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.

Chai Infused Oat Porridge

Some days you just want to have your tea and eat it too. If today is one of those days then this bowl of spicy, creamy Chai Infused Oat Porridge has come to your rescue.

Chai Latte Oat Porridge-1

Why I’m in love with this chai infused oat porridge

This yummy dish is comforting, calming and stimulating at the same time. The creaminess of oats and the nuttiness of almond milk mixed with the sweet spicy aroma of chai creates a delicious, flavour-packed sustenance.

0 from 0 votes
Print

Chai Infused Oat Porridge

Course Breakfast
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1
Author Keren

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond milk I use@insideoutng
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup water depending how thick or creamy you like your oats
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Chai tea - I use @rainbowchaitea
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder

Instructions

  1. Place chai tea, water and milk in saucepan, bring to boil.
  2. Gently simmer for 5 min, strain.
  3. Pour the chai tea back to the pan. Add rolled oats.
  4. Cook until creamy for about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Cover and stand for 2 minutes before serving.

Chai Latte Oat Porridge-4
  

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture on Instagram and tag me so I could see what you’re up to.

 

Keren x

 

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

The Life Changing Donuts

Today, we’re gonna transform some lives. With real good donuts. Behold, the Life Changing Donuts.

Lifechanging donut-5

How life changing are these donuts, really?

For me, it was like making a new friend: when you’re craving a donut-like experience and you’ve learned how easy it is to make a bunch of these babies, your life will never be the same again.

They’re baked not fried, egg-free, dairy-free, and 100% vegan. You can make them gluten-free by using gluten-free flour instead of normal plain flour and you could easily make them refined sugar-free, as well, if you opt to use coconut sugar or Natvia instead of plain sugar. They’re versatile, incredibly healthy and very tasty! The best thing about them is that they won’t make you feel guilty or sick after eating them. Don’t you just hate that remorseful feeling after a delightful but sinful meal, even though it’s a treat and you know you shouldn’t feel bad about it? You just can’t fool your body.

Lifechanging donut-2

By the way, these donuts aren’t just for girls. My boyfriend Nat likes them so much that I have to make a double batch just so there’s some left over for me! If you follow me on my social media accounts you’ll see I’ve made four batches already over the last two weeks! It’s actually quite fun making these donuts, so I don’t mind it at all.

You will need a silicone donut pan

One piece of equipment you’ll need to make these Life Changing Vegan Donuts to perfection is a silicone donut pan. I use a mini donut pan like the one below, which you can get from Amazon.

You can also get a normal size donut pan. You just might need to adjust the baking time to allow for a bigger donut, maybe 15-17 minutes instead of 1o-12 minutes.

Did I tell you that these life changing vegan donuts are healthy, but tasty?

Lifechanging donut Honestly, these are one of the easiest things I’ve made in a while They’re up there with pancakes. You just mix the dry ingredients, then the wet ingredients, then combine the two, and finally bake. Too easy.

I’m doing a lot of testing and experiments to see how far I can push this recipe before it starts to well… fail. I managed to make an oil-free version of the donuts last night so I’m looking forward to sharing that one with you. In the meantime, here’s the recipe for the first version of the Life Changing Donuts.

Lifechanging Donuts (1)

 

0 from 0 votes
Print

Life Changing Donuts

Course Breakfast, Snack
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Servings 12 mini donuts
Author Keren

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain flour or gluten free flour for 
gf-free option
  • 1/4 cup sugar coconut sugar or your favourite sweetener
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
 powder * or your favourite flavours, see notes
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. chia seed mixed with 3 tbsp water let sit for 5 min
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients with a whisk to mix thoroughly. Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Mix wet ingredients to dry ingredient and then scoop 1 tbsp onto mini donut pan. Smooth the surface with the back of the spoon. Make sure to fill the pan 1/2 full or you will have mushroom-shaped donuts instead. Trust me, they have a lot of lift in them.
  4. Bake for 10-12 min until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove the donuts from the pan.

Recipe Notes

Flavour Ideas:
Matcha - add 1 tablespoon of matcha powder
Chocolate - add 2 tablespoon of cacao powder or Dutchpressed chocolate
Coffee - add 1 tablespoon of freeze dried coffee or a shot of espresso

These donuts freeze well so you can make a double batch and freeze them, if you can wait that long. They last about one month in the freezer.

 

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture on Instagram and tag me in the picture.

Keren x

 

Vegan Protein Power Balls

I love a good protein ball! And judging from the number of balls I see on the internet, a lot of people love them too. I think protein balls are taking over the food world. They’re slowly invading the counter space at the city cafes, the health food stores, the Instagram, and soon… your very own kitchen, if not already. At least I hope so, with this recipe.

Protein Powerball-9

But before you make them, be warned! There vegan protein power balls can be quite addictive so you want to be careful not to eat all of them in one go! They can also give you a burst of energy and alertness so it’s best not to have them at night. My boyfriend said that they trigger vivid dreams when he consumes them at night. I won’t get to excited about this potential lucid dreaming side effect as I’ve never experienced this myself.

Protein Powerball-18

Why I love these vegan protein power balls

First of all, there’s no cooking or baking involved. It’s a pretty straight forward mix and roll operation. You can adjust the mix before you roll and because you don’t need to cook them, you can eat them as you roll (not advisable for those with a ball addiction :P). They’re rich in fibre, protein, healthy fats, slightly sweet and very moreish. Perfect for snacking in between meals or as an afternoon pick me up.

Protein Powerball-12

Vegan Protein Power Balls
Recipe Type: Snack
Author: Keren
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 25 balls
Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cup of your favourite nut flour (I use 1 cup ground almond and 1/4 cup coconut flour)
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 heaped scoop protein powder (my favourite is Bioglan rice protein powder and Sunwarrior raw protein powder)
  • 2 tsp maca powder
  • 12 dates (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 hot water
  • 2 Tbsp cacao powder
  • A generous pinch of salt
  • For Coating
  • 2 Tbsp of cacao powder, matcha powder, or dessicated coconut
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth
  2. Take 1 heaped tablespoon of mixture and roll into balls
  3. Dust or roll the balls onto a couple of tablespoon of cacao powder
Notes
Make a double batch in the weekend and freeze them to save time.[br]You could use oat flour instead of nut flour. You can make oat flour by blending rolled oat in a blender for a few minutes until it resembles fine crumbs

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how they turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture on Instagram and tag me in the picture :)

 

Keren x

Zucchini Pasta with Coriander Pesto

I remember making my first raw zucchini pasta, also called zoodles (zucchini noodles). It was such a revolutionary and awesome moment, being able to transform a simple vegetable into something extraordinary. It’s true: We feast first with our eyes. I cannot believe how much more appetising my dishes looked after bland slices of zucchini were replaced by sexy curly strands. They looked a hundred times better. But they’re also a hundred times more nutritious than your regular noodles or pastas. They’re low carbs and low calories too, but who’s counting?

Zucchini Pasta

Zoodles are great in salads, but they’re also good for hot dishes – or more accurately, warm dishes. They tend to wilt in high heat so you’ll need to be careful not to overcook them. They just need a light toss over low heat until they become bright green, 2 – 3 minutes or so and you’re done.

This recipe is an excellent introduction to zucchini pasta or zoodles. It’s very simple to make, requiring only seven ingredients (including salt!) and is a nifty way to use up any excess zucchini you may have. You will need a spiraliser to make the noodles but you can also use a vegetable peeler or a mandoline which will give you slight

Why this Zucchini Pasta with Coriander Pesto is the bomb!

Apart from the simplicity of the ingredients, this dish is the bomb because it’s a light but satisfying. For me, flavour is everything and the coriander pesto definitely delivers the kick. The spiciness of raw garlic, the earthiness of pine nuts and the bold fragrance of coriander give this pesto that creamy texture with bold, fresh and punchy flavours, without any added dairy.

Zucchini Pasta-4

Zucchini Pasta with Coriander Pesto
Recipe Type: Main
Author: Keren
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Zucchini Pasta with Coriander Pesto
  • 1 bunch coriander
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts *
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • ½ – 1 tbsp lemon juice (I recommend using ½ tbsp to start with)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
Instructions
  1. Make zucchini noodles using spiraliser or cut into thin stripes mandoline
  2. Make pesto by putting all the ingredient in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust flavour by adding more salt for saltiness, or lemon juice for acidity.
  3. Heat oil in pan on medium heat
  4. Add zucchini and toss until warm, about 3-4 minutes
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in pesto and toss until evenly coated.
  6. Serve immediately
Notes
You can also replace cashew nuts with walnuts or macadamia nuts.

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture on Instagram and tag me in the picture.

Keren x

Zucchini Pasta-2

Meat Free Week 2016

Did you know that Australia is ranked in the top three biggest meat-eating countries in the world (per capita), behind the USA and Luxembourg. Australians eat an average of 111.5 kg of meat per person per year, which is more than double the world’s average of 41.9 kg. This consumption compromises our health and with global meat production predicted to double by 2020, raises serious concerns about long-term sustainability and animal welfare.

cows-1532909_960_720

Bowel cancer is now the second largest cancer killer in Australia. High consumption of red and processed meat has been linked to both bowel cancer1 and the increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Globally, the growing demand for meat is leading to increased deforestation, water usage and climate change with the UN identifying the livestock industry as one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. It has also created the number one animal welfare issue in the world, factory farming.

Australia’s annual Meat Free Week has returned bigger and better from 1-8 August 2016. This week is dedicated to raising awareness of the amount of meat people eat and the impact it has on human health, the welfare of animals and the environment.

Meat Free Week

Meat Free Week 2016 challenges Australians to sign up to go without meat, including seafood, for seven days. By being sponsored, participants have the opportunity to raise funds for one of three leading charities – Bowel Cancer Australia (health), Voiceless the animal protection institute (animal welfare) and The World Land Trust (environment).

With a growing trend towards meat free or meat-reduced meals and the steady rise of flexitarianism over the past few years (a mainly a plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of meat), Meat Free Week gives people the perfect opportunity to try out new foods, get more veggies in their meals and see whether a meat-reduced diet is for them, even if it’s just one day a week or one week a year.

And for the second time this year, Meat Free Week has expanded the campaign into the UK, gaining great traction with great supporters on board including Jamie Oliver, Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney.

vegan-1161192_960_720

I know there are a lot of vegans who disapprove of campaigns that encourage people to eat ‘less’ meat such as Meatless Monday or Meat Free Week as they believe it distinguishes the consumption of other animal products (i.e. eggs or dairy) as being more ethically justifiably when they are all a result of tremendous violence, and it renders eating a small amount of meat any other day as ‘okay’ when it is not. The argument is that if we make an ethical decision to reject something that is morally wrong, then we must reject it all, every day, and not just on certain days.

I have mixed feelings about this ideal. On one hand, I want people to stop eating all animal products completely, but on the other hand I know that it is impossible for a lot of people to make such a drastic change without easing into it over time and I am glad for them to give it a crack without making them feel guilty as sin when they don’t stick to a plant-based diet from the very first day. I think Meat Free Week provides people with this opportunity in a fun and engaging way. It provides education. Education provides knowledge and awareness for people to make an informed choice. Love it or hate it, the campaign certainly has made a big impact with over 4,000 people signing up for the challenge, and raising over $150,000 for charity in its first two years. 

So here are the two really important things you can do to support Meat Free Week 2016:

1. Sign up for Meat Free Week OR if not participating, donate. It’s easy and you’ll be showing everyone how it’s done!

You can register here to be sponsored as an individual or as a team and encourage others to join you. OR simply donate money directly to the charities here. After registering, downloading the App from App Store  or Google Play is a great way to get friends and family on the spot to sponsor you whilst you’re out and about. Monitor progress, share messages, get sponsors via Facebook and have friends and family make a donation right from the fundraisers smartphone.

2. If you’re already vegetarian, sign up and go vegan for the week. And if you’re already vegan (or already living meat free), sign up and sponsor a meat loving friend for the challenge.

Some useful websites to read during the meat-free week:

Voiceless – An independent, non-profit think tank focused on raising awareness of animals suffering in factory farming and the kangaroo industry in Australia.

Bowel Cancer Australia – Bowel Cancer Australia works to reduce incidence, death and suffering associated with bowel cancer (aslo known colorectal cancer).

World Land Trust – A charity organisation with a 20 year track record of successful environmental projects. 

Meat free week

Here some of my favourite recipes from the Meat Free Week Website:

You can also check out my recipe page for some plant based recipes and inspiration

Check out the Meat Free Week website or their social media channels to learn how you can be part of this great event.

  • Facebook: Meat Free Week
  • Twitter: @meatfreeweekorg
  • Instagram: @meatfreeweek
  • Hashtag: #meatfreeweek

So, are you up for challenge? Of course you are. Give it a go! You’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Keren xx