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This tastes like a chocolate dipped strawberry. Behold.

Superfood Chocolate Berry Breakfast Soup

One frozen banana
Three heaped tablespoons of organic freeze dried Acai (I used this one)
Three ripe strawberries
A scant handful of blueberrries
A teaspoon of vanilla bean seeds, or a teaspoon of organic vanilla extract
A tablespoon of macqui berry powder
Half a cup, or there abouts, of almond milk
One heaped tablespoon of organic cacao
One tablespoon of chia seeds
A scoop of raw vegan vanilla protein powder, optional

Allow the chia seeds, vanilla and almond milk to soak in a glass overnight

In the morning, blend everything until it is creamy and glorious. Top with whatever tidbits you have on hand. I sprinkled mine with Loving Earth organic chocolate buckinis, bee pollen, cacao nibs, fresh strawberries, pistachios and a little shredded coconut and it tasted like rainbows and Saturday mornings. Go wild.

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Just what the internet needs, another almond milk recipe. Though I can hardly embark on sustaining a plant based blog without my own almond milk recipe, now could I? The audacity.

I mostly buy my almond milk from these guys at Bondi farmers markets on a Saturday morning, not least because the milk is wonderfully creamy but more for the fact that it comes in sturdy glass bottles that makes me reminiscent of an era that I never even lived through. However, the novelty of pretty receptacles teamed with beautifully hued farmers market fruit does mean that I do have the tendency to get a little too excited and delve onto a three day almond milk and berry bender, for fear I won’t finish it all in time. It was after one such marathon when I found myself, mid-week sans almond milk, that I decided that it was time to endeavour in making it myself.IMG_9914IMG_9788

Homemade almond milk is absurdly cost-effective to make. The benefits are undeniable, knowing what goes into it, the ability to produce something as thick as cream. This is an almond milk for milk mustaches, perhaps a little richer than other varieties, absurdly velvety. It really doesn’t matter whether you use almonds with or without the skin, the latter will yield a slightly nuttier colour as opposed to a crisp white. Both are equally esteemed in terms of deliciousness. This recipe is infinitely adaptable. A pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg works an absolute treat. If you’re going to relegate your milk toward more savoury liaisons, simply omit the vanilla and the sweetener and viola!

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My Favourite Vanilla Bean Almond Milk
Makes one litre, or four cups

One and a half cups of raw organic almonds
Four cups of purified water
One vanilla bean, seeds scraped
Two large tablespoon of maple syrup, date syrup or raw runny honey
A pinch of sea salt

Soak the almonds overnight in enough water to cover them completely.

Drain the almonds. They should be amusingly plump at this stage.

Place almonds in a food processor or high speed blender with half of the purified water – two cups.

Blend relentlessly until it reaches a smooth consistency. Then add the rest of the water and blend some more.

Place a colander over a large enough saucepan, place either a cheesecloth or a nut milk bag. Pour the milk through the milk bag to strain. Gathering the ends of the clothe, squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can and set aside the almond pulp. You can use it to make delicious crackers, cereal or bread.

Pour the almond milk back into the food processor and add the vanilla bean seeds (not the bean itself), your sweetener, the salt and the spices if you are using any. Blend until frothy and well combined.

Pour your milk into a big old fashioned glass milk bottle, ideally sterilized. Leave the vanilla bean pod in the bottle to mingle with your milk while it’s in the fridge and allow the vanilla flavours to get even more glorious as each hour goes on. It will last up to three days, keep it refrigerated.

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At last it is Spring! Right now everything is all white sheets and strawberries and warm air and lavender and bare feet and fresh asparagus and I’m so excited that I don’t even know what to do with myself. Despite this state of frenzy I managed to accomplish two critical things today; skip class in favour of lying in the sunny expanse of my backyard with a good novel and a glass of minted lemon water, and make a soup that tastes of balmy evenings. I hope you enjoy it.

Garlicky Roast Tomato and Sweet Corn Soup with Torn Basil

Serves three to four 

Four fresh corn cobs
Twelve to fourteen large red, perfectly ripe – or even a little overripe – tomatoes
A handful of fresh thyme
Three cloves of garlic, finely mince one, leave the other two whole.
One cup of vegetable stock
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Nice olive oil
A very large handful of fresh basil, ideally picked from the garden just moments ago

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Slice the tomatoes in half, and toss in some good quality olive oil. Arrange on a baking tray. Dust liberally with the thyme, cracked pepper, and the minced garlic clove.
Pop the other two garlic cloves onto the tray. Roast until the tomatoes practically collapse into a sigh. Probably about twenty minutes to half an hour.
Put in a large saucepan.
Boil a saucepan of water and add the corn cobs. Cook until they are plump and the colour of sunflowers.
Cut the kernals from the corn cob.
Add half the kernels and the vegetable stock to the saucepan full of molten tomatoes. Use a hand blender to combine the corn with the tomatoes, garlic and stock.
Add the rest of the kernels, and heat the soup gently over the stove until it is warm enough to eat.
Divide between bowls and shower them with freshly torn basil and cracked pepper.

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This is girl food if it ever did exist. Femininity in a bowl, so sweet it nearly makes me blush. It might seem strange to put two different floral notes in one bowl, but for some reason it just works. Rose petals, orange blossom, vanilla, all sorts of heady spices. It’s a fairy romantic way to start the morning, to say the least. I hesitate to give exact measurements here, as if you’re measuring your granola then you’ve probably missed the point of it altogether. It’s meant to be casual and carefree, a little of this, a little of that. Granola is one of those foods that are entirely forgiving. All you really need to make sure is that everything gets a good toss around in the liquid and you’re on your way. The rest of the additions – the fruit and the nuts and the rose petals – don’t feel the need to measure them. You know how much you like.

Orange Blossom, Pistachio and Rose Petal Granola

Two cups of organic rolled oats
Two or three heaped tablespoons of unrefined coconut oil
Two overflowing tablespoons of maple syrup or honey
The juice of an orange. I used a blood orange.
Two teaspoons of organic vanilla extract
One large teaspoon of orange blossom water
A half cup of pistachios
A half cup of pitted dates, chopped
A teaspoon of cardamom
A teaspoon of cinnamon
A handful of organic edible dried rose petals, to taste
A pinch of sea salt
A little crack of fresh black pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees-ish. Combine coconut oil, honey and orange juice in a small saucepan until melted. Stir to combine.
Add the vanilla extract and the orange blossom water.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, cinnamon, salt, pepper and cardamom. Don’t add the dates or the rose petals yet.
Pour the liquid over the dry and toss to coat.
Line a tray with baking paper. Spread granola mix along the baking paper, ensuring it isn’t too crowded.
Bake for around half an hour. You’ll need to give it a good stir every ten minutes or so to ensure that it gets evenly golden.
When your granola has transformed into the colour of dark honey, and your kitchen smells of heaven, remove from the oven. Let it it cool completely in it’s tray, it’s this cooling period that allows the granola to crisp up nicely.
Do not be tempted to rush it off into a jar until it is completely cool.
Add the dates and the rose petals, toss to combine.
Store in a glass jar in a cool cupboard.

This is superlative just as pictured, with a generous dusting of berries and a heavy handed pour of homemade almond milk.

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Some females, are born to be mothers. You can spot it easily, the nurturers; those tender and selfless, adoring superladies who thrive when those they love are happy – and conversely – are crippled by their pain. Their hearts break when yours does. They’ll trade an hour of sleep for you having a clean ironed shirt and a warm breakfast. Their hugs are as warm and familiar as a bowl of soup. They breathe consolation. They’ll give you the last strawberry without even flinching.

My mum is one such lady.

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Aside from being the worlds greatest woman, she’s also, incidentally, the worlds greatest cook. Sending me to school with sandwiches on bread she’d baked that morning, effortlessly transforming big boxes of blushing stone-fruit into glossy pots of jam, turning a seemingly empty fridge into a veritable feast –  my mum is a domestic goddess in every sense of the world. Cakes and slices are her main squeeze.

Two of her slices, in particular, quickly gained notoriety in selected school-gating circles; her apple slice, and her lemon slice. Both contain loads of butter, refined sugar, white flour and taste like heaven. Be it a funeral, a school fete, or a friend popping around for tea, my sweet noble mum would take to the kitchen and ninety percent of the time, either an apple slice, or a lemon slice, or often both, would materialize.

I, her eager accomplice, would guide her in the kitchen from start to finish, taking on the more critical roles such as licking the spoon and wearing overalls.

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Aside from replacing the butter, refined sugar and flour with more nutritious, and certainly, more mouthwatering ingredients, this slice is a fairly accurate version of mums. It’s sweet, but not overtly so with a  crunchy, creamy topping, and a soft nutty crust.

This is a very small batch, making only eight or so little squares. Four generous sized ones. You could easily double or triple the recipe to serve more.

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My Mums Lemon Slice (made raw, vegan and gluten free)

Crust

Seven thick and plump medjool dates
Two thirds of a cup of almonds
One tablespoon of almond butter
A pinch of sea salt
Two tablespoons of dessicated coconut
A spoonful of honey or maple syrup, if you’d like it a bit sweeter, or if the dates aren’t large enough to hold it together as a dough

Filling

Three quarters of a cup of dessicated coconut
Two thirds of a cup of almond meal (you can replace half of this with rolled oats, if you like)
The zest and juice of one lemon
Two very generous tablespoons of Loving Earth Coconut and Cashew Cream
One large tablespoon of coconut oil
Two to three overflowing tablespoons of honey or maple syrup
A teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
A pinch of pink salt or sea salt

Combine the crust ingredients in a food processor until the pebbly looking mass before you becomes smooth and pliant. Press into a tray lined with baking paper.
Combine the filling ingredients in a food processor. Spread the mixture over the crust. Leave to set for a few hours in the fridge.

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For the past few days, I’ve had two punnets of unenthusiastic looking strawberries lingering in my fridge. They were an impulse purchase, a dollar a punnet, a sure indicator that we are finally hovering on the last edge of winters arctic grip. Sadly, the price was fairly reflective of the quality. Pale pink, bruised, a little underripe, a little overripe. It was disheartening to say the least, and my waking hours ever since have been plagued with the determination of finding a way to make good use of them.

I never bake fresh berries. Why should you? They are perfect as they are. Naked, raw, dressed only perhaps with a drizzle of milk. Strawberries are made for collapsing in your mouth and dribbling down your chin. Though the the prospects for this batch in particular seemed grim, and it was decided that into the oven they’d go. In creating this recipe, I found out that Nigella had once been faced with the exact same daunting prospect. She made a crumble, and likened the transformation of her strawberries to that of alchemy.  Naturally, I took her word (that ripe, dreamy prose) as gospel.

I changed a few things, removed the dairy and the refined sugar, added in some more nutritious options and a peppery trickle of cardamom to make things a little more exciting. This crumble isn’t at all bad for you. While you could have it for dessert, I like to have it for breakfast with a splash of fresh almond milk, Loving Earth caramelised activated buckinis, pepitas and extra shredded coconut. Good morning.

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Strawberry, Cardamom and Almond Crumble (Gluten free, Vegan)

500 grams of strawberries, hulled
An overflowing tablespoon of honey or maple syrup
A teaspoon of ground cardamom
A teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
A tablespoon of almond meal

A quarter cup of coconut oil
A generous quarter cup of flaked almonds
A quarter cup of almond meal
A quarter cup of rolled oats, be sure to use gluten free oats, if necessary
A generous tablespoon of honey or maple syrup
Two tablespoons of coconut sugar
A scant handful of dessicated coconut
A pinch of sea salt

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees.

Combine the chopped strawberries, honey, cardamom and vanilla bean in a heatproof baking dish. Stir until combined.

In a bowl, combine all the crumble ingredients. You’ll need to use your hands to rub it all together to make the mixture wet. Add more oil or honey if need be. Spread the crumble mixture across the strawberries. Bake for thirty minutes. Serve warm, cold or anywhere in the middle.

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There are a number of things in life, in which I love the idea of, but not so much the reality. This rule applies thus far to; French men, walking in the rain, watching opera, and eating spirulina. Spirulina is a highly nutritious salt water plant, that’s outrageously rich in protein and all manner of vitamins.

Sadly, what spirulina boasts in well-being, it lacks in edibility. It tastes like algae. Whilst I’ve reconciled with myself the fact that I may just not be cut out for the French boys, opera, and being cold and wet, I stubbornly refuse to let go of the deeply romantic, lifelong affair I had so imagined for myself and this magical green superfood. While smoothies are a dependable option for a more virtuous means of masking the taste, soft chocolately-hazelnutty truffles will always be my spirulina vehicle of choice.

Though feel free to leave the spirulina out, as it is presented here purely as good intention, and if you’re fussing about your cupboard thinking of some sort of substitute, it truly isn’t necessary. These magical balls of deliciousness carry enough of a nutritional punch in their own right.

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This recipe is a small batch, and only makes about eight or so truffles, depending on how enthusiastic you get with sampling the raw batter.

Hazelnut, Cacao and Cinnamon Spirulina Truffles

Half a cup of roasted hazelnuts (or untoasted, if you have some sort of an aversion to cooked things)
Seven medijool dates
Two heaped tablespoons of cacao
One heaped tablespoon of unrefined coconut oil
Two tablespoons of LSA  (linseed, sunflower seed, almond)
Two heaped tablespoons of dessicated coconut
A heaped teaspoon of cinnamon
A teaspoon of vanilla bean paste
A teaspoon of spirulina
A tiny pinch of sea salt, or pink rock salt
A dash of almond milk, or other non-dairy milk

Extra cacao and cinnamon for rolling

Combine all ingredients except the almond milk in a food processor. You’ll get some wet looking chocolatey crumbs. While the motor is running, add a few dribbles of almond milk at a time. The mixture will come together into a soft, sticky, pliant dough.

Roll the dough into small balls. In a bowl, combine the extra cacao and cinnamon. Toss each ball of chocolately dough in the cacao mixture, and place on a tray lined with nonstick baking paper. Place in the fridge to firm up, though they are just as delicious all soft and molten at room temperature.

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