Curried shepherd’s pie

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We have been getting our organic fruit and veggies delivered from Lettuce Delivery for a couple weeks now and are totally loving it…except for the fact that we are now over run by potatoes…so many potatoes. About ten came with each delivery and we aren’t big potato eaters. Something had to be done…and I didn’t feel like baked wedges…hence the creation of the curried shepherd’s pie…loosely based on my mum’s delicious classic that she’s been making since I became vegetarian twelve years ago, but with a bit of a curry kick. This made eight servings and probably cost under ten dollars to make. That’s one economical sheph’s pie!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup frozen Peas
1 large Carrot diced
1 medium zucchini diced
1 large Celery stalk, including leafy bits, diced
1 can of Chickpeas
1 Potato diced for the lentil/veg layer
4 potatoes chopped and boiled for top
1 sweet potato chopped and boiled for top
1 cup red Lentils
About 2-3 cups of water
1/2 TBS Dijon
1 TBS tomato sauce
1 TBS miso paste
1 TBS soy sauce
Good amount of Himalayan rock salt and cracked pepper
Tumeric
Cumin seeds
Coriander
Cinnamon
flour to thicken, I used chickpea flour

Rinse lentils and put in a big fry pan with water. Bring to a boil and then add the carrot and potato. Simmer until lentils are cooked and carrot and potato softened. Add more water if it’s too thick. Add the carrot, celery, zucchini, chickpeas, Dijon, miso, soy, tomato paste and spices. To be honest, I never measure anything and all the quantities are rough guesses. Don’t be afraid to experiment and don’t be shy with the spices! Add flour in slowly and stir until it’s nice and creamy and a good consistency. Not too thick, not too runny. Pour into a casserole dish.

Roughly dice the four potatoes and sweet potato and boil until soft. Drain and mash. I added coconut butter, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper to my mash.

Spread mash on top of lentil and veggies and top with breadcrumbs, black sesame seeds and nutritional yeast.

Bake at about 200 for fifteen minutes with foil and fifteen minutes without.

Serve with a salad and enjoy leftovers for days to come!!

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Fudgy carrot banana cake

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I made this carrot banana cake for a picnic at the park this weekend and it’s been getting better and better as it’s been sitting in the fridge. It’s very moist and almost a fudgy-like consistency.

Ingredients:

2 large carrots grated
2 large ripe bananas mashed
3 TBS flax meal + 1/3 cup rice milk mixed together and set aside to ‘gel’. This will be the binding agent
1/8 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar
Dash of maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla

1 cup flour (I used chickpea flour, any combo of flours will work though)
1/2 cup quick rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Handful of crushed walnuts

Combine the wet ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients. Mix together. Pour into a greased cake pan or loaf pan.
Bake at a low temp for about an hour.

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I highly recommend a cashew frosting made by blending a cup or so or soaked cashews + lemon juice + a couple medjool dates + vanilla + cinnamon!!

Vegan Lasagna with Alana

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Last night my friend Alana and I enjoyed a lovely Friday night in; complete with wine, lasagna cooking (and eating), and movies.
This is weird but I’ve never actually made a baked lasagna before. My mum used to make vegetarian lasagna all the time and it was one of my favourites but for some reason in the three years since I have lived out of home I’ve never made it myself. Also, Alana is a newly turned vegetarian (yipeee) and has been wanting to try a veg lasagna out. So that is why we set out on our lasagna making adventure…and it turned out so so well.
We didn’t have a recipe or anything when we set out for the ‘about life natural market place’ in Bondi, just a vision of a kick ass vegan lasagna. So we filled our baskets with random veggies and some other bits n pieces as we gawked at all the amazing looking food in that store.

lasagna ingredients:

-gluten free lasagna sheets (the ones you don’t have to pre-cook
-jar of tomato sauce with basil
-vegan tofutti sour cream
-cheesly vegan cheese
-rocket pesto
-spinach
-eggplant
-carrots
-zucchini’s
-sweet potatoes (orange and the purple ones)
-purple onion
-mushrooms

We began by pouring some wine (important part of lasagna making, not advised to omit), preheating the oven and then slicing up the carrots and sweet potatoes which we drizzled in olive oil, Himalayan rock salt and pepper and put in the oven while we prepared the rest which is as follows:

-slice the eggplant and onion and place in a covered fry pan on high heat with some oil and water and salt. Cook until eggplant is quite tender.

-mix about four big handfuls of spinach with tofutti sour cream and a few tablespoons of pesto in a big bowl. We also added some cilantro and salt and pepper.

-in a large baking tray pour some tomato sauce and then cover with lasagna sheets.

-layer 2: pre baked veggies and mushrooms

-layer 3: spinach layer

-layer 5: zucchini slices

-layer 4: more lasagna sheets

-layer 5: more tomato sauce, the eggplant and onion and crumbled vegan cheese

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The lasagna in progress!!

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All ready to bake!! It took about half an hour in a really toasty pre heated oven.

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The finished progress!!! Alana failed a bit on taking it of the pan nicely but presentation aside, sooooo tastyyyyyyyyyy!

I just had leftovers for breakfast and it was even better!!!!

Pasta times two

We went to our friend Georgia’s place on Friday night and she made us the yummiest pasta ever!!! So yummy I had to share it…here is the picture and recipe from the book Plenty by Ottolenghi:

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…and here is her amazing rendition

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It had the best creamy sort of texture, and the combo of the fried eggplant and fresh mango was epic. I highly recommend this if you want to impress people…She certainly impressed us!

Here is the recipe as I think the photo is too small to make out:

1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 crushed garlic
1/2 fresh red chilli chopped
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Grated zest and juice of one lime
1 cup sunflower oil
2 eggplants cut into 3/4 inch dice
9 oz soba noodles
1 large ripe mango
1 2/3 cup chopped basil leaves
2 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 purple onion slices very thin

In a small saucepan warm vinegar, sugar and salt for one minute.
Remove from heat and add garlic, chilli, sesame oil. Allow to cool and then add lime juice and zest.

Heat sunflower oil in a large pan. Shallow fry the eggplant 3-4 batches at a time. Once golden brown remove to a colander and sprinkle liberally with salt and leave to drain.

Cook noodles in plenty of boiling salted water stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes until tender but al dente.

Drain and rinse under running cold water. Shake off excess water and then leave to dry on a dish towel.

In a large mixing bowl toss noodles with dressing, mango, eggplant, half of the herbs and the onion.

Set aside for minimum thirty minutes. When ready to serve mix through the rest of the herbs and pile on plates or bowls.

While I’m on the subject of pasta, I made a HUGE pasta salad yesterday so that we could have dinner and leftovers for lunches for the week. It made just over five servings…I suppose if you’re feeding a family that is pretty standard, but for us that means a whole lotta pasta

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I used two cups of spelt pasta, about two cups of frozen peas, a cup of fresh corn, a red and a yellow capsicum, some olives, and a zucchini. We will have the pasta with rocket or lettuce as well but I couldn’t fit it in the bowl!

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For the dressing I just used the oil left in the olive container and mixed in about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, paprika, dill, salt and pepper and some mustard powder.

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Yum!!

Ahmaaazing pizza

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I have been plotting this pizza in my head for a few days now and finally had a chance to put my pizza dream to reality last night!!
We used thepotato pizza crust using sweet potatoes, the yams with the purple skin and a couple of regular potatoes. I made a bigger batch then what is in the regular recipe. I did three cups of mashed potatoes and three cups of flour (brown rice flour, chickpea flour, buckwheat flour) any flour will work. It made a LOT so now we have enough for lunch today and dinner tomorrow!! About six servings total.

Spread your pizza dough onto a pan and pre-cook for about 15 minutes. Then take it out and do your toppings and continue cooking until it’s crisped to your liking.
The toppings…

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All prepped by my trusty sous chef!!

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The base was a broccoli kale pesto:

1 head of broccoli
A few kale leaves
2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons of oil
Handful of walnuts
5 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (parmesan substitute)
Salt and pepper

Blend it up and spread it on. Add water as needed to facilitate blending.

Sweet and sour tempeh:

Cut up tempeh into bite size pieces and put in a baking dish with a tablespoon or so of honey, a tablespoon or so of ketchup, paprika and sesame seeds.
Bake while the crust is pre cooking.

Cashew cream:

About a cup and a half of cashews soaked
Juice from one lime or lemon
1 garlic clove
3 TBS or so of nutritional yeast
Salt and a decent amount of paprika

Blend and then transfer to a ziplock bag. This way you can snip the corner of the bag and squeeze the cashew cream on to ensure even and pretty distribution. Or if you want you could just dollop it right on there.

Veggies:

Baby tomatoes, corn, capsicum, kidney beans.

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I felt like fresh raw veggies so after I pre cooked the base I topped half and put it back in the oven until the veggies were cooked for Ali and then when that was done I quickly topped the other side (pesto, veggies and then cashew cream) and had it like that. It was really good both ways. The raw side on the left and the cooked on the right.

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The final touch…rocket, avo and a squirt of lime!!!

Cashew cream ETC!!

There has been a slight lack of interesting food happening here since I started my design course at Tafe two weeks ago…and even the interesting things I’ve been too busy/exhausted to do anything about.
Hopefully when I get more into the swing of things I’ll be able to get back into a more frequent cooking and sharing of said cooking, routine.
For now, here are a few pictures taken in the last couple weeks that I have neglected to share that will hopefully serve as some inspiration to cook up some healthy, scrumptious and cruelty free food!

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These bad boys were surprisingly good!! I had the flat kale which I don’t usually get. I was worried the leaves were going to be hard to chew and a bit sour but they were so tasty and tender!! I just lightly steamed them and then filled the rolls with some rice, grilled tempeh, black bean salsa, cashew cream and some alfalfa and rolled ’em up!

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Tasting plate with a few random things including kale chips which I have just discovered are so easy to make and amazingly tasty!! The trick is to make sure you dry the leaves really well after rinsing them so that they get crispy in the oven and not steamed. Once I have fully dried my bite size pieces of kale I massage a bit of sesame oil into the leaves and sprinkle with nutritional yeast, Himalayan rock salt and sesame seeds and then just bake for about ten minutes!!

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A nice fresh salad with lettuce, rocket, cuc, orange, avo, baby tomats, toasted almonds, hazelnut oil, lime juice and kamut cous cous. This is pretty weird but I have never cooked cous cous before…not that you can really call it cooking because you just pour hot water over it for a few minutes and then just like that it is ready to go in all its fluffy glory!!! Mind blown.

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I’ve been obsessed with cashew cheese/ cashew cream lately. Here we are having it on rice crackers with our mum’s delish home made red pepper jelly.
It’s such an amazing alternative and one of the biggest reasons why I feel like I haven’t missed cheese a la cow since I stopped eating it.
I never measure when I’m making mine. I just chuck stuff in the food processor and it always come out a different consistency and flavour which keeps it interesting!

Here is a basic recipe:

1 cup cashew nuts soaked
3 tbs nutritional/savoury yeast
1 clove of garlic, minced
juice & zest of 1 lemon juice
Himalayan sea salt to taste

Blend until smooth. It will be a sort of feta consistency. Add water if you want a thinner cream like situation.

Other ingredients I sometimes add are: tumeric, paprika, miso paste, parsley, basil, green onion, Dijon mustard.

Enjoy your cashew cream on crackers, in sandwiches, crumbled over pasta, on pizza etc!! Also you can make a sweet version by adding the cashews, cinnamon and some natural sweetener and have it as you would whipping cream.

I’ll leave now with a shout out to all the sweet, intelligent, adorable piggies out there ❤ and a promise that I will be posting a fricken legit pizza recipe in the next few days!

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“Scientists consider the humble pig to be one of the most intelligent species on the planet — believed to have the intelligence of a 3-year-old child. Yet, this is not reflected in the abysmal way in which pigs are kept in factory farms.

Despite advances overseas, in Australia, a pregnant pig can still be confined in a ‘sow crate’—a barren metal cage little bigger than her own body. She can barely move and is unable to turn around. Trapped in a cycle of suffering, she is forced to give birth on a hard concrete or metal floor; denied the ability to properly nurture her young; and will be continually impregnated until her body can no longer physically cope.”

-http://www.animalsaustralia.org/radio/old-macdonald/factory-farming.php

Polenta pizza bites

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I can’t remember the last time I ate polenta…I can’t even say for sure that I have ever eaten it. Ali says we have though so I guess I’ll take her word for it.
I randomly had some in the pantry and have been seeing lots of different recipes using polenta on Pinterest so I decided I may as well give it a whirl…and it was a great success!!!

Polenta pizza bites:

1 cup uncooked polenta
4 cups water (check package as apparently some have different water requirements)
Oregano or Italian mixed spice, paprika, salt, pepper, oil

Bring the water to a boil. Add the polenta and a generous amount of spices and a dash of oil. Whisk on low heat until thick and hard to stir.
Transfer to a 9 by 9 pan lined with parchment or tin foil and spread evenly. Allow to set in the fridge for about half an hour. Slice and bake for ten minutes. Flip and bake another ten minutes. I wanted them super crispy on the outside so I then placed them under the griller on high until nice and toasty.

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Once they are crispy, add your toppings and place back under the griller until the toppings are cooked. We burnt ours just a bit and it added extra flavour.
We had two different variations; one a roasted garlic and green onion spread, and the other a pizza sauce with vegan cheese that turned out tasting and feeling just like ricotta after being grilled!! I wish I could recall the recipe but it was one of those taste and add as you go mad experiments…

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The base of it was blended silken tofu and then I added the usual suspects; nutritional yeast, miso paste, Dijon, Himalayan rock salt, some cashews, paprika. I also added some chilli sauce and a few roasted garlics and some lime juice.

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So easy and yummy, we will definitely be eating this again!!! Polenta is also high in protein, vitamins and minerals and is gluten free and a complex carbohydrate.

Makes about 14 pizza bites.

Holiday recap and a very green pasta

Happy new year!! I hope it’s off to a good a start for everybody as it has been for me! We just got back from an AMAZING trip home to Vancouver, back into full on summer time here in Sydney.
I was planning on keeping up with the blog while I was away but…I didn’t! I cooked a lot and took lots of photos with the intention of posting, but too much was going on!!! Here’s just a few food pics from our visit…

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Putting mum and dads new BBQ to good use on Christmas morning!

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Christmas breakfast! Vegan breakfast casserole, steamed kale, BBQ’d veggie sausages and BBQ’d mushrooms and onion.

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Christmas dinner! Mum’s amazing vegan tourtière with cranberry sauce, sweet potato and kale pasta bake, and roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts

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Ready to get stuck in! We were so full after dinner we didn’t even eat our pumpkin pie :O

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Vegan nachos at La Bandidas Mexican restaurant. SO good. I’m really going to miss daiya cheese here in Australia, I have to try and get someone to import the goods!!!

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Fricken amaZing enchilada. Again, the daiya cheese…so…good.

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Mums ridiculously good curry sittin’ pretty on the good old Aga. I got a curry tutorial from her so will be recreating it soon and posting the recipe!

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The aga really is a cooks best friend!! Cooking up a New Year’s Eve feast here.

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Quinoa with almond crusted tofu, caramelised Brussels and green beans with a cashew miso dressing.

So there is just a sampling of all the delicious food that was had!! Some other favourites were mum’s lentil shepards pie, pumpkin soup, vegetable soup, tempeh breakfast sandwiches, rice balls with peanut sauce, chick pea flour fries, vegan mac n cheese, many drunk daiya grilled cheeze sandwhiches on the aga aka the grilled cheese master!!! and I also made my vegan Nanaimo bars which everybody went crazy about…especially when they found out they were healthy!

So all and all, it was a very tasty holiday!

Now here is a pasta recipe for you…

A very green pasta:

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It’s funny how your body craves warm hearty stuff in the cold, hence the soups and curries of back home, but as soon as you’re back in the heat all you want is fresh simple stuff! This pasta dish took about twenty minutes to make and made four big servings.

1 400 gram package of pasta (I used whole grain spelt spaghetti)
1/2 head of broccoli chopped (use the stems too! They are really nice and crunchy!)
1 zucchini chopped
2-3 big kale leaves taken off the stem and chopped quite finely
3-4 green onions chopped

Boil pasta. Chop veggies and place in a big strainer over a large pot. Once the pasta is cooked strain it over the veggies and into the pot. Place a lid on top and let the hot pasta lightly steam the veggies. Meanwhile get out your seasoning…

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So simple and so good. If you haven’t tried hazelnut oil I suggest you do ASAP! My aunt bought this for me and I trekked it all the way back to Sydney and I was blown away by the flavour!

Dump you pasta and your now lightly steamed but still fresh veggies into a large salad bowl. Drizzle with oil, nutritional yeast, Himalayan rock salt, pepper, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.

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Voila!!

Almond crusted tofu and vegan chocolate cake

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We usually have a nice salad for dinner on ballet nights and last night was no exception. It turned out to be one of the best salads yet as well!! Hands down the best tofu I’ve had and the dressing was amazing.

The cake inspiration came from baking a cake with the little girl I nanny earlier in the day. It was a boxed cake with refined sugar, flour and dairy etc so needless to say I didn’t have any but it smelt pretty damn good and I was proud of myself for not even having a taste, so I decided I would have to make a ‘healthy’ vegan cake that I could enjoy after ballet.

First, the salad…

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The salad itself was made up of: lettuce, tomatoes, green onion, purple cabbage, grilled eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms. The veg combo was really good but the star of the show definitely went to the tofu closely followed by the dressing so here’s the breakdown…

Almond crusted tofu:

Drain as much moisture out of your firm tofu as possible and slice it into triangles.

In a shallow dish, mix up a marinade of:

3 TBS soy sauce
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 TBS sesame oil
1 minced garlic clove
Paprika, ginger and pepper

Place the tofu in marinade, covering all the sides. Leave in the fridge for as long as possible. (I put it in before work so it had a good 9 hours!)

For the almond crust:

3 TBS flax meal
2 TBS nutritional yeast
3 TBS finely chopped almonds
Himalayan rock salt and pepper

Flip the tofu around in the marinade to get all the sides wet. Press all sides in the almond crust mix and place on a lined baking tray.

We cooked ours under the griller in our oven for about seven minutes each side.

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Seriously. So. Good.

For the Tahini Miso dressing:

2 TBS Tahini
1/2 TBS Miso
Pinch of Garlic powder
1 TBS Nutritional yeast
2 tsp Ginger
Almond milk as much as you need for a good consistency
Paprika
Honey (optional if you like slightly sweeter dressing)

Whisk till smooth adding milk as you go to thin.

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Yuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmm

Alright, so the dinner was really really good and I highly recommend you try the tofu and dressing for yourself!!

After dinner I quickly made the chocolate cake as I wanted it to be done before we left for ballet so it would be cooled and ready to be frosted and mowed when we got home.

When I started baking it I thought it wasn’t going to work because the top was kind of burning and the middle wasn’t really cooking. I put some tinfoil on it and cooked it as much as I could before I thought the top was looking too burnt and left it to cool.

When we got home, after biking through a bit of a monsoon, I really wasn’t expecting it to be very good. I was wrong. It was moist, rich and delicious.

Once again I got my inspiration fromthe This Rawsome vegan lifeblog

This makes one quite small cake. If I was making it for a big group, I would double it and make a stacked cake.

Vegan chocolate cake:

Combine and set aside:

1 cup almond milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Just under 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
Just under 3/4 cup raw sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Combine and add to above mixture:

3/4 cup mix of brown rice and amaranth flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon

Optional:

Tablespoon or so of maple syrup (if you want it sweeter)
Tablespoon of instant coffee granules (if you dig mocha flavoured things)
1/4 tsp cayenne (If you like your chocolate with kick)

Ours was with all of the above and it was amazing. I think I will try sans cayenne next time because we were borderline about whether it added to or hindered to the flavour.

Bake at 180 for about 30-50 minutes, covered, checking often. Let cool Completely before frosting.

Frosting:

This frosting is so good, it could be a desert all on it’s own!

1/4 cup silken tofu
1/2 cup cashew butter
1/3 cup cacao
2 TBS honey
1 fig (or just add extra honey)
11/2 tsp vanilla
1 TBS instant coffee granules

Blend until creamy and smooth over the cooled cake!!!! You will probably have extra. I ate my extra by the spoonful the next day!!! Hey, it’s the healthiest and tastiest frosting you will ever encounter, it deserves to be eaten by the spoonful!

Let them eat (vegan gluten free) cake!!

Potato pizza crust

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Mashed potato pizza crust?!? Who thought of this glorious idea?! Unfortunately it wasn’t me. I stumbled upon it by chance last night and was so excited I was going to make it for breakfast. But I decided to be good and had my usual green smoothie in a bowl instead…

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Which was super tasty, energising, and I think my body appreciated it more than a 7am pizza sesh, so I’m glad I saved the pizza party for later.

In case you would like to recreate this smoothie in a bowl action; it was made up of some kale, a handful of romaine, 1/2 a small cucumber, 1/4 of an avo, 1/2 a banana, 1/2 an apple, 1/2 a pear, hemp protein powder, flaxmeal and soy lechithin granules (FYI soy lechithin supports brain health and helps detoxify your liver!! Bonus!) blended till creamy and delicious! Add some ice cubes to make it even thicker and nice and chilled. Topped with some oatmeal, coconut, passion fruit and cinnamon.

Anyways, back to the much anticipated pizza!!
We did a mix of regular potatoes and sweet potato and my goodness it was one of the best pizza dough’s I’ve ever had. The texture was out of this world. We decided it would be really good just baked as is and eaten as flat bread with some dips. So easy too!

Mashed potat pizza dough:

2 cups mashed potatoes/sweet potatoes (or you could do all regular or all sweet)
2 cups flour (I used a mix of half amaranth flour and half brown rice flour, any would work though)
2 tsp baking powder
Good sprinkle of garlic powder And dill

Method:

Boil your potatoes until tender. Drain and mash with a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil (or oil of choice) add garlic and dill.
Mix flours and baking soda together. Add the mash and mix with your hands until it forms a nice ball.

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Grease your pan and roll out your beautiful dough.

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See? Beautiful right?? All the pretty potato skin speckles and gorgeous orangey colour from the sweet potatoes.

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Pre-bake it in a moderate oven for about ten minutes and then top as you wish and finnish baking.
If you’re feeling like making a healthy and kind choice, you can copy ours which had: homemade tomato sauce, artichokes, green capsicum, purple onion, zucchini, olives, and TWO types of vegan cheese. The first is a home made cheese sauce that we drizzled over and the second is grated vegan cheesly.

There are lots of different recipes out there for vegan cheese sauce. I have tried MANY and invented many as well. They are all delicious but I am still on my quest to create the hands down perfect one. When I do, I will surely post about it.
Here is a basic one though to start with:

1 1/2 TBS coconut oil or vegan margarine
1 cup soy milk or other alternative
1/4 c brown rice flour or other flour
1 TBS corn starch
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 TBS lemon juice
4 TBS nutritional yeast
Paprika, pepper, Himalayan rock salt, miso paste or soy sauce to taste (optional)

Whack it all in a pan and whisk until thickened and creamy. Use on pasta for a scrumptious bowl of mac n cheese, over broccoli for a tasty side dish, as a dip for crackers or veggies, on nachos or on this pizza!!

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Besides being healthy and kind, it was also tasty as f$&@. You really can’t get any better than that. End of story!!
Get mashin.