Recipe: Vegan Bean Burgers

IMG_2864What to do for dinner when all you have is left over salad from lunch, a handful of lonely vegetables and a tin of kidney beans? Bean salad or bean burgers is about your only option! As it happens it was just the right dinner for a hot summer evening, easy to make, quick to eat and very tasty. With a glass of home-made lemonade with mint and blueberries, and followed by a night swim in the pool = perfect.


Bean burgers served cold with slices of mango, yogurt, hommus, fruit salad and toasted nuts makes an amazing breakfast too. Sounds crazy to put a curried burger and hommus with fruit salad but it works a treat.


1 tbs coconut oil

1 onion

1 large clove garlic

2 celery stalks

1 carrot

1 400g  tin kidney beans

1 tsp mild curry powder

salt and pepper

a little coconut flour to thicken and bind


Finely chop onion, garlic and celery. Soften in coconut oil. Grate carrot and add to mix with the curry powder. Stir until the carrot is soft.

Add mixture to a food processor with drained kidney beans, seasoning and a little coconut flour (about 1 tbs). Blend until the mixture is smooth. Add a little more coconut flour if the mixture is too soft.

With wet hands, roll into burgers and put in the fridge for half an hour to firm up, then shallow fry in a little more coconut oil. The burgers are very soft and difficult to cook at room temperature (at east when room temperature is over 30 degrees!) so keep them in the fridge until just before you are ready to cook them. Serve hot or cold with hommus, yogurt, fresh salad topped with toasted nuts … and eat any leftovers for breakfast or lunch the next day. Better still, make a double batch and freeze some for later.

Recipe: Neapolitan Banana Ice Creams

Aren’t these pretty? Banana ice-cream isn’t new but it sure is yummy and easy. We’ve made these ones with three different flavours: vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. They take me right back to my childhood – those idyllic days before dairy-free, sugar-free and additive-free became my norm, and the delight in scooping ice-cream out of a tub that has three different choices of flavours all at once – although I would always go for vanilla. Still do. I love chocolate but chocolate ice cream has always made me feel like I am eating cold mud (I think I must be quite alone in the world with that particular visualisation!) and strawberry ice-cream was sweet and lovely until that artificial strawberry flavouring kicked in and the coughing would start. I can’t believe I didn’t discover banana ice cream until adulthood!



4 ripe bananas

1 cup coconut milk

2 tbs maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla essence

250g fresh strawberries

2 tbs cacao powder


Blend up the peeled bananas with the vanilla, maple syrup and coconut milk. Whizz it all together until it is lovely as smooth. This is the base mixture for the ice-creams. No need to remove it from the blender, just spoon it out and into the moulds as you go.

Spoon 2 teaspoons of this mixture into the bottom of your ice cream moulds.

Add the washed and hulled strawberries to the base mixture left in your blender and blend again until it is all smooth and pink. Add more strawberries if you like it pinker.

Spoon 2 teaspoons of the strawberry mixture on top of the base mixture in the ice-cream moulds.

Add the cacao to the pink mixture left in the blender now. Depending on how much of the mixture you’ve used already, you may need to add another banana or some more coconut milk to make it go a bit further. Blend until smooth. The cacao will turn the mixture quite brown and chocolately. Smells delicious even now!

Top up the rest of the ice-cream moulds with the chocolate mixture, place the handles and tops on the moulds and put them in the freezer overnight. It should be enough to make 12 ice creams. If you make these in the morning they might be ready by the time school is finished. It’s pretty fun to eat even if you get them out of the freezer too soon. Ice-cream on a spoon is just as tasty as ice-cream on a stick! If you do have some mixture left over, add some ice and coconut milk to the blender and drink it as a smoothie 🙂

Recipe: Allergy-friendly Birthday Cupcakes

Sharing a birthday treat at kindy or school is becoming a bit of a tricky issue. Most schools and kindergartens have a nutrition policy and ask for no chocolate and sugary treats. Then there are the children with food sensitivities, allergies and other special diets who always miss out on special treats at birthday celebrations. Being one of those people myself I always feel sad to see those children resigned to the fact that they’ll be missing out on the fun food 😦

Here is a recipe that should meet almost all the needs of your child’s friends at a birthday celebration! It has no eggs, dairy, refined sugar, nuts or gluten. It isn’t grain-free but grain-free usually means using nuts instead and nuts are often excluded from schools as part of an allergy management policy. The frosting I have used is made of fruit, dates, maple syrup and coconut oil, so no naughty ingredients there either, although if nuts are not an issue then adding some soaked cashews to the blender will thicken the frosting up and make it creamier too. The only naughty bit was the silver cashous on top 🙂

These cupcakes turned out quite moist and fluffy inside – for gluten-free cooking (or more specifically MY gluten-free cooking!) that’s a plus because I find gluten-free baked goods are often quite dry. The flax seeds are mixed throughout but don’t change the texture of the cupcake at all.



1 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup maple syurp

1/3 cup coconut oil

2 tbs ground flax seeds

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp apple cider vinegar (I used home-made fruit scrap vinegar)

2 cups your favourite gluten-free SR flour (I use one without any soy or dairy)


1/2 cup dried dates, soaked in hot water 10 minutes

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup frozen fruit defrosted to room temperature (I used cherries to make a dark purple icing)


Mix all the wet ingredients plus the flax seeds. Allow the flax seeds to soak for 10 minutes or so. The flax seeds are acting as a binder and are replacing the egg in the recipe. You may need to add a little extra liquid after this stage, depending on the thickness of your mixture after the flaxseeds have gelled up.

Add the flour and mix well.

Spoon level to the top in muffin tins greased lightly with coconut oil and cook for 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 180C. They don’t go very brown on top/ When the skewer comes out clean they are cooked.  If the skewer still has mixture stuck to it, cook for another minute at a time until they are done. If overcooked they tend to dry out.

Allow to cool in the trays before turning out. This stops them from drying out.

While cupcakes are cooling, blend the frosting ingredients together and pipe on top of the completely cooled cupcakes. All ingredients should be at room temperature for the frosting otherwise the coconut oil will cool and clump instead of blending smooth. If it is a cool day and the coconut oil is solid to begin with, then cook all ingredients together for a little bit before you blend them. Decorate as you like then a bit of chilling in the fridge will set the icing. I’ve used dried rose petals and silver cashous.

Recipe: Mandarin and Almond Upside Down Cake

The colder weather brings the citrus fruit! Hooray for late autumn mandarins!! They are so sweet and juicy and such a perfect snack for children. And so bursting with the right kind of vitamins to help combat the winter sniffles. They are the best thing, I find, for a pick-me-up in the morning and for satisfying the sugar cravings in the late afternoon.

I looked and looked for hours, trawling over the internet for a cake recipe using mandarins  that would fit everyone’s needs at playgroup. I do my best to make a morning tea that is free of grains (and therefore free of gluten), sugar (natural sweeteners only) and also vegan so that each person in our group can enjoy the morning tea. I’m so glad we have no one with nut allergies because then we’d just be eating fruit 🙂

I didn’t find what I was looking for so I made a recipe up. It was a bit of a hotch-potch of ingredients, but a delicious one! I’ve recently learned that chia seeds mixed with water can be used instead of egg as a binder, so I ground up some white chia seeds into a fine powder and mixed 2 tbsp of that with a cup of water. I think it was enough to replace maybe 4 or 5 eggs? In any case our cake turned out quite moist. I’m not sure the addition of chia seeds is legal on the GAPS diet, but I ate a little of this today with no noticeable reaction, so perhaps from time to time it may be ok.

The mandarins were boiled in their skins for a few hours, and as the skins are used in this recipe along with the flesh I think it is pretty important that organic mandarins are used. I cheated a bit for the mandarins on the topping. I had a tin of mandarin segments in the cupboard and I’ve been wanting to use them for ages, so they became the topping to the upside-down cake. I don’t see why you couldn’t use pipped fresh mandarins, or even boil up 2 extras and whizz them all up together, saving some of the mandarin pulp to use as the topping.

It disappeared pretty quickly so I’d say it was all right 🙂



3 organic mandarins, plus 2 more for decorating (or 1 tin of mandarin segments).

1/2 cup natural sweetener of your choice (honey/maple/agave)

1/3 cup dates

1/3 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp ground chia seeds

1 cup water

350g almond meal

75g hazelnut meal


Boil three whole (washed and unpeeled) mandarins, completely covered by water for 2 hours. I tipped out the water halfway through and topped up the pot with fresh water because I thought the skins might get a little bitter from this treatment. Not sure if it made a difference but they certainly were not bitter in the end.

Drain and cool the mandarins, then blend them. Take the pips out if you want to – I just blended the whole lot up, skins, pips and all, into a pulp in the food processor.

Add sweetener, ground chia seeds, water and coconut oil to the mandarin and blend again.

Add the dates, almond meal and hazelnut meal and blend until smooth.

Grease a ring tine with coconut oil. Drizzle  a little maple syrup into the base. Lay out the spare mandarin segments, then pour the cake mixture over the top.

Bake at 180C until firm. This took about 40 minutes for my cake. It did go quite brown on the top but was still moist in the middle.

Eat and enjoy!

Recipe: Vegan Coffee Scrolls

These coffee scrolls (so-called because they are so good to eat whilst relaxing with a cuppa, not because they contain coffee!) are made wheat-free, dairy-free and egg-free. Not sugar-free this time, although I am sure we can work out how to make this happen. Little ones and big ones were made for playgroup morning tea one beautiful sunny morning, and enjoyed with some Rawganic Chocolate and Cocoluscious ice cream on the side.



2 cups Self raising flour (I used Spelt)

pinch of salt

100g coconut oil (cooled so that it is firm)

200ml coconut milk


100g coconut oil (cooled so that it is firm)

200g brown sugar

150g plain flour


1) T0 make the dough, place the flour and salt in a bowl and rub in the coconut oil until mix resembles breadcrumbs. Pour in the milk and mix together to form a moist dough.

2) To make the filling mix the coconut oil, sugar and flour together in a blender.

3) Pat the dough out on to a floured surface until it is about 1 cm thick. Spread with a layer of the filling and roll up lengthways.

4) Cut into slices, about 2 cm thick and place on a tray. Bake about 20 minutes or until light brown on top.

Two Recipes and a GAPS lapse: Carrots, Ginger and Beetroot Soup (and Vegetarian Curry)

I have mentioned before that I am currently following the GAPS diet. It is the first time in my life I have ever followed an eating regime of any kind, and it is not a diet for weight loss. Instead it is a diet that has been designed to support digestive healing: to return our gut back into an environment that can process the substances we eat without producing toxins that cause other problems in the body. For me, there were a variety of reasons for beginning this diet and at the time I started (about 9 months ago) it was eczema, asthma, allergies and joint pains. Now my asthma has gone completely, my eczema returns only when I’m stressed and hardly raises an itch, my allergies are almost forgotten and the joint pains stay away so long as I don’t slip up on the diet. I don’t mind them being there as a little alarm for me, actually – a reminder that although all seems to be going well for me, that I still have to take care of myself. It reminds me of the nursery rhyme:

When she is good she is very very good,

But when she is bad she is horrid!

When I am in the zone on GAPS I feel amazing. I feel so much energy, so alive in my body and my thoughts and reflexes are so sharp. Everybody and everything is wonderful and it is easy to respond positively to the daily niggles. I totally forget about eczema and asthma and allergies – they don’t exist. When something snaps (a few nights in a row of bad sleep or a busy week) then my routine of cooking and eating is disturbed and I fall off the wagon. One of the hardest things I find about being on this diet is being prepared with food-to-go. There are often times when I am out and about in the car all day long, and if I don’t have a sufficient food for me to eat then I have no choice but to go and buy something. The are lots of great places to eat on the Gold Coast, but few options for grain- and sugar-free diets. So sometimes I have had a few slips, either by chance or by choice. When I am busy, tired, not prepared, perhaps a little stressed I think, “a sandwich won’t hurt”. The last sandwich I ate has hurt me now for about 2 weeks. Headache, extreme tiredness and joint pain was the immediate result, and I’ve had a lingering pain in my foot all this time. I am sure there is more involved with this pain, on a deeper level I have needed some rest (sleep!) and some nourishing from sources other than food (sunshine, quiet time, family, friends, meditation, creative play). A week of rest and a return to the GAPS introduction diet has put me back on the right track and the pain in my foot has diminished. It is a relief not to limp everywhere. Pain is a great reminder but it is exhausting having to live with it every day and I am extremely glad I don’t have to.

So the result of all this is a renewed commitment to preparation. Back on the menu planning, making sure I have enough basic supplies to keep me going through the days. The key to it all is stocks and soups. Home made meat stock is not optional on the GAPS diet. It is essential and I always have several jars of it in the fridge. It goes into almost every meal I make for myself and my family. It also forms the basis of the soups that I eat for breakfast and lunch. I am supposed to drink it with every meal to help with digestion, but I haven’t developed that habit yet. The gag reflex from my vegetarian days kicks in when I try to drink neat stock. But put some veggies in and call it soup and I am ok with it. My thermomix (also known as Thermoslave) is set to work almost every morning making a new batch of soup and I love it when my fridge is full of rainbow coloured jars of goodness.

Thermoslave is my fourth child

Here is one of my favourites: Carrot and Ginger Soup, this time with beetroot to give a deep wintery flavour and colour. Roasted beetroot would be even more delicious, but I didn’t do that this time. Perfect comfort food and a great breakfast for a cold morning. I thoroughly recommend starting the day with a hot soup and a dollop of yogurt or sour cream. My body sings. If you are vegetarian this soup can be made with vegetable stock, but please make it yourself – so much more nourishing than salty stock cubes!

The soup was also used to thicken the curry that I made for dinner the other night. On GAPS my family and I have gotten used to watery sauces, as flour, arrowroot and cornflour can’t be used to thicken. So now I use soups, nuts ground into a paste, or mashed pumpkin to thicken up our meals if they require it.

Carrot, Ginger and Beetroot Soup


2cm ginger, chopped finely or grated

3 garlic cloves, chopped finely

2 tbs oil/cooking fat

Pinch of salt

3 carrots, chopped in rounds (large ones)

2 small beetroots, peeled and chopped

Stock to cover veggies


1)      Heat oil and cook ginger and garlic for 2 minutes or until fragrant.

2)      Add salt and stir.

3)      Add vegetables and stir on medium heat for 5 minutes or until edges are softened.

4)      Cover with stock and bring to the boil.

5)      Turn heat down and cook for about 25 minutes

6)      Blend to preferred consistency and serve with sour cream.


Carrot and Beetroot Tops Curry



2 tbs coconut oil

2cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp turmeric paste

1 tsp salt

1 tsp mild curry powder

3 carrots, roughly chopped

½ head cauliflower, roughly chopped

200g cabbage, chopped

1 cup Carrot, Ginger and Beetroot Tops Soup

1 spring onion

1 bunch beetroot tops

1 cup cashews.



1)      Heat oil and when hot, add ginger, garlic, turmeric, salt and curry powder. Stir and cook until fragrant.

2)      Add chopped carrot, cauliflower and cabbage. Stir together with spices until well coated.

3)      Add stock and soup and cook until tender.

4)      In last five minutes of cooking, add chopped spring onion and beetroot tops.

5)      Roast cashews in oven while the curry cooks

6)      Serve with rice and chapatis (for the non-GAPS members of your family)and sprinkled with toasted cashews.

Fairy Mushroom Muffins

These are my take on the sweet little party mushroom cupcakes … with the icing that my housemate describes as a “service to humanity”.

These little sweeties are made with the Persimmon, Pear and Pecan Muffins of my last post, together with the Cashew Cream Icing that I used in the post about the Grain-Free Banana Bread. To make it red though, I added beetroot.

I’ve tried beetroot juice in icing before. To me, despite the sweetness, it still takes like beetroot and this gives an earthy and slightly bitter taste to the icing, which I find a bit yuk. So this time I roasted four little beetroots in coconut oil until they were soft and their sweetness was concentrated, then they were mushed up a bit and blended really really really well into the cashew cream to give it the lovely deep colour. Not quite red, but a very dark pink that can be forgiven for not being red because it is so tasty.

The dots on the mushrooms are slivered almonds.

This was a do-it-yourself exercise at playgroup: I made the muffins first, and the children could ice them and put as many spots on as they liked. Sadly I was away this day, and there didn’t appear to be any leftovers … lucky that I kept aside a stash of beetroot and cashew cream icing for myself … it’s pretty good on top of anything, really!

Recipe: Persimmon, Pear and Pecan Muffins

Oh my goodness – why has it taken me so long to discover persimmons? I’d never even seen them before this year. Thanks to Food Connect, from whom I order my seasonal organic fruit and vegetables, I am receiving a beautiful range of seasonal harvest each week. When I first received these strange fruits that look like a cross-breed between a tomato and a mandarin, I suspiciously put them to one side in my fruit bowl – and there they stayed until they were clearly no good and with some relief I had to throw them out. But they just kept coming! Every week! I realised I had to either get over the challenge of a new fruit or cancel my order! I didn’t want to cancel my order so I cut one open.

I was gone in the first bite. Mmmm they are soft and sweet inside with the texture of an apricot. Oh my, I’m now addicted and I have discovered how they are even more delicious when you let them get a little over-ripe so that they are soft and squishy inside.

I’ve made muffins with them in this post – but my favourite way to eat them is pureed and poured over yogurt with some chopped nuts on top. It is such an awesome breakfast/snack/treat/dessert – all in one.

This recipe is a celebration of Autumn goodness, and the letter ‘P’. I only put the pecans in because they made a good ring to the title, but as it turns out they are an autumnal nut so they fit perfectly. These muffins have spelt flour and maple syrup in them so they are not GAPS, and it is to my ultimate frustration that I cannot sample these ones – they look so good! They are, however, free of wheat, dairy, eggs and processed sugar, although there is a hearty amount of maple syrup in there. As I cannot taste these I can only say that I suspect you could easily reduce that amount because the persimmons and pears should be pretty sweet in themselves.

And because I could not taste these I adapted another recipe I’ve posted previously, the grain-free banana bread. I replaced the banana with pureed pear and persimmon (1 of each) and because I’m a bit over LSA I used hazelnut flour instead. I wanted to make muffins but all my muffin trays were full, so it is a loaf, and a very yummy one too, if you don’t mind so much coconut. And it is all mine, now that everyone else gets to snack on all this other persimmon goodness 🙂

The next thing I’m going to make is persimmon compote for my dinner tonight (roast pork, with pumpkin mash, persimmon compote and pureed roast pumpkin) – do you sense a theme here? Better steam some peas too.


Makes 24 small muffins


1 cup white SR flour (I used spelt

1 cup wholemeal SR flour (Spelt flour, again)

1/2 tsp bicarb of soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

2 tbs coconut oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 cup coconut milk

1 persimmon

1 pear

1/2 cup pecans, chopped


1) Peel and core the persimmon and pear. Chop them up and blend them into a puree in your food processor.

2) Add all other ingredients except pecans into the food processor and blend until smooth.

3) Add chopped pecans and stir to combine.

4) Pour into muffin trays and bake at 180C for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe: Vegan Apple, Coconut and Pineapple Muffins

This recipe I have been making for years. It is one of those ones that is all stained with drips of batter and smeared with syrupy fingers in the recipe book. It comes from a book called “Recipes from Shantivan, forest of peace” by Sara Albion (produced by the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University), given to me by a beautiful person I worked with once (hello Maeva!)

The recipe book is vegetarian and ‘incorporates the principles of non-violence and respect for all sentient beings’. I have adapted this recipe to be vegan by substituting coconut milk for the dairy – and because I am me I also used spelt flour instead of wheat, took out the sugar and added a little extra maple syrup. The recipe was already egg-free. It makes great little muffins for children: simple in flavour and easy to make with children too. They even work well with gluten-free flour.

I was a bit naughty this time and sprinkled the top with cinnamon sugar. It is the first time I have used sugar or grains for a playgroup morning tea this term. I didn’t eat these muffins this time because I am still on the GAPS diet (which is a diet for digestive health: grain/sugar/starch free) and I have  been a bit slack lately and that lovely eczema is making a comeback on my hands and arms – so I had to rely on others to tell me what they taste like. Which was just as well because when I made them I forgot to make the flour self-raising so they were a little dense – but apparently still very moist … they got the thumbs up, anyway.



1 cup Self Raising white spelt flour

1 cup Self Raising wholemeal spelt flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

2 tbs coconut oil

1 tsp cinnamon

3 tbs maple syrup

1 cup coconut milk

extras – shredded coconut, diced apple, diced pineapple

(sorry no quantities here for the extras – just add as much as you think will be yummy!!)

cinnamon sugar (2 tbs raw organic sugar + 1 tbs cinnamon)


Mix dry ingredients. Add maple syrup, oil and milk and stir until mixture is smooth.

Add shredded coconut, diced apple and diced pineapple and mix well.

Pour into muffin tins and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake in a moderate oven 20 – 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Recipe:Banana Bread with Cashew Cream

At first glance this recipe looks pretty strange – there’s not much to it. There is no flour or eggs, in fact there appears to be nothing but banana holding this together.

But it’s so yummy and it is a great morning tea snack, served with sweet cashew cream – and if you cook it in a loaf tin and then slice it, it makes an awesome breakfast served hot with butter for hungry kids in the morning (this would be what my kids might eat while they are waiting for their 2nd breakfast of something more substantial). It also freezes well. You can slice it, keep it in the freezer and just warm up as many slices as you need.

And of course, I have adapted the recipe from another one, because that’s how I cook. The original recipe can be found in the 2001 edition of The Australian Women’s Weekly Allergy-Free Baking cook book, on page 40. I have taken out the sugar and changed the oil from vegetable oil to coconut oil but that’s about it. It’s unclear what the purpose of the baking powder is in this, as it doesn’t rise much, so I think you could probably leave that out too.


(grain/gluten-free, sugar-free, egg-free, dairy-free)


1 1/2 cups mashed over-ripe banana

1/2 cup dates

1/2 cup coconut oil

2 tsp gluten-free baking powder

1 tsp mixed spice

2 1/2 cups (200g) desiccated coconut

1 3/4 cups (225g) linseed, sunflower and almond meal (LSA)


Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease loaf pan/muffin trays.

Blend banana, dates, oil, baking powder and spice until smooth.

Pour mixture into a bowl and add coconut and LSA.

Spread into loaf pan/muffin trays.

BAKE – 10 minutes for mini muffins, 20 minutes for large muffins, 45 -50 minutes for loaf pan

(should go brown on top but not black – watch that coconut it burns quickly!)




1 cup soaked raw cashews

1/2 cup water

2 tbs maple syrup/honey

1 tsp vanilla essence


Blend on high until smooth. Chill for half an hour before serving.