So you’re vegan. Great! Saving the planet, saving animals, hugs all round. If you get hungry you know vegetables and tofu will always have your back – life is good. But what about when dessert time comes around? Chocolate? No. Cake? Negative. Cookies? Doubtful. And ice cream? That’s right out. Truly, as many sweet-tooths (sweet-teeth?) out there can attest to, often times your only options are some plain Oreos or bag of original sour patch kids. Classic ‘accidentally vegan’ staples to be sure, but not that exciting. No – for true vegan good times, you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself. Enter rosewater vegan panna cotta!
As you probably already know, dairy and gelatin are serial offenders when it comes to sweets/desserts/snacks. With that in mind, it seems counterintuitive to give what is basically a pure lump of cream and gelatin the vegan treatment, but here we are! Panna cotta – most delicious of Italian desserts, and far superior to Tiramisu. The name literally means ‘cooked cream’, for those playing at home, but thankfully we have quite a few creamy vegan alternatives up our sleeves to play with. So let’s get to it!
Take your milk of choice (we used soy), then get some coconut cream. Mix these together – if you want it maximum creamy go with a 50/50 mix, otherwise more milk, less cream. Add some vanilla extract, a dash of rosewater (or whichever flavouring you prefer!), a couple of teaspoons of a sweetener of your choice (we like Stevia) and then your secret weapon – agar agar! Any vegan gelatin substitute will do, remembering agar sets slightly firmer than gelatin, if you’re used to using that. Prepare as per manufacturers instructions and throw it in. Mix, chill, and it should set nicely in about an hour. Done! Your very own vegan panna cotta. But wait, you cry – what sort of recipe is this! Where are the quantities! Well, i’ve never really been one for following instructions myself, and every brand has different gelling properties, so i’d say experimentation is the key here. That said, there’s such an enormous margin for error – worst case scenario it’s a little too wobbly or a bit too solid, but it will still taste great. Go forth and experiment with different flavours too; as long as it pairs alright with coconut then it’s a winner – lime and coconut, caramel, cacao are just a couple of ideas to get you started. Throw some fruit on it and you’re good to go!
- Soy milk, coconut cream, stevia, agar-agar, rosewater, vanilla extract or pods
- Pistachio, fig, strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate, kumquat, watermelon, rockmelon, honeydew, mint, blueberry, pineapple, sesame snap, sesame mochi, edible flowers
Collaboration time! Was super excited to work on a luxurious lunch for my buddy Justine at The Soul Strategist – seeing as they’re all about loving yourself, I thought i’d dedicate this lunchbox to bright, healthy, nourishing ingredients. It’s no secret that we love roast vegetables here, so a whole stack of them, piled high atop avocado, fig, broccolini, and, to be fair, half the fresh produce section – sounds like our idea of heaven. So yeah if it’s possible to fit any more good things into such a small space I don’t want to know about it!
Seriously, this box has everything. They say you’re supposed to eat the rainbow (unfortunately a bag of skittles doesn’t count towards your recommended daily intake for rainbows) and we’ve done our best to round up all the colours. Crisp, golden potatoes, creamy orange pumpkin and sweet potato, verdant avocado, blushing fig, ruby red chilli, deep dark greens – not bad! Throw in some toasted nuts to get some of those healthy fats happening and you should have that outer glow to match your inner glow in no time at all.
- Potato, pumpkin, sweet potato, avocado, fig, broccolini, kale, baby corn, beetroot, pomegranate seeds, almonds, spring onion, chili, walnuts, kalettes, pepitas, vegan cream cheese
- Strawberries, raspberries, nectarines, blueberries, mint
- Cous cous, hummus, pistachio, spiced peanuts
This lunchbox – you should have seen Amy’s face! Inspired by our recent trip to Japan, I figured a themed lunchbox was just what the doctor ordered to prevent those post-holiday blues – close your eyes and you could pretty much be back in a Japanese convenience store! Now usually I aspire to achieve a level of food quality somewhere above the usual offerings at 7-Eleven, but my gosh those Japanese convenience stores are really a cut above. If you haven’t seen them, they have mastered the art of fast, cheap, delicious, healthy food – I could eat the fresh rice balls for days (and I did, wouldn’t have been far off causing a national onigiri shortage at my rate of consumption). Japan is also the home of the bento, and there were plenty of them to choose from, with a plethora of vegan and vegetarian choices for the discerning convenience store connoisseur. Honestly it sounds so ridiculous but it just works out, wherever you are – Tokyo, Hakone and Mt Fuji, all the way down to Kyoto and Osaka, the call of convenience store food was ever-present. Sure, we ate out at some incredible restaurants too, but i’ll never forget just how good the food is at convenience stores over there (especially when there’s no vegetarian or vegan options at my local ones – only cold, grey, day old sausage rolls).
So back to the lunchbox! Look at this thing – this was one seriously loaded lunchbox, filled with all the healthy, Japanese themed eats I could get my hands on! The stars here are the sushi and the mochi – sushi we have all seen a thousand times before, but are you guys familiar with mochi? It’s always been a favourite of ours from the local asian grocery but we got to try a whole pile of interesting flavours over there! It’s that little sesame-covered goober in the back compartment.
Black sesame mochi takes centre stage here, but green tea and cherry blossom flavours make an appearance too, because one mochi is never enough. Do yourself a favour and look up how mochi is made if you’re interested, as it’s quite humorous and involves using a comically oversized mallet to rapidly beat glutinous rice flour into shape. The sushi is standard fare – delicious, dependable, classic sushi, and you can’t go wrong sitting it on a bed of edamame. Next door we’ve just got a bit of roast Japanese pumpkin and some vegetables, some asparagus and cucumber to up the greens count, and finally some baby corn cut into thin slices – I found this especially cute, sort of like little suns or flowers – in any case, healthy, kawaii little bites. Anyway if you’re feeling adventurous, try this lunch box out – it’s absolutely one of our favourites so far 😀
- Roast pumpkin (Japanese/Kabocha, of course!), broccolini, snow peas, baby corn, red cabbage, radish, pumpkin seeds
- Seaweed, sushi rice, avocado, carrot, capsicum, edamame, kale, ginger
- Mochi, strawberry, blueberry, pomegranate, cherry, mint leaves
- Cucumber, asparagus, thyme
- Baby corn
If corn chips are good, and they are – then sure blue corn chips are better, right! Well, when we saw they were selling these colourful characters at the health food store we could hardly help but investigate. Blue corn chips, what a time to be alive. First things first, their chip making ability is clearly superior to their colour recognition because if that isn’t a purple chip and not a blue chip, I don’t know what to think – but hey, the bag says blue corn chips from a variety of blue corn, so who am I to argue. Apparently the purple (ahem… blue) hue is dude to anthocyanin, so you could consider the blue corn chip a long lost relative to the humble blueberry we paired it up with, who also gets that excellent colouration from anthocyanin. It’s a distant relation though – we’d recommend you stick to the blueberries and not reach for the chips when you’re looking for a flavonoid fix. That said, i’ll never turn down an opportunity to add a splash to colour to our lunchboxes, so here we are!
Whichever end of the spectrum your chips end up on, you really can’t go wrong with nachos – not something you might ordinary think of lunchbox fare, but why not! It packs away conveniently, and if you have a little canister like the one pictured above you can keep the sauce (we went with cashew cheese and hot sauce for dipping, but salsa would be great too!) seperate and everything crunchy and fresh. All of this on top of spinach, avocado and kidneys and you’ve got a complete meal right here! Some tomatoes and black rice make a hearty side, and as always, fruit salad is the hero for dessert.
- Spinach, avocado, kidney beans, blue corn chips, regular corn chips, cashew cheese, hot sauce, pomegranate, chili, lime, pumpkin seeds
- Rockmelon, honeydew, watermelon, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, mint
- Black rice, tomato, kidney beans, spring onion