Roasted Cauliflower, Corn and Eggplant Tacos

I seem to have an obsession with roasted cauliflower lately and a new found love for roasted and BBQ'd corn - it's just so delicious!

On my quest to combine these two ingredients I came across this recipe from The Forest Feast and wanted to give it a go with some added roasted eggplant. I was very impressed with the result.

There are so many options with these tacos. Make them vegan by adding some cashew 'cream', guacamole or hummus on top instead of yoghurt. Other alternatives are sour cream and fetta.

You can add plenty of other taco toppings if you would like but I don't think they are necessary. Some toppings that would be nice include avocado, cheese and jalapeño chillies.

You could also turn them into burritos with some added rice.

These would also be wonderful with the cauliflower, corn and eggplant being BBQ'd instead of roasted.

Not wanting to use processed tortillas, I found this recipe for whole wheat tortillas from Cooking ala Mel which can be used to make either 14 taco sized tortillas or 8 burrito sized tortillas. It is super simple and I encourage anyone who hasn't made them before to give it a go. The only comments that I have are to make sure that you let the tortillas rest under a tea towel or some aluminium foil until soft and use two frying pans to cut the cooking time in half.

What you need to make 8 full tacos:
  • 1 head cauliflower, florets chopped into small pieces 
  • 2 corn cobs, corn removed
  • 1 small eggplant, chopped into 1 cm pieces
  • 1 tsp each of chilli powder (or less if you don't like it really spicy), chilli flakes, dried cumin and garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • Greek yoghurt to serve
  • Hot sauce to serve
  • Coriander and lime to serve (optional)
  • 8 taco tortillas

How to make the them:

Preheat the oven to 180° C (fan forced oven). Place some baking paper onto two baking trays. Add the corn and eggplant to one tray and the cauliflower to the other tray. Ensure that the vegetables are dry so that they crisp up.

Mix the spices and a pinch of salt and pepper with the oil. Drizzle over the vegetables and the mix around on the baking tray so that they are all covered with the spices (I used my hands). Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables have started to brown. After around 15 minutes, add the tortillas to the oven to heat them up for a few minutes.

Once the vegetables are ready add them to warm tacos and top with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, coriander and hot sauce to taste. Serve with a slice of lime if desired and enjoy.

Pumpkin 'Cheese' Cake

I am completely obsessed with pumpkin. Prior to making this cake I did not realise that I already had two pumpkin related recipes on my blog including a Cherry Tomato and Pumpkin Laksa and Pumpkin Risotto using pearl barley.

My desire to make this cake stemmed from a celebratory lunch with my boyfriend. We went to a restaurant called Vegerama to have a vegan satay burger. Whilst ordering my salad I noticed all the beautiful vegan cakes they had. One of them happened to be a pumpkin cheesecake. I had never tried a pumpkin cheesecake, let alone a vegan one, so we ordered it. It was completely amazing and love at first bite.

Following this I started searching for some vegan pumpkin cheesecake recipes and stumbled across one from Laura Friendly. After making a few changes to ensure it had less sugar, I was wrapped with the results.

This cake is moist and sweet and has a cheesecake texture. It is my new favourite, followed swiftly by this Flourless Orange Choc Nut Cake. Best of all, it doesn't even need to be baked! I  recommend leaving it in the fridge overnight if you can resist eating it to let those yummy flavours develop.

Please note that you will need to soak the raw cashews for at least 8 hours (or overnight if possible).

What you need to make one cake for very lucky people:

  • 12 dates, pits removed, soaked in water for 30 minutes, then drained (save water)
  • 4 to 6 tbsp date water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups raw almonds (or equivalent of almond meal) or other nut meal of choice
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (if needed)
In a blender or food processor add the dates, date water and salt. Blend until it becomes a paste. Set aside.

In a food processor, add the almonds and pulse until they become a coarse meal. Add in the date paste and pulse until the mixture starts to mold together. Add up to 1 tbsp of coconut oil if the mixture isn't sticking together and continue to process.

Transfer mixture into a lined 20 cm springform cake pan. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and about 3.5 centimetres (1.5 inches) up the sides.

Place pan into the freezer and allow to chill before adding the filling, around 10 minutes.

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water overnight, drained
  • 1.5 cups cooked pumpkin, cooled (fresh or canned)
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Sweetener of choice (I used 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 tbsp rice syrup and 6 drops liquid stevia - a combination of rice syrup and stevia would be perfect and contains almost zero sugar - taste as you add the sweetener to test desired sweetness)
In a blender or food processor add the cashews, pumpkin, coconut oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, vinegar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Blend until the mixture is smooth. It will be quite thick.

Pour the mixture onto the chilled pie crust, smoothing out the top with a blunt knife or the back of a spoon. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 1 hour or overnight. Slice and serve cold. If you leave it out for too long it will be more of a mouse like texture.


20 minute Thai Chicken Salad (Larb Gai)

Following the finale of My Kitchen Rules in Australia, my thoughtful boyfriend (knowing of my obsession with Pete Evans) bought me Pete's latest book Cooking with Love. This Larb Gai salad has been adapted from the book.

This salad embodies what I think is a perfect chicken salad with lots of fresh herbs and zingy flavours that dance around on your taste buds.

The recipe is classified as an entree in the book, but you can easily make it a main meal for four with some brown rice, green beans, sliced cucumber and plenty of lettuce leaf cups.

Pete suggests the use of dry cooked rice that is then ground to add a different texture to the salad. I tried out it and it was wonderful, but not necessary if you don't have much time.

What you need to serve four people as a main:

  • 500 grams chicken breast mince (I processed whole free-range breast meat)
  • small handful of basil leaves (Asian basil if you can get it), torn
  • large handful of coriander leaves, torn
  • large handful of mint leaves, torn
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 12 cos or iceberg lettuce leaves
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 small fresh or dried red chillies, finely chopped (seeds removed optional)
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 5 tbsp lime juice (approximately 1.5 limes)
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil for cooking
  • 2 tbsp uncooked brown rice
Optional ingredients:
  • 1 tsp grated galangal or ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp lime leaves, finely sliced (I used a jar)
  • roasted peanuts, chopped to serve
  • bean sprouts to serve 
  • green beans to serve 
  • shredded carrot to serve

How to make it:

Toast the uncooked rice in a dry non stick pan until brown, shaking the pan regularly. Let the rice cook down and then place in a processor or spice grinder and process until it resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Cook rice according to packet directions.

While the rice is cooking, add oil to a sauté pan over medium heat. Once heated add the chicken and cook, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks. Add the chillies and onion and sauté for one minute. Take the pan off the heat and add the herbs, fish sauce, ginger, lime leaves, lime juice and toasted rice. Stir gently to combine

Serve with lettuce leaves, steamed green beans, bean sprouts, sliced cucumber and cooked brown rice. You also have the option to serve the salad with more vegetables i.e. shredded carrot and some chopped roasted peanuts would be yummy.

Make it Naughty: use chicken thigh fillets instead of chicken breast

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

My mum, being English, made Cottage Pie (with beef mince) and Shepherd's Pie (with lamb mince) fairly regularly when I was growing up.

Not understanding the origin of these pies I looked it up and discovered that the pies were originally made with left over roast. In more recent times most people make the pies out of minced meat.

Traditionally the pies are made using white potatoes, however I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes so I thought I would give them a go. The result was delicious.

Sweet potatoes contain vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, B vitamins, potassium, iron and almost 15 percent of your daily dietary fibre intake.They are also a great source of healthy antioxidants and have a low glycemic index, which means that the body can slowly absorb the glucose and sustain a moderate rise in sugar levels. In comparison, white potatoes have a high glycemic rating.

These pies can be made with sweet or white potatoes, or a mixture of both. You can add any vegetables that take your fancy and feel free to change the lentils to any other type of legume or bean (some suggestions are at the end). The recipe makes one big pie or four individual pies.

So, here is my veggie version on the humble Shepherd's Pie:

What you need to make four individual pies or one large pie:
  • 2 carrots, chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 1 large stick of celery, chopped
  • 150 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion (red or white), finely chopped 
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped or minced
  • 950 g sweet potato, chopped into chunks for boiling (unpeeled if organic)
  • 400 g tin of organic chopped tomatoes (or 3 fresh very ripe tomatoes)
  • 125 mls (1/2 cup) red wine
  • 2 tsp dried thyme or 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried cumin
  • 150 g tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 stock cubes or 1 tbsp of other seasoning (such as herbamare)
  • 1 tbsp soy or Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp milk of choice (regular, almond, soy etc)
  • 1 cup dried puy (also called green or French) lentils (soaked for as long as possible or overnight) or 2.5 cups cooked lentils (approximately 1.5 tins)
  • 85 g cheddar or other cheese, grated (optional)
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp butter or coconut oil for mashing the potato
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil for cooking
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to make it:

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Add lentils to 2 cups of boiling water in a pot and cook until just tender, approximately 15-20 minutes if they have been soaked. Meanwhile add the sweet potato to a pot of water, bring to the boil and cook until soft, approximately 15-20 minutes.

While the lentils and potatoes are cooking heat 1/2 tbsp coconut oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent. Add the red wine and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the carrots, celery, thyme, cumin, tomato paste, smoked paprika, stock cubes and tomatoes and simmer until the sauce has thickened, approximately 20 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the sauce for the final 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain and rinse the lentils and then add them to the tomato sauce. Drain the sweet potatoes and add 1 tbsp butter/coconut oil, nutritional yeast flakes, milk, salt and pepper. Mash until smooth.

In either one large oven dish or four individual ramekins add the lentil mixture and top with the sweet potato mash. Sprinkle cheese over the top and pop in the oven. Cook for approximately 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden.

Variations - add some white potato to the sweet potato for a really creamy mixture, try different lentils or peas (such as split peas or chick peas), try beans (such as butter beans, borlotti beans or mixed beans) instead of lentils, or add extra vegetables. 

Make it naughty - add some extra cheese and/or cream to the mash.

Source for the sweet potato information: Livestrong

Cauliflower Pizza Bases

Turned off by pizza because of the carbohydrates? Flour? Calories? Kneading the dough? Well you don't have to do worry about any of that with these fab little pizza crusts made using raw grated cauliflower.

It took me one practice run to get the consistency and ratios right for the pizza base, but I’m now happy to confirm that these pizzas are as good as the real thing - you can even pick them up in your hand and eat them like a regular pizza.

Have you ever wondered how the white flour on your pizza base is produced? Non-organic white flour is made by treating the seeds and then the plant with pesticides and hormones. Following this the wheat grains are milled usually with high speed mills that remove the bran and germ, and the resulting flour is mostly made up of the starchy endosperm layer.  In other words white flour is devoid of most of the original nutrients by the time it is made into a pizza dough.

Cauliflower on the other hand contains vitamins, minerals and phytonurients (plant nutrients that may help neutralise damaging toxins). Cauliflower also contains glucosinolates which activate the body's detoxification process, which some research suggests helps to prevent some types of cancers. Cauliflower is also a great source of potassium and vitamin C (one cup of raw cauliflower contains almost as much vitamin C as an orange).

Therefore these pizzas should be eaten with a guilt free conscience! The cauliflower in the base combined with the vegetables on the top are a great way to get your daily intake of veggies.

What you need to make 4 mini cauliflower pizza bases (serves 2 with no sides, double to serve 4):

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg white 
  • 2 tbsp of dried herbs (or to taste) - I used thyme and oregano
  • 1/4 cup grated cheese - mozzarella or soft goats cheese
  • 3/4 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (probably optional)
  • 1 tsp coconut or grapeseed oil

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line a baking tray with baking paper and very lightly spread/spray with oil.

Process or grate the cauliflower until it resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk the eggs briefly and then add the eggs, herbs, cheese and nutritional yeast flakes to the cauliflower and mix until well combined.

Using your hands, divide the mixture into four equal portions. Roll one portion in your hands to form a ball, gently squeeze any excess liquid out of the ball and then spread evenly onto the baking tray to make a pizza base. Repeat with the other portions.

Cook in the oven for 10 minutes and then flip and continue to cook for around another 10 minutes or until crispy on top and the edges are dark brown. Leave the pizza bases to cool at room temperature while you prepare the sauce and other ingredients.

Once you have prepared your toppings and the pizzas have cooled to room temperature, top the pizzas and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Enjoy.

Possible pizza toppings:
  • tomato pizza sauce made by cooking organic tinned tomato with oil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until thick
  • pesto
  • cheese i.e. mozzarella, goats cheese or fetta cheese (of any variety), vegan cheese
  • nutritional yeast flakes
  • thinly sliced capsicum
  • halved cherry tomatoes
  • olives (green or black)
  • capers
  • finely diced and sauteed eggplant
  • mushrooms
  • anchovies
  • finely sliced red onion
  • herbs
  • spinach and rocket (fresh, added after the pizzas have been cooked)

Sources:1, 2

Flourless Orange Choc Nut Cake

Everyone in the health world seems to be really into 'raw' brownies, cakes and energy bars at the moment and although I love them, when I came across a recipe posted by Alison from Relauncher for a baked chocolate nut cake that has no flour or added sugar and can be served warm, I got really really excited.

This cake is super easy to make and very healthy for a chocolate cake. It has a few really great ingredients like almonds, cacao and oranges to give it a choc orange nut flavour and a super food kick. There is no added sugar other than some dried fruit. To try and eliminate fructose I only used 1/2 a cup of dried fruit (instead of 500g like the original recipe) and I actually think you could make the cake without any dried fruit at all.

I served up the cake at a dinner party and then at work the next day. It is sooo delicious warm. Faces instantly melted as they ate it and they had no idea how healthy it was until I sent around a 'what's in the cake' email.

What you need to make one cake:
  • 100g sugar free dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 orange, the juice and zest
  • 1 cup of almonds, chopped to your liking
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (I used plums as they had the least amount of sugar), soaked until plump (about 15 minutes)
  • 1 tbsp rice malt syrup
  • 1/2 tsp liquid stevia
  • 3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
How to make it:

Turn on the oven to 180°C. Line a  spring form cake tin with baking paper and a little oil or butter.  Blitz the dried fruit in a processor until chopped into small pieces. Remove the fruit and place it in a large bowl. Next blitz the almonds until chopped into small pieces. Add the nuts, chocolate, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla essence, malt syrup, stevia, cacao powder and coconut oil to the fruit and mix well.

With a blender or egg beater, whisk or blend the eggs until light and fluffy. Carefully fold through the cake mixture. The mixture is runnier than a normal chocolate cake but will set once it has cooked.

Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until cooked. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before removing from tin.

Serve warm with fresh berries.

Make it Naughty: Serve with your choice of ice cream (such as coconut ice cream),  frozen yoghurt or cream. I have a recipe for cashew cream at the end of this post.  You could also heat up some coconut oil and add some cacao and rice syrup or stevia for a quick chocolate sauce, but I really don't think you need it.

Cashew cream recipe:

What you need:
  • 1 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for a few hours in filtered water
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk (i.e. almond, oat, rice, soy)
  • 1-2 tbsp maple syrup, honey or rice syrup (or liquid stevia to taste)
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
How to make it:

Drain the soaked cashews and put everything in a blender or food processor. Blend until it has a thick consistency and add more milk if required.

Cherry Tomato and Pumpkin Laksa

I love a spicy curry, particularly a Thai curry. However I have witnessed how hard it is for my vegetarian friends to go to a Thai restaurant and have a curry without either shrimp paste or fish sauce.

Enjoy a taste sensation? Then this curry is for you! It was actually my brother Ben who made it for me initially and I absolutely love it.

If you are trying to lose weight I would recommend using light coconut milk or alternatively don't use any coconut milk and add 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts to your laksa paste to add some creaminess. Alternatively you could add any other kind of milk (almond, soy, regular) and 1/2 teaspoon of coconut essence. Coconut milk/cream is made from blending coconut flesh and water. Coconut milk and light coconut milk simply have more water added to the mix and therefore are less creamy and have less fat content.

Try making your own laksa paste if you can  (*recipe at the end). That way you will know exactly what's in it and it won't have any preservatives. The paste involves a lot of ingredients but you can easily pick up all of the ingredients at Coles/Woolies (major grocer) or an Asian grocery store.

Make it Paleo: replace the noodles with zucchinnigetti (see my previous blog post about zucchini spaghetti here) and replace the tofu with vegetables such as capsicum and carrot.
What you need to serve four lucky people:
  • 600 g pumpkin (weighed with skin on), skin cut off and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 250 g tofu cut into 1cm cubes
  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups bean sprouts
  • 4 tbsp laksa paste
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (or soy sauce if vegetarian)
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste or puree
  • 1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
  • 400 mls unsweetened good quality coconut milk
  • Dried soba, ramen or rice noodles to serve 4
  • 1 lime, sliced into quarters
  • 1 handful of fresh mint and coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut or grapeseed oil
Extra topping options - thinly sliced spring onion, thinly sliced red chillies, thinly sliced cucumber, chopped pineapple.

How to cook it:

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Toss the cherry tomatoes and pumpkin in the oil and a small amount of salt and pepper, place in a single layer on the baking tray and roast for approximately 15-20 minutes or until soft.

Add the laksa paste, vegetable stock, coconut milk, tamarind paste and tofu to a saucepan and simmer for 8 minutes. Add the fish sauce (or soy sauce) and simmer for a further 2 minutes.

While the broth is simmering cook the noodles according to the packet directions. Drain the noodles and divide between four deep bowls, add the tomato and pumpkin, top with the tofu and laksa broth and garnish with bean sprouts and herbs. Serve with lime quarters and other optional toppings.

Make it Naughty: use coconut cream instead of coconut milk if you like your laksa really really creamy.

*Laksa paste recipe - makes approximately 6 tbsp
  • 2 small red onions, diced
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp galangal or ginger, roughly chopped
  • 6-8 red chillies, chopped
  • 4 dried chillies
  • 2 tsp roasted coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste (optional)
  • 2 tsp lime zest (= 2 limes)
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, green part only, roughly chopped (I used a jar of lemongrass)
  • 3 tbsp coriander roots, stems and leaves
  • 2 tsp shredded lime leaves (I used a jar of lime leaves)
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts (optional if not using coconut milk/cream)
Grind all of the ingredients in a mortar and pestle or blitz in a food processor.