Dragon Queen Chia Puddings with Kiwi & Dragonfruit

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I thought I'd follow up on my last chia pudding post with another favourite combo of mine, dragonfruit and kiwi. Honestly, there are so many great combinations when it comes to chia puddings. Pick almost any fruit and it'll taste great. And don't even get me started on peanut butter, chocolate and caramel...! Okay, I'll probably make something like that when I get back from Thailand. But for now, try this neon creation...

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)
1 1/4 cups dragonfruit, cut into cubes
1-2 frozen bananas
2 cups kiwi fruit, skin removed and cubed
2 Tbsp granola, to serve

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 dragonfruit and frozen bananas in a high-powered blender until smooth and creamy. To serve, layer the dragonfruit pureé, chia pudding mixture and kiwi fruit in a tall glass or jar. Top with granola and extra fruit – voila!

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.

Pink Flamingo Slice with Dragonfruit, Mango & Passionfruit

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My love affair with Sri Lanka's tropical fruits continues in this rainbow-coloured raw vegan slice that I've affectionately named the 'Pink Flamingo'. Sadly, there are no flamingos on this island but I just couldn't help myself – the name was too perfect! It combines some of my favourite tropical flavours into one decadent little slice and is packed full of fruity vitamins and minerals. I've topped it with some leftovers from the base that I fashioned into toasted coconut wafers, and some extra mango, passionfruit and pomegranate arils. But, you can decorate it with anything you have on hand – edible flowers, toasted coconut flakes or even whipped coconut cream. So go on with ya bad self and go a little troppo!

ingredients

For the base
1 1/2 cups mixed raw nuts
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
15 dates, pitted
1 tbsp coconut oil

For the filling
3 cups raw cashews (soaked overnight)
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup raw coconut cream
1/2 cup dates, pitted
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 pink dragonfruit
2 cups mango
1/2 cup passionfruit pulp

method

Line a 6×6 baking pan with grease proof paper. For the base, blend all the ingredients in a high-speed food processor until you have a slightly sticky dough. Press onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Place in the freezer while you make the filling. If you have any extra, roll out onto baking paper, cut into triangle shapes and freeze to make some chewy, decorative "wafers".

For the filling, place the cashews in a food processor and blend until they start to mix together and are broken down. Add the coconut oil, coconut cream, dates and vanilla bean paste and blend until you have a thick, creamy mixture. Pour half of the mixture into a bowl and set aside.

Scoop out the flesh of the dragonfruit and discard the skin. Add to the blender/food processor with the cashew cream filling and blend until well combined (it should go a luscious pink colour!). Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Finally, combine the remaining filling with the mango and blend until thoroughly combined, then stir through the passionfruit pulp. Gently spoon the two filling mixtures over the base, roughly alternating to form layers and swirls. Return to the freezer and freeze for 3-4 hours until firm.

Once ready to serve, slice into squares and top with dragonfruit, passionfruit and mango. Store in an airtight container in the freezer. 

Shakti Stays: Black Cat Bed & Breakfast

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When I first left Melbourne to begin my life in the tropics, I really didn't know what to expect of Colombo. Flying in at night, I could see the lights below madly glittering and it took me a moment to realise why. It was because the street lights and tail lights of tuk tuks and cars were peeking out from under an abundance of tropical trees, all jostling for space in this chaotic city. Colombo was a mystery then, and it's still revealing new secrets six months later.

But if there's one place that has always made me feel at home, whilst still having JUST enough of that exotic flavour about that keeps my nomad spirit happy, it's Black Cat Bed & Breakfast. We've spent many a lazy morning enjoying breakfast and catching up with friends in the café – which serves some of Colombo's very best coffee (read more about that here). But, it was also the first place we stayed in (and liked!) when we arrived in Colombo. I'll always remember unpacking our suitcases with sheer relief at finding such a welcoming space after all our travelling.

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On the first floor of a 1920's colonial house, Black Cat provides simple yet stylish accomodation. It's cool, neat and tidy with a minimalistic, vintage aesthetic. It made us both feel instantly at home, with it's eclectic furnishings, quirky books and artworks and, of course, the smell of great coffee brewing downstairs. It's walking distance to some of Colombo's best restaurants, bars, cafés, galleries and shops too, which was perfect for us. Finally, the city was revealing it's secrets. Don't forget to book ahead though – with only 5 rooms, this little gem is getting really popular!

Take me there...

Black Cat Bed & Breakfast
No.11 Wijerama Mawatha,
Colombo 07

Shakti Thinks: 5 Reasons Men who Love Vegans are the Greatest

 
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Let's face it – we all want to find our 'soulmate' – someone we connect with deeply, who really 'gets' us. Someone that shares our values, supports our beliefs, and helps us reach our goals. A best friend, lover and cheerleader through life's ups and downs. Oh, and someone who shares our sense of humour, loves cooking, travel, and is kind to animals... and is cool with you being a vegan. Okay, that's a unicorn. We're looking for a unicorn. Damn. 

Waiting for the planets to align and magically bring that person into your life can be a major bummer! (That's mine up there, and trust me, girls, he took FOREVER to show up!) Modern women like to get things done, am I right? So when my friend told me about her new brilliant new dating app for vegans, V Love, I got to thinking. I remembered the times I struggled with the problem... when do I tell him I'm a vegan? When do I drop THAT bombshell? And you know what? I have a theory. The man who is cool with it from the start... THAT's your unicorn! Men who love vegans are the greatest. And here's why:

1. They are open-minded

A man who is open to dating a vegan immediately wins points for being open-minded – you know, as opposed to close-minded and stubborn? It's a really attractive quality. It means he's a good listener, and enjoys discussing ideas and theories. He won't knock that mushroom latte or that jackfruit burger without trying it first. Plus, he's likely to be open-minded about a lot of other things too – like your crazy friends, your secret passion for conspiracy theory documentaries, and the fact that you wear your favourite yoga pants EVERY SINGLE day (yeah, I'm a real catch!).

2. They are patient

The man who loves a vegan is a patient man. This is the guy who will happily make the weekend pilgrimage across town to your favourite farmer's market to get vegan mozarella, allow an extra 20 minutes at the supermarket for deciphering labels, and wait while you grill the waiter about the ingredients in your lentil burger (for the hundredth time!). Another excellent quality that spills over into other aspects of your life.

3. They are smart

Men who love vegans are pretty clever. Aside from the obvious GENIUS decision to date a goddess like you, this is an intelligent man who questions things and seeks truth, rather than blindly following. This is no sheep. He understands the political, ethical, socio-economic and environmental reasons for your cause, as well as the physiological ones. And he's always up for a documentary date night. Swoon!

(above) Mr. Jungle Shakti with a newborn street puppy in Galle. His mum had been hit by a car and crippled, so he insisted we bring them some food to eat. He wanted to adopt them all!

(above) Mr. Jungle Shakti with a newborn street puppy in Galle. His mum had been hit by a car and crippled, so he insisted we bring them some food to eat. He wanted to adopt them all!

4. They are kind

Compassion is a beautiful quality in any human being. To understand, love and support a vegan means that you share their important values of kindness and compassion for all sentient creatures. Men who love vegans are kind to animals – and to you! They are not violent or callous or aggressive. And let's face it, you're going to want to start a rescue farm one day, and you need him to be down with that!

5. They are sexy

Yup! I said it. Plant-based diets make you sexier – and better in the bedroom! The folks at PETA actually made a video so steamy it was banned when they attempted to explain this at the Super Bowl, so it's best you do some online research if you don't believe me. But in short, as Men's Health put it, "junky diets typically lead to heart disease. And men often fail to remember that heart disease doesn’t just affect your ticker – it impacts the blood flow to other areas of the body". Apart from the obvious, that means glowing skin, luscious locks and brighter eyes... AKA sexy!

meet the love of your life...

Download V Love at:
www.vlove.com.au

 

Gingered Pineapple Vegan Cheesecake with Coconut Bliss Balls

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Okay, I'm officially obsessed with making tropical vegan (almost fully raw!) cheesecakes! After the success of this delicious passionfruit and mango creation, I decided the next one on my list had to be pineapple! That glorious yellow fruit with it's funky green crown whose scent alone whisks me away to a nostalgic la la land of poolside Pina Coladas and those delicious Splice ice-creams I used to buy from the milk bar as a kid in Airlie Beach. 

In addition to being rich in vitamin C, pineapple is also bursting with manganese, a trace mineral that is essential for healthy bones, collagen production, and antioxidant defence. Hello beautiful skin! But we knew this cake would make us glow already, right? The pineapples are so sweet and juicy here in Sri Lanka, and they seem to be in season all year round – so I just had to try it. And I'm so glad I did. This cake is seriously yummy – it's sweet and tangy at the same time. Just like a Splice! The addition of fresh ginger, lime and turmeric just gives it that zingy, superfood-y bomb-diggity that will keep you going back for more... 

Ingredients

for the base (and bliss balls)
1 cup medjool dates, pitted
1 1/3 cups gluten-free oats
1 1/2 cups shredded toasted coconut
1 tsp kitul treacle (or maple syrup)
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
a pinch of salt

for the filling
2 cups cashews, soaked overnight
2 cups fresh, pineapple (go for very ripe, sweet pineapples!)
1/3 cup kitul treacle (or maple syrup)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp fresh turmeric, grated (or 1 tsp powder

for the gingered pineapple swirl
1 cup fresh pineapple
1 tbsp kitul treacle (or maple syrup)
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp white chia seeds

Method

Line a round 6" pan with parchment paper and set aside. Make the crust first - place the dates, oats, coconut, treacle, vanilla bean and salt into the food processor and pulse to obtain a sticky, doughy mixture. Spread the mixture into the pan and press it down evenly to form the crust. There should be enough left over to form 4-5 small coconut bliss balls. Simply roll the remaining dough into balls and store in the fridge until you are ready to top your cake.

Next, drain the cashews and place them in the food processor along with the pineapple, treacle, lime juice, coconut oil, ginger and turmeric. Process to obtain a smooth cream. Pour the creamy mixture into a bowl and set aside for a moment.

To make the gingered pineapple swirl, place the pineapple, treacle, ginger and lime juice into the food processor and pulse to obtain a chunky puree. Stir in the chia seeds and wait until the mixture becomes jelly-like (should be 10 minutes).

Alternate pouring layers of the creamy mixture and the pineapple swirl into the pan on top of the crust, starting with the creamy layer and finishing with a swirl. 

Cover and freeze for at least 3 hours. For serving, let it stay at the room temperature for 15 mins until it can be cut easily. Top with fresh fruit (I left the pineapple crown aside for this!) and the bliss balls that you set aside earlier. Seriously yum!

Raw Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Avocado & Mango Dressing

Zoodles! What can I say? I have been having a love affair with these things every since I first discovered raw veganism back in 2011. My spiralizer is one of my most beloved kitchen appliances, because it has changed my world! What could be better than noodles straight from the garden – no gluten, no junky processing, no cooking – just pure, raw, nutrient-filled and incredibly hydrating zucchini? This neat noodle alternative is extremely low calorie, high fibre and soaks up the flavour of just about any sauce you can dream up!

I love zoodles with kale pesto, chunky walnut 'bolognese', cashew cheese sauce... even spicy pink dragonfruit dressing. But for this recipe, I've chosen a creamy, fruity dressing inspired by my tropical island home, Sri Lanka. Mangos and avocados are both in season right now (Hallelujah!) and the zucchinis seem to grow to colossal sizes here too! It's like the Jurassic Park of fruits and vegies... okay, let's get to the recipe, shall we?

Ingredients

2 large zucchinis
2 mangos
1 avocado
3 spring onions
juice of 1-2 limes
1/2 cup coriander
1 green chilli

method

Spiralize or julienne zucchini into noodles and pile into a large salad bowl. Remove the skins and pits from the mangos and avocado and blend along with the remaining ingredients to create a thick, creamy dressing. 

Garnish with coriander leaves, chopped spring onions and a little chopped chilli too, if you like it hot! Serve immediately, as raw food deteriorates very quickly.