Falafel baked cauliflower {vegan, gluten-free}

A recipe I’m working on has me totally stumped. It’s a dessert. An adaptation of a childhood favourite that mum and I would make together. I’m going to give it one last shot before I throw in the towel. Because I know that most of the time, persistence pays off.

Speaking of persistence, this falafel baked cauliflower has been a work in progress for a while. I had such high hopes for it that I first made it for a dinner party I hosted. I wasn’t 100 per cent happy the dish was ‘there’ but someone even went in for seconds so there’s that.

I found it challenging removing the stalk while keeping the florets attached. After a few failed attempts, I decided to carve out the inner part of the stalk with a small paring knife. Success.

After that and a few small tweaks, I had the perfect dish. Cauliflower so soft it melts like butter in your mouth around falafel stuffing. And a crisp outer layer that’s like the shell of a giant falafel. This, dear reader, is a dish I dream about.

Kale-Mary-baked-falafel-cauliflower

Falafel baked cauliflower
Serves 4

1 cauliflower
180g dry chickpeas, soaked overnight, drained and washed
1/2 red onion
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup coriander
1 tbsp besan flour
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup gluten-free bread or rice crumbs
Extra virgin olive oil, to coat cauliflower

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C and fill a large stock pot with water to boil.

Trim the leaves off the cauliflower. Turn it upside down then carve out the stalk. Be careful not to take too much off the sides of the stalk as you want to keep the florets attached and intact.

Blitz the soaked chickpeas with onion, garlic, herbs, spices, besan flour, and salt and pepper.

Once blended into a falafel texture, transfer mixture to a wide-based pan with a little olive oil. Cook about 5-8 minutes until garlic is fragrant and mixture starts to brown. Set aside to cool.

Add the whole cauliflower to the stock pot when the water has boiled. Let it cook for around 8 minutes until cooked through.

Spoon about half of the falafel mix into a separate bowl and add the bread or rice crumbs. Mix then add enough olive oil to combine and coat the crumbs.

Grease a baking dish and place the cauliflower into the dish stalk-side up. Using a spoon and your fingers, stuff the falafel mix into the hole where you carved the flesh out of the stalk. Then stuff around the florets as best you can without breaking them off.

Carefully turn the cauliflower floret-side up being careful to keep the stuffing from falling out. Rub olive oil over the florets, then coat the cauliflower with falafel and bread or rice crumb mix.

Once the cauliflower is coated with the falafel crust, cover with foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for another 15 minutes until crust browns and hardens.

Cut into quarters and serve with hummus or this cashew butter and salad.

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Easiest-ever homemade baked beans {vegan, gluten-free}

One of my fondest childhood memories is having spaghetti bolognese on buttered crumpets for breakfast. And sometimes, when the homemade sort wasn’t on the menu, we’d have it with tinned spaghetti. Yep, I was a casual tinned spaghetti eater.

I always turned my nose up at tinned baked beans even though the sauce is probably the same as the one in tinned spaghetti. Now, I’m fully supportive of baked beans – only, the homemade variety. I can’t say when or how or why, only that I’m very glad to be at this party.

The secret to this recipe is all in the herbs. Thyme is one of them but sage really elevates the dish – not too much to overpower but not to little to get lost… just enough.

These homemade baked beans are great on gluten-free toast but they’re also great without, with some avocado and hasselback potatoes if you’re looking for a less processed option.

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Easiest-ever homemade baked beans {vegan, gluten-free}
Serves 2-3

1 brown onion, diced
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp dried thyme
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 tsp salt
1 tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup vegetable stock
3-4 fresh sage leaves, chopped

Heat some oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add onion and let sauté a few minutes.

Once onion is soft and slightly browning, add garlic powder, tomato paste, thyme, tomatoes and salt. Mix until well combined. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until tomatoes start to soften.

Add cannellini beans and mix through. Slowly add vegetable stock 1/4 cup at a time until all liquid is absorbed.

Add the chopped sage and turn off the heat. Serve with toast, avocado and/or hasselback potatoes.

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.

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.

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.