Author Archives: Deb

About Deb

Vegetarian since 17, taught myself to cook as a matter of urgency when my mother had no idea what to give me. That was over 30 years ago. Now a mother of 2, I emigrated from London in 2002 with my Australian husband. After watching Forks Over Knives, reading The China Study, etc, we chose to go plant-based so stopped eating eggs and dairy a couple of years ago.

Mexican Pizzas

Mexican Pizzas
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All the usual Mexican culprits on top a wholewheat pitta creates a pizza-like sensation.
Cuisine: Mexico meets Italy
Serves: 8
  • Wholewheat pitta breads (we used 8 small: bonus: they all fit in the oven at once!)
  • 1 can oil free refried beans (tip Coles own brand)
  • ½ cup salsa of choice, we used Old El Paso Mild
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • 1 cup Red roasted pepper / capsicum strips - from a jar or homemade
  • 2 can red kidney beans (or black beans), drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen corn (not essential to defrost)
  • 1 large avocado
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • Juice of a lime
  • Extra salsa of choice
  • Chillies etc to taste as required
  • Fresh chopped coriander if liked
  1. Preheat oven to 220 C
  2. In a medium bowl mix together the refried beans, the ½ cup salsa, and herbs and spices.
  3. Place your pitta breads on large oven trays (we used pizza trays with the holes) lined with baking paper.
  4. Divide the bean mixture up evenly between each pitta and smooth out evenly to the edges.
  5. Top generously and evenly with onion, capsicum, beans and corn.
  6. Bake in the oven for 10-15 or until piping hot and base is crispy.
  7. Whilst they are baking blend together the cashews and lime juice until thick and creamy.
  8. Top with dollops of salsa, cashew-lime cream and avocado, chillies, coriander etc and serve!


Yellow Pepper Soup with grilled Polenta Triangles

Yellow Pepper Soup with grilled Polenta Triangles
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A hint of turmeric lifts the colour even more in this delicious and creamy bowl of sunshine!
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4
  • 4 large yellow peppers (capsicums)
  • 2 onion 1 red 1 brown
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1tsp ginger fresh or semi-dried (see Gourmet Garden)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2 medium white potatoes
  • 1 Litre vegetable stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 T cashew butter
  • ½ cup soy milk or other plant milk
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Polenta triangles:
  • 1.3 cups polenta
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon mixed semi dried herbs (Garden Gourmet) or use any herbs you like.
  1. Finely chop the peppers, onions and garlic (use a food processor to save time if you like) and put them in a large heavy bottom casserole dish along with the ginger over a medium heat and stir, adding a little dash of water or stock to lubricate and get going. Keep an eye on it so the garlic doesn't catch and burn. As it heats up natural oils from the peppers and onions will be released.
  2. Once they are steaming hot, reduce the heat to lo and place on the lid whilst you prep the other ingredients. Check at intervals that no more liquid is needed to prevent sticking or burning. If lid is left on and on a low heat it should be OK but all cook tops and pans differ so check every so often.
  3. Peel (optional) and chop the potatoes into cubes and measure out the other ingredients.
  4. After 30 minutes check the peppers and onions and garlic are completely soft and collapsed.
  5. Add the stock, bay leaves, turmeric and stir, replace lid and set timer for another 15 minutes.
  6. Add the cashew butter, soy milk and lemon juice and using a stick blender blend until super smooth and creamy.
  7. Serve! Great topped with crispy croutons if you have time to make those (stale bread, cubed, baked in oven until crispy).
To make polenta triangles:
Boil 1.3 cups polenta in 4 cups stock, whisking consistently as you pour it in.
Add lemon zest and mixed herbs.
Simmer for 10 mins then pour into a lined shallow baking tray and smooth out.
Allow to cool then slice into triangles and cook on a hot griddle pan.


Spicy Orange Noodles with Mushrooms, Kale & Edamame

Spicy Orange Noodles with Mushrooms, Kale & Edamame
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Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4
  • SAUCE:
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon orange / mandarin zest
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed / chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup / brown rice syrup
  • 1 teaspoon semi dried chilli / chilli flakes - adjust to suit
  • ¼ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • ½ cup soy milk
  • 350g wholewheat noodles or spaghetti
  • 1 cup podded edamame beans
  • ½ bunch kale, destemmed, finely shredded
  • 375g punnet sliced mushrooms
  • To serve: spring onions, finely chopped
  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil for the noodles.
  2. Whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Prepare the beans, mushrooms and and kale.
  4. Put the shredded kale in to a large bowl and pour boiling water over it.
  5. Heat a large deep frying pan or wok and add the mushrooms.
  6. Once liquid is released add the kale and stir around.
  7. Once noodles are almost ready add the beans to the frying pan or wok and heat through. Cook for a few minutes until the kale is tender and most of liquid evaporated.
  8. Serve up the noodles into individual bowls, top with the vegeables and drizzle over the sauce.
  9. Sprinkle over the spring onions.


Lemongrass & Chilli-Lime Stir Fry

Lemongrass & Chilli-Lime Stir Fry
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Aromatic stir fry with Thai flavours and green vegetables. Serve with noodles or rice.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 4
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 green capsicum
  • 200g button / smallish mushrooms
  • 200g snow peas
  • 1 pack marinated tofu pieces
  • ½ cup salt reduced soy sauce
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • Juice and zest of a lime
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini
  • To Serve: Rice or Noodles, freshly chopped coriander
  1. Put on your rice or noodles to cook.
  2. Peel the garlic, chop and deseed the chillies, peel and slice a finger-length piece of lemongrass and put them in a food processor or mini-chopper and pulse until finely chopped.
  3. Prep the veggies: slice the zucchini into thick half-moons, quarter the button mushrooms, slice the capsicum, and de-vein and slice the snow peas lengthwise.
  4. Rinse the tofu in a sieve with boiling water to remove oily marinade then cut into bite size pieces.
  5. If you are having noodles, check if they are ready, then drain and set aside.
  6. Heat a large wok or deep frying pan with a lid and add the lemongrass, chilli and garlic paste with a tablespoon of water and stir around for a couple of minutes. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, tofu and capsicum; mix well and put on the lid. Whisk together the apple juice, soy sauce, lime juice and zest and tahini.
  7. Add as much of the sauce as you like to the vegetables along with the snow peas and cook until they are bright green and still crisp. Add more if the sauce evaporates too much.
  8. Add the noodles to the pan or serve on top in individual bowls with the rice.
  9. Serve scattered with the chopped coriander leaves.


Lentil, Mushroom, Walnut, Quinoa & Black Bean Taco filling

This has been a long work in progress. Our family loves Mexican food and we usually make burritos or tacos but I have been looking for a dryer taco “meat” which doesn’t make them soggy.  After trying lots of variations I’ve come up with a winner!  Topped with avocado, salsa and spring onions, these tacos are delicious!

Lentil, Mushroom, Walnut, Quinoa & Black Bean Taco filling
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Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 8
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 3 cups finely chopped mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon each of coriander, cumin, smoked paprika and dried oregano
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 1 can lentils or 1.5 cups home cooked
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 packet cooked red quinoa, or 1.5 cups of home made
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup frozen sweetcorn - defrosted
  • Salt & pepper
  1. Fry off the onion, spices then add all other ingredients.
  2. Add a splash of water and keep stirring from time to time until it dries out a little - should be fairly dry
  3. Toast corn tortillas in hot pan with lid so they steam and crispen.
  4. Spoon 2-3 dessertspoons in each taco and top with your favourite toppings - fresh salsa and diced avocado, hot sauce, coriander and lime juice!


Mushroom Nasi Goreng

I’ve always loved this spicy Indonesian rice dish but until now I just couldn’t seem to infuse the flavours into the rice without using oil.  Finally I seem to have found a solution!  Hope you love this as much as my family did.

Mushroom Nasi Goreng
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Brown rice scented with garlic, ginger, citrus and chilli with plenty of mushrooms and finely shredded cabbage.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indonesian
Serves: 4-6
  • 4 cups cooked long grain brown rice
  • - SAUCE:
  • 3 cloves garlic, micro-planed / finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lemon and or lime juice
  • 2cm piece ginger, finely chopped - a heaped tablespoon
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chillies - from a jar (add more if you like it really spicy!)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ green cabbage, cored and finely chopped
  • 400g grams diced mushrooms - about 3-4 cups
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 1 cup frozen / canned sweetcorn
  • To serve:
  • Toasted peanuts
  • Chopped fresh coriander
  • Limes - quartered
  1. Put on your rice to cook if not already available. (This may delay your serving time).
  2. Finely chop, crush or microplane the garlic, place in a small bowl and pour over the lemon and or lime juice and stir. Soak the garlic in the lemon juice for 5 mins.
  3. Add all other sauce ingredients then mix well and allow to sit whilst you prep the vegetables.
  4. Sauté the onion, cabbage, mushrooms and carrots in a large deep frying pan with a lid. Once softened - about 5-7 mins - add the paste, stir thoroughly and keep stirring for a few minutes to , thoroughly distributing the sauce through the veg.
  5. Add the cooked rice and mix well, then add a cup of water and the sweetcorn. Stir well and allow to heat through.
  6. Put on the lid, turn the heat down to low and cook for a further 5-7 mins until the carrots are tender and the sauce is absorbed into the rice.
  7. Turn off the heat and allow to sit whilst you get ready to serve.
  8. Serve each bowl with a quarter of lime, and scatter with coriander, peanuts and hot sauce.


Spinach & Tofu Cannelloni

Spinach & Tofu Cannelloni
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You might look at the name of this recipe, or the photo and think you haven't got time to make this, but you'd be wrong! With a food processor and using wholewheat square wraps instead of pasta this can be on the table inside an hour! This is in regular weeknight rotation in our house and everyone always wants seconds! 🙂
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4-6
  • 4 square wholewheat wraps, cut into ¼ to make 16 squares
  • 1 500g jar pasta tomato & basil style sauce
  • Topping:
  • 1 slice wholemeal bread, torn into pieces
  • ¼ cup walnut pieces
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Filling:
  • 350g baby spinach
  • 350g firm plain tofu, broken into pieces
  • 1 shallot / very small onion, chopped
  • 75g hummus
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp Italian herbs mix
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Place the topping ingredients into your food processor and pulse until you have a regular crumb with no large pieces. Tip into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the baby spinach into a large bowl and cover with boiling water, pushing it down so all the leaves are submerged.
  4. Take your lasagne dish and pour about ⅓ of the jar of sauce over the bottom and tilt the dish so there is an even cover across the whole surface.
  5. Tip the spinach leaves and water into a colander over the sink, and run cold water over the spinach. Taking handfuls at a time, squeeze as much as the water out as you can, then roughly chop each handful into a few pieces, break up the clumps, and pop into the food processor (no need to clean out after breadcrumbs).
  6. Place all the other filling ingredients into the food processor with the spinach and pulse until it is well mixed and in tiny pieces, but not a puree.
  7. Take one square of wholewheat wrap, spoon 1 heaped tablespoon (about the size of a golf ball – around 35-40g in weight) of filling along one side. Roll up to create a sausage shape and place it in a corner of the dish. Keep going until you have used up all the filling and your dish is packed full.
  8. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top of the rolls and make sure all the bread is covered.
  9. Sprinkle the topping over the rolls and bake for 30 minutes. Cover with foil during the last 10
  10. minutes if your breadcrumb topping is starting to catch.


Pressure Cooker Savoury Lentils (with a no-PC option)

Pressure Cooker Savoury Lentils (with a no-PC option)
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A quick and easy version of shepherdess pie filling. If you do not have a pressure cooker, follow the same procedure in a casserole dish or large saucepan with a lid and either bake in the oven for 45 minutes or simmer on the cooktop for 30 minutes.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: English
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 large onion - finely diced
  • 2 sticks celery - finel diced
  • 1 very large or 2 medium carrots - finely diced
  • ½ cup Puy (french) lentils
  • ½ cup red lentils
  • 2 heaped tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 heaped tsp chicken style stock powder
  • 1 cup passata or chopped tomatoes, blended
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • ½ cup frozen corn
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  1. Assemble and measure out all your ingredients first.
  2. Sauté the onion, celery and carrot in your pressure cooker, on the sauté or brown function for a few minutes.
  3. Then add the rest of the ingredients and set to cook on high pressure for 13 mins
  4. Release pressure
  5. Stir in the corn and peas.
  6. Close the lid and keep on warm function until potatoes or rice / pasta is ready


Hot Cross Buns

I’ve been making these for several years now at Easter, managing to avoid the temptation to buy them in the supermarkets (from February onwards)!  Seems to get earlier every year but I like special occasion foods to be just that and so only make these once a year and they are so much nicer – and oil free – and wholemeal – and no preservatives – that its really worth it.  I usually am cooking them for a crowd so I want to impress and therefore don’t do 100% wholemeal flour as they are much heavier and take longer to make as the rising time has to be longer.  Feel free to go that way if you wish and in that case add a splash more liquid to the dough and allow an extra 30 minutes or more rising time

You will need: A large mixing bowl, a whisk or fork, measuring spoons, a clean work surface, a large rectangular baking tray, baking paper, digital scales (not essential unless you’re particular about bun size like me!), tiny zip lock bags, small bowl (1/2-1 cup size), teaspoon, cling film, oil spray, pastry brush.

Hot Cross Buns
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Note the cook and prep times do not include rising times; allow 2-3 hours in addition.
Serves: 12
  • 230g wholemeal flour
  • 220g plain flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 50g raw brown sugar
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 270ml warm water
  • 150g mixed dried fruit & peel - any combination you like
  • extra: plain flour rolling, for making crosses; & sugar for glazing
  1. [Dough can also be mixed in a breadmaker or with a dough hook attachment in a food processor or hand mixer - just mix all ingredients from flour to water together then mix in the fruit]
  2. In a very large bowl whisk the dry ingredients all together then slowly stir in the water. It will suck up the water very quickly and seem quite dry but keep mixing until all the flour is incorporated and then add a splash more (tablespoon at a time) until the dough is soft and a little sticky. It should be a little wetter than a regular bread dough. Tip it onto a floured working surface and knead in the dried fruit. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough becomes springy and elastic and all the fruit is incorporated.
  3. Wash out the bowl and place the dough inside, cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm place for an hour or so or until doubled in size.
  4. Tip the dough back onto a floured work surface.
  5. Line a large baking tray (as wide as a regular oven) with baking paper.
  6. Here is where digital scales are very useful. If you're at all like me, you want 12 buns exactly the same size. The only way to achieve this is to weigh each ball of dough. 🙂 So weigh the entire amount, divide by 12 and then pull off balls of dough that weight, roll in to a neat ball between your lightly floured palms and place on the tray. Repeat! You want 3 x 4 on the tray, even spaced. They will grow as they rise so allow a good 3-5 cm between each bun.
  7. Spray a piece of cling wrap with oil (otherwise they will stick and deflate when you pull off the wrap). and place over the buns and return to their warm spot until they have risen sufficiently to be stuck to each other.
  8. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade.
  9. Make the cross paste: Mix 2-3 tablespoons of flour in a little bowl with enough water to make a thick but runny paste (like single cream). Pour it into a little ziplock bag.
  10. Remove carefully the cling wrap and take your bag of flour and water paste. Snip off a tiny corner off of the bag and carefully drizzle in long lines across the middle of the buns, then back the other way. It's easier to do this in one continuous motion rather than individually. Plan your route before you set off! 🙂
  11. Once you've finished, place in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Make the glaze: Mix 2-3 teaspoons of sugar in a small bowl with boiling water and stir until it dissolves.
  13. Once the timer goes off check that they're cooked by cutting one open (use tongues!), it should be firm and not wet inside.
  14. Brush the glaze over the hot buns and leave to cool - if you can. 🙂


Sweet & Sour Tofu

I had a craving for this dish which I used to love as a child when we would very occasionally go to a Chinese restaurant.  Of course it wasn’t tofu back then, was probably chicken or pork but it was the way that sweet tangy sauce soaked into the rice that I loved so this satisfies that completely!  After trying a few recipes I found on the net, I combined the best of them plus a few variations to make this version.  We usually enjoy it with some steamed bok choi or broccoli on the side. You can also add other vegetables such as snow peas or bamboo shoots / beansprouts at the end if you like.

Sweet & Sour Tofu
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Cooking time may be extended depending on how long it takes to cook your rice. I use a rice cooker and ours takes around 30 minutes.
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 4
  • 1 300g pack of firm tofu (we like to use smoked but plain is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Juice from 1 400g can pineapple pieces
  • ½ cup water
  • Pineapple pieces from the can
  • 2 tablespoons brown unrefined sugar
  • 2 heaped teaspoons corn flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced / microplaned
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 large red capsicum cut into strips
  • 1 large green or yellow capsicum, cut into strips
  • 1 large red onion, sliced into strips
  • 1 small can water chestnuts, drained - optional
  • 4 tablespoons roasted cashews - optional
  1. Put your brown ride on to cook
  2. Mix together the pineapple juice, vinegar, tomato ketchup, soy sauce and lime juice in a small bowl, whisk in the corn flour and water and mix thoroughly until smooth with no lumps. Put the tofu in to a shallow dish and pour the sauce over and leave to marinade.
  3. When then rice is almost ready heat a large non stick frying pan over a medium heat and saute the onion and peppers until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and stir around for 5 minutes, adding a tiny splash of water if any sticking is occurring. Put on the lid and allow to cook on a low heat for a further few minutes until peppers are tender.
  4. Add the tofu and sauce to the pan, along with the pineapple, water chestnuts and cashews. Stir consistently until the sauce thickens and becomes transparent. Add a splash more water as needed to create as much sauce as you'd like.
  5. Serve with the rice and accompanying vegetables as desired.