Friday, 30 May 2014

Tomato Coconut Cream Soup

This is based on one of the nicest tomato based sauces I've ever had and I got this from Maple Spice.
I had the idea of making it into a soup when my mother in law had a creamy tomato soup in a restaurant and said she thought there was coconut milk in it. truly delicious!

Tomato Coconut Cream Soup


1 Tbsp vegan margarine
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
100ml white wine
250g tomato paste
I can coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt
5 grinds black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup water


Heat the margarine and olive oil in a medium saucepan until the margarine melts.
Add the shallots and garlic and fry for a few minutes over low heat until the shallots are soft.
Add the wine and let simmer until it has reduced about a third.
Add tomato paste, salt and pepper, coconut milk and water and stir well.
Bring back to a simmer, cover and let simmer for about 15 - 20 minutes stirring occasionally until reduces slightly.
Turn off the heat and let cool slightly then tip it all into a blender and blend until smooth and creamy.
Add more pepper to taste.
Serve with crusty GF bread rolls or garlic bread!

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Nacho Bean Bowl

This recipe from Teresa Cutter aka The Healthy Chef was made by me by a dear friend. It was so delicious!

Nacho Bean Bowl
Serves 6
Time it takes: 30 minutes
2 onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 red capsicum, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 bunch coriander
1 tablespoon grated ginger
100 g sweet corn kernels
400 g black beans or red kidney beans (cooked)
800 g sun ripened tomatoes (blended)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (no added salt)
Black pepper
1 avocado
200 g vegan natural yoghurt or cour cream (optional)
Saute the onion, garlic, chilli, capsicum, chopped coriander stalk, and sweet corn for about 5 minutes in a large pot until softened.
Add the cumin powder,  tomato paste,  crushed tomato and beans.
Simmer over a medium – low heat for 20 minutes until thick and rich.
Season with plenty of black pepper and stir through coriander leaves.
Serve topped with avocado and a dollop of thick natural yoghurt.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Aussie Adventure

Apologies for the lack of activity recently but I've just spend two weeks in Australia visiting friends and relatives...needless to saw it was awesome. I took as many pictures as I could to share with you the culinary delights in which I partook (as frequently as I possibly could) ;)

My Aussie Adventure (told through the medium of food)

Sydney, New South Wales

Bull N Bush in Baulkham Hills may be a little bit far out of the city but it's the first pub I've come across that actually understood the term "gluten free vegan" and didn't need any help putting together this delicious vegetable risotto. Delicious! Well done Bull N Bush!

I was staying in a lovely area called Cremorne, close to the city and close to wonderful bars & restaurants.

Cape Comorin (formally known as Cape Cremorne) has delicious Indian food and is tucked away up stairs from Military road, the main road that runs through Cremorne. They have a great vegetarian selection and are really good about not using ghee if you ask them. I believe I had the Aloo Gobi.

Another Cremorne Restaurant I love is the Thai Intra. I've been going there for 15 years, they are always so good with the vegan thing. They didn't even have those fresh spring rolls on the menu, they made them just for me :) Plus they are one of the few BYO restaurants that will let you take your own beer.

A place I never knew exisited although I've driven past the entrance many, many times was the quaint Saligna Cafe tucked inside the beautiful Cumberland State Forest.
They did me up this delicious vegan brekkie!

Another place I like to go for breakfast/brunch in Sydney is the Sparrow Cafe, Crows Nest. You know it's a trendy place when they only have a Facebook page, not a website LOL
They are pretty good with the gluten free thing and I tend to just ask for a bunch of sides. Didn't get a particularly big serving this time but previously they have been pretty good.
They also have this smoky Gun Powder Green Tea that I LOVE!
There's my bestie hiding in the reflection ;) 

Some good friends and I met in Newtown which is a go to for vegans, along king Street you'll find an array of vegan or vegan friendly restaurants. We went to a non-vegan Japanese Tapas place called Wagaya slighly tucked away upstairs looking over King Street, but you enter through Church Street. This place for me was all novelty. They have an electronic menu so whatever you touch just gets delivered to you at some point, no wait staff (except to bring you the food). The food was ok. I like the fact they had Agedashi Eggplant - kind of different and delicious. Fried Lotus root seems to be all the new rage, it's delicious but I still like my Lotus Root steamed. I didn't like that they heated up the plum wine, which is meant to be on ice, and it was obviously watered down. You water down my alcohol, you're going to get a bad tip! ;)

I noticed this vegan Thai restaurant on King Street too, sorry I didn't get to try it though :(

Not really something that I ate but I wanted to mention, on the subject of Newtown, at the city end of King Street there is a great vegan Chinese restaurant called the Green Gourmet, next door they have their own supermarket which is vegan heaven. A lot of it is stuff they make themselves. I still dream about their vegan ham...mmmm. This fish sauce that they make is so good. I love it for my Thai curries and soups!

I had a small gathering on the rooftop bar at the Glenmore Hotel which has breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour and city....well that is unless a HUGE cruise ship isn't parked there blocking the entire view ;)
Usually there I would just get fries but they have (since their renovations) upped their menu a bit and have a lovely selection of salads, this is the Speckled Salad with quinoa. They had a delicious strawberry and lime Kopparberg Premium Cider on tap too!

Just down the road from the Glenmore Hotel is The Australian Hotel which has over 100 Australian beers to try. The Little Creatures Pale Ale is my favourite.
They do a few different vegetarian pizzas and a gluten free base so just get it with out cheese and you are winning! This is the Antipasto pizza. Still miss the eggplant one that is no longer on the menu :(

Condor Japanese Noodle Restaurant apparently has been at the top of York street for at least 20 years but I never new it was there. My friend introduced me too it and they actually had a pretty decent vegetarian menu! I had the Agedashi Tofu, Kimchi and Vegetable Hot Pot. YUM!

Josophan's Fine Chocolates has become one of my favourite chocolatiers. They are based in the Blue Mountains but opened a store in Sydney city a couple of years ago. Almost everything there is vegan except their milk chocolate range and most of the truffles in the front. All their dark chocolate and hot chocolates are vegan and the Hazelnut & Cocoa Nib Praline truffle is's soooo good! Hubby is addicted to the Chilli Hot Chocolate :)

My gorgeous friend Sarah had me over for dinner and made this delicious bowl nachos. So good, of course I had to steal the recipe from her. Here it is! :)

I love the The Tea Centre, tucked away inside the Glasshouse in Pitt Street Mall, although I believe they have a few other locations all over Australia now too. They have such an amazing range of teas and the store itself is so quaint and pretty. My favourite for at least 15 years has been the Blood Orange Tea!

I went to see a family friend for a catch up and they had these awesome tea bags that had been given to them as a gift. Tea Forté is obviously trying to hit the high end of the market but what a beautiful gift?? Love them! They are pyramid bags with a gorgeous wire leave as a string so you can actually loop it over the tea cup and leave it without it falling in. They are just so gorgeous! Wonderful idea for corporate gifts or wedding favours!

Sunshine Coast, Queensland

My cousins are lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful parts of Australia. Of course whenever you have a wonderful outdoor lifestyle you have a BBQ (or a grill as the yanks would say).

We had a lovely family BBQ with grilled garlic portabello mushrooms, vegan burger and salad (salad was pear, rocket, pomegranate and walnuts...mmm)

While in QLD I discovered this Zehnder GF vegan bread. OMG the BEST GF bread I've ever had, I could eat it straight from the packet...and I did ;)
This is actually made on the Sunshine Coast, QLD but it is available all over Australia...YAAAAY!

The Eumundi Markets are a huge touristy thing to do when on the Sunshine Coast. Gorgeous handmade and local items mixed with cheap knock offs etc but it's the cousin said she only ever seems to spend money on the food LOL.
Being traditionally a hippie type area I figured I was in for a treat and wasn't disappointed!
The Organic Vegan Burgers stall had every vegan and most GF. Just divine!

This Milano Gelato stall had a range of "sorbets" that were completely vegan. The reason they were completely vegan were because they were literally just frozen fruit put through a machine that made them creamy and soft. OMG - sooooo good!!!! I had the pineapple/mango mix.

We had a taco dinner night with my cousins kids and I was pretty impressed with how many vegetables she puts out for them (and they actually used!). 

My cousin Tim is a head chef at Taps, which is a super cool restaurant bar in Mooloolaba, QLD. Each table has their own range of local boutique beers and ciders that you can pour yourself. I favoured the locally made Ginger Beer. They also have many board games to keep kids (and adults) amused :)
Timmy whipped me up this awesome roast pumkpin, beetroot and rocket salad with a side of sweet potato fries. Considering he didn't even know we were coming and it wasn't on the menu, that's what a real chef should be able to do! great place - check it out!

Directly across from Coolum Beach is a quaint little Japanese place called Hanami that strangely doesn't do many sushi rolls! They did have seaweed salad, fried lotus roots and Agedashi favourite!

I did discover this New Earth cafe in Coolum which had many vegan items but sadly didn't get to try anything.

Melbourne, Victoria

OMG if you are in Melbourne you HAVE to go to Red Robyn cafe. This cafe is all gluten free and mostly vegan. It is situated in Camberwell on a quiet part of Camberwell Road. It is so fricken cute and the staff are so friendly. I had the nachos and Banoffe crepes. So amazing. Look at all those amazing bakery treats! And yes I did get a vanilla slice to go and it was amazing!

The reason I was in Melbourne was for my bestie's wedding. 
They had the ceremony and reception at the beautiful Roselyn Court, Essendon.
The venue provided me with an gorgeous antipasto for starters, vegetable stuffed capsicum pepper with mash for mains and a lovely fruit platter for dessert. You know a good venue when they treat your difficult guest well LOL. They even had vegan wine, although that was probably just an accident :)

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Beach Body 10 Week Program Completed!

So I finally finished the Beach Body - Focus T-25 10 Week Challenge. It was recommended by a friend of mine who had amazing results doing the challenge.
I have to admit although I was so motivated in the first 4 weeks, once I got towards the middle my mojo started to wan because I wasn't seeing the results I expected to.
Having a FB group that my friend Lizzie made was really helpful and kept me on track.
Misery loves company LOL! Seeing real people's results really keeps you motivated!
Lizzie was amazing and invaluable during the whole challenge and being a nutritionist was able to help me with food related questions too.
If you decide to give this or any other Beach Body challenges a try please sign Lizzie up as your coach.
Her coach ID is 318895.

My goal weight was 125lbs but if I've learned anything from this challenge it's that scales really don't matter. When you start putting on muscle you won't show that differently on the scales, you'll just look and feel different! 


                                          BEFORE  (Feb 2014)        AFTER (May 2014)
                                          Lbs:136                            Lbs:128
                                          Chest:35"                        Chest:34"
                                          Waist:35"                        Waist:32"
                                          Hips:39"                           Hips:37"
                                          Thighs:22.5"                    Thighs:21.5"
                                          Arms:12"                        Arms:11"

All the meals for the first 6 weeks or so were from the meal planner on the Beach Body website. I chose the vegetarian option and then substituted items to make it vegan and gluten free. I really enjoyed the meals they recommended and that made it easy to stay on track.
Once I started using my own recipes I put them into a Fitness Pal app which gave the calories.
I was trying to stay between 1200-1400. Although as you may have seen I went over quite a few times. I found once I was working out so much that I was hungry all the time!
You don't have to buy anything to sign up to the website for free and get the recipes and use their online fitness tools so that's a bonus!

Here are all the blogs from each week with an account of the exercises regime and meal plan.

Once I got to Week 8 and hurt my back and I wasn't seeing a huge difference on the scales I started to lose momentum but then I went on a road trip to Southern Utah. The food choices weren't good and I couldn't do my workouts - sounds bleak so far I know. Anyway then during Week 9 I did the 3 mile hike to see the Delicate Arch at Arches National park and I couldn't believe how fit I was - just striding past everybody without even breaking a sweat. That topped with seeing myself in a full length mirror at the hotel really showed me what I had been working for.
I hadn't changed much on the scales because the muscle weight was replacing the fat weight. I looked toned and healthy and I actually was fit as well. I felt really motivated to keep going and finish but more than that - to stick with a healthy eating plan and workouts forever!
What I've learned is to not lose hope or beat yourself up - you will have bad days where you eat a whole bucket of ice-cream, you will want a wine time with the ladies, you will not want to do your workouts every now and then but that's no reason to give up. You just get back on the horse and it's ok. I think I've learned a bit about myself on this journey too - that I can do it if I set my mind to it...even when the beer is calling and I answer :)