Mushroom & Chestnut Martini Soup

Every time I make this soup, I ask myself ‘why don’t I make this more often?’ Chestnuts contain no cholesterol and are low in sodium and fat. They are also rich in mineral salts and an excellent source for vitamins C, B1, B2 and folates.  Guests always love how it plates up as a savoury martini. I love it more, because it screams SCREW YOU winter!

Mushroom and Chestnut Martini Soup

What you’ll need: serves 6
400g peeled chestnuts (I buy mine frozen from either the markets or good health food stores)
400g mushrooms finely sliced (I like to use organic portobellos)
1 tablespoon of EV olive oil
1 medium organic potato, peeled and diced
1 medium brown onion, peeled and diced
1 glove of garlic, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon of organic dried thyme
1 litre of vegetable stock (I use 2-3 tablespoons of my Thermomix veggie stock, diluted in a litre of filtered water)
Freshly ground pepper top taste
Sea salt to taste and fresh herbs to garnish (basil and parsley are my favs, but you could use thyme or chives too)
Tub of Butter Me Up; the first Australian-made real butter alternative. If you haven’t tried this yet, you must

How to prepare:
In a pan bring vegetable stock to a gentle simmer
In a separate deep, heavy based saucepan sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent
Add chestnuts, potato and mushrooms to sautéed onion and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes until the ingredients begin to stick to the base of your pot, then add thyme and stir through well, followed by 3/4 of your hot stock
Simmer for 25-30 minutes
Remove from heat, transfer to blender and blitz until smooth, using the remaining stock to adjust the consistency if need be, blitz again
Taste and adjust seasoning if required
Ladle into your martini glasses, top with fresh herbs, salt and or pepper and serve with fresh bread and generous lashings of vegan butter

Smash n’ Wrap

With Meat Free Week 2014 just days away, you will have lunch well and truly sorted with all the fresh salad combinations that work with smashed white beans. Including last week’s raw apple, beetroot and carrot salad which received rave reviews. Enjoy x

Smashed white bean wrap

What you’ll need: serves 2
400g organic cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
½ a red onion peeled and very finely diced
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon of coarse grain Celtic sea salt: free from preservatives, additives, refining and bleaching
½ a teaspoon of cracked black pepper
The juice and rind of 1 small lemon
Dill washed and chopped (optional)

ImageImage

How to prepare:
Place all the ingredients (except dill) into a bowl
Mash well with a fork until you have a chunky paste
Taste and adjust seasoning, add dill (optional)
Take a whole-wheat wrap fill it with smashed white beans then add:
Raw ABC salad or
Spinach leaves, fresh basil and sliced tomato or
Avocado, spinach leaves, grated carrot and pitted olives… the options are only limited by your imagination
Wrap and place face down on sandwich press to
Toast until golden brown
Tuck in x

Sweet Mung Bean Soup

This versatile dish is the prefect antidote to all the over-indulgences of the silly season. Tried and tested, this recipe was given to me by my gorgeous father-in-law who has been making this hydrating and nutritious sweet dessert-soup (known in Cantonese as lucdousa) for more than 30 years.

Traditionally the Chinese enjoy this soup after a meal, or between courses but you’ll find my in-laws, myself and our toddler sons tucking into a big bowl for breakfast or for a late lunch. Full of fibre, folate, protein, calcium, iron and vitamin C (which as we know improves iron absorption). It makes plenty, which is just as well, because you’ll be going back for more, especially after a big workout, or day at the beach.

Lucdousa_ingredients
Lucdousa1

What you’ll need: (you’ll find eveything you need at any good Asian grocer)
2 cups of whole dried mung beans (Hepai)
1 cup of black-eyed beans
3-4 ltrs of water
1/4 cup which equates to roughly 10 tapioca sticks or flakes broken into one-inch pieces also known as (Bot Khoai Dai)

Tapioca_2

1/4 cup of tapioca pearls
1 and a half to two cups of organic raw sugar (start with less, you can always add more)
1/4 cup of shredded seaweed (Hoitai) 

Utensils:
Large pot
Small and large colander
Measuring cups
1 litre measuring jug
Wooden spoon

How to prepare:
Put mung bean and black-eyed beans into a large pot, cover with water and soak for 1 hour

Break up tapioca sticks into one-inch pieces and soak for 1 hour

Drain pot of beans and refill with 3 litres (you may use the 4th litre later) of fresh water.  Bring beans to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer cooking them for 30-mins or until soft

Meanwhile thoroughly wash and untangle seaweed in a small pot, to remove any possible sand (don’t soak the seaweed as you will loose the nutritional content) then drain in a small colander and set aside

When beans are al-dente add pre-soaked tapioca sticks

When beans are soft quickly rinse and drain tapioca pearls using your small colander

Then add them, your prewashed seaweed and the sugar stirring all three into the beans. Turn off the heat, then cover for 10 mins then eat

You’ll know you got this dish spot on if the tapioca pearls are transparent, if the soup is sweet and if there is ample liquid.  If this is not the case, just add another litre of water, a little more sugar and allow dish to sit for another 10 minutes

Once you have mastered this dish, you can adjust the amount of beans, tapioca or sugar content to your preferred taste.  You may also like to cut your shredded seaweed down a bit (into smaller pieces), that’s the way I like it

This dish can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days

Holiday Hors d’oeuvres – part II

Taking no time to prepare, these mini vol-au-vents are a good recipe to have up your sleeve for the festive season. All the ingredients can be stored in your pantry and pulled out at the very last minute. They also make a great snack for the kids and are a bit of fun if you’re off to the moonlight cinema and are looking for some inspiration for your picnic hamper.

vol-au-vent

What you’ll need: (makes 24)
1-2 packets of ready made mini vol-au-vents. Vegan vol-au-vents aren’t always easy to find so you can use melba toasts instead
A can of creamed corn
Kale chips – I’m loving these handmade, raw, organic, Australian grown chips from Komarov foods who launched at World Vegan Day 2013
Savoury yeast flakes

How to prepare:
Heat the creamed corn in a pot on the stove, or if you are super busy, in the microwave
Set out your vol-au-vents
Spoon creamed corn into each vol-au-vent using a teaspoon
Top with crumbled kale chips and savoury yeast flakes
Serve immediately
These can also be eaten cold
If there is any creamed corn left over, it is yummy on toast with finely diced red onion, cracked pepper and some herbs

A litte about savoury yeast flakes
These flakes are loaded with B Vitamins including B1, B6, B3, B2 and B12
They are a great cheese substitute, in particular a parmesan cheese substitute
Try them on: salads, baked potatoes, in béchamel sauce and a top my famous vegetarian spaghetti bolognese
You’ll find them in any good health food store

Savoury yeast flakes

Fruit Shack Smoothie

We took a drive from the south of the island of Kauai to Hanalei Bay in north, where the movie the Decedents starring George Clooney was filmed. Along the way we happened across a mobile smoothie wagon. It was a sight to behold, a literal oasis with every tropical fruit you could wish for. As we drank up our fruit smoothies, I couldn’t wait to try out some of the wagon owner’s combinations for myself.

This one is our three-year-old son’s favourite. Since our return, he’s asked for the ‘fruit shack smoothie’ everyday! I’ve made it for breakfast on-the-go and even as a dessert. Guests and the kids get a real kick out of the retro bottles, jars and re-usable straws.

If you’re already a fan of my ultimate breakfast smoothie you’re going to love this one. Easy to make and packed with so much goodness, you can just feel your body hydrating with every gulp.

Smoothie in cool jar

What you’ll need: (serves 4-6)
2 bananas broken into pieces
1/2 a Papaya peeled, deseeded and diced
1 Mango peeled and diced, or just cut it in half and scoop out the flesh, then eat the pip… it’s a a little quicker
6 Strawberries
1 tray of ice cubes
1/4 cup of filtered water
Re-useable steel or glass straws available online at the raw food store
Fruit smoothie ingredients

How to prepare:
Add fruit to a powerful blender and blitz
Add ice cubes and blitz until smooth
Add water and blitz until mixed
If you have a Thermomix, I start at one and move to speed 10 for 10-15 seconds
Serve in a unusual glass or old-school jar with re-usable straws
Devour and go for more!

Ethan Hawaii Smoothie

Holiday Hors d’oeuvres – part I

Just off the plane from the magical islands of Hawaii, I’m feeling rested, refreshed and am buzzing with loads of easy, Hawaiian-inspired recipes to share with you. It’s perfect timing really, with the party season already underway and everyone in their kitchens cooking up a storm.

These ‘miniature tacos’ are a huge hit if you’re asked to bring a plate over the holiday season, they are also the perfect appetiser for any dinner party, or BBQ and have to be one of my all-time favourite snacks. if you liked my avocado magic recipe you’ll enjoy these…
corn chip tacos

What you’ll need:
1-2 Avocados
1 Lemon
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Your choice or herbs to garnish with: coriander, parsley, spring onion
2 Fresh red chillies (the hotter the better)
Quality corn chips: I’m loving anything stone-groundHawaii

How to prepare:
Halve, then de-seed avocados and place into a mixing bowl
Add the juice of half a lemon being careful to omit the pips (an easy trick is to put cheese cloth over the lemon)
Season with salt and pepper, then mash with a fork, leaving some yummy chunks
Chop your chosen herbs and the chillies
Set out your corn chips. I found they look the best on a chopping board
Using a teaspoon spoon the avocado mixture onto each chip
Decorate with herbs, then fresh chilli
Serve immediately

Tips:
Naturally the more hors d’oeuvres you intend to make the more of the ingredients you’ll need. Meaning 1 avocado for 2-4 guests. 3 avocados for 10-15 guests
My favourite combination is coriander and chilli but the fun of these is you can mix them up or just make whatever is in the fridge
If I take these to a party, I prepare everything in advance and just plate them up when I get there

Nut and Date Truffles

Inspired by my friend Jacqui’s love of Medjool dates, I’ve created this gorgeous truffle recipe, which is great fun to make with the kids.

These make a perfect protein-rich snack for toddlers and teenagers alike. They are an impressive addition to any picnic hamper and make quite the impression when served with (chocolate) Co Yo coconut ice cream and fresh fruit as part of a dessert tasting plate.

Nut and date truffles

What you’ll need: (makes 20)
200g Medjool dates (this equates to about 8 dates)
100g raw almonds
2  teaspoons of cacao powder
(I use Cacao Gold from Power Super Foods which supports conservation initiatives and organic technical education programs in Ecuador. Available at all good health food stores)
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
(I like to use a combination of both black and white chia seeds)
Desiccated coconut to coat your truffles

Medjool dates and almonds
Did you know…

Dates are rich in potassium, with a high iron content. They are a good source of protein, dietary fibre and packed with vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B5 along with vitamin A1 and C.  Free from cholesterol and very low fat, they are the perfect energy booster.

Chia seeds are the highest known plant source of omega 3’s, also rich in protein and fibre.

Almonds are actually stone fruits related to cherries, plums and peaches. Among other things, almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine; nutrients that boost brain activity and may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The phosphorus in almonds helps build strong bones and teeth.

Cacao is a type of tropical tree that produces the world’s chocolate in raw form, before fat, sugar, and other ‘sweeteners’ are added. Packed with vitamins, essential minerals and antioxidants, the cacao tree grows in a few specific regions of the world, including Mexico and South America, where most of the cacao or chocolate beans/seeds come from.

How to prepare:
De-pip Mejool dates by hand and place them in your blender/Thermomix
Add almonds and chia seeds
Chop for 8 seconds on speed 9
Scrape down sides of your blender and chop again for 10 seconds on speed 9
If using a blender, ‘blitz’ until your truffle mixture is a mostly smooth consistency
Truffle mixUsing a tablespoon, spoon some mixture into your hand
Roll it to form a small truffle, then drop it into the plate of coconut and roll the truffle around until fully coated
Your truffles will need to be refrigerated in an airtight container and are good for 10 days. Serve at room temperature.

If you’ve enjoyed my recipe, please leave a comment for other followers to get inspired!

Lucdousa – chinese sweet mung bean soup

This versatile dish screams ‘comfort food‘ and is the prefect antidote to all the over-indulgences of the silly season. Tried and tested, this recipe was given to me by my gorgeous father-in-law who has been making this hydrating and nutritious sweet dessert-soup for more than 30 years.

Traditionally the Chinese enjoy this soup after a meal, or between courses but you’ll find my in-laws, myself and our toddler sons tucking into a big bowl for breakfast or for a late lunch. Full of fibre, folate, protein, calcium, iron and vitamin C (which as we know improves iron absorption). It makes plenty, which is just as well, because you’ll be going back for more.

Lucdousa_ingredients
Lucdousa1

What you’ll need: (you’ll find eveything you need at any good Asian grocer)
2 cups of whole dried mung beans (Hepai)
1 cup of black-eyed beans
3-4 ltrs of water
1/4 cup which equates to roughly 10 tapioca sticks or flakes broken into one-inch pieces also known as (Bot Khoai Dai)

Tapioca_2

1/4 cup of tapioca pearls
1 and a half to two cups of organic raw sugar (start with less, you can always add more)
1/4 cup of shredded seaweed (Hoitai) 

Utensils:
Large pot
Small and large colander
Measuring cups
1 litre measuring jug
Wooden spoon

How to prepare:
Put mung bean and black-eyed beans into a large pot, cover with water and soak for 1 hour

Break up tapioca sticks into one-inch pieces and soak for 1 hour

Drain pot of beans and refill with 3 litres (you may use the 4th litre later) of fresh water.  Bring beans to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer cooking them for 30-mins or until soft

Meanwhile thoroughly wash and untangle seaweed in a small pot, to remove any possible sand (don’t soak the seaweed as you will loose the nutritional content) then drain in a small colander and set aside

When beans are al-dente add pre-soaked tapioca sticks

When beans are soft quickly rinse and drain tapioca pearls using your small colander

Then add them, your prewashed seaweed and the sugar stirring all three into the beans. Turn off the heat, then cover for 10 mins then eat

You’ll know you got this dish spot on if the tapioca pearls are transparent, if the soup is sweet and if there is ample liquid.  If this is not the case, just add another litre of water, a little more sugar and allow dish to sit for another 10 minutes

Once you have mastered this dish, you can adjust the amount of beans, tapioca or sugar content to your preferred taste.  You may also like to cut your shredded seaweed down a bit (into smaller pieces), that’s the way I like it

This dish can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days

Avocado Magic

Avocados remind me of my childhood, when I ate them right off the tree or doused them in brown vinegar and way too much table salt. These days I prefer them with the addition of cleansing herbs and a generous pinch of Himalayan sea salt, complete with its 84 micronutrients. I’m showing my age!

The magic of my creation is that it can be served for breakfast, as a dip, a top nachos, as a 4pm pick-me-up and is absolutely awesome piped on melba toasts or even better, mini vegan pikelets, which were gone before I could even get my camera.

Avocado_hero_shot
Avo_all

What you’ll need:
2 ripe avocados
1 lemon
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 bunch of basil
Pure or unrefined Himalayan sea salt – my favourite brands are Nirvana Himalayan Crystal Salt which you’ll find at all good health food stores or Cyndi O’Meara’s natural sea salt which you can buy on-line here: http://changinghabits.com.au/healthy-shopping/all-products/all-natural-seawee…

Salt

How to prepare:
Halve, deseed and scoop out avocado into a mixing bowl, then mash.  A chunky mash is good for toast, but a fine mash works best for canapes.

Add juice of lemon (I like to add the pulp too), then season with Himalayan sea salt.

De-leaf basil and parsley until you have a handful of each herb. I like to keep a little of the stem while de-leafing, because the stems hold so much flavour and provide a necessary crunch to the dish.

Chop herbs; a course chop for toast and nachos, a finer chop for a dip or canapes. Fold herbs into avocado mixture.  Taste, adjust seasoning if needed.

The perfect marriage of flavours leaves you with something salty, sour, cleansing and with an addictive crunch that contrasts the creamy avocado. Well that’s how my darling husband described it to me anyway.

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