Monday, April 13, 2015

'Creamy' Sweet Chilli Dressing

Sour cream, chives and sweet chili sauce are a tried and tested combination (granted they're usually on wedges) but I thought why not go for a 'creamy' dressing/sauce that uses the same delicious flavours but combines them in a way that can be used over salads or with a warm meal. This dressing is wonderfully rich and 'creamy' and packed with smoky, sweet flavour!

'Creamy' Sweet Chilli Dressing
Makes 4-6 serves

1 cup macadamia nuts (soaked in 1 cup of water overnight)
1/2 cup of sweet chili sauce
3 drops of liquid smoke
2 tbsp chopped chives
Salt to taste
1/4-1/2 cup water *optional

· Soak macadamias overnight (or for as long as convenient)
· Nuts, sweet chili sauce and liquid smoke to a high power blender
· Blend until smooth
· If desired add water as required for your purpose (leave it thicker for warm dishes and thinner for use over salads)
· Season to taste
· Chop chives
· Fold into dressing
· Enjoy over salad! (or with a warm meal)

I'd give this a try with baked potato, as a dressing for a potato salad or on a humble Green Salad, Kale Salad, or one of my fave salads:

Love and Smiles,

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fountain Good Choice Sauces!

As you know I usually make my sauces, I've even got a whole list of my favourites on here and my homemade tomato sauce that's usually in the fridge but sometimes (especially while I've been working 80 hr weeks) I just want a readymade one to grab! The trouble then comes while I'm scouring the aisles, reading backs of bottles, trying to find a gluten free relatively healthy option with low(er) salt and sugar that I can just pop on my veggies and call an easy meal.

There are some good options in the Fountain GOOD CHOICE sauces range that you can find in the health food section of Woolworths. There are 5 different sauces, 25% reduced salt Tomato & BBQ sauces (500ml), Sweet Chilli, Hot Chilli and 50% reduced salt Soy (250ml). These fulfill my requirements, being gluten free and having no added sugar or artificial colours or flavours and sweetened with Natvia - plus they are completely affordable ($3.49) unlike some of the other options I've found at health food stores!
So how did I try them? I went old school first, like any good blogger, and tried them alone on my finger (not the smartest move with the hot chilli just quietly) then went to town using them in my recipes, working out how I could substitute them into things and make brand new recipes with them. Spoiler: 'Creamy' Sweet Chilli Dressing to come!

I tried the tomato and BBQ sauce on my Best Vegan Pizza recipe!

The sweet chilli sauce I tried on my

The hot chili sauce I tried in my

The reduced salt soy sauce was by far my favourite, I use it more frequently than the others in dishes like my
and in a variety of my soy dressings like the traditional chili ginger soy vinegar dipping sauce.

Then, just to make sure, I tried them ALL with
and some veggie hot dogs.

So what's the verdict? It's no secret the soy's my favourite due to its versatility but the others stand up wonderfully too and provide a great range that would keep anyone happy. All of the sauces have a depth of flavour that can be missing in commercial sauces, you can taste the complexity of onion/garlic and spice with the tang of appropriate acidity and smooth sweetness. They work perfectly with my recipes! Not too overpoweringly salty or sweet and lots of flavour- there's no reason to sacrifice taste for health!

Overall the sauces aren't as sweet as their counterparts, which makes me wildly happy. I don't usually go for sweet chilli or BBQ because they just taste like sugar to me but these ones are rich in flavour and while they have a  sweetness to them they're not overly sugary (one great bonus of being sweetened with Natvia!)

As far as packaging goes I love the ease of the squeeze bottles for the tomato and BBQ sauces a little more than the glass bottles for the others but they look so much better and are the way I usually like my food packages.

I know I'll be getting these sauces again, especially the reduced salt soy and sweet chilli! I hope you like them as much as I do.

How would you choose to use one of these sauces in your cooking?

Love and Smiles,

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fruity Vegan FroYo!

I've finally discovered the joys of dessert bars! I've seen them on other people's blogs for years but now I've finally found one near (enough) to me with delicious vegan options. Skinny Dippa is in Chapel street, Prahran (Melb) and it's a little slice of heaven... and totally worth the 2 trains to get me there. Ooo and I just found the vegan toffee macadamia flavour on their fb and am now planning my next trip!

I've fallen in love with this stevia sweetened vegan frozen yoghurt, I dare say it rivals my home made fruit 'ice cream' I hold so dear. Plus, they have enough toppings to make my head spin! Wheeeee :) Honestly, I felt like a kid in a candy store. A yummy healthy candy store- just perfect!
I packed my little cup with their cinnamon banana fro yo, fruity boba (popping tapioca balls with a flavoured liquid center), berry compote, fresh passionfruit, strawberries and topped it with a delicious mochi!
as you can see it took some digging to get down to the good stuff, my toppings slid down and became my bottoms but they were completely delicious none the less.
I also had the pleasure of finding some delicious vegan frozen yoghurt when I spent some time in Sydney last term break. This gorgeous watermelon sorbet is hidden underneath a mountain of bobas (can you tell I really like them?) and a lychee! 
oh and the topping bar! This is actually from another place because I forgot at the other ones (my bad, I was too excited by all my options) but they're all pretty similar. I was swooning over the selection of boba (mango, strawberry, mandarin, lychee, pomegranate! mmmm. The fresh fruit is always a glorious option (grapes and strawberries are my faves) but I have a soft spot for the canned variety too. I really enjoy lychees, mangosteen, rambutan, longan, palm fruit, jackfruit etc. etc. I've found such an abundance of vegan options to enjoy.... see?
I have a feeling this is going to become one of my favourite dessert treats!
Do you like vegan fro yo? What are your favourite toppings? Anyone Melbournians have other favourite spots for me to try?

Love and Smiles,

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Sour Cherry + Cacao Nut Truffles

Following on from my last post, I made these delicious nut truffles for my gorgeous friend's birthday recently. They went down a treat with everyone who tried them so I just know you'll love them too!

As I told you, I made two versions with different flavours but the same nut/seed base so these are fairly similar to the Blueberry + Coconut Nut Truffles I shared with you last post.

This next version is equally delicious. The smooth, rich, gooey nut base is packed full of nutrients and enough protein and good fats to keep you satisfied and glowing with health. I went for dried sour cherries with cacao nibs, it's a wonderful combination, just think a sophisticated cherry ripe! Again, with the same nutritional boost you don't usually get in a sweet treat.

Sour Cherry + Cacao Nut Truffles 
Makes 16-18 truffles
1 cup almonds
1 cup cashews
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup cacao nibs (+ additional to top)
1 cup dried sour cherries
1/8 cup water
Natural sweetener to taste if desired
  • Combine almonds, cashews, chia seeds, pepitas and cacao nibs in a food processor
  • Process until they are broken down into a fine crumb
  • Add dried blueberries and continue to process
  • Drizzle in water while processing until the mixture clumps and balls
  • Remove from processor, divide and roll into bite size balls
  • Leave in fridge to firm up for 30 mins
  • Top with additional cacao nibs
  • Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!
Love and Smiles,

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Blueberry + Coconut Nut Truffles

I made these delicious nut truffles for my gorgeous friend's birthday recently. They went down a treat with everyone who tried them so I just know you'll love them too!

I made two versions with different flavours but the same nut/seed base so you'll be seeing them both pop up. These first ones are absolutely divine. I'm a huge fan of the blueberry coconut combination but with dried blueberries it just takes it to the next level! The smooth, rich, gooey nut base is packed full of nutrients and enough protein and good fats to keep you satisfied and glowing with health.

Blueberry + Coconut Nut Truffles
Makes 16-18 truffles
1 cup almonds
1 cup cashews
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup desiccated coconut (+ 1/2 cup for rolling in)
1 cup dried blueberries
1/8 cup water
Natural sweetener to taste if desired
  • Combine almonds, cashews, chia seeds, pepitas and desiccated coconut in a food processor
  • Process until they are broken down into a fine crumb
  • Add dried blueberries and continue to process
  • Drizzle in water while processing until the mixture clumps and balls
  • Remove from processor, divide and roll into bite size balls
  • Leave in fridge to firm up for 30 mins
  • Roll in desiccated coconut
  • Enjoy!
I hope you enjoy these as much as we did!

Love and Smiles,

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Vitasoy Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to
JohannaGGG from Green Gourmet Giraffe
The winner of the Vitasoy Giveway!

I hope you enjoy your goodies! 
Thanks so much to everyone else who entered.

Love and Smiles,

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

Jazzy Vegetarian Classics + Free Recipe! [Black Forrest Pecan Pie}

Recently I was offered the opportunity to ask the gorgeous Laura, author of Jazzy Vegetarian Classics some questions and delve into her delicious recipes. Oh boy does life hand you presents when you need them most! 

Her book is packed with vegan twists on American family classics. While she uses the term vegetarian she offers up a multitude of vegan recipes for us to enjoy! Laura's recipes are so in tune with my style of cooking, clean, quick, easy recipes that taste divine. Just the book for me- so I know you'll enjoy it too!

We've been slowly munching our way through her book and have especially enjoyed the Magnificent Maple Granola with Banana Whipped Topping, Coconut Oatmeal, Beautiful Basil Lemonade (so loving the drink recipes btw), Strawberry Surprise Apple Muffin, Cinnamon-Maple Mini Muffins, Fancy Peeled Salad, Coconut-Encrusted Tofu Cutlets,  Cashew Parmesan, Quick Baby Spinach Salad, Summer Cucumber Salad, Paprika and Rosemary Roasted Red Potatoes, Dreamy Banana Pie, Black Forest Pecan Pie (Delicious recipe below).

There are so many amazing sauces/dressings in this book, I fear I might forget some but my other half loves the BBQ sauce, we're both nuts for the Tomato-Mushroom Gravy and the Dijon dressing, Creamy Dijon-Mayo dressing and Orange-Tahini dressing are some of my faves.

Obviously there are many many more recipes still on our 'to cook' list but these are the ones we've got through so far.

I should also mention that Laura's 'menus' are super convenient, I love having it all set out for you, it makes life much easier when time is lacking! We don't usually make them ALL (soup, salad, main, side and dessert) but having the options there allows us to choose which bits we feel like.

I just love getting the opportunity to ask cookbook authors questions and Laura was no exception. Have fun getting to know her better too!

1. What's your favorite part of a meal? (Mine used to be dessert but now it's a draw with sauces!)
I love the veggies! Baked potatoes with steamed or sautéed greens and sunflower seeds are one of my favorite meals!
2. What are your favorite summer and winter ingredients?
Summer: Fresh Basil from my garden.
Winter: Organic Kale - it is available all winter long!
3. What makes you smile in the kitchen?
Having successfully created a new recipe that tastes great and I know everyone will love.

4. What has been your biggest challenge in the kitchen?
My latest challenge has been figuring out how to make vegan pancakes...almost there!
5. You've got some great meal plans in your book. How do you go about planning a menu for a dinner party (or just yourself!)?
I think about the guest list, what they like to eat and I craft the menu around that. Then I break it down, organizing each course: Soup, salad, main dish and dessert. There it is!
6. When cooking/sharing with others do you divulge the ingredients before or after? Do you tell people it's healthy or just let them dive in?
I answer ingredient questions throughout the meal, but usually I let everybody taste each course first, because I know they will then say: YUM - then ask "What is in this dish to make it so delicious?"
7. Do you have any tips for people who think they can't cook?
Start with simple recipes. Chili is a good one. Two cans of beans (drained),  1 can of  corn, (drained), 1 jar marinara, 1 diced onion, 2 teaspoons chili powder and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. You cannot go wrong!
8. How do you explain your food restrictions when ordering at restaurants?
I just say - make sure there are no animal products in the meal. No dairy, meat, eggs or fish. Then I say: Make sure that there is no chicken/beef stock, butter or cheese either - no animal products what-so-ever. Done!
9. How do you feel about the more processed vegan ingredients like sugar/oil? I notice you give low fat substitutions but still use some in the Jazzy Vegetarian Classics
I think they are fine in limited quantities.
10. If you could choose, what would your last meal be?
See question 1!

And now for the ooey gooey delicous dessert I've chosen to share with you all. You're welcome!
To finish any festive meal with a flourish, I take a cue from my mother, who always offered a homemade pecan pie as the finale for our holiday gettogethers. Now I have carried on that tradition with an innovative and tasty vegan version of this gooey, sweet treat that features a flourless crust. I must admit, I think this is the most decadent dessert I have ever created!
Black Forest Pecan Pie

Makes 8 servings

10 pitted Medjool dates
¾ cup rolled oats
¼ cup raw unsweetened shredded dried coconut
¼ cup pecan halves

½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
5 pitted Medjool dates
2 tablespoons vegan margarine
2 tablespoons filtered or spring water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups pecan halves

15 pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the dates, oats, coconut, and pecans in a high-performance blending appliance, and process to the consistency of soft dough. Transfer the dough onto a board and form it into a ball. Flatten the dough slightly with your hands and then use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 10- inch round. Invert the dough on to an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Press the dough mixture evenly over the bottom of the plate, pushing it up the sides of the pie plate as you go, to make a crust. To craft a pretty edge to the crust, use your index finger to push the inner edge of the crust out, while pinching the outer edge in with the thumb and index finger of your other hand to make a classic scallop edge around the pie crust.

Put the maple syrup, molasses, vegan chocolate chips, pitted dates, vegan margarine, water, and vanilla extract in a blender and process until very smooth. Pour the maple mixture in a medium bowl. Fold in 1½ cups whole pecans. Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top using a rubber spatula. Gently press 15 whole pecans into the top of the pie, arranging them in a pleasing manner. Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges start to set and brown. Tent the pie with foil and bake for 5 to 8 minutes more, or until the pie has almost set in the middle. The filling will still be somewhat soft.

Carefully put the pie on a wire rack (the filling will be very hot!) and let cool for 1 hour. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve chilled. Cover and store leftover pie in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

I hope you enjoy this divine pie as much as I did!
Love and Smiles,

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Friday, April 25, 2014

The China Study All Star Collection- Free Recipe! {Pumpkin Seed and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Breakfast Bars}

It's blog tour time! The same smart cookies who brought us The China Study Cookbook are back with this All Star Collection. You might remember my previous interview with Leanne Campbell (Colin T Campbell's daughter) and how much I enjoyed her book and this second round is no exception! 

With a wide range of recipes from some of my favourite vegan chefs in one handy book this is a wonderful place to start as a new vegan or a great addition to the cook book collection of a well seasoned vegan cook. It's divided into lots of handy categories: Breads and muffins; breakfasts; appetizers and salads; soups and chilis; burgers, sandwiches and tacos; side dishes and yummy yummy desserts so no matter how you like to eat they've got you covered.

We've been eating our way through the array of delicious plant based recipes and have already hit on some favourites!: Overnight muesli, Almond Cardamon Cream Chia Pudding with Fresh Berries, Lemon-lime Green Smoothie, Spicy Almonds, Confetti Kale Salad, Caesar Salad dressing, Quinoa Salad with pistachios, Lemon-Berry Sorbet (minus the vodka), Dreamy Baked Bananas and obviously Dreena's breakfast bar recipe below. 

I can personally recommend all of these recipes we've tried so far, they've all been hits! Seriously yummy hits that have been a godsend while I haven't had the time/energy to create my own new recipes. My fussy other half has been pleased with all the ones he's tried too (namely ones without veggies he doesn't like) but we've found it easy to substitute other things he does like in (e.g a brown rice version of the Quinoa salad or Spinach/Lettuce in the Kale Salad recipe)

Plus I can't wait to try a heap more! I've got my eye on the Green Papaya Salad, Perfect Pesto stuffed Mushrooms, Pineapple-Cucumber Gazpacho, Almond crusted Eggplant Cutlets, Raspberry Ganache Fudge Cake, Peanut Butter Fudge Truffles etc. etc.

I've been lucky enough to share one of the scrummy recipes from the book with you too. I hope you enjoy Dreena's delicious breakfast bars (or if you're me anytime bars) as much as we did!

These are a terrific “on-the-go” healthy breakfast or a perfect snack anytime of the day. Our whole family loves them!

11/2 cups rolled oats
11/4 cups oat flour
3–4 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2–3 tablespoons nondairy chocolate chips (see Tip)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8–1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1–2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons unsweetened plain nondairy milk

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, oat flour, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  • In a smaller bowl, combine the brown rice syrup with maple syrup and milk.
  • Add the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, stirring until well combined.
  • Transfer the mixture to an 8 × 8 baking dish or brownie pan lined with parchment paper and press it down until evenly distributed.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut to mark out the bars before you bake them to make it easier to fully cut and remove the bars once baked. (I usually mark out 16 bars, but you can make them whatever size you like.)
  • Bake for 20 minutes, then remove and let cool in pan. Once cooled, use a sharp knife to fully cut the bars, then remove with a spatula.

Mini chocolate chips are great if you have them. You can also substitute the pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips with raisins, cranberries, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, unsweetened coconut, or other dried fruit (chopped, if needed).

I hope you enjoy this breakfast bar as much as we did!
Love and Smiles,

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My Soy Milk Story + Yummy 'milky' recipes

When I first went vegan, soymilk was my go-to. I fell in love with the sweet, creamy versions that made any recipe better... but then I did some research and found out about the darker side of soy (GMOs, pesticides, protein isolates, added sugar and oil). I decided if I was going to switch to soy it had better be made with organic soy beans! This was quite hard for me after getting rather attached to the luxurious soymilk but I made the change, I tried some organic brands... but they just didn't taste as good. I can distinctly remember standing in the supermarket aisle reading the back of all the soymilks searching for one that was made from organic soy beans and unsweetened but being bitterly disappointed. I soon realised there were many other non-dairy milk alternatives and set about drinking my way through them. I went with almond milk, it wasn't as creamy but for less calories I'd settle and my husband went for sweet rice milk... but every so often we were still tempted into buying the odd carton of (non-organic) soymilk because it just tasted so good.
You can imagine our delight when we found Vitasoy’s organic soymilk range, which is made from organic whole soybeans! I headed straight for the ultra low fat unsweetened organic bean soymilk and I'm LOVING it! It's only 40 cals per cup (same as almond milk but creamier with more protein – score!) & obviously my husband who doesn’t care about calories goes for the original version to 'cream' up his tea and cereal. The fact that Vitasoy are producing Aussie grown non-GMO whole organic bean soymilk makes me very happy. And the unsweetened low fat version with no carrageenan makes me off the charts happy because carrageenan is one of those annoying things I have to watch out for, as it upsets my tummy.

I'm really enjoying cooking with soymilk again and I've noticed how much of a difference it makes to 'creamy' dressings, sauces, smoothies and desserts. Why not give these yummy 'milky' recipes a try:

Fruit 'ice cream' (you all know I'm a fruit 'ice cream' lover but soy milk really ups the creaminess and makes it even more amazing without any change in flavour like with coconut cream/milk)
This discovery happened late last year so when I was given the opportunity to share this with you I couldn't really refuse. I know I said no more giveaways and I've been turning them all down since, but how can you knock back something you're consistently using and genuinely excited about? So apologies if you're not loving the giveaway but for those of you who would like the chance to win a Vitasoy hamper valued at $150 packed full of:

3 x 1 litre Vitasoy milk cartons
4 x Vitasoy recipe cards
1 x ‘Healthy Every Day’ cookbook by Pete Evans
1 x T2 coffee mug
1 x KeepCup
1 x 250g Global Cafe Direct organic coffee
1 x $65 Coles gift card
Please leave a comment on this post, my facebook or tweet me @ClaireASVF (mentioning #spillthebeans) telling me your favourite soymilk recipes! The competition is open from 15/4/14 - 29/4/14, click here to check out the T&Cs. The lucky winner will be announced 30/4/14. Good luck!

Love and Smiles,

*For calcium enriched soymilk in the Vitasoy flagship range, try original or reduced fat. 

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