Sunday, 6 November 2016

Vegan Products November 2016

Here's some products I've found in the last couple of months.

I found Mueller's GF Pasta and it was pretty good and didn't fall apart which is always a bonus! All ingredients were vegan!

I'm in love Ripple pea based milk. It's got a thick texture and tastes very similar to regular milk so it's great as a substitute, especially in my cup of English tea! There a couple of varieties; sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla and chocolate. Found this in Target.

Found this Pascha chocolate bar, I think at a health store (maybe Native Sun). It was pretty good, nice and creamy. I love dark chocolate but not too dark and I find that anything over 60% is too bitter but a lot of brands under 60% are not vegan, this was!

Got these Hippeas vegan chickpea puffs at Starbucks, so good!!! Only sad part is they some in these tiny little packets!

Can't remember where I got this Lensi chickpea pasta from, probably a health store but it was pretty good and held it's structure well. It was heavy and nutty flavored.

Pure Knead is a vegan/gluten free brand of bread I discovered at a supermarket, I can't remember which one but I want to say Publix or Kroger! Its was pretty good, I mainly use it for toast.

I found these Maya Kaimal Sweet Chili Chickpea Chips at Kroger, they were soooo good!

I'm always on the look out for a good vegan plain yogurt and have yet to find one! I want a Greek yogurt style flavor to make certain dishes with. This So Delicious coconut yogurt was ok, it was a bit too sweet but when I make Raita it works because you normally add sweetness anyway. Pretty sure I found it at Target.

Found these vegan GF soups at Trader Joe's! Organic Split Pea & Organic Lentil Vegetable. They were basic canned soups, neither were anything special but I preferred the lentil.

Trader Joe's seems to have their own brand of vegan sugars which is great! Picked up this vegan powdered/icing sugar.

I found these plant based vegan food dyes at Native Sun made by Color Garden. They work fine but are ridiculous expensive. This pack of four colours was $12 and you can see by the picture how small the packets are - and non-resealable! For one lot of twelve cupcake icing I ended up having to use the orange and the read and yellow just to get a halfway decent orange color. By far the most expensive batch of cupcakes I've ever made!

Finally caved and tried the second vegan Ben & Jerry's flavor Coffee Caramel Fudge that is almost gluten free but not quite. Again it was pretty average compared to some of the other vegan ice creams I've had. It was very creamy but not much flavor. 

My gorgeous BFF found these vegan GF chocolates at Sweet Pete's Candy, Jacksonville FL. SO GOOD!!!!!

Have missed strawberry yogurt but this Almond Dream vegan version found at Target wasn't a good substitue in my opinion. gluggy and flavorless and no strawberries to be seen!

Love Earth Science deodorant and I found these vegan deodorants in TJ Maxx for $4-$5 which is great compared to $8 at the health stores!

Hubby brought home this Olly vegan GF protein powder from Target. It was ok, not a strong flavor so easy to mix with other things.

My BFF got these rice crackers from Trader Joe's good!

Homemade Vegan Baby Food

Making your own baby food is not only much cheaper but it
s super easy and better for your baby because your giving your child the fresh article!
Apparently 0-2 years is the most vulnerable time for pesticides so I only buy organic and with items that are really expensive fresh but reasonably priced frozen (especially items that don't loose a lot of nutritional value frozen such as peas, green beans & berries) I just buy organic frozen. And a lot of them you can steam in the bag so winning!

First time I fed him I let him try to feed himself, it was quite messy lol

I started at 6 months but many people start at 4 months. Start with individual items for a few days to watch for allergic reactions. My baby had an issue with broccoli straight way (horrible gas pain) and quinoa (blotchy red raised rash around bottom as passed in feces and trouble digesting).
Once the baby is ok with certain foods you can combine with one more item and monitor for reactions with the second item. Then you can add a third item etc.
Start with vegetables then add in fruits and then grains. I like brown rice and organic baby multi-grain cereal (which I mix with a little bit of formula and then add to a fruit/veg combination).

He loves peas!

I've got a list of combinations I really like (and that baby likes) at the bottom of the page :)
At the moment my baby at 9 months old loves everything I give him but apparently the fussiness kicks in around the 10th month+ so I will update on that. After 7-8 months depending on baby's progress it's fine to make the purees a little chunkier, especially with items that are easily mashed in the mouth such as bananas and sweet potato.

The easiest way to prepare apples, peas, potato, carrots, squash & spinach is to steam (or boil but retain some of the water - not from spinach though) then once cooled slightly add a bit of water (purified if you like) and blend.
For grains I cook as per instructions then add a small amount of water to puree. I bought a Rival "bullet" which was $10, compared with the Magic Bullet which is $30+ and it works great.
With bananas I usually just use 1/2 a banana and mash by hand.
Once pureed I spoon into ice cube trays and freeze overnight, then transfer into a labeled container.
Never add salt, sugar or seasonings as babies love the natural flavor of food. Variety is key, introducing a wide variety of colors and flavors to give your baby a well rounded palette.

With apples, peel and slice, make sure none of the hard core parts are present before chopping and steaming.

At 9 months I am feeding my baby 3 solid food meals a day (including 3-4oz of breast milk/formula) and 4x 5-6oz bottles of breast milk/formula with rice cereal mixed in.
For the solid meals I usually contain 3 cubes, each cube is around 2 Tbls (so 6Tbls per serve). If I'm serving cereal that is mixed with formula then that counts as 2Tbls so I only use 2 other cubes (or one cube and 1/2 banana).

Roughly the schedule goes;
6:30 am - Bottle 5-6oz breast milk/formula mixed with 1-2 Tbls rice cereal
8:30 am - Solid meal in a bowl of 6Tbls food + bottle 3-4oz breast milk/formula
10:30 am -Bottle 5-6oz breast milk/formula mixed with 1-2 Tbls rice cereal
12:30 pm - Solid meal in a bowl of 6Tbls food + bottle 3-4oz breast milk/formula
2:30 pm - Bottle 5-6oz breast milk/formula mixed with 1-2 Tbls rice cereal
4:30 pm - Solid meal in a bowl of 6Tbls food + bottle 3-4oz breast milk/formula
6:30 pm - Bottle 5-6oz breast milk/formula mixed with 1-2 Tbls rice cereal

I microwave 1 cube 30 seconds, 2 cubes 45 seconds and 3 cubes 1 minute. That generally works for most foods but some need a little extra. Then I mash with a fork because some items like brown rice can stay solid.

These are the baby cereals I use. The rice is good for bottles because it doesn't get too thick. The multi-grain and oatmeal are good for the solid food. 

L-R: Spinach, Peas, Brown Rice, Potato, Apple, Carrots, Raspberry, Blueberry

Some combinations that baby likes:

For 4-6 months

Apple & Potato
Peas & Carrots
Banana & Cereal
Sweet Potato & Mango

For 6-9 months

Green Beans, Sweet Potato & Apple
Pea, Carrot & Spinach
Sweet Potato, Mango & Carrot
Sweet Potato, Mango & Banana
Sweet Potato, Mango & Brown Rice (or Quinoa)
Apple, Potato & Spinach
Spinach, Pea & Apple
Raspberry, Banana & Cereal (or Brown Rice/Quinoa)
Sweet Potato, Carrot & Mango
Butternut, Apple & Banana
Sweet Potato, Apple, Carrot (and a cereal)
Potato, Carrot & Sweet Potato
Sweet Potato, Peas & Green Beans
Apple, Sweet Potato & Cereal
Peas, Carrots & Brown Rice
Apple, Carrot & Cereal
Banana, Blueberries & Cereal

These sites also are great resources;

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Creamy Spinach Pasta

Easy basic white sauce pasta dish. Would be divine with some sauted mushrooms too!

Creamy Spinach Pasta
serves two


1 cup chopped spinach (if frozen, defrost)
200ml soy/rice milk
2 Tbls GF flour
1 tsp vegan margarine
2 cloves garlic, finelty chopped
1 tsp salt
1 Tbls water at room temperature
2 Tbls nutritional yeast
salt or seasoning to taste (I like vegan chicken salt)
1/2 box GF pasta (serves two)


Cook pasta per packet instructions.
In a non stick saucepan add margarine and garlic on a low heat and sauté for 1 min.
In a small bowl whisk in flour and water and till it forms a paste without lumps.
Reduce heat to very low and pour in paste.
Whisk and pour in milk, small amounts at a time until blended.
Continue whisking and pouring milk until milk is finished.
Increase heat to medium and simmer until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.
Turn off heat, whisk in salt and nutritional yeast.
Stir in spinach and mix well.
Add in the cooked pasta and fold through.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Homemade Chai Tea

Adapted from a recipe on The Hathi Cooks. For Chai Latte add twice as much milk.

 Homemade Chai Tea
(makes 1 large cup or 2 small)


1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup water
1 to 2 tsp. vegan sugar, or agave
1 tsp. loose tea leaves
1-2 whole star anise
1/4 tsp. chai masala  see recipe below


Pour all ingredients into a saucepan.
Place over medium heat.
Allow to heat until small bubbles appear around the perimeter of the milk.
Stir the chai, scraping the bottom to avoid scalding the milk.
When the milk comes to a boil, turn off the heat and stir well.
Bring to a boil once again, turn off the heat and stir well.
Allow to steep for a few minutes.
Strain carefully into a cup, and serve.

Chai Masala
Makes about 1 cup of chai masala.


16 g. whole black peppercorn (or finely ground, same weight. Volume: 1 cup + 7 Tbsp)
25 g. whole dried ginger or ginger powder (Volume: 1 cup + 8 Tbsp)
10 g. cinnamon sticks (or finely ground, same weight. Volume: 1/4 cup + 2 1/2 Tbsp)
10 g. whole cardamom seeds (or finely ground, same weight. Volume: 1/2 cup + 1/2 Tbsp)
1 g. whole cloves (or finely ground, same weight. Volume: 1 Tbsp)
1 g. nutmeg (or finely ground, same weight. Volume: 1 Tbsp)


If you are using whole spices, weigh out the appropriate amount, place in spice grinder and grind into a fine powder.
Mix all the spices together, store in an airtight jar in a cool, dry part of your kitchen.
Do not expose to too much sunlight.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Brown Lentil Dahl

Original recipe from NY Times. Dahl is an easy, tasty & healthy way to enjoy Indian cuisine. I love it paired with raita and saffron rice.

Brown Lentil Dahl


½ pound brown lentils (about 1 1/8 cups), washed
1 small onion, cut in half
2 garlic cloves, cut in half
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons curry powder
Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
Chopped cilantro for garnish


Combine the lentils, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and water in a medium soup pot or heavy saucepan.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.
Add salt to taste (under-salt slightly because you will be reducing the liquid), and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes, until the lentils are falling apart tender and fragrant.
Remove the onion and garlic and discard.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the spices and stir as they sizzle for about 30 seconds, until very fragrant.
Add the beans with their liquid and cook, stirring and mashing with the back of a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, like refried beans.
Add salt to taste, once the mixture has reduced to the desired consistency.
Spoon onto plates and top each serving with a generous spoonful of yogurt and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

Fried Falafel with Tahini Sauce

Original falafel recipe from Tori Avey.

Fried Falafel with Tahini Sauce


1 pound (about 2 cups) dry chickpeas/garbanzo beans - you must start with dry, do NOT substitute canned, they will not work!
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3-5 cloves garlic (I prefer roasted)
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground cardamom
Vegetable oil for frying (grapeseed, canola, and peanut oil work well)


Pour the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover them by about 3 inches of cold water.
Let them soak overnight. They will double in size as they soak – you will have between 4 and 5 cups of beans after soaking.
Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans well.
Pour them into your food processor along with the chopped onion, garlic cloves, parsley, flour, salt, cumin, ground coriander, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and cardamom.
Pulse all ingredients together until a rough, coarse meal forms.
Scrape the sides of the processor periodically and push the mixture down the sides.
Process till the mixture is somewhere between the texture of couscous and a paste.
Once the mixture reaches the desired consistency, pour it out into a bowl and use a fork to stir; this will make the texture more even throughout. Remove any large chickpea chunks that the processor missed.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Fill a skillet with vegetable oil to a depth of 1 ½ inches.
Heat the oil slowly over medium heat.
Meanwhile, form 2 Tbls of falafel mixture into round balls or slider-shaped patties using wet hands or a falafel scoop.
The balls will stick together loosely at first, but will bind nicely once they begin to fry.
Before frying my first batch of falafel, I like to fry a test one in the center of the pan.
If the oil is at the right temperature, it will take 2-3 minutes per side to brown (5-6 minutes total).
If it browns faster than that, your oil is too hot and your falafels will not be fully cooked in the center. Cool the oil down slightly and try again.
When the oil is at the right temperature, fry the falafels in batches of 5-6 at a time till golden brown on both sides.
Once the falafels are fried, remove them from the oil using a slotted spoon.
Let them drain on paper towels.
Serve the falafels fresh and hot; they go best with a plate of hummus and topped with creamy tahini sauce.

Tahini Sauce


1/2 cup tahini paste
1 Tbls lemon juice
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
1 tsp fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste


Whisk or process all ingredients adding a small amount of water and increase the water until you have the consistency you desire.

Coriander Quinoa Salad with Chili Lime Dressing

I invented this when I had some left over quinoa and it was so delicious. Serves two as a side or one big piggy like me :)

Coriander Quinoa Salad with Chili Lime Dressing


1 cup cooked quinoa
2 carrots cut julienne or shredded
1/2 cup sugar snap peas, topped and tailed
1/4 cup wilted baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped coriander/cilantro leaves
Juice of one lime
1 tsp agave/sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp chili flakes
2 tsp sesame oil


In a large bowl mix together the salad ingredients.
In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, agave, salt, chilli flakes and sesame oil.
Pour dressing over salad and toss well.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Vegan Products - September 2016

A few vegan products I've recently tried...

I've been wanting to try Vegan Magic (aka Vegan Bacon Grease) for the longest time but I couldn't think about what I would use it for. It's mainly coconut oil with some salt and flavorings to mimic pork fat but it wasn't as flavorsome as I'd hoped.
In the end I decided on southern collard greens. They were pretty good!

My husband discovered Ripple for me in Target - 100% vegan, pea based milk. They were really good, the milk is very creamy so perfect for tea & coffee! First real cup of tea I feel like I'v had since going vegan!

My BFF got these Marjon tofu crumbles I think at Publix. It was pretty good, we ended up using it for nachos :)

I was pretty excited about Ben & Jerry's "vegan" range of ice-creams. So far it's only four flavors and of that only one is gluten free so that's the one I chose. Fail, Ben & Jerry's, fail!It was pretty good but I still prefer the So Delicious range. I was dubious about the sugar being vegan - the response from B&Js below.

Whenever you move to a new place there's always the struggle to find good vegan GF bread!
I found these two. Little Northern Bakehouse and DeLands. I especially love the DeLands bread range, made excellent grilled cheese

Found a new Amy's meal to try! I especially love that they made the effort to find vegan cheese!

Found Two Brothers GF beer at a health store in Jacksonville, FL. It was pretty good, very like a pilsner. My favorite is still Greens but its just so expensive so the search goes on!

I had been craving baked beans on toast for a while and I can never seem to find any that are GF and vegan. Finally found this Walnut Acres one at a health store. So yum!

New brand of vegan wine...yay!!!! Natura Organic Wine's whole range is vegan which is great.

Primal Chocolate - found this Almond Sea Salt Dark Chocolate at Fresh Market, Jacksonville FL. It was a little bitter but pretty nice.

I like to buy dried beans because it's way cheaper and pretty easy. I thought this HamBeens  15 bean soup mix was just bean mix, I didn't realise it was a soup mix so when I saw the "ham flavored" soup package I did despair...until I read the ingredients. I couldn't find anything about it that wasn't GF or vegan so I called the company just to make sure and they confirmed all their products are animal product free! Here's a link to the recipe I used, although obviously I forgo the meat and added stock cause it was a bit bland without. Was so good my kids even wanted some!

My BFF found vegan cheese at Trader Joe's! Tasted pretty similar to Daiya honestly.