September 17, 2014 5

Intensae Nail Lacquer

Price: $21.00AUD

Where To Buy: Be Naturallyou

intensae

To stop myself from biting my nails, I usually keep them painted but it’s hard to find good nail colour that keeps my nails strong, colourful and at the same time doesn’t chip or peel off. Recently I was offered the chance to try Intensae nail lacquer and thought I would give it a go.

The range of colours is pretty solid but there’s nothing too outrageous – lots of neutrals, pinks and reds with some darker colours thrown in there too. My nails tend to get stronger with darker colours so 1966, a dark grey, is great because it’s dark but also a little different plus I tend to get a lot of compliments when I wear it! I have to say though, my absolute fave is the YÜYI 2in1 base and top coat. It’s my new go-to top coat because it’s rock hard, shiny and prevents chipping as well as stops me from biting my nails because they look so freakin’ good!

Now ‘cos they’re up on this blog, we know they’re vegan but they’re also 5 free, which means they don’t contain any of that gross, harmful stuff that we don’t want to be putting near our bodies like formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), camphor, formaldehyde resin and toluene (ew!!!)

At $21 a pop, these babies aren’t the cheapest going round but for rich, long lasting colour you’re getting a pretty good deal compared to other vegan nail polishes on the market.

If you’re in the market for a good quality, vegan nail lacquer with long lasting colours that can take you from work to night to the weekend, Intensae has you covered!

September 15, 2014 0

Lentil & Kidney Bean Chilli

Difficulty: Easy

Serves 4

chilli

Cool air and grey skies are making way for warmer weather and sunshine but I’m still hanging onto winter for dear life with this dish. It’s  a great meal for a several reasons; it takes less than 30 minutes to make, you should have all of these ingredients already, it’s a cheap meal to throw together, it’s hearty and healthy all the while tasting bloody delicious. Team this up with my excellent cornbread recipe and you’ve got yourself a spot on meal, whether Mother Nature wants to accept it or not.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 small chilli, finely chopped (deseeded if you want less heat. Omit altogether for a super mild chilli)
  • 1 red capsicum, chopped
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can brown lentils, drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Vegan sour cream and parsley to serve (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan.
  2. Add the onion and garlic, once the onion has started to go translucent, add the cumin, thyme, cinnamon, paprika, chilli and capsicum.
  3. Cook for a few minutes before throwing in the kidney beans, lentils and diced tomatoes.
  4. Stir through the tomato paste, liquid smoke and brown sugar.
  5. Bring to the boil and cook for 5-10 minutes before allowing to simmer for a further 10-15 minutes.
  6. Once your chilli looks thick and rich, it’s ready to serve with a dollop of vegan sour cream and some fresh parsley.
September 11, 2014 2

Baby Spinach, Tomato Tofu Omelette

Difficulty: Easy-Medium

Makes 2 Small Omelettes

omelette

I bet you thought your omelette days were over once you gave up eggs right? Wrong! With the magic of tofu, you can create an awesome breakfast to enjoy any day of the week. You can of course mix up the fillings you use for this recipe but for now I’m keeping it simple.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup GF corn flour
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs
  • 1/2 teaspoons dried turmeric
  • Pinch of salt
  • Handful baby spinach leaves
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup shredded vegan cheese

Method

  1. In a blender, combine the tofu, corn flour, nutritional yeast, non-dairy milk, herbs, turmeric and salt until smooth.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat a teaspoon of oil on high and once hot, pour in half the mixture and swirl around until the base of the pan is covered.
  3. Allow to cook for a minute or so before turning down the heat to medium.
  4. Sprinkle half of each of the spinach, tomato, onion and vegan cheese onto the top of the mixture and allow to cook for a further 3 or so minutes.
  5. Using a spatula, gently lift up the edge and check if it’s ready to be flipped. You’ll know it’s ready if the omelette easy lifts from the pan and doesn’t stick.
  6. When it’s ready, carefully and quickly flip one half of the omelette over the other so it’s folded in half. This part can easily go wrong so make sure you’re careful!
  7. Allow to cook for a further minute or so before serving immediately. Repeat with the second half of the ingredients.
September 8, 2014 0

Tomato Pasta Bake with Quick White Sauce

Difficulty: Easy

Serves 4-6 

pastabake

I don’t know why but there’s something a little more satisfying about pasta bake over a regular bowl of pasta. It doesn’t get more simple than this recipe, plus the addition of my quick white sauce adds that extra sum’n sum’n to take this dish from basic to bitchin’ in no time.

Ingredients

  • 1 x 500 gram pack pasta (whatever kind you like!)

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 x 400 gram cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs

Quick White Sauce

  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 cup soy milk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a large baking dish with spray oil.
  2. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions while you make your other sauces.
  3. To make the tomato sauce, heat some olive oil in a large saucepan before adding the onion and garlic.
  4. After a couple of minutes, add the crushed tomatoes, brown sugar, vegan Worcestershire and mixed herbs.
  5. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. To make the white sauce, add the vegan margarine to a microwave safe bowl or jug. Microwave for 30 seconds or until the margarine has melted.
  7. Whisk in the flour and half of the soy milk. Cook again in the microwave for a minute. Whisk in the remaining soy milk and cook for another 30 seconds.
  8. Combine the pasta and tomato sauce and pour into the baking dish. Drizzle with the white sauce and bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges of the white sauce become golden.
  9. Serve immediately.
September 4, 2014 3

Sprout & Kernel Tree Nut Cheeses

Price: From $8.00AUD

Where to Buy: www.sproutandkernel.com (coming soon) See below for more details.

skcheese

Go to the US and you’ll see vegan nut cheeses coming out the yin yang but in Australia it’s a very different story. Sprout & Kernel are looking to give this story a happy ending with their range of tree nut cheeses.

While I do love to make my own nut cheeses, it can be time consuming and sometimes I just want to have some ready and waiting for me on demand. Recently I was given a Sprout & Kernel taster box so I could give their range a whirl and naturally I’m going to share my thoughts with you all.

First cab off the rank was the Aged Cashew Cheese ($12) and ohmygod it’s a serious taste sensaysh. It’s sharp and tangy with an awesome texture with a nice firmness to it.

Next up I had a little chomp on the Dill & Garlic Cashew Cream Cheese ($10). Phwoar! This one is a nice, smooth spreadable cheese with a deeper, richer and flavoursome taste. Eating it alone on a cracker is delicious enough but I can’t wait to pop some on a sandwich with some vegan slices, relish or pickles and salad.

The Original Pepper Crust Cashew Log ($8) has a softer, more spreadable texture than the Aged Cashew Cheese, much like most of the cashew cheeses I’ve tried in the past. It’s also much milder but that pepper crust packs some punch. The logs come in other flavours like spicy and fruit & nut too!

You can taste the delicious macadamia-ness of the Little Sister Macadamia Cheddar ($12). It’s more crumbly than the other guys but still keeps it’s shape when sliced. I popped it on a cracker with some quince paste and I could have sworn that my taste buds were having a rave.

Lastly I sunk my teeth into the Monster Cheddar ($12). It’s a lot firmer than the Macadamia Cheddar and way more intense. This is a welcomed addition to any vegan cheese board, that’s for sure!

Who would have thought that such simple ingredients like tree nuts, lemon juice and nutritional yeast could create such a diverse range of flavours and textures. An afternoon spent with this taster box, some quince paste and a selection of crackers is a real treat.

So far Sprout & Kernel cheeses are available from Newtown Markets on select dates and some festivals around Sydney but hopefully will be available in stores soon. To stay up to date with Sprout & Kernel availability, follow their Instagram and Facebook.

These cheeses are so bitchin’ that even non-vegans enjoy the varied textures and flavours! You really do need to try them to believe how awesome they are as I haven’t tried anything quite like it since becoming vegan all those years ago. It’s also great to see more and more vegan products made right here in Australia, something I hope we see more of in the future – I’m sick of paying crazy prices for imported stuff!

I guess more regular trips to Sydney will be on the horizon, because I can’t stand the thought of living without a constant supply of this cheese in my fridge!

September 1, 2014 0

Mediterranean Pasta

Difficulty: Easy

Serves 4

medpasta

If you’re like me, you probably have olives, semi-dried tomatoes and capers in your fridge at all times so whipping this dish up is a pretty simple exercise. The pan-fried capers add a little punch and with a sprinkling of my vegan parmesan, you’re good to go with this easy weeknight dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 500gram packet pasta
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (plus some extra for frying the capers)
  • 1/3 cup baby capers, drained
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 cup semi-dried tomatoes
  • Vegan Parmesan to serve
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1.  Cook the pasta as per packet directions and drain.
  2. Add some olive oil to a frypan (about .5cm deep) and when hot add the baby capers. Cook until crisp and drain on paper towel.
  3. Toss the olive oil, lemon juice, olives and semi-dried tomatoes through the pasta.
  4. Serve with some vegan parmesan, salt, pepper and a generous serve of fried capers.
August 29, 2014 21

The Chia Co.

Price: From $7.69AUD

Where To Buy: www.thechiaco.com.au

chiaco

The first time I ever heard of chia was on that Chia Pet ad at the beginning of Wayne’s World but then it kind of dropped of the radar. Over the past few years, chia has really grown in popularity as a superfood and why bloody shouldn’t it?! It’s the highest plant-based source of Omega-3, high in dietary fibre and contains all eight essential amino acids making it a ‘complete’ protein (which is rare for a plant-based protein).

The Chia Co. range of products make getting your daily dose of chia easy peasy. Not only do they produce black and white chia seeds in different quantities but they also make chia oil, which is great in salad dressings, chia bran, which is great in baking and ground chia seeds, which are great in smoothies. Chia seeds themselves are super versatile; you can make a gel and have a couple of teaspoons, add to baking (like my Oat,  Almond and Chia Cookies), pop it in a salad or on top of cereal, the possibilities are endless!

The Chia Shots are one of my favourite products because they’re teensy individual serves of chia seeds ready t go whenever you need ‘em. If you’re hitting the road for a few days, or just want to boost your meals out, take a Chia Shot along and you’re all set.

If you’re in the refrigerated section of your supermarket, also check out their Chia Puddings; individual serves of flavoured chia goodness perfect for lunch boxes and snacks on the run.

The Chia Co.’s products are easy peasy to spot because of their bright orange packaging and are available at most supermarkets, so make sure you pick up some of their awesome products next time you do your groceries!

Wanna win some Chia Shots from The Chia Co.? As part of Like a Vegan’s 4th Birthday ExtraVeganza, you can score some Chia Shots and over $200 worth of vegan goodies just by commenting below and telling me what your favourite use for chia is! Also be sure to check out @likeavegan on Instagram for another chance to win!

Australian residents only, winner will be drawn on the 5th of September, 2014.

August 25, 2014 0

Rice Crispy Treats

Difficulty: Easy

Makes 16

ricecrispy

I’ve been wanting to come up with a vegan rice crispy treat recipe for a while now and last weekend seemed like the perfect time to give it a crack. There are so many variations you can do with this recipe but for now I’ve kept it simple, with an optional dark chocolate drizzle to add some extra oomph. Once you realise how quick and easy these guys are to make, you’ll never by similar store-bought treats again!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups popped rice cereal
  • 2/3 cup glucose syrup
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegan margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup melted vegan chocolate (optional)

Method

  1. Line a 20cm square baking tin with baking paper and pour the rice cereal into a large bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan, mix together the glucose syrup, caster sugar and vegan margarine over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  3. Once the mixture is bubbling, remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla extract.
  4. Pour over the rice cereal until it’s evenly coated and pour into the baking tin.
  5. Cover the tin with baking paper and press down firmly until the it’s even and packed tight.
  6. Allow to set until hard, at least an hour.
  7. Cut into 16 squares and drizzle with melted chocolate.
August 21, 2014 18

Vegan Card

Price: $49.95AUD

Where to Buy: www.myvegancard.com.au

vegancard

If you’ve not heard of Vegan Card then you’re in for a real treat. What if I told you that a single card could score you discounts in store and online from 130 vegan-friendly businesses around Australia and overseas? Yep, that’s Vegan Card and I was stoked to get my hands on one recently.

You buy the card once a year (the 14/15 card was released in July) and throughout that year you can use the card at your favourite stores to receive a discount. Some of my favourite stores are on there and I’m sure yours are too; Vegan Perfection, The Vegan Box (check out my review here), Cruelty Free Shop and Lord of The Fries are just some of the awesome businesses who accept Vegan Card, a total of 120 businesses worldwide!

I managed to get one of the founders of Vegan Card, David Rafter, to answer a couple of questions about how this awesome vegan business came to be.

How long have you been vegan and what lead you to the vegan lifestyle?

Mandy (Amanda Rootesy, co-founder) and I have been vegan for 8 years now I think. Time has flown by, we can’t actually remember how long it has been. It is funny, because once we transitioned we have never looked back. It has been like we have been vegan our whole lives.
For me, I went vegan for compassionate reasons I guess you would say. I had always been conscious about my health. When growing up I would always delve in vegetarian, but never really made the connection with animals. It wasn’t until one of my brothers sent me a YouTube link about spirituality and lifestyle did I make the connection.
I still remember to this day the overwhelming feeling I had when I watched it. I think I cried for hours on end. It was sort of like a transformation. From that moment on I went vegetarian.
I guess what made me vegan was when my father sent me out to work on his dairy farm. It was probably a month or two after going vegetarian. I took one step out there and couldn’t believe the pain and suffering that went on. I literally lasted a couple of minutes, came home and have been vegan ever since.

Mandy’s story is a little different. In 2008 Mandy was diagnosed with cancer. Mandy had just transitioned to a vegetarian diet, but hadn’t stopped eating dairy. After hearing the news we did a lot of research into health and discovered how damaging a meat and in particular dairy is on our bodies.
From that moment on, Mandy switched to a vegan diet and we both never looked back!
I remember we went out to dinner one time, and I ordered a vegan meal. She looked at me and said “are you vegetarian?” I said, “yeah…” that was probably 6 months into me being vegan…ha ha. I never like imposing my views or opinions on to others. It was a journey for me, and I feel that for people to awaken to the pain and suffering in eating meat they need to see it for themselves. Mandy and I just like to provide the information for them. If they make the change straight away that is great, but sometimes people take a little longer and that is cool too.

What inspired you to start Vegan Card?

Vegan Card came about with Mandy and I enjoying a nice little cup of tea out in the garden. We had been promoting the vegan lifestyle through our seminars around Australia for over 2 years. During that time we discovered that there was a real gap between people making the switch and where they could eat.
Mandy just sort of said what about a vegan card where people can find out where all the vegan businesses are around Australia, and get a little discount at them….and that was that – Vegan Card was born.

What are some of your favourite places to use your Vegan Card?

 I have to say Vegan Perfection, Lord of The Fries (when we are in Melbourne and Sydney) and Loving Hut in Brisbane. Mandy loves going crazy with Vegan Style shoes and James & Co. Hand bags.

What’s your favourite thing about owning a vegan business?

I would say helping to promote other vegan businesses. The whole concept of Vegan Card is to help businesses grow. We have been in businesses (not just Vegan Card) for a long time, and we know exactly how hard it can be out there. If we are able to help a small vegan business grow, then we are are so happy!

If you find yourself shopping at vegan businesses on a regular basis, Vegan Card will very quickly pay for itself and for fifty bucks a year, you’re helping support vegan business while also getting a little something in return.

Want to win a 2014/2015 Vegan Card? As part of Like a Vegan’s 4th Birthday ExtraVeganza, you have a chance to score a pack with over $200 worth of vegan products, including a Vegan Card. All you have to do is comment below with your favourite vegan business or restaurant (even if they’re not currently accepting Vegan Card).

Winners will be drawn on September 5th, 2014. Australian residents only.

August 18, 2014 0

Aloo Baingan

Difficulty: Easy

Serves 4 

aloobaingan

This is my favourite dish at my favourite Indian joint in Newcastle so while I knew I was never going to achieve that kind of greatness, I thought I would give it a shot. Aloo Baingan is a wicked combo of potato and eggplant with just a few spices added, but the real zing comes from amchur, a dried mango powder which you can pick up from your local Indian grocery.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants (about 15cm-120cm in length)
  • Salt
  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 1 small brown onion
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons chilli powder (adjust according to your tolerance)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons amchur

Method

  1. Chop the eggplants into roughly 2cmx2cm cubes before chucking into a colander and covering in salt. Set aside for 20 minutes so the salt removes the bitterness.
  2. Wash and chop the potatoes into 2cmx2cm cubes and roughly chop the onion.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat in a large pan or wok.
  4. Rinse the excess salt off the eggplant and throw into the pan with the potato and onion. Allow the oil to coat the vegetables and saute for a few minutes before adding the chilli powder and turmeric.
  5. Cover and cook for around 20-30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
  6. Once the potato has softened, stir through the garam masala, amchur and add salt to taste.
  7. Serve immediately with basmati rice and papadums.