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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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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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.

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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!

For more iron-rich ideas for you and your kids click here.

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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.

Pea pesto

Time on Instagram is well spent when I come across dishes as appealing as this quick cheesy pea pesto by Pepe Josephine at @pjantbased.

Photo credit Pepe Josephine

Photo credit Pepe Josephine

This is an easy option for when there’s not a lot of veges in the house but for a bag of peas in the freezer. We all have those times, right?

It makes a great pesto pasta, dip, sandwich filler, pizza topping … anything you want to lather in pesto goodness.

And the good news is peas are high in iron and basil is packed with health promoting flavonoids, oils, vitamins and minerals.

This will only take a few minutes to throw together in your food processor.

1 cup cooked peas

Juice of half lemon

3 Tbl nutritional yeast

1 clove garlic, minced

Handful basil, chopped

Salt to taste

Process and adjust. Add more water if too thick. You can also add more garlic and basil to suit your tastes.

It would be great on these gluten free noodles!


You may also like:

Beetroot hummus

Pasta shells stuffed with cashew basil cream


Cranberry hazelnut chocolate bark

There’s no small amount of oil in this. I’m leaving the moderation of fat intake up to you. But it’s Christmas and this is beyond delicious. Proceed with caution.20151221_082514 (Small)

You will need:

¼ cup hazelnuts
¼ cup large coconut flakes
¼ cup cranberries

½ cup coconut oil
½ cup cacao/cocoa
¼ cup maple syrup
Pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 180.
Roast hazelnuts for ~ 10 minutes.
Remove and place between two paper towels and rub most of the skins off.
Toast the coconut flakes for ~ 3 minutes. Keep a close watch!
Rough chop hazelnuts and combine with coconut and cranberries
Melt coconut oil. Remove from heat.
Whisk in cocoa + maple syrup + salt.
Carefully stir in half the nut/cranberry/coconut mix.
Smooth onto a lined pan or sheet about 0.5-1cm thick.
Sprinkle rest of nut mix on top.

Remove from pan and gently peel back the paper.
Break into pieces + serve.

It will melt quickly so return to freezer if there’s any left.

Cauliflower and chickpea salad

There’s a whole lot of nutty-ness going on here. And I love a salad that can be titled dinner. Really, there’s no need for more … a bowl of dhal perhaps … maybe some stuffed Indian bread.

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You will need:

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp tumeric
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp garam masala

1 cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
1 can chickpeas drained + rinsed
~ 1 Tbl coconut oil

½ cup coconut yoghurt
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
2 Tbl lemon juice

Baby spinach leaves

  • Preheat oven to 200
  • Mix spices together in a large bowl
  • Add cauliflower, chickpeas + oil.
  • Coat well
  • Spread on roasting tray
  • Season with salt + pepper
  • Bake 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Cool.

Combine coconut yoghurt, mustard and lemon juice for dressing.

Serve on a bed of baby spinach leaves and top with dessing.