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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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!

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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.

DIY instant noodles {GF, vegan}

When you are intolerant and allergic to most staple ingredients, it can be hard to pull together a quick meal. Instant noodles are not a great nutritional choice when you can eat them, but they are fast.

I’ve been toying with the idea of DIY instant noodles for a while and I think you’ll be happy with this recipe – it’s simple, it’s tasty and it’s much healthier than two-minute noodles. You can even put the ingredients in a mason jar to take to work. Just add boiling water and garnish when you are ready to eat.

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DIY instant noodles {GF, vegan}
Serves 2

For the soup base
1 tbsp chickpea miso powder (or a soy-based miso)
1 tbsp vege stock powder (see note below)
1/2 tsp wakame flakes

For the fillings
100g dried mung bean vermicelli noodles
1 carrot, julienned
1 cup white cabbage, finely sliced
1/2 cup tuscan kale, finely sliced
2 tbsp ginger, grated
3-4 cups boiling water
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
Spring onion, to serve
Thai basil, to serve
Lime juice, to serve

Place the soup base ingredients in the bottom of a bowl or glass container. Add noodles and vegetables.

Pour boiling water into the bowl or container until all ingredients are covered. Let sit for 5 minutes, with a saucer or lid on top.

Garnish with spring onion and Thai basil, and drizzle with fresh lime juice.

NOTE: I make my own vegetable stock powder from 2 tbsp mushroom powder mixed with 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cracked pepper and 1/2 tsp celery seeds.

Raw cherry ripe {gluten-free, vegan}

Today we headed down to Killalea State Park. A monthly market is held there with heaps of food stalls. In fact, there were so many gluten-free and vegan-friendly options that it was difficult to choose just one, a rare occurrence! We sat on the top of the hill, which overlooks The Farm’s Beach and enjoyed our lunch – me, with my vietnamese salad and my boyfriend Jess, with his spinach and cheese gozleme. Then we walked along the beach and headed home.

Now that the weather has been warmer, it feels as good a time as ever to share with you my recipe for raw cherry ripe. I had been thinking about making it for a while and when I saw some beautiful cherries on special at my local green grocer, I knew it was a sign. It’s not as naughty as a real cherry ripe, but it has all the elements. Perhaps we can call this a cherry ripe for when you are trying to be good but you’re naughty at heart.

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Raw cherry ripe
Makes 9 slices

For the base:
1 1/2 cup almonds
4 tbsp raisin paste or 4 dates
1 tbsp coconut oil

For the filling:
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted
2 cups desiccated coconut
1/4 cup maple syrup or other sweetener of choice
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp beetroot powder
2 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp vanilla powder

For the topping:
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup maple syrup

Blitz the base ingredients in a food processor until the almonds are roughly chopped. Spoon into the base of a square container or baking pan. Smooth out evenly and set aside.

Blitz the filling ingredients until combined well then spoon on top of the base. Place in the freezer for 1 hour.

Add coconut oil, cacao powder and maple syrup to a bowl and whisk until combined. Remove cherry ripe from freezer and spread the chocolate on top. Return to the freezer for another hour before enjoying.

Allergy-friendly ice cream sandwiches {GF, vegan}

I had the house to myself this weekend and what did I do with my time? Cleaned the house from top to bottom. Here I am at the end of yet another weekend having only scratched the surface of my to-do list. I’m doing far less of what I want to do in my spare time and far more of what I need to do, which has me wondering if I even have spare time at all. Finding time to cook is about all I have time for but I shouldn’t complain – there are far worse things in life!

Let’s talk about nice cream (ice cream made from bananas). Every second person I follow is on that bandwagon but I’m not 100% sold because, well, bananas. My 2-ingredient raspberry sorbet is just as easy and doesn’t have a banana in sight. I was thinking about using it as the filling for ice cream sandwiches a few months ago but time got the best of me, as it usually does.

These almond meal cookies are my go-to… in fact, as I type this, I realise I need to flesh out my cookie repertoire – this is the only cookie recipe I know! Leave that with me, and in the meantime, give these ones a go. These cookies have just 7 ingredients and sorbet has just 2… gluten-free, vegan and refined sugar-free ice cream sandwiches with less than 10 ingredients!

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Ice cream sandwiches
Makes 3

For the cookies
1 1/2 cup almond meal
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking powder
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C, and combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Roll out the cookie dough onto a lined baking tray and use a cookie cutter to evenly cut out the cookie shapes. (A cookie cutter helps keep each cookie uniform… an important tool for ice cream sandwiches!)

Cook in the oven for 10 minutes. When the cookies come out of the oven, they will be soft to touch so it’s best to leave them for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

For the sorbet
2 cups frozen raspberries
3/4 cup rice milk (stored in the freezer for 4 hours)

Add ingredients into a bowl and use a hand blender to combine the raspberries with the semi-frozen rice milk.

Evenly spread into a shallow baking dish and place in the freezer for approx. 2 hours, to freeze into shape.

Once set, use the same cookie cutter you used for the cookies to cut out rounds of the sorbet.

Add cookie on either side of the sorbet slices and enjoy.

Vegan sushi burgers

We’ve gone from 14 degree days to 30 degree days all in the space of a week! Spring is well and truly here (hello hay fever!) noticed by the fact that I’m now wearing two layers when I leave the house instead of four. But beyond delayering, there is one thing that I’m really looking forward to: daylight savings time. I’m counting down the days until I get home from work and it’s still light outside.

I first made sushi burgers – or sushi sandwiches if you’d prefer to call them – about three months ago. Confession: I have never made real sushi before… only hand rolls. I loved hand rolls but my DIY attempt looked exactly that, DIY. What I love about sushi burgers is that they are incredibly simple to make, the end result looks somewhat professional and they taste good.

When I became vegan, vegetable sushi rolls really bored me. That was until pickled vegetables in sushi found me like a knight in shining armour. Now I’m not satisfied unless my sushi has a pickle in it.

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Sushi burgers
Makes 7 burgers

7 sheets of aluminium foil
7 sheets of nori seaweed
2 1/3 cups cooked sushi rice
1 avocado, halved and sliced
2 pickled carrots, julienned
4 baby cucumbers, thinly sliced lengthways
1/3 cup peanut tamarind sauce (see below)

Lay a sheet of foil on your surface then lay a sheet of nori on top, shiny side down, with one of the ends pointing towards you.

Spread a third of a cup of the rice into a square in the middle. Then add fillings and top with another third of a cup of rice into a square.

Fold in the sides of the nori, like you would wrapping paper and tightly fold the foil around it to hold it together. If you notice the nori tearing, you can lightly mist it with some water.

Repeat until all rice and fillings have been used.

After the foil-wrapped sushi burgers have rested for at least 10 minutes, unfold the foil and discard. Run a sharp knife under water and slice the sushi burgers in half.

Serve with soy sauce.

Peanut tamarind sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp coconut sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp gluten-free soy sauce
1 tbsp tamarind concentrate

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Add water gradually until desired consistency is reached.

6-ingredient vegan paleo brownie

It doesn’t feel like winter, not when the skies are blue and my skin is warm from an abundance of sun rays. I’m not even outside, I am writing this from my sunroom table with a brownie in hand. I haven’t made brownies in the longest time. I don’t know why, because this recipe is so easy and only takes six ingredients.

Our house is coming along. Our furniture shipment will soon arrive, and then it will start to feel more like home, rather than a big empty space with a few pieces of furniture. I guess that’s what happens when you move from a studio to a small townhouse to an actual house – you don’t have much to fill the space!

Plants have made the space feel more like home in the meantime. I have fiddle leaf figs lining the windows, avocado trees I’ve grown from seeds (now up to my hips!), cacti, ivy, succulents and my prized pilea peperomioides and monstera adansonii pants, which took months to source and acquire.

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6-ingredient vegan paleo brownie
Makes 9 slices

1 cup apple and pear puree (do this yourself using organic fruit, or look in the baby food aisle to find organic fruit puree without additives)
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup raw cacao powder
3 tbsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp beetroot powder
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix well until combined. If mixture feels a bit dry, add 1-2 tbsp water to help it bind.

Transfer the ingredients into a greased brownie tin and cook for around 20-25 minutes.

Let cool in tin before slicing and serving.