half the price and still tastes great. Love it to marinate tofu!

I really liked the Hi-Protein Veggie Burger but toddler sadly did not. He still favours Gardein over everything else.

Found at Winn Dixie...

Winn Dixie just started selling the vegan Bold cheese pizzas which I was super excited about and noticed they had quite a bit of vegan/GF stuff in their allergy section...

I love that these Lucy's Chocolate Chip Cookies are in individual packs because it makes me feel guilty to have to open a second pack (3 in each). They were the crunchy kind which I really like too but they had a baking soda flavour to them that I wasn't so keen on.

Also at Winn-Dixie I bought this FreshJax Grill Master burger seasoning. I liked the seasoning itself but I used it in their own black bean burger recipe and was not a fan of those.

I got this Theo Cranberry Orange dark chocolate from Lucky's Market because it was $1. It was actually alright, i'm a sucker for orange dark chocolate!

If you have not used any L'Occitane products then do yourself a favour and try some. Even if it's just their 20% Shea butter hand cream. The quality of products from this French skin care line is undeniable and most products are vegan. only animal products used are beeswax and honey which are easily identified in the ingredients list.
I'm in looooorve with the Almande range, especially this Almond Shower Oil. My hubby loves the Shea shower oil. Not at all oily as you might imagine, it lathers on like shower gel and rinses of with no oily residue on you or the shower, leaving you feeling very moisturised!

I love L'Occitane face masks. The Rebalancing Face Mask is a lovely beauty spa like clay mask and the Pivoine Sublime is a range of one use (realistically 2-3 uses) flash masks. There's a 3 minute, 5 minute and over night mask. I love the over night one!

Now that my hair is starting to grow out it's gett hard to manage and I realised as my curl is coming back that I need a mousse! Pureology hair products are all vegan and I've discovered the two mousses they have to offer...
Both hold my hair around the same but I think I prefer this Clean Volume one.

Just in time for Xmas I discovered Bailey's new vegan Almond milk version of the classic! I really liked it but you can taste the almond milk quite strongly.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Black Forest Cupcakes

Got this original recipe from Wallflower Kitchen who got the cake recipe from my baking idol Nigella Lawon...
Coconut Cream recipe by Minimalist Baker.

Black Forest Cupcakes

175 g all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
A pinch of salt
50 g cocoa powder
225 g coconut sugar (vegan brown or regular sugar will work too)
275 ml hot water
60 ml sunflower oil or other mild-tasting vegetable oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar


Black cherry jam I used a fruit-sweetened one
optional A few drops of Kirsch or brandy


Whipped coconut cream* (I added a bot of liqueur to this too)
Fresh cherries (I soaked mine in the alcohol)
Dark chocolate grated


To make the chocolate cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 180c. / 350f. and line a muffin tray with 12 cases.
Mix the first five ingredients together until well combined.
Stir in the remaining wet ingredients until the mixture is smooth and lump-free.
I mixed together the filling ans swirled it into the mixture before baking but if you want the filling in the middle of the cupcake filling the after baking instructions.
Divide the mixture equally between the 12 muffin cases/or greesed tin and bake for 15 minutes.
Use a cake tester or skewer to test the middle of the cupcakes come out clean.
If not, bake for a further 5 minutes.
Leave to cool before decorating.
If filling with jam, then cut small holes in the centre of the cupcakes. You can use a cupcake corer, apple corer or a small sharp knife to hollow out the centres.
Fill the cupcake holes with the cherry jam (and Kirsch, if using).
Make the coconut whipped cream, according to these instructions, then pipe or dollop onto the tops of the cupcakes.
Decorate with a single cherry then serve!
These are best kept refrigerated and can be stored for up to 3-4 days.

* Coconut Cream

1 14-ounce can (414 ml) coconut cream or full fat coconut milk*
1/4 - 3/4 cup (28 - 84g) icing/powdered sugar (use organic to ensure vegan friendliness)
optional: 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Chill your coconut cream or coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight, being sure not to shake or tip the can to encourage separation of the cream and liquid. See notes for more insight / troubleshooting.
The next day, chill a large mixing bowl 10 minutes before whipping.
Remove the coconut cream or milk from the fridge without tipping or shaking and remove the lid. Scrape out the top, thickened cream and leave the liquid behind (reserve for use in smoothies).
Note: if your coconut milk didn't harden, you probably just got a dud can without the right fat content. In that case, you can try to salvage it with a bit of tapioca flour - 1 to 4 Tbsp - during the whipping process. That has worked for me several times.
Place hardened cream in your chilled mixing bowl. Beat for 30 seconds with a mixer until creamy. Then add vanilla (optional) and powdered sugar and mix until creamy and smooth - about 1 minute. Taste and adjust sweetness as needed.
Use immediately or refrigerate - it will harden and set in the fridge the longer it's chilled. Will keep for up to 1 - 2 weeks!

I found this fruit juice sweetened jam at Walmart.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Australia Trip - 2017

I was lucky enough to get to see family and friends this November in Sydney, Australia. It's my favourite time of year there, the Jacaranda trees are still in bloom, there is a plethora of flowers (I love the smell of Jasmine everywhere) and wildlife and the weather is perfect.

Here are the vegan eats and treats I found during my stay...

Places to Eat

The Australian Hotel - I usually like this place for two reason; they always have GF vegan options and they have a "Ladies Lounge" which is perfect when you have a toddler and don't want to disturb other patrons! I went twice this trip and they had two gluten free beers on offer, this Wilde one was pretty good and I had never seen it before.
They don't have a vegan pizza on the menu but you can ask them to make it for you, they might resist at first but they will make it ;)
Their fries/chips and garden salad are also delicious, my toddler definitely got a taste for pub chips while we were away!

I went into Chippendale (just near Central Station) to a friends gallery opening and had dinner afterwards at this charming little secret gem...Spice Alley! It's on Kensington St, off Broadway next to Central Park Towers which are pretty good in themselves with all their greenery!
Basically it's like a replica of Asian street food, so cute!!! There were a few different places with vegan options and you can bring you're own alcohol which you can get from Central Park Mall. 

IKU is always a great go to eatery when you're out and about. Dotted around Sydney in food courts it's 100% plant based and mostly GF as well. I love the Balls!

My dad took me to Last Train to Bombay and they are great with showing you what's vegan/GF on the menu and making things especially for you.
That impressive looking chickpea pancake is called Dosa.

Japanese is one of my favourites and HaNa Ju-Rin in Crows Nest was on the nicer end of the Japanese restaurant spectrum, quite a few vegan options though!
I had the avocado rolls, plum & cucumber rolls, edamame, spinach salad, Nasuden (eggplant) and maybe some sneaky sake ;)

The Sunflower Lounge on Spofforth St, Cremorne was a place we went to a couple of times because it was in walking distance of our house, was close to a fenced in kid's park, had a good selection of vegan/GF options and had a box of toys for the kids! I had the breakfast plate one morning and just asked them for all the sides and GF bread and the next time had the Falafel Plate that has quinoa falafel.

Oh Newtown, oh Newtown, you have my vegan heart! This is the vegan hub of Sydney and I'd been dying to visit Bliss & Chips and all vegan seafood take away. Almost everything on their menu was GF too, and really wasn't pricey.
I had (wait for it); Seafood Basket (2 fish cocktails, 2 calamaris, 1 crabstick), 2 garlic prawn skewers (AMAZING), 2 potato scallops, chips, tartare sauce and a vegan gozleme for later.

Gelato Blue in Newtown is now a completely vegan gelato place! It was seriously amazing! I can't remember the flavours I got and they don't have a website but from memory it was coconut, choc mint and the last one was a an amazing mix that had caramel in it.

Saw this sign outside a store - even though I didn't get any Coco Whip I was very excited LOL

I love Vegan's Choice grocery in Newtown, their vegan yum cha (dim sum) place next door called Green Gourmet is amazing too and does lots of GF options. 
They have vegan baked goods, their own vegan meats (the ham is still the best I've tasted) and a few pantry items. I got the vegan Jelly packets for my son's upcoming second birthday. I've been wanting to try the mushroom

THIS is the reason I trek to Newtown every time I'm in Sydney. The Vegan's Choice Vegan Fish Sauce is AMAZEBALLS! I just wish I could carry more of it home. It's so essential for making all your Thai favourites like Red/Yellow Curry and Pad Thai!

Was very impressed to see these posters on almost every bus I got on! Nice work Animal Liberation Australia!

Grocery Items

Very importantly, wine!
I tried these three wines while in OZ and I have to say I miss Aussie/NZ wine so much. The stuff they send to the States is miserable and I miss being able to just read the back of the label to know if it's vegan!!
My favourite was the Catalina Sounds (NZ) SB, but the No Evil (AUS) Organic SB & La Boheme (AUS) Pinot Gris were gorgeous too. I also had a lovely vegan SB at a wedding at Ripples, Chowder Bay while I was in Oz called Aramis Pinot Gris.

I love, and toddler loved these Fry's vegan GF chicken nuggets. I've had them before and begged the company to sell in the States were there aren't many GF vegan foods but to no avail :(

Taste Organic in Crows Nest have been carrying these Addiction Food GF vegan brownies for as long as I can remember (at least 8 years) and there's a reason. And it tells you why in the company name, they are SO addictive!

Got this Lo Bros Organic Kombucha on sale from IGA and it was really good, tasted like ginger beer so went down a treat!

My brother and sister-in-law always have me over for dinner while I'm visiting and are so sweet to get me a plethora of vegan items for my enjoyment. 
Dessert is of course a staple LOL
These Weiss Dairy Free Dark Chocolare & Coconut bars were heavenly!!!

They also got me these Smooze Coconut Milk based ice blocks too because I had loved them last time I was there. At least these are available in the States...in theory.

I got this Paw Paw Ointment from Aldi and it tasted horrible so probably fine for cuts/nappy rash etc but not nice for lips which is what I like Lucas' Paw Paw Ointment for. I know a lot of people don't like Lucas' because of the petroleum but I like the way it works. 

This Organic Suvana Paw Paw & Coconut Balm was recommended to me when I went into the pharmacy to get Lucas' well loved version. I didn't love it honestly, it was much thinner and oilier than Lucas'  and tasted sweet and I didn't like it on my lips at all. Back to old faithful!

Got these Syndian Curried Pumpkin Bites from either Coles or Woolworths. They felt a bit dry but other than that were fairly tasty. Toddler didn't like them though.

I've always loved this Japense style tofu by Soyco. It's just perfect for stir fries and my favourite Japanese Tofu & Carrot dish

Had a hard time finding something suitable for my toddler to drink but I did really like these Nutty Bruce organic nut milks, especially the almond/coconut blend which is what we normally like to drink by Califia Farms.

I found these Tasti Smooshed Wholefood Balls (from NZ) in Aldi or IGA (sorry I can't remember!!)
The Berry, Cashew & Cacao were my favourite - tasted like Cherry Ripe bars, definitely going to try to replicate!

Found these Moser Roth dark chocolates in Aldi - LOVED orange almond - so creamy! I loved that inside it wasn't a block but individually wrapped portions. Not very environmental of me, I know but it made it easier for travel!

Found these Blackstone Gourmet Snack Co. Rosemary & Garlic kettle chips at Aldi - SO GOOD!!!!

Choceur Mint Thins from Aldi - these do contain a small amount of gluten but I decided to take the risk and they were so amazing!

These Beanfields Bean & Rice Chips, Nacho Flavour were from Woolworths. So delicious. Can't remember when I last had cheesy corn chips!

Vege Deli Crisps - Chia tasted like prawn crackers to me. Really addictive! From Woolworths also.

These are the vegan cheeses I go while in Australia from IGA, Coles and Woolworths.
Bio Cheese is always good, a nice block/sliced cheese for sandwiches or crackers. 
Sprout & Kernel tree nut cheese - Herb Nut Cheese was a nice spreadable cheese from Thomas Dux.
I don't remember where I got the Follow Your Heart Parmesan but I prefer the shredded version they have in the States.

With cheese must go a fruit paste of course! This Tuckers Fruit Paste from IGA was even marked vegan and had two separate serves which was great.

Toddler/Baby Items
The Baby Puffs went down fairly well but he wasn't loving the Rice cakes, not sure why. They were overly sweet which maybe he didn't like as much as savoury.

I always eat my body weight in vegan chocolate biscuits when I'm back in my homeland because the States really doesn't offer anything like these in terms of gluten free & vegan. The Woolworths brand is now doing a Tim Tam, Mint Slice & Oreo version and of course the go to is always Leda's version of Tim Tams and Mint Slice (IGA) which I prefer but only slightly ;)

I ALWAYS get Suzy Spoons vegan meats when I'm in Sydney. They are now available in a few health stores which is where I got mine but honestly at the prices they were charging it would have been cheaper to buy them directly from Suzy and pay the postage costs! Live and Learn! And eat lots of delicious vegan food ;)

A friend bought me these Blooming Beautiful bath bombs by Lush which was very sweet and were marked "vegan" :)

I saw someone post about these Alternative Meat Co. faux meats from Woolworths so I thought I'd give them a try. They are already pre-flavoured. I didn't love any of them because of the texture but the seasonings they used were nice. I think my preference would be the chicken, followed by the beef. I think the shredded pork should be left to mushroom or jackfruit!

Hand luggage full of snacks!!