,

The Everyday Vegan Project

There’s a new and exciting project that has recently launched! It’s called Everyday Vegan.TV. It’s aims at helping you thrive on a plant-based lifestyle in an easy and fun want. I had the fortunate opportunity to go behind the scene of their first photoshoot day to see what it’s all about.  Here’s a sneak peak of what happened that day.

Are you excited? I am! I’m super stoked to be contributing to this awesome project! Anything that inspires people to embrace the plantbased lifestyle hold a special place in my heart.

Everyday Vegan-6

The people behind Everyday Vegan

All the food and recipes are still under wrap at this stage but here’s I can introduce you to some of the beautiful souls behind this initiative.

Here’s Dan, the co-founder and grower. He’s the guy that will teach you how to grow your own food. And guess what, you don’t even need a backyard for it. You should see some of the balcony gardens that Dan helped create. So cool!

Everyday Vegan-9

Here’s Maz, founder and vegan chef  – she dislike being called a chef because she doesn’t have a chef background, but according to the Oxford Dictionary, the word chef is defined as a professional cook, one that cooks in a restaurant or hotel so technically Maz IS a chef! And oh, she also owns Sadhana Kitchen. A very popular and successful vegan restaurant in Sydney. How’s that for qualification?!

Everyday Vegan-4

Here’s Fiona, a vegan nutritionist who will tell you how you get your protein (among other things) on a plantbased diet. She’s amazing in her knowledge of everything nutrition. And guess what, she also used to be a DJ. How’s that for some street points.

Everyday vegan-11

And the last but not least, Stan – the muscle man. He’s a vegan personal trainer and a pull-up expert who will show you how to be buffed, the plant-based way. I realised that Stan is pretty popular around Bondi Beach (where he works out most of the times). Everyone seems to know him!

Everyday vegan-12

So now you know the cool kids behind EverydayVegan.TV. Their first program – 7 Day Raw Reset is starting next week (5th September). You can join for free and get a full 7 day cleansing meal plan. I’m excited to give it a go. I’ve never been raw for more than a day so it will be quite interesting.

14102159_1106490722731558_8919571343439273199_n

Check out EverydayVegan.TV for more info, tips and the recipe for the gorgeous green smoothies pictured above. Let’s do it together!

Keren x

 

 

icon carrot
, , ,

Truffle Hunting at Tarago Truffle, NSW

If you’re a foodie like me, you’ve certainly heard of black truffles and how precious they are. Some people truly adore truffles (my people) while others think they’re overrated pieces of smelly fungus. People call them ‘black gold’, and in many ways, they are, as they’re extremely hard to cultivate and harvest. I came to fully appreciate how precious and scare they are during my truffle hunting experience at Tarago Truffle with Dusty, a friendly burgundy-brown Australian Shepherd who absolutely loves being the centre of attention.

Tarago Truffle-15

Tarago Truffle-14

As it turns out, truffle hunting is hard work. Yes, we’ve all heard that it’s hard but really, it is very, very hard! You’d think the dog would do all the sniffing and the digging but actually, humans do eighty percent of the physical work. The dogs find the approximate location of the truffles in question but it’s the farmer’s job to determine if the truffle is ripe enough for harvesting, by sniffing the soil, and then digging it out, all without damaging the truffle. It’s not an easy task – you’re on your knees a lot, with your nose buried in soil most of the time trying to find the elusive truffle. Your digging tools: a silver spoon and a bread knife.

Tarago Truffle-8

It was an eye-opening and fun experience. We were given a chance to dig for our own truffles and we did. It was nearing the end of the truffle season (truffle season is late June to August in Australia) so there weren’t many left to dig out. Nevertheless it was quite thrilling to find some truffles underground and have a sniff at them. I think we found about five truffles or so in an hour of sniffing around.

Tarago Truffle-4

The best part about the truffle hunting experience is that we got to eat some delicious soup, with crusty bread, shavings of fresh truffle and some truffle salt.

Dogs vs. Pigs

Traditionally, truffle hunters used pigs to find truffles. Pigs have a natural appetite and nose for truffles so they need no training at all.

Tarago Truffle-11

Modern farmers now use dogs in place of pigs, though: Firstly, dogs have more stamina than pigs. Secondly, dogs are less likely to eat the truffle once they find it. And thirdly, it is easier to manage a 40kg dog than a 200kg pig when trying to rescue the truffle from its finder.

By the way, on the subject of these animals, did you know that dogs smell about 10,000 times better than humans, and pigs’ sense of smell is about three times better than dogs? Mindboggling stuff.

Are Truffles Vegan?

Some vegans don’t eat truffles because of ‘animal exploitation’. I remember feeling bad at Gigi’s in Newtown, once, when I offered a vegan friend a slice of mushroom pizza and they refused because they don’t eat truffles.

I see no problem in eating truffles (expect for the high cost). Yes, the truffler farmers use animals to help find them truffles. So what? That’s not exploitation on its own. It’s just like using miners to mine for gold. I think the important question is the working condition of the pigs or dogs used to find the truffles.

Tarago Truffle-7 From my research, and what I’ve witnessed, at least in Australia, the animals are treated exceptionally well. Some truffle dogs are valued at $100,000 so you can imagine how well these valuable animals are treated. Truffle farmers dote on their dogs. At Tarango Truffle you could tell how precious the dogs were. A similar approach is taken with pigs. Truffle-hunting pigs are hand raised and trained, just like dogs. While we can never be absolutely certain of what passes behind the scenes, the best thing you can do, to make sure that your truffles are ethically sourced, is to go and see the process yourself. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Tarago Truffle-6

On a sidenote, did you know that most truffle oils are not infused with real truffles? They have synthetic flavouring, and most of the truffle oil dishes you get at cafes are probably using flavoured truffle oil. So if you’re a level 5 vegan, truffle oil maybe a safe option for you. As for me, pass me those smelly, black funguses, please.

Tarago Truffle-13

Tarago Truffles

173 Willandra Ln, Tarago NSW 2580

50 minutes drive from Canberra, and two and a half to three hours from Sydney.

, ,

Fortunate Coffee Jakarta

It’s all about good coffee, healthy bread and delicious traditional Indonesian dishes, made vegan.

Fortunate Coffee is one of a few emerging cafés serving vegan-friendly foods, breads, and of course, coffee. Most coffee shops in Jakarta do not serve dairy-free coffee so finding a coffee shop like Fortunate Coffee is quite special.

Fortunate Coffee-3

I was introduced to Fortunate Coffee by Dr Susianto, a friend who is also a well-regarded vegan nutritionist and the, President of Vegan Society of Indonesia.. Fortunate Coffee is one of several vegan business ventures he is involved in. We met up for dinner here when I was in Jakarta a few months ago. I’m biased here but it was one of the best vegan meals I’ve had in Indonesia.

Fortunate Coffee-7 We tried some healthy vegan bread, which is made without eggs, dairy, or the preservatives and additives commonly found in store-bought bread. From the way Dr Susianto described the process, it sounds very similar to the making of sourdough bread, except for the fact that the bread is softer and they don’t have that crusty outer that traditional sourdough bread has. It was delicious, though! It caters to the Indonesians taste buds who love soft, fluffy sweet bread.

Fortunate Coffee-2

We also tried a few of Fortunate Coffee’s popular dishes: Bakmi Jamur (Dry Noodles with Gravy mushrooms), Rawon (a rich tasting traditional Indonesian Black Soup), Empek- Empek (Fish Cakes) and Nasi Padang (Rice with an assortment of spicy curry dishes, and traditional fried Tofu and Tempe).

Fortunate Coffee-8

Fortunate Coffee-11 The entire meal was great! I loved the Bakmi, the Empek-Empek, and everything else, really. I had my sister and my mom with me (they’re not vegans) and they were also impressed by the dishes. The Empek-Empek, in particular, resembles the authentic flavour of the traditional dish yet it contains no fish. Instead, they use seaweed. Smart, don’t you think?

Fortunate Coffee-17 Although finding vegan food in Jakarta is not impossible, it’s actually trickier than you may think, especially if you want to eat something other than Gado-Gado, fried Tofu or Tempeh. There’re a lot of traditional Indonesian foods that I grew up with which are not vegan-friendly, such as the Empek-empek, Soto (Indonesian-style traditional spicy soup), and Sate (Peanut satay usually made of meat). This is where Fortunate Coffee comes in.

Fortunate Coffee-16

Unfortunately (and strangely enough), I didn’t try their coffee. I guess I was too busy eating. I was planning to come back for a second visit but didn’t get a chance this trup. For future reference, however, they have the usual-style coffee (i.e. Cappuccino, Latte, etc) as well as manual and cold-brew coffee.

Anyway, if you’re in Jakarta and looking for a nice little place to have lunch or dinner, you should check this place out.

Fortunate Coffee Jakarta

Ruko Taman Palem Lestari, Blok A11 No. 5A, Jl. Taman Palem Lestari, Cengkareng, Jakarta

It turns out Fortunate Coffee they have a number of branches scattered around Jakarta and other major Indonesian cities so check out their Facebook page to find the closest one to you.

 

 

 

 

, ,

Sydney Good Food and Wine Show 2016

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to Sydney Good Food and Wine show thanks to Liven – an awesome app which offers great savings that you can share with your favorite charity. I didn’t expect to find a lot of vegan-friendly foods but I didn’t go hungry. Plus, it was fun to see what’s happening in the mainstream food world.

There were lots of food, wine and cheese (sad face). Nevertheless, I was quite stoked to see Pana Chocolate and a few other vegan-friendly vendors such as Kez’s Kitchen, Blush Tomatoes, Blind Tiger Gin (makes amazing G&T), Ecoganics Foods, and some others. You can still a foodie as a vegan for sure!

Here’s a short clip with some of my highlights.

Do you love going to food festival like I do? What’s your favourite?

Keren x

,

Vegan Degustation at Yellow

I still remember my first fine dining experience. It was about 12 years ago at a French Restaurant in Surry Hills. I can’t remember the name, but I remember everything else. I remember the dress I was wearing, the people I was with, the service, the food, and I especially remember the amazing experience which sparked a decade of fine dining pursuits. I collected degustation menus like stamps and spent most of my salary on eating out. It was my dope.

Yellow Vegan Degustation

My recent visit to Yellow reminded me of that first fine dining experience. Sure, I’ve had gorgeous vegan meals at Otto and delicious customised vegan degustation at Marque. But Yellow stood head and shoulders above any those venues. It was splendid in every way possible. The efficient service, the romantic ambiance, the delicious food, everything was exactly on point.

Yellow Vegan Degustation-6

I had the 5 course vegan degustation menu and by the end of the night I promised myself that I will go back to try the even longer 7 course menu. It was good. Really.

Yellow Vegan Degustation-2

My pictures don’t do justice on how attractive all the dishes were. They were as bright and beautiful as a flower garden. There’s no seitan here. Instead, you’ll be delighted by plant-based whole foods which were carefully prepared and minimally processed, with lots of textural elements and umami-rich flavours – dishes that will make you forget they were vegan. That my friend, require some serious skills.

Salted Mexican Cucumbers + Tomatillos + Oca Yellow Vegan Degustation-10

It was my first time trying Mexican cucumbers. They look like miniature watermelons but they taste like cucumbers with a hint of citrus. It was slightly tangy, enjoyably light and refreshing.

Kohlrabi + Enoki Mushroom + Vegetable Broth Yellow Vegan Degustation-3

I had to look at the menu again when I was presented with this dish. I was expecting roasted kohlrabi or a soupy dish but, instead, I got beautiful and crunchy ribbons of kohlrabi with enoki mushrooms and violet flowers. It was a gorgeous dish which was rich in textures and, oh my, that consommé! A true umami experience.

Black Rice + Celtuce + Koji Yellow Vegan Degustation-4

What is celtuce? It doesn’t really matter. Delicious chewy rice, rich kryptonite green sauce and crunchy koji fit to die for.

Spaghetti Squash + Persimmon + Pepitas Yellow Vegan Degustation-5

Gorgeous yellow strings of perfectly cooked squash with sweet melty persimmon, crunchy pepitas and a thick nut cream. Divine!

Raspberry Sorbet + Plum + Hazelnut Yellow Vegan Degustation-8

Finely sliced plums encasing a delectable sorbet which was super smooth and creamy with just the right amount of sweetness. I could only say that I wish I could have had more of this. Come to think of it, if my boyfriend had any manners he’d have given me his plate as well.

Yellow Vegan Degustation-9

As I concluded my night at Yellow I bade farewell to Australia, my friends, my dog and my dear love. It was my last night in Sydney before my 3-month trip overseas and I couldn’t have wished for a better place to end the night. Adieu, till we meet again.

Keren xx

Yellow Vegan Degustation-6

, ,

The Colonel via Deliveroo + Coupon Code

Deliveroo-1

As much as I love going out for dinner, there are days when I don’t feel like eating out, even on the weekends. Lately this has been a frequent occurrence thanks to the arrival of the boxed DVD sets for Breaking Bad (the complete series) and Walking Dead (seasons 1- 5). I had forgotten how addictive television series can be. The last few shows I was into were Gossip Girl, True Blood and Man vs. Food…. sad, I know… but they’re nothing in comparison to these two gems. Breaking Bad and Walking Dead are a hundred times better, and a hundred times more addictive. Goodbye, life.

Deliveroo-13 A lot of times when Nat and I choose to eat in, we’d get takeaway at a local Thai restaurant, Khaohom, which is cheap and easy. Some days however, especially on the weekend, I want something a bit different. Something fancier. Without having to leave home. Just so I can squeeze in another literally gut wrenching, skull-smashing episode of Walking Dead.

Deliveroo-12

Deliveroo is a restaurant delivery start-up which seeks to satisfy this need. It was founded in London two years ago and the company has recently launched in Australia. They may seem like just another food delivery service, but Deliveroo is different in that they focus on delivering food mainly from mid to high-end restaurants – restaurants that traditionally don’t offer a delivery service in the first place. This opens up a completely new range of delivery options.

Deliveroo-9

Image from uk.businessinsider.com

Image from uk.businessinsider.com

Here’s a short clip of my experience using Deliveroo to get one of my favourite dinners home-delivered. I found the website very easy to use and I especially love the ability to add special dietary requirements for my order. I selected The Colonial, a lovely Indian Restaurant in Neutral Bay. Nat is not really (not at all) a fan of spicy food so it takes a lot of effort (or a huge faux pas on his part) for me to get him to an Indian Restaurant. So getting the food to come home instead is the next best thing!

Coupon Code
I’ve teamed up with the cool kids at Deliveroo to give you $10 off your first order with so you can try their service. Just type in the code PASSIONATE when you place your order. This code is valid until 14 June 2016. Enjoy!
Have the best day ever,
Keren
Disclaimer: I received credits from Deliveroo to try and review their service. This is not a sponsored post and as always, all opinion is my own. 
,

5 Tips To Keep Your Vegetables Stay Fresh Longer

I eat a lot of vegetables. But having tons of produce in the fridge can be tricky to manage. We’ve all been there before… watching our expensive produce go to waste right before our eyes. If you’re tired of having to throw out vegetables before you had the chance to use it, or hate watching your potatoes sprouting and turning green in front of your very eyes, This post is for you.

Here are my 5 tips to keep your vegetables stay fresh longer. Tried and tested :)

5 Tips To Keep Your Vegetables Stay Fresh

1. Buy local and choose the freshest vegetables you can afford.

It’s a given that the fresher the vegetables the longer they keep. As much as we can’t reverse the signs of ageing, or turn water to wine (unless you’re Jesus!), we can’t preserve veggies that are not fresh to start with. It’s that simple. Buy local, support your local farmers and get better tasting vegetables that last longer than the ones you get at the large supermarket.

2. Wash vegetables just before you use them.

Avoid storing your vegetables in the fridge after washing without drying them thoroughly first. Moisture encourages mold growth and therefore accelerates spoilage.

3. Know your fridge’s microclimate.

This is nerdy but important. Your fridge has Cold Zone, Moderate Zone and Humid Zone/Crisper drawer. You can check this by using a thermometer to measure each shelf, but usually the one closer to the cold vent is the cold zone. The crisper drawer is best for storing vegetables so if you must store counter top vegetables (i.e., when counter top space is tight or you bought enough vegetables to survive a nuclear winter), make sure you put them here. If you have very cold fridge, you might want prevent vegetables like salad leaves and Chinese greens from wilting due to very cold temperature and excess moisture by storing them on the moderate zone instead.

4. Not everything needs to go in the fridge.

You can print a handy chart like the one I found on Spark People or follow this hack. Just look at where the vegetables or fruits are stored/displayed at your fruit and vegetable shop and replicate it at home. For example, things like tomatoes, garlic, ginger and lemon – you would find them displayed at room temperature on the counter. So do that at home and you’ll find they would last longer. It may seem odd, especially if you’re used to storing everything in the fridge, but it works.

5. Do not store fruits and vegetables together.

Some fruits produce high amount of ethylene gas which accelerates the ripening process of other foods nearby so keep them separate from other fruits and vegetable, especially in a tight, confined space. Ethylene producing fruits include:

  • fruits-82524_1280 Banana
  • Avocado
  • Melon
  • Kiwifruit
  • Mangoes
  • Papayas
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Tomatoes

This could be why your potatoes sprouting and turning green quicker that they should have. Are you storing them in the same place as you store your onions? Though not a fruit, onion is a high ethylene producer. Keep onions and potatoes separate!

Want more tips?

Here’s some of my favourite links from around the net where you can find a comprehensive list of vegetables and their storage tips:

What to do with wilted vegetables:

I hate throwing food away so I would normally find a way to use them up. Here’re some ideas:

  • Stir fry with other leftover vegetables
  • Make soups
  • Make vegetable dips
  • Make vegetable stock

What’s your favourite tip for keeping fresh vegetables fresh for longer? 

Keren Natalia

,

12 Tips For Better Vegan Cooking

A lot of people think that vegan cooking is either boring or super difficult. I don’t blame them. I used to think the same thing. I mean, with eggs and butter being the main ingredients in most baked goods, and meat being the centre of many traditional cooking recipes, you wonder if you could make anything decent without meat stock, bacon, eggs, butter, cream or cheese.

But you can! Just Google your favourite dish, adding the word ‘vegan’ in front of it, and you see endless possibilities. I’ve made stir fries, pastas, soups, burgers, casseroles, omelettes, breads, cakes, quiches, cupcakes, muffins, and even meringues without any animal products. Vegan cooking is not as difficult as you think, it’s just a little bit different. Just as Japanese cooking is different to Mexican, or when your apple pie’s recipe may be different to your grandma’s.

It’s easy once you know the basic principles. The biggest learning curve is getting used to alternatives and the ingredients essential for successful vegan cooking.

I’ve collected all the things I’ve learned over the last couple of years. Here are my top tips for mastering the art of vegan cooking.

12 Tips for better vegan cooking (1)

12 Tips For Better Vegan Cooking

1. Buy local and in-season

Invest in good quality, locally grown, in-season fruits and vegetables.

When you have great-quality ingredients, you can have great-tasting food with overloading it with seasonings and without needing, animal fat or meat. Great quality vegetables can be minimally prepared, steamed, roasted or even eaten raw in salads with a just a sprinkle of salt and pepper, a little drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Always buy local whenever possible and always buy in season. It’s not just that they’re cheaper when they’re in season, they also taste much better and fresher than when they are off-season or imported.

2. Experiment with plantbased milk

Plantbased milk is the gateway ingredient to your vegan cooking adventure. Any plantbased milk can replace dairy milk most of the time. Often, you can’t even tell the difference. Just make sure you buy the plain/un-flavoured and un-sweetened variety, unless you don’t mind the flavour and the sweetness in the dish you’re making. With so many available these days (coconut, soy, rice, quinoa, oat, hemp milk, etc), choose your plantbased milk with your final dish in mind. For example, I use coconut milk in curry and Asian dishes when I don’t mind tasting some coconut flavour in the food I’m making. For soups or pasta dishes, soy and almond are my go-to nut milk as they have a milder and more delicate flavour that won’t interfere with the taste of my dish.

See my Cashew Milk recipe for easy dairy-free milk.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3. Go bold with herbs and spices

Some of the best vegan dishes I’ve had are those with big, bold flavours. Herbs are awesome in filling in for flavours you normally get from meat. Match the herbs with a plantbased protein source such as legumes and you won’t miss your meat. Experiment with different herbs and spices starting with something you’re already familiar with, such as garlic and onion. Double the amount next time you make a meat-free dish and taste the difference.

4. Replace butter with coconut oil

This works in most recipes which call for butter such as pasta, casseroles, roasts, and many baked goods. The reason why coconut oil works better than other plantbased oils is because coconut oil is spreadable, like butter, at cool temperatures. No adjustment is necessary so you can replace butter with it using a 1:1 ratio. The only thing you need to remember is to make sure you use refined coconut oil if you don’t want your dishes to impart any coconut flavour. If you’d like your dish to have a more pronounced coconut flavour, coconut oil or virgin coconut oil are good for this purpose.

5. Make friends with tofu

Tofu is the best. It’s a great replacement for meat. It’s full of protein, very low in fat and contains zero cholesterol. I use it a lot in cooking – in stir-fries, soups, barbeques, grills, and salads. Some people tell me that they don’t like tofu but I think they just haven’t found the tofu they like. Like pasta, there are different brands of tofu and different kinds of tofu. There’s medium-firm, firm, extra-firm, soft, silken, and dried firm beancurd or tofu gan (my favourite). The beauty of tofu is that it’s like a sponge. It absorbs the flavour profile of your dish so you can use it for just about anything, even ice cream. So, if you had a bad first date with tofu, don’t give up. Your special tofu might just be around the corner.

Tempeh Bacon

6. Make friends with tempe

This one is close to my heart. Tempeh, or tempe, is fermented soybean originally from Indonesia. The fermentation process transforms the soybean into a cake or patty form with a firm texture and an earthy mild flavour.

Tempeh is one of my favourite sources of plantbased protein. It also contains iron, probiotics and B12. When I came to Australia a while ago, tempeh was almost non-existent. Now it’s in most local supermarkets and grocery stores, mostly in the frozen section, and in many health food stores. It can be grilled, steamed, fried and baked, just like meat. Tempeh also soaks up flavours well and will benefit from being marinaded before cooking. I usually just drizzle mine with some soy sauce and oil before baking in the oven.

7. Experiment with nutritional yeast

If you haven’t had nutritional yeast before, let me tell you that it is life-changing. Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast, which is different to your normal brewer’s yeast. It is sold in the form of flakes or as a yellow powder. It has a strong nutty and cheesy flavour, rich in B vitamins and is sometimes fortified with vitamin B12 (the same vitamin that you get from meat).

I use nutritional yeast to make cheese sauce, to sprinkle on popcorn, pasta, rice, potato, tofu scramble, anything savoury, really. It adds a somewhat cheesy flavour to the dish, like an ‘umami’ taste. It’s definitely a must have ingredient for any vegan kitchen.

Tofu Scramble-11

8. Use cashew cream in place of dairy cream

Every aspiring vegan cook must try to make their own cashew cream at least once in their culinary journey. It’s great as a replacement for dairy cream and you won’t taste the difference. It even thickens when cooked. Making cashew cream is very easy: you just blend 1 cup of soaked cashew (soak for 4 hours) and 1/2 to 1 cup water, starting with 1/2 cup and thinning it out as required. It is so versatile and you can use it to make sweet or savoury cream depending on what you need.

9. Experiment with Kala Namak

Kala Namak, or Black Salt, is an Indian salt that smells like egg and taste like egg… it also proves that God exists. Because I love eggs and He knows it. A sprinkle of this pink coloured salt on your tofu scramble, egg-free omelette or frittata, will take them to the maximum level of eggy-ness.

Vegan Frittata-8

10. Experiment with liquid smoke

Use a couple of drops with BBQ sauce on your tofu and tempeh to transform your dish from good to epic. A drop goes a long way and I personally put it on everything and anything I want to taste ‘smokey’ like pasta sauce, soup, tofu scramble, tempeh, grilled veggie, nut cheese, and so on.

11. Experiment with plantbased eggs

Flax-egg, Chia-egg, egg replacer mix, and ‘Vegg’, are your best friends for baking. For every baking recipe that calls for eggs, there’s a plantbased substitute depending on your need.

  • Flax/chia egg is made by whisking 3 tablespoon of water with 1 tablespoon of either ground flaxseed, or chia seed. This is equivalent to one chicken egg and is great for use in muffins and pancakes.
  • For egg replacer mix, I use Orgran brand. I find it’s great in bread and other baked goods that require leavening.
  • Vegg is your plantbased yolk solution, which is super amazing both in taste and texture (looks like yolk, tastes very much like yolk). Get your hands on this as it will completely transform your cooking. I got mine from The Crueltyfree Shop.

12. Experiment with Aquafaba

Aquafaba is all the rage at the moment and rightly so. It is a super cool vegan ingredient that has gained massive popularity amongst vegan food aficionados. It is basically the brine of chickpeas (yes, the liquid you normally throw out from a can of chickpeas). It’s rich in protein and behaves just like egg whites. You can use it with a 1:1 ratio (by weight) to replace egg whites when baking. Whip it with sugar to make delicious meringues (I’ll post a recipe soon) and the best thing is, no one will tell the difference! Check out the Facebook group dedicated to aquafaba for recipes and tips on how to use this magic brine in cooking and baking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As you can see, experimentation is the name of the game when it comes to vegan cooking. And it’s mainly because you’re not used to cooking this way (unless you were born and raised a vegan). Know that it is a learning process. Know that there will be hits and misses. We’re all winging it. Some of us are better than others. I for one have made many stuff ups over the last few years. I’ve made rubbery donuts and flat pancakes, added too much liquid smoke to my soup making it taste burnt, wasted my precious cashews making inedible vegan cheeses and many more. Life goes on.

If there’s one thing I particularly like about vegan cooking is that it’s clean and fresh – no blood on the chopping board, no smell of death, and no fear of contamination. It’s actually a lot simpler than cooking with meat in a lot of ways. For me, cooking has never been so peaceful and enjoyable.

From my vegan kitchen to yours, I hope you find these tips useful in helping you cook better vegan food. Experiment, have fun, and take it easy.

P.S. If you have any questions or any other vegan cooking tips you wish to share, feel free to enter them in the comments below.

Love and greens,

Keren

,

Superfood Sushi, Newtown

Firstly, I have to say that just by virtue of being completely plant-based, Superfood Sushi automatically gets in my good books. Just like any good Thai restaurant, because I like Thai food and because I’m a vegan. However, as for where it sits on the list, well, read on. I had the opportunity of visiting Superfood Sushi a while back with my non-vegan boyfriend and put their menu to the test. I’ve had some Superfood Sushis at a couple of previous events but this time, we tried almost everything.

Superfood Sushi-30-5

The Superfood sushi concept came about when mother-and-son duo Pepe and Guy Marshal were unable to find sushi that was cruelty free, healthy and enjoyable. I dig that. I love it when people create a business from solving their own personal problem. It’s very cool. I did an interview on Pepe just before the launch of the restaurant, so I’m glad everything worked out and Sydney gets her first all-vegan sushi restaurant. You can check out the interview here.

As I said, the whole premise of Superfood Sushi is to serve better, ethical and healthier sushis. I get the ethical bit but healthier? I thought sushi is already healthy?

Well, not exactly. I started to research this and it turns out that although sushi can be healthy (i.e., low in fat, low in calories and nutrient rich), it can also be a dietary disaster depending on what’s in your sushi. Those big ‘crunchy’ hand rolls with mayonnaise sauce and white rice are really not much better than a Subway sandwich. Seriously. That’s kinda scary.

Superfood Sushi recognise this so they created their own super-healthy sushis to feed the hungry crowd of health foodies, vegans and vegetarian alike. But how good can healthy, plantbased sushi be?

Superfood Sushi-30-6

As a vegan who is used to having very limited options at sushi restaurants (cucumber rolls anyone?!), I was quite impressed by the broad variety of sushis they have on the menu. They all have unique flavour combinations and they taste quite delicious. I also love how they were presented. They look gorgeous. You could tell that a lot of care was put into the making of these sushi rolls, just as in any other good sushi place.

Here’re some of the things we tried:

Bento Box (you get two half rolls of, 2 sushiboats, salad, fruit, and miso).

Superfood Sushi-01

Salad and fruits as part of the bento box

A whole heap of sushis:

Sweet Kiwi Nut – Black Rice packed with Roast Sweet Potato, Walnuts, Rocket, Avocado and Kiwifruit

Magic Mushroom Green Rice packed with Portobello and Shiitake mushrooms marinated in Garlic and plum vinegar.

Cheeky Chi -Inari Pocket, Rice, White Kim Chi and Zucchini

Mushroom Soy – Turmeric Soy Gunkan, Portobello and Shiitake mushrooms roasted in Garlic and Umeboshi Plum vinegar

Super Salmon – Watermelon Nigiri

Soba soup – It was the special of the day, light and comforting soup with soba noodles and lots of vegetables

Black Jack– Nori Gunkan, Black Rice, Jack-fruit Salad and Kelp Cavia

Twisted Zucchini – Turmeric Soy Gunkan, raw Zucchini Spaghetti with Basil Pesto and Edamame

Superfood Sushi-34

Top: Soba Soup, Black Jack, and Cheeky Chi. Bottom: Sweet Kiwi Nut, and Magic Mushroom Green Rice

Superfood Sushi-53

Twisted Zucchini and Mushroom Soy

Superfood Sushi-40

Super Salmon

Since I’m quite biased here, I turned to my non-vegan boyfriend to get his impartial non-vegan opinion of the food. He said it was “Very Good” (as opposed to ‘Alright’, ‘Not Great’ and ‘Excellent’). I’ll take that as 4 out of 5 stars. He enjoyed it as much as me so we had an equally pleasant experience… which is not all that frequent when dining at all-vegan restaurants.

Would I recommend it to anyone? Hell, yeah. Check it out next time you’re in town! Sweet Kiwi Nuts and Mushroom Soys are my two favourites so you must try them.

Checkout Superfood Sushi Website for store location and opening hours.

With love,

Keren

, ,

Vegan Sweet Potato Blondies

A little comfort food sometimes go a long way. Especially when it’s this good. I made these Vegan Sweet Potato Blondies during the Christmas break in place of gingerbread men and boy did they change my life.

sweet-potato-blondie-17

These are sweet, comforting, and every bit delicious… this recipe is an adaption of Sweet Potato Blondies recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar (awesome cookbook by the way!) – I’ve reduced the amount of sugar, double the amount of spices and included coconut cream to make them slightly less sugary and more nutritious. And the result, boy oh boy…. everyday is Christmas as far as these bars concern.

sweet-potato-blondie-20

Why I love these blondies

First of all I love sweet potatoes. I think they’re superfood – rich in fibre, beta-carotene and vitamin A.  They also contain lots of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. The spices thrown in the mix (cinnamon and ginger) are also great for digestion, cold, flu, and pain relief among other benefits.

These are super easy to make and the result is nothing short of spectacular. They’re mildly sweet, moist, spicy and decadent. Best of all, they’ll make your house smell like Christmas morning. These are beautiful when warm but they also make a delicious cold snack. I highly recommend serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

sweet-potato-blondie-25

 

Vegan Sweet Potato Blondies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A delicious bake that will make your house smells like Christmas morning. And no one would be able to guess the secret ingredient that makes this cake so moist and flavourful, sweet potato!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
Ingredients
Wet Ingredients
  • ¾ cup cooked, mashed sweet potato (skin removed)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ⅓ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup coconut cream (or you can also use coconut milk)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Dry Ingredients
  • 1¼ cup plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
Topping
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped roughly
  • ⅓ cup non-dairy chocolate chips
Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line a 20 cm (8 inch) square pan with aluminium foil. Make sure foil covers the sides of the pan. Brush or spray the pan with cooking oil.
  2. Arrange walnuts on a cookie sheet in a single layer, bake in the preheated oven for about 5-8 minutes, checking every couple of minutes. Let cool for a few minutes.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. Mix to combine.
  4. Mix the wet ingredients together.
  5. Stir in the wet ingredient into the dry ingredients and mix just enough to moisten the mixture. Do not overmix.
  6. Fold in the chopped nuts and chocolate chips.
  7. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the back of the spoon or spatula. Bake for 28 minutes. Cake is done if a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean (a few moist bits are ok). If it’s still a bit wet, bake for another 2-4 minutes. The key is not to over-bake the cake. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes for the texture and flavour to develop then slice into bars.
Notes
*You can replace coconut cream with any non-dairy milk.
*If you're super lazy, you can just use chopped raw walnut, they won't taste as 'roasted' but they'll be just as delicious.

If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram and share your creation. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x