First taste of Coles Nature’s Kitchen Range

I remember the days when finding vegan foods at cafes was almost as difficult as finding a decent date and the only way to have a veganised version of your old favourite foods is to make it yourself.  As much as I like cooking and experimenting in my kitchen, there are days when I don’t have the time to cook anything more than tofu and two veg for dinner.

I’m having more and more of those days now, being a new mum of a fussy 3 months old. Some days I don’t even get a chance to sleep, let alone cook.  Which is why I’m super excited when Coles announced the launch of its plant-based products range called Nature’s Kitchen. That’s right, Coles has come up with its range of plant-based products, 20 of them to be exact. Veggie patties, pasta, curry, sausages, you name it.

Being locally produced and Coles a native brand, the prices are quite competitive and sometimes more affordable than similar products which are mostly imported from the US. There are so many to choose from but here are the ones I especially loved:

  • Nature’s Kitchen Chicken Style Tenders
  • Nature’s Kitchen Smokey Grill Meat-Free Burgers
  • Nature’s Kitchen Original Meat-Free Sausage
  • Nature’s Kitchen Vegetable Tikka Masala (Pilau Rice)  and
  • Nature’s Kitchen Lentil Spaghetti Bolognese

The range is divided into two categories, one is ready-to-eat meals which you can just heat up in the microwaves and the second is premade munchies like sausages and veggie patties which you have to cook on the stove or in the oven.

Coles Natures Kitchen

I used these as my ‘emergency meals’ – for the odd times when I don’t have time to cook or ingredients to cook with. My husband and I had the Vegetable Tikka Masala and Lentil Spaghetti Bolognese one Sunday for lunch after we just got home from shopping for baby clothes (I was planning to cook until the baby started fussing and screaming for my attention).  There was no way I would be able to make anything decent before we both pass out from starvation. I popped these two in the microwave for a few minutes each and lunch was sorted.

Natures Kitchen spaghetti bolognese

At first glance, both of the ready-to-eat meals look a bit on the small side but once you’ve tucked in, they are actually quite substantial. Flavour-full and filling. I added some steamed vegetables (broccoli this time) as I often do to meals to boost their nutritional content and it was perfect! They tasted fresh, not too greasy and not too ‘healthy’, if you know what I mean. I actually like them both as they are quite delicious but given that I’m more of a ‘rice’ person, the Vegetable Tikka Masala (Pilau Rice) was my favourite of the two. My husband likes the pasta more so he’s happy to have the Lentil Spaghetti Bolognese all to himself.

Natures Kitchen Vegetable Tikka Masala

A few days later I found myself in a similar situation – it was 7pm and I haven’t had a chance to cook. The little one was screaming her head off while dear husband was trying to settle her. And so, I popped the Chicken Tenders in my air fryer and the Smokey Grill Meat-Free Burgers on the pan and made a decent dinner for two out of them.

Coles Natures Kitchen Meat-free Tenders

Meat-free Tenders served with vegan aioli

The tenders remind me of chicken nuggets! It has great texture and slight chewiness and a crunchy ‘skin’.

Coles Natures Kitchen Meat-free Tenders

Coles Natures Kitchen - Smokey Grill Meat-Free Burgers

The Smokey Grill Meat-Free Burgers is really good! I think this is my new favourite vegan burger patties, second to my home-made vegan burger. It has great BBQ flavour, seriously smokey, slightly sweet, chewy, and it doesn’t fall apart on the stove like I’ve found with most veggie patties.

Coles Natures Kitchen - Smokey Grill Meat-Free Burgers

And just a few of days ago, I made a big breakfast of scrambled tofu and sausages with the Original Meat-Free Sausages.

Coles Natures Kitchen - Original Meat-Free Sausages

How good do they look?! Very realistic looking sausages, has a good bite to it, mildly spiced and yum! I wouldn’t be surprised if people can’t pick up the fact that it’s vegan. I think this is going to be a game changer for a lot of people and one of Nature’s Kitchen popular products.

Coles Natures Kitchen - Original Meat-Free Sausages

Overall, I’m quite pleased with the Nature’s Kitchen products I’ve tasted so far and looking forward to trying the rest of their range. Well done Coles for making these delicious product range and making plant-based food more accessible to everyone. Times is definitely changing and there’s never a better time to eat vegan than now!

If you haven’t had a chance to try Coles Nature’s Kitchen range of products, check them out at your nearest store now and let me know what you think!

Disclaimer: This post is made in collaboration with Coles. All views and opinions shared are (and will always be) my own.

7 ways to shop healthy on a budget

Being on maternity leave, I need to watch my spending closely, including my grocery bill. I no longer splurge on expensive teas and gourmet jams but aside from that, I’m still able to shop healthy, after all, you are as healthy as what you put in your shopping trolley. Truth is, whether you’re a full-time student strapped for cash or a pensioner looking to save money, grocery shopping on a budget is a great skill to have. Unfortunately, while junk foods are notorious for being cheap, healthy food often gets a bad rap when it comes to affordability.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s definitely possible to shop healthy and make healthy and delicious food on a budget even if you run short of time. Of course, this will take a bit of forward planning but if follow these steps, you will set yourself up for success.


 

1. Plan your meals

Planning your meals is a key part of staying on budget. Spend an hour a week planning your meals for the following week and then write up a shopping list. Ensure you check your kitchen to see what foods you currently have – don’t let a bag of rice or piece of garlic go to waste. Try to incorporate ingredients you already have in your pantry in your meal plan. Only buy what you will definitely use, so you won’t end up throwing things away.

2. Steer clear of snacks

Once you’re in the grocery store, make sure you stick to your shopping list! Don’t let yourself give in to the temptation of biscuits and potato chips (pro tip: don’t go shopping on an empty stomach). Not only that snacks tend to be quite expensive for what they are, and even the so called ‘healthy snacks’ tend to be borderline junk food. Snacking can easily become an unhealthy habit and is an easy way to spend a lot of money without getting any solid nutrition.

3. Eat at home

Cooking at home is far cheaper than eating out (take it from someone who knows!). You can typically feed a family of four at home for the same price as you can get a takeout meal for one or two. If cooking is a hassle for you, make a double batch every time you cook or make your meals in bulk on a Sunday and freeze them so that you can simply pop portions in the microwave for dinner throughout the week. Eating at home also comes with the benefit of knowing exactly what’s in your meal. 

4. Buy generic brands

I’m a big fan of buying home brand or generic brands for pantry staples. They offer a cheaper alternative to national brands and are often just as good. All food manufacturers are required to uphold strict food safety standards which means that you can be assured that the products you buy are of good quality, regardless of the brand.

5. Buy on sale

This one is thanks to a colleague of mine who always check the weekly catalogues to see what’s on specials, before she does her groceries. Stock up on your favourite products when they go on sale, especially things that has extended shelf life, like sugar, detergent, canned food tend to last for months or years. Canned beans, for example, can last for months (even years) and can be used as the base of a HelloFresh dinner.

6. Buy wholesome, less processed foods

Less processed foods tend to be cheaper, healthier and more filling than processed foods – for instance, rolled oats are cheaper than instant oats, and dried beans are cheaper than canned ones. Wholesome foods like whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables are a great way to eat healthy without breaking the bank.

7. Buy frozen fruit and veggies

Given that fresh fruit and vegetables only really stay in season for a few months each year, buying fresh can end up being pretty costly. And just like how you can buy fresh to freeze, you can also buy frozen, instead of fresh. Frozen produce gives you taste and nutrition without the hefty price tag – and you can store them for months at a time without worrying about them wilting or going mouldy! Frozen fruit works great in baking, smoothies and as toppings for cakes or muesli, while frozen veggies are an easy way to liven up soups and stir-fries. 

Conclusion

Eating healthy on a budget doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow these simple tips and you’ll be well on your way to living a healthier lifestyle. And if you’re up for it, growing your own fruit and veg at home can help you save money, too!

Hope this post inspires you to start shopping healthily, no matter how tight your budget is. If you have any other tips, let me know! I’d love to hear from you.  

 

Keren x

 

Vegan Caramel

Can you really make a delicious vegan caramel without dairy? Well, of course you can! Read on to find out more.

Vegan Caramel

Firstly, a little life update – scroll down to get straight to the recipe.

People, I cannot believe it’s been months since my last blogpost. Between getting ready for the baby and organising things at work, I was left with very little time (and energy) to do anything else. I figured that I would have a ton of time during my maternity leave to catch up on things (doesn’t baby sleep all the time?). But as it turns out, while it is true that baby sleeps a lot, baby also feeds nonstop, pees like a drunken teenager, and cries in between sleeping and peeing. And baby’s preferred bed to sleep is – on mummy’s chest.

Today my baby is one month old. One month down, hundreds more to go. She’s slowly getting used to being a human and I’m slowly getting used to being a mum – nothing can ever prepare you for both. I’m acclimatising to the new routine and the inevitable sleep deprivation and now I’m able to squeeze in a bit of creative work in between feeding and changing nappies. Life as a new mother is hard – I don’t get much sleep, I have carpal tunnel syndrome in my hands from breastfeeding and my shoulder is sore all the time from carrying the baby around. That aside, I am doing well, and the baby is growing like a champ. Enough about me, it’s time to make some caramel.

Vegan Caramel

What I love about this recipe

Just five ingredients and minimal cooking effort for a sweet reward. What’s not to love? This recipe is coconut heavy so if you’re not a fan of coconut then it might not be for you. However, once cooked I find that it tastes less coconutty and more caramelly, so don’t dismiss it too quickly, you might still be pleasantly surprised.

It’s dairy-free and it tastes legitimately like caramel. The fleur de sel adds that extra depth of flavour but if you don’t have it, you can replace it with good quality sea salt. Texture-wise it is not a sticky caramel but a creamy one.

Make it, spread it, drizzle it, spoon it. This is what love tastes like.

Vegan Caramel

Vegan caramel

Delicious, rich and creamy dairy-free caramel
Course Dessert
Cuisine Vegan
Keyword caramel, sauces, sides
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 1 Jar
Author Keren

Ingredients

  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fleur de sel optional – can be replaced with sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients into a saucepan
  2. Bring to boil on medium heat then reduce the heat to low simmer for 30 min, stirring every 10 min
  3. Watch for the next 10 min while it thickens and turn dark brown, stirring frequently.
  4. The caramel is ready when it covers the back of a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat and let cool before serving.

Recipe Notes

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for about two weeks.

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

Keren x