Smooth Chocolate Festival

Smooth Chocolate Festival – Sydney

What do you get when you have lots and lots of chocolate in the one place? Lots and lots of people. The Smooth Chocolate Festival saw foodies, families and chocoholics alike swarming the Rocks and Circular Quay areas for some chocolatey deliciousness. I couldn’t believe the amount of people at this festival – it seemed to be in the tens of thousands. It’s incredible how far the humble cacao bean has come since its discovery four thousand years ago (note: The True History of Chocolate is a great book if you want a detailed examination on the history of chocolate from it’s earliest pre-Columbian roots to modern times).

We just love our chocolate.


It was my first time at the Smooth Chocolate Festival. The festival was first hosted last year and according to a friend, this year’s edition was actually bigger and better – I don’t know how much better it was this time around, but it certainly was bigger than what I had in mind.



To be honest, I didn’t have huge expectations of the event, or for any mainstream food event for that matter. For those living a plant-based lifestyle, it’s often hard to find vegan-friendly foods in these sorts of events. But, on this occasion, I was able to try quite a lot of foods and chocolate at this festival so I was fairly happy.


It was a lovely day in Sydney, the weather was definitely on our side (I think God is partial to chocolate, too) and I thoroughly enjoyed the different arrays of food businesses at this event. The event was spread out over eight different locations: First Fleet Park, Circular Quay Way, Tallawolladah Lawn (the lawn in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art), Chocolatier’s Quarters in Cargo Hall of the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Campbell’s Cove, Atherden Street, Argyle Street, and Playfair Street.


I started my festival escapade strolling along Argyle Street, sampling a number of 80 Raw 20 Paleo granolas, and treating myself to a huge smoothie, a.k.a. ‘The Hulk’ from The Smoothie Co  before venturing down to Circular Quay.


There were over 90 individual stalls so there was no way you could physically check out all of them. There also was a queue at some of the stalls, especially the The Lindt Lounge and the Chocolatier’s Quarters. I didn’t go to the Lindt Lounge but I did go to the Chocolatier’s Quarters, and it was my favourite section of the whole event. I was mind-blown by how many delicious, high quality, vegan friendly chocolates there were.


There were Little Zebra Chocolates offering sugar-free chocolate made with Xylitol (all their dark chocolates are vegan); Girl Made Chocolate which gives Pana Chocolate a run for their money in the raw, vegan, organic chocolate bar space (their chili chocolate is amazing); Cacaoette (simply amazing artisanal organic chocolates, also with plenty of vegan options); and Chocolate Tea (a revolutionary tea made of cacao bean shells which taste like you’re drinking chocolate), and many more noteworthy stalls.


There also were some incredible chocolate arts on display: pastry chef Dean Gibson created a pumpkin head scare-crow and an echidna using chocolate, and artist James Patrick created a painting using Lindt chocolate balls and wrappers (check out James’ behind the scene clip in his YouTube channel).


On the side, there also were plenty of what I would call ‘supporting’ stalls, because one cannot not live on chocolate alone (okay, perhaps one could, but why would one need to?) There were savoury food stalls such as Fratelli Fresh, Gourmet Gozleme and Thaiinabox, and beers and ciders galore (Bilpin Cider Co. Garden Bar deserves a special mention with the coolest garden bar setting).



Overall it was a thoroughly mindblowing event, both in its very large scale and many different features and attractions. There was something for everyone, even for the most discerning chocolate connoisseur, a health conscious foodie, or in my case, a vegan with an alarmingly sweet tooth.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”― Charles M. Schulz


P.S. This is is my Day 1 and 2 of the #300wordsaday challenge which I’m doing throughout the month of October with Sydney Passion Bloggers. We’re essentially a community group for bloggers who resides in Sydney (though you don’t have to live in Sydney to join). Me and a few other bloggers re doing this challenge to cultivate daily writing habit. It’s challenging (especially in weekends), but I’m enjoying it so far. Check our our group Sydney Passion Bloggers on Facebook to find out more about what we do and this particular challenge.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

The last time I went to Canberra was six years ago for the Tulip Festival. I went with four of my girlfriends. I navigated, we got lost (Google Maps failed me) and it took us five hours to get to Canberra, from Sydney, by way of the Blue Mountains (I know…). Despite the slow start, it ended being a great trip and I have a lot of fond memories from that day (including eating too many scones and cookies at Ginger Catering’s high tea buffet). This year I went back to Canberra, not for the Tulip, but for the Canberra Truffle Festival. I was invited by a girlfriend and went on a whim. I had no expectations: I just was hoping for a similarly pleasant experience as to last time, but instead, I was blown away.

We started our 2-day Truffle Festival adventure with a three-hour truffle hunt at Tarago Truffle, which was an amazing and eye-opening experience that makes me appreciate this nuggets of black gold so much more. You can read more about my truffle hunting experience, and the ethics of eating truffles as a vegan, in my last post.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Tarago Truffle


Canberra Truffle Festival 2016


Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016


After the truffle hunt we went to the Canberran CBD to try The Cupping Room – they’re reputed for making good coffee. We got there in less than an hour and to my surprise, there was a queue at the door- the young and hip, lining up and eager to get in the café for some hot brew. I hate lining up for food, but it didn’t look like there were any other cafés nearby, and since everyone was keen on trying this place, I made an exception. About five minutes later one of their waiting staff came out and offered us some free plunger coffee. I felt much better already.


Thirty minutes later we got our table. I ordered my usual soy flat white and chose one of the few vegan dishes they have – Avo & his mates (veganised).

It was a pretty good plate, but would have been miles better with a dash of truffle salt (it was hard not to be obsessed with truffles after the previous night)! But, hey, at least they didn’t skimp on the avocado, that’s for sure. So much avo mash on that toast.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Veganised Avo and His Mates

The dish was served with some radish and cress salad which was quite tasty. It gave the dish a nice crunch and a bit of zing. The waiting staff also gave me a side of cashew cream which was creamy and lovely.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Crunchy hot chips at The Cupping Room

Coffee was really good! Their Cascara tea – made from the cherry of a coffee tree – was interesting. It tastes fruity with the tiniest hint of coffee and smells a bit like berry, sour and sweet both at the same time.

The Cupping Room

The Cupping Room

The Truffle Degustation

On the Saturday night we went to a five-course truffle and wine degustation dinner, at the Chifley Hotel, as part of the Canberra Truffle Festival event. The hotel made me a special vegan menu, which is always a nice touch, and I even got my own plate of appetisers while everyone else had to share.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Tomato Carpaccio with lots and lots of truffle shavings – Best dish of the night


Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Pumpkin Soup

It was a fun-filled night (like most nights involving food and wine are). We were the only group younger than our 40’s there, rocking our jeans and boots while everyone else were either in a dress or in a collared shirt. We looked a little out of place, no doubt, but I don’t think we cared. We were there for the food and the wine. But there was nothing to worry about because everyone was really nice and friendly.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Risotto with, you guessed it – truffle!



We ate a lot of truffle-full dishes and met the winemaker who brought Prosecco into Australia, Otto Dal Zotto from Dal Zotto Wine, and drank heaps of his wine. He even gave us tips on how we can perform better at wine-tasting, including starting as early as seven in the morning!

The food was good but the wine was outstanding. We bought a few bottles each – they have arrived in Sydney by the way, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on them very soon.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

After dinner we went to Molly, also in the CBD (thanks to a tip from a wine distributor who sat at our table). Molly is an underground speakeasy bar which reminds me of Palmer and Co in the Rocks in Sydney. It’s so underground that it doesn’t even have a sign at the door. We (I) had to ask a local Canberrian for directions, and in exchange he asked me for some water as I was carrying my water bottle. It was a pretty random exchange (I gave him the whole bottle) but the directions were on point. We saw a door with a bright light next to a building and inside, a girl sitting on a stool welcoming people in. It would have looked pretty shady had she not been super-nice-friendly-looking. As I walked down the stairs I could hear the crowd and music. This is not the Canberra I once knew. This is so much better.


We stayed overnight at Medina in Belconnen, in a two bedroom serviced apartment. It was very nice for that sort of accommodation: It was clean and airy and with a full-size kitchen. I slept like a baby.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016 The morning came and we all had to quickly pack up and check out. We started wandering our way back to Sydney that afternoon, but not without a visit to the local vineyards and one last truffle farm on the way.


At the dinner at the Chifley the night before, we heard Jayson Meysman’s story about his inspiring journey leading him to the truffle industry, his $100,000 dog Samson and The Truffle Farm that he now owns at Majura. We decided to drop by to check out his farm and, perhaps, get some more truffles.

The Truffle Farm

Have you heard of truffle-infused vodka? It was our first taste, too.


Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Black Truffle

And we did end up buying more truffles (how could you not?) before making our way to Murrumbateman Winery and then Eden Road Wines.

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

Eden Road Winery

As is always the case with me and winery visits – I started telling myself ‘I don’t need more wine, I’m just gonna enjoy some free wine’ here and ended up with the ageless ‘I can’t not buy this, it’s so good’ dilemma with my own conscience. Luckily we only visited two wineries so I didn’t completely exhaust my willpower. I ended up buying only a couple of bottles of wine and was feeling pretty proud of myself.


Canberra Truffle Festival 2016

So we did everything we wanted to do: We ate lots of truffles, we drank lots of wine and we spent some quality time with each other. It’s amazing how much you can do in two days.

We ended our trip to Canberra with a toast of Eden Road Cabernet Sauvignon, a bunch of full bellies, sweet, truffle-filled memories, and the hope to return to the capital city again next year.

Until we meet again.


Keren x


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.


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



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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.

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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


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 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.


Image from

Image from

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,
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.


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.


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,