October 16, 2014 0

The Muesli Man

Price: $16.00AUD

Where to Buy: www.themuesliman.com

muesliman

If you’re looking for delicious and nutritious muesli with a twist, look no further than The Muesli Man! These guys are taking the market circuit by storm with their quirky flavour combinations and sent a sample pack of muesli my way to try.

This week I decided to sample a different flavour of The Muesli Man muesli each day. I kicked things off with Chocolate – a blend of cocoa oat clusters, with toasted almonds and hazelnuts, dried strawberries, flaked coconut and a puffed mix of buckwheat, sorghum and rice. This is like some kind of delicious dessert but at breakfast time! The dried strawberries are a decadent touch.

Next I tried Maple – a combo of maple oat clusters and pecans, with dried apple and sultanas, toasted pepitas, sunflower seeds and flaked coconut, and a puffed mix of buckwheat, sorghum and rice. I would have to say this is my favourite blend. The subtle sweetness of the maple tastes so excellent with the toasty flavours of the clusters and nuts. Plus apple is always maple’s perfect companion.

Tuesdays muesli was Bircher – a five grain mix of oats, triticale, spelt, quinoa and barley, a puffed mix of buckwheat, sorghum and rice, with almonds, flaked coconut, pepitas and sunflower seeds, finished with dried pear, freeze -dried peach and rasperry powder. This mixture is a lot less sweet than the other varieties but the raspberry powder adds a touch of tartness and luxury to the mix. I had this with almond milk but I would consider using juice in the future to add a little more sweetness.

The Muesli Man have a Gluten Free option too – a mix of maple toasted pecans, hazelnuts and almonds, with dried apple, strawberry, cranberry, blueberry, sultanas and flaked coconut, finished with pepitas, sunflower seeds, amaranth and a puffed mix of quinoa, buckwheat, sorghum and rice. Obviously this option is great if you’re on a gluten free diet but it’s also a lighter option for those who don’t want the heaviness of the other varieties.

The final blend was Multigrain – a five grain mix of oats, triticale, spelt, quinoa and barley with buckini, amaranth, pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, a puffed mix of buckwheat, sorghum and rice finish with almonds, flaked coconut, goji berries and inca berries. While I did enjoy this one it was probably my least favourite as it didn’t have the sweetness of the other varieties however the mixture of grains did provide a really nice texture.

The Muesli Man’s online store is now up and running but if you want to pick some up in person, they have a pretty hectic market schedule too! Keep an eye on their Facebook and Instagram for upcoming market stall information. Over the next few weeks you can find the guys at:

25th October – Hunt & Gather Markets, Newcastle

26th October – Avoca Beachside Markets, Avoca

1st November – The Olive Tree Market, Newcastle

With such a variety of flavours, you can say goodbye to breakfast boredom. Why be restricted to breakfast? Add a sprinkle of this stuff to yoghurt, ice cream or fruit salad for the perfect snack or dessert.

 

October 13, 2014 0

Raspberry Brownies

Difficulty: Easy

Serves 12

raspbrownie

If you add fruit to brownies it makes them healthy, right? Well, maybe not but these raspberry brownies are a decadent little treat for your next party or picnic. A nice, dense, chocolatey square with chunks of chocolate and fresh raspberries that just about anybody will love. They’re soy free too so that’s also pretty ace.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/2 cup chopped vegan chocolate (make sure it’s soy free)
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries

Method

  1. Line a 20cm x 20cm baking tin with baking paper and preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a bowl and add the caster sugar.
  3. Slowly add the almond milk, canola oil and vanilla essence while mixing with an electric mixer.
  4. Finally fold in the vegan chocolate and 3/4 of the raspberries.
  5. Pour the mixture into the tin and scatter the remaining berries on top, pushing down a little into the mixture.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool completely before serving.
October 9, 2014 0

Kester Black Body Soaps

Price: $16.00AUD 

Where to Buy: www.kesterblack.com.au

kbsoap

Rub-a-dub-dub, it’s time to take Kester Black into the tub! Australia’s coolest vegan nail polish brand is branching out into luxury body soaps and asked me to take them for a test spin.

I’m a hip hop fan so naturally I’m a fan of a good collab and KB are partnering up with a new Australian designer for each new collection of soap. Dope! This time around it’s Melbourne artist Dawn Tan bringing her creativity to the mix with a couple of unique scents teamed with equally delicious packaging.

White Fig is a refreshing scent perfect for spring and I don’t want to freak you out but Gingerbread is the perfect flavour for Christmas (which is 11 weeks away, WTF?!) And speaking of Christmas, these little guys make the perfect stocking filler for just about anyone!

Just like Kester Black’s range of nail products, the body soaps are 100% vegan and cruelty free and are the first Australian mass-produced soaps to be 100% palm oil free. They contain coconut oil, shea butter, jojoba, vitamin E and a bunch of other ace ingredients to help nourish, cleanse and moisturise the skin.

The fragrances are strong but not overwhelming and leave a subtle hint of a scent behind once you’re out of the shower. It lathers nicely and leaves the skin feeling fresh and clean but also well moisturised. This also makes an awesome hand soap if you want to add a touch of luxury to your hand washing routine.

I had the chance to ask Anna Ross, Founder of Kester Black, a couple of questions about the brand and how this awesome collaboration came about.

Can you tell me a bit about Kester Black and how it came to be?

Kester Black began 4 years ago as a clothing label while I was studying a Bachelor of design, majoring in fashion in the South of New Zealand. When I graduated, my wise mother dearest suggested I broaden my horizons overseas, which would bring more opportunities than staying at home and working on my label. I packed my bags and began searching for a job in Melbourne. The experience didn’t quite work out the way I was expecting it to.

After landing myself a job in retail, I thought I’d better get something creative happening to keep my portfolio growing. I began making jewellery and selling it back to New Zealand where that seemed to be quite successful for a few years. After a year in retail, I finally landed my dream job: design assistant for a well known Australian fashion label. I worked in that role for just over a year until I was offered a production manager role for another large company in the industry. The pay they were offering was more than double what I was on, but the catch was that I would have to give up my own little business. I felt like I had worked so hard for the last two and a half years to just give it all up. So I turned down the job, and worked on building my business.

In the mean time, I had decided I was bored of merely working with sterling silver and began researching enamel paints to use on the jewellery I was making. It led me to looking into nail polish, and I really saw a gap in the market.

I decided to manufacture and sell my own nail polish line to complement my jewellery. It was a major turning point in my career when, as the jewellery market had become really saturated and my nail polish sales were going through the roof, that I decided to focus solely on the nail polish side of things and lay the jewellery to rest.

Why is making cruelty-free and vegan products important to you?

I was saying just the other day that I feel really great about having created a company that has good values. I think it should be standard to give customers the opportunity to purchase cosmetics that are ethically made. I think that consumers shouldn’t have to worry about researching whether or not the product that they are buying is safe and that it hasn’t been tested on animals in any way. I think that those kinds of responsibilities should be in the hands of the manufacturer and that’s why Kester Black will always produce in an ethical manner, because we know the importance of using safe, organic and environmentally friendly products.

I have always felt that my brand should reflect my own ethics and personal values, and I’m happy that Kester Black does just that.

How did the collaboration with Dawn Tan come about and where did the decision to move into soaps come from?

I have always loved Dawn’s work and have always wanted to work with her on something. After talking to one of my suppliers, The Goodness Bureau, about the sustainable palm oil industry, I became interested in palm oil free soap.

I had wanted to expand Kester Black for a while and after doing my research, noticed that no one was mass-producing palm oil free soap. I decided that it would be a great opportunity to produce another product that aligned well with the ethos of my brand and wanted to provide a beautiful soap alternative to the Australian market.

Dawn has been a pleasure to work with and I love the artwork she has done for our custom packaging – couldn’t be happier!

Are there any other new exciting products and collaborations we can look forward to from Kester Black?

The truth is that my brain is constantly ticking! Honestly, I am always on the lookout for new inspiration. I think it is so important to be open minded to new concepts and abstract ideas; that’s what will set an idea and brand apart from the rest. At the moment we are super busy with new nail polish colours and soap fragrances, but that doesn’t mean that tomorrow won’t bring some unexpected creative inspiration. In terms of future collaborations, yes we have a few exciting ideas underway – stay tuned for Christmas is all I will say!

Stay tuned for Christmas indeed! Kester Black have hit another home run with these products and I can’t wait to see more and more amazing Aussie products come onto the market.

October 7, 2014 0

Honeycomb Eton Mess

Difficulty: Easy-Medium

Serves: 4-6

etonmess

Eton Mess is traditionally made with meringue but making vegan meringue can be a bit fiddly and after all that hard work, sometimes it can be a real let down. Honeycomb is an awesome sub because it has a light airy texture, just like meringue, and works perfectly with a variety of flavours. Chuck it in a serving dish with some raspberries, coconut cream and chocolate and you’ve got yourself a humdinger of a dessert, my friends.

Ingredients

Coconut Cream

  • 2 x 270mL cans full fat coconut cream (placed upside-down in the fridge for at least 24 hours)
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Honeycomb

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup
  • 2 teaspoons bicarb soda

Other Stuff

  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup grated chocolate

Method

  1. Make the honeycomb by first greasing up a cake tin.
  2. Next, stir in the caster sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan over low-medium heat until the sugar has melted and it turns into a amber coloured syrup (about 10-15 minutes).
  3. Remove from the heat before chucking in the bicarb and mixing quickly with a wooden spoon, this is where the mixture will begin to bubble and rise rapidly.
  4. Quickly pour the mixture into the cake tin and allow to set until cool.
  5. Make the coconut cream by first opening the cans and scooping out the hard cream on top (dispose of the clear liquid).
  6. Combine the coconut cream, vanilla and sift in the icing sugar before whisking in an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  7. Once set, cut the honeycomb into chunks.
  8. Get out your serving dishes and add some coconut cream before adding couple of honeycomb chunks and some raspberries. Continue to add until you fill the dishes to the top. Add a final chunk of honeycomb, a couple of berries and a sprinkling of chocolate.
  9. Serve immediately.
October 2, 2014 0

Berry Breakfast Smoothie

Difficulty: Easy

Makes one large smoothie or two small ones

berrysmothie

Now the warmer weather is kickin’ in, I don’t really feel like a lot for breakfast, especially if it takes a lot of time and effort to put it together. This berry breakfast smoothie is the perfect breakfast solution because it’s quick, easy, filling and good for you while tasting bloody bitchin’.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh berries (I used a combo of blueberries and strawberries)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (use GF oats or quinoa flakes for a GF alternative)
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond milk

Method

  1. Wash and cut the stems off the berries.
  2. Chuck all ingredients into a blender and blend until well combined.
  3. Serve immediately and enjoy!
September 29, 2014 3

Deviled Eggs

Difficulty: Medium

Makes 12-16 (depending on mould size)

deveggs

Yep, you read that right, deviled freakin’ eggs! They look just like the real thing and if my memory serves me correctly, they taste pretty similar too (but of course this all comes with none of the unpleasantness of real eggs). The eggy tastes comes to you courtesy of black salt; an ingredient you can easily pick up at your local Indian grocery. The size and quantity of your batch will be dependent on the moulds you use and you can easily pick these up online for a few bucks (I used chocolate egg moulds). Take thrse guys along to your next party or picnic and they’re sure to be a real hit!

Ingredients

Whites

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or any other non-dairy milk)
  • 2 teaspoons agar agar powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Yolks

  • 1 1/3 cups (approximately one can) chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons black salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Method

  1. Spray the moulds with spray olive oil.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the almond milk, agar agar and salt. Whisk constantly over a high heat until boiling.
  3. Once boiling, allow to sit for a minute or two before whisking again and pouring into moulds.
  4. Place in the fridge to set for a few hours.
  5. When the whites have set, gently remove them from the mould.
  6. Using a knife, carefully cut a small chunk out of the white to fill with the yolk mixture.
  7. Make the yolk by blending together all of the ingredients until smooth.
  8. Pipe the mixture into the holes in the white, sprinkle with paprika and serve.
September 25, 2014 0

Brown Fried Rice

Difficulty: Easy

Serves 4-6

friedrice

Usually, I find rice a waste of valuable stomach real estate but one of the few exceptions is my brown fried rice. It’s the perfect weeknight meal because it’s quick and easy to make plus you can really just chuck in whatever veg you’ve got in the fridge. It stands alone as a solid meal but also makes a good sidekick to other dishes.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, chopped into .5cm cubes
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 12 baby corn, chopped
  • 450 grams cooked brown rice
  • 2/3 cup peas (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (make sure it’s GF)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (make sure it’s  GF and vegan!)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Salt to taste

Method

  1. Heat the peanut oil in a large wok on high heat.
  2. Once hot, add the garlic, onion and tofu and stir frequently until the edges of the tofu begin to brown.
  3. Add the carrot and corn and toss for a few minutes before adding the brown rice.
  4. Cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom.
  5. Next add the peas and pineapple, followed by the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar and salt.
  6. Cook for a few minutes more before serving.
September 22, 2014 0

Salted Caramel Cookies

Difficulty: Easy-Medium

Makes 24

caramelcookies

I remember the first time the concept of salty and sweet was introduced to me via popcorn. At first I was dead set against it but it soon become one of my favourite things. Salted caramel is all the rage these days, so I thought I would give it a good ol’ vegan crack and see what I could come up with. The possibilities are endless with this stuff but drizzle it on top of a crunchy vanilla cookie and you’ve got yourself the ultimate indulgence.

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 cup vegan margarine
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Salted Caramel

  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Using the paddle attachment on your electric mixer, combine your vegan margarine, caster sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract on medium-high until light and fluffy.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder and mix until a dough is formed.
  4. Scoop out a heaped tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball. Place onto the baking tray and do the same with the remaining dough, placing about 2cm apart on the tray.
  5. Dip the back of a large spoon or the bottom of a glass into some caster sugar and gently press each ball of dough down til it’s about 1cm thick.
  6. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, the cookies will look like they’re not set but they will!
  7. Allow to cool completely on the tray.
  8. While your cookies are cooling, make your salted caramel by adding the caster sugar to a saucepan and stir constantly over a medium heat.
  9. As you’re stirring, the sugar will clump up and then turn into a light golden liquid. Be careful not to let it burn!
  10. Once all the sugar has dissolved, add the vegan margarine and continue to stir until it’s combined.
  11. Remove from the heat and stir through the salt and almond milk. Allow to cool completely in the fridge.
  12. Drizzle the salted caramel over your cookies and add a little sprinkling of salt before serving.
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.