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Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand - Mother Teresa

STRAWBERRY & PEACH GALETTE

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It’s no secret. A look at my lunchbox reveals I’m addicted. Yes, fruit and I have always been friends. Especially berries. Luckily in Australia, strawberries are cheaply available year round. Keeps me a happy lady.

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I created this galette on a recent Sunday morning for a going away lunch for our daughter, son-in-law and grandson, to farewell them on their brief trip to America. I used the fruit that was in my fridge: berries and peaches. It’s important to use fresh fruit, not canned or frozen as it will result in soggy dough. I used Bio Buttery, a vegan butter made in Australia to make the crust as its results are excellent. Bio Buttery was bought in one of my local health food stores.

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When suggesting vegan products, I often wonder if some of you find it difficult to buy similar products. If your local health food shop stocks the suggested products… I’ve found that if they don’t stock what I want, they’ll usually order the product for me. I shop at two health food stores that are not in the city of Melbourne. One is in the tiny village of Tooradin, on the Gippsland Highway, which we pass on our drive home from work in Melbourne. The other store is in Cowes, the main township on Phillip Island. Luckily, they both sell different products; what one doesn’t have the other does. I've found having a relationship with the owners of health food stores is important, as they’re more likely to order your requests if you’re friendly and support their store.

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Health benefits:

·       Strawberries are an amazing source of folate (the folic acid found in food). Inadequate amounts of folate when you're older can contribute to atherosclerosis, vascular disease and even a decline in cognitive function.

·       Strawberries could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Strawberries are being studied for their unique ability to suppress the inflammatory responses of the body and reduce your risk of hypertension by lowering LDL cholesterol.

·       Strawberries contain more than 100 percent of our daily recommended intake of vitamin C in just one cup.

·       Strawberries are high in fibre, which is important for moving food through your digestive system and helping bowel movements. This can help improve digestion, especially with constipation or irregular stools.

·       Strawberries contain anthrocyanin, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects you from the damaging effects of your environment, especially the sun. The antioxidant power of the anthrocyanins found in strawberries lasts up to 24 hours after consumption; this makes them a great defence against free radical damage.

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STRAWBERRY & PEACH GALETTE

V, SF, DF, GF option

Makes a 25 cm galette

 

For the filling:

2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

1 large ripe peach, pitted and sliced

2 tablespoons coconut sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

For the crust:

1½ cups spelt flour

OR GF option - 1 cup brown rice flour & ½ cup buckwheat flour

3 tablespoons coconut sugar

pinch salt

½ cup unsalted vegan butter, Bio buttery

2-4 tablespoons chilled water

To make the filling, add strawberries, peaches, coconut sugar, vanilla to a bowl and gently stir. Set the mixture aside.

To make the crust, add flour, coconut sugar and salt to a bowl and stir. Using a knife, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture becomes crumbly. Alternatively, rub the butter through the flour with your fingers until the mixture becomes crumbly. Add a little chilled water and bring mixture together to form a ball of dough with your fingers. Add only enough chilled water until the mixture comes together. Wrap the dough with baking paper, and place in the fridge to chill for ½ hour. Preheat the oven to 210’C (425’F/Gas mark 6).

Remove the dough ball from fridge and place between two pieces of baking paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a disk that’s about 3 mm thick and about 30 cm (12 inches) in diameter. If you used a little too much water when making the dough, you may need to dust the lower layer of baking paper with flour. Take the top layer of baking paper off the disk, and slip the lower layer of baking paper with the dough disk onto a baking sheet. Spoon the fruit (ONLY the fruit, avoiding the juice) into the centre of the dough disk, leaving 5-6 cm (2 inch) border around the fruit. Gently fold the dough edges over the fruit, and spoon a tablespoon of juice over the fruit. Using a pastry brush, brush the crust with some of the fruit juice. You may wish to sprinkle a little coconut sugar over the fruit for added sweetness. Bake for 25 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly, and serve warm, cut into triangles with a dollop of coconut yogurt.

Enjoy!

WATERCRESS, PEAR & WITLOF SALAD

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In my early childhood years, we lived in a valley inland from Mullumbimby on the north coast of New South Wales. Our house nestled beside a creek that trickled round a bend beside our garden lawn. My mother sometimes took us to the spring where cool green watercress grew in profusion around the edges of the bubbling spring. While we gathered the watercress, Sissy and I sneakily ate a few sprigs loving its cool peppery taste. Sadly, I cannot remember what dishes Mum made with the watercress, the walk to the spring is my only memory. Yet I am content, the memory is enough.

This salad echoes my childhood memories by using watercress with its peppery taste, sweet pear and a touch of bitter witlof. Witlof is a vegetable with white leaves that taste slightly bitter and are eaten in salads. It’s an unusual vegetable that ordinary supermarkets don’t often sell, but if you’re after a special salad for a dinner party and can’t buy witlof, use lettuce leaves. I’ve used corella pears as they’re my favourite because of flavour, yet any variety of pear is suitable. For this recipe, I use a hard vegan feta cheese that I buy at a health food store. The brand ‘Green Vie’ is manufactured in Greece, and is Mediterranean feta in flavour. It’s free from dairy, gluten, soya, lactose and palm oil. I’m sure any hard vegan cheese is a worthy substitute.

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Health benefits:

·       Watercress contains more vitamin C than an orange, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and more folate than bananas.

·       Watercress contains vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus which all required for a healthy body.

·       Watercress is very low in calories, 7 calories in 2 cups of sprigs.

 

WATERCRESS, PEAR & WITLOF SALAD

V, DF, SF

Makes 1 serving platter for 6 people

 

For the salad:

1 corella pear, sliced into thin shards

3 handfuls watercress sprigs

1 head witlof, leaves separated

½ cup shaved vegan hard cheese

¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped

 

For the dressing:

1 ripe pear

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup water

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 clove garlic

For the dressing, place all the ingredients into the blender and blend until combined. If too thick, add a little more water and blend again. Pour into a serving container.

For the salad, add all ingredients in a bowl, reserving half the walnuts. Drizzle with some of the dressing and gently toss. Spread over a serving platter, scatter the rest of the walnuts on top and serve with the remainder of the dressing in a pouring jar. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

FETTUCCINE W ASPARAGUS, ARTICHOKES & WALNUTS

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Spring has arrived. The sun shone, the air was warm and everyone I met on my walk to the beach remarked that maybe the last bitter cold temperatures were finished, all said with a sigh of relief. Fingers crossed. On the way to school, peaks of green asparagus are poking their heads through the chocolate soil on the Koo Wee Rup flats. So to celebrate my own sigh of relief, I’ve created a pasta dish with spring greens: asparagus and artichokes.

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Recently learned a trick from Elizabeth Minchilli of @eminchilli on making pasta dishes taste authentically Italian, like chefs throughout Italy’s cafes and restaurants do. Put simply, follow the method in this pasta dish and you’ll taste a bit of Italy.

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Health benefits:

·       Pasta provides healthy carbohydrates. A cup of white spaghetti contains 43 grams of carbohydrates, while a cup of whole-wheat spaghetti offers 37 grams of carbs. Carbs are a primary source of fuel. Whole-wheat pasta also provides a considerable amount of fibre which helps fight chronic diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes, and promotes digestive health. 

·       Both white and whole-wheat pastas are excellent sources of selenium, a mineral that activates antioxidant enzymes which protect your cells from molecular damage.

·       White pasta is a source of folate (vitamin B9) and whole-wheat pasta is a source of carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Folate helps in red blood cell development and rapid cell growth.

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FETTUCCINI W ASPARAGUS, ARTICHOKES & WALNUTS

V, DF

Makes 4 small plate servings

 

250 grams fettuccine

¾ cup pasta water

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

pinch cayenne pepper or chili flakes

3 tablespoons savoury yeast

2 bunches of asparagus

275 grams marinated artichoke hearts, roughly chopped

¼ cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add salt and fettuccine, and cook until the fettuccine is cooked al dente.

Meanwhile, add olive oil, garlic and cayenne pepper (chili flakes) to a large fry pan, turn on the heat and cook until the garlic starts to sizzle, turn off the heat (remove from the stove if the hotplate is electric). Bring water to boil in a small saucepan, chop the asparagus into 2 cm lengths discarding the woody ends. Cook for several minutes, drain water and plunge into chilled water to stop the cooking process so the asparagus will retain their bright green colour.

When the fettuccine is cooked al dente, scoop ¾ cup of pasta water, and drain. Add the fettuccine, pasta water and savoury yeast to the fry pan on a medium heat, and stir vigorously while the water is reducing to emulsify into a sauce. Take off the heat when the water is almost gone. Add asparagus, artichoke hearts and ¾ of the walnuts, and mix gently. Top with the remaining walnuts and serve on a platter.

Enjoy!

CRISPY OAT WAFFLES

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Waffles. What could be a more delightful treat to eat for Sunday breakfast than a leisurely meal of waffles with seasonal fresh fruit, spoonfuls of cool coconut yogurt, warm toasted nuts and drizzles of maple syrup that would transform these vegan waffles into a delicious culinary experience. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, freeze them in bags, perfect for a rush-out-the-door breakfast as they only need a minute to toast and a swipe of your favourite spread.

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Three ingredients make these vegan waffles special: oats for their many amazing health benefits (see below), aquafaba to create the crispiest waffle you’ve ever tasted and apple cider vinegar that subtly adds the wow factor to the waffle’s flavour. Note that it is wiser to mill the linseeds (flax seeds) in a clean blender to a meal consistency as linseed meal acts as an egg replacement and when freshly ground it binds the waffles better than bought pre-ground linseed. It’s also necessary to let the finished mixture rest for about 5 minutes before use, as it thickens the batter to the desired consistency. If you wish to eat waffles during the week without the bother of making a batch, freeze a few in zip locked bags, as frozen waffles taste almost as good toasted for a few minutes.

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Health benefits:

·       Oats are a low calorie food; a cup is only 130 calories. It also stays in your stomach longer, making you feel full longer, so you’ll have less hunger and cravings.

·       Oats provides high levels of fibre, low levels of fat and high levels of protein as it has one of the highest protein levels of any grain.

·       Oats stabilise blood sugar, reduce risk of diabetes and contain lignans that protect against heart disease and cancer. Unique antioxidants in oatmeal called avenanthramides, help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

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CRISPY OAT WAFFLES

V, SF, DF, GF option

 

½ cup aquafaba (chickpea water)

1¾ cups almond milk

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

2-3 tablespoons rice malt syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup spelt flour /GF brown rice flour

¾ cup buckwheat flour

½ cup GF rolled oats

1 tablespoon flax seed, milled in blender

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon lucuma powder, optional

1½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Whip the aquafaba until peaks form. Combine wet ingredients and whisk. Add all dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well until combined. Gently stir in apple cider vinegar. Fold in whipped aquafaba. Set batter aside while your waffle iron preheats. When the waffle iron is hot, coat with oil and pour on sufficient batter. Cook until slightly browned. As you make the other waffles, keep the waffles warm in a heated oven arranged in a single layer for crispness. Serve with toppings you prefer, like fresh fruit, fruit compote, coconut yogurt and maple syrup. Leftovers can be frozen in zip bags and reheated in a toaster.

Enjoy!

CAULIFLOWER & PEANUT SATAY SALAD

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Cauliflower was never a favourite vegetable of my children, yet peanut butter and carrots were. So I created this salad when the children were young which we often ate on picnics in the forested mountains near where we lived in the Hunter region of NSW. By mixing the spicy cauliflower with peanut flavours, my children agreed it was worthy to eat.

 

Health benefits:

·       Cauliflower is a part of the cancer-fighting cruciferous family of vegetable.

·       Cauliflower is anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants and my boost you heart and brain health.

·       Eating cauliflower will provide large amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, beta-carotene and assists healthy digestion and detoxification.

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CAULIFLOWER & PEANUT SATAY SALAD

V, GF, SF

1 large head of cauliflower

¼ cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon savoury yeast flakes

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 carrots, mandolin

½ cup roasted peanuts

handful parsley or coriander, roughly chopped

 

For the Satay marinade:

4 tablespoons peanut butter

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cm piece of ginger, peeled & minced

¼ long red chilli, adjust to taste

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 limes, juiced

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons hot water

2 tablespoons coconut sugar

Preheat oven to 200 ‘C (400’ F/Gas Mark 6). Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Cut through cauliflower florets making small steaks, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, yeast flakes, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper together in a bowl. Brush the spiced olive oil mixture over both sides of the cauliflower steaks. Roast cauliflower steaks in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Gently turn over each steak and continue roasting until tender and golden, about 15 more minutes. Take out of the oven and allow cool.

Make the satay marinade by adding all the ingredients to a blender and blending until smooth. Balance sweet and sour flavours by adjusting amounts of coconut sugar and lime juice used. Set aside.

Blanch mandolin carrots in a saucepan of boiling water until just tender. Drain and plunge into iced water. Drain. Place cauliflower steaks, carrots, peanuts, parsley in a bowl. Pour the satay marinade over the salad and gently mix. Assemble on a platter. Scatter with chopped parsley and peanuts.

Enjoy!