Saturday, 8 November 2014

Kez's Free and Naked Choc Mud Bars

I came across these snack bars at my local Coles supermarket, in amongst the healthfoods products. I am familiar with this brand, as they do gluten free biscuits and other stuff, but I had not seen these bars before.

They come in a pack of 5 and although each bar is fairly small (25g), I find this to be just the right size, as they are a bit rich. They are gluten free and clearly labelled as being vegan. The bars contain 5 ingredients - dates, cashews, cocoa, sesame seeds and chia seeds. That's it. A simple but pleasing combination.

I keep a pack in my desk drawer at work, for when I am having a craving for something sweet.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Szechwan Eggplant

In my quest to shed some kilos, I have been making an effort to cut vegetable oils out of my cooking. Dr McDougall's site has heaps of recipes and I have been slowly working my way through the ones that have taken my fancy.
Now, eggplant is one of those vegetables (actually, it is a fruit!), that has a habit of soaking up LOTS of oil, when cooking it. So to be able to cook it oil free and still have it taste good, is a bit of good news for those of us packing a few extra kilos. 
This method is very easy and the results are pleasing. I like having this with steamed rice.

What you will need:
2 medium eggplants
1 ¾ cups water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 green onions, chopped (optional)
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.  
Slice eggplant into 1cm slices.  Place on a non-stick baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.  Reduce oven heat to 180 degrees.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and clears.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Place the eggplant in a 30cm long baking dish, overlapping slices as necessary.  Pour the sauce over the eggplant and bake for 20-30 minutes until eggplant is very tender.

Nature's Way Superfood Powders

I have really been getting into smoothies these days. I find they are great for breakfast. I can blend them up and take them with me to work. I recently purchased a copy of the book "365 Vegan Smoothies" by Kathy Patalsky and I love it! It was one of those books that I borrowed from my local library. I started noting which pages I wanted to photocopy, expecting there to be no more than maybe 5....but by the time I got to the end of the book, I had a huge list of pages. Well, I HAD to buy the book! I have been trying out at least 2 new recipes every week and all but one so far has been a winner with me, so far.

Quite a few smoothie recipes call for the use of kale. Now, I love kale but have to admit that it can be a pain to wash and cut up. Plus, my blender does not seem to cope with it very well, and I end up with chewy smoothies - an oxymoron!
So, I was rather pleased to find the Nature's Way  range pop up on the shelves at Woolworths supermarkets. There was quite a few varieties available, including powders of acai, spirulina, maca, super greens blends, etc. I spotted a kale powder and noticed it was vegan and gluten free, so bought it. The costs was around $10 for a 100g bag and it is suggested you pop 2 tsp into your smoothies. I have been using half of that so far.
It tastes fine and is very convenient to use. You can also use it in salads, soups and dips though I have not tried that yet.

Dr. McDougall's Right Foods

I have been trying out quite a few recipes from Dr McDougall's website lately, and have been reading his books (check out his book "The Starch Solution"). There are also quite a few of his food products on the shelves at Coles (in the health foods section) and in health food stores.
Although there is quite a range, I have only seen a handful available here, so I will cover those that I have tried. Note that all of the range is vegan though only some are also gluten free.
These are for light lunches and snacks. I tend to boost the noodle cups by adding some chopped up cooked veggies to them.

In the Noodle Cup range, my fave product, hands down, is the Miso Ramen Noodle Soup. So tasty! Not gluten free, though, so this is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I have found this one to be the easiest to find in Coles. The next more common one is the gluten free Pad Thai, which I also like though not as much as a the Miso Ramen. I have seen in some health food stores, the Tortilla Soup with Baked Chips which I wasn't all that keen on.

There is also an Asian Noodle Cup range. These are 'entree' size which means, even bolstered by cooked chopped vegetables, there really are only snack sized. My two favourites from this range are the Teriyaki Noodle and the Spicy Kung Pao Noodle. These tend to be a little harder to find, but have sometimes found them in Coles.

Apart from the noodle cups, I have also found the Ready To Serve Soups. Some of these come in Low Sodium varieties. I have also found these in Coles, in amongst the health food section. They are just the right amount for a lunch meal and are super tasty. I think my favourite is the Split Pea Soup. Again, there is quite a few varieties in this range but I have only seen a few in the shops - the Lentil Soup and the Minestrone Soup. Both are flavoursome.

It is good to know that a major supermarket stocks some vegan convenience food. Sure, nothing beats home cooked but when you are tired or lacking time, or even travelling, having these kind of products to hand is great!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Roasted potato chunks

I loooove potatoes! And roasted? OMG, hand them over! 
But lately, I have been packing on the kilos. Yes, even vegans can be chubby. We are not all super thin. Although we cut out a lot of bad fats (animal fats being the worst for your health), we still consume some fats in plant origin. This may not be a bad thing in moderation, from nuts, seeds and avocado, but oils (including olive) should be kept to a minimum. Hence my downfall.

So, I have been making an effort to cut back on cooking with oils. Now, in roasting, olive oil is what makes the veggies super delicious. I honestly did not think I was going to be able to enjoy them without it. But here is the trick - substitute the oil with other condiments and you will still end up with a tasty dish, such as this one I am about to share. 

This one is super easy. I found it on Dr. McDougall's site. If you have not heard of him, please check out his website, videos, books, etc.  

What you will need:
1 teaspoon oregano/marjoram
1 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 to1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1-2 cloves minced garlic or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
8 to 9 medium potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks

Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
Mix the oregano/marjoram, rosemary, paprika, cayenne, mustards and garlic into a smooth paste in a bowl.

Add a few potato chunks at a time and coat with the mixture; keep adding a few chunks at a time until all potatoes are coated.  Spread out on two nonstick baking sheets and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until tender.

Serve with a green salad or steam vegetables.

Loving Hut - revisited

It has been a while since I have blogged about Loving Hut, so I thought I might do a bit of an update.
Whilst the evening restaurant in East Victoria Park has closed its doors (so sad!!), their Victoria park cafe is still going, offering new item menus, and new vegan products to buy off their shelves. They are also making and selling their yummy pies through the cafe but also through IGA stores. And lets not forget they are also producing and selling their cheezy spread in the same manner, and Notzarella, too! Oh, and did I mention their amazing vegan croissants!? These come in plain and chocolate and you can even buy them frozen to take home for later. They are a generous and size and as you can see from the photo, they do not skimp on the chocolate!

These people are busy and yet every time we have gone in there, we are always greeted with a smile and kindness.

A friend and I recently went in one morning to try out their vegan breakfast. This included a plate full of toast, beans, asparagus, sausages, mushrooms, scrambled tofu, and tomatoes. Because I am sensitive to gluten, they were kind enough to substitute the sausage and the toast with gluten free alternatives, such as a tempeh mix and dehydrated gluten free wrap/base.  After eating this, I was stuffed! I think my favourite item on my plate was the scrambled tofu. It was so damn cheezy and tasty. I could have just eaten a bowl of that on its own and had been very happy.

Although their grocery shelves are never full to overflowing, they always seem to stock various vegan products that are either hard or near impossible to find elsewhere. On one trip, my partner was excited to find they stocked cans of vegan tuna! We have NEVER seen these in Perth before.

I never was much of a fan of tuna in my pre veg days, but my partner was, so he was keen to give this a go. I had a small taste just out of curiosity. I thought it tasted a LOT better than tuna, as it had a fishy taste to it but it was a lot subtler than actual tuna. I thought the texture was also a very close match, as it had that same flakiness to it.

Anyway, the partner made himself a vegan tuna (yes, I know the tin says 'vegetarian' but it is vegan) roll with vegan mayo, lettuce and tomato, which he enjoyed very much.

So maybe next time you are in Victoria Park, (366 Albany Hwy), pop into Loving Hut for breakfast or lunch and while you are there, stock up your freezer bag with vegan icecreams, cheezes, pies, and croissants; and check out their grocery shelves for some other yummy vegan products.

Harvest Box snack packs

I do enjoy poking around supermarkets, looking for new vegan appropriate products. My partner spotted these by Harvest Box, in amongst the other dried fruit and nut packs. They are handy to throw into your bag just in case you get an attack of the munchies while you are out of the house.

There are two varieties that are suitable for vegans.

The Raw Mix is a nice though I am not a fan of peanuts, so there is a bit of wastage with this one for me. This mix as a 'tart' quality to it, due to the dried apple and cranberries.

My partner prefers the Go Bananas mix, as it is sweeter with the dark chocolate bits and the dried banana.

Both varieties are gluten free.

The Bar Counter

I recently stumbled across these at my local Coles supermarket. There were a whole heap of varieties and as I fossicked through them, I was starting to lose hope that any would be vegan. My perseverance paid off, however, as I found their Raw Blueberry and Vanilla bar which is clearly labelled as being vegan on the front. (I LOVE that kinda of labeling. Makes shopping so much easier for us.) It contained dates, blueberry, almond, fig, vanilla and raw rice protein. I was a bit skeptical. I have tried these date based type of bars before and have always found them to be too sickly sweet. I need not have worried, as this bar was delicious. Sweet, but not overly, with a lovely vanilla flavour and a hint of blueberry and fig. I also loved the texture the almond supplied. Oh, and this bar is also gluten free!

The Bar Counter also make another vegan bar - the Raw Chocolate,Coconut and Lacuma bar, which is also gluten free. I will have to try this one next!

Tyrrell's English Chips

One of the most frustrating things about shopping as a vegan, is the way so many snack products have animal ingredients in them. And I am not talking about the obvious things, like cheese flavoured crackers or  whatever, but rather things like salt and vinegar chips that contain dairy! What the hell?
Before going vegan, S&V potato chips were my fave. But after going vegan, I was surprised and then pissed right off to see that they contained milk products. Since then, I have been on the look out for a vegan S&V chip.

One day, I was scanning the snack shelves of Coles and noticed a new brand. This one was called Tyrrell's and was from England. I  spotted their Sea Salt and Cider Vinegar variety, and picked it up, turned it over and read the ingredients list, fully expecting it to list 'milk solids' or some such useless crap. But no! Eyes dilated, hands trembling, I turned to my partner (who has a habit of exclaiming very loudly in supermarkets "Why does this have milk in it!?") and said "This looks like it is vegan!".
In disbelief, he snatched the bag out of my hands and had a look. Yep, vegan! Even says so on the pack! No palm oil either, and gluten free, to boot.

Well, once I got home and opened the pack up (yes, I waited that long), I stuck my nose into the bag and inhaled. Oh that vinegary aroma! The first chip - wow! Bursting with flavour but not overly done. I remember in the bad old days with the non-vegan potato chips, you eat a few and your tongue goes numb. Not with these ones! I savoured each and every chip in that pack and they have since become my firm favourite.

Since that first foray, I have also tried their other vegan varieties, such as the Lightly Sea Salted (nice), Sweet Chili and Red Pepper (tasted a bit too much like tomato to me), and the Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper (yummy - not too peppery).
There are other varieties, but they are not vegan, so give them a miss.