Friday, 29 June 2012

Product: Crimpers by Orgran

Orgran have done it again - a new product that is both gluten free and vegan!

Crimpers are a baked snack food that come in two flavours: salt and vingear, and sea salt.
I spotted this product in a health food store. I was rather pleased to see 'YES it is vegan!' written on the outside of the box. Nice, clear information on the packaging is such a help! I have found so many vegan products either don't mention they are vegan or state they are vegetarian, when they are actually vegan.

I tried the salt and vinegar variety first. Very crunchy, with a powerful vinegar flavour - just how I like it! So many salt and vinegar chips contain dairy, that I had to forgo them once going vegan. These Crimpers come close to filling that little gap.

I next tried the sea salt variety. They were quite salty, so I wasn't tempted to eat the whole packet in one sitting - just as well!

You can buy these snacks in boxes of 10  - each packet is 20grams, which is perfect size for a snack.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Recipe: Pumpkin and sweet potato fusion

I found this colourful side dish in the book “Wild Vegan” by Angela Stafford.  The sweetness of the vegetables contrasts well with the herbs, spices and liquids. I served it up with some steamed vegetables.  Bonus – your home will smell wonderful as this roasts in your oven.

What you will need:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tamari sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp curry powder
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
400g sweet potato, peeled and sliced
400g pumpkin, peeled and sliced
Half cup fresh, finely chopped coriander
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In large bowl, combine olive oil, tamari, balsamic vinegar, ginger, curry powder and garlic (is using).
Add sweet potato and pumpkin. Toss with the sauce ingredients.
Pour vegetables onto a non-stick baking dish or a tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 40-60 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
Stir through the coriander and serve.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Recipe: Chunky Mexican bean stew

This has to be one of the most delicious and filling stews I have ever had. I used a Cajun spice mix for this, put you can use a Mexican chilli mix. The red lentils give this recipe a nice, hearty thickness. I cannot for the life of me remember where I got this recipe from, so my apologies for that – I always like to reference material I use, being the good little librarian, that I am.

What you will need:
1 tin of kidney beans (400g approx)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, chopped (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1 stock of celery, finely chopped
6 tomatoes, diced or 2  x 400g tins
2 cups water
1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
1 zucchini, diced
1 carrot, diced
Fresh coriander, chopped
1 tbsp Cajun or Mexican chili powder

In a large pot, heat olive oil and sauté onions until lightly browned. Add garlic and celery and sauté for a few minutes. Add tomatoes, water, lentils, zucchini,  carrot and Cajun/Mexican chili powder.
Bring to boil and then lower heat to simmer. Stir regularly. Cook for approx 15 minutes or until lentils are cooked and vegetables are tender.
Garnish with fresh coriander.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Recipe: Avocado Pesto Pasta

My partner found this recipe online. We tweeked it a tiny bit, to suit us. The results were wonderful - creamy and delicious. 

What you will need:
Pasta (I use rice pasta) – as much as you like, and whatever type takes your fancy – linguine, spaghetti, etc.
1 bunch fresh basil
½ cup pine nuts
2 avocados, pitted and peeled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 cloves garlic (optional)
½ cup olive oil
Sea salt
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes or sliced sun-dried tomatoes

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, make the pesto by combining basil, pine nuts, avocados, lemon juice, garlic, and oil in a food processor. Process until smooth. Season with salt to taste.
Toss pasta with pesto. For an extra touch of color and flavor, top pasta with cherry or sun-dried tomatoes. 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Recipe: Pumpkin Chickpea and Fivespice soup with Lemon Cashew Pinenut Sour 'Creem'

My partner got this recipe from a friend who got it from a friend who....? It calls for something called ‘Chinese 5 spice’ which I had never heard of before and was thinking I had to go to some asian grocer to find. Not so. It is available in supermarkets right there next to all the other spice jars.
This soup is sweet and spicey and the sour ‘creem’ is very tangy. Together, they are very complimentary.  I was advised that Chinese 5 spice is quite strong, so I opted for half of what the original recipe suggests and that turned out to be good advice. But if you are use to and like spiciness, go for the whole teaspoon or more if you like.

What you will need:
For the soup:
1 onion (optional)
2 garlic cloves (optional)
4 cups vegetable stock
600g pumpkin
400g can of chickpeas
2 carrots
1 tbsp tomato paste
Half to 2 tsp Chinese 5 spice
1 tsp dried thyme

For the sour ‘creem’
Three quarters of a cup raw cashews (soaked in water overnight)
Quarter cup raw pinenuts (soaked in water overnight)
Half cup lemon juice

Method – soup:
Bake pumpkin and carrots with thyme and olive oil in a moderate oven for 20 minutes until soft.
If using, sauté chopped onion and garlic with a little olive oil until soft.
Once cool, place all ingredients into a blender and puree with additional stock if needed. (Set aside quarter of chickpeas and add later if you like a chunkier soup.)
Reheat soup before serving.

Method – sour ‘creem’
Discard water nuts have been soaking in. Rinse nuts and place in blender with lemon juice. Blend until smooth.
Swirl or just add sour ‘creem’ to top of soup when serving.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Recipe: Vegetable Curry 101

I am calling this recipe “Vegetable Curry 101” because it is a good one for people like me who either are not use to cooking curries or don’t have the time or patience to be fussed with a complicated one. Just get your premixed curry powder and add any vegetables you like, really. Yes, mushrooms in a curry is a bit unusual but it does work.  Give it a go and experiment if you feel like it.
By the way, I picked this recipe up from a co-worker’s sister. Great how you can pick up new recipes from so many sources – books, internet sites, word of mouth, etc.

What you will need:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, thinly chopped (optional)
1 carrot, peeled and cit into medium sized cubes
1 cup pumpkin, peeled and chopped
Half cup mushrooms, quartered
1 tbsp curry powder (more if you like your curry spicier)
400ml can light coconut milk (available in supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths )
1 cup broccoli florets
2 cups baby spinach leaves

Heat large pot over medium heat. Add oil garlic (if using), carrot and pumpkin and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
Add mushrooms and cook for further 2 minutes. Add curry powder  and cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in coconut milk and bring to simmer.
Add broccoli and cook for 3 minutes or until all vegetables are tender and then fold in spinach leaves. Serve on steamed rice.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Recipe: Black-eyed bean stew with spicy pumpkin

Another recipe I found in the mists of time, without noting where I got it from. (Sorry!) This one originates from Central America and is warming and hearty – what you need for winter.
A note on Black eyed beans: although popular in the USA and other Americas, this type of legume is not as easy to find in Australia. In fact, I could not find a tinned version anywhere but did find the dry beans in a health food store. Ethnic/import/bulk grocers such as Kakulas should also stock it, however.  They are worth seeking out, as they have a unique flavour of their own that I greatly enjoyed.

What you will need:
1 and a quarter cups black-eyed beans, soaked overnight.
1 onion, chopped (optional)
1 bell capsicum, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
2 garlic cloves, chopped (optional)
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
2 carrots, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
For the spicy pumpkin:
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp curry powder
Two thirds cup of water

Drain beans and place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to boil. Add onion, capsicum, garlic, stock powder, and herbs and spices. Simmer for 45 minutes or until beans are just tender.
Add carrots and oil and cook for 10-12 minutes, until carrots are cooked. Add more water if necessary. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a large pan, heat oil and add pumpkin, onion, garlic, tomatoes, water and curry powder. Stir well to combine and simmer until pumpkin is soft.
Serve with black-eyed beans.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Recipe: Bake Vegan Sausage and Mushroom Frittata

Not sure where I found this recipe from but can tell you it is suitable for brunch, lunch, or even dinner. Lots of protein with the use of tofu and mock meat. If you do not like mock meats, you can substitute with vegetables of your choice. I think broccoli would be a good one, but you can use your imagination and experiment.

What you will need:
Half an onion, diced (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
350g pack of vegan sausages (we used Fry’s )
half cup sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
1 block firm or extra firm tofu
1 block silken tofu
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
quarter tsp turmeric
1 tomato, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease a glass pie pan.
Heat onion, garlic, mushrooms, and veg sausage in olive oil in a large pan for 3-4 minutes until sausage is brown and mushrooms are soft.
Combine firm tofu, silken tofu, tamari/soy sauce, nutritional yeast, and turmeric in a blender and process until smooth and combined. Add mixture to sausage mix and spread into pan. Layer slices of tomato on top.
Bake in oven for approx. 45 minutes or until firm. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving, as this will allow it to set.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Magazine: Living Vegan (Autumn 2012)

Back last November, I got my hands on the very first issue of this Australian publication. Since then, my partner purchased a subscription to it and the second issue arrived in the mail.

Like the first issue, I read this cover to cover and studied all the ads carefully to see what was new. I read about vegan athletes (yes, including body builders) and was very impressed. Talk about blowing the lank vegan weakling image out of the water! "Where do you get your protein?" - has never before been a dumber question to ask a vegan!

I also read about vegan tattoos - not designs, but the actual issue of inks and after care being vegan. Turns out quite a bit out there is NOT vegan, so you need to do your homework first. Although I have no future plans to get inked, at least now I am informed, in case I do want to be!

I got a little thrill from seeing a photo of some of my friends in the nationwide wrap up of the vegan festivals that happened around Australia late last year. So good to see so much going on!

The helpful Vegan Cheat Sheet was back, with some new additions. The Recipe Corner had my mouth watering (especially the 'Coconut Creme Brulee' - will have to give that one a go!)

Also in this issue is an article written by a participant in the opposition of the opening of duck shooting season in Victoria. Sad, dangerous and harrowing at times. The article gives the reader a first hand perspective of what goes on there, year after year, and an appreciation of what these brave people are up against.

Of course, there is much more in this issue. If you are interested in getting your hands on a copy, check out Living Vegan Magazine online for subscription details or, if you are in Western Australia, you can become a member of member of Animal Rights Advocates and receive a subscription as part of your membership.

I can't wait for the next issue!

Store: Kakulas Brothers and Sisters

I would hazard a guess that most Perth people have heard of Kakulas. Their business has been around since 1929. Coming from a Greek background, my family often shopped in their stores for import items and bulk supplies. I recently visited a Kakulas Sister store which happened to be 10 minutes away from where I lived, after a tip off from a co-worker. (Hi Leanne!)

From a vegan point of you, the store was a mixed bag. Yes, there were decidedly un-vegan friendly products on their shelves, but there was also a lot there we can fill our pantries with. Plus, because they buy and sell in bulk, the prices are often a lot better than other places. I was  especially impressed with their range of flours, beans, nuts, spices and they even had a gluten free section. There were also olives, dried fruits, pastas and grains of all kinds. If you are looking for a hard to find ingredient, you stand a good chance of finding it at a Kakulas store. For example, I found nigella seeds which I have never seen anywhere else before.

Kakulas Brothers stores can be found in the city at 183 William St, Northbridge. Fremantle has a Kakulas Sister store at 29/31 Market Street. The Kakulas Sister store I visited is located at 90 Hillsborough Dr., Nollamara. 

Recipe: White bean and Orzo Minestrone

Another super easy recipe from the book “The Everything Vegan Cookbook” by Jolinda Hackett and Lorena Novak Bull.
This recipe calls for Orzo which is a very small type of pasta used in Greek and Italian dishes. It looks a lot like rice in shape and size. I have been unable to find a gluten free version of this type of pasta but you can buy the regular wheat variety in supermarkets and failing that, continental/import deli-type stores.
So, without a gluten free variety on hand, I made this recipe with the smallest gluten free pasta I could find. Worked just as well.

What you will need:
3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1 onion, chopped (optional)
2 ribs of celery, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
5 cups vegetable broth
1 carrot, sliced
1 cup green beans, chopped
1 large potato, shopped small
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp basil
Half tsp oregano
Three quarter cup pasta

In a large soup pot, heat garlic, onion and celery in olive oil until just soft – approx 3-4 minutes.
Add vegetable broth, carrot, green beans, potato, tomatoes, beans, basil, and oregano. Bring to simmer, cover and cook on medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes.
Add pasta and heat another 10 minutes, until pasta is cooked.