Chocolate bliss balls {raw, vegan, gluten-free}

How do you know when you’ve been heading down a highway of unhappiness at 100km an hour? I only know when hindsight calls in and tells me to make a U-turn. By then, the damage has already been done – in one way or another.

Remember how I realigned my priorities this year? I was heading down that road. To get back on track, I had to address the root of the problem – my job.

It wasn’t just the environment I was in, it was the actual job. I applied for a job that encompassed a lot of the elements I enjoy, and the rest is history. Now, I’m a strategic storyteller who gets to finish my working day at 4.30pm (instead of 6pm) so I can eat better, sleep earlier and spend more time with my partner.

Now, I practice yoga at a small studio and have made it a priority to focus on what I’m consuming, like increasing the amount of organic food I prepare and eat at home, and being strict about sticking to gluten-free when I go out for a meal.

These bliss balls are contributing to my newfound happiness. They were an 11th hour effort before a few friends came over for a BBQ, and they were perfect from the get-go. I’ve made them many times since.

Chocolate bliss balls
Makes approx. 16

2 cups raw cashews
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1/3 cup cacao powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp maple syrup
8 dates, pips removed

Add all ingredients to a food processor and process on high for around 45-60 seconds.

Add a teaspoon of water to help moisten the dough if needed and process for a few seconds more.

Mould around one tablespoon of dough into a ball and repeat for remaining mixture.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

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Favourite things: June 2018

You’ll have to forgive me for not being the best at sharing new things here. I’ve been working on some new recipes that I can’t wait to share with you. They just need to be photographed.

This year is all about putting myself first, and a lot of that has been focused around my health. Six months in and I’m seeing the results of my realigned priorities – inside and out. But more on that later, here’s a couple of things that have been entertaining my mind recently.

  • I finally went ahead and made Oh Lady Cakes’ spicy peanut stew with butternut pumpkin and chickpeas (replacing peanut butter with almond butter). I’m glad I made it. It’s perfect for the cold weather.
  • Planting my first official veggie patch and it not being a complete failure. I can’t wait to show my organic harvest with you when its time.
  • I tried the Beyond Meat burger patty for the first time and have been thinking about it ever since. Not huge on mock meats but this is a whole new ball game. The whole experience was too good to be true. It was so similar to a cheeseburger from a fast food chain.
  • I’m getting back into fermenting and pickling, making a fresh batch of sauerkraut today.
  • In all of two minutes, I created and perfected the ultimate recipe for chocolate bliss balls. So naughty yet so nice. The recipe is coming soon dear friends, so hang in there.
  • The real reason my #fromscratch curry pastes don’t work is because I’m not grinding my spices down enough. Came across a lovely ceramic spice grinder that I think will do the trick far greater than my mortar and pestle abilities. This ceramic spice grinder and Ayurvedic cookbook set is on my birthday wish list
  • No-churn cookie dough ice cream is just a thought in my head for now. It will be a reality soon enough, I’m sure of it.

Miso green beans

How do you handle fussy adult eaters in your household? Now I’m also not calling anyone in my household fussy – but it’s more a case of making sure we’re getting enough diversity and nutrients from our diet. Sometimes “I don’t like this” isn’t an option when you’re living a 100% gluten-free and vegan life.

My parents will laugh reading this, because they’ve done their time in that situation when I was a child fussy about the food on my plate. But here I am – as an adult – living breathing proof that you can do a complete 360.

So, when my partner says he doesn’t like a certain ingredient, I treat it as a challenge. Oh but you will like it, a little voice inside my head says. And guess what? It works. Take eggplant for example – he used to cringe when I brought some home. But now he looks forward to my miso glazed eggplant or hidden veg dal among other dishes.

Another thing not liked was miso – so much so that I had to avoid it like the plague. Well, guess what, we’ve had another breakthrough. Not only are these miso green beans incredibly tasty, they’re also incredibly easy. I’m talking 10-minute meal territory. I serve this up for lunch, but it’s also perfect as a side along with your protein of choice.

Kale Mary miso green beans.jpg

Miso green beans {gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, vegan}
Serves 2-4

250g green beans, trimmed and halved
2 spring onions, whites and greens divided and finely sliced
2 tomatoes, quartered (or 6 cherry tomatoes, halved)
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp chickpea miso powder (I use Meru Miso) mixed with 1 tbsp filtered water
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup cashews, toasted
Thai basil, to serve

Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the green beans. Let cook 1-2 minutes before adding the spring onion whites. Cook a further minute, stirring occasionally then add tomatoes to the pan.

Stir through the lemon zest, miso powder with water, salt and pepper. Let cook an additional 1-2 minutes until tomatoes start to soften.

Add cashews, stir and remove from heat. Serve topped with remaining spring onion greens and some sliced Thai basil.

Top 10 gluten-free vegan dishes in Sydney {part 1}

There are some standout meals in Sydney that I often crave. I reserve a spot in my mind for the memory of them. And when that memory starts to fade, that means it’s been too long.

When you find something you love on a restaurant menu, do you deviate? Or do you stick to what you love? I rarely deviate. But it’s not hard when there aren’t many options that are both gluten-free and vegan on the one menu (generally speaking).

So, here are Sydney’s best gluten-free vegan eats. The photos – where I’ve included them – are a bit of a case of when bad photos happen to good food (part 1587… amirite). You can’t win them all.

BEST VEGAN PHO

Kale Mary Golden Lotus

Tofu and vegetable pho
Golden Lotus in Newtown
Expect a long wait to get into this one on a Friday or Saturday night, but once you’re in, you can skip a read of the menu all together. Because there’s only one thing that should be on your mind: the tofu and vegetable pho. If you are living that gluten-free life, be sure to order it as gluten-free. This means no delicious tofu knots – it’s a small price to pay because this is the best gluten-free vegan pho in Sydney.

BEST VEGAN SANDWICH

Kale Mary Dear Delicious

Falafel veggie sandwich
Dear Delicious in Dulwich Hill
This little gem is a dish that gets better with age. Each time I go, the dish is refined a little more. While the falafels aren’t completely authentic, they’re still good. Ask for gluten-free bread, which will turn it into a sandwich from a burger as described on the menu.

BEST ENTREE/STARTER

Coconut and edamame bean moneybags
Yulli’s in Surry Hills
Tell me… where else you can get gluten-free moneybags let alone gluten-free and vegan moneybags in Sydney? And to think, they also happen to be the best in my living memory. These bad boys toe the line between sweet and savoury thanks to the unusual flavour pairing – but in the best possible way.

ties with

Sacred knot
Nourishing Quarter in Redfern
At first glance, you probably wouldn’t order these little morsels. Not because they don’t sound good. It’s just too hard to pass up the sweet angel wraps (rice paper rolls) or the pretty dumplings. Next time you’re at Nourishing Quarter, I suggest you reconsider. These guys are very, very tasty and a starter you won’t find on many menus around town.

BEST DOSA

Kale Mary Sri Venkateswara Temple

Masala dosa
Sri Venkateswara Temple in Helensburg
The canteen at this temple is one of Sydney’s best kept secrets. I say this because I’m usually the only Caucasian there. No trip down to the South Coast is complete without dropping by for a dosa – and more. It’s also ridiculously cheap. Keep an open mind about the dining experience – it’s a canteen, so it’s a slightly haphazard set-up. Oh, and skip that pale-coloured sauce if you’re dairy-free!

Kale Mary Hopper KadeAn honourable mention must go to the eponymous dish at Hopper Kadé in Surry Hills (I recommend the beetroot filling) – not technically a dosa, but too good not to include.

BEST VEGAN SALAD

Kale Mary The Henson

Gaddo gaddo salad
The Henson in Marrickville
Look, The Henson categorises this dish as a salad. It’s more like a peanut stir fry from a Thai restaurant – but better. And the tapioca crackers are a nice touch. Also pictured is the vegan taco with miso mushrooms. It’s good but the mushrooms are a bit too chunky and thus ‘meaty’.

ties with

Green papaya salad with crispy tofu
Yulli’s in Surry Hills
If you came here for the salad and found my previous choice questionable, you might find love with this one. If you hadn’t guessed, Asian food is my jam so naturally, any salad I rave as a fave is going to be of that persuasion. It really needs no explanation. If you haven’t had it, you need to.

BEST VEGAN BURGER

Kale Mary LOTF

Chick’n burger
Lord of the Fries
I’m not 100 per cent down with soy meats. But what I am down with is the combination of the chick’n patty with that mustard mayo and lettuce. It’s definitely the least healthy meal on the list. Just call it your naughty treat. And ask for a gluten-free bun.

Honourable mentions must go to the veggie vitality burger from Grill’d and the pulled pork (jackfruit) burger from Soul Burger.

BEST VEGAN PIZZA

Vegetarian pizza
Pizza Rocco in St Clair
While the gluten-free base is rather small, it’s the flavours of toppings that really make this pizza special. You can even bring your own notzarella and they’ll put it on your pizza for you. If you don’t have vegan cheese, they can hold the cheese completely – it’s still a good pizza.

Kale Mary Rocket Boy

An honourable mention must go to the Margherita pizza with extra cherry tomato and garlic oil from Rocketboy (pictured above). Their gluten-free base is a decent size and they use good quality vegan cheese. Fratelli Famous also does a good Margherita on a gluten-free base – their vegan cheese is the only downside.

Quick vegan chocolate fudge

I made no plans with the Easter bunny this year – being dairy and refined sugar free will do that to you. But, I just couldn’t escape the cheer – I was seeing chocolate everywhere. I came home for the long weekend and whipped up a batch of fudge.

On that note, it’s time for me to share my recipe for vegan chocolate fudge with you. This one happened when I had run out of cacao butter to make vegan chocolate and had to improvise. It quickly turned into a favourite.

Happy Easter everyone!

Kale-Mary-vegan-chocolate-fudgeKale-Mary-vegan-chocolate-fudge-2

Quick vegan chocolate fudge
Makes 12 pieces

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup cacao powder
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean
Pinch of salt
Shredded coconut, to serve

Gently melt the coconut oil and butter on the stove. Remove from heat to cool slightly.

Add the maple syrup, cacao, vanilla, salt, cooled coconut oil and butter to a bowl and whisk until combined.

Line a small container or dish with a piece of baking paper (I use a small tupperware container for fudge as I don’t have any smaller dishes). Then, pour mixture on top and smooth with a spatula. Refrigerate for around one hour.

Remove fudge from the fridge and slice into small, bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle with shredded coconut and enjoy.

Easy weeknight pasta bake cake {gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free}

I try to keep pasta stocked in the pantry at all times. I rarely experience pasta cravings but this dish is simple and easy to make, especially when you’ve come home from work and haven’t given dinner a thought.

Pasta bake cake was my attempt at turning a simple bowl of pasta marinara into something a little more exciting. Needing a cheesy element, but trying not to overdo my soy intake, I pulled out my trusted recipe for cashew cheese – one of my earliest recipes – to complete the dish. Cashew cheese tastes like a hybrid of runny cheese and what I imagine queso dip to taste like (full disclosure, I’ve never had queso dip!).

You can add vegetables like spinach or kale to the pasta before you bake it, and you can make your own marinara sauce. In the interest of showing you just how easy living gluten-free and vegan can be, I’ve decided to keep this one as simple as possible. That means I’ve used store-bought sauce and left out the additions in the bake. Having said that, I do serve a slice of this with some fresh rocket or finely shredded kale (with a light drizzle of lemon juice) on the side.

Kale-Mary-Pasta-Bake

Easy weeknight pasta bake cake {gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free}
Serves 6

500g gluten-free vegan penne pasta, cooked 2-3 mins less than packet directions
2 x 500g jars of vegan pasta sauce
Cashew cheese (recipe below)
Rocket or finely shredded kale, to serve

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Cook pasta 2-3 minutes less than the packet directions. Strain and set aside.

Grease an 8-inch/20cm cake tin. Put a tray under in case the tomato sauce seeps through the tin during cooking.

Pour about 100g pasta sauce from one jar into the tin to cover the bottom. Fill cake tin with about half of the cooked pasta.

Add remaining 400g pasta sauce from the opened jar and pour about a quarter of your cashew cheese over the top. Add remaining pasta and pour contents of the second jar of sauce on top. Add remaining cashew cheese ensuring it is evenly spread over the top.

Place tin on tray in the oven and cook for around 20 minutes. Then, remove from oven and let stand to set for 10-15 minutes. Cut into slices and serve with rocket or kale.

Vegan cashew cheese

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp garlic granules
Pinch of salt

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.

Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

Savoury breakfast waffles {gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free}

I was in Melbourne last week for work. The only thing getting me through said trip, was indulging in some amazing Melbourne food. First stop: Gingerboy for dinner. There, I had the mapo tofu with okra, water chestnut, heirloom tomatoes and pickled thai chili, as well as the stir fried bamboo and fungus with hor fun noodles and korean black bean dressing. To top it off, I also ordered the coconut creamed rice. Of course, it was delicious and of course, I ordered too much food, but when in Rome…

When breakfast came around, I headed to Higher Ground and ordered the kale and cauliflower salad. To say it was delicious was an understatement. I wanted more. The only fault in the dish was the lack of carbs.

A week on, and I’m still thinking about how that cafe dish eclipsed a night of pure Asian delight (at Gingerboy). Because it’s unlikely I’ll be going down to Melbourne again anytime soon (and who knows if that means another visit to Higher Ground… I’ve heard weekend queues are long), I decided to recreate some of the flavours atop some savoury breakfast waffles. Hello carbs, hello happiness!

Kale_Mary_savoury_waffles

Savoury breakfast waffles {gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free}
Serves 4

For the waffles
2 cups chickpea flour
2 cups water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Small bunch of chives, finely chopped
Pinch of salt

For the toppings
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
5 kale leaves, roughly chopped
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 avocado, skin removed and sliced
2 cups hummus (hold the sumac and add 2 tbsp chickpea miso powder)

Add all waffle ingredients into a large bowl and whisk until combined. Let stand at least 10 minutes.

Heat your waffle iron and add a little coconut oil to the pan (this helps prevent the batter from sticking). Pour a ladle of batter into the iron and close it for five minutes. Repeat for remaining batter.

While the waffles are cooking, heat a small amount of olive oil in a cast iron pan and add cauliflower, kale and whole cherry tomatoes. Keep it on a medium heat for around 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and transfer contents into a heatproof bowl.

Add pumpkin seeds to the same cast iron pan and toast over a low-to-medium heat. Once browned, remove from heat.

To assemble, place two waffles and a couple of large dessert spoons of hummus on a plate. Top with kale, cauliflower and tomatoes, as well as avocado and pumpkin seeds.