Friday, 26 June 2020

Pizza Dough (gluten free and vegan)

This is a Dr. John McDougall recipe that featured in one of his newsletters. I love it! I used it during my Starch Solution cleanse. The dough is so springy and soft just like real pizza dough. It doesn't brown a lot when cooked unless you brush some oil/vegan butter over it. It has a nice crunch on the outside while having a springy dough texture on the inside. It's quite thin though. The recipe says to cut into three, I've had no problem freezing the portions at this point either. for smaller personal pizzas you can easily get four portions.

Pizza Dough (gluten free and vegan)


3 cups gluten-free flour (Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Bread Mix)
1 -2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon Egg Replacer mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 ½ cups water


Mix dry ingredients with a stand mixer. 
Slowly add water, egg replacer mixture and vinegar.
Knead with hook for 3 minutes.
If the mixture seems too dry, add a bit more water. 
Put this mixture in a large clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap or silicone cover, (I cover it
with a towel too, not sure if that makes any difference, but it makes me feel better) and
place in a draft free area for 18-24 hours.
The next day, turn mixture out onto a floured work surface. Shape into a long oval and cut into three even sections. Next, take each section and fold
the ends towards the middle, flip over, shape into a ball and place on a baking sheet with
parchment paper. Do this with all pieces. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and a towel and
let sit for one hour.
(If you don’t want to use the dough right away, simply place in ziplock bags and place in the
freezer. May be kept frozen for up to 6 months. To thaw, remove from freezer and let rest on
counter until thawed, about 2 hours.)
After one hour, take each ball and roll out on a floured surface until it is the thickness you
like your pizza. I like to use a large wooden pizza spatula with parchment paper on it, then a
sprinkling of cornmeal, then crust. 
I put in a 400F/200C oven for around 20-30 minutes, just keep checking. I have a pizza stone so I heat the pizza stone in the oven first.
You can also put all of the toppings on and bake on a preheated pizza stone in a BBQ as high as it will go, for about 8 minutes.

Raw Food Cleanse

So I felt like I needed a reboot so I did a five day raw vegan cleanse. I started every morning with a fresh juice and then around lunchtime I would eat a raw meal and then again for dinner. For snacks I would eat fruit/veg (usually blueberries, cherry tomatoes or grapes). One night I was craving something sweet so I made some "nice cream" from bananas, medjool dates and mango which turned out pretty runny because the bananas were the only frozen part. Here's a recipe for one I've made before which was pretty good though (just replace sweetener with dates and soy milk with homemade nut milk). I still had a black coffee most mornings but beside that I had ALL raw. I lost about 4lbs which I was happy with and I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Especially the juices in the morning. I LOVE JUICE!!! Even though by day five I was craving a homemade pizza and GF beer I definitely think after my cheat night I'll continue next week. I got most of my fruit/veg from a local company that delivers local product (you choose what you want) so it was very convenient!

Fresh juice every morning (a combination of what I had in the fridge; carrots, kale/spinach, orange, apple, pineapple, cucumber, ginger, lemon, radish)

Fruit Salad with banana, raspberries and mango. Sprinkled with orange blossom water.

I used left over of the butternut noodle sauce with some romaine in a nori sheet.

Raw Caprese Salad (recipe for raw mozzarella)

Zucchini Noodles with avocado pesto

I made my own cashew nut milk for the Chia Seed pudding :)

Simple Chia Seed Pudding (I used dates in the nut milk so I had no sweetner (chia seeds, cashew milk, vanilla extract, raspberries)

Simple Guac (Avocado, lemon juice, tomato, salt & pepper) with cucumber, green peppers and carrots for dipping.

Raw Butternut Noodles with Tomato Basil Sauce

Recently I did a raw cleanse and I haven't eat raw for a long time. I remembered these combinations working well together so I invented my own raw pasta sauce. It was really nice as a spread for raw nori wraps. If you don't have a spiralizer you can just grate or even shred with a potato peeler. This probably serves two but I ate the whole thing :)

Raw Butternut Noodles with Tomato Basil Sauce


1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup basil
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes 
2 medjool dates
1/2 butternut squash


Soak your cashews overnight if possible but if not soak in boiling water for an hour.
Use a potato peeler to remove the skin from the butternut squash and spiralize into noodles and set aside.
Add all other ingredients to a food processor/high powered blender or bullet and blitz adding water when necessary until you get the desired consistency.
Pour over noodles.

Friday, 5 June 2020

Royal Icing using Aquafaba

Veganized from Nigella Lawson's Royal Icing recipe, royal icing is an icing that forms a hard, smooth and shiny icing. Perfect for cupcakes! We can get the same effect from using aqaufaba as we can from egg white** - viva la vegan! Picture from Lavender Cupcakes.

Royal Icing using Aquafaba


1/4 cups aquafaba (chickpea water from a can - don't use fresh)
3 cups confectioners'/icing sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice


Combine the aquafaba and confectioners' sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until opaque and shiny, about 5 minutes.
Whisk in the lemon juice and food coloring if using, this will thin out the icing.
Beat for another couple of minutes until you reach the right spreading consistency for the cupcakes.

**To subsitute egg whites in recipes use two tablespoons of aquafaba is equivalent to one egg white

Japanese Tofu Tonkatsu

I used vegan GF cereal to make the Panko crumbs traditionally needed for this comforting Japenese favourite! I tried with tofu from the recipes but it all fell apart and was a bit tasteless. If you baked some thinner "schnitzel style" tofu first it may turn out better, in the end I had the best luck with the processed vegan chicken brand. This was a mix of recipes from Mama Went Vegan, Cupful of Kale and All Recipes.

Vegan Chicken (I used Gardein Scallopini)

Panko bowl;
1/2 cup Panko (homemade or bought if you can find GF vegan ones!)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Soak Bowl;
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp arrowroot powder

Flour Dredge Bowl;
1/2 cup rice flour (or a light flour)

Oil for frying

Tonkatzu Sauce

1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced


Mix your separate bowls and set aside.
Make the sauce first so that it's ready, you can already reheat it.
For the sauce whisk ingredients together in a small saucepan and heat on low until sugar is melted and ingredients are well blended and warm to serve.
Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan on a medium heat.
For the "chicken" or tofu bake or fry slightly on both sides first so that you have a firm layer.
Then dip in rice flour bowl, dredge in the soak bowl and then dip into the Panko crumb mixture coating well.
Pop it on the pan and fry till golden on both sides, a few minutes on either side.
place it on a paper towel and allow to cool.
Once all your pieces are done and are cool enough to touch, slice with a very sharp knife on the diagonal and tranfer to a serving plate. We served with rice but you can serve with whatever you like.
Pour over Tonkatzu sauce.

Vegan Chicken Parmesan

I used "Chick'n Scallopini" from Gardein but you could easily marinate a slice of tofu, I recommend baking it first. I didn't and it tasted very "raw tofuy". I took the basic recipe from a real Chicken Parmesan from  Cafe Delites website.

Vegan Chicken Parmesan 


For The "Chicken":
2 egg replacers (egg replacer or flax egg)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to season
6 pieces of vegan chicken or slices of tofu (maybe like a slab of tofu sliced through the middle would make two.)
1 cup GF vegan Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup  GF breadcrumbs* (Italian or golden)
1/2 cup fresh grated vegan parmesan cheese (you can make this with equal parts almond meal and nutritional yeast - add a few pinches of salt and onion powder if desired)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup olive oil for frying

For The Sauce:
(you can skip this step of you already have a jar marinara you like)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
14 ounces (400 g) tomato puree (Passata)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

For The Topping:
8 ounces (250 g) vegan mozzarella cheese sliced or shredded
1/3 cup fresh shredded vegan parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil or parsley


Preheat oven 430°F | 220°C. 
Lightly grease an oven tray (or baking dish) with non stick cooking oil spray; set aside.
To make sauce;
Heat oil in a medium-sized pot. Fry onion until transparent (about 3 minutes), then add the garlic until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
Add the tomato puree, salt and pepper to taste, Italian herbs and sugar (If using). Cover with lid to simmer for about 8 minutes, or until sauce has thickened slightly. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper, if needed.

For "Chicken";
Whisk together egg replacers, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. 
Mix breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder together in a separate shallow bowl. 
Dredge "chicken" or tofu into the egg replacer, rotating to evenly coat each fillet in the mixture. 
Dip "chicken" into the breadcrumb mixture to evenly coat.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Fry "chicken" until golden and crispy, (about 4-5 minutes each side).
Place "chicken" on prepared baking dish and top each breast with about 1/3 cup of sauce (sauce recipe below). 
Top each "chicken" with 2-3 slices of mozzarella cheese and about 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with basil or parsley. 
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and melted, and the chicken is completely cooked through.
Serve with pasta, mashed potato, a salad, steamed veggies, zucchini noodles or cauliflower rice for the perfect meal!

*Note: I make my own breadcrumbs but blitzing left over bread/crusts in a food processor and then freeze them in a ziplock bag.
To make Italian breadcrumbs here is a basic recipe;

Italian Breadcrumbs
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄4 teaspoon onion powder
1⁄4 teaspoon dried oregano
1⁄4 teaspoon dried basil

DIY Edwardian Hair Rat

So if you don't know my love of all things Edwardian then maybe you haven't seen my wedding post LOL
I've been quite into the Edwardian period ever since reading the Anne of Green Gables book series by L.M. Montgomery as a child. I'm still in love with that book series but is there anything lovelier than those dresses??! I digress...I saw a YouTube video on Edwardian hair washing (with egg...ew) and then hairstyles and saw why all this time I wasn't able to get the acceptable level of puff in my  Gibson Girl hairstyle! You need an Edwardian Hair Rat! So I decided to make one. As you do. When you're in isolation LOL
So I used what I had in my house already but obviously this would be a pretty quick trip to the fabric/craft store or online purchase to make what is a very cheap accessory to the all over look.

DIY Edwardian Hair Rat

What you need

Needle & Thread
Stocking or fabric that hair pins can go into
Batting or loose fabric pieces to fill

Fake (or real if you have it) hair that matches your own.
Liquid Cement glue

What to do

I cut my material in 28.5" x 5.5", how thick you want it depends on how high you want the puff and how long will depend on your head. Obviously if you're using a stocking you won't need to do this.
I used some brown felt I had leftover from last Halloween when I made Hobbit cloaks...seriously, this is why I never through out the extra fabric. It can come in handy the day you randomly decide you need an Edwardian Hair Rat LOL

Next fold the piece in half lengthwise, with the good side of the fabric on the inside if there is one.
Hand stitch across the long side and one short, leaving the second small open.

Turn it inside out so you have a tube.

Start feeding the batting or loose fabric into the tube until filled, leaving a small amount of fabric on the open end.

Feed the sewn end into the open end to create your circle and sew the pieces in place.
This can be the end of your hair rat if you have very long/thick hair but if you would like to add hair to it in case of spaces then this is what I did.

I had a fake hair piece from a halloween costume and it had the hair sewn at one side which was actually very helpful.

I had stitched the sewn part onto the bottom of the hair rat and then wrapped the hair around and glued the ends underneath with liquid cement.

I had to do it in batches and allow to dry before starting on the next one because it was very fiddly.
And here is the result! It doesn’t have as much give once you put the hair on so make sure it is slightly bigger if you use this step. 

Watermelon, Mint & Feta Salad

This can be made with processed vegan feta cheese or tofu feta! Delicious combination of sweet, sour and salty.

Watermelon, Mint & Feta Salad


Bunch Mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 watermelon, cut into chunkc
1 block of vegan feta (or tofu feta)

1/4 cup lime juice (maybe 2 limes)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbls olive oil


Assemble your salad in a bowl, I added some shredded lettuce in there but it's not necessary.
To make dressing simply whisk together ot place in a jar, seal and shake.
Pour dressing evenly over salad.

Hungarian Birthday Sponge Cake with Chocolate Cream

Quite difficult to replicate a sponge cake gluten free and vegan but I tried and although I would've say it was as light and fluffy as a regular sponge I still really enjoyed it! Traditional sponge is layered with fresh cream and strawberries or strawberry preserve but my Hungarian grandmother used to make me a vanilla sponge cake with chocolate cream filling for my birthday every year. It was a simple cake to look at but it tasted so good to me!

Hungarian Birthday Sponge Cake with Chocolate Cream


1/2 cup Aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
1/4 cup plain GF flour
1/4 cup SR GF flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 vegan eggs (egg replacer or flax eggs)

1-2 cans coconut cream (refrigerated so the the cream gets solidified at the top)
6 Tbls vegan sugar
2 Tbls cocoa


Preheat oven to 180C/350F and grease cake tin 8" tin
Mix aquafaba and pinch of sugar of low, then high until peaks rise, with aquafaba it can take a while so don't get discouraged. It usually takes me 10-15mins, I try and put it on a locked machine so I don't have to hold it.
In a separate bowl beat the sugar and egg replacers until  mixes.
Add 2 Tbls hot water and then the flours and mix well.
Fold the whipped aquafaba in gentely.
Pour into cake tin and bake for 25 minutes.
Let cake cool.

To make cream;
Scrape just the coconut cream from the top of the can, leaving the liquid in the bottom. 
Whip the cream with a pinch of sugar until whipped and then mix in remaining sugar and cocoa by hand.
Once cool, slice cake in half with a bread knife.
Spoon chocolate cream on bottom half and spread with spatula or cake knife.
Replace top of cake and spinkle with powdered sugar.

The Starch Solution

I finished "The Starch Solution" by John A. McDougall M.D. I just got it from the library and most of the book is a rundown on the scientific evidence behind why we should be eating a plant-based diet. At the end it runs into the foods we should be eating more of and a recipe to kickstart the lifestyle. There are plenty of links on the website to for recipes etc. I've been gaining weight for a while. Well, let me back up. I've yo-yo'd since I was a teenager and have had times of more physical activity and times where I let it slip a bit but I never changed what I ate too much (except for going vegan in 2010 and being gluten free since 1997). I always relied on the physical activity to keep the weight off. After I had my son the weight was hard to shift, I gained an extra 20+lbs during pregnancy and although some came off slowly after just naturally, I then stagnated and knew I was going to have to make the effort. It's been four years since then and I started running and weight training and then was in a car accident which left me with two herniated discs and a lot of back pain. Unable to run anymore I had to find another solution. Walking was one. When I was in my 30's I walked to work in Sydney everyday giving me an hour or two of good walking 5 times a week.

Exercise is only a small part of the equation, maybe 20%. Diet & nutrition is key! Eating a vegan and gluten free diet I always assumed my diet was pretty healthy but since moving to the USA not only was I not getting the walking everyday I also then had a kid which left a time issue where it was hard to find time to exercise. I also fell into the trap of vegan process food which is obviously not ideal. Then of course there's alcohol...hey I'm Australian, drinking is a way of life there! So this is where I am now and I really want to hold myself accountable and change for the better.

I was all set to start a rigorous vegan keto regime over the summer when I saw someone post something about The Starch Solution so I thought I'd give it a go. I got it from the library on audio so just listened through my phone as I did chores around the house. Dr Dougall advocates a life WITH starches! Potatoes, brown rice, sweet potato are all encouraged! It's basically about a whole food diet with starch as the main part. Obviously with the information we're used to hearing this sounds ludicrous but here they were - the Star McDougallers with their success stories. And frankly this was so much less restricting than vegan keto. This I could live by the rest of my days and not have to make separate meals for my family. At this same time I'd had a cousin who had lost a ton of weight and when I asked her about it she said "I didn't exercise, I just gave up foods that made me feel like crap and had to give up alcohol". And so I thought "if she can give up alcohol so can I". I think I knew alcohol was a big factor in my weight gain but I enjoyed it so I didn't want to give it up. I realised I was at a crossroad right now, you can choose alcohol and processed foods or you can rethink how you look at health and get the body you want back. So I thought it can't hurt to try? I started in the Summer with the cleanse and then follow his regular recipes through till December which is my birthday and Xmas so I'd be able to drink again (in moderation and for certain occasions, not every night or so).

So what's allowed/not allowed in the McDougall program? By the way his website linked at the top has a ton of free recipe book downloads as well. Here's a link to the Starch Staples and Fruit/Veg he advocates. Basically natural starches make you feel satisfied and full plus they give you lasting energy. Keep it whole food based and it's hard to go wrong although he does allow certain processed items like some flours. Similar I'm guessing the Daniel Fast which I had done previously but not lost the weight I was hoping to. To make it easy, here's what NOT to eat...

Don’t Eat:

Possible substitutes:

Cow’s Milk (for cereal or cooking)Lowfat soy milk, rice milk, fruit juice, water, use extra when cooking hot cereal or pour over cold cereal
Cow’s Milk (as beverage)None; drink water, juice, herb tea, or cereal beverages
CheeseNone; after 12 days you may substitute soy- and nut-based cheeses
Cottage cheeseNone; after 12 days you may substitute crumbled tofu
Sour creamNone
Ice creamPure fruit sorbet, frozen juice bars; after 12 days you may substitute Lite Tofutti
Eggs (in cooking)Ener-G Egg Replacer
Eggs (for eating)None
Meat, poultry, fishStarchy vegetables, whole grains, pastas, and beans; after 12 days you may substitute tofu “meat” recipes
MayonnaiseTofu mayonnaise
Vegetable oils (for pans)None; use non-stick pots and pans
Vegetable oils (in recipes)None; omit oil or replace with water, mashed banana, or applesauce for moisture
White rice (refined)Whole grain (brown) rice or other whole grains
White flour (refined)Whole grain flours
Refined and sugar-coated cerealsAny acceptable hot or cold cereal
ChocolateCarob powder
Coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and black teasNon-caffeinated herb tea, cereal beverages, hot water with lemon
Colas and un-colasMineral water or seltzer (flavored or plain)

The cleanse is for 10-12 days but I had all the ingredients so I decided to make it 14 days just eating wholefoods and then I could start adding back in some fun stuff.  The cleanse is a bit stricter than the normal items that are allowed with the Starch Solution normally and is designed to give you a whole food cleanse and get you back on track!

Currently I'm the heaviest I've ever been, overtaking my previous record which was in my last year of high school in the 90s (and heavier than after I had my son). I'm 5'5" and my slimmest weight was 121lbs when I was 33 but my goal right now is a sensible 135lbs which means I have 30lbs to lose.

My Starch Solution 10 Day Cleanse

Day 1: I had the Burrito Bowl for Breakfast and Lunch. I really liked it so happy to make that one again! For dinner I had the Broccoli Bisque which is didn’t care for. I think it would have been better without the milk.

Day 2: Had Breakfast Scramble for breakfast and lunch. Most of his recipes are for at least two servers so it’s easier for me to not have to cook more meals but I don’t mind eating the same thing twice in a row lol. For snack I had carrots with Sweet Potato Cheese Sauce. Dinner was the Beefless Stew. I really loved the stew!

Day 3: I had the Breakfast Bowl which I didn't find very filling. I had that for lunch too since I made two serves. I was pretty hungry in the afternoon though so I had some of the left over stew for lunch & dinner and had the baked sweet potato with peanut sauce as a snack. I am down 2lbs though so I was happy about that!

Day 4: Tofu Scramble for breakfast and for lunch because what I was going to make I realised I was missing ingredients for! Roast Veg (purple potatoes, carrots and garlic) with Rich Mushroom Gravy for dinner.

Day 5: Leftover Tofu Scramble for breakfast. Yammy Kale (which I actually really liked without adding salt which is a huge step for me!) for lunch and Tomato Basil Soup for dinner. If I'm really hungry between meals (which I haven't really been) I will have a piece of fruit or a herbal tea. In the evenings I've been having seltzer water, sometimes with a couple drops of doTERRA essential oil to keep the evening drinking/munching at bay! I'm down 4lbs!! (I do fluctuate a lot though so I don't want to get too excited!)

Day 6: Tofu Scramble for breakfast, Yammy Kale & Tomato Basil Soup for lunch and Lentil Shepherd's Pie for dinner.

Day 7: Hash browns with Apple sauce for breakfast. Tomato Basil Soup for lunch, Lentil Shepherd’s Pie for dinner.

Day 8: So a week in and I’m down 5lbs which I’m super happy with and I think I’ll continue with the strict cleanse for another week before switching to the regular Starch Solution diet! I'm doing NO exercise either...more opportunity than anything but still.
Leftover Yammy Kale for breakfast and Homemade Pizza for lunch and dinner.
I was really impressed with his GF Pizza Dough recipe, it was actually springy!

Day 9: Had leftover Lentil Shepherd's Pie for breakfast, Tomato Basil Soup for lunch and Tofu Lasagna for dinner. The tofu ricotta really was good in the lasagna!

Day 10: Had Lentil Shepherd's Pie for breakfast, Lasagna for lunch and Baked Tofu with Asian Ginger Sauce and brown rice  for dinner. I was down 6lbs today!

Day 11: Lentil Shepherd's Pie for breakfast, Lasagna for lunch, Minestrone for dinner. Minestrone is a great one for getting rid of all the vegetables that seem like they might be on they way out! 

Day 12: For some reason this morning I was back up to only having lost 4lbs :( I did start walking and doing upper body weights again so I'm hoping it's just muscle gain. Lentil Shepherd's Pie for breakfast, lasagna for lunch, Minestrone for dinner.

Day 13: Minestrone for breakfast, Baked Tofu with Ginger sauce for lunch and Moroccan lentil soup for dinner. Was back to having lost 5lbs today so I was happy it wasnt going up at least LOL

Day 14: Last day! Minestrone for breakfast, Tunisian Sweet Potato Stew for lunch & dinner.

Most of these recipes you should be able to find in Dr McDougall’s newsletters. I’ve tried to keep the names exact so it’s easy to look up!

Moment of Truth...

 Before After

So in conclusion I think it's helped me get back on a whole food track, and cut the salt and fat out of my tastebuds. I also lost 6-7lbs all up and an inch of almost my whole body. Not bad for just eating healhty for a couple weeks. Breakfast was the hardest meal for me because I hate oatmeal and don't always have time to make a tofu scramble, although it did last for a couple of breakfasts when I did. I'm not sure if eating left over dinners as breakfast was good for the cause but I needed to get rid of all that food and I will not waste food, ever! Certainly the first processed thing I ate afterwards seemed way too salty for me. I think I can stick to his regular recipes easier than I could stick to the cleanse. With a bit of tweaking and maybe the occasional cheat days I'm sure I could stick to this for a long time...let's hope a lifetime!

On Day 15 I treated myself to a couple of beers and a dirty big vegan nachos but since it was all plant based, I'm think Dr McDougall would approve ;)