April 27, 2016 2

Review: Bonta Vera

Address: 40 Church Street, Minmi, NSW 2287

Website: www.bontavera.com.au

Bonta Vera

I can finally utter the words “we have a vegan restaurant in Newcastle” and damn, it feels good. Sure, it is a 30 minute drive from the CBD but when you’re used to travelling to Sydney for a completely vegan menu, the trip to Bonta Vera ain’t so bad at all.

Located in the old courthouse on Church Street, Bonta Vera’s exterior is hella gorgeous and green AF. When it comes to dining you can choose from the airy space indoors, the wraparound verandah or if you’re feeling super chill, grab a picnic blanket and find a patch of grass on the lawn.

Bonta Vera

The menu is quite varied, ranging from burgers and sandwiches to lighter salads and even raw pad thai. This was a “treat yoself” day so I ran with the weekly burger special: the double bacon cheeseburger with fries (say whaaaaat?!) Loaded with two Gardein beef patties, cheese, salad and facon, this thing was so epic I couldn’t finish it on an empty stomach. The super crispy chips were the perfect accompaniment, especially when washed down with an organic ginger beer. Mum opted for the regular cheeseburger with sweet potato fries and loved it. I had a lil nibble of her fries and either I’m starting to like sweet potato fries or these bad boys are unusually good.

Bonta Vera

I know I said I was too full to finish my burger but we all know there is a special space in out stomach that is reserved for dessert so we ordered a slice each of the vanilla chai and lemon coconut cheesecakes. Both were incredibly creamy, crumbly and delicious but the vanilla chai was for sure my fave.

Bonta Vera

I’m really looking forward to seeing Bonta Vera get even better with time and for a city where anything further than 15 minutes away is a hassle, it’s fantastic to see it more and more full each time I visit!

Bonta Vera

April 19, 2016 2

Coconut Choc Chunk Cookies

Difficulty: Easy

Makes: 18

Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

When you’ve got nothing to do, a rainy day is the perfect excuse to chill hard, bake hard and just generally max relax in the comfort of your own home and/or PJs. Keep the ingredients for my coconut choc chip cookies on hand so next time it starts raining cats and dogs (I wish), you’re ready to bake up a storm.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 3/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/4 cups chocolate chunks

Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with grease-proof paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the vegan margarine, caster sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Whisk in the vanilla extract before separately whisking together the water and cornflour, add that to the bowl and mix well to combine.
  4. Throw in the desiccated coconut and sift in the flour, mixing well to create a dough.
  5. Fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chunks and using 2 tablespoons as a guide, roll the dough into balls and place 5cm apart on the baking trays.
  6. Gently press a couple of extra chocolate chunks into each cookie ball before using the bottom of a clean glass or back of a spoon to gently press down the cookies.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden around the edges (the longer you cook, the crunchier they’ll be). Allow to cool on the tray for 15 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

April 16, 2016 0

Review: The Landing Bar & Kitchen

Address: 1 Honeysuckle Drive, Newcastle, NSW 2300

Website: www.thelanding.com.au

The Landing Bar & Kitchen

Being the fun-lovin’, food lovers that we are, Jane and I continue to get invited to try restaurants in The Hunter – an offer which we gladly accept because a) we get to eat food and; b) because we get to hang out and talk about really important issues like why Jane still doesn’t have Snapchat (mine is Like A Vegan btw).

The Landing Bar & Kitchen recently invited us to try offerings from the new menu, created by their newly appointed chef, Jamie Thomas. Located on Honeysuckle Drive, a strip of bars and restaurants overlooking Newcastle’s foreshore, The Landing Bar & Kitchen makes a dope ass spot for not only showing off this great city to people visiting from out of town but for also taking the opportunity for locals to acknowledge that the ’97 NRL Premiership isn’t the only super cool thing about Newy.

The Landing Bar & Kitchen

It’s always refreshing when chips aren’t the only vegan thing on a menu at a joint like this and while there are only a couple of menu items that can be veganised if you ask, it’s always good to know that you won’t be left to fill up on cocktails all night long. Plus it always helps when the menu itself is totally adorable.

The Landing Bar & Kitchen

I had the Hummus, Eggplant & Labna (sans labna, obvs) which was served with pomegranate, green chilli and sourdough. Thanks to the chilli, the hummus had a real kick that was nicely balanced out with the sweetness of the pomegranate and roasted eggplant.

We also shared the Shaved Zucchini Salad minus the feta which was super simple but did make a nice accompaniment to eat alongside a heavier dish, especially if you’re only after a light meal.

The Landing Bar & Kitchen

If you’re looking for a great place to have some Friday night drinks, and show of the best city in the whole damn world, The Landing Bar & Kitchen should be on your list.

April 14, 2016 0

Gotta Have It: Pure Hair Food Styling Products

Price: Starting at $28.90

Where to Buy: www.purehairfood.com.au

Pure Hair Foods

There’s a lotta hair stuff on the market these days and I’m on a mission to try as much of it as I can. Pure Hair Food recently sent me a few of their styling products recently, which not only assisted me with my mission but made my hair look dope AF.

Pure Hair Food was born from a need to inject more natural, salon quality hair products into the market and focuses on three key things:

  • No nasty stuff like parabens, sulfates, sodium chloride while being colour safe.
  • Keeping it local by sourcing as many ingredients as possible here in Australia and being 100% Australian made.
  • Saying no to animal testing by being a 100% cruelty free company

Pure Hair Foods

With this philosophy in mind, Pure Hair Food was created. With quite an extensive line of styling and treatment products, all are vegan-friendly with the exception of the styling brush (boar bristles), Pomade and Matte Texture Paste (beeswax).

Feed Your Hair is a lightweight smoothing serum treatment oil designed to smooth and treat hair while also protecting it from heat. Made from key ingredients like Moroccan Argan oil and macadamia oil, Feed Your Hair is a dream for split ends and injects moisture into your locks without leaving your head an oily mess.

If, like me, you weren’t #blessed with naturally voluminous tresses, Plump Your Hair may be your solution. Made from coconut oil and soy protein, this product is designed to repair your hair while amplifying volume and create a light hold to make your hair look epic.

Pure Hair Foods

You got a little fuzzy situation going on? Smooth Your Hair is an anti-frizz leave in cream, enriched with macadamia oil, aloe vera and sunflower oil to block humidity, smooth and condition.

What I really dig about this range (other than their awesome philosophy), is the lightweight nature of the products. My thin hair often leaves me at a loss when it comes to products because just about everything tends to leave my hair looking oily. Pure Hair Food has kept my hair styled and nourished, without looking like I’ve just gone swimmin’.

April 12, 2016 0

Spinach & Chickpea Cannelloni

Difficulty: Easy-Medium

Serves 4-6

Spinach & Chickpea Cannelloni

I’m not a huge pasta person (I know, sue me) but sometimes I’m just fully down with it. This weekend I thought I’d have a crack at some cannelloni because apparently just pasta with sauce isn’t good enough for me. This can get a little messy but if you take your time and do it carefully, you’ll end up with delicious creamy tubes of goodness.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 1 227g tub of vegan cream cheese
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons corn flour
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 21 instant cannelloni tubes
  • 3/4 cup vegan cheese

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mixed dried herbs

Spinach & Chickpea Cannelloni

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the oil before adding the garlic and onion for the sauce.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, brown sugar and herbs, bringing to the boil while stirring.
  4. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, throw the spinach, garlic, spring onion, vegan cream cheese, chickpeas, cornflour, non-dairy milk, salt and pepper into a blender, blending until well mixed but not completely smooth.
  6. Pour half of the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish and smooth out evenly.
  7. Using a piping bag, carefully pipe the spinach filling into the cannelloni tubes, laying neatly on top of the sauce in the baking dish.
  8. Once complete, pour over the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the vegan cheese.
  9. Bake for 35 minutes or until the pasta is completely cooked and the cheese melted.
  10. Serve immediately.

Spinach & Chickpea Cannelloni

 

April 5, 2016 2

Gotta Have It: Dusty Girls Cosmetics

Price: Starting from $18.50

Where to Buy: www.dustygirls.com.au

Dusty Girls

If you took one look at my make up collection you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that I bathe in cosmetics on the daily. Truth is, day-to-day I don’t wear a lot of make up but it’s hard to resist buying and trying new things when there are so many amazing vegan cosmetics to choose from! Dusty Girls Makeup is just one of those brands and they sent me a trio of their hottest products to take for a spin.

Dusty Girls was inspired by how good skin looks and feels after a day in the country and combines the natural clays and minerals of the earth to bottle up that goodness. The entire range is very natural, focussing on a palette of peaches, pinks and earth tones which are suitable for those who prefer a more natch look (i.e. me most of the time!)

The products are all made in Australia and avoid talcs and synthetic ingredients while promoting and protecting healthy skin. The outer boxes are also made from recycled cardboard, so that’s pretty cool too.

Earth Cream ($18.50) is a light weight tinted moisturiser with an SPF of 5. It glides onto the skin hella easily and provides a clean, natural finish. It’s treated with ingredients for acne prone skin like nigella sativa seed oil and the formula is made specifically not to block pores, so your skin can breathe while you’re looking cute AF.

Dusty Girls

Give those cheeks a rosy glow with the Pink Ladies Natural Mineral Blush ($25.00). A super pretty pale pink with a subtle shimmer, this blush is made with macadamia and jojoba oil so it applies easily and with the staying power of vitamin E, you’ll have a rosy cheeks all day long. Don’t just stop at your cheeks though, this stuff can be used on your eyelids and lips as well!

Dusty Girls

If there’s one make up must-have for me, it’s a good mascara. Luckily there are some great vegan options making the rounds and one of those is the Natural Mineral Mascara in Night Fall ($18.50). If you’ve got crazy sensitive eyes like me, you’ll be stoked that Dusty Girls formulate their mascara with acacia gum, a non-irritating alternative to pine tar (which is found in a lot of mascara, ew). It’s quite a small tube but I like that it makes it easy for travel or chucking in your bag for touch ups, not that you’ll need it though, this stuff lasts!

Dusty Girls

Dusty Girls is a great makeup choice for those who are looking for a natural look using natural ingredients. The prices are quite reasonable too, so you don’t have to break the bank to feel like you’re wearing nothing at all (nothing at all, nothing at all.)

Dusty Girls

March 30, 2016 0

Gotta Have It: Kester Black Hand & Body Fondant

Price: $50

Where to Buy: www.kesterblack.com

Kester Black Hand & Body Fondant

It looks like some hella exciting things are going on in the land of Kester Black this year and by gosh am I happy to hear it. You may remember a li’l review I did of their Liquid Hand & Body Wash last year (which by the way, with regular use IS STILL NOT EMPTY) and now they’ve got new besties, Hand & Body Fondant!

The packaging ties in seamlessly with the theme of body products KB have going on right now which is simple, sleek and fun with bright typography. You can choose from two scents that pair up perfectly with the Hand & Body Wash too; Lucky, with a velvety smooth caramel and vanilla scent and Pardon!, a refreshing combo of cedar, amber, thyme oil and bergamot (AKA my fave).

Kester Black Hand & Body Fondant

Kester Black’s Hand & Body Fondant is made from 98.6% (v specific) natural content like sweet almond oil, shea butter and coconut oil. The texture is smooth AF and while it’s pretty damn thick, it’s absorbed into the skin surprisingly quickly, leaving behind no slimy residue. The scent is definitely there but it’s not overwhelming and for someone who can be quite sensitive to fragrances (damn you to hell, hay fever!), that’s a pretty important thing to mention.

Kester Black Hand & Body Fondant

If that wasn’t enough to win you over, how about the fact this stuff is;

  • Palm oil free
  • Certified vegan by Vegan.Org
  • Certified cruelty-free by Cruelty-Free International
  • Australian Made

You may think fifty clams is a fair chunk of change to throw down for a moisturising product but if the extreme longevity of the Hand & Body Wash is any indication, this stuff will go a long way. Only one pump was enough to cover both of my legs and a little of my arms.

Kester Black Hand & Body Fondant

So go on, treat yo’self to some Kester Black luxury!

March 29, 2016 6

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Difficulty: Easy

Serves 4

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Summer is trying to sneak its unwelcome ass back into my Autumn (NNNNNO!) so I’m willing it away with a recipe for a side dish made for cooler weather. You’ve obviously continued reading after the title of this post, so I’m already assuming that you’re somewhat down with the Brussels sprout. If you’re not, maybe you just like looking at stuff you don’t really like very much and I guess that’s cool too, you do you.

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

It’s time to flip the script on what the sprout hatin’ mofos in your life think about the B-sprout and dress ’em up with the help of Canada’s gift to us all; maple syrup. Maybe you’ll succeed, maybe you won’t but if it’s the latter, all the more sprouts for you!

Ingredients

  • 400g Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons flaked almonds
  • Salt to taste

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C.
  2. Cut your Brussels sprouts in half and spread them out evenly in a small baking dish.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, crushed garlic and the juice of 1/4 lemon.
  4. Pour the mixture over the sprouts in the dish and coat evenly using tongs.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until soft with crispy edges.
  6. Remove from the oven and drizzle tahini over the sprouts, with the remaining lemon juice.
  7. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and salt before serving immediately.

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts

March 24, 2016 2

Gotta Have It: The Red Balloon Vegan Lollies

Price: From $5.50

Where to Buy: www.theredballoon.com.au

The Red Balloon

No need to pinch yourselves, folks! This week’s Gotta Have It is dedicated to The Red Balloon and their mother-effin’ vegan lollies, yay!

I stopped eating gelatine not long into my vegetarian years, so it’s been quite a long time since I’ve sunk my teeth into a bloody good lolly. Sure, there are some great ones out there but they’re few and far between and they’re usually lacking in the flavour and/or texture department.

The Red Balloon

The good news is that not only do Melbourne-based The Red Balloon make two types of vegan lolly but there are seriously so many freakin’ flavours to choose from you’ll be like a kid in a… oh… yeah. Pascal and his team make their vegan jellies by hand, which makes them even cuter IMHO, using pectin as a gelling agent in place of gelatine and using only 6 ingredients. Plus not only are they vegan but they’re gluten and nut free too!

The Red Balloon

The Jelly Cubes are hand cut so each cube is a little different to their pals, so cute! With flavours like American cola, watermelon, strawberry & cream and lemon tart, you’ll struggle to keep up with all the tastiness. The texture is awesome, gummy but with a little bite.

The Red Balloon

Pascal describes the Bobbles as the younger brother of the Jelly Cubes. With a smoother and softer texture and larger size, flavours include aniseed, nectarine and peaches and cream. The spearmint was definitely my favourite. Phwoar!

The Red Balloon

The Bobbles are $5.50 for a 120g bag while the Jelly Cubes are $5.50 for a 130g bag or $11.50 for an adorable 200g jar. These prices may seem a little spenno but try a couple and you’ll know why I’m telling you they’re worth it (and don’t forget they’re hand made). Pick a few bags up as a gift and you’ll brighten any vegan’s day!

The Red Balloon

Want to try The Red Balloon’s vegan lollies? Head over to my Instagram page and find out how you could win!

March 21, 2016 0

Creamy Kale Pasta Bake

Difficulty: Easy

Serves 4

Creamy Kale Pasta Bake

Oh yes, did you feel that Autumn breeze a-blowin’ over the weekend? Cooler weather is on its way and I couldn’t be happier, winter is my jam! Nothing says comfort food like a creamy pasta bake; it’s packed with carbs but with the creamth (made that up) coming from tofu and cashews plus the addition of kale, you don’t need to feel too guilty about this quick and easy meal.

Ingredients

  • 500g spiral pasta
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 + 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 300g silken tofu
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mixed herbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped (discard the stalks)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Creamy Kale Pasta Bake

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C and grease a large baking dish.
  2. Prepare the pasta as per packet instructions.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, massage the kale in a large bowl with the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil until the leaves start to soften. Set aside.
  4. Add the remaining olive oil, silken tofu, cashews, non-dairy milk, vegan Worcestershire sauce, mixed herbs and salt and pepper to a blender. Process on high until very smooth and creamy.
  5. Your pasta should now be cooked, allow to drain and carefully dry the saucepan.
  6. Add a little olive oil to the saucepan and on high heat brown the onion and garlic before adding the massaged kale.
  7. Cook for a few minutes and remove from the heat, now add the pasta.
  8. Pour in the creamy sauce and mix through until well distrubuted.
  9. Add the pasta to the baking dish and evenly press down so the top is even. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a little extra salt.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes until brown on top. Serve immediately.

Creamy Kale Pasta Bake