Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Rosella Syrup (Hibiscus Syrup)

 I got my recipe from Paleo Princess. Hibiscus Syrup is a very popular treat in Australia (although you'll find it sold all over the world now), especially around Xmas time. We add it to the bottom of our champagne glasses, and as well as looking beautiful it will add a lovely flavor to even the cheapest of sparkling wines :) It's great as a cordial too to mix with seltzer water or used like Grenadine for cocktails. If you have your own plant there are some great YouTube videos on how to pick and prepare. I got mine delivered from a local farm and they were already picked, but I had to prep them.

Rosella Syrup (Hibiscus Syrup)


4 cups water
5 cups of rosella flowers prepared (see below)**
1 cup vegan sugar or vegan honey


Place three cups of the prepared rosella flowers in the water and bring to boil, then simmer for ten minutes.
Remove the flowers and discard.
Add sugar and reboil for five minutes, then simmer for ten minutes until syrup starts to thicken slightly.
Turn off heat and add reserved flowers. 
Allow to cool then transfer to a sterilised jar.

** To prepare your Rosella flowers you want to remove the seed. Slice around the bottom of the pod just below the "skirt" and then pull the bottom out, the seed should be attached and you're left with the pretty red shell. Keep the shells, throw out the seed.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Onion Gravy (Bangers & Mash)

This is a super delicious Onion Gravy recipe from Daring Gourmet which I veganised. Bangers and Mash is a comforting British dish found in a lot of pubs. It mainly consists of Sausages, mash potato, onion gravy and peas (I love minty peas!). I make my mash pretty simply; boiled potatoes mashed with non-dairy milk, vegan butter and salt. The sausages were Beyond Meat Original Sausages. I took the salt ingredient out as I found the finished product very salty, I would add salt to taste.

It's meant to be chunky like this;

My kids are fussy butts so I pureed it for them; 

Onion Gravy (Bangers & Mash)


1/2 stick (56 grams) vegan butter
2 large yellow onions , peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced (or diced if you prefer smaller pieces)
2 teaspoons vegan sugar
1/2 cup vegan red wine
2 sprigs fresh thyme (I used dried)
1 large sprig fresh sage (I used dried)
2 cups vegan broth (I used Massel "Beef Style" Cubes)
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dark balsamic vinegar (I LOVE Mountain Town Olive Oil Co. 18 Year Aged)
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons cold vegan butter (I accidently missed this step and it was still great)

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium high heat.
Add the sliced onions and sugar and cook for about 30 minutes until caramelized (deep golden). 
Add the red wine and herbs, bring to a rapid boil for 2 minutes, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. 
Add the stock, mustard, pepper and Worcestershire sauce, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. 
Remove sprigs of herbs. 
Add the vinegar, whisk in the cornstarch and simmer another minute or two until thickened, whisking continuously. 
Add the cold butter and whisk until dissolved. Add salt and pepper to taste and more mustard if desired.

Beer Battered "Fish" & Chips with Tartar Sauce

 Original recipe  for the Beer Battered Fish Sticks from My Darling Vegan. I like "pub style" or steak fries so I slice my potato into thick strips and shallow fry in vegetable oil. I remember going to the beach and gettin fish and chips with my family, I have such fond memories so I've been craving this lately. Obviously this isn't the healthiest of recipes but the kids loved them.

Beer Battered "Fish" & Chips with Tartar Sauce

Fish Pieces
1 can heart of palm, drained and broken into large pieces
1/4 cup GF panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon crumbled roasted seaweed (I used Dulse flakes)
1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (Annie's brand is good too)
salt and pepper, to taste
I also added a splash of Japanese Plum Vinegar (gives it a "sea" flavour)

Beer Batter
2 tablespoon chickpea flour
1/4 cup water
1 cup GF all purpose flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4-1 1/2 cup dark beer (I used gluten free beer Glutenberg Stout)
about 2 cups cooking oil

Tartar Sauce
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 heaping teaspoon sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
salt and pepper, to taste


Combine the ingredients for the tartar sauce and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a food processor combine ingredients for fish sticks. Pulse a few times until ingredients are broken down and well combined. There should still be large chunks.
Shape the heart of palm mixture into 8-10 fish sticks and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, squeezing out excess water. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the beer batter, combine the chickpea flour with water until thick and goopy. Set aside. 
In a separate bowl combine flour and spices. Mix in chickpea egg. 
Slowly add beer, about 1/4 cup at a time, while mixing. 
The batter should be fairly thick but thin enough to evenly coat fish sticks. If your fish sticks are falling apart in the batter, thin it with a little more beer.

Heat oil in a small cast-iron skillet, filling enough so that it's about 1" deep.

Once the oil is hot, coat the fish sticks in the batter 2-3 at a time. With a flat utensil, gently place in hot oil and deep fry for about 2 minutes, flipping halfway in between if necessary.

Remove from oil and place on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
Serve immediately with prepared tartar sauce.

"Lobster" Lettuce Cups

This original recipe from Follow Your Heart made a ton of sauce, even half of it was too much for the recipe in my opinion. It was very overpowering so you didn't need too much.

"Lobster" Lettuce Cups


¼ Cup Green Onions or Chives

4-6 Leafs Butter Lettuce Leafs

1 Avocado Sliced

¼ Cup Follow Your Heart Dairy-Free Feta Crumbles

2 Cups Chopped Hearts of Palm

2 Cups Chopped Oyster Mushrooms

1.5 Tbsp Minced Garlic 

2-3 Tbsp Vegan Butter 

1/8 tsp Smoked Paprika


Lobster Mayo Mix

2 cups Vegenaise

⅓ Cup Diced Celery

2 Tbsp Fresh Dill

2 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Chives

¼ Cup Diced Red Onion

1.5 Tbsp Maple Syrup

1 Tbsp Mustard Powder

½-1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika

2.5 Tbsp Old Bay Seasoning

2 Tbsp Lemon Juice

1.5 Tbs Kelp Powder or Japanese Multi-Purpose Seasoning (I used Dulse Flakes)

½ Tsp-1 Tsp Pink Himalayan Salt

½ Tsp Black Pepper

I also add a teaspoon of Japanese Plum Vinegar which is like adding sea water.


In a pan, sauté your Hearts of Palm and Oyster Mushrooms in your Vegan Butter and Minced Garlic. Season with Smoked Paprika 

In a large bowl combine all of your ingredients for the Lobster Mayo until well incorporated. 

Once the Mushrooms and Garlic are cooked down, add them into the mayo mixture and mix everything until well incorporated.

Build your Lettuce Cups with Butter Head Lettuce, Avocado Slices, Combined Lobster Mayo Mix , Feta Cheese, Smoked Paprika, and top with Chopped Green Onion or Chives.

Daikon “Bacon”

This recipe is from Sauce Stache on YouTube...subscribe to his channel, he does amazing vegan things!!
This is a little salty and doesn't have the chewiness of bacon but it does have a similar taste and crunchiness to it. On its own it's a bit salty for me but in a BLT...Oh Mama!!

Daikon "Bacon


1 Daikon radish

Bacon Flavor Recipe; 1/3 Cup soy sauce 2 Tbls Light Oil* 2 Tbls Nutritional Yeast* 1 Tsp MSG* 1 Tbls Liquid Smoke 1 Tbls Maple Syrup Pinch of Paprika Ground Black Pepper to taste Pinch of Garlic Powder


Add all your marinade ingredients into a bowl and whisk well.
Pour into a container large enough for your slices to all marinade well and set aside.

Using a peeler or mandoline slice down lengthwise to get long wide strips of daikon.
Continue until you can't get daikon will give you plenty!

Sidebar: How pretty are these spotted ones!!

Sauce Stache says to lay all your strips out on a paper/kitchen towel and remove the excess liquid. I've done this and also skipped the step and they still turned out the same to me so I skipped it this time :)

Place all your strips in your marinade and give them a little massage. Let sit in marinade for at least ten minutes, more if you have the time.

Heat a non-stick pan on medium and add a tablespoon of oil. I like coconut oil (the base of the famous Vegan Bacon Grease). Once heated add your strips of daikon in batches turning after a minute or so, once the edges start going dark and curling.

Place on some paper towel to soak up the extra grease and serve!! I LOVE me a vegan BLT!

Friday, 2 October 2020

Vegan Beauty Product Review - October 2020

 Well it has been a while since I've done much beauty product reviewing I wanted to review some products I've been using lately that I LOVE!

The first is very exciting because I've been waiting for an affordable vegan lash serum for years! Now I found one! This Grande Lash-MD I got from Sephora and it comes in a trial size for $40 or the full size for $60. I started with the trail size and in that 8 weeks it was enough to see some impressive results. Sorry my pictures aren't great but you get the idea! I noticed a difference by the 6 week mark. I also bought their brow serum and have seen a difference for sure, very helpful for those patches that haven't been growing back since I plucked them to death in the 90s! I'm definitely going to keep using to see how long I can get them all!

You can really notice the long ones lashes with mascara since my ends are light. This was around the 8 week mark. 

My next happy purchase is something very exciting to me! L'Occitane which makes a lot of gorgeous vegan products in France just redid their best selling anti-aging skin care line, Immortelle Divine, with vegan formula. So awesome. I noticed a difference overnight, I used the new Super Extract Divine Serum followed by the Cream and my skin felt amazing in the morning and the blemishes I had the night before were almost gone. Seriously excited about them redoing this line, the eye cream is next, yay!!

Thursday, 17 September 2020

The Starch Solution - Take 2

So I've been following Plantiful Kiki on YouTube and Instagram and she lost over 65lbs with Dr. McDougall's program The Starch Solution. Seriously check her out, she's adorable and so inspiring. Plus she makes her whole family eat like this so she's definitely a superstar to me! She has a lot of great meal ideas and goes through full days of what she eats. In her videos she outlines the basic principles and how she got results which I found very helpful because I guess when I listened to the audio of the book there were some things I missed. Here's a link to my first attempt (which was a few months ago). I think where I went wrong was trying to follow all the recipes so Kiki's method simplifies all that. Don't get me wrong, I did lose 10lbs but I'm hoping Kiki's method will keep me on track for longer. I'm going to outline what Kiki mentioned that I am incorporating this time round...

The basic principles are still there, eat only plant based whole foods (no caffeine and alcohol) but in the weight loss stage there are some important factors I missed;

  1. No fat. I knew that meant oil/butter etc but I didn't realise that also includes fatty whole foods like avocados (my babies!!!) and nuts. You can add these back in moderation once you hit your healthy goal weight.
  2. There are three different ways to organize your plate to optimized your weight loss that involves how much starchy vs non-starchy vegetables to eat. The 50/50 plate is the most common and the one Kiki used for her weight loss. 50/50 will get your there, you just have to be patient. This is a change of lifestyle and routine to take control of your weight and health, not a crash diet. 
  3. Eat the non-starchy side first, always! You can have seconds, thirds, fourths until your full or satisfied but every time eat the non-starchy vegetables first.
Here's a crude diagram and list of starchy vs non-starchy foods; 



Beans (kidney, navy, pinto, black, cannellini)

Butternut squash







Sweet potatoes




Amaranth or Chinese spinach


Artichoke hearts


Baby corn

Bamboo shoots

Beans (green, wax, Italian)

Bean sprouts


Brussels sprouts


Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)





Coleslaw (packaged, no dressing)




Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)

Hearts of palm







Pea pods




Salad greens (chicory, endive, escarole, lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress)


Squash (cushaw, summer, crookneck, spaghetti, zucchini)

Sugar snap peas

Swiss chard



Water chestnuts

Yard-long beans

Trying to keep it simple this time round, here's some examples of how I was eating.;

Sauteed Mushrooms and Spinach with Brown rice

Baked potatoes, baked Sweet Potatoes with a spinach and cherry tomato salad.

Split Pea & Potato Soup with Salad

Tomatoes, Onions & Peppers cooked in water with already baked potatoes.

Sweet potato, steamed baby spinach, fresh yellow capsicum peppers and pinto beans.

Baked apples with cinnamon and maple syrup were an occasional treat when needing a dessert (kids shared them with me, I didn't eat three apples LOL)

Pumpkin Soup with cooked butternut squash, steamed spinach and broccoli.

Makeshift latin flavored salad; romaine lettuce, baked sweet potatoes, black beans, olives, fresh cilantro and lime juice.

I hate oatmeal but I was struggling with breakfast ideas and this tangy oatmeal I had had in a diet a long time ago (I have forgotten the source) but this is actually pretty good so I stuck with this (sans walnuts of course).

I think this was a lame attempt at hashbrowns with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and steamed spinach. I bought a Walmart brand of frozen fat free potato hash. Apparently hard to cook without oil (oven didn't work either)

Whatever was in the fridge salad; brown rice, corn, carrots, spinach, cilantro and lime juice.

Strawberries with chocolate balsamic vinegar for those sweet after dinner cravings.

Baked zucchini, yellow and butternut squash with white acre peas and baked potato. I ended up using some random spices I had in the drawer, I think moroccan and cajun.

This raspberry balsamic is AMAZING!!!

Cock a Leekie soup (sans pasta/rice) and salad with romaine lettuce, figs, cherry tomatoes, red onion and balsamic vinegar. I probably shouldn't have had the TVP in the soup but anyway!

Oil free Hungarian Hunters Stew (sans vegan sausage and sour cream) with rice (I know that's a lot of starch but I had a salad afterwards)

On mornings when I really couldn't handle oatmeal (like I said I'm not a big fan) I put together a fry up with only the oil that was used to season my cast iron pan after it's last use, so maybe 1/2 tpsn. Premade oilless hash browns were easy from the freezer then I added frozen spinach, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, onions. Whatever I had in the fridge I thought would go.

Steamed broccoli and bok choy over borna rice with vegan oyster sauce.

Another latin inspired bowl; brown rice, olives, cilantro, sweet potato, cherry tomatoes, green peppers, red onions with a squeeze of lime juice.

Bake cauliflower with salt and smoked paprika with sweet potato and potato mash.

Bit of a weekend morning fry up (like before just using the oil that seasoned the pan). Pre bought root vegetable blend hash browns, spinach with garlic, onion and mushrooms

Garlic spinach with baked potato pieces, red onion and green peppers, all in the pan together.


Two weeks in I did start to crave fat and processed foods but the only setbacks I had were the occasional piece of chocolate.
With a week to go I lost motivation big time. I was down to 143lbs which was awesome but I craved the bad stuff all the time so I strayed a couple of times and ate something fatty or processed but I tried to make my next meals all count and stuck to the 50/50 principle. 

I was 164lbs before starting the original cleanse and I was around 152lbs when I started this 30 day cleanse. About half way into the cleanse I had lost 5lbs and 3" from my waist which was motivating enough to keep going. I was also walking as much as possible, around 5-6 miles 3-5 times a week. Here are my final results!

 Day 1 (20 August 2020)

Weight: 152lbs

Waist: 37"

Hips: 42"

Chest: 39"

Thigh: 23"

 Day 30 (20 September 2020)

Weight: 143lbs

Waist: 34.5"

Hips: 40"

Chest: 37"

Thigh: 22.5"

So there it is, if you can eat this way long term it works! Here are some tips that helped me;
  • You can use frozen and canned vegetables. 
  • Don't feel like you have to eat raw, you don't. Just don't use fat to cook. Try blanching, steaming, sauteing and baking. If you have an air fryer that works well too! 
  • I love my slow cooker so I used that. 
  • I used oil free seasonings and condiments to make it more interesting. I especially loved using balsamic vinegar (good quality like Mountain Town Olive Oil Company-try their raspberry or 15 year aged....amazing), Garlic Salt, Trader Joe's Everything But The Bagel Seasoning, Tabasco, Chinese Five Spice, Mustard, fresh herbs & Coconut Aminos. 
  • My new favorite thing on almost everything is garlic salt and nutritional yeast.
  • Calorie free seltzer water like Bubly helped me a lot when I was on the go to full me up but mostly at night when I'd normally want a glass of wine.
  • Having prepared foods helped a lot too, another great tip from Plantiful Kiki! Baking a bunch of potatoes & sweet potatoes once or twice a week and keeping them in the fridge helped make the meals times go smoothly. I love my rice maker but I also keep the Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice microwave pouches in the freezer for quick rice when I need it.

Now that the cleanse is over I intend to keep the main principles of the 50/50 plate and add in the occasional treat when I really feel like it so I don't feel as restricted. My goal weight is 132lbs so fingers crossed! If I get there I will update! The last 12 lbs I want to lose will take time because health wise I wouldn't want to be lower than that, those last few are hard to budge

Finally the end and my final weight is 143lbs so I didn't lose any in the last week but didn't gain either which was good. I’m definitely going to keep doing the 50/50 for as long as I can but add in the occasional processed treat. Moderation and all that, not something I’ve ever been very good at :)