Vegan Mushroom and Cauliflower Soup

Soup-er easy, nourishing, heart-warming and vegan – it’s just like a big hug in a bowl!

Ingredients (serves 4) 

  • 250g mushroom cups
  • 1 small whole cauliflower
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 litre stock of your choice (vegetable if you’re vegan, chicken if you’re not)
  • 150g shimeji or enoki mushrooms
  • brown rice to serve

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C. Chop the cauliflower and the mushroom cups into small pieces of roughly equal sizes. Leave the shimeji mushrooms whole. Spray the vegetables with olive oil, and roast on a lined baking tray until the mushrooms are squishy and the cauliflower is browning / crispy around the edges (approximately 15-20 minutes).
  2. Cook the brown rice as per directions on the packet.
  3. Place the roasted mushroom cup pieces, cauliflower, garlic and stock in the blender, and blend until smooth. Top with the brown rice and shimeji mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pesto Zoodles

What do you call fake spaghetti? An im-pasta.

Jokes aside, this easy mid-week meal with oodles and oodles of zucchini noodles is a delicious alternative for those who are wanting to be carb conscious or just increase their daily intake of vegetables. For an added protein hit, add roasted chicken, otherwise this dish is vegan, as well as dairy and gluten free!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 4 medium zucchini (or you can buy pre-zoodled packs in major supermarkets)
  • 2 tablespoons of good quality basil pesto
  • 200g butternut pumpkin
  • 4 small chicken breasts (optional) 
  • 1 tablespoon of dukkha (I used the pistachio dukkha by Table of Plenty here)

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C. Chop the pumpkin into chunks and lightly spray / coat with olive oil. Roast on a lined baking tray until soft and golden (about 25 minutes). If using the chicken, place the breasts onto a lined baking tray, season with salt and pepper, and roast until just coked through (about 15-20 minutes). Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Using a spiraliser, turn the four zucchini into noodles and toss in the pesto.
  3. Serve the zoodles with the pumpkin, chicken and dukka on top. Easy!

Fig and Feta Salad

It’s hard not to love the epic combination of roast pumpkin, fresh figs and creamy feta cheese!

Ingredients (serves 2) 

  • 4 cups spinach
  • 4 figs
  • 100g feta cheese
  • 1/4 small pumpkin
  • 1/2 small cauliflower
  • 1 small head broccoli, stem removed
  • vinaigrette of your choice (I used Harnett’s rapeseed oil redcurrant vinaigrette but a light balsamic works just as well!)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180*C. Slice the pumpkin and cauliflower into small pieces and spray with olive oil. Place on a lined baking tray and bake until soft and slightly golden.
  2. Leave the broccoli raw and break the florets into small pieces. Cut the figs into small pieces.
  3. To assemble the salad, place the spinach on the bottom and top with the pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli and figs. Crumble the feta over the top, then drizzle over the vinaigrette.

Eggplant Tacos

Warning – these are totally delicious and unashamedly messy!

Using eggplant instead of taco shells is a novel way to increase your vegetable intake, as well as cater for those who may not be able to eat usual soft taco wraps. My suggestion of a healthy vegetarian version is below!

Ingredients 

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced length-ways
  • 1/2 medium avocado
  • 200g medium firm tofu
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp taco seasoning (I used 1/4 tbsp each of  Sally and Sahara blends by Mingle Seasoning)
  • 1/2 yellow capsicum, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup red cabbage (pickled or plan)
  • salad bits (I used slaw and spinach here)
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese

Method 

  1. Preheat the oven to 220*C. Finely slice the eggplant length-ways, spray with olive oil, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  2. To make your tofu ‘mince’, crush the tofu with a fork and mix with the seasoning and tomato paste.
  3. To construct your taco, place the salad bits on top of the eggplant, followed by the tofu mix, finely sliced cabbage and capsicum, then top with cottage cheese and avocado. Eat while attempting not to dribble any juices down your arms…..

Cauliflower Rice ‘Sushi’

This is not quite your average sushi! I love the taste of brown rice but don’t always feel like the carbohydrate load that comes with it. Instead, you can achieve the same gorgeous nutty flavour with cauliflower and tahini.


Broccoli Avocado Tofu Sushi

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1/2 medium cauliflower head
  • 1 small head broccoli
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • Handful spinach leaves
  • 1/2 medium avocado
  • 200g medium firm tofu (plain or flavoured!)
  • 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 2 sheets nori (seaweed)
  • 1/2 cup stock (I recommend using vegetable or chicken stock for this recipe)

Method

  1. Grate the cauliflower using a food processor or box grater until fine. Add 1/2 cup stock and cook in a rice cooker in the microwave for 7-10 minutes or until soft and the water absorbed. Drain any remaining water and add the tahini to the cauliflower mix. Stir until well combined.
  2. Break apart the broccoli florets into small pieces. They can be eaten raw or if you’d prefer them more soft, blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Place the nori on a sushi mat. Spread the “rice” on nori until 2/3rds covered. Then add the avocado,broccoli, tofu and spinach along the longitudinal side. Roll the nori and cut into four pieces. Serve with teriyaki sauce.

Mushroom and Spinach Sushi

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1/4 cauliflower head
  • 1 heaped tablespoon tahini
  • Handful spinach leaves
  • 1/4 medium avocado
  • 4 button mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 sheet nori (seaweed)

Method

  1. Slice the mushrooms and allow them to marinate in a bowl with the soy sauce for 10 minutes.
  2. Grate the cauliflower using a food processor until fine. Add 1/4 cup of water or stock and cook in a rice cooker for 5 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the cauli is soft. Drain any remaining liquid and add the tahini to the cauliflower mix. Stir until well combined.
  3. Place the nori on a sushi mat. Spread the “rice” on nori until 2/3rds covered. Then add the avocado, mushrooms and spinach along the longitudinal side. Roll the nori and cut into four pieces. Eat!

Sweet Potato Sushi

This version has a sweet potato and roasted cauliflower “rice” with leafy greens and tofu. The recipe serves 2 (or 1 if you’re hungry!), making 6 sushi rolls.

Ingredients

  • yaki nori seaweed sheets
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1/4 white cauliflower head
  • handful leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, rocket etc)
  • 200g medium firm tofu
  • soy sauce to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 220*C. To make the “rice”, grate the cauliflower and bake for 10 minutes. Peel and chop the potato into chunks and steam until soft. Mash the potato and mix in the grated cauliflower until well combined (add salt and pepper to taste).
  2. Using a bamboo sushi mat, place the seaweed shiny side down. Spoon the “rice” along the seaweed leaving a 3cm margin at one end. Place the sliced tofu and leafy mix along the opposite end and use the bamboo to roll the sushi, so that the 3cm margin is at the end. Cut roll into three pieces. Repeat with the remaining mixture.
  3. Serve with teriyaki or soy sauce on the side.

The Secret to Sexy Salads

There is nothing sexy about soggy lettuce (unless you have a niche fetish for damp foliage, in which case, best of luck to you!). We’ve all had those superb salads that make us revalidate healthy eating as a delicious life decision, as well as those other inferior salads that leave our souls and stomachs empty inside.

So what is the secret to constructing a truly sexy salad? It’s all to do with balance. Balance the textures, balance the flavours, and rejoice in the tasty nutritious harmony that results!  For the novice home cooks, this may sound easier said than done, but fear not – follow this simply guide and you’ll be well on your way to salad stardom.

Balance the macros
First of all, make sure to include a mixture of carbs, protein and fats; this will ensure your salad will actually keep you full. Some suggestions include;

  • – carbs: quinoa, rice, buckwheat, pasta, freekah, potato, pumpkin
  • – protein: beans, lentils, chicken, salmon, tuna, lean cuts of red meat, haloumi, tofu
  • – fats: avocado, olive oil, nuts



Add the foliage 

There’s no rule saying you must use lettuce! Try different varieties of fancy lettuce, beetroot leaves, spinach or kale for something mild, rocket for something spicy, or celery leaves for a more aniseed flavour.



Balance the flavours

This is the slightly tricky part but it gets easier with practice! Aim for three of the five tastes of sweet, salty, sour, bitter and savoury. Some suggestions include;

  • – sweet: mango, orange, peaches, tomatoes, sweet potato, pumpkin, a drizzle of honey
  • – sour: apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • – bitter: lemon, lime, grapefruit
  • – salty: salt obviously, seafood
  • – savoury: miso, grains


Balance the textures

Now this is how you boredom bust your salads! Think about what you’ve already got and go through a little mental checklist. Have I got something crunchy? If not, add nuts or seeds. Have I got something soft / squishy? If not, add soft cheese, tofu, avocado, pumpkin etc. Have I got something in between? If not, think about your vegetables like capsicum, corn, beans etc.



Dress your salad

Always leave the dressing until you’re just about to serve to prevent your bottom from going soggy (the salad I mean). Rather than the calorie laden high sugar dressings from the supermarket, I often choose for a small sprinkle of oil (try macadamia, avocado, olive or rapeseed) and a spritz of vinegar (like balsamic, apple cider or white / red wine vinegar).

Ta-dah! You are now well on your way to slaying at salads. See, you can make friends with salad after all!