Raw Pasta with Creamy Garlic Avocado Sauce

I loooove raw pasta. For some reason, it seems so much more filling than just eating the constituents on their own, and it’s definitely way more fun. I whipped this one up the other day and we enjoyed it for lunch on a sunny Queensland winter’s day. It’s really yummy, and soooo easy. Go ahead, try it!

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Raw Pasta with Creamy Garlic Avocado Sauce
(serves 2)

1 large or 2 small zucchinis
2 cloves garlic
2 medium avocados
3 Tbsp basil infused olive oil (plain olive oil will obviously work fine too…I had this on hand and thought it would be tasty – it was!)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped tomato and red onion to top (optional)

Turn zucchini into pasta using whatever method you please…spiralise, veggie peeler, grater, etc and separate into two bowls.

Chuck garlic, avocados, oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. Taste for seasoning. Add water one tablespoon at a time if you’d like the sauce to be thinner.

That’s it! Easy as that! Divide sauce between the two bowls, top with chopped red onion, tomato and a generous sprinkle of pepper. Enjoy!

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Crunchy Sweet Potato Noodle Salad

This is a recipe that I adapted from a trashy magazine I was reading in the waiting room at the burns unit back in Sydney. We had one of those moments where the planets aligned and we had pretty much every single ingredient we needed on hand, so this was perfect. Billy claimed it was his favourite meal in ages (though he says that quite regularly) and at the shops the other day, he disappeared and came back with a packet of fried noodles…subtle hint.

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Crunchy Sweet Potato Noodle Salad
(Serves 2)

1 large sweet potato, cubed
100g fried noodles
2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp red curry paste
Dash of chili flakes
2/3 cup peanuts, toasted
1 cup coriander, chopped roughly
Salt

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a pan and saute the ginger and garlic until golden. Transfer to a bowl or jug and allow to cool. Add coconut milk, lime juice, sugar and red curry paste and whisk together with a fork. I got a bit more of the coconut cream than intended, so added a little water to thin the dressing out. Salt to taste, then set aside.

Heat the other tablespoon of oil in the pan and add sweet potato, cooking over med-low for a couple of minutes. Add a dash of water and cover, allowing the potato to steam a little. Once softer, remove the lid, add a pinch of salt and a (generous) pinch of chili flakes and continue to cook uncovered until the edges are nice and golden and a bit crispy. If you have access to one, you could oven-cook the potato by drizzling it with oil, tossing with the salt and chili and baking for 20-30mins, until tender.

Combine noodles, potato, half the coriander and half the peanuts in a bowl. Pour over dressing and toss to combine. Top with the rest of the coriander and peanuts. We also sprinkled some fried shallots on top as an afterthought. Eat immediately. Yummo.

Spicy Coriander and Lime Hummus

Another quick recipe post, in lieu of my backlog – I have a few picture heavy posts ahead which I need to spend some time in one place uploading, hopefully over the next couple of days. This is a simple, yet delicious spin on hummus that I whipped up with some leftover limes and coriander we had lying around in the van. I love the chili/lime combo, and the coriander balances it out nicely as well as adding a bit of colour. Enjoy!

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Spicy Coriander and Lime Hummus
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

400g chickpeas, cooked
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp tahini
Juice of 2 limes
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bunch coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper

Add chickpeas, garlic, oil, tahini, lime juice and cayenne pepper to a food processor or blender and blend to combine, scraping down the sides as you go. Add water as needed – I added 1 Tbsp to thin the mix out a little. Add coriander (leave a little to garnish) and season with salt and pepper, then blend until smooth. Garnish with a dash of cayenne pepper and leftover coriander.

Cinnamon Overnight Oats

Breakfast, the first meal of the day! If I had a choice, I would most likely have smoothies every day…I love em, but unfortunately in the van it’s not always possible. As our blender stick uses more watts than our inverter can handle, we only get to enjoy our smoothies when we are plugged in to a powered site….or we happen to find a sneaky power point in a park somewhere. Enter overnight oats. This is a super simple recipe that is prepared the night before – just wake up and eat!

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Cinnamon overnight oats

(Serves 2)
 
1 cup oats
4 Tbsp chia seeds
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp stevia (or agave or other sweetener)
2 cups non-dairy milk
Small handful of seeds or nuts (optional, I used sunflower seeds)
Your choice of fruit to top with
Place oats, chia seeds and seeds/nuts (if using) in a medium sized bowl. Add cinnamon and stevia and stir through.
Cover with milk – you may not need the full two cups, just make sure there’s enough to cover all the dry ingredients. The amount you put in will obviously result in a thicker or more liquid-y brekky. Add vanilla and stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate over night.
In the morning, top with your favourite fruits and/or nuts. Some of our favourite combos are banana, strawberry and passionfruit; banana, dates, agave and flax meal; and strawberry/kiwi fruit. And it’s as simple as that! So easy, yet so yummy.
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Byron Organic Kitchen

While staying in Main Arm, we also took a couple of little day trips about the place, including to Byron Bay. There’s no denying that Byron is a beautiful area, and a mega popular tourist destination. The streets are jam packed with travellers (including us) and vans (including ours). While they are only 15 minutes apart, Byron is quite a contrast to the warm, laid back Mullumbimby. There are people buzzing left right and centre, shops and cafes galore and traffic everywhere (it didn’t help that it was school holidays when we ducked in) Unfortunately, with the huge influxes of people coming in and out, Byron has become somewhat commercialised to take advantage of the situation,  with big bright stores like Sportsgirl blasting their music at you as you stroll down the street. That’s not to say it doesn’t still hold some of its charm, with amazing buskers on just about every corner, beautiful beaches, smiling faces and lots of rainbow!We popped in to run some errands, and by mid afternoon we realised we were pretty hungry. Luckily, we happened to be outside the Byron Organic Kitchen! As it was a bit late, much of their stuff was sold out, but I managed to get my hands on a delicious homemade lentil veggie pattie packed with lots of lovely fresh salad in a spelt bun. Just what I needed!

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Billy ordered the soup of the day, which was full of cauliflower, sweet potato, carrot, corn, capsicum, onion and thyme, and served with tosted spelt bread and hummus. He gave it his tick of approval, deeming it ‘delicious!’

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But wait, there’s more! The lovely ladies in the kitchen pointed us in the direction of their house made vegan tiramisu. How could we not?! We devoured the creamy goodness alongside some yummy kombucha.

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If you want delicious, wholesome food, reasonable prices, super friendly staff and a comfy environment to relax in a little way back from the the main action, I would definitely recommend the Byron Organic Kitchen! To take a squiz at their take away menu, head here and marvel at how cheap it is!

I’ll leave you with this piece of advice though – if you are looking for a good skate park, you will not find it here. We walked all over town looking for it, figuring it would be decent due to every second person riding a skateboard. This little patch of concrete is what we found….hmm

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Byron Organic Kitchen
Shop 4, 5 Byron St Byron Bay
Monday to Friday – 7.30am-4pm
Saturday & Sunday – 8am-2.30pm

Mullumbimby Farmers’ Market (CAKE) and Humble Pie Company

While staying in Main Arm, we were able to make two visits to the Mullumbimby Farmers’ Market, which is held every Friday morning at the showgrounds, just out from the town centre. The first time, we were even able to get into the spirit of the town and hitchhike down from Upper Main Arm as our van got bogged in. Seriously, everyone hitches around there – at one point we had a full house in our van, with a fellow helpx-er in the front, a dude we picked up down the road, then a couple we picked up further down with their dog.

I love farmers’ markets, and try to visit as many as I can as we travel around as I think they are a fantastic way to source a range of local, sustainable (and mostly organic) produce in one place, while supporting local farmers and communities. In the wake of a lot of issues regarding questionable growing/farming practices, it becomes important to consider where your food is sourced from and the practices used to produce it, and then determine where you are willing to put your dollar. I am very keen on the idea of cultivating your own veggie gardens and working towards a level of self-sufficiency, however this is not always possible – unfortunately there is little to no garden space in a travelling van! Anyway, I digress…the Mullum Farmers’ Market is a beautiful event – it has a very warm vibe, with live music throughout the morning and plenty of talented kids busking on each stretch. Not to mention some amazing stalls, from your standard veggie stall, to smoothies, to fermented produce, to sushi to raw food. The aromas as you wander about are incredible!

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Our host had recommended Raw Ecstacy, a small business from the Byron area that sells a variety of raw food dishes, including cakes, pizza, quiche, cheese and crackers, all at quite a reasonable price. She specifically mentioned the chocolate beetroot cake, so I was stoked to find it there on our first visit. I’m forever seeking new ways to introduce beetroot to my diet, as I simply DO NOT LIKE eating it – raw, roasted, pickled, in sandwiches, etc.

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Now I can certainly add cake to the list of acceptables. Billy and I had already begun munching this before I thought to take a pic, so here is the rest of the cake, in all its glory. What was truly amazing about this cake was the texture – I’m used to the dense richness of raw desserts, but somehow (with the addition of plenty of shredded coconut) this cake seemed almost fluffy! It definitely had an unexpected lightness to it. Combined with the fudgy icing, it was truly delicious!

Next visit to the market started with a visit to the juice and smoothie stall, where I had to try one of their black sapote banana smoothie, which was amazing. I’d never had a black sapote before, only heard rumours of this magical ‘chocolate pudding fruit’ but finally I was  able to taste it. It really is quit unbelievable! I look forward to more of these treats as we head further north. Next stop, back to Raw Ecstacy to check out their lemon coconut cake.

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As you can tell, this cake took a more dense form than the last, but was yummy and zesty nonetheless. I can’t fault it, but the beetroot was definitely my fave (what?! Beetroot? Favourite?! I know….)

While I’m here, I just wanted to quickly mention a pie shop called Humble Pie that our hosts took us to in Billinudgel, which was about a 20 minute drive north east of Upper Main Arm. This place was great, with a range of about six different vegan pies, including a few mock meat ones, with the rest being tofu/lentil/veggie based. Not to mention all of their pies are made with wholemeal pastry. Billy and I got the mock steak and pepper and mock thai chicken curry, both of which were awesome – we were starving so we woofed them down. We visited again when we were in the area and went for the classic curried lentil.

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This was crazy! The gravy they’d made was so rich and delicious, no wonder this is the most popular veg pie on the menu. Definitely worth checking out if you’re ever up this way.

Mullumbimby Farmers’ Market
Mullum Showgrounds, Main Arm rd
(Between Chinbible st and Coral ave)
Every Friday, 7- 11am

Humble Pie Company
1 Mogo Place Billinudgel
Open daily 8am – 5.30pm

Warming Pumpkin Soup

So I’ve been out of touch a while…we’ve been having some awesome adventures which I’ll talk more about later. We’re in country Queensland at the moment – yes! – we made it over the border at last. Just a quick post to say I’m still here – I had an awesome cannelloni recipe to share (my best one to date!) but I lost the paper napkin I wrote it on…I’m hoping it shows up in the van somewhere. I know, keeping information on a paper napkin is not ideal. Instead, I’ve got a quick and easy one for you – a pumpkin soup I made in the van last night. We were given a whole pumpkin a few days ago, so we used the opportunity we had being plugged into power at the Chinchilla Weir to whizz up this one. We only have one smallish pot, so we had to make do with whatever would fit. I know everybody has their own spin on pumpkin soup (I like a healthy dash of white pepper, or some red or green thai curry paste), but this one is a simple one that can be tweaked however you like.

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Pumpkin Soup
(serves 4)

Half a medium sized pumpkin, peeled and chopped
1 medium potato, chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
Thumb of ginger (about one inch), minced
Vegetable stock (enough to cover veggies)
1/2-1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a medium to large saucepan. Add onion and saute over medium heat for a couple of minutes until softened. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.

Add curry powder, cumin and cayenne pepper and cook for about 30 seconds, before adding pumpkin and potato. If you have the space and feel like a thicker soup, throw a couple more potatoes in. Fill with enough veggie stock to cover the vegetables.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook until veggies are soft enough to mash. Add salt and pepper, then get your whizz stick and mix until smooth (or transfer to a blender – but remember to let it cool a little first so there’s no soup explosions!). And voila! Ready to eat! We toasted some garlic bread under the grill to dip in and topped with plenty of pepper and cayenne as I like it spicy.

Enjoy!

Last days in the bay + Orange Chia Seed cake

We had a lovely last week in Nelson Bay, being able to get out and about a bit more than the previous few after my little accident. On the long weekend, Billy’s brother and his partner and two of their friends came up to stay, which was a nice opportunity to get to see them all one last time before we shipped out. We took a little trip out to Stockton Beach, which is famous for its sand dunes, which appear to just go on forever. Billy tells me they ship sand from the dunes there to beaches in Hawaii but I’m not sure if that’s actually true or not (sometimes he tells very convincing mistruths), so I cannot confirm this for sure. It was a gorgeous day, and we were lucky enough to see whales playing off in the distance from the shore which was cool. They are all migrating north for the winter, so it’s apparently really common to see them pass up the coast at this time of year. That being said, it was my first whale sighting so it was pretty exciting for me!

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The long weekend also coincided with the Bluewater Country Music Festival, which was happening all around Port Stephens, but predominantly in the Bay. I love it when things like this pop up unexpectedly, especially when it’s something that you might not have normally gone out of your way to attend. The little town of Nelson Bay came alive, with performers on every corner of the town, market stalls along the waterfront and gigs at pretty much every venue in town each night. There was even – wait for it – the longest line dance (for charity) down the main street on Monday morning. You better believe we were going to be there for that!
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It was amazing! I think the count was over 100 people, some of whom were very happy to have their photo with us. Billy even managed to get a few dancing tips…
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We spent the next few days repacking, reorganising, fixing little bits here and there, doing loads of washing and so on, preparing to get back on the road at last. We picked wednesday for a set of date, which also happened to be Billy’s birthday, so we had a nice farewell lunch with Billy’s grandparents and set off in the afternoon. I made an Orange Poppyseed cake (subbing poppy seeds for chia seeds as we had them on hand), which was absolutely delicious. You can find the recipe over at Veggieful’s beautiful blog – go check it out, there are loads of mouthwatering recipes accompanied by stunning photos. I just discovered this blog the other day when searching for the perfect cake, and am already hooked!
I tweaked the recipe a tiny bit, adding extra juice and zest as the oranges I had didn’t have the strongest flavour. I made about double the icing as well, so that I could do a middle layer. This picture doesn’t do justice to the deliciousness of the cake…not my best icing effort, but trust me – the taste made up for it.
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Billy rated it his third favourite cake, after this one that I made for his birthday last year, and the VWaV carrot cake. It’s definitely going to be added to the cake rotation!
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Sydney: the cake edition

The couple of visits to Sydney gave me ample opportunity to eat cake. And who am I to let something like that slip through my hands? On one of our trips to Newtown, Billy and I came across Vegan’s Choice, a little supermarket that stocked various pantry, refrigerated and frozen goods, as well as a large range of cakes, cupcakes, brownies and tofu ice cream.

 I think I actually cried a little the first time we walked in and looked at the cake display. Seriously. They had a great selection which included a couple of raw cheesecakes, plus about half of their cakes were gluten-free. I’m not sure what happened next – maybe I went into shock – but next thing I knew, we were walking down the street with a cupcake each. I can’t remember what the exact flavours were, but I think Billy got cookies and cream with vegan mint slice on top, and mine was along the lines of choc peanut butter with vegan tim tams. They were pretty yummy, though super sweet and almost a bit sickly by the time I’d finished it.
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The cakes and I had unfinished business, so we visited them again the next time we were in the area. This time I was able to quickly eliminate all but two cakes in my decision making process…it was either mocha or caramel cheesecake. I went with mocha, and the cheerful lady behind the counter asked if I wanted a scoop of ice cream with it. Why yes nice lady, I do. I got chocolate on the side, and Billy went with a choc walnut brownie with black sesame ice cream.
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I wish I could eat this cake forever, for it was a slice of smooth, creamy, silky choc coffee goodness. YUM. Now I had one more opportunity to visit Vegan’s Choice when I met up with a lovely friend of mine for a long awaited catch up. We ducked in for something sweet, and I was able to test the caramel cheesecake, while she went with the raw jaffa cheesecake. Both delicious, though I preferred the mocha. The raw cake was super rich and decadent, and while tasty, was difficult to finish in one sitting.
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My last Sydney cake escapade caught me by surprise. I went with Billy’s mum for a wander around the Glebe markets, when I noticed a cute little cupcake stand – Madhatter Cupcakery. I was admiring all the prettily decorated cakes when I noticed a sign saying VEGAN. Upon discovering that yes, the sign was telling the truth, we picked four little cupcakes to take home and share among us. I think these were macchiato, salted caramel popcorn, red velvet, and strawberry musk. The flavours of these were beautiful, the strawberry one being reminiscent of fairy floss, and the salted caramel had that real salty hit.
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Mmmm cake.
Vegan’s Choice
113 King st, Newtown
Open 7 days, 11.30am-late
Madhatter Cupcakery
Glebe Markets
40 Glebe Point rd, Glebe
Every Saturday 10am-4pm

Bibina

I’m kind of behind in terms of posts I’ve been wanting to do, as the lack of access to computers makes it a bit difficult sometimes. I’m determined to catch up though! The order of some of these will be a bit out of wack, but hopefully over the next couple of days I can get back up to speed with where I actually am now…real time.

Firstly, I wanted to do a quick post about this amazing place that Billy’s sister told us about called Bibina, because every vegan needs to know about this place. Bibina is a warehouse in Warners Bay – not too far from Newcastle – that imports a large range of international foods. There are aisles upon aisles of wonders, well organised by their country of origin.
You wouldn’t guess by just looking at it, but this place is a little slice of vegan paradise! While they do stock various animal products, they have an almost abnormally large amount of vegan (and gluten-free) stock. We spent over an hour inside, wandering up and down all the aisles and oohing and aahhing over all the foreign items. Here’s a picture of my bounty (NOTE: this was us being very reserved with out impulse buying).
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The incredible part is the price of a lot of this stuff. Some of these items I’ve seen in health food shops for more than double what they were charging here. I had never tried any of the Linda McCartney range because at around $8-12 a pop, it seemed like a rip off. Enter Bibina: $3.50 – how could I not?! I had tried Sheese once before but paid a ridonkulous $11 for it (and was not overly impressed by it anyway), but at a far more reasonable $5, I decided to give it a second chance. Also in this photo are; fairtrade soy cacao milk, GF self saucing choc pudding mix, Moo Free choc with banana chips, organic spinach noodles, GF chili pasta spirals, Massel stock cubes, Byron Bay habanero chili and mango hot sauce, tin of hummus (awesome stock to keep on hand in the van for when we need a quick snack), soy pepper pate, chili and lime peanuts, and speculoos biscuit spread (amazing…I had only heard the rumours about this magical stuff, having no idea it was available in Australia. We ate a whole jar with a spoon and had to go back for more..)
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This was our second time to Bibina, the first I didn’t take snaps but we got some similar bits as well as different items, like pepper tapenade, wholemeal roti breads and more. Seriously, this place is amazing. I really don’t think that I need to sell it any more than I already have, but if you need more incentive to get your butt down there, check this out – they have an ENTIRE ROOM OF CHOCOLATE. Yep.
Bibina
355 HIllsborough Rd, Warners Bay
Monday to Friday 8am-5pm
Saturday 8.30am-4pm