Avocado Lovers Vegan Pizza with Chilli, Lime & Coriander

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Yea boi !! I'm really coming to appreciate Sri Lanka's local produce and (with the addition of some Aussie pantry staples that my mum sends me – and that you can now get home delivered from my Vegan Pantry store!) learning how to make all my favourite vegan comfort foods at home! My health has never been better, yo! I'm buzzing!

One of my favourite things here are the super-sized avocados (ripening them to perfection is an art form though - am I right?!). So full of healthy fats to keep you young and vibrant! Here's an epic lunch idea - easy homemade buckwheat pizza (gluten free!) topped with luscious avocado. Here's the low-down...

Ingredients

For the dough
1 1/4 cups buckwheat flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 cup water
A pinch of salt
1 tbsp olive oil

For the toppings
A handful of coriander leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1 chilli, finely sliced
Handful of chopped cherry tomatoes, diced
4 Avocados, sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
Black pepper, cracked
Sea salt, to taste
A drizzle of olive oil

Method

Preheat your oven to 250℃ / 480℉. Make the dough by mixing the dough ingredients, except the olive oil, to create a ball, then roll it out so it’s about an inch thick. Gently place the dough on a hot, oiled 9inch frying pan, then fold over the edges to create the crust. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle the coriander, garlic, chilli and cherry tomatoes over the pizza base whilst still in the pan.

Remove from heat and place in a hot oven for only about 5 minutes until it begins to brown. Take out of the oven and spread the sliced avocado onto the base. Then top with lemon juice, coriander, a little olive oil, and a sprinkling of black pepper and salt.

Serve with homemade salsa, a drizzle of vegan cheddar cheese sauce or pickled red cabbage.

Divine Raw Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake with Pistachio Crust

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I think I'm a bit of a weirdo because at the end of the day, I love to go over in my mind all the colourful fruits and vegies I've eaten and think ... is there a rainbow in my tummy? Yup. Weirdo. But seriously, there's a science behind my little obsession with eating rainbows. Blue/purple plants, for example, derive their colour from anthocyanins, which act as powerful antioxidants protecting cells from damage. Generally speaking, the darker the blue/purple hue, the higher the phytochemical concentration.

In chakra healing, the colour indigo opens up a door to the divine. It is the colour of spiritual awakening and deep change. If you're really tuned in, eating blue foods can be deeply energising. What are you waiting for, pick up a fork and dig in, goddess?

Ingredients

for the base
1 cup pistachio nuts
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup pitted dates
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt

for the filling
2 cups cashews, soaked overnight in 2 cups coconut cream
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup plant-based sweetener (maple syrup, coconut nectar or treacle are all good!)
¼ cup white chia seeds
2 tsp of acai or maqui berry powder
1 tsp lime zest
1 tsp vanilla bean extract
1 ½ cup frozen blueberries or blackberries

to decorate
crushed pistachios, frozen blueberries, blackberries, black grapes, chia jam, coconut flakes, pomegranate arils or granola (any or all of these will work, have fun with it!)

method

First, line the bottom of a 4 x 4 inch cake tin with baking paper (silicone or spring-form are even better!). In a food processor, combine all the ingredients for the base and whiz until breadcrumb sized and the mixture begins sticking together. Press into bottom of tin and place in freezer.

Next, place all the ingredients for the filling in the food processor and blend to a smooth texture. Pour this on top of the base and place back in freezer for at least three hours.

Remove from the freezer about 20 minutes before serving and decorate to you heart's content! I used everything I could get my hands on, but the granola, chia jam and blackberries were a real treat!

Blueberry-Raw-Vegan-Cheesecake Description of your recipe. Aggregate rating will show here Serves 1 Ingredients: ingredient 1, ingredient 2, ingredient 3, add as many ingredient tags as you need. Instructions: Put the pineapple, ice, orange juice, carrot and banana in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Shakti Stories: Cabbages, Chemistry & Culinary Classes

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One of the things I love about being a vegan is feeling connected to a global community – my very own 'tribe' of like-minded souls. Making friends with other conscious, clever and compassionate brothers and sisters is as easy as saying "Hey, I'm a vegan too!", and in no time, you're swapping recipes and helping each other find the best avocado toast in New York. Since I'm lucky to know a few awesome vegans myself, I thought I'd introduce y'all in this new blog series. Welcome to 'Shakti Stories'.

First up, we have Barrington Goldson Jr. of Food.Health.Fit who I met a few years back. Not only does he take his food photography seriously (trust me, you've never seen a cabbage look so beguiling!), he comes from a chemistry background, and is currently developing plant-based cooking classes for diabetics and pre-diabetics at a local hospital – which is really huge!

He also just happens to be my secret weapon whenever I hear "that annoying protein argument". I simply pull out a photo of Barrington's biceps and shut that hater down. Thanks for that, B! I managed to grill him with a few questions...

Can you remember the day you decided to go vegan?

I’d been learning a lot about plant-based diets.  The most powerful information for me was learning that heart disease and type 2 diabetes could be prevented and even reversed, and how rare cancer was in areas of the world that were plant-based.  I’d learned about vegan athletes that held world records. And lastly, the more I learned about how good plant-based cuisine was the more I realised that this lifestyle was a no-brainer for me.  I threw out all of the animal products in my kitchen and went vegan overnight, best decision of my life, haven’t looked back since.

For me, not becoming plant-based sooner was solely based on awareness.  I wasn’t aware of how beneficial the lifestyle was, and how damaging animal products are to our body.  I also had no idea how good vegan food was. Since I transitioned, I have made it a mission to spread awareness through my social media, website, and cooking classes.

I did not become vegan for ethical concerns like most other vegans/vegetarians, but when you become plant-based you definitely feel a closer relationship to animals and the environment.  I feel really good everyday knowing that I am not playing a part in factory farming and the destruction of the planet.

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What was the biggest surprise about going vegan?

I’ve had countless health benefits, but the biggest surprise is that I eat what feels like less food to get full and I stay fuller for longer.  Yo, fiber is real!  Haha! 

What was the biggest challenge you faced when learning to cook plant-based?

Probably when I was first learning to bake.  I’ve baked a few cakes that just literally never rose and were like a dense mound of soggy dough.  My mom and I nicknamed it “dumpling cake.”

What are the pros and cons of being a vegan in the United States?

The Northeast is one of the more progressive areas of the United States and a lot of restaurants do cater to vegan/vegetarian cuisine.  I am also by two major cities, NYC and Philadelphia, that have amazing vegan restaurants.  Lastly, online shopping has made it much easier to get any ingredient that I like for my cooking! I’d say the biggest disadvantage is it can be hard to find properly ripened produce, even when they are in season. 

What vegan food can you never get enough of?

Mangos, plantains, and medjool dates.  I have a sweet tooth! 

Tell me about your cooking classes?

Last year I helped to create the first ever class on plant-based cooking and nutrition at my local hospital, one of the largest in my region.  I’m currently working with collaborating with them on another project designed to help diabetics and pre-diabetics as a plant-based chef.  When I can find venues, I also teach cooking classes that are open to the public! 

What's next?

The next step for my business is to start becoming a seller of my favourite vegan products. Turns out that natural products often work better than the chemical-based varieties that everyone is used to! It is another aspect of a healthy lifestyle that I want to introduce people to.

find out more...

youtube.com/foodhealthfit

facebook.com/foodhealthfit

instagram.com/food.health.fit

Spicy Aztec Chickpea Burgers with Vegan Garlic Aioli

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A really tasty vegie burger and chips is one of those classic comfort foods that you can't live without – am I right? I find myself craving one every now and again, and I've played around with a few different combinations to get the perfect pattie. There's a few things I reckon are essential – you need texture, and you need a good amount of spice to keep things interesting! And, like I always say, you have to pick your culinary inspiration and roll with it. So, this one reminds me of Mexico with it's fresh and fiery flavours – the coriander, chilli, cumin and lime. Think of it like a little fiesta for your tastebuds. You could even serve it with corn chips. Viva La Vegan!

Ingredients

for the patties
2 tbsp of chia seeds
4 tbsp of water
4 green chillies, chopped
4 spring onion, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed + thoroughly drained
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chilli powder
2 limes, juiced
2 handfuls fresh coriander
1 tbsp cornflour
Sea salt and pepper to taste

you will also need
2-3 tbsp of my Totally Addictive Vegan Garlic Aioli
vegan burger buns
toppings such as fresh tomato, shredded carrot, lettuce, coriander, red onion, avocado, vegan cheese, pickles, pesto or sauerkraut

Method

Start by preparing 2 chia 'eggs' by combining the chia seeds and water in a small bowl. Set aside to gel.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once skillet is hot, add a tablespoon of oil and the spring onion, garlic and chilli. Sauté, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent.

Add spring onion, garlic and chilli to a food processor along with the drained chickpeas, chia 'eggs' and other remaining ingredients and pulse until evenly combined. Add a little water to soften if necessary. Divide into 4-6 even patties, dusting with a little extra flour to help as you shape them. 

If you can leave the patties in the refrigerator for a while to firm up first, you'll get a better result, otherwise return them to the skillet and grill until golden brown on both sides.

Place the patties on the burger buns, add your salad toppings, and, of course, a generous helping of this garlic aioli. Serve with corn chips, sweet potato fries or crunchy potato crisps. Enjoy!

Totally Addictive Vegan Garlic Aioli

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Okay, I'm just gonna put it out there and say that THIS STUFF is completely addictive. It literally makes everything better. I slather it onto burger buns, dip my sweet potato fries in it, mix it with quinoa, drizzle it over roast vegies, use it in salad dressings... I'm pretty sure I've even put it on pizza. It's a miracle condiment, friends. And it's one of those recipes that is constantly raising eyebrows, as in, "I can't believe this is vegan!". Trust me. Make this now.

ingredients

115 g tofu (silken is best but firm also works just fine!)
1 tsp crushed garlic (or more if you're game!)
1 tsp salt
¼ cup coconut milk
2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup olive oil

method

Place all of the ingredients except the oils in a blender and blend until well combined. With the motor running on medium speed, slowly drizzle in the oil until well combined and emulsified.

Vegan Tuscan Tarts with Basil & Black Olives

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Imagine my delight upon discovering vegan puff pastry at the local supermarket here in Sri Lanka! No nasty additives either – just flour, vegetable oil and salt. Now, of course, I'd prefer to use a more wholefood-rich pastry (perhaps a nutrient-rich spelt or almond flour crust... sigh!) but here and there, a hungry girl can be forgiven for cutting a few corners. Maybe in 2037 I might find that here in Colombo... but until then, let's just celebrate this small victory.

If you have gluten sensitivity, of course, and the opportunity to make your pastry from scratch – please do! And post your recipe here when you're done. Also, the recent floods have affected our basil supply so what you see in the photo is shredded spinach. That didn't work so good... don't try that. Definitely go with basil, okay folks? Let's go!

Ingredients

1 sheet of vegan-friendly puff pastry (room temperature)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tomato pureé
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/4 cup black olives, sliced
1/4 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1 roma tomato, sliced
1/2 small zuccini, finely sliced
1/4 small eggplant, finely sliced
1-2 tsp capers
1 handful fresh basil leaves, torn

Method

Preheat the oven to 180℃. Lay the pastry sheet onto an 14x12 inch oven tray lined with baking paper. With a sharp knife, cut the pastry into 6 even rectangles. Score a 3cm border around each one and prick the middle with a fork a few times to stop it puffing up too much.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, tomato pureé, balsamic vinegar and crushed garlic. Spread onto the base of each tart and sprinkle over all the remaining toppings, except the basil leaves. Stay clear of the edges where we want the pastry to puff up and form a little crust.

Brush the edges of the tarts with a little almond or soy milk and bake for 20 mins, or until the pastry has puffed up and become golden brown. To serve, sprinkle over the fresh basil leaves and season with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and cracked pepper.

Coconut Chia Puddings with Mango, Orange & Passionfruit

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My love affair with mango and passionfruit continues in this tropical breakfast treat with creamy coconut chia and delicious mango passion pureé. It's really easy to make and packed with nutrients. On top of all the fruity vitamins and minerals you're getting in this, chia is full of protein and omega-3's too – so it's a pretty neat little powerhouse of a breakfast! Perfect for your post-yoga cool-down. Coming straight to you from the jungle, here's the recipe...

Ingredients

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup coconut water
1/3 cup chia seeds
2 Tbsp maple syrup, kitul treacle, rice malt syrup or agave (optional)
2 cups mango, cut into cubes
3-4 passionfruit, pulp only
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
2 Tbsp toasted coconut flakes

Method

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut milk and water, chia seeds and maple syrup until well combined. Place in the refrigerator for at least a few hours or until thick and of a pudding-like texture. I find it's easier to make your chia the night before.

Meanwhile, pulse the mango and orange juice in a high-powered blender until smooth and creamy. Then stir in the passionfruit pulp. To serve, layer the mango pureé and chia pudding mixture in a tall glass or jar. Top with toasted coconut and mango.

Creamy Vegan Mango, Tofu & Coconut Curry

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As promised, here's the recipe for my first ever Sri Lankan curry... and I confess, I went completely rogue with Mrs. Jayasinghe's advice! It's not at all a classic Sri Lankan curry. Sorry guys! Think of it more as a hungry little vegan's curry-in-a-hurry kinda thing. I was starving and I had some ripe mangos and coconut milk... and magic happened. This curry is sweet and creamy and spicy all at once, and you're gonna love it! Here's how it's done...

ingredients

3 spring onions, chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 green chillies, finely diced
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 block (250g) firm tofu
3 (3/4 cup) fresh ripe mangos, pureéd
1 can (400g) coconut milk
salt & pepper to taste
fresh coriander

method

Place the onion, ginger, garlic and chilli into a food processor and blitz until you have a chunky pureé. Heat a large skillet with a teaspoon of oil and fry the pureé with the garam masala and ground cumin for around 10 minutes on a medium/high heat until most of the moisture is gone.

Add the tofu, mango, coconut milk, salt and pepper and stir so everything is combined. Bring to a simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is reduced and thick. Serve with fresh coriander.