Vegan Eggnog Custard

Vegan Eggnog Custard

Merry Christmas everyone! I’ve got a delicious recipe for you today. It’s a creamy, dreamy Vegan Eggnog Custard.

I’m writing at The Manhattan Hotel Club New York. We landed yesterday after a tiring 21-hour flight from Sydney to New York via Los Angeles, and two special security screenings for which I was randomly selected (not sure how ‘random’ it was to be honest).

It is the 24th December here in America but because of the time difference, it is 25th December (Christmas day)for my Australian friends and family!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

I was supposed to post this recipe before I left for New York but better late than never right?

Vegan Eggnog Custard

This Vegan Eggnog Custard  ‘happened’ because I couldn’t choose between making Vegan Eggnog or Vegan Custard for my Christmas lunch week, so I made both! I was really surprised at how good this turned out, and how much everyone loved it. It’s delicious, decadent, and contains all the spices that scream Christmas morning.

The addition of fresh mint leaves and pomegranate seeds, although optional, makes such a difference, so I recommend you include them if possible. The freshness of the mint and the sour tanginess of the pomegranate just adds such a lovely contrast to this sweet creamy dessert.

I hope you give this recipe a go, and may the sweet magic of Christmas fills your heart and soul and wishing you all the peace and joy this holiday!

Vegan Eggnog Custard

Vegan Eggnog Custard

A creamy, dreamy, delicious Christmas treat for everyone.
Course Dessert, Drinks
Cuisine Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword custard, eggnog
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Servings 4
Author Keren Natalia

Ingredients

  • 1 400ml can coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 3 tablespoon brown rice syrup or you can also use maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoon spiced sherry or rum, bourbon, brandy, or whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt
  • a tiny pinch of turmeric for colour optional
  • 6 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Fresh mint leaves and Pomegranate seeds  optional

Instructions

  1. Soak the cashews overnight or for at least 1 hour.
  2. Combine cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and mix really well. Make sure there are no lumps
  3. Place all the remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the eggnog mixture into a saucepan and warm gently on the stove. Do not bring to a boil.
  5. Add about a cup of the warm eggnog milk to the cornstarch mixture and combine. Now pour it all back into the saucepan to combine with the remaining eggnog mixture.
  6. Stir constantly with a whisk and continue cooking on medium until the custard is thick and luscious.
  7. Remove from heat and transfer to serving glasses.
  8. Chill for 3 hours or overnight before serving
  9. Serve with some fresh mint leaves and some pomegranate seeds (about a tablespoon per serve)

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM NEW YORK!

Keren in New York

Me eating Vegan Burger at By Chloe, NYC

P.S. 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

Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix

Review of Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix

Hello friend!

Only a few more days until Christmas! Are you excited? I am.

But I’m one of those people who’d spend the entire year looking forward to Christmas and New Year and then find myself completely unprepared for it. So every year I always end up in a mad rush trying to get things organised before everything sold out for Christmas.

Thankfully this year things are a lot simpler. Because I’m going away to celebrate Christmas in New York, yay!

That said, I’ve had five Christmas events already, most of them are catered for (thank goodness) but last week I had a team lunch where I had to bring a plate. It was on a weekday which means I didn’t have much time to prepare. But luckily, I have a packet of Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix that’s been sitting in my pantry, just waiting for me to try it.

Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix

I love cake mixes. I use to love making Betty Crocker Triple Chocolate Fudge Brownie for special occasions until I realised how unhealthy it is!

Since then I’ve been making my own cakes from scratch which have been great, when I have the time.

But I do love my mixes for the days when I don’t feel like messing around in the kitchen, or when I simply don’t have time.

And so I have high hopes for this brownie mix.

And boy did it rise up to my expectation.

Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix

This Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix doesn’t taste ‘activated’ or ‘buckwheat’ or ‘healthy’. It tastes perfectly normal, which is pretty incredible. Like a real chocolate brownie! You know, not the kind that you’d eat because it’s ‘healthy’ but the kind that you’d bring to the dinner party to impress the in-laws. It’s that good.

But there’s more!

Here are a few other reasons why I love this brownie mix:

  • It’s made with stoneground activated buckwheat flour.
  • It comes with a reusable wooden peg from rescued pallets.
  • The packet is made Earth Bags and will fully compost in the compost bin, green waste bin or even just in regular rubbish.
  • 50c from every packet sold will go directly to OzHarvest making one meal available to one vulnerable Australian.
  • It’s gluten free, grain free, and dairy free.

What’s not to love?

Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix

The mix is also easily veganised. The packet instruction actually calls for eggs but you can replace it using 2 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 6 tablespoons of water (or store bought egg replacer like .

I also added 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder for extra lift and 1/3 cup of chopped walnut for that extra texture.

The result is a delicious, decadent chocolate brownie that smells and tastes divine!

Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix

I have to say, I haven’t been impressed with a gluten-free, vegan, cake mix until now! I’m a total convert and will definitely be including this on my shopping list – because you just never know when someone might call a last-minute get-together!

This post is created in collaboration with Gino’s Gourmet Groceries, a cool new online store that source artisan products that are free of artificial ingredients and nasty. You can find Love Life & Gluten-free: Activated Buckwheat Brownie Mix there as well as other great products. You can get 25% discount on our next purchase by using the code “PASSIONATELY25” during checkout. 

Happy holiday everyone!

Keren

Passionately Kere

4 Important Life Skills I Learned from Being a Vegan

A week ago I celebrated the four years anniversary of becoming a vegan. Four years! Four very humbling, challenging, eye-opening, thrilling, wonderful years. I’ve learned so much from this journey that I thought the best way to celebrate my anniversary might be by sharing some of the skills I’ve learnt from my four-years (and counting) vegan journey.

Passionately Keren

To be honest, transitioning to a vegan lifestyle wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t as difficult as what most people think either. I love exploring new ways of cooking and veganising old favourites, and I love feeling healthier and more fulfilled, and knowing that I’m doing something good, not just for my body, but for the animals and the environment.

My goal with this post is not to convince you to go vegan (although if you do decide to pursue that path, I’ll be jumping up in joy!). My goal simply is to share with you some of the valuable life skills I’ve learned from the last four years. Skills that you too can acquire, should you so choose.

I have to say that I feel a little uncomfortable sharing this post because deep down, I don’t feel like I’m a good enough vegan – I still own and wear a lot of my leather accessories from my pre-vegan days, I still make mistake and let egg and dairy slip into my meals sometimes, and I still have immense abhorrence towards cockroaches. I mean, I bomb them every three months and I don’t think that’s a very vegan thing to do.

But we can only do our best right? And I believe that I am doing my best at this time. I also believe that it is better to do something, however imperfect it might be, than doing nothing at all. And so here I am doing something, and it has served me well. This post itself is a testimony to all the life skills I’ve acquired, in particular Life Skill # 2, # 3 and perhaps a bit of #4.

Here they are.

Life Skill #1 – Empathy

What is Empathy? Merriam Webster defines it as “understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another … [being] without having [those] feelings … fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner”.

Empathy is at the core of a vegan lifestyle. Once we’ve learned about the cruelty involved in factory farming, or the harmful impact meat consumption has on the environment, we stop consuming animals. We now understand what these animals have to go through in order for us to enjoy our burgers and steaks. Even though we don’t know them by name, even though they can’t express their pain the way we do, we still can feel their pain.

Vegans are not only empathetic towards animals; we’re empathetic towards humans, too. And this is not just my words. One study reveals, through brain scans, that vegans and vegetarians are indeed more empathetic to human and animal suffering than omnivores.

Empathy is one of the most important life skills you can have as a social creature. It allows you to connect better with people, understand them more fully, and deal with them more effectively. Empathy facilitates greater communication and helps you understand what drives people, what motivates them, what makes them tick.

Empathy helps you become more compelling, more convincing, and more encouraging. It makes you a better leader, a better employee, a better colleague, a better friend, a better partner, a better daughter, a better son, and a better human being, overall. It’s a nice side effect to feeling great physically, don’t you say?

Life Skill #2 – Vulnerability

Being a vegan helps me become more vulnerable, which is not something that comes naturally to me. Growing up, I’ve always guarded myself against rejection, or the potential of being rejected, ridiculed or mocked.

I’ve always had a soft spot for animals. In fact, I first became a vegetarian when I was eight years old, after watching the movie Babe. It only lasted a few months as my mother convinced me that Babe was not real and that animals don’t feel the way we feel. And because I couldn’t resist her delicious spaghetti bolognaise.

Being vulnerable is about being authentic, honest and true to yourself: not just revealing the pretty and shiny part of yourself, but all of you. Putting all your feelings and hopes on the line. As a woman (and with Asian heritage) this can be extremely difficult, as we’ve always been taught that vulnerability is a weakness, not strength.

Truth is, there is nothing more vulnerable than announcing to the world – to your non-vegan friends and loved ones – that you will change the way you eat, that you will no longer eat meat, chickens, fish, cheese, eggs, dairy, the kind of foods that you used to enjoy together, that you value the lives of the animals more than you value sharing those plates with them, that some of your principles no longer align with theirs, that you are now… a vegan.

It was one of the very few times where I was vulnerable by choice, and willingly opened myself up to judgement, criticism, and rejection.

Being a vegan has been a gateway for me to practice vulnerability, at every function, at every social gathering, every time I make new friends, or when I enter a new work environment. Practice, practice, practice. It’s not always easy, but it does get easier each time. And I’m all the better for it.

Passionately Keren

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Brene Brown.

Skill #3 – Courage

Courage is not the absence of fear, rather, it is the ability to do something despite of that fear.

Stereotypically, courage is often represented as stoicism and a projection of invulnerability. But this is not true courage. True courage is opening yourself up to vulnerability, recognising the fear, embracing it, and saying, “this feels scary, but I’m going to do it, anyway.”

“You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.” Brene Brown

The last four years as a vegan have strengthened my tiny courage muscles in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined.

It took courage to ask the receptionist at work to fill the office fridge with dairy-free milk.

It took courage to ask for a customised meal at the restaurant for the first time.

It took courage to refuse food that my mum made for me, food that I used to love.

It took courage to announce my new lifestyle to my meat lover friends, which was pretty much everyone I knew.

It took courage to say no to cruelty, and yes to compassion and kindness.

And these tiny acts of bravery has helped me with other big decisions I’ve made in my life; like shutting down my four year food blog to start a vegan food blog from scratch; like asking for a pay rise at work; like quitting my cushy corporate job to spend time with my family overseas; and like starting my own business.

Who knew one could practice courage by simply changing what they eat?

“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Skill #4. Not giving a damn

Previously a chronic people-pleaser, being a vegan fixed me right up.

I used to buy ‘things’ to fit in, talk in a certain way, do things I didn’t like, and say things I didn’t really mean simply to try and make people like me.

I used to feel upset when way people looked at me a certain way (or if they didn’t look at me in the first place), if they didn’t ask me about my weekend, compliment my new dress, or ask me to join them for lunch. I used to care about all that stuff.

And then I became a vegan and I stopped giving a damn.

Passionately Keren

How? Why?

I believe it is because I no longer felt part of the existing social construct so I stopped feeling the need to impress people who still abided by that construct (i.e. almost everyone I knew). Instead, I started focusing on how I could be a more effective human, in my own right, and how to get the most out of this one life that I’ve been given.

And the last four years have taught me that the only thing you can control is yourself, what you do, how you think, who you choose to see. The rest is out of your hands, so why waste your energy worrying about it?

Does it really matter if people think I’m a bleeding-heart weirdo, if I don’t get invited to certain dinner parties because I’m a vegan, if people criticise me for still wearing my old leather shoes and bags after all this time, or if nobody like my photos on Instagram?

The truth is, there are so many more important things in life than all the superficial details and trivialities we all cling onto – our vain feelings, our pride, our ego.

It’s not that I don’t give a damn about everything, it’s that I’m picking my spots and only give a damn about things that truly matter, the big things, the important things. Health. Family. Friends. Loved Ones. Values. Purpose. Pancakes.

The less damn I give, the happier I become.

Passionately Keren

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post. If you’re a vegan, let me know what other life skills you have gained from this lifestyle in the comment section below. And if you’re not, what skills do you think you would gain, if you choose to experiment with this lifestyle?

Keren x

Penne with ‘Meaty’ Vegan Ragu

Penne with ‘Meaty’ Vegan Ragu with Gino’s Gourmet Groceries

I love my pasta. I love how something so simple as boiled dried dough, made out of flour and water, can bring such comfort and delight.

Casalare: Gluten Free Vegie Penne Pasta

Before I became a vegan, one of my favourite pasta sauces to make was ‘ragu’, a meat-based Italian sauce, which is rich, thick, delicious and full of flavours. It was, in more ways than one, awesome.

Spiral Foods: Organic Garlic & Basil Sugo

When I eat food, it invokes all sorts of feelings and emotions inside of me. Not all the time, of course, because sometimes eating is just the mere act of ‘re-fuelling’ oneself. The meal can take many forms, but all share the same mundane, unremarkable purpose, to stop that feeling of hunger in its tracks.

But other times, more often than not, I eat to feel things (as opposed to stop feeling things, like the sensation of hunger). I eat to make myself feel joyful, gratified, indulged, pacified, inspired, delighted, happy, and alive.

Penne with Meaty Vegan Ragu

I wanted to re-create that feeling I used to get whenever I had a good ragu back in the old meat-eating days, only this time with a vegan ragu. And so I went to my kitchen laboratory and started experimenting I chose mushroom and tempe as my plant-based proteins of choice and, boy, did they rise up to the challenge. I also added some shredded kale leaves to give the dish another layer of texture and flavour, and to boost its nutritional content, and because I just love kale in general.

The result is a thick and rich ragu that tastes so ‘meaty’ and delicious that you’ll forget it contains no meat at all. I hope you will give it a go!

Penne with ‘Meaty’ Vegan Ragu

A deliciously rich, protein-packed vegan ragu that's nourishing, satisfying and oh so comforting.
Course Main
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2
Author Keren Natalia

Ingredients

  • 250 g tempeh diced to about 1cm cubes
  • Leaves from three stalks of kale chopped or shredded (optional)
  • 1/3 cup basil leaves
  • 3 large brown mushrooms chopped
  • 1 large red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 700 g jar of pasta sauce*
  • 250 g gluten free penne pasta*

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook red onion for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until softened slightly.
  2. Add the minced garlic and diced tempeh and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned.
  3. Add the chopped mushroom, cook, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the pasta sauce, bring to boil, then add the chopped kale into the pot and stir until kale is cooked, about 1 minute.
  5. Stir in fresh basil. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water according to the packet instruction until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  7. Mix sauce with pasta, adding the reserved cooking liquid to coat pasta with sauce. Serve with Vegan Parmesan.

Recipe Notes

*I use Spiral Foods: Organic Garlic & Basil Sugo; and Casalare: Gluten Free Vegie Penne Pasta, both from Gino’s Groceries.

This recipe is sponsored by Gino’s Gourmet Groceries, an online store that partners with the best independent producers who share their values of doing things the right way. They supply real, honest food, with no artificial ingredients and no nasties, at a fair price. I must say that the pasta sauce and the gluten-free vegan penne I got from them were some of the best I’ve ever tasted.

And because the team at Gino’s Gourmet Groceries are awesome, they’re giving you, my lovely readers, a 25% discount on our next purchase with them. Just use the code “PASSIONATELY25” during checkout.

P.S. 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