The Cruelty Free Shop vegan snack haul

Shopping for vegan food can be a challenge in a small town.  Even though my local supermarket is bursting with fresh produce, plant milks, cereals and fruit, the one thing that is lacking is good junk food.  It can be extremely challenging to find snack foods and sweets that are vegan.  While there are a whole bunch of great “accidentally” vegan items on the shelves, it gets kind of tedious when you have to check every label to make sure that what you’re buying doesn’t contain any animal products.

 

A few weeks ago I visited The Cruelty Free Shop in Fitzroy, Melbourne and it was like falling down the rabbit hole.  It is a vegan supermarket that sells everything from snacks to meat and cheese substitutes, desserts, junk food, cosmetics, toiletries, sex supplies and even clothing.  It was so refreshing to be able to fill my cart with whatever took my fancy, and to be spared the tedium of label-checking.  I knew that every single item in that place was vegan and I went a teensy bit nuts buying delicious snacks and treats.

 

 

The Cruelty Free Shop also has a fantastic online store. I’ve shopped with them online as well and I loved the fast service and awesome range of products.

 

Here is a full list of the items mentioned in my video:

I had such a blast shopping at The Cruelty Free Shop and I can’t wait for my next visit.  There are so many rad things I’d love to stock up on the next time I’m in Melbourne.

 

What are your favourite vegan junk foods?  Do you have any questions about vegan shopping or cooking that you’d like me to cover in future posts?

 

Note: This is not a sponsored post.  Everything featured here was purchased with my own money and I was not compensated in any way.  I just love this store and the products they sell and am excited to share them with my readers.

Vegan Eggnog recipe

Eggnog is one of my favourite Yuletide treats.  The very first sip always leaves me with an overwhelming rush of Christmas spirit. Lately I’ve been experimenting with what I call a vegan-ish diet, in that I’m eating a mostly plant based diet with as few animal products as possible.  I’ve been attempting to convert some of my favourite recipes to make them vegan-friendly, and I couldn’t resist trying to create my own vegan eggnog.

The results were a delicious, creamy beverage that is like Christmas in a cup.  This recipe is really easy, and uses ingredients that are available in most supermarkets.  You don’t need any special equipment or appliances and it’s ready to drink in a matter of minutes.

 

This eggnog recipe is for you if you:

  • are vegan
  • are lactose intolerant
  • are watching your cholesterol
  • are grossed out by the idea of drinking raw egg

 

You will need:

  • 1 cup non dairy milk.  I love cashew milk for this recipe because it has a sweet flavour.  Almond milk also works really well.  But you could use soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk or any other non-dairy alternative.
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream.
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 shot brandy (if you want to make this a boozy bevvy.  If not, leave the brandy out)

 

Method

Place ingredients in a jug and whisk with a fork until combined.  You can also put it in a cocktail shaker and give it a good shake if you want a frothier drink.   Top with a little cinnamon in a glass.

 

This recipe makes enough for 2 glasses.

 

Variations:

  • warm milk, spices, syrup and coconut cream in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring often.  Pour into a mug and add brandy if desired.
  • Add a teaspoon of drinking chocolate to make a chocolate version.

Happy nogging!

 

 

5 Fandom Friday: My favourite cupcakes

I’m an unapologetic cupcake fanatic.  Tiny cakes have held my heart since I was a wee little wisp of a thing scoffing them at birthday parties.  I went through a period of cupcakey bliss around 2008 when cupcakes were the dessert du jour.  And when macaroons knocked them off the top spot, I didn’t give a toss.  There’s nothing quite like folding back the crinkly paper case and taking a scrumptious first bite of soft, sweet cake.  Or eating them from the bottom-up so that you get a lovely mouthful of frosting to finish with.  Choosing five favourites is going to be hard, but here we go.

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  1. Bacon cupcakes.

No joke, these are a real thing.  They are a super simple recipe but they always go down a treat.  I like to make them when I’m having friends stay because they make an impressive breakfast.  They’re filling, they’re tasty and they look way more complicated than they are.  Basically you use a rasher of bacon to line a cupcake tin.  Then you crack an egg into it, sprinkle the top with cheese and chives and bake.  Viola!  Delicious breakfast cupcake.

 

2. Red velvet cakes.

Red velvet is just so decadent and divine.  The rich rosy hue is utterly romantic and so sexy.  The fact that they usually come topped with rich cream cheese frosting is another reason why I can’t get enough red velvet.  The creamy-sweet-tangy flavour of cream cheese frosting is mouth-watering to say the least.  The best red velvet cakes I’ve ever had are at Little Cupcakes in Degraves Street in Melbourne.  That hidden eatery has an array of flavours, but the red velvet truly are superior.

 

3. Fairy cakes

Every year for her birthday my Nan used to make a batch of lighter-than-air sponge cakes.  She would take a sharp knife and slice a portion out of the centre of each cake, filling it with jam and cream.  The cut-out would then be fashioned into two fairy wings and perched charmingly atop the mountain of cream-cake goodness.  Fairy cakes are so pretty and fluffy and always bring a wash of delight when you glimpse a plate of them coming your way.

 

DSCF64094. Vanilla cupcakes

My vanilla cupcakes are legendary in my family.  Whenever we get together for a special event, I inevitably have somebody request that I make a batch of vanilla cakes to bring with me.  I’ve decorated them in every way imaginable: with demure pastel frosting and tiny sugar roses, with outlandish coloured sprinkles, dusted with edible glitter and done up to look like mushrooms.  But they always taste the same, sweet, simple and delightful.  So many people use the word “vanilla” as an insult, to mean “boring” or “mediocre”.  But my vanilla cupcakes are anything but.

 

5. Lumberjack cakes.

The chef at my favourite local cafe regularly churns out batches of lumberjack cakes, and they are the perfect thing to down with tea on a chilly Sunday afternoon.  Heaped with apple, coconut, dates and golden syrup, these morsels are sticky and comforting.

 

Do you have a favourite cupcake variety?  And do you believe that cupcakes are superior to macaroons?

Sweet potato fritters recipe.

Wow, it’s been ages since I posted a recipe on my blog. I’m trying really hard to get back into cooking this year in a bid to eat a bigger range of foods.  I’m also trying out some different ways to cook some of my favourite vegetables, to include a bit more variety in my diet.

One of the most delicious vegies around is the humble sweet potato. Not only does it taste great, but it’s low in fat and sodium, it contains loads of vitamins (B6, A and C to name a couple) and is a rich source of potassium.  It is also low GI, which means that it will give you sustained energy and keep you feeling full longer.

I usually serve my sweet potatoes as chips or roast them in the oven for a delicious side dish.  But last week I decided to have a go at creating some pan-fried sweet potato parcels.  These yummy fritters are so easy to make, they are vegan and gluten free and they taste scrumptious.  I like to serve mine as a side with pan-fried tofu or some salmon.  They also go down a treat when slapped between a bun and layered with salad and a slice of cheese for a delicious burger.

You can make the mixture and keep it in the fridge for up to 48 hours until you are ready to cook it.  This recipe makes about 6 patties.  You might also like to adjust the spices and herbs used to suit your own tastes.

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Sweet potato fritters (makes 6)

Ingredients

2 cups sweet potato

4 spring onions

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin seeds

1 teaspoon parsley

1 tablespoon sesame or coconut oil.

Method.

– Peel and dice the sweet potato and cook in a pot of boiling water until soft.

– Using a fork, mash the sweet potato and set aside.

– Finely slice the spring onions and add to the mashed sweet potato, along with the spices.

– Heat the oil in a frying pan.

– Using your hands, roll the sweet potato mixture into balls.  Each ball should use about 1-2 tablespoons of mixture.  You can adjust the size of the fritters if you wish.

– Place the fritters in the frying pan over a medium heat.  Use a spatula to press the fritters flat in the pan.  Cook until browned, and then flip and cook on the other side.

– Serve and enjoy!

If you wish, you might like to add an egg to the mixture to help it to bind together a bit better.  You may also like to add some other vegetables, such as peas or diced carrot, to the mixture to change the flavour.

Let me know if you’d like to see more recipes on the blog.  I’d be happy to share my cooking exploits if you’re interested.

My bircher muesli recipe

Bircher muesli is hands-down my favourite breakfast food.  It’s delicious, it’s healthy and it’s filling enough to keep you going through to lunch time.  I don’t make it very often because it does require a bit of night-before planning.  But I like to whip this up as a special treat for myself from time-to-time

This recipe makes enough for two people (or enough for one person if you like a big breakfast).  It will keep in the fridge for about 48 hours.

Ingredients 

– 1 cup rolled oats

– 1 1/4 cup of apple or pear juice

– 1 grated apple or pear

– yogurt

– fresh berries or dried fruit to serve

What you do:

1. Roughly grate the apple or pear (you can use whichever you prefer)

2. Mix the grated fruit with the oats in a big bowl.

3. Pour the juice over the oats mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  This works best if you make it the night before and stick it in the fridge overnight.

4. Serve topped with yogurt and your choice of dried fruit or berries.  It’s also delicious topped with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.

This recipe can easily be adapted for vegan diets.  Just leave out the yogurt and serve with a splash of soy or nut milk instead.

What is your favourite breakfast food?  Have you tried bircher muesli?

New Year’s resolutions update: June

This month, my resolution was to try some new recipes.  I love to cook, but I’ve fallen into a bit of a rut with my cooking.  I tend to make the same ten dishes over and over again.  I was prompted to make this resolution after I noticed a stack of recipe books on my shelves that had never even been opened!  I set to rectify that immediately.

DSCF8367I think I did pretty well with my resolution this month.  I’ve tried to work at least two new recipes into my weekly cooking.  As it’s Winter here, I’ve been particularly tempted to make things that are warm and filling.  I’ve also been using my slow cooker quite a lot.  I made chicken cacciatore for the first time and it was delicious.  I also whipped up a batch of chicken and mushroom soup which was hearty and yummy.  At Ross’s request, I tried a recipe for mulligatawny soup, which is kind of a curried chicken stew.  That one cleared the sinuses, I can tell you!  I’ll remember that recipe the next time I’ve got a cold.

My birthday party gave me a great opportunity to try some new recipes.  I didn’t really cook anything groundbreaking, but they were all recipes I’d never tried before.  I made a chocolate hedgehog slice and red velvet cupcakes.  Both were a huge success.

DSCF8264I’ve also been giving my I Quit Sugar cookbook a workout since last month.  I’ve made a bunch of savoury items to keep afternoon cravings at bay.  The best ones so far have been the egg and bacon cupcakes and cheesy biscuits.  I also made a zucchini cheesecake that was pretty delicious, although it was very garlicky.  I like garlic but the flavour kind of overpowered everything else.  Next time I’ll remember to halve the garlic in the recipe.  For a special weekend treat, I made a batch of coconut fluff pancakes for lunch, which were so filling that I couldn’t finish the whole helping.

There are still a lot of recipes that I’m keen to try.  I got Jamie Oliver’s Naked Chef cookbook set for Christmas, and there’s a beef and Guinness pie that I’m dying to try out.  Perhaps this weekend.  I also want to do loads more slow-cooked meals and perhaps experiment with some seafood.  Although I like to eat seafood, I’m not very confident when it comes to cooking it.  But practice makes perfect, I guess!

DSCF8173I think I did pretty well with my resolution for this month.  I hope to keep up the good work and try to work more new recipes into my cooking routine.

New Years Resolutions update: May

You might remember that at the beginning of the year, I made a new year’s resolution for every month.  May’s resolution was one that I had been dreading: cutting down on sugar.

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I am a total sweet-tooth.  Cakes, biscuits, chocolate, lollies… if it’s sweet, you can bet that I love it.  As much fun as all this sugar-munching is, I was starting to notice some not-so-sweet side effects.  Every day at three, I hit a major energy slump.  I’d need a chocolate bar or a very sweet coffee to revive myself.  Dinner always felt incomplete until I’d had dessert.  I was also experiencing some astronomical mood swings and bouts of ‘hangriness’ (where you’re a combination of angry and hungry).  I was concerned that my sweet tooth might be to blame for some of these things, and I was interested to see how cutting down on sugar would impact upon the way I was feeling.

On my first day of trying to cut down on sugar, I stumbled across a book called I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson.  Believe me when I say that buying this was the best thing I did all month.  The book was filled with sugar-free recipes and suggestions for switching to a sugar-less lifestyle.  There were loads of helpful hints for beating cravings and even an eight-week plan to help you quit sugar for good.

Now, I don’t want to stop eating sugar altogether.  But I do want to drastically cut down the amount in my daily diet.  I want to get to the point where lollies and cakes are treats again, rather than part of my regular routine.  What I really want is to get to a point where I no longer feel as though I ‘need’ sugar to feel awake/happy/human.

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Here’s a basic run-down of the changes I made:

– I evaluated my diet and looked at all of the foods that have hidden sugars.  And there were a lot.

– I made the decision to go without sugar completely for two weeks.  Cold turkey.  I managed to do this, but it was difficult.  After this I started to re-introduce small amounts of sugar as special treats.  So far, the only sugary things I’ve eaten this month are a small fruit juice, a slice of lemon tart and a slice of my Dad’s birthday cake.

– Specifically, my goal was to cut down on fructose.  There are so many different kinds of sugar, and if you cut them all out of your diet then you wouldn’t have many food choices.  But fructose is the one that has the most adverse effect on your body and mood, and it’s the one that most of us are OD-ing on.  I figured I had the most to gain by limiting my fructose intake.

– I changed my breakfast habits.  I replaced sugary cereals with eggs on toast, homemade muesli and natural yoghurt.

– I started snacking smarter.  I made piles of savoury muffins and biscuits and stocked up on nuts, vegetables and crackers.

– I started making time to cook a proper, substantial lunch to keep me full for longer and help keep my afternoon cravings at bay.

– I stopped drinking soft drink and cordials.

– I tried to eat less fruit and more vegetables.

– I stopped having sugar in my coffee.

– I stopped having dessert after dinner and snacking in front of the telly at night.

– I made sure that every meal had some form of protein in it (cheese, meat, eggs, nuts, dairy, tofu) to keep me feeling full for longer.

Here’s what I noticed:

– The first two weeks were hard.  Like, really hard.  I had cravings like crazy.  I couldn’t stop thinking about sweet things.  I even dreamed about chocolate!

– There is actually a withdrawal period. For the first week or so, I had stomach cramps, headaches and mood swings.  Most afternoons I needed a nap just to get through the day.

-Quitting sugar three days before you’re due for your period is a stupid idea.  I made it through, but I think it was harder than it would have been if I wasn’t a mess of hormones.

– After two weeks with no sugar, my cravings all but went away.  I still crave sweet things, but not as often and the cravings are less intense.

– I have loads more energy.  I’m sleeping better and I wake up feeling refreshed rather than groggy.  I no longer slump at three o’clock.

– I don’t get hungry as often and I feel I have a better handle on my appetite.  I’m getting better at stopping when I’m full.

– My skin has improved out of sight.

– My teeth feel cleaner.  When I was eating sugar all the time, my teeth would get a ‘furry’ feeling towards the end of the day.  Now I don’t get that.

– My moods have stabilised a bit and I haven’t had as many depressive episodes after the withdrawal period ended.

– I don’t get ‘hangry’ as often.

-I’ve gotten a lot more adventurous with my cooking and I’ve tried loads of new recipes.

– I don’t know if I’ve lost weight, because I don’t ever weigh myself.  But I do feel less bloated around my tummy area and I’m having an easier time doing my jeans up.

DSCF3608I think I did pretty well with this month’s resolution.  I’m hoping to keep up the good habits that I’ve learned this month.

I have a lot more that I could write about this topic, so if you have any questions about cutting down on sugar, please feel free to ask.