Banana Choc-Chunk Muffins

Lately I’ve been bagging some awesome deals on overripe bananas. I doubt I need to explain what I have been doing with said bananas. It’s winter! I’m getting my banana-bake on.

One of my favourite treats that mum would make when we were little was banana choc chip muffins. There was also a banana date version that I recall enjoying (though we all know that dates are not chocolate). I can still picture the muffin recipe book that she used to cook from! So for me, banana choc chip muffins have a really strong taste-memory attached to them, the kind where you take a bite and an image immediately pops to the forefront of your mind. I love it.

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I’ve done a few different versions of these over the past fortnight and distributed them among the masses, the ones below are definitely my favourite.

Unfortunately for Ruby Tuesday, she was not amongst the masses. This did not impress her.

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Try explaining to a dog why there is food within reach but they are not allowed to touch it.

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Sorry Rubes!

Sad puppies aside, these muffins are absolutely divine straight out of the oven, all soft and oozing chocolate. Mmm…oozing. They are also incredible once they’ve cooled down, and the chocolate gets all chunky. I honestly can’t decide how I like them better – I will have to do some further research and get back to you.

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Banana Choc-Chunk Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)

1 1/2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bi-carb soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sea salt
4-5 small-medium overripe bananas
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 flax egg (1Tbsp flax meal + 3 Tbsp water)
1/3 cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180C, and lightly grease a muffin tray (or line with papers).

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, bicarb soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In a medium bowl, mash the bananas up with a fork. Add coconut oil, sugar, vanilla and the flax egg and stir with a fork until well combined.

Pour wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. If the mix seems to dry, add a dash of non-dairy milk. Fold through chocolate chunks, being careful not to overmix.

Distribute evenly among the muffin pan, then whack them in the oven and cook for 25 minutes, or until slightly golden and they bounce back when you touch them. Do the old skewer test if you need to check.

Devour.

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Spinach and Tofu Ricotta Cannelloni

This is one of my favourite meals to cook when people are coming over for dinner, as it’s so easy to do a big pan full to share. It’s also a go-to when cooking for meat lovers as it never fails to impress – it’s one of those ‘see how normal/delicious vegan food is?!?’ dishes. It takes a bit of time to prepare, but is totally worth it.

The addition of mushrooms and walnuts provide some great texture and flavour, as well as nutritional goodness. The dish is full of protein, iron, fibre, magnesium, vitamin c, d, b12 and more, so eat up!

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Spinach and Tofu Ricotta Cannelloni
(serves 6-8)

1 1/2 cups button mushrooms, diced
1/2 tsp oil
1 cup walnuts
250g frozen spinach
1 box cannelloni tubes (the type that don’t need pre-cooking)
Vegan cheese, to sprinkle on top (optional)

Sauce:
1/2 tsp oil
1 medium brown onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 400g tins crushed tomatoes (or equivalent fresh)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
Handful fresh basil, torn
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper

Tofu ricotta:
450g firm tofu
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
Handful of basil, torn
Salt and pepper

Toast the walnuts in a pan over low heat, then chop finely and set aside.

Saute the mushrooms over medium heat in 1/2 tsp oil for about 3-5 minutes until soft, and set aside.

Defrost spinach and set aside.

For the sauce, saute onions in 1/2 tsp oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and stir in tomato paste and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for five minutes, then take off heat. From here, you can whizz up the sauce in a blender/with a stick blender if you’d like a smooth consistency, otherwise you can leave it chunky.

For the tofu ricotta, crumbled the tofu with your hands into a large bowl. Don’t worry about pressing any liquid out of it, as a wetter mix is better for assisting the pasta tubes to cook. Add garlic, oil, lemon juice, yeast flakes and basil and stir well. Add mushrooms, walnuts and spinach and mix through. Taste for seasoning.

To assemble, spread a small amount of the tomato sauce across the bottom of a large baking dish. This is important as the dry cannelloni tubes need to come in contact with some moisture on all sides to ensure they cook properly.

Fill tubes with tofu mix, however you please. I used to use a butter knife to poke it in but these days I just get my hands dirty as I find it’s quicker and easier. Lay the tubes side by side in the dish

Cover with remaining sauce, and poke a knife between each tube to allow a bit of sauce to seep in between them. Sprinkle with cheese and pop in the oven. Cook according to your cannelloni package.

Not only is this delicious straight away, it makes great leftovers and is surprisingly yummy cold too!

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White bean dip with sundried tomato, rosemary and sage

While hummus, in all it’s wonder, flexibility and glory, tends to be my go-to dip, I find that white beans make a nice light and creamy alternative – and they’re just as easy to mix up the flavour combinations with.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the markets as they were packing up and bought a whopper box of tomatoes for a measly $2 ($2!!!!!!!!). I turned all the slightly bruised ones into jars of tomato basil sauce for pizza/pasta/etc, kept some for salads, and chucked the rest in the dehydrator and sucked the juice out of those babies. For this recipe, I simply rehydrated a bunch of them and added them to a few things that were already lying around – leftover shallots from another recipe, and rosemary and sage from the garden.

Enjoy!

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White bean dip with sundried tomato, rosemary and sage

4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, rehydrated
Juice of half a lemon
2Tbsp olive oil + 1/2tsp oil for frying pan
1 can (400g) cannellini
beans
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
5 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shallots and sautee for a couple of minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so until golden. Take off heat and transfer to food processor.

Add lemon juice, olive oil and tomatoes and process until fairly smooth.

Add cannellini beans and process again until smooth.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add rosemary and sage. Process to combine all ingredients.

Serve immediately, or store in the fridge until ready to use.

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Backloggin’: Zucchini Fritters

I can foresee the next couple of days being much like today. As long as I am sick, and I am working all day (while snotting and sweating), I am too tired to come up with the spectacular posts that I obviously would have if I had not been stricken down (lets just go with that…)

So today I’m bringing you more backlogs, this time in the form of a yummy recipe that I got from a lovely blog called Lucy’s Friendly Food.

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Last week my haul of local foods from Gympie included some zucchinis and a bunch of parsley. With no plans as to what I was going to use them for, Lucy’s recipe for zucchini fritters came at the perfect time. This was a really easy dish to make, and ready in minutes. Served with a side salad it makes a really nice meal for a warm night when you don’t want to spend too much time cooking.

Hop over to Lucy’s blog and check out the recipe for these delicious fritters here. I am no food photographer, so her pictures definitely tell a better tale than mine.

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Sickness and Watermelon juice

I have managed to contract a sickness from the boyfriend, which he got from a guy he was working with, who got it from his kid. Sharing is caring huh…

So I’m super scratchy throated and runny and sore nosed and TIRED and the last thing I could think of today was an amazing food post for you all, so I’m going to draw on the little backlog of posts that I have from the last two weeks or so that I haven’t yet had a chance to put up (yes, I came with backup).

Back to Gympie for a moment – while we were there I got a few bunches of mint from the area. One day we had some watermelon that needed to go (seriously, it took up about half of our tiny fridge) so I made this yummy juice to enjoy in the sun. I wish I could teleport to this picture, where I was healthy and had a juice in my hand. Ohh those were the days…

The juice barely warrants a recipe with a mere three ingredients, but hey, I’m gonna give ya one anyway.

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Watermelon and Mint juice
(makes about 3 cups)

4 cups chopped watermelon
1/2 cup (packed) mint
Juice of one lime

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend. Add some ice if you want it a bit on the chilled side. ENJOY!

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Lemony Almond Kale Pesto

I’m back for round two!

I’ve had a long day on my feet working for a jewellery stall in a shopping centre here in Bundaberg, so I’m going to make this a quick post.

In Gympie, I picked up some kale from a fruit and veg market that was according to the dude, grown “literally just down the road” – you can’t get much more local than that without growing it in your own yard (or van? Van garden? Hmm…)

It’s no secret that I love pesto…and garlic, and kale and lemon and almonds and so on. Anyway, I decided to whip up this pesto to stir through some pasta as a quick and easy meal, and we used the leftovers to spread in sandwiches (kale pesto, baby spinach, marinated red capsicum and sundried tomatoes). Yum.

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*note: I made this with raw kale as I enjoy the taste, but if you don’t like the bitterness, it’s a good idea to blanch it first (by dropping it in boiling water until the leaves turn bright green, then transferring to a bowl of ice water). However, if you are going to heat it up (on pasta for example), you will end up losing a lot of the bitterness anyway.

Lemony Almond Kale Pesto
(makes about 2 cups)

1 bunch kale, washed and stems removed (*see note above)
150g raw almonds

2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
3 Tbsp water (plus more if needed)
Salt
Pepper

Add almonds and garlic to a food processor and pulse a few times until roughly chopped.

Roughly chop the kale and add it to the processor along with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Process until well combined.

Add nutritional yeast and water and process to combine. If necessary, add water 1 Tbsp at a time until desired consistency is reached. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

Use as a dip, spread, sauce, or pretty much whatever you can think of. Sometimes I like to just eat it on my finger.

 

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Raw Choc-Mint Mousse

Happy Vegan MoFo everybody! Wahoo!

This is my first time participating, which is a bit exciting for me. I was umming and ahhing over whether or not I was going to do a theme as I thought posting every day as I travel around might already be quite a challenge, but hey, I love a good challenge – so I’m hitting the ground running and doing a theme.

I’m opting for what I am hoping will be quite a simple one, which is ‘locally sourced’. This means that I will be aiming to use at least one locally sourced (from wherever I am local to at the time) ingredient every day, which as well as a fun theme is a great way to support local farmers and industry. As we are in quite a big veggie growing region at the moment, it shouldn’t be too difficult. And it’s an excuse to visit more farmer’s markets too! I know, tough gig right?

So we’ve moved on from Gympie – we left today and are currently in Bundaberg, as I have picked up a week of work selling jewellery at a stall starting tomorrow. Billy finished up his labour gig yesterday, so it was perfect timing.

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Before we left though, I had a chance to go on a little trip of my own to Eumundi to visit the infamous markets there. Eumundi is about half an hour south of Gympie, and a little closer towards the coast. It’s a really cute, funky little town and it is buzzing on market day.

The markets were awesome – a diverse range of arts, crafts, food, clothing, jewellery, instrument, handmade toys and so on. I had just eaten brekkie before arriving, which was a bit of a bummer as there were a few different vegan options on offer including momos, smoothies, raw sweets and a Hare Krishna café. I just couldn’t justify buying food for my already full tummy.

I did grab some organic veggies though – some local garlic, salad mix and a big bag of avocados. How I love cheap avocados!

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Afterwards, I decided to travel a little further to the coast as it had been a while since I’d seen the ocean. I drove through Noosaville to Sunshine Beach, where I was able to enjoy the last day of winter under the sun (not that Queensland could call this ‘winter’….29 degrees! That’s summer in Tassie!)

Anyway, enough talk, more food!

Last week I made this deliciously creamy mousse with some avocados that I got in Nanango….being well stocked in the avo department I thought it would be a great start to MoFo to share this simple and sweet recipe.

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Raw Choc-Mint Mousse
(serves 2)

2 avocados
3 Tbsp cacao powder
1-1.5 Tbsp stevia or other sweetener (depending on taste)
1/4 cup fresh mint
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp virgin coconut oil

Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Chill in the fridge before serving, and garnish with extra mint leaves.

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That’s it. It is sooo easy and I just can’t get over the creaminess..it’s amazing. It’s also super versatile, as you can easily alter the flavours – I’m thinking Mocha, Raspberry and Jaffa next. Mmm…

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Nelson Bay + VWaV Ginger Macadamia Coconut Carrot Cake Recipe

So we’ve been hanging out in beautiful Nelson Bay for a couple of weeks now, staying with Billy’s grandparents. We have had to go into Sydney a couple of times to get to the hospital, but as the burn is healing well, I got the all clear the other day, and don’t have to go back again! Hallelujah! So now we can get our trip really kicking again, and we’re going to take off on Wednesday up the coast for some sightseeing and job searching. It’s really exciting to be on our way again, but there’s always a hint of sadness when we leave a place, particularly one where there’s been so much family (for Billy anyway).

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We’ve loved staying here, and have had beautiful weather for the most part, which has meant we got to have some fun in the sun. We borrowed some bikes off of B’s grandparents and went on a few rides around the bays and beaches here which was awesome. They are getting rid of one of their bikes, as they’re moving house, so we are going to lock it to the bullbars and take it with us, hopefully picking up another somewhere along the way. It’s awesome having bikes as we can just park the van somewhere and ride off, and cover a far greater distance than if we were walking. That being said, we have also been on a few walks, a favourite being up Mt. Tomaree. It was quite a short steep walk, with a well established pathway and stairs up to the top. Apparently people run up and down it for exercise, but that was a bit too keen for us. The views from the peak were just stunning!

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Mothers Day also passed while we were here, and I took the opportunity to make one of my favourite cakes for Billy’s Nan. This one comes to you from Vegan with a Vengeance, it’s the amazing Ginger-Macadamia-Coconut-Carrot Cake. Ideal for a special occasion (but also ideal for eating whenever you want to). In my experience, this cake never fails to please, no matter who the audience. It is just deeeeeelicious!! If you’ve never tried it before, do – trust me, it will seriously blow your mind!

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Ginger-Macadamia-Coconut-Carrot Cake with Coconut Icing

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups carrots, grated

Preheat oven to 180C and lightly grease two 8-inch round springform cake pans, or if you prefer, one 9×13-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground spices.

In a separate large bowl, mix together the pineapple juice, oil, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in small batches and combine well with a hand mixer or strong fork. Fold in the macadamias, ginger, coconut, and carrots.

Divide the batter evenly between the two round pans, or spread in the rectangular pan, and bake for 40-45 minutes. Let it cool in the pans. Allow to cool, before icing between the layers and on top with the following recipe. If you used one pan, you can either cut the cake in two or just leave it as a single layer. The double tier makes it just that bit snazzier.
Coconut Icing

1/4 cup nuttelex or other vegan margarine
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Cream margarine until light and fluffy. Add the coconut milk and vanilla and combine. Add the confectioners sugar and mix until smooth. Add the coconut, mix to combine, and refrigerate until ready to use.

This usually makes enough icing to do the sides too, but I kind of like how it looks without. I also like to sprinkle more shredded coconut on top, just to make it look pretty and fluffy. Hope you enjoy it!

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