Thursday, 1 October 2015

Newly Discovered Vegan Products - October 2015

So many new and delicious vegan products on the market everyday! Some maybe not as new as others but I have only recently discovered them ;)

Bai 5 drinks I found at Kroger but I assume they are available everywhere! They use natural fruit juices and Stevia as sweetener.

I found this vegan jerky at Cashew Cafe in Chattanooga. The brand is Primal Strips and they had a few different flavors but this was the only GF one but it was pretty delicious!

I love me some boxed chocolates and any vegan who also has my passion knows they are hard to come by and usually overpriced :(
I got these vegan and GF boxed chocolates by Divine Treasures online at Vegan Essentials.
They were expensive and weren't the best vegan boxed chocolates I've ever had but they were definitely good enough to satisfy my cravings :)

I'm a little but in love with these breakfast sausages by Sol Cuisine which are both vegan and GF!
They taste like sausage and are super easy to prepare, you don't even have to defrost!
Shown here with vegan scrambled eggs.

So I have mixed feelings about Premium Chocolatiers. These two chocolate products, the No No's (M&Ms) and No Whey (Milky Way/Mars Bar) state that they are vegan on the packaging but in recent communications with them I found out they don't always use vegan sugar, they use whatever is available from their sugar manufacturer. This was a bit disappointing to me as I feel a bit cheated when something states clearly that they are vegan when they really aren't. They claim by the end of 2015 they will only be using vegan sugar but I'm not sure if I will feel good buying their products again. Shame cause the No No's are really good.

I got these Elianni vegan patés from Vegan Essentials and they were sooooo delicious. My only problem is that they go so quickly!! Elianni has a few products I would love to try, looks like all their stuff is GF so YAY!

Some of these I found in Utah, some in Georgia but all were delicious!!
I love having a GF vegan frozen meal option when I don't feel like cooking!
Thanks Amy's!

Unless you really hate cashew milk I urge you to try So Delicious' new cashew milk range of ice-creams. OMG SO CREAMY AND AMAZING!!!

I jumped on the "dulse as vegan bacon" bandwagon a little while ago and wasn't that impressed with the bacon part but the I am loving dulse as a very versatile seaweed. The taste is very mild and the health benefits amazing. I've been putting mine in homemade miso soup. So good!
I got this one on Amazon from Seaweed Iceland.

Found these Amy's vegan & GF veggie burgers and there were pretty tasty. There are so many veggie burgers on the market but these were definitely in my top 10.

Found these tasty GF & vegan crackers at Harmons, I think I like the Crunchmaster ones the best. Amazing on their own or with some vegan cheese or spread.

Vegan caviar!!! Ok so not new but it's not cheap so I only get it very rarely. I've only ever tried Cavi-art which is a Danish brand of seaweed caviar but its pretty darn amazing.
Shown here with vegan deviled eggs.

I really loved this vegan block cheese by Follow Your Heart, it was a mild taste but tasted like cheese and went with everything. YUM

Taquitos!!! Vegan and GF by Starlite Cuisine (which is all vegan products), they taste the best when microwaved and then baked to crispy perfection. A bit of a greasy indulgence....mmmm!

Get Well Cider

With flu season just around the corner this is a recipe for a citrus concoction that will help you fight through. This is a soothing vitamin C rich cider that is guaranteed to make you feel better. My BFF gave me this family recipe that was passed on by her grandmother, she called it "Russian Tea".

Get Well Cider


3 oranges
3 lemons
20 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 litres (1/2 gallon) of iced tea (use sweetner of choice)
2 litres (1/2 gallon) pre-made orange juice


Juice the oranges and lemon, mix in the pre-made orange juice and put juice aside.

In a large saucepan place the orange and lemon rinds and fill with water until the skins are covered.
Add in cinnamon stick and cloves and boil.
While boiling use a wooden spoon to press the skins against the side of the pot to get the oils out.

If you haven't already brew your tea. I used decaf but you can make it as strong or as week as you like. I sweetened with agave syrup.

After the skins have boiled for 15-20 mins, take off heat and discard skins.
Run water through a sieve to remove the cloves and cinnamon. Remember it's the water you want to keep!
Pour water & tea into the juice and serve hot or cold. 
Will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Weekend visit to Georgia, Tennessee & Washington

I spent last weekend in Georgia with my BFF as we had our high school reunion to go to...I won't tell you how many years ;)
I was also luckily enough to spend a few hours in Seattle as part of a stopover.

I flew with Alaska Airlines and they had a snack option called the Mediterranean Tapas which was advertised as GF, vegan and kosher. I was a bit skeptical of a couple items (the hummus and dark chocolate) once I purchased as they contained regular sugar so I will update when I hear back from those companies. But it was still nice to see them trying!!!

In Atlanta, GA we went to a divine restaurant called Cafe Sunflower. Don't let the name fool you, this is no cafe, it's vegan fine dining! It was a little bit pricey but the food and atmosphere was great. I had the Spicy Pad Thai Noodles and my friend had the Orzo Eggplant Lasagna. We shared a chocolate torte for dessert, it was the only GF cake. Definitely a great place for a romantic date :)

In Dalton, GA I found some great vegan products in the Kroger which had a terrific health/vegan/allergy section.

I had never heard of Bai 5 drinks before but they are vegan and very tasty. They do use Stevia as their sweetener though so it has that Stevia after taste!

These are a couple of Amy's vegan/GF meals that I found in the frozen health section. Pretty tasty!

We ate at the Fuji Steak & Sushi Restaurant. They have a few vegan sushi (nori) rolls and obviously vegetable tempura is you're not allergic to gluten but I had the tofu & vegetable teppanyaki (hibachi) as the rest of the family was doing that. The tofu was deep fried and delicious AND gluten free! I made the waiter show me the packet for the ingredients LOL

We did a little lunch trip to Chattanooga, TN to Coolidge Park to look around the cute shops and ate at Cashew Plant Based Vegan Cafe. The food was amazing, the prices very reasonable and the cafe itself was cute as a button.

I had the Hummus and Roast Vegetable Wrap and my friend had the Chipotle BBQ Burger (which was not GF) and I got a side of their cashew cheese which was SOOOO good!

At the front of the cafe they sold vegan bakery goods (many of which were GF) and vegan jerky! I got a jelly donut and some teriyaki jerky which was the only GF one. I really couldn't recommend this place highly enough!

On my way back to SLC I had a few hours stopover in Seattle, WA so I decided to get the light rail and see the Pike Markets and the Space Needle. What a beautiful city! Reminded me so much of my beloved hometown Sydney, Australia...*sniff, sniff*.

Right next to the Pike Market place was the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and to my delight they had a little vegan section at the front counter! The only thing that was GF was the chocolate covered marzipan but being half Hungarian I love marzipan so I was all over that!

The Seattle/Tacoma Airport was so cute, they had such a clean pretty food court complete with trees and talented live musicians! I got some vegan sushi at Maki of Japan in the Central Terminal food court.

I was surprised to see a Butter London store in the airport too! They are a UK brand of vegan nail polish. The store at the airport also had a salon where they do manicures and pedicures and it's the only Butter London salon in the USA apparently! They had the entire range of nail polishes too which was very exciting to me but unfortunately I was only a budget and couldn't get any. Butter London is great but not cheap!

Deep Fried Vegan Spring/Egg Rolls

This is a delicious filling for vegan spring/egg rolls adapted from a recipe on Jamie Oliver's page. I used rice paper rolls from the Asian market that were are made for deep frying but if you're not gluten free you can just use spring roll/wonton wrappers.

Deep Fried Vegan Spring/Egg Rolls


40g dried Asian mushro, I assume he means shiitake (I used button mushrooms, sliced and sautéed)
50g vermicelli noodles
200g Chinese cabbage, finely sliced
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
3 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger , peeled and grated
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 large bunch of Thai basil, roughly chopped
1large bunch of coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped
20ml sesame oil
75g beansprouts
3 Tbls toasted peanuts, crushed
2 Tbls reduced-salt soy sauce (I used Tamari wheat free)
2 Tbls oyster sauce
1 Tbls cornflour
16 large spring roll wrappers , thawed if frozen (I got 12 using the rice paper wrappers)
1 Tbls Chinese five spice powder
1 litre groundnut oil for frying


Put your mushrooms in a medium-sized bowl, cover with hot water and leave for 10 minutes, or until soft.
Meanwhile, place the noodles in a large bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 1 minute. Drain, rinse under cold water, then set aside.
For the filling, put the cabbage, carrot, white part of the spring onion, ginger, chilli and herbs in a large bowl along with the rice noodles.
Add the sesame oil, beansprouts, peanuts, Chinese five spice, soy and oyster sauces, and mix well. When they’re ready, drain the mushrooms, then chop them and stir into the filling.
Season to taste.

In a small bowl, blend the cornflour and 2 tablespoons of cold water.
Next, lay one spring-roll wrapper, smooth-side down, on a clean surface as a diamond shape, with one corner pointing down towards you.
Place another wrapper on top (the extra thickness will stop the rolls from breaking open while cooking).
**Because I used the rice paper rolls I only used one layer and rolled them like you would for fresh spring rolls and only used one layer.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of the filling on the bottom corner of the double wrapper.
Brush each corner with the cornflour mixture, then start rolling up from the bottom.
When the filling is covered, pull the corners in from each side (to seal the ends as you go).
Continue rolling until the filling is tightly covered, then press to seal the top corner.
Lay the finished roll on a large baking tray and cover with a damp tea towel.

Put oil onto a high heat while you're wrapping the rolls.
Continue until you’ve filled all the wrappers.
Turn the oil heat down to a medium heat.
To check whether the oil is ready, drop in a piece of filling; it should sizzle and start to turn golden. In small batches, carefully lower the spring rolls into the oil and deep-fry for 2–3 minutes, or until golden brown.
I got about 4 at once but mine were big, wonton wrappers are much smaller rolls.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Serve with your favourite dipping sauce. I used sweet chilli and a combination of satay with hoisin.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Homemade Dill Pickles

You can can these to make their shelf life longer but I just used the easiest method, just make sure to eat them within a few weeks...definitely not an issue in our house!
Original recipe from The Kitchn. Make sure you sterilize your jars first - wash in hot soapy water then rinse and place in the oven on 400F for 10-20 minutes. Lids can go in the last few minutes, if you put them in the whole time the rubber will burn.

Homemade Dill Pickles
Makes 2 pint jars

1 1/2 pounds Kirby or Persian cucumbers
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tsp dill seed
2 tsp pickling spice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons pickling or kosher salt


Wash and dry the cucumbers.
Trim away the blossom end of the cucumber.
Leave the pickles whole, cut them into spears, or slice them into coins, as preferred.
Add the spices to the jars: Divide the garlic, dill seed, and red pepper flakes (if using) between the pint jars.
Pack the pickles into the jars, trim the ends if they stand more than 1/2 inch below the top of the jar. Pack them in as tightly as you can without smashing the cucumbers.
Combine the vinegar, water, and salt in a small sauce pan over high heat.
Bring to a rolling boil.
Pour the brine over the pickles, filling each jar to within 1/2-inch of the top.
Gently tap the jars against the counter a few times to remove all the air bubbles.
Top off with more pickling brine if necessary.
Once cooler place the lids over the jars and screw on the rings until tight.
Leave until cooled and store the pickles in the fridge.
The pickles will improve with flavor as they age — try to wait at least 48 hours before cracking them open.

Optional — For longer storage, place the jars in a boiling pot of water.
When the water comes back to a boil, set the timer for 5 minutes and remove the jars immediately. Make sure the lids pop down; if they do not, refrigerate those pickles and eat them first.
Let the jars cool to room temperature.
If you processed the jars, they can be stored on the shelf.
Canned pickles will keep for at least a year on the shelf and for several weeks in the refrigerator once opened; refrigerator pickles will keep for several weeks.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Mixed Mushroom Risotto

I adapted Jamie Oliver's basic risotto recipe to vegan and then made it mushroomy....mmmmm! This is a wonderfully rich dish so you may prefer it as a starter :)

Mixed Mushroom Risotto


1.1 litres vegetable stock
2 Tbls vegan butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ head celery, finely chopped (I used 1 tsp celery salt in lieu)
400 g risotto rice
2 wineglasses dry white vermouth or dry white wine
sea salt
4 cups mixed mushrooms (I used porcini, shiitake, oyster and portobello)
1 tsp dried tarragon
3 springs of parsley, chopped
Juice of one lemon
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbls of vegan butter
90 g vegan Parmesan cheese


Heat the stock to nearly boil and then reduce heat to low and keep on a simmer.
In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions, garlic and celery, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring.
When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat to medium and keep stirring.
After a minute it will look slightly translucent.
Add the vermouth or wine and keep stirring.
Once the vermouth or wine has cooked into the rice, add in mushrooms and dried herbs and stir through.
Alternatively you can fry or grill your mushrooms separately and add once cooked.
Add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt.
Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn't cook too quickly on the outside.
Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next.
This will take around 15 minutes.
Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite.
Don't forget to check the seasoning carefully.
If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.
Adding more stock will make the risotto too salty.
Add in lemon juice and fresh herbs.
Remove from the heat and add the butter and Parmesan. Stir well.
Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes.
Season with salt and black pepper before serving.