comment 0

Vegan dal | Hidden veg red lentil dal

The sunroom is my favourite room in the house, especially in winter. Golden rays of sun filter through the windows and make me feel like I myself am a glowing beam of sun. I notice a difference in how I feel when I sit in this room, I feel really good. And then I look at my plant children around me and I feel really happy. If they’re thriving from living in the sunroom then I must be thriving, too. I’m pretty glad about that, because I am about to turn another year older. 

I’ve been on the hunt for the best dal recipe for years. I wanted one that had more depth to its flavour. The simple ones I had tried were too one dimensional in taste, while the complicated recipes were not worth my time. I was reading a recipe by J. Kenji López-Alt  recently where he recommended roasting eggplant, removing the skin and blitzing it up to add to ramen. I wondered if it would work for dal so I gave it a shot. I wanted this dal to be really flavoursome so I decided to pierce the skin of the eggplant before roasting and stuffed it with garlic cloves. 

Did it work? You bet it did. 

Dal 2rDal r

Vegan dal | Hidden veg red lentil dal
Serves 4

1 1/2 cup red lentils, washed and soaked for 2 hours (if timing allows)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 litre filtered water
1 bay leaf
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 tbsp cumin seeds
6 curry leaves
1 eggplant, pierced and stuffed with 4-6 peeled garlic cloves then roasted for 1 to 1 1/2 hours
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp garam masala

Tip lentils into a medium saucepan. Cover with the water and add turmeric and bay leaf. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the water has reduced and the lentils are soft.

After roasting the eggplant, remove its skin and mash the flesh in a bowl, ensuring the garlic is mashed and mixed well. Set aside.

Heat some oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and allow it to caramelise, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin seeds and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until fragrant then add curry leaves and stir for 1 minute.

Tip the onion mix into the saucepan of red lentils and stir. Add mashed eggplant, salt and garam masala and cook for a further 10 minutes. Season further if required.

Serve with brown rice, fresh herbs and tamarind chutney.

comment 0

Gluten-free vegan banana bread

It’s been seven months since we moved into our very own house. Seven months and I am finally getting my wardrobe. Now that there are shelves and rails to hang clothes, all that’s left to do is the sliding doors. And boy, will they be worth the wait.

If I’m honest, I thought it would take three … tops. The reason for me giving what I thought to be a very generous three months was because we both work five days a week and I’m hopeless at measuring things and carrying heavy or awkwardly sized items; sometimes me helping is worse than me not helping. Back to the point. There became an immediate need to address some drainage issues and that involved cutting up concrete – a very deep slab of concrete – to install drains so water would run away from the house instead of under it. Thankfully I didn’t have to deal with any of it so I couldn’t exactly complain that there was no wardrobe to house my clothes.

I have been due to make a dish on the sweeter side for a while but lately, I’ve lost a bit of the sweet tooth that has carried me through life for 20-something years. I settled on banana bread because it’s the perfect treat that a sweet tooth or non-sweet tooth can enjoy. I’m not huge on bananas but I’m challenging myself to diversify and find ways to enjoy foods I don’t like. Plus, when have I ever turned up my nose at a slice of Alannah-friendly banana bread? Never.

Bananas rMix rBanana bread r

Gluten-free vegan banana bread
Makes 1 loaf (28cm tin)

3 bananas, peeled and mashed
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 chia eggs (2 tbsp chia seeds with 6 tbsp water, mixed and left to sit for 10 mins)
1 1/2 cup gluten-free plain flour
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C.

Mix the wet ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Mix the dry ingredients and ensure no lumps. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.

Pour into a lined loaf tin and cook in the oven for 60-70 minutes.

Remove from oven and stand for 20 mins before taking the loaf out of the tin. Rest on a cooling rack before slicing and serving.

comment 0

The best vegan san choy bau {gluten-free}

I can finally see. I had LASIK last week and it truly was the best thing I’ve ever done. A few people told me I shouldn’t get it done, not because they had or had known someone who had a bad experience, but because “you suit glasses”, and “glasses are part of who you are”. It kinda shocked me a bit. Glasses are a medical device, but they shouldn’t define a person or be their identity.

So now, here I am. No more glasses, and with that, I can now open the oven and not have my glasses steam up, I can go swimming, I can exercise … properly. I was nervous in the lead up. In fact, that’s a bit of an understatement. This recipe for san choy bau was the best reward for those nerves. For a few minutes while eating this, I forgot about the procedure completely and all was right in the world.

You’ll love this san choy bau. It’s actually mushroom-free. I toyed with the idea of adding mushrooms for some meatiness but I’m not the biggest fan, and I really want to show you that there’s so much more to vegan meals than mushrooms.

Scb tofu rScb veg rScb made rScb made HERO r

Gluten-free vegan san choy bau
Serves 3-4

250g organic non-GMO firm tofu
80g pine nuts
1 tbsp dry sherry
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp gluten-free hoisin sauce (Ayam makes a good one)
1 tsp sriracha (more if you can handle heat)
1 tsp arrowroot flour
1/2 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 zucchinis, diced
100g green beans, diced
Gem lettuce, to serve
Thai basil, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C.

Cut the tofu into 6-8 even-sized pieces and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

While tofu is in the oven, gently toast the pine nuts in a wide-based saucepan. Set aside.

Add dry sherry, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce and sriracha into a small bowl and whisk. Add arrowroot and mix until combined. Set aside.

Remove tofu from oven and let cool. Once cooled, use your hands to break up/crumble the tofu.

Heat some oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Saute for 10 minutes before adding the garlic and ginger. Once browned and fragrant, add carrot, zucchini and green beans and cook a further 5-8 minutes.

Add the tofu crumbles and pine nuts before adding the sauce ingredients to the pan. Cook until sauce thickens – approx. 5 minutes.

Serve in lettuce leaves with fresh Thai basil.

comment 0

The best vegan tacos

I’ve come to the conclusion that careers change you, in the same way that life events change you. Working in an industry based on communication has changed me – for better in many respects, but also for worse in some ways.

I’ve always been a homebody. And, I’ve always been an introvert with a touch of awkward. When you’re ‘green’ in my industry, you learn pretty quickly that being like this isn’t going to cut it if you want to do well and be respected for what you do. To that end, my life feels like a balancing act featuring the introverted and extroverted parts of myself. Most of the time there isn’t much balance.

These tacos were a godsend when I was feeling particularly unbalanced recently. I have been dreaming about getting a good ‘meatiness’ for my tacos before now. Mexican-spiced scrambled tofu wasn’t going to cut it and nor was nut meat, especially after recently discovering I have a mild walnut allergy (just another food allergy/intolerance for the already long list). The secret? A little bit of tofu, a little bit of tempeh, and some baked kidney beans.

2 Ingredients r3 Baked beans r4 Meat mix r1 Assembled r HERO

The best vegan tacos
Makes 10-12

1 can kidney beans, drained and baked at 200 degrees C for 15 minutes
150g organic non-GMO tofu
75g organic tempeh
1/2 brown onion, diced
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Pinch of ground black pepper
Fresh tomato, red onion and lime salsa, to serve
Avocado or guac, to serve
Sriracha, to serve

Blitz tofu and tempeh in a food processor a couple of times. Set aside.

Heat coconut oil in a heavy-based pan. Add onion and saute until starting to caramelise. Add the garlic and cook on a medium heat for one minute before adding the spices. Once the spices are fragrant, add tahini, soy sauce and vinegar, followed by tofu and tempeh, baked kidney beans, and a pinch of pepper. Cook until liquid is soaked up and all ingredients are cooked through.

Spoon mix into warmed taco shells topped with fresh tomato, red onion and lime salsa, avocado slices and a touch of sriracha.

comment 0

Gluten-free vegan zucchini noodle japchae

A few years ago I came across sweet potato noodles in an Asian grocer and I bought them because they were surprisingly gluten-free. The noodles sat on a shelf in my cupboard for a good six months before I finally settled on what I would do with them: make japchae, also known as Korean glass noodles.

My brief foray into Korean food started with japchae and ended with kimchi. And when I say japchae and kimchi, I mean that I really didn’t give much else a go (in my defense, Korean food isn’t well suited to both a gluten-free and vegan diet).

Finding sweet potato noodles can sometimes be like finding a needle in a haystack. Without them I could have gone for regular rice noodles, or even pasta but I decided to push myself towards something even healthier and landed on zucchini noodles.

Full disclosure, zucchini noodles really don’t do it for me. I’ll eat them from time to time, in the spirit of being healthy, and when I crave something light. Nothing is ever going to tear me away from my beloved carbs.

2 Spring onions r3 Zucchini r4 Jap chae 2 r1 Jap chae r HERO

Gluten-free vegan zucchini noodle japchae
Serves 2

1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 brown onion, sliced
2 spring onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp coconut sugar
1 cup spinach leaves
3 zucchinis, spiralised
1 tbsp white sesame seeds, to serve
Small handful of chives, to serve

Heat sesame oil over a medium heat and add onion, spring onion, garlic, carrot and mushrooms. Cook for five minutes.

Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and coconut sugar to the pan, followed by the spinach. Cook for one minute before adding the zucchini noodles, then cook a further two-three minutes until zucchini is heated through.

Divide into two bowls and sprinkle sesame seeds and chopped chives.

comment 0

Gluten-free vegan savoury breakfast muffins | Zucchini and tomato muffins

A couple of weeks ago I tried imitation Tim Tams that were gluten-free and vegan. Sadly, they were a disappointment. The real thing was always my weakness growing up. I wouldn’t be able to control myself around them; my sweet tooth took over.

Fast forward to now, my sweet tooth has been cured. Case in point when it comes to sweet muffins. I’m spending my days dreaming of savoury muffins, something the old me would have scoffed at.

These gluten-free, vegan, savoury breakfast muffins are the most moist I have ever come across. This is all thanks to almond meal, zucchini, tomatoes and – most importantly – caramelised French shallots.

3 Mixing 2 r5 Muffins done r6 Plated r1 Baked HERO r

Gluten-free vegan savoury breakfast muffins | Zucchini and tomato muffins
Makes 6-8

3 large French shallots, finely sliced
1 1/2 cups almond meal
1 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flax + 6 tbsp water)
1 cup water
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
Juice of half a lemon
Zest of a whole lemon
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 zucchini, grated
1 handful basil, roughly cut
1 bunch of chives, roughly cut (optional)
1 tsp sumac
1 tsp beetroot powder

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Heat oil in a wide pan and add French shallots. Let cook over a medium heat until shallots are starting to catch on the bottom of the pan. Add 1/2 tsp water and continue to cook until onions turn golden brown and caramelise. Set aside.

Mix almond meal, brown rice flour, arrowroot flour, bicarb soda, baking powder, flax eggs, water, coconut oil, and lemon zest and juice until lumps-free. Then add tomatoes, zucchini, basil, chives, sumac and beet powder and mix until combined. Make sure the zucchini is evenly mixed throughout the flour and not sticking together in clumps.

Evenly scoop mix into an oiled muffin tin. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Knife should come out clean and top crust should be golden brown. Let cool slightly then carefully remove muffins from tins with a spoon and place on a cooling rack until ready to eat.

comments 4

The best gluten-free vegan pad Thai

The day I perfected my recipe for pad Thai was the day I stopped ordering it from Thai restaurants. So, my favourite guilty pleasure is actually pad kee mao although I’ve not managed to replicate that one at home yet. I’ll get there eventually.

It can be really frustrating ordering a pad Thai without egg at Thai restaurants. It’s usually quite oily because the chef doesn’t factor in that less oil is required when egg is omitted.

Another way I describe this recipe is ‘better-than-Thai-restaurant pad Thai’ and when something has a name like that, why would you order in? OK, I know why, because you have nothing in the fridge or pantry, and/or you’ve had a rough day and just can’t. I get it, I’ve been there.

2 Pad Thai tofu r3 Pad Thai sauce r4 Pad Thai served r1 Pad Thai HERO r

The best gluten-free vegan pad Thai
Serves 4

1/2 cup coconut sugar
3/4 cup gluten-free soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 brown onion, cut into slices
1/2 head broccoli, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cup baby spinach
2 carrots, cut on an angle
200g rice noodles (I like brown rice noodles), cooked
250g organic non-GMO tofu, cut into pieces and baked
Coriander, to serve
Peanuts, to serve
Spring onion, to serve
Chives, to serve
Lime wedges, to serve

Add coconut sugar, gluten-free soy sauce, tomato paste, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil and garlic to a bowl and whisk until combined.

Heat some coconut oil in a wok and add the brown onion. Cook until soft then add the vegetables, noodles, tofu and sauce ingredients.

Keep the burner on a high heat and gently stir the ingredients to ensure the sauce is coating everything. When the sauce starts bubbling around the sides of the pan, mix ingredients through. Let sit a minute or two longer, until the noodles start to catch on the bottom of the pan.

Remove from the heat and add coriander, peanuts, spring onion and chives. Plate with lime wedges.

comments 2

Quick curry | Gluten-free vegan yellow curry

Full disclosure, I was planning to make mac n cheese. It didn’t work out. I don’t know what I was thinking anyway, I never even liked it that much. I did like fettuccine alfredo though so maybe that’s my next pasta dish to conquer.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share this recipe for the fastest curry I’ve ever whipped up. It’s delicate, flavoursome, light and best of all, you can have it from farm (or fridge!) to plate in 10 minutes.

Store-bought curry paste isn’t my preference but I’m all for shortcuts in the kitchen and when you’re counting down the minutes until you can unwind after a long day, it’s a shortcut I’m willing to take. Still, it’s not a shortcut I like to take often. Enter my gluten-free, curry paste-free, vegan Thai yellow curry made in just 10 minutes. How? The trick, my friends, is concentrated tamarind.

If you have a few more minutes to spare, you could bake some tofu for some extra protein. It will probably take you about 35 mins to prep and cook this dish if you decide you want to do the tofu, but it’s worth it. Especially if you coat the tofu in a special spice mix.

2 Tofu pieces r3 Tofu pieces cooked r4 Curry base r5 Curry r6 Curry HERO r

Quick curry | Gluten-free vegan yellow curry without curry paste
Serves 3-4

For the tofu:
250g organic non-GMO tofu, cut into triangles
4 tbsp vegan fish sauce (see note)
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp dried wakame flakes
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp smoked sweet paprika

For the curry:
1 brown onion, halved and cut into even slices
1 mild red chilli, de-seeded and sliced longways
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
1 clove fresh garlic, diced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tbsp concentrated tamarind
270ml coconut milk
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
300g baby spinach

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Marinate the tofu in vegan fish sauce and lemon juice for at least 5 minutes in the fridge (the longer, the better, but who has time to wait?). Then, in a small bowl, combine the wakame, garlic and paprika. Add each piece of tofu to the mix and evenly coat.

Place tofu on a baking tray and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

Cook onion in a wide-based saucepan over a medium heat. Once soft, add the ginger, chilli and garlic (both fresh and dried) and cook until fragrant. Add the cumin and turmeric, and stir until mixed through.

Add the coconut milk, tamarind, water and vegetable stock powder and cook for a minute longer before adding the spinach. Cook until spinach has wilted then serve into bowls with some steamed rice and a couple of pieces of baked tofu on top.

NOTE: Vegan fish sauce is available from Asian grocery stores. Look out for it in the vegetarian section. Otherwise, check out the internet. Not vegan? Use real fish sauce.

comment 0

Vegan quiche

I’ve been using chickpea flour ever since I discovered socca – a crispy flatbread. It gets crispy on the edges and retains moisture inside – with it sometimes having a scrambled egg-like consistency. I knew it would soon become the base of my quiche recipe.

Growing up, my mum’s quiche was the only one I would eat. It had flaky pastry but the vegetables were the real hero. Oh, and those little bits of bacon. Bacon has always been my achilles’ heel. I toyed with the idea of adding coconut bacon but things were starting to get complicated. I had to let the vegetables shine, just like mum’s.

Quiche ingredients rQuiche before cooked rQuiche cooked r

Vegan quiche
Serves 6-8

1 leek, cut down the middle then sliced
1 zucchini, cut down the middle then sliced
1 head broccoli, broken down into pieces
3 spring onions, cut into 2cm pieces
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 cups chickpea flour
2 1/4 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.

Gently cook the leek, zucchini, broccoli and spring onions until soft. While cooking, whisk chickpea flour with water, olive oil and salt and pepper.

Add the vegetables to the tart dish and add the cherry tomatoes. Evenly pour the chickpea flour mix over the top and then place the sliced roma tomatoes on top.

Cook in the oven for 25-30 mins. Let cool 10 mins before slicing. Serve.

comment 1

Quick vegan Thai coconut soup (tom kha)

Do you ever feel as though you give your best to your 9-5 job and after that, you have nothing left to give? It’s one of the reasons I’ve taken three years to revisit this recipe. My weeknights are a write-off and life admin patiently awaits for me on the weekend. Once my life admin and house chores have been taken care of, there’s hardly any weekend left apart from a small amount of time to recharge (to make it through until the next weekend). The cycle just keeps cycling on.

As I write this on day three of a four-day weekend, I’m feeling disorientated. I don’t know how to spend this time. To me, life sometimes feels like a to-do list you can’t get through.

So, I’m not a soup girl, but here I am again with another soup. I don’t know why. Maybe you can chalk it up to this state of limbo (or maybe because my recipe for hot cross buns didn’t quite pan out in time for Easter and this was the next thing that popped into my head). My vegan tom yum quickly turned into tom kha (Thai coconut soup) with the addition of a little more coconut milk and a tablespoon of tahini. You read that correctly, I swapped out miso for tahini. I try to avoid eating soy products more than 2-3 times a week and when I do, I try to restrict it to only what’s essential (like tofu or gluten-free soy sauce, for example).

Back to the recipe – if you have everything on hand, you can knock this one out of the park in less than 30 mins. It’s almost too easy.

2 Ingredients r3 Lemongrass r4 Ingredients 2 r5 Tom yum 2 r1 Tom yum r HERO

Thai coconut soup
Serves 2

2 garlic cloves, grated
2 stalks of lemongrass, mashed in a mortar and pestle
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
1 small chilli, sliced
1/2 cup sliced and dried shiitake mushrooms
2 cups vegetable stock
270g coconut milk
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
150g fresh enoki mushrooms
1 lime, juiced
Large handful coriander, finely chopped
200g rice noodles, cooked
1 sheet of nori, cut into small pieces (optional)
Cooked tofu squares (optional)

Add garlic, lemongrass, ginger and chilli to a saucepan on a medium heat. Cook until fragrant and starting to catch on the bottom of the pan. Add the dried shiitake mushrooms and the vegetable stock and gently simmer for five minutes.

Whisk in the coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes before whisking in the tahini, maple syrup and gluten-free soy sauce, and simmer another five minutes.

Remove from the heat and add enoki mushrooms, lime juice and coriander. Add cooked rice noodles into a bowl, and top with the soup and mushrooms. Add some of the nori pieces and tofu (if using) and some lime slices.