Sensational strawberry avocado salad

This is summer celebration in a salad. Combining mellow, sweet, savoury, toasted and aromatic flavours this salad packs a full bodied visual and taste experience.


1 punnet strawberries, sliced
1 avocado, diced
½ punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
Fresh mint or basil, finely chopped
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Toasted sesame seeds

In a small pot bring the balsamic vinegar to boil and simmer for 6-8 minutes until reduced by half.
Prepare the strawberries, tomatoes, avocado and mint in a bowl. Gently mix through the olive oil, salt and pepper. Lastly drizzle with the balsamic reduction and garnish with more mint and toasted sesame seeds.

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Happy summering!

Tell yourself something good

Have you heard the story of the grandfather in the supermarket with the screaming toddler?

All the way around the shop he was quietly saying:

“There there William, everything will be alright” “You’re doing great” “We’re nearly finished”.

His voice was soothing and calm as he moved from aisle to aisle. His grandson wailing and flailing as he went!

When another customer complimented him on his gentle approach, the elderly man said “My name is William, not his.”

There are times in our lives when you just have tell yourself something good and write another script.

Wellness Stock Photo by Sash Photography

You may be stuck, out of sorts or falling back into old habits that don’t serve you.

You may be saying “this is just the way I’ve always eaten” or “change is so hard” or “I’m not doing so well with this”.


You get to choose your next move. Your next script. Your next thought. Your next meal.

Will you stop or move?

Will you stay the same or grow?

There’s one thing I know and that’s movement always helps. Even if that movement looks like curling up with a good book to rest and repair.

You owe it to yourself to find a way.

Just like William, tell yourself something good.

Because you are making progress. Even if it’s a tiny step.

It’s time to celebrate the small stuff and keep reaching for your goals.

Crowd pleasing sushi salad

This is where you get to throw all your favourite sushi inners into one big delicious salad and drench it in a spectacular gingery sauce.img_20160826_124058012_hdr-small

A big hearty salad is a great dish to take to social events where you suspect vegan dishes might be on the low side. This salad goes a long way, is nutrient dense, and, importantly, it will fill you up.

Everysingleperson who has tried this salad has loved it.

As there are lots of components (as many as you want really) it may seem daunting, but bare with me.

Here are my top ingredients:

1 cup brown/wild rice, uncooked*
2 cups broccoli, cauliflower, finely chopped
1 splash of tamari
1 splash of mirin (optional)
2 Tbl sesame seeds, toasted
½ block of tofu, sliced lengthways
1 carrot, shredded
1 red capsicum, chopped
½ avocado, chopped
½ nori sheet, cut into small pieces
Sprouts/watercress/ripped lettuce

  1. Cook rice as per instructions. You want the grains separate, not gluggy. Fluff with a fork and leave to cool. The wild and brown varieties of rice make this easier than white rice. Do not use sushi rice as it will stick together.
  2. Heat a little sesame oil in a large pan and toss in the broccoli and cauliflower (cut small), stirring well. Splash in some tamari and mirin to prevent sticking. I like my veges crunchy so I don’t cook them for long.
  3. Sear the tofu strips in a little tamari, slice.
  4. Mix the cooked ingredients through the rice in a big bowl. Cool.
  5. Before serving add in the carrot, capsicum, nori pieces and fresh greens/sprouts. Transfer to your serving dish and garnish with avocado and toasted sesame seeds.

I like to serve the sauce separately, so you may need to double the recipe as people will reach for more!

Creamy ginger dressing
1 Tbl fresh ginger, minced
1-2 garlic, minced
1 Tbl tahini
1 Tbl tamari
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp mustard
¼ cup water

Blend until creamy.

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Chewy chickpea cookies

I’m loving these high protein gluten-free cookies. They’re super easy to make, great for the lunch box and perfect for a mid morning cuppa. Warning: eating only one is a little tricky.


The chia seeds act as an egg substitute bringing essential omegas and slow release energy, whilst also being another source of protein.

But it gets better. Chickpea flour also contains the coveted minerals selenium and zinc as well as iron, folate, calcium and others.

Before you start, factor in ~30 minutes for the cookie dough to sit in the fridge before baking. It helps concentrate the flavour, texture and lessen the spread of the cookie.

If you need them asap don’t worry – I’m pretty sure they’ll still be great cookies. I’ve also made these with whole chia and that works just fine too.

You will need:

1 Tbl ground chia (use your coffee grinder)
2 Tbl water
2 Tbl maple syrup
1 Tbl molasses
¼ C molasses sugar
¼ cup coconut oil (or rice bran)
1 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup chickpea flour
½ tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
½ C dark chocolate chips/raisins

Mix the chia seeds and water in a large bowl. Stir and let sit while you gather the rest of the ingredients.

Add maple syrup, molasses, sugar, oil and vanilla essence to the chia egg. You’ll have to stir in the oil.

Mix in the chickpea flour, baking soda and salt. Stir well and pop in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 180.

Roll cookies and place on baking tray. Flatten with a fork (a damp fork will help this).

Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden.

Cool on wire rack. They will get chewier as they cool.

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Vegan Sour Cream

vegan sour cream

This creamy cashew cream is all kinds of awesome.

Use it as a base recipe and try out different flavours depending on what you’re topping.

Asparagus likes garlic, butter beans like smoked paprika … capers, mustard – you get my drift.

A high speed blender will make it smooth + velvety. If you don’t have one just soak the cashews first.

1½ cup cashews
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tsp apple cider vinegar
2/3 C water (approx)
Pinch of salt

Put all ingredients except water in a high speed blender or food processor and blend, adding water one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. If you want a thick cream, use less water; for a thinner sauce, use more.

Sprinkle with hot smoked paprika or fresh cut herbs.

You may also like this cashew mustard mayo, it’s delicious on everything!

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Iron-rich truffles kids will love

And mums and dads!

Here we combine iron rich foods – prunes, walnuts, raw cacao, pumpkin seed butter + dates – for a power packed nutritious snack.

SAM_1349 (Small)

Serve these with a blueberry smoothie and you’ve got the important vit C to aid the iron absorption.

Pumpkin seed butter is my new best friend. It’s full of healthy proteins, fibre and important minerals such as zinc and iron. Lathered on a piece of rye topped with fresh watercress or microgreens and I’m a happy girl. If your small people aren’t so into it, try this recipe or use it when other nut butters are called for.

But first here’s a great after school snack idea. Dry toast pumpkin SAM_1946 (Small)seeds and sprinkle in some tamari at the end. It only takes a couple of minutes before the seeds start popping so stay close!

For the truffles you will need:

1 cup pitted prunes
¼ cup pitted dates (soak in hot water if hard)
½ walnuts
3 tablespoons pumpkin seed butter
½ tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
½ cup finely grated unsweetened coconut

Process the walnuts, dates and prunes.
Add the cacao and coconut, scraping the bowl as needed.
Add the remaining ingredients and run until fully mixed. If it’s hard on your processor, take it out and mix by hand.
Roll the mixture into little balls. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Note: you can use regular cocoa powder but raw cacao will pack in more nutrients, particularly iron.

This mixture is quite moist. You can add rolled oats or buckwheat to firm it up if you need. And try rolling the truffles with gloves on – it’s much easier!

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Pumpkin Satay

Apart from wrestling the skin off the pumpkin this is a very quick and easy recipe that is rich + delicious!

Be sure to squeeze some fresh lime juice over it and cover it in fresh coriander (cilantro).IMG_20160524_161028 (Small)















You will need:

4 cups chopped pumpkin
1 red onion
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbl peanut butter
2 Tbl tamari
2 Tbl root ginger, minced
½ tsp tumeric
Chilli flakes (optional)
½ salt

Bring 2 cups of water to boil with the onion and tomatoes. Add tumeric, salt, pumpkin & peanut butter. Simmer for 10 minutes. When the pumpkin is cooked add ginger, chilli and tamari.IMG_20160523_125244103 (Small)

I let it sit a while before adjusting the seasonings, reheating and serving.

Serve with fresh coriander, lime and brown rice.

If you have leftover pumpkin try this fragrant Thai pumpkin soup or creamy five-spiced version

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How to make creamy pumpkin soup with an exotic twist

I know you already make great pumpkin soup. It’s one of those foundational foods that soothe our way into winter.IMG_20160530_103319 (Small)

Some of the best pumpkin soup I’ve eaten has been Thai inspired. Think lemon grass, coconut and kaffir lime … delicious! Hard to beat … that is until now.

This recipe adapted from Mark Reinfeld’s The 30-Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East keeps you in Asia but plays with flavours of the Orient.

You’ll need:

1 Tbl sesame oil
1 onion, chopped
2 big cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbl fresh ginger, minced
4-5 cups pumpkin, chopped
5 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbl tamari
1 tsp five spice
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp sea salt, to taste
½ cup cashews, toasted
Fresh coriander to garnish

1. In a medium hot oven roast cashews for 10 minutes. Shake the pan once you smell them roasting and be sure not to burn them as they brown up quickly.
2. Saute onion, garlic, ginger in sesame oil. Add pumpkin, stirring.
3. Pour in water/stock and simmer until pumpkin is cooked.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir.
5. Blend in batches.

Serve with fresh coriander.

Here’s the link for that Thai Pumpkin Soup. You’ll want that one too.

Feel free to share with your friends.

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How to make your own non dairy yoghurt

Have you tried it?

It’s pure white and silky with just the right amount of tartness.IMG_20160422_072033 (1) (Small)

There’s no sugar, no chemicals, no animal proteins. And it’s so deeply satisfying that you won’t mind paying the extra dollars for it.

I’m talking about coconut yoghurt.

Yes there is fat. Diving into bowls of the stuff will not serve you in the long run.

But used as a condiment on your morning cereal or mixed into a delicious dressing for a savoury salad, or, my favourite, on top of a steaming bowl of dahl and you’re all good.

I’ve tried to make it several ways with disappointing results. Until I discovered Artisan Vegan Cheese expert Miyoko Schinner’s method.

Try this at home and you will end up with a large jar of natural dairy free yoghurt.

You will need:IMG_20160418_143945 (Small)

2/3 cup cashews, soaked
4 cups coconut milk or non dairy milk
3 Tbl coconut yoghurt as a starter

  • Drain and rinse cashews.
  • Blend with 1 cup of coconut milk
  • Mix blended cashews with remaining 3 cups of milk in a saucepan and warm over low heat until warm on the wrist (43°C).
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add 3 Tbl coconut yoghurt and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  • Pour into a clean glass jar, cover and place in a warm place for 4-8 hours until set.

Your yoghurt will store in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, and be sure to make your next batch before you’ve finished it all!

Things to look out for:

If your milk is too hot it will kill the bacteria. Aim for warm milk. A kitchen thermometer can help with this – so far my wrist has been spot on.

Make sure your jar is clean when culturing.

If your mix hasn’t set after 4 hours leave for another couple of hours. I tend to leave mine on or near a sunny window ledge depending on the season. If it gets too hot while culturing the yoghurt will separate.

And remember people have been making yoghurt for thousands of years. Feel your way into it and you just might find yourself culturing all sorts of things!


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The Great Vegan Food Quest: Wellington

Dear old Wellington, you greeted me with grey skies and farewelled me with sunshine. Whatever the weather, eating delicious vegan food in this city is easy.

The first stop on my vegan discovery tour was:

Queen Sally’s Diamond Deli, Queens Drive, Lyall Bay

This is a neighbourhood bolt hole and well worth a trip out to the beach (catch the number 3 bus from town).

252 (Small)You’ll be delighted to be there before you’ve even got to the counter. There’s lots to look at.

And when it comes to the food, vegan co-owner Katie Richardson has got you covered.

There are plenty of vegan options … black bean beetroot cakes with basil cream sauce, tofu soba salad, fennel rice salad, hazelnut cupcakes, cookies and a fabulous range of preserves to take away. Cosy up in here. There’s lots to enjoy.

But save some room for after your walk on the beach. Just around the corner on the beachfront is Queen Sally’s older sister:

The Maranui Cafe, Lyall Bay Parade

If you’re staying with friends and family in Wellington, chances are they’ll take you here. If not, take yourself.

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Arrive early on the weekend as it’s super popular. Why? The setting is spectacular. It was once the old surf lifesaving building so sits in the middle of Lyall Bay beach.

Building a vegan cooked breakfast out of Maranui’s menu is totally doable.

But for plant-based heaven go straight to the scrambled tofu. Tasty. Generous. You won’t need to eat for the rest of the day!

And like the deli, their counter top is flush with vegan delights.

Let’s head into town.


Feeling the urge to “do lunch” in the city? Head to:

Loretta, 181 Cuba Street

I felt stylie just sitting there. The aesthetic is solidly spacious and minimal. I loved it.

Co owner Mark Weir immediately had me interested in the black barley salad. Originating in Ethiopia, the grain has a nutty taste giving the salad a lovely texture.261 (Small)

My friend had the mixed roasted salad with tahini cream dressing. Our drinks were equally fresh and alluring: rhubarb and rose; strawberry and mint.

I’m not one for desserts but the vegan chocolate raspberry mud cake undid me.

There’s enough on the menu here to satisfy. Loretta is a little more than cafe prices but then … it’s a little more.

What do you do after a great lunch? You go out for dinner!

The Ramen Shop 191 Riddiford Steet, Newtown

This place is low key and casual with a couple of vegan noddle bowls on the menu. And if you need a tofu-rice hit The Ramen Shop do that too – with generous servings of tofu. Unfortunately the tofu buns had dairy in them but the American Pale Ale made up for it!

Thorndon Farmer’s market265 (Small)

Early Saturday mornings are made for vege markets. And whilst the one on Hill Street is teensy it’s got organic produce, nuts, blueberries and vegan cheese. Susan Assadi’s delicious cashew cheese was a happy discovery. Watch out for her label Persian Feast.

Needing a mid morning coffee fix, Google lead me to:

Sweet Release, 142 Willis Street

266 (Small)The great folk in this tiny vegan enclave showered me in sweet and savoury options, fabulously loud music and superb coffee.

“Help yourself to the vegan cookbooks” said Taren “we lend them out.”

Sweet Release felt a bit like home as I leafed through recipes over my coffee and mushroom and tofu pie.

But let’s get shopping. Cuba street must be the funkiest street in the country. Go there and you’re bound to find something that sets you apart from the rest. To keep your energy up head to:

EKIM on the corner of Cuba and Able Smith Street

This is burger central. Relive your grunge days and feel like a student again. The two vegan burgers on the menu are totally worth the trip down memory lane – both have serious slabs of tofu in them. I opted for the one with beetroot relish. But the fries. Oh the fries. Picture spicy, smokey potatoes with homemade tomato sauce. I hear it’s a well kept secret.

Darn I’ll just have to go back.

260 (Small)And if you’re looking for something special to take home. Grab some Fix & Fogg peanut butter from out this window on Eva Street. It’s insanely good. I’ll have the Smoke and Fire  … and the Dark Chocolate.

Have I missed anywhere? No problems. Fly me down and I’ll eat, shop, and write up a storm.

Thank you Wellington! It was a blast.

With love and memories of great friendship and great food.



PS Watch this space for the next vegan food quest … (when I’ve recovered!). Sign up to my newsletter and I’ll let you know about my next eating adventure .. with a few yummy recipes in between.