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Lemon bliss balls

I have so many lemons, I thought it would be nice to use them in a bliss ball. I’ve tried a lemon cheesecake version from a packet and I didn’t really like it.

I like a very lemony flavour so I used the zest as well as the juice. I used sunflower seeds as they have a delicate flavour which doesn’t overpower the lemon.

They’re so easy to make and extremely moreish. I found it really hard not to keep eating them after I’d made them.

It’s lovely to have a sweet treat now and then. These are perfect because they’re full of the good stuff and just sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth in just 1 bite; or maybe 3 or 4!

This recipe made 21 pieces. They’re perfect for a quick snack and for the lunchboxes. They store best in the fridge but can be frozen.

Ingredients:

1.5 cup dates, soaked in boiling water for at least 30 minutes

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

1/4 cup organic chia seeds

1/4 cup organic sunflower seeds

1/4 cup dessicated coconut for rolling

Method:

Soak the dates in boiling water

Blitz the sunflower seeds in a food processor until they’re nearly ground. You want a coarse mixture to give some bite. Transfer the seeds to a bowl.

Grate the zest of the lemons. Be careful not to get the pith (the soft white bit just covering the fruit). Juice the lemons and remove the pips

Pour the coconut onto a plate or bowl

Drain the dates, reserving a few tablespoons of water

Blend them in the food processor until smooth. You might need to add a little of the reserved water as you blend them

Add the sunflower seeds, chia seeds, lemon juice and zest to the dates. Blend until just mixed and starts to form a ball

Wet your hands and scoop out small amounts of mixture. Roll into balls and coat with coconut

Place them into an airtight container and store in the fridge for a week.

Or just eat them!!

Enjoy x

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Chunky Tomato soup

This soup is so tasty and comforting, you’ll be making it every week like I do.

You must know by now that I love 1 pot meals which require minimal effort. This is one of those meals. You can add whatever veggies you have on hand or that are in season.

We always have leftovers so I divide it up into small containers for the freezer.

This recipe was inspired by a jar of passata I had in the pantry and my husband’s love of tomato soup. A month or so ago, he was sick and only wanted tomato soup. I had a think and just grabbed the ingredients I thought would fill him up, provide essential nutrients and taste great.

This recipe makes 5 servings with lots of leftovers.

Ingredients:

1 700g jar passata

1 tin crushed tomatoes or whole and just roughly chop them

3 tsp crushed garlic

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

1 tsp onion powder

1 tbsp miso paste

1 small red onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 large celery stick, chopped

1 cup organic dried lentil, split peas & barley mix (not the packet soup mix as it has lots of salt and other things added to it)

1 tbsp tomato paste

1.5 litre homemade vegetable stock

2 cups quinoa penne pasta or whatever pasta you like

Method:

• Reserving the pasta and half of the stock, add all your ingredients into a large saucepan

• Bring to the boil, then turn down to a low heat

• Cover the saucepan with the lid and cook for 20 minutes

• Remove the lid, add the remaining vegetable stock, stir and cook uncovered for a further 20 minutes or until the dried pulses are cooked

• With 10 minutes cooking time left, add the pasta. You’ll need to stir the soup occasionally to ensure it doesn’t stick

• Taste the soup and add seasonings to your taste

• Add more stock if you prefer a thinner consistency

Serve with fresh basil & crusty bread or toast and enjoy x

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Banana & Buckwheat Pancakes

These pancakes are so quick and easy to make, my 11 yr old can make his own in no time!

Buckwheat flour is a great alternative if you’re gluten free or if you just want something different. The flour soaks up a lot of liquid and binds really well, so there is no need to use a flax egg. They also cook much quicker than when you use regular flour. I don’t add any sweetener to the batter, but feel free to add any sweetener that works for you.

I have added grated apple to the mixture and that worked really well. You could also make them savoury, by adding peas and sweet corn.

I have frozen these pancakes and used them for lunchbox fillers. They are also great for little hands.

This recipe makes about 11 medium pancakes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup almond milk (or any other plant milk)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Method:

  •  Pre heat a non stick frying pan to a medium heat
  • Mash the banana in a large bowl
  • Add the vanilla essence and mix
  • Add the flour, baking powder and milk. Mix well
  • Add more milk if you want a thinner consistency
  • Spoon the batter into the hot pan, ensuring there is space between each one
  • Cook for around 2 minutes or until bubbles start forming
  • Flip and cook the other side until brown
  • Continue until you’ve used all the batter

Serve with pure maple syrup, coconut yoghurt,  fruit or all 3!

 

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Dark chocolate rice crispy slice with a twist!

I had been dreaming of rice crispy cakes for a few days before I finally made these. They’re so simple and fun to eat; perfect for a snack, party food or dessert for all ages!

I made a slice rather than cakes, but you can make cakes if you like.

These are an occasional treat in our house, but one I don’t mind my baby eating. They will keep in the fridge in an air tight container. Mine lasted 2 days before we ate them all!

Ingredients:

1. 125g Whittakers 70% dark Ghana chocolate (or any dairy free dark chocolate with a high cocoa content)

3. 2 tbsp of plant milk

2. 4 cups of rice crispies (puffed rice)

3. 2 tbsp chia seeds

Method:

1. Line a tray with baking paper. It needs to be at least 2 inches deep

2. Break up the chocolate roughly and place in a large non metallic bowl with the milk

3. Microwave in increments of 30 seconds, stirring until chocolate is melted

4. Add the rice crispies and chia seeds to the chocolate and mix well until all the rice crispies are coated

5. Press mixture into the lined tray and place in the fridge or freezer to chill (I put them in the freezer so they chill quicker, around 20 minutes)

6. Remove slice from the tray, cut into pieces and eat!

Enjoy xx

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Vegan mayonnaise or cashew cream?

Before we went plant based, we loved mayonnaise. I used to make my own, but it’s still not really a healthy food because of the amount of oil in it.

We are now in love with this recipe. Whether you want to call it mayo or cashew cream is up to you. Some people will say it’s a mayo because of the aquafaba, but it really doesn’t matter!

Aquafaba is the liquid that chick peas are cooked in. It doesn’t matter if you use dried chick peas or canned; just keep the liquid. It works as an emulsifier, but you can also use it in place of egg whites and make meringues and mousses!

The list of how you can use cashew cream is endless, but these are our favourite.

* on wraps or sandwiches

* on nachos, burritos, chilli

* on top of soups

* to dip polenta or potato chips in

* eating it straight from the jar!!

You’ll need a really powerful blender or nutri bullet to make this and to ensure the nuts are ground until they’re smooth. If you don’t have either of these, you could try a food processor and scrape down the sides after every pulse.

It’ll keep in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks, but it’s so good it won’t last that long!

Ingredients:

* 1 cup of raw cashew nuts or pieces, soaked in water for at least 2 hours

* 3/4 – 1 cup of aquafaba

* 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

* 1 tsp onion powder

* 2 cloves garlic (or 2 tsp of crushed garlic)

* lemon juice to taste (I like 2 tbsp)

* 1/4 tsp of miso paste

Method:

* Add all the ingredients and half of the water to your blender

* Pulse a few times, adding a little more aquqfaba as needed to get a smooth texture and a consistency that you’re happy with

* Taste the cream and add more of the above ingredients to suit your taste

Store in a glass jar in the fridge.

If you make this recipe, let me know how it goes.

Enjoy x

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Where do you get your protein?

I’m not at Nutritionist or a Dietitian. I’m just a mum who wants the best for my family. I’ve spent the last 6 months of this journey to a plant based lifestyle doing lots of research. As a plant based or vegan mum, you face extra scrutiny about the health and development of your children. This comes not only from friends, family and strangers; but from health professionals such as GP’s, Midwives and Plunket Nurses who don’t understand the lifestyle and who’s practice and values are often steeped in the food myths that protein must come from animal products and cow’s milk is good for your bones! I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to these professionals, but do your own research so you can make informed decisions.

If you’re going to make any significant changes to yours and your family’s diet and you have an existing medical condition, are pregnant, breastfeeding or have children; you should always consult with a health professional. I would definitely suggest seeing an Integrated Health Professional (fancy name for a GP who has also studied alternative medicine).

So after months of research here is what i now know about protein and the plant based lifestyle.

The daily protein requirement for an adult human is about 0.8 grams per 2.2 lbs of body weight. It can be higher in growing children and pregnant women.  If you’re eating a balanced diet, it’s unlikely you will be protein deficient. Unless of course that is your medical condition! Excess protein intake (over 200 g/day) may lead to kidney damage over time. Are you cringing about that huge piece of steak you had last night?

When some people say vegans/plant based eaters don’t get enough protein or ask “where do you get your protein?”  They are often speaking about the specific amino acids that vegans/plant based eaters may have a harder time getting. Amino acids are the building blocks for proteins which help carry out body functions. There are 9 amino acids that our body CANNOT create; meaning we need to get them from a food source.

Meat and dairy are considered “complete proteins” because they have all 9 of these amino acids.  However, eating a variety of foods will give us the 9 essential amino acids that we need. There are however vegan/plant based foods that are complete proteins. Foods such as quinoa, buckwheat, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and spirulina are just a few. It is a common misconception that vegans/plant based eaters don’t get enough protein and this is where it all stems from.

The foods listed below are considered complete proteins, meaning they contain all 9 of the essential amino acids:

-Nuts
-Soy foods, such as tofu, tempeh, miso, and soy milk
-Sprouted seeds — each type of sprout has differing proportions of nutrients, so it’s best to eat a variety of them
-Grains, especially amaranth and quinoa
-Beans and legumes
-Spirulina and chorella (blue-green algae), which are over 60 percent protein

These are the 9 Essential Amino Acids and the foods which contain them. We should eat a variety each day, even if your an omnivore.

Histidine: Apple, pomogranates, alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, dandelion, endive, garlic, radish, spinach, turnip greens.

Arginine: Alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green vegetables, leeks, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, parsnips, nutritional yeast.

Valine: Apples, almonds, pomegranates, beets, carrots, celery, dandelion greens, lettuce, okra, parsley, parsnips, squash, tomatoes, turnips, nutritional yeast.

Tryptophan: Alfalfa, brussel sprouts, carrots, celery, chives, dandelion greens, endive, fennel, snap beans, spinach, turnips, nutritional yeast.

Threnoine: Papayas, alfalfa sprouts, carrots, green leafy vegetables such as celery, collards, kale, and lettuce (especially iceberg), lima beans, laver (Nori – a sea vegetable and its wrapped around your sushi!).

Phenylalanine: Apples, pineapples, beets, carrots, parsley, spinach, tomatoes, nutritional yeast.

Methionine: Apples, pineapples, Brazil nuts, filberts, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, dock (sorrel), garlic, horseradish, kale, watercress.

Lysine: Apples, apricots, grapes, papayas, pears, alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, dandelion greens, parsley, spinach, turnip greens.

Leucine: Avocados, papayas, olives, coconut, sunflower seeds.

Isoleucine: Avocados, papayas, olives, coconut, sunflower seeds.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a health professional but I have done lots of research. If you look at my children, you will see that they are healthy, full of beans (pardon the pun) and thriving on the plant based diet. As for me, I’m feeling better than ever. We are still on this journey and we have days where we eat vegan junk food; such as chips and shop bought bread. We don’t beat ourselves up about it.

I really believe that it’s what we do everyday, not what we do sometimes which will make the biggest difference to our health.

Happy eating! xx

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Banana & dark chocolate muffins

As you probably know by now, I bake all the lunchbox items and we love muffins! These ones are pretty simple, a bit decadent and very yummy.

I’ve used Whittakers 72% cocoa dark Ghana instead of chocolate chips. Only because I actually bought it to eat a few weeks ago and I forgot about it. Just goes to show that I’m not addicted to sugar and chocolate as I once was!!

So, these muffins will freeze really well if they last that long. They’ll keep for a week in an air tight container in the fridge.

This recipe made 12 small muffins and 2 large ones.

Ingredients:

1 ripe banana, mashed

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tbsp pure maple syrup (I didn’t use it, but if you want some extra sweetness put it in)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 flax egg

3/4 cup of chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

2 cups wholemeal flour

2 cups plant milk (I used rice milk)

Method:

1. Pre heat the oven to 180°c

2. Prepare the flax egg and leave it in the fridge (1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp water)

3. Mash the banana

4. Add vanilla, cinnamon, flax egg and maple syrup if using and mix

5. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder

6. Add flour mix and milk to the banana and mix well

7. Stir in the chocolate

8. Spoon into muffin cases and cook for 15 minutes until golden and well risen

Let me know what you think if you make these xx

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Banana & blueberry muffins

I tried these muffins last week and they didn’t rise properly, as I opened the oven door too early or so I thought. After another test batch, I’ve realized that almond meal doesn’t allow muffins to rise and stay risen once they’re out of the oven. So these are not your typical 3inches tall muffins. They are however really tasty and full of goodness.

I’ve made them with half wholemeal flour and half almond meal/flour for an extra boost of calcium and healthy fat. Plus the almond meal gives these muffins a lovely texture. I used apple sauce rather than pure maple syrup for these, but you could use any sweetener you like. All the fruit makes them quite naturally sweet anyway.

This recipe made 12 regular sized muffins and 2 extra large ones. You might want to make them smaller and use 2 trays.

My 2.5 yr old loves to help me make muffins. He loves putting the cases in the tin, mixing, pouring and licking the bowl of course!

They freeze and defrost really well and they’re perfect for the lunchboxes and finger food for babies. They last a week in an air tight container in the fridge.

Ingredients:

1 cup wholemeal flour

1 cup almond meal

2 tablespoons apple sauce

2 overripe bananas mashed

1.5 cup unsweetened plant milk (I used rice milk today)

1 tsp baking powder

1tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla essence

.5tsp cinnamon

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 flax egg

Method:

1. Prepare your flax egg and set it in the fridge

2. Mash your bananas

3. Add cinnamon, vanilla and apple sauce to the bananas and mix to combine

4. Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda and milk. Mix well to ensure all flours are combined

5. Add the blueberries and mix

6. Spoon into muffin cases and put on the top rack of the oven on 180° celcius. Cook for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out dry.

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Feeling plantastic!

I’ve been a bit quiet here, mostly due to lack of time to sit down and write. Life has been very busy with after school sports, camps, Stephen working lots and looking after our new puppy! We must be mad to add another baby into the mix but he’s so cute and we love him so much already!

So we’re 5 months into our plant based journey and it honestly feels like we’ve been eating this way forever. We all feel really good about our decision and the effects are really noticeable now. The main one being flatulence! Ask anyone plant based or vegan and if they’re brave enough they’ll tell you that farting increases 100%. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about; except if you’re in a queue or a lift!

As I’ve said before, I have a condition called Sarcoidosis and I’ve been having regular testing as I found a lump in my breast. When I first found the lump the Dr did a biopsy and a bunch of tests and diagnostics.

I was 77kg, my sarcoidosis hormone number was off the charts at 124 (normal is around 50). The CT scan showed it had spread from my lungs and chest cavity to my abdomen and the lymph nodes were around 13mm wide. My lung function test wasn’t that great either, the overall number was 52 which was pretty poor. They combine the total amount of air I’m able to blow out of my lungs, the amount of air I’m able to take in and the percentage of carbon dioxide blown out. I must admit we were pretty worried as were the Drs. They decided that treatment wasn’t a good option at this stage as it wasn’t affecting my liver or kidneys. Plus the treatment is Prednisone, which is a really strong steroid with lots of horrible side effects. So I was to be monitored, with these tests to be performed every 3 months and a warning to watch for a persistent cough and to go straight to my GP if I was worried.

A few months on and things are looking so much better. My last test results showed that my lung function has improved and the lymph nodes have shrunk! I don’t have any symptoms and I’m feeling great. The dr said its because sarcoidosis can flare up and then regress by it’s very nature. I told him I think my diet has helped. He agreed somewhat and now I am down to 6 monthly check ups.

In terms of our diet, I’ve been experimenting with a few different programmes. I found that the kids do really well with lots of healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut as well as plenty of carbohydrates, veggies, beans, legumes, grains and fruits. We dont have much refined sugar, except for a treat every now and then. We’ve had some dairy free icecream this weekend, which was so yummy! I tend to use pure maple syrup or dates to sweeten my baking.

My husband is finding giving up cows milk hard and he still has some ham and cheese. He has given up butter though which is great. I’ve found an alternative called Nuttelex which although is oil based, is better than the cholesterol laden butter. I do all the cooking at home so he eats plantbased 80% of the time, which is awesome!

As for me, I’ve been doing a potato reset this last week. I managed 5 days and I lost 5cm off my waist, 3cm off my chest and .5kg! I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t use salt or sugar and I didn’t really miss them. I really enjoyed the natural flavours of my food so I’ll definitely be reducing the amount of salt I use in my cooking. Now I’m back to eating normally, I’m following a plan called The Starch Solution. Its focused on high carbohydrate intake and low to zero fats. This is what works best for me in terms of feeling full, maintaining my weight loss and being healthy on the inside.

So 5 months in and I’m feeling amazing. I have lots more energy, my skin is glowing and I feel healthy. Our children are thriving too which is what every parent wants. Knowing that the change in our diet has made them healthier is an awesome feeling for me. They are also learning about healthy food choices and compassion for animals.

We’ll never go back to eating meat and dairy now. What I’ve learnt about the two industries is truly shocking. I just hope that more people turn to plants for food if not for the animals then for their health.

Until next time, keep on planting xx

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Vegan sausage rolls!

I’ve been wanting to create a great sausage roll recipe and after a few attempts, here it is. I can’t take full credit though as I did get inspiration from a lovely lady on a vegan Facebook group I’m in called ‘what kiwi vegans eat’.

We love sausage rolls, who doesn’t? The crispy, crumbly pastry and delicious filling dipped into a yummy sauce is divine.

These are super easy to whip up and are perfect for lunchboxes, morning tea, lunch with a side salad, or even dinner with a larger serving of veggies.

I tried filo pastry and it didn’t really work for me. This time I’ve used a store bought pastry; while not whole foods because it has oil in it, it is vegan. It’s called New Way puff pastry and I got it at Countdown. You could make your own, but I don’t have the time or patience for that!

So all you need is a food processor and a lined baking tray.

This recipe uses 3 sheets of pastry and you can cut them to whatever size you need.

Ingredients:

1.5 cups cooked cannellini beans (I use dried but you can use tinned)

1/2 brown onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp cumin

1.5 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I used corriander)

1/2 cup baby spinach

1 tsp sesame seeds

2 tbsp plant milk

Salt

Pepper

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°

2. Take out your pastry sheets to thaw

3. Chop onion and garlic

4. Add all ingredients except spinach, milk and sesame seeds to a food processor.

5. Blend until combined, but you dont want the beans totally mushed up. A bit of texture is good.

6. Line one edge of pastry with spinach. Top with 1/3 of the filling.

7. Roll up the pastry, leaving a 2 cm at the end. Brush with plant milk to help it stick.

8. Repeat with the other 2 sheets.

9. Place on a lined baking tray, brush the rolls with plant milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

10. Bake for 15 mins or until the pastry is golden brown and puffed up.

Enjoy hot or cold.

If you make this receipe let me know what you think. x

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Rice flour pea & sweetcorn pikelets

We all loved the sweet version of these pikelets that I made last week, I thought I’d try a savoury one.

Peas and sweetcorn are a great match because they cook really quickly from frozen and my kids love them.

I froze a batch of these for the lunchboxes and they defrosted really well.

I used a Moroccan garlic seasoning just to give them a real flavor kick. I buy this from a supplier at the seaside market here in New Plymouth.

This recipe made 24 small pikelets.

Ingredients:

1 cup rice flour

1 1/4 cup unsweetened almond or other plant milk

1 tsp baking powder

1 flax egg

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp Moroccan garlic seasoning

1 cup of peas and sweetcorn (I used frozen)

Method:

1. Prepare your flax egg and set in the fridge for 10 minutes.

2. In a medium bowl mix the rice flour, baking powder and seasoning with a whisk.

3. Add the flax egg and milk, mix well.

4. Add the peas and sweetcorn.

5. Heat a non stick frying pan to medium without oil. Spoon small amounts of the mixture into the pan. Don’t overcrowd the pan.

6. Cook for around 2 minutes or until brown and flip for another minute.

7. Serve immediately with hummus, any sauce you’d like or a salad. Alternatively, cool and freeze.

Enjoy.

If you make this recipe don’t forget to share a photo and tag me on Instagram 😉

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The best chickpea & mushroom burger ever!!

When we went plantbased, one of the things we knew we’d miss was a burger. We had burger night once a week; it was a tradition!

This recipe was inspired by High carb Hannah. We tried her recipe and enjoyed it but there just wasn’t enough flavour for us. We’ve tried beetroot burgers which are pretty good and black bean burgers, which we’re not too keen on. These are definitely the best. The mushrooms give them a meaty texture and they have the colour of cooked meat, which pleased my husband.

You’ll see that I use marmite (the British one!) and if you’re not a lover of it you can use vegemite or just leave it out. It will change the taste though, as marmite gives these burgers a real depth of flavour. You can’t taste the marmite; my eldest son hates it but he hasn’t complained.

The only equipment you need is a food processor and a lined, floured baking tray.

I’ve made my own burger buns as for us, there are too many nasties in store bought ones.

This recipe makes 6 decent sized burgers. I serve this with roast potatoes and our favourite toppings.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas or 1 tin drained

1 1/2 cups mushrooms, chopped small

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika or 2 drops of liquid smoke

2 cloves garlic, chopped or minced

Pinch salt

Pepper

1 tbsp Worcester sauce (In NZ, F.Whitlock & Sons is vegan)

1 tsp marmite

1/4 cup oat flour or wholegrain breadcrumbs

1/4 cup water

Method:

1. Chop the mushrooms quite small. This makes it easier to blend in the food processor.

2. Add all the ingredients except the mushrooms and oat flour to the food processor. Blend until the chickpeas are broken down, but not mushy.

3. Add the mushrooms and blend until they’re combined with the chickpeas. You might need to scrape the sides down a few times.

4. Add the oat flour and blend until combined. Taste and add any more seasonings.

5. The mixture will look a bit mushy but it should hold together when pressed.

6. Wet your hands, spoon the mixture into one hand and mould into a pattie shape using only one hand and the spoon. Turn them out onto the lined, floured baking tray and flatten a little with your fingers.

7. Put the tray into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow the patties to set. I find an hour works best.

8. Once set, fry the patties in a non stick pan on a medium heat until brown. This takes me around 4 minutes each side. They won’t be as solid as meat so be gentle!

9. Serve on a bun with your favorite sauces, toppings and sides.

Enjoy. If you make the recipe don’t forget to share a photo with me and tag me @simone’splantbasedkitchen on Instagram 😁