Monday, September 22, 2014

meatless monday: potato pumpkin curry recipe

We love curry. My kids love it. My husband loves it. I have been known to eat curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Curry night is always a winner in our house! I usually make some sort of curry each week...tomato chickpea curry, cauliflower curry, curried tofu, potato spinach curry...the variations of curry are almost endless.

When I first met my husband, he told me he would cook a potato pumpkin curry for me one night. And he did - I soon found out he was a pretty good cook!

I made a potato pumpkin curry last night and although it wasn't like that first potato pumpkin curry we shared, it transported my mind back 7 years ago when we met and were getting to know each other. Ahh sweet love! It's no wonder curry is such a favourite in our household.

Potato Pumpkin Chickpea Curry

Serves 6

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp vegetable stock powder (or salt to taste)
3 potatoes
750g kent pumpkin
1 cup cooked chickpeas
400mL coconut cream
300mL passata
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice, uncooked
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

Firstly prepare the vegetables - peel and finely dice the onion, peel and dice the potatoes into 2cm chunks, remove skin off pumpkin and chop into 2-3cm chunks.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, curry powder, turmeric, garam masala, pepper and stock powder.
Fry the onion for a few minutes over a medium heat, then add the potatoes and pumpkin and continue to fry for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently to coat the vegetables in the spices.
Add the chickpeas, coconut cream and passata, stir well to combine.
Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to low, and cook for 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
Meanwhile, cook the rice according to packet instructions.
Serve the curry with rice and a few sprigs of fresh cilantro leaf.

Friday, September 19, 2014

the joys of being married to a non-vegan + vegan mouth-watering "meat" stew

I never thought it would be possible to marry a non-vegan. But it turns out it is possible...I guess love does conquer all!

It helps that my man isn't a eat-meat-3-times-a-day kind of man. He's quite happy with a primarily vegetarian diet, and if he wants meat, he knows he has to cook it himself (which works out pretty well, he only cooks meat a few times a month!).

But he's a damn good cook when he does cook, and even though it has been over a decade since I have tasted meat, sometimes I get a whiff of whatever meaty dish he's got cooking and I want it. In particular, there is a meat stew he likes to make, and he slowly cooks it for a few hours in the oven. The smell just wafts through the house...a sweet yet spicy, smoky, melt-in-your-mouth's enough to drive a vegan crazy!

Until I figured out how to make my own vegan version. Yay!

The secret I found is in the sauce. You need to use this Outback Spirit "Outback BBQ" sauce - it is the bomb. In fact, don't just limit it to this stew - use it on veggie burgers, with steamed or roasted vegetables, on your breakfast, lunch or dinner, as a pizza sauce. It. Is. Awesome.

However if you can't buy it wherever you are, you can use another BBQ sauce - I can't guarantee the end result will be as delicious though, as the sauce is really the essential ingredient in this stew.

Dustin's Outback Vegan "Meat" Stew

Serves 4

3 cups "ground beef" substitute
1 onion
2 carrots
1 x 245ml bottle Outback Spirit Outback BBQ Sauce
1/2 cup water

If you haven't already, prepare your ground beef substitute.
Peel and dice the onion and carrots.
Add all ingredients to a casserole dish, cover and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 90 minutes.
Serve with mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

top 7 oat cookies + vegan anzac biscuits recipe

Lately it seems that everywhere I look, someone is posting a cookie recipe with oats! And how I love a good oat cookie. There's just something so wholesome about oats...porridge, oat milk, adding oats to smoothies, breads, muffins...they make cookies seem healthy enough to eat for breakfast!

Here are 6 of the best-looking vegan oat cookie recipes that I have found recently.

Oat Cashew Thumbprint Cookies
Oat & Cashew Thumbprint Cookies with Berry Chia Jam at

Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies
Apple Pie Oatmeal Cookies at

Healthy Coconut Cookies


Healthy Coconut Cookies at

5 Ingredient Vegan Oat Cookies

5 Ingredient Oat Cookies at

Vegan Carrot Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Vegan Carrot Oatmeal Raisin Cookies at

Almond Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Almond Butter Oatmeal Cookies at

And #7:

Vegan Anzac Biscuits

Makes about 50

2 cups traditional rolled oats
2 cups plain flour
2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
250g Nuttelex (or other vegan margarine)
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarb soda
2 tbsps boiling water

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
Mix oats, flour, coconut and brown sugar in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan, melt the margarine and golden syrup, and remove from heat.
Mix the bicarb and boiling water in a cup.
Add the bicarb and water to the melted butter/golden syrup and mix quickly.
Add to the dry ingredients and combine well.
Form tablespoonfuls of the mix into balls, flatten slightly on greased trays, leaving 5cm between biscuits.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
Let cool slightly before removing from trays (they will be soft when still hot but harden up with cooling).

Monday, September 15, 2014

it's a girl! + meatless monday recipe: mum's slow cooker sweet potato lentil stew

If you have been reading my blog lately, you will know I have been waiting for weeks for the birth of my 3rd baby - so I am excited to announce that she is finally here! "Baby Girl" was born on 10th September at 3:10am, weighing a healthy 4.2kg and measuring 52cm long.

As you can imagine, with a newborn baby I haven't found the time to cook, but luckily my mum has been here everyday helping with the cooking, cleaning and looking after my older children. Today she cooked one of her favourite vegan meals for me - sweet potato lentil stew in the slow cooker. As much as I love cooking, it is nice to be cooked for once in a while (especially when it's a hearty vegan meal like this stew).

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Lentil Stew

Serves 6

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
1 inch piece ginger
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup red lentils
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 x 700ml jar passata
Cooked rice to serve

Peel and dice the sweet potatoes into 1-2cm chunks.
Peel and finely dice the onion and garlic, peel and grate the ginger.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the sweet potatoes, onion, garlic and ginger.
Cook over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to brown - about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, get your slow cooker out and turn on "high" setting.
Remove vegetables from the heat and pour into the slow cooker.
Add the red lentils, vegetable stock and passata to the slow cooker.
Stir well, cover and cook for 3-4 hours on high, stirring occasionally.
Serve with rice.

Friday, September 12, 2014

more kid-friendly vegan meals + easy cheesy mac and peas recipe

Feeding your children a vegan diet can be challenging if they are resistant to eating vegetables - this can be more the case if they have been accustomed to non-vegan convenience foods, but even when children are brought up on a vegan diet (as my now 2 year old has been) they do go through times of fussiness and refuse to eat certain vegetables!

But vegetables are an important part of our diets, not just as vegans, but omnivores also, however obviously vegan children need to eat more vegetables than their meat-eating friends to meet the needs of their growing bodies. The Better Health Channel recommends 2 small serves of fruit and 3 small serves of vegetables per day for vegetarian/vegan children.

Some ways that I ensure my kids get a fair share of vegetables into their bellies are:
  • Green smoothies - even if it contains more fruit and less veggies than what I would make for myself, green smoothies are still an excellent way to get some leafy green vegetables into my kids! 
  • Serve vegetables in various forms for lunch and dinner (if I can sneak veggies into breakfast too, that's a bonus!)
  • Kale chips are a favourite snack, and the kids aren't fussed they are eating leafy green vegetables!
  • Dips and spreads made with vegetables (hommus, olive tapenade, etc) are great for snacks with crackers or even raw vegetable sticks
  •  "Sneak" veggies into breads, cakes, sauces - either grated, finely chopped or blended

Macaroni cheese and peas is one of our favourite lunches lately, with the peas providing a serve of vegetables, and the rice milk (providing it is a calcium-enriched brand) giving a good serve of calcium, it is a pretty healthy lunch - and both my kids always want seconds!

Easy Cheesy Mac & Peas
Serves 2 hungry kids

1 cup dried macaroni pasta 1/2 cup frozen peas 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp white flour 3/4 cup rice milk 1 tsp vegetable stock powder

Bring a medium saucepan, about half full of water, to the boil.
Add pasta and peas, cook for about 10 minutes or as directed on the pasta packet.
Meanwhile, make the cheesy sauce:
In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat.
Add the flour and stir, cooking for about 10 seconds.
Gradually add the rice milk, stirring after each addition, making sure there are no bumps.
Once all the milk has been added and sauce is at desired consistency, remove from heat.
Stir in the vegetable stock powder.
When the pasta is well cooked, remove from heat and drain.
Mix the sauce with the pasta and peas, and serve :) 

Do you worry your kids aren't eating enough vegetables?

How do you get more vegetables into your kids diets? 

Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

vegan on a budget: cheap vegan meals + spring soup recipe

Some people assume a vegan diet is cheaper than an omnivore's diet, as meat can be pretty expensive. But what these people are forgetting is that instead of meat, vegans eat other (and expensive) foods too, like nuts, beans, tofu, and "fake meats". Vegans may also choose organic produce which can also add to the grocery bill.

Lately I have been budgeting and trying to lower our expenses and increase our savings. We used to spend between $150-$200 each week on groceries but now I aim to spend no more than $150. I buy organic produce where possible, even though it can be twice as expensive. But to make that $150 stretch as far as possible, I make a lot of things from scratch - wraps, jams, cordials, cookies, desserts. Plus all meals are made from scratch - I never buy premade/canned/packaged meals these days (not that there's a lot of options for premade vegan meals anyway!).

Here are some ways I have tried to save on our weekly grocery shop:
  • Making my own almond milk (however this turned out to cost the same as store bought, so now I buy rice or oat milk which are cheaper...they would probably be cheaper if I made them myself though!)
  • Making cookies, museli bars, etc instead of buying them - a bit of flour and sugar costs a lot less than a $4 packet of 10 vegan cookies!
  • Meal planning - planning my meals means I can plan my shopping list, so if I stick to the shopping list I won't be buying anything I don't need
  • Calculating how much everything on my shopping list cost approximately before I head out to the shops, so I can be sure I am not going to spend more than I want.
  • Buying seasonal fruit and vegetables is cheaper than buying tropical fruit during winter! Also, you probably don't want to be eating something that was grown on the other side of the world...think of all the time it spent travelling to get to your grocery store! Not fresh...
  • Seasonal fruit/vegetables are also perfect for when you want to make cordials, jams, chutneys or other preserves. When I need to make some more cordial for example, I choose whatever fruit are seasonal (and thus, cheaper) otherwise it can end up being more expensive to make it myself.
  • Although I try to buy organic, there's no denying that organic often comes with a higher price tag, so there are some things I will compromise on and buy conventional rather than organic.
  • Instead of buying canned beans, buy dried beans to soak and cook (that might seem like a pain for everytime you want to use a can of beans, but I cook up the whole packet of beans at a time and freeze whatever I don't plan to use in the next few days. You could also plan your meals accordingly - one week you could have falafels and a potato chickpea curry plus make a batch of hummus and there goes that packet of dried chickpeas!)

Another idea I tried was calculating just how much each meal was costing me to make (although this was a bit of a pain to calculate so I only managed to work out the price of a handful of our favourite meals). However it is worth knowing that if you buy a litre of oat milk for $2, each cup of that oat milk is costing $0.50, or each slice of bread costs about $0.30, etc.

One of the cheapest meals I calculated turned out to be soup, which is no surprise really - soups usually are primarily water and vegetables, with some legumes or beans. No terribly expensive ingredients! And if you use seasonal vegetables, the prices are cheaper still!

Lately my favourite soup has been made with the latest seasonal vegetables. I call it "Spring Soup".

Spring Soup
Makes 4 servings

1.25 litres vegetable stock
1/2 cup dried barley
1 onion
1 carrot
1/4 sugarloaf cabbage
1 zucchini
2 mushrooms
1/2 head broccoli
1/2 cup snow peas
1 tbsp soy sauce

Bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a medium saucepan while you prepare the vegetables.
Add the barley to start cooking first (the soup will be ready about 30 minutes after you add the barley).
Peel and dice the onion, dice the carrot, finely shred the cabbage and add to the saucepan, reduce the heat to a simmer.
Dice the zucchini, peel and dice the mushrooms, chop the broccoli into small florets, chop the snow peas, and add these to the saucepan too.
Add the soy sauce and continue to simmer until the vegetables are soft and the barley is well cooked.
Serve with freshly baked cornbread.

Monday, September 8, 2014

meatless meal planning monday + vegan curried sausages recipe

At the time of writing, I am STILL waiting for baby to be born! It was a nightmare last week with no meals planned (and I wasn't about to eat all the precooked meals out of the freezer that I've been saving for after the baby is born!) so I have planned some meals this week.

And I will probably go into labour before I can make any of them!

On the menu this week:
Cauliflower soup served with garlic puff pastry twists
Vegan curried sausages (see below for recipe)
Sriracha BBQ tofu pizza
Lentil bolognese
Creamy broccoli casserole

Vegan curried sausages is something that I've never had before, but my husband requested it this week and the idea seemed easy enough - just curried vegetables and some vegan sausages thrown in. Usually I would make my own vegan sausages but with the unpredictable nature of birthing babies, I opted to buy some instead.

Dustin's Vegan Curried Sausages

Serves 4-6

3 cups water
1 onion
2 carrots
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup green beans
3 potatoes
3 tsps curry powder
Salt to taste
1 can Sanitarium Vegetarian Sausages (8 small sausages)

Put the water in a medium-large saucepan and heat while you prepare the vegetables.
Dice the onion, carrots, green beans and peeled potatoes into small chunks.
Add to the water along with the corn and curry powder, and salt if desired.
Chop the sausages into pieces about 2cm long and add to the curry also.
(Note: if using a crumbly vegetable-type sausage, you might want to add the sausages towards the end so they don't fall apart while cooking.)
Cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
Serve alone or with rice.