Archive for March, 2010

I discovered Kathy Hester’s blog – Healthy Slow Cooking – a while ago, and since I am such a fan of my slow cooker I asked her to come and do a guest post for us here at Vegan Chickie. Kathy is a long-time vegetarian who lives in Durham NC with her partner, 2 cats and a big silly dog, she writes below about her love of the slow cooker and about some possibilities you may not yet thought of when it comes to using your crockpot.

Healthy Slow Cooking

You may still be wondering what all the slow cooker fuss is about. I’ve been in love with mine long before the food blogs started a new buzz. I’m glad everyone is using them now. It means more yummy recipes for all of us!

As you go in search of slow cooker goodness, don’t get bogged down in the cream of this and cream of that recipes. It’s easy for vegans to substitute ingredients. After all, who else sees so much possibility in a box of silken tofu? You can even make your own cream of mushroom from it!

One of the reasons I love using the slow cooker is that it makes easy things even better because you don’t have to be around while it’s cooking. Baked potatoes are a perfect example of this. Poke a few holes in them with a fork and pop into the slow cooker on low for 6 – 8 hours. You can also cook them on high for 4 hours. You don’t need to oil the crock or put them in aluminum foil. It’s a perfect base for a few steamed veggies and some of Jennifer McCann’s nacho cheese sauce.

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite veggies. Sometimes I “bake” them in the slow cooker, then split them in half and sprinkle cinnamon and fresh nutmeg over it and have it for dessert. You can also make a main dish out of it lathered with homemade veggie chili and a nice salad.

Winter squash are perfect in the slow cooker. You can do it the normal way and make stuffed acorn squash. Cut it in half raw and scrape out all the seeds. But sometimes with spaghetti or butternut squash you almost need a machete and a helper to cut through it. Instead poke some holes in your whole squash and throw it into the slow cooker! The trick is to allow some cooling time before you cut it open to scoop out the squash guts. The knife slides through easily and you can scoop the cooked squash out and use in your favorite dish. Freeze any leftovers to use another time.

You can slow roast veggies in your Crock-pot too. It’s great to be able to leave them all day. I cook beets, celery root, onions, parsnips, carrots, brussel sprouts and baby carrots in the slow cooker. I like to put some roasted veggies on my salad or use them in soups or stews. You can toss them in oil or add some water. I love to add fresh rosemary and thyme. It makes the house smell good and it’s yummy too!

Be sure to head over to Kathy’s blog and check out some of her fabulous recipes!


[tweetmeme source=”VeganChickie”] Vindaloo is traditionally very hot and I’ve made my version suitably spicy, if you don’t like a lot of chili you might want to leave out the red chillies altogether and just rely on the cayenne pepper and Tabasco for heat. And of course if you like things super spicy it might worth adding an extra chili into the mix. It’s helpful to remember that some of heat will be lost in the cooking process as the slow cooker does often render some of the heat a bit flat after so many hours of cooking, so if you sneak a taste test two hours in and it’s hotter than you expected, don’t panic, some of the flavours will settle down by the time it’s ready to be eaten.

Vegetable Vindaloo


2 tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 knob of ginger, minced (about 1.5 tbs)
2 red chillies, minced (or 2 tbs dried chillies)
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground mustard seeds
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp hot curry powder
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
Tabasco sauce
1 medium leek, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium green capsicum, chopped
1/2 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
2 medium zucchini, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 cup chopped button mushrooms
2 cups vegetable stock
1 can red kidney beans
140g tomato paste
1/2 cup frozen green peas
Salt and pepper to taste
jasmine rice to serve


1. In a small bowl, combine 1 tbs of the oil, garlic, ginger, chillies, sugar, coriander, cumin, mustard seeds, cayenne, turmeric, curry powder, vinegar and tabasco sauce (to taste), mix with a fork until everything is combined and a paste is formed. Set aside.

2. Set your slow-cooker on HIGH and heat the remaining tablespoon of oil, add the leek and carrots, cover and cook for about ten minutes, until the vegetables are warmed, add the spice paste and stir to coat, cook for 5 minutes, until fragrant. Add the capsicum, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, celery and mushrooms and stir until vegetables are coated in the paste mixture. Turn the slow cooker setting back to LOW.

3. In a small bowl – you can use the one used to make the paste if you like this will pick up any remaining paste – combine the vegetable stock and tomato paste, pour the mixture over the vegetables, mix well, cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours.

4. 1/2 an hour before serving add the frozen peas, stir through. Add salt and pepper if required and start making your Jasmine rice as per packet instructions. Serve over rice and garnish with some fresh coriander.


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Vanilla Choc-Chip Ice Cream

[tweetmeme source=”VeganChickie”] I’ve avoiding making a plain vanilla ice cream up until now because I’ve been a little bit apprehensive about how well it would turn out, I’m not a huge fan of coconut and I was a bit worried about how coconut-y an ice cream would be without a good dose of chocolate (yum) or berries covering the flavour a bit. My concerns were unfounded though, the mixture tasted a lot like coconut when I put it in the ice cream maker but by the time it was ready to eat all but the faintest hint had disappeared, leaving lots of creamy, vanilla, choc-chip goodness in its wake.

Vegan Vanilla Choc-Chip Ice Cream


2 cups soy milk
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbs arrowroot powder
2 400g cans coconut cream – kept in the fridge overnight
1 cup (or more!) non dairy chocolate chips


1. Heat the soy milk, in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Once the milk starts to steam, lower the temperature and stir in the vanilla paste, whisk until dissolved.

2. Stir in the brown sugar and whisk in the arrowroot powder one half tablespoon at a time, making sure that each half tablespoon is completely dissolved before adding the next one.

3. Open the cans of coconut cream and separate the liquid from the cream, discard the liquid and whisk the chilled cream into the saucepan until the mixture is glossy. Remove from the heat and once mixture has cooled slightly, transfer to a container and refrigerate until completely cooled (preferably overnight).

4. Remove the mixture from the refrigerator, stir in the chocolate chips, and then add the mixture to your ice cream maker, following the directions that came with the machine.

For best results, once completed, transfer the mixture to a container and freeze overnight before consuming.


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Oven-Baked Falafel

[tweetmeme source=”VeganChickie”] Before today I’ve always been the felafel-in-a-box kind of girl, but one of the things about living 50kms away from the nearest supermarket is that you either have to get very good at foretelling your cravings, or you have to improvise when they appear. Apparently my craving radar was off this week because I wasn’t prepared but I’m pretty happy with the results of this recipe. I’ve always preferred oven-baked felafel to deep fried ones and my mini muffin tray was the perfect way to cook them that way. The falafel were especially delicious wrapped up in mountain bread with avocado, sweet chili sauce and salad. The recipe makes 12.

Felafel Wraps


1 cup canned chick peas
1 cup canned lentils
1 medium leek finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh coriander
1/2 tbs cumin
1/2 tbs dried chili flakes
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbs water
Salt & Pepper to taste

For the wraps:
3 sheets of mountain bread (or other wrap)
1 avocado, mashed
1 tomato, sliced
1 cup lettuce leaves, shredded
1/2 cucumber, sliced
2 tbs sweet chili sauce


1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. In a blender combine the chick peas, lentils, leek, garlic, parsley, coriander, cumin, chili flakes, breadcrumbs and water. Blend until combined – the results will be a thick paste. Mixture needs to be solid enough to form a ball, you may need to add more water or breadcrumbs to get the perfect consistency.

2. Roll the mixture into 12 balls and place on an oven tray, bake for 40 minutes, turning the balls over after 20 minutes.

3. Assemble your wrap with mashed avocado, lettuce, cucumber & tomato, top with your cooked felafels and cover with sweet chili sauce. Wrap and Eat!


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[tweetmeme source=”VeganChickie”]I’ve been struggling with finding a name for this recipe all day. The recipe is loosely based on a beef wellington, using a mushroom pate and mushroom filling, but the addition of brown rice and vegetables to the mixture makes it similar to a vegetable pie, either way it’s really good, I’m especially happy with the mushroom pate. (And a special thanks to all my lovely peeps who contributed to get me my sparkly new blender for my birthday! Lots of love to you all, and Happy Birthday to me!).

Vegan Beef Wellington with Mushroom Pate


1 tbs non dairy margarine
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium leek, chopped
5 cups button mushrooms, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 cup small brocolli florets
4 sheets vegan puff pastry
4 tbs wholegrain mustard
1/2 cup brown rice
1 vegetable stock cube
2 tsp tamari
1 tbs vegan mayonnaise
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup soft silken tofu
1/2 cup walnuts
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 cup fresh parsley


1. Heat half your margarine a fry pan over medium heat, add 1/2 your leek, 2 cups of chopped mushrooms, tamari and the thyme. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mushrooms are cooked.

2. Place the mushroom mixture into your blender, add mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, tofu and walnuts and blend until smooth. Place in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate.

3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Cook your brown rice according to packet instructions, dissolving one vegetable stock cube into the water while cooking. In the same fry pan as you used for the mushroom mixture, heat the rest of your margarine over medium heat, add garlic and leek, cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer for 2 minutes. Add your mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes. Add your zucchini and broccoli and cook, stirring occasionally for approximately 7 – 10 minutes (depending on how soft you like your vegetables), then remove from the heat until your brown rice is ready.

4. In a large bowl mix your vegetable mixture with the brown rice. Add your parsley and mix it through.

5. In the middle of each sheet of pastry spread 1 tbs of mustard, 2 tbs of the mushroom pate and 1/4 of the vegetable mixture, top with another tbs of the pate and fold the pastry to make a pie, the edges of the pastry should stick with some pressure but, a little water or soy milk will work as well. Put each pie on a non stick baking tray, poke some steam holes in them and bake for 35 minutes.

Serve with a garden salad or mashed potato or eat it on its own. Either way it’s yum!

NOTE: I put 1 tbs ground chia seeds into the mushroom pate as well but this is an optional ingredient.

Also, for the record, I have discovered that it is impossible to take photos of pate that don’t look unappetising, which is why there are none of them here. It’s just one of those things that tastes great and looks gross. So, you’ll just have to take my word for it that there is pate in the pies okay? 🙂


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[tweetmeme source=”VeganChickie”]Well it’s that time again, time to get together a bunch of things that I’ve been reading and watching over the last couple of weeks.

First of all I want to start with a bit more Jonathan Safran Foer love, this is actually one of the more comprehensive interviews I’ve seen with him which is really excellent (go Aussies!). The one thing that did get on my nerves a little was towards the end of the interview where he says that it’s “difficult” to go vegetarian. I disagree with that, I think the hardest thing about going vegetarian is making the decision to change your lifestyle, everything else is easy! Anyway, HERE is the link!

HERE is a new PETA video with the lovely Joaquin Phoenix talking about the Exotic Skins industry (snakes, crocs etc). Just a warning it is graphic, but I do think it’s worth watching.

I know I have a lot of new readers since I did my last links post so I’ll quickly post some links to some documentaries which I think anyone new to the lifestyle or considering veganism/vegetarianism should watch:

Meet Your Meat

*NOTE: graphic warning goes for both of those links.

HERE is a link to a very strange story about some guy who had the idea that if he put TVs in his dairy cow shed and showed pictures of green fields all day then the cows would be happier and therefore produce more milk. Personally I think that’s just about the saddest thing I’ve heard today.

HERE is a link to The Vegan Society’s vegan manifesto which is a list of policies that they would like political parties to adopt and which includes things like: Working toward better vegan catering in hospitals and schools, funding and development of alternatives to animal medical testing, changes to the curriculum to include education about animal treatment etc. Check it out!

Read about the very sad recommendation for the addition of the beautiful Loggerhead Turtle to the endangered species list.

And HERE is a BBC News article about the controversy around the Bluefin Tuna at the moment. This whole thing is so heartbreaking and a really good illustration of how big business is chosen over animals time and time again. Infuriating!

HERE is a very enlightening article in the Washington Post about how manure is the fastest growing threat to the survival of our planet.

Animal manure, a byproduct as old as agriculture, has become an unlikely modern pollution problem, scientists and environmentalists say. The country simply has more dung than it can handle: Crowded together at a new breed of megafarms, livestock produce three times as much waste as people, more than can be recycled as fertilizer for nearby fields.

That excess manure gives off air pollutants, and it is the country’s fastest-growing large source of methane, a greenhouse gas.

And it washes down with the rain, helping to cause the 230 oxygen-deprived “dead zones” that have proliferated along the U.S. coast. In the Chesapeake Bay, about one-fourth of the pollution that leads to dead zones can be traced to the back ends of cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys.

Read the rest HERE.

I highly recommend the Mercy For Animals Blog for anyone who is interested in animal rights, they are a really great organisation and I find their blog posts really informative and well rounded (and best of all you don’t have to wade through pages of junk like ‘world’s sexiest vegetarian’ like you do on the PETA site!!!). I particularly liked their blog post this week about their Humane Education Campaign.

Mercy for Animals have also been responsible for some pretty hard hitting billboards and advertisements recently. Read more about that campaign HERE.

I have a huge blogger crush on Elaine Vigneault aka The Eccentric Vegan. I love so much of what she has to say and constantly find myself nodding and cheering as I read her blog posts over at Vegan Soapbox. Some of my favourites from the last few weeks have been:

  • The ‘Enormously Complex’ Issue of the Eco-Diet – in response to Cheri Shankar’s Can you be a meat-eating environmentalist?
  • Animal Advocacy for Shy People – This blog post was bound to be a favourite of mine since I’m a shy woman trying to live as a vegan animal activist. When I started out, years ago, as a vegetarian I was always terrified of people asking me why and would avoid that conversation at all costs. These days I’m a proud vegan and very open to having that conversation and many more. I still have a way to go, but I have to say I’m making strides on the unshying of myself (yes I know that isn’t a word)!
  • Making An Effort – The myths vs the facts of veganism
  • Rabbits are the New Chickens – About an article in the NY Times suggesting that parents lie to their children about where meat comes from.

Also on Vegan Soapbox this fortnight: A post about some disturbing practices in the cattle industry, in particular the act of killing a dairy calf so that a “beef” calf can drink the dead calf’s milk. In some cases they tie the hide of the dead calf to the beef calf so the mother will think it’s her own baby! Ew.

HERE is an article on USA Today about Illegal and Unsafe Food Safety breeches at Slaughterhouses.

I have also been featured on another blog, talking about why I became a vegan. Sharni over at Sharnanigans is also holding a Meatless Monday challenge over there to encourage her readers to start thinking about veganism, which is quite exciting. Check that out HERE.

Okay, that’s enough for today! I would like to keep going but one of the problems with going through my ‘vegan interest’ folder to find all the things I wanted to share with you, is that it’s filled with all the delicious recipes I saw in the last fortnight and wanted to try, which is making me hungry, which means I can’t concentrate, which means I’m going to go and make some lunch! Vegan Corn Dogs anyone??


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[tweetmeme source=”VeganChickie”] While risotto seems like a lot of work with all the stirring required, it’s actually quite a fast meal that doesn’t require a lot of preparation, and best of all, there is only one pot to clean once you’re finished eating. I personally find risotto quite heavy and that is one of the reasons I like to add tomatoes during the last stages of cooking, I find that they lighten up the dish a little. If you wanted to make the meal without the tomatoes it would work equally well. Enjoy!

Mushroom, Pumpkin & Sage Risotto


1 tbs non dairy butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 clove garlic minced
1 medium leek, chopped
2 cups button mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 cups pumpkin, chopped (approx 1.5cm cubes)
3/4 cup zucchini, chopped
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Melt your butter in a heavy based medium saucepan over medium heat. Add your garlic and leek, cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin, mushrooms, zucchini, vegetable stock, rice and some freshly ground black pepper.

2. Stir the mixture constantly, until the rice has completely absorbed the stock, this will take approximately 20 minutes. Test the rice at this stage, it will largely depend on the water content of your vegetables whether the rice is completely done, if it is still a bit cruchy, add another 1/2 cup of water or stock to the mixture and continue stirring until the liquid has been absorbed.

3. Stir in your tomatoes and fresh sage and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add extra salt and pepper if required. Serve the risotto, garnished with the chopped walnuts.


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[tweetmeme source=”VeganChickie”] Bare-chested chef – who is not so bare-chested these days since we moved to chilly New Zealand – has guest starred in the Vegan Chickie kitchen tonight and come up with this beauty of a recipe. It was a huge hit, the spicy peanut crust on the tofu was delicious and a great match with the crunchy salad and beautiful salad dressing. All in all an excellent dish, I can’t wait to try it again! For the health conscious amongst us, the step where you brown the tofu in a frying pan can be skipped. Recipe below serves 4.

Peanut-crusted Thai Tofu with Cucumber Salad


2 pkg tofu, pressed
1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon tamari
4 tbs sweet chili sauce
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
2 cups bean sprouts
1/3 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, sliced
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup water
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbs canola oil (for the dressing)
Jasmine rice, prepared as per packet directions
Peanuts & fresh coriander to garnish


1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees. Firstly in a blender or food processor, grind your shiitake mushrooms to powder then, in small saucepan combine the ground mushroom with a 1/4 cup of water, bring the mixture to the boil, stirring occasionally and then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

2. In a blender process the peanuts, curry paste, 1 tbs of sweet chili sauce, tamari, coconut milk and half the coriander until combined.

3. Slice each tofu block into two slabs (as pictured below), heat 1 tbs of oil in a fry pan and fry the tofu for approximately 5 minutes – until it is browned, then flip and brown the other side. Place the tofu on an oven tray, spread the peanut mixture on each piece, roast uncovered for about 20 minutes.

4. While the chicken is cooking, cook your rice as per the directions on the packet and prepare your salad and salad dressing.

5. In a large bowl, combine cucumber, carrot, sprouts, mint and remaining coriander. In a screw-top jar combine the mushroom mixture, lime juice, sesame oil, 3 tbs sweet chili sauce and remaining canola oil, shake well to combine and then pour over your salad, toss well.

6. Remove the tofu from the oven, slice into 1 cm strips. Serve with salad & jasmine rice, garnish with coriander and peanuts.


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[tweetmeme source=”VeganChickie”] I have two Joyous Mamas to thank for inspiring this recipe. WhiteOwl, for mentioning that she had made Peanut Butter cookies which instantly had me in baking mode, and Starzia for posting the recipe in the first place. The Joyous version was a cookie recipe and included such delights as rapadura and light spelt flour, but since I had neither of those things on hand I created my own version of the recipe and made mini-muffins instead. The results were super cute – as only mini things can be – and super delicious too.

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins


1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup plain soymilk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbs non dairy butter
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup sultanas
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt


1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, agave, soymilk, vanilla, and butter. Mix with a wooden spoon until mixture is smooth and has no lumps (except for the bits of peanut). Stir in the chocolate chips and sultanas.

3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir to combine.

4. Spoon the mixture into a non-stick mini muffin tray and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from the tray.

*Makes 24 mini muffins


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Vegan Baklava

[tweetmeme source=”VeganChickie”] This was my first ever attempt at baklava so it isn’t very pretty but I promise that it’s very delicious!! I found the original recipe here and veganised it accordingly, it was a pretty straightforward conversion and I’m really happy with how it all turned out. I ended up doing the cooking after the sun went down and the lighting in my house is pretty dark so I didn’t take photos of the process, just of the end result.

Vegan Baklava


1 pkg filo pastry
1 cup non dairy butter
1 cup chopped nuts
2 tbs ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
5ml vanilla extract
2 tbs agave nectar


1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9×13 inch pan.

2. In a small bowl mix nuts and cinnamon. If required cut the filo pastry so that it is the correct size and shape for the pan. Cover filo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 – 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, add butter, top with nuts and then repeat, continue layering, until all ingredients are used up. The top pastry layer should be about 6 – 8 sheets deep.

3. Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.

4. Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and agave. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

5. Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.