Breakfast with the opposition

Breakfast with the opposition

I was honored to provide the catering for Paula Bennett’s visit to Inglewood yesterday. If you don’t know who she is, she’s the deputy leader of the NZ National Party. They’re currently the opposition to our Labour/coalition government.

It was a wonderful experience, not least because the event was hosted in a shop/event venue called Farmsource. As you can imagine it’s a place where farmers come to buy stock, conduct training and do business. All types of farmers, but the majority are dairy and dry stock farmers. The irony was not lost on me!

There were some looks of anxiety on their faces when they saw there was no meat or dairy for their breakfast, but after the initial shock they tried the food and really enjoyed it.

The breakfast consisted of:

* Chia pots with blueberries and granola. This was made with soy milk rather than coconut milk and sweetened with rice syrup.

* Breakfast burritos with avocado, black beans, green capsicum, tomato, cajun spices and sunflower mayo

* Seedy rye Sourdough bread with apple & onion chutney and blueberry & chia seed jam

I answered lots of questions about the ingredients and the merits of a plant based diet. They were especially interested in why we use minimal oil and reduced sugar. I really enjoyed educating the group and they enjoyed listening. While I got lots of compliments and the sound of ‘mmm’s’ was echoed through the building while they were eating, I know these farmers will not choose a plant based diet. The point is that they tried something new and were surprised that they enjoyed it.

That is all I ask for.

I’m so proud to be the local plant based caterer and voice of change here in Taranaki. I know that many people have tried my food with apprehension and become lovers of plant based foods because of me and for that I am humbled and proud.

If you’d like to order catering or book me to speak at your next event, contact me for a quote. I’d love to help you.

Crispy Oven Baked Tofu

Crispy Oven Baked Tofu

Tofu; you either love it or hate it! We love it, but it hasn’t always been that way. We first tried it in an Asian style soup and it was simply cubed and dropped into the broth for a few minutes before it was served. It really didn’t taste of anything, and the texture was rubbery.  We’ve tried semi firm tofu cooked like scrambled egg. It’s broken up in the pan while cooking and you add flavour and turmeric for colour. We don’t like it like this either; it feels too much like egg in my mouth.

I came across this method while researching other ways to cook it. A recipe I saw dried the tofu in the oven on a low heat for a few minutes before frying it. The author was cheating, so as not to have to press the water out of the tofu for hours! So I thought, why not just bake it in the oven without oil.

Tofu is bland! It doesn’t taste of the soy beans it’s made from; it doesn’t taste like anything so you have to season or marinate it, so it takes on flavour. I use various methods of marinating depending on what I’m using the tofu for. This recipe makes the tofu nice and crispy, perfect for stir fry’s, wraps, summer rolls and burgers.  Tofu is very high in protein and it an excellent meat substitute.

I only use 1 packet of tofu in this recipe and it serves all 5 of us. Most recipes call for pressing the water out of the tofu block for at least an hour. This is because it has a high water content and most recipes deep or shallow fry it in oil. I don’t bother with that (who’s got that sort of time?!) Besides, we need a little water left in the tofu to dry out in the oven, making it crispy.

The picture along with this recipe shows the tofu on top of stir fried rice noodles and veggies. We don’t mix it into the noodles as it will go soggy and we don’t want that.

I use the Tonzu brand as it’s organic and made in NZ. You can find out all about this brand here: http://www.tonzu.co.nz/products/organic-tofu/

I prefer the Braggs brand of nutritional yeast, but you can use whatever you like. If you don’t like nutritional yeast, you can sub it for any other seasoning flakes. Onion flakes are a nice substitute. I wouldn’t use powder, as it will clump when it comes into contact with the tofu and the water. You can also change the All Purpose seasoning to suit your preference. This substitute can be a powder, it will sit on top of the previous seasoning layer.

Ingredients: 

1 pack Tonzu tofu (or any other brand of firm tofu)

5 tbsp Braggs Nutritional Yeast

1 tbsp Masterfoods All Purpose Seasoning

Optional:

Chilli flakes

Onion powder

Celery Salt

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 200º Celsius

Drain the tofu block, being careful not to break it

Place a clean, dry tea towel on a chopping board

Put the tofu block onto the centre of the towel and cover with another clean, dry folded tea towel

Place something heavy on top of the tofu. I use 3 or 4 cook books. Leave it for 10 minutes

Line a baking tray with baking paper or a silicone mat*

Pour the nutritional yeast into a shallow bowl or plate

Remove the tofu and place it on a dry chopping board, or turn over the one you already used

With a sharp, straight bladed knife slice the tofu width ways, into 1cm thick slices and cut each slice in half

Using your hand, carefully coat the slices in the nutritional yeast, ensuring they are evenly coated. Place them onto the baking tray leaving a small gap

Once all the slices are coated and on the tray, sprinkle them with the All Purpose seasoning. They don’t need to be completely covered

Cook for 20-25 minutes until the edges are brown and the slices are crispy. There is no need to turn them over during cooking

Remove from the oven and try not to eat them all before you serve them with the rest of your meal!

*If you use a silicone mat, you will need to turn the slices over after 20 minutes to get both sides crispy.

Enjoy x

 

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Tofu cut into strips for wraps

 

 

Smoothie Bowls

Smoothie Bowls

I only started making smoothie bowls a few months ago. I would see so many elaborate and stunningly beautiful pictures of them on Instagram and think ‘I don’t have time for that’.  I was so in awe of those amazing photos, I thought I’d give them a go. I spend around 10 minutes making them, with 2 toddlers and a tween telling me they’re hungry. If I can do it, you can too!

We love smoothies, but they can be a bit boring. My children love bright colours and food which looks different and fun. You can dress up a smoothie bowl with anything you have in your fridge and pantry. I use a mixture of grains, nuts, seeds and fruit. My kids love a smiley face on top of the brightly coloured base mixture. The trick to the floating face, is to make sure the smoothie is thick. You won’t be drinking it through a straw and you don’t want the toppings to sink! I like to use frozen bananas to make ‘nice cream’, which is nice and thick.

A smoothie bowl is typically topped with nuts, seeds and fruit which provide essential nutrients, vitamins and protein. Some people only use fruit and/or protein powder in the smoothie itself. That doesn’t keep my kids full for long at all. My favourite tummy filling, protein loaded things to add are:

* soaked oats

* cooked quinoa

* cooked buckwheat

* cooked kumera (sweet potato)

* Cannellini Beans

Mix it up a bit and try something different each time. I don’t use plant milk in smoothies, I only use water. This is only because almond milk is expensive. Water works just as well and if I want a creamier consistency, I use avocado.

If you or you children haven’t tired spirulina powder before, just try a little bit first and look out for a tummy upset. It isn’t recommended for children under 1 yr, so please consult a professional before giving it to your baby.

I hope you have as much fun creating these bowls as I do.

This recipe make 4 smoothie bowls. I make individual smoothies in my nutri bullet.

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats, soaked overnight in 1 cup almond milk

4 tsp spirulina powder

4 heaped tsp ground flaxseed

4 bananas

4 tsp chia seeds

4 tsp sunflower seeds

4 tsp blueberry & apple jam

8 tsp peanut butter

1/4 cup water

Pure maple syrup, optional (I add a tsp to each smoothie to dull the taste of the spirulina powder)

Method:

In the blender add: 1/2 cup of the soaked oats, half a banana, 1 tsp of spirulina powder, 1 heaped tsp of flaxseed, 1/4 cup water

Blend until smooth

Pour into a bowl and top with your favourite toppings and enjoy!

 

 

 

Sunday Funday

Sunday Funday

I love sundays. We always have a family outing in the mornings; today was spent at the beach. While the toddlers slept this afternoon, I got to cooking. It was a mega cook up for next week’s lunches.

I made:

1. crispy baked chick peas. They marinated for 2 days in braggs liquid seasoning, pure maple syrup and liquid smoke. They are so delicious, I had to force myself not to eat them all.

2. Brocolli and spinach tots. I used chickpea flour instead of breadcrumbs and they turned out absolutely delicious!

3. Blueberry and apple chia jam. I added the chia seeds after I had blended the fruit. It sets in the fridge and is good to eat after 30 minutes. It’s the easiest jam I’ve ever made!

4. Spelt flour and raisin scones. With only 4 ingredients, these scones only took 5 minutes to make and cook in 10! They’re lovely with the jam.

5. Date and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. I use buckwheat flour for these cookies, as it creates an amazing texture alongside the peanut butter. I use just enough flour to hold everything together. They melt in your mouth.

6. Date, almond and oat cookies with vanilla are a favourite.

7. Potato curry balls coated in buckwheat flour and breadcrumbs.

8. Dinner was the potato curry mix as patties with rice and veggies.

I’ll only need to add veggies and fruit to the lunchboxes now which will make life much easier.

If you’d like any of these recipes, look out for my next lunchbox workshop!

Warm Quinoa Salad

Warm Quinoa Salad

I’ve been making this salad for a few years now and it never fails to please. Its filling, nourishing, colorful and delicious!

You can have it as a side or a main and your friends will be mighty impressed when you turn up for the pot luck with this.

Using seasonal veggies, you can mix it up every time. You can also change the dressing depending on the veggies you use.

This recipe is based on the veggies I last used, so feel free to use what you like and what’s in season wherever you are

This recipe makes 5 portions for a main meal. It will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for a few days.

Its great the next day for lunch with a salad or in a wrap.

GF, Vegan, Plant Based, Oil free, dairy free

Ingredients:

For the salad

2 cups quinoa, washed and drained

1 large orange kumera (sweet potato), peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces

7 medium roasting potatoes skin on, chopped into bite sized pieces

2 tsp braggs liquid seasoning or soy sauce, separated

2 zucchini, chopped

2 handfuls of green beans, chopped in half

1 white onion, chopped

2 cups mushrooms, chopped (I used portobello)

2 carrots, sliced into batons

1 tin black beans, rinsed and drained

For the dressing:

1 avocado

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/3 cup water

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200°

Line 2 baking trays with a silicone mat or baking paper

After washing the quinoa and removing any stones (they’ll be a different color), place it into a large saucepan with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low and cover with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 15-20 minutes until all the water has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, in a bowl spray the potatoes and carrots with a teaspoon of braggs liquid seasoning or soy sauce. Place onto one of the baking trays and cook for 20-25 minutes until brown and crispy

Put the kumera onto the other baking tray, place into the oven 10 minutes after the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes until brown

While the quinoa, potatoes, carrots and kumera are cooking, chop the onion and mushrooms. Heat 2 tbsp of water or veggie broth in a frying pan and cook the onions and mushrooms on low, add the green beans. You may need to add a tablespoon of water or stock every so often to ensure it doesn’t stick.

Chop or grate the raw zucchini into a large mixing bowl

Once the mushrooms and onions are cooked, remove from the heat

When your potatoes, carrots and kumera are cooked remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays

Add all the dressing ingredients to a nutribullet or blender. Pulse until smooth and creamy

Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. If you like it thinner, add a little water

Add all of the salad ingredients into the bowl with the zucchinni

Pour over the dressing and gently mix until it’s evenly coating the quinoa and veggies

Serve immediately

Notes:

* Technically quinoa is gluten free based on the definition of gluten created for those with celiac disease. However; quinoa does have “gluten like” storage proteins that can mimic proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye (Gluten Free Society)

* Quinoa can be subbed for wild rice for a different texture

* Millet is a cheaper alternative to quinoa, although it doesn’t contain as much protein

* The black beans can be subbed for any other beans you have

* Pure maple syrup can be subbed for any sweetener you prefer. If you don’t use a liquid, you’ll need to add a little more water to the dressing

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do. Let me know how you liked it, here or on Facebook

Simone x

Potato curry roll

Potato curry roll

We had spent the morning at the farmers market and museum with all the kids. We’d had a big breakfast, so didn’t need any morning tea but on the drive home I was dreaming of samosas.

I just love the mix of spicy potatoes and peas, but I don’t love the deep fried pastry. By the time we got home, I’d decided on my ingredients and how they would come together.

I’m so happy about these that I’m posting the recipe now, so you guys can also experience the yummy potato goodness. Feel free to play with the spices to suit your taste.

We loved the cardamom as it added a sweet element which balanced well with the spice. I don’t add salt in our cooking, but feel free to add some if you wish. You could use some miso paste for that salty taste, but the nutritional yeast is enough for us.

We ate half of the batch pretty much as soon as they were cool enough! They would be better once cooled just so the potato mixture doesn’t ooze out so much, but that part was fun!

I’ve put these rolls into hubby’s and the kids’ lunchboxes. I wouldn’t freeze them after cooking though, as the pastry will go soggy when it’s defrosted. You could however freeze the potato mixture to use later.

Recipe makes 4 rolls with some mixture left over, which I just ate!

Ingredients:

7 medium mashing potatoes, peeled and chopped (I used the agria variety)

3/4 cup plant milk, plus extra for brushing

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 cup frozen peas

1 pack vegan puff pastry sheets (I used a brand called New Way from Countdown)

2 tbsp curry powder

2 tsp cardamom

1 tsp garam masala

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Pinch of black pepper

Sesame seeds for garnish

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180°

Line a baking tray with a silicone mat or baking paper

Boil the potatoes until cooked

Remove the pastry sheets from the packet and defrost them

Meanwhile fry the onions, garlic and spices in a frying pan with 1/4 cup water on a medium/high heat until the onions are nearly cooked. As the mixture cooks and the water evaporates, you will need to add a tablespoon of water every so often so the mixture doesn’t stick

Add half a cup of water and the peas to the onion mixture. Cook for 5 minutes until the mixture has thickened. Take the pan off the heat

Mash the potatoes with the milk and nutritional yeast, leaving a few small lumps of potato

Add the onion and pea mixture to the potatoes and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required

Lay a pastry sheet on a chopping board

Spoon 1/4 of the potato mixture onto the shortest side the pastry sheet, leaving 1cm from the edge.

Using the 1cm edge of pastry, roll the pastry over the mixture carefully tucking it underneath the potato

When you reach the end of the sheet, brush the edge with plant milk to help it to stick

Place the roll onto a lined baking tray and continue with the rest of the pastry and mixture

Brush each roll with plant milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the pastry has risen and is brown and crispy

Remove from the oven and cool in the tray until cool enough to eat!

Cool completely before storing them in an air tight container in the fridge for a week

Enjoy x

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