Thursday, 28 November 2013

Quick summer meal ideas

To me, summer is all about light and quick meals.

How lovely is it to have dinner prepared in less than half an hour, instead of sweltering in the kitchen? (having pre-cooked grains/beans helps!)

I love salads that are substantial rather than very leafy - containing rice, chick peas, lentils, beans, quinoa or cous cous. 

My ideal quick and easy meal may consist of some grain/pulse, whatever appropriate veggies are in the fridge and sultanas, dressed with a bit of red wine vinegar, oil and salt. 

I also love kale, chick peas and avocado dressed with savoury/nutritional yeast, olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

Is it strange that I prefer such meals?! (Mind you, something sweet to follow the meal is essential...)

Not everyone (read: anyone) in the household shares my love for these very basic salads, so I will often make something else as well. Rice paper rolls, sushi, tangy bean wraps and quinoa salad are all popular with everyone. 

Here are a few comparably fancy but really easy and light salads I've made recently. 

Black Bean Salsa

1 cup dried black beans, cooked
handful of coriander, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 avocado, chopped

1-2 tbsp grapeseed oil
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp agave nectar/maple syrup 

Mix the beans, coriander, cucumber, tomato and avocado in a bowl. Combine dressing ingredients and mix it all up. Serve with corn chips.

Pumpkin cous cous salad with macadamias

1 cup wholemeal cous cous cooked as per instructions (I cook it in vegetable stock)
1 quarter pumpkin, chopped
half a red onion, chopped
few glugs of olive oil
2 cups english spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 cup macadamia nut halves

1 tsp tahini
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tsp agave nectar 
1/2 tsp salt or to taste

Toss pumpkin and onion in oil on a tray and bake in the oven at 200C until done, about 20-30 minutes. Add the macadamias to the oven about 10 minutes before pumpkin is done. 

Make the cous cous as per instructions on the packet.

Mix the cous cous, pumpkin, onion, macadamias and spinach in a bowl. 

Separately, mix the dressing ingredients together and then mix it all up. 

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Raspberries and Cream Overnight Oats

It's so nice waking up to this!

When I can get my act together in the evening, I try to prepare something for breakfast the next morning. 

It's a lot easier than trying to cook stuff with a three (going on thirty) year old and a little man who has just starting walking - or more accurately, stumble trip stumble trip. 

Overnight oats, generally consisting of rolled oats mixed with chia seeds, milk, sweetener and some kind of fruit, is a nice change from porridge and nice and cool for summer. 

There are endless flavour possibilities. Well, not endless. One time, I tried to make orange coconut overnight oats using oranges and coconut milk - um, no. Not good. That'll teach me for being creative!  

We loved blueberry overnight oats for a while, but I made them a little too often and we got blueberry fatigue. 

These raspberry overnight oats are our favourite at the moment. The coconut yogurt makes them really creamy. I used Alpine Coconut Yogurtwhich I found recently in Woolworths.

served with coconut yogurt

Raspberries and Cream Overnight Oats (serves about 4)

1.5 cups rolled oats
2 generous tbsp coconut yogurt 
3 tbsp chia seeds 
3-4 tbsp maple syrup/agave syrup or to taste
3 cups non-dairy milk (I usually use combo of rice, soy and oat milk)
1 cup raspberries (I use frozen)

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate overnight. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Almond Chocolate Chip Coconut Bars using leftover almond pulp

Lots of people seem to be searching for ways to use their almond pulp left over from making almond milk. My post about almond jam muffins using leftover almond pulp still gets the most hits on this blog!

I love those muffins, but there are only so many times I can make them and expect people to eat them! So I've been looking for new ways to use my leftover pulp. I recently bought a nut milk bag (very useful purchase) and I have been making lots of nut milk using this fabulous guide on Health Yeah

A lot of the recipes I've made with the pulp have tasted... well, kind of pulpy and bland. 

But these bars have a lot of flavour and are a great way to use leftover almond (or any other nut) pulp. I've found the key is to use a smaller amount of the pulp so it doesn't dominate. 

I used this recipe for almond pulp bars. I halved the recipe and only used half a cup of almond pulp. I used one of the new Mayver nut/seed spreads, which worked really well. 

These take a little while to firm up in the freezer. If you can't wait, you could probably just roll the mixture into balls.

If anyone has any recommendations for other ways to use up leftover pulp, I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Betty Goes Vegan

I was given Betty Goes Vegan for my birthday and I was sold on the book as soon as I read the introduction. The sentence "Julia Powell lost me when she killed the lobster" says it all (reference to Julie and Julia movie for those who don't know - although I am guessing most bloggers have seen it!). 

I also found it endearing that the first recipe I flicked to (in the dessert chapter of course) was a cookie recipe containing one and a half cups of powdered sugar and a cup of vegan margarine. So unapologetic and indulgent!

I think the premise of this epic cookbook - that you can make anything vegan - is admirable, even if it is a little heavy on the faux meat and cheese. I only wish that more of the cool vegan products like Daiya cheese were available in Australia. 

I love the tone in which the book is written - approachable, cheeky and fun. 

Here are a few things I've made so far:

Chocolate Orange Cashew Cheesecake

Butterscotch Brownies
Curry Spinach and Lentil Pilaf

Vegan Chicken Lettuce Rolls

Zucchini Apple Bread
We enjoyed all of these, but the Zucchini Apple Bread and the Vegan Chicken Lettuce Rolls really stood out - so delicious!

Theresa at the Tropical Vegan has also blogged about this book here and here

I'm looking forward to making some of the indulgent dishes from the "Holiday Favourites" section of this book this Christmas!