Sunday, 29 January 2017

Homemade Stock

I've been meaning to make my own stock for ages but never got around to it. It's so easy! I've been keeping kitchen scraps (all vegetable and nothing that looked like it was going bad) in the freezer in a zip lock bag. Once I had a decent amount I figured it was time! Make sure your scraps have been washed prior to freezing.

Homemade Stock


1 onion, cut in half
1-2 carrots, cut into thirds
2 stalks of celery
kitchen scraps (mine already included fennel, parsley, green onions etc)


Fry up your onion, carrots and celery first with a small amount of olive oil.

Add all ingredients into a large pot with around 6 cups of water or enough to cover the scraps.

Bring to boil then cover and simmer for 1 hour, or longer if you like. I like leaving it to simmer for 2 hours or more if I have the time because the flavour is stronger.
Wait till it cools before straining the liquid.
Once liquid is cool enough store in freezer, I used zip lock bags in 2 cup lots.
Now I use 1/2 cup silicon molds or 1 -2 cup plastic food containers because my bags kept leaking.

Basic Marinara Sauce

Great base for pasta sauce and soups.

Basic Marinara Sauce


1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup good red wine
2 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan.
Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, parsley, basil salt, and pepper.
Cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 45 minutes.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Great recipe from DIY Natural. Note: I replaced all the sugars with brown rice syrup and used my own homemade Worcestershire sauce..

Homemade BBQ Sauce
(makes about 1 ½ cups sauce)


½ cup tomato paste
½ cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground mustard seed
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 cups filtered water


Mix all ingredients, except water, in a medium saucepan until combined.
Add the water and bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking to eliminate any lumps.
Simmer the mixture for 50 minutes, or until the sauce reaches your desired thickness.
Store in a sealed, glass jar in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Vegan Meat Pies

Recipe from Vegan Sweet & Simple! Serve with Homemade Tomato Sauce/Ketchup!

Vegan Meat Pies

1 cup superfine brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour (I substituted for rice flour)
½ cup potato starch
¼ cup sweet rice flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
½ cup cold, hard vegan butter or margarine.
¾ cup ice water

1½ cups of dry textured soy protein (I used Gardien crumbles so didn't need the water or bouillon)
Hot water
2 tsps vegetable bouillon paste or powder
1 small brown onion, diced
¼ cup corn flour
1 cup vegetable broth
¼ cup ketchup (I used homemade)
1 tbsp BBQ sauce (i used homemade)
1 tbsp vegan and gluten-free worcestershire sauce
2 tsps vegemite (I used Marmite).
¼ cup peas
I also included a spash of red wine
Water, as necessary


In a mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients so that they are well combined.
Add the butter a little at a time and mix using a pastry cutter on your stand mixer or by hand using a fork.
Once the butter has been evenly incorporated into the mixture and it appears crumbly, make a well in the middle and add the ice water.
Mix with a fork until you have a nice dough, but don’t overwork it!
Pat dough together with your hands and then turn it out onto a sheet of plastic wrap.
Enclose the dough in the wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

While the crust is chilling, prepare the filling
Put 1½ cups of dry textured soy protein in a medium bowl and cover with hot water.
Add 2 tsps of bouillon to the soy protein, mix and allow it to absorb the water and flavors until it is soft (10-15 minutes).
Heat a pan with enough oil to lightly coat the bottom for a few minutes on medium-high heat until hot.
Add the onion to the pan and sauté until soft and translucent.
Add the textured soy protein and sauté for 3-5 minutes more until it begins to brown.
Mix together the corn flour and the vegetable broth and set aside.
Add the remaining ingredients to the pan, mix well to incorporate, and allow the gravy to come to a boil and thicken.
Turn the heat down to medium-low and allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes more to allow the flavors to incorporate. You may need to add a few tablespoons of additional water here to prevent it from drying out too much.
Remove from the heat.

Preparing the pies
Turn your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius.
Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and dust it with rice flour.
Separate the dough into 3 even pieces, roll into balls using your hands and set aside.
Place one piece of chilled dough between two sheets of plastic wrap and using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is about ¼ inch thick.
Using a small bowl (about 2½ inches in diameter) or something else of the size that would allow you to fill the bottom of the muffin tin, cut out rounds and gently press them into the muffin cups so that they are completely lined and there is a little bit of overhang. You should be able to cut 12 appropriately-sized rounds out of two of the three pieces of dough. Be prepared to roll out the dough several times to do this.
Fill each of the muffin tins with the filling right to the top of the pie.
Combine the remaining dough and roll out to ¼ inch thick. Using an appropriately-sized glass just big enough to cover the tops of the pies, cut out 12 rounds.
Place the rounds on top of the pies and gently press together the edges of the bottom and top crusts using your fingers first and then a fork.
With a fork, poke some holes in the top of each pie to allow the filling to breath and stop it from bursting out while baking.
If you like, brush some olive oil or butter on the top of each pie.
Place the muffin tin on the top shelf of your oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust starts to lightly brown.
When done, remove from the oven and let the pies cool in the muffin tin for about 5 minutes.
You could add additional veggies to the filling or just leave the veggies out altogether (but keep the onion!)
These pies freeze really well, so if you’re not going to eat them all within 3 or so days, just pop them in the freezer.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Happy Australia Day!

Here are some vegan ideas for your Australia Day! Although living in the States now I try and celebrate where I can by making one or more of these items, streaming Triple J's Hottest 100 and plastering my family with Australian Flag temporary tattoos. Whatever Australia Day has in store for you I hope it's a good one. Miss my homeland so much!!!! :(

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup


1 1/2 cups marinara
1 can coconut milk
1/2 bunch basil
Salt & pepper to taste


Add all ingredients to a blender and blitz until smooth.
Heat over a medium heat and add seasoning as required.

Monday, 9 January 2017

I Quit Sugar Cleanse

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and NYE! As of January 1st I'm going on an 8 week sugar cleanse. I ate and drank a little bit too much over the festive season but honestly have kind of fallen off the healthy (ish) wagon since going to Australia in November. Before that I had been quite good with keeping healthy eating habit and regular exercise but like all routines, once you're out of them for a while they're gone :(
I'm determined to lose my post pregnancy weight (baby is 10 months old now so no excuses - plus I'm going to have to chase around a toddler soon) and get healthy in 2017! And I'm sick to death of wearing maternity clothes!! I'm usually not one for resolutions but this year I wanted to start fresh and try to quit sugar (and fit back into my regular clothes). My exercise goal is just 30 minutes of moving a day, usually a walk with the baby but yoga and pilates certainly counts!

I'm getting all my guidance from "I Quit Sugar" by Sarah Wilson. The idea is that it takes 8 weeks to cleanse yourself of sugar (fructose being the main culprit) and then after that you can introduce back in natural sugars such as fruit and brown rice syrup. As an adult I have to say I'm more a salt addict than a sugar one but I do realise now that I was consuming sugar in places that were hidden like sauces and "health foods". In the old days sugar was a treat and you would have only consumed less than 8 teaspoons of sugar a day which is still the recommendation today. Most people exceed this ten times just by the hidden sugar that lurks in everything under difference names and guises. Most of us don't even realise how much we are consuming, which is pretty scary when you think of the terrible health issues attributed to sugar consumption. I also found "That Sugar Film" a real wake up call too!

So my goal is to cleanse myself from sugar over the next 8 weeks and then start fresh by attempting to consume 8 teaspoons (or less, preferably none) of sugar daily. I'm hoping to even lose some weight as a side effect ;)
Lots of vegan sugar-free recipes on the IQS website!

Week 1

Did pretty well the first day! Didn't really miss sugar at all. Had natural peanut butter on toast for band black coffee for breakfast and then had homemade hummus and celery/fennel sticks for mid morning snack and then had a wonderful vegan New Year southern feast at my BFfs house and she made sure there was no sugar :)

Boiled collard greens, black eyed peas ain vegetable stock, cornbread and sweet potato.

Second day had grits for breakfast, kale pesto (from the book recipe) and GF pasta for lunch.
Felt like something sweet after dinner so I had a cup of chai rooibos tea.

Kale Pesto

I made roasted chickpeas for snacks. Garam Masala ones from the book recipe and ones from my previously used recipe.

Third day I had avocado on toast and black coffee for breakfast. Left over collard greens and corn bread for lunch. Dandelion pesto with celery/fennel for snack. Lentil soup for dinner.

The rest of the week I made recipes from the book such as...

Summer Quinoa Tabouleh

Butternut Squash & Pumpkin Seed Hash

Baked Polenta with Miyoko's Kitchen Sundried Tomato Nut Cheese, green onions, sage and thyme.

Pasta using dandelion or kale pesto (recipe from the book. Using the Parmesan cheese below...

Nut cheeses (sugar free!) with crackers is great for a dessert or a snack.
There is a recipe for homemade seed crackers in the book too.

This first week is more about cutting down sugar and substituting to get ready for the full quit in week 2-3 but I actually went the entire week completely sugar free with a cheat on the last day of a glass of red wine (which doesn't contain fructose so I should still be on the right track!).

Week 2

Doing pretty well so far, not craving sweets as much as I thought. Standard breakfast is toast with nut cheese, hommus or avocado and black coffee.

I made a few different recipes from the book, freezing some of the soup recipes,so I have plenty of variety in the fridge for lunches and dinners. I really loved the Cooling Avocado Soup, Foolproof Fennel Soup & Roasted Cauliflower Soup .I have the roasted chickpeas and hummus with veggies as snacks as well. I'm trying to drink lots of water but I also found mineral water and La Croix water to be helpful when you don't feel like water.

Cooling Avocado Soup

Week 3

Nearly at the end of week three and I'm down to 150lbs which is nice. I was starting to wonder if I'd lose anything!
Had virtually no sugar this week. a couple of things tripped me up just because I didn't realise the sugar content until it was too late but it wasn't more than 2 teaspoons total so I'm not too worried.

On the menu this week was Spiced Almonds, which were delicious and really great when you feel like something sweet.

The Fennel Soup was delicious!

I made the satay tempeh from the IQS website and had it with romaine leaves one night and rice another night. 

I made my stuffed acorn squash recipe but omitted the apple.

The broad beans and avocado on rice cakes ecipe was good, I used lima beans because I had them.
This was from the IQS website.

This Sweet Potato Soup was pretty good, I didn't have any red lentils so I omitted but wished I'd had them!

Herb Black Quinoa Muffins - from the IQS website (Although I used red quinoa...shhh)

Week 4

Week 4 didn't start well unfortunately,  of the sugar but because I thought I broke my toe :(
Needless to say I've been rendered more or less immobile in terms of exercise which is driving me crazy but I'm determined to finish this cleanse! I wouldn't say I've cheated at all but I have had the occasional thing that contained very small amount of sugar, like vegan meat or homemade ketchup. I've only lost 2 lbs so far and without exercise I fear I won't lose much more. Meanwhile my BFF started a "no processed food cleanse" a couple of weeks ago and has already lost 14lbs!!! I think that will be my next one lol
Here's some of the foods I ate.

This Hurt's Ham Been chilli was surprisingly good! I added extra canned tomatoes and a bay leaf but besides that it was all included! All the Ham Been flavor sachets are also vegan and GF! I also made a sugar free corn bread :)

This is a simple dish, marinated tempeh (soy sauce, sesame oil, liquid smoke) fried with some kale and topped with Chinese Five Spice.

This was definitely my cheat day was Australia Day! I finally made vegan GF meat pies which I've been meaning to since I went vegan. The only sugar was in the vegan meat (Gardein beef crumble) and in the BBQ sauce and ketchup which you add to the filling. I made my own using brown rice syrup.

 I roasted some pumpkin but it was so bitter! I tried it on a wrap (my wrap bread had a small amount of sugar) but eventually made it into a sweet potato/pumpkin mash which was good.

Burger using one of Dr. Praegers vegan patties, Follow Your Heart cheese and a GF bun. None of this had sugar.

Made this vegan Pho from the IQS website, I added mushrooms and carrots.

Week 5

Had some good news in that my toe wasn't broken, only severely bruised so it should heal up fast and I should be back into my walking and yoga soon! Still hovering between 150-152lbs everyday so I'm hoping to see some better results by the end of week 8. This week I really felt it. Between having my period, being sick and having a sore foot I needed comfort bad! I tried to make cookies from the book but they were not sweet at all and disappointed me! I made the "Nutella" from the book and had it on rice crackers for breakfast and that hit the spot. 

Needed some wine this week and I found this vegan wine Santa Julia Organic Cab Sav.

Made a simple brothy soup using homemade stock!

Made one of my favourite comfort foods...Agedashi Tofu. Instead of mirin I used brown rice syrup.

Made this "get well" chickpea soup from The Great Vegan Bean Cookbook by Kathy HEster.

Made Carrots & Tofu, another Japanese treat I love. Again I used brown rice syrup in place of sugar.

I use the Winter Truffle Nut Cheese by Miyoko's Creamery to make a pasta dish - other ingredients were a bit of unsweetened almond milk, splash of wine wine and salt.

Made this delish Creamy Thai Carrot Soup.

I made these cookies from the IQS book but I had a slight fail. Instead of stevia I used brown rice syrup and they were not sweet at all, in fact they were salty. The rest of the family loved them but I needed something sweet so that's when I made the "Nutella" from the book and that was pretty good.

Week 6

I had a slight breakthrough half way during the week, I was down to 149lbs! I hadn't been in the 140's since before I was well into my pregnancy so I was pretty excited about that!
Now that my toe has been feeling better I've been doing my normal exercise regime again (30-45mins walking with baby, 20mins yoga and 10 mins weights). I was craving sugar kind of bad this week so I tried to make vegan Bailey's but only had bourbon and no Irish whiskey. Needless to say it was awful - never use bourbon in Baileys! I've also had the occasional glass of red wine but other than that I've been pretty good. Occasionally adding brown rice syrup in place of sugar in meals if it was necessary.
I made the IQS Kimchee recipe a week ago and so this week was able to finally eat it! I think I added too much salt but I made a Kimchee Soup (I used miso paste instead of sugar) with it and didn't need to add any salt to the stock so it was delicious!!

For Superbowl Sunday I made Buffalo Bites but I used Tempeh and substituted the sugar for brown rice syrup. Used the leftovers to make this wrap (sugar free, vegan and GF!)

Kids wanted pancakes on Saturday and I really did too. I tried the IQS recipe from the book but it turned out awful, wouldn't cook and kept sticking to the pan. Eventually I gave up and redid the mix with Instant Pancake Mix but left out the sugar. The berry sauce from the book was good though - a bit too tart for the kids.

Week 7

So I had a slight cheat on Saturday because it was my son's first birthday and I wanted to tastes ome things that I had made, yes they had refined sugar in them. I know I'm very naughty but I didn't eat much and I felt horrible the next day. Other than that I've still be hovering round 148-150lb. Although I'm sick of feeling restricted I don't actually feel like sugar if I'm honest. Hopefully that will continue after I finish the detox. I made the Kimchee soup again because that was amazing! I'v had some vegan grilled cheese sandwiches more out of convenience than anything else and I made a batch of my grandma's Three Bean Soup. Also had Insalata Caprese Crackers when I really felt like a snack.

Made this Jap Chae which was delicious and only used 1Tbls brown rice syrup.

Week 8

Last week! Nearly four months after having a pain in my foot they finally figured out I had a fractured sesamoid, so now I'm in a boot for the next 6 weeks which obviously is making exercise slightly more difficult. Yoga is completely out 😭😭😭

Brown rice noodles with carrot, onion and spinach with a peanut sauce. Recipe here, I used some brown rice sugar and sambal olak instead of sweet chilli sauce.

Tempeh marinated in Tamari, sesame oil and liquid smoke, sauteed with shredded carrot and served on romaine leaves.

So after 8 weeks I'm only down 2lbs which was a little disappointing but at least I didn't gain weight, right?? I am looking forward to getting stuck into some sugar just to appease my craving but honestly I think this cleanse was good for a couple of reasons. Firstly I know a lot more about sugar now and how to read the food labels with regards to converting to teaspoons, secondly I have felt better, especially my psoriasis has so I think I will continue to live with the philosophy of 8 teaspoons or less of sugar daily, with the occasional treat. ;)