The Best Vegan Lasagne EVER!

Best ever veggie lasagne The Urban Ma

 

I came across this recipe early last year and had a bit of time last Sunday so I spent the afternoon chopping and roasting and baking away. This is not an easy dish to complete with a curious toddler who constantly needs attention so it’s no wonder I hadn’t made it in a while! This recipe is from Like A Vegan who share amazing culinary creations from smoothies to main meals. Check out their website for endless vegan recipes! I had to change few ingredients when I baked mine so below is what I used:

Ingredients

  • 2 medium potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 large pumpkin, thinly sliced
  • 1 eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups mushroom, thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 packet instant lasagne sheets
  • 1/3 packet blue style Cheezly (you can find this in the refrigerated section of some vegetarian outlets)

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 “beef style” stock cube
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Béchamel Sauce

  • 1/2  cup Nuttelex or vegan margarine
  • 1/4 cup white flour
  • 2-3 cups soy milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C and grease a large rectangular baking dish and baking trays.
  2. Evenly spread out vegetables on baking trays and bake until cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the tomato sauce, combine stock cube and boiling water and set aside until water has been absorbed.
  4. In a large pan, lightly fry the finely chopped red onion and garlic before adding the stock, tomatoes, brown sugar, herbs and salt and pepper. Allow to fully heat through.
  5. To make a quick and easy béchamel, melt Nuttelex in the microwave in a large jug.
  6. Whisk in flour and nutritional yeast before cooking in the microwave for a further minute.
  7. Slowly whisk in soy milk until your desired consistency is achieved and season with salt and pepper.
  8. In the base of the baking dish, place down a layer of lasagne sheets (you may have to cut some to size).
  9. Pour on a thin layer of tomato sauce followed by béchamel, pumpkin and mushrooms.
  10. Add another layer of lasagne sheets before more tomato sauce, béchamel, eggplant, potato and onion.
  11. Lay down a final layer of lasagne sheets and finish off with the remaining tomato sauce and béchamel.
  12. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes before grating Cheezly on top. Bake for a further 15 minutes or until Cheezly has melted.
  13. Serve piping hot!

 

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Winter Weekend fun! – Markets and festivals


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Slow Food Farmers Market – Abbotsford Convent, 1 St Heliers st, Abbotsford

Every fourth Saturday of the month

The sun was shining so we embraced the crisp winter morning and went for a wander through the Slow Food farmers market. It was bustling with families, dogs and plastic-free shoppers lapping up the fresh fruit, meat and veg for sale. Baby D made some friends with Zac and a little lab x named Forest who was rescued from the dogs’ home. I got excited to see truffles and also brussel sprouts because for some reason I never knew they grew like that (see pics above)! I had also never tried a cauliflower or cardoon fritter before and boy were+- they good! Will try to make some this week and see how I go.

We got our dose of vitamin D whilst eating pies and croissants from the Convent bakery and also enjoyed a berry lamington from the MoVida Bakery stall. There’s something special about being up early in the morning and catching that first wave of freshness in the air, and it’s even more special when you’re spending it with good company and good food.

Williamstown Toddler, Tweens and Teens Festival 2013

Face painting, a talent quest, farm animals, basketball games and book signings were just some of the things happening down in Ferguson street, Williamstown for the Toddler, Tweens and Teens Festival. It was great to see lots of kids outside all rugged up and enjoying a day outdoors with their parents and friends! There were a few activity stalls and dance schools MDX and The Dream Academy were there too. Baby D loved the little petting farm in the middle with a piglet and the cutest little lamb 🙂

When we first got there I thought “Is this all?” There were a handful of stalls and one main stage. But walking around and seeing all the excited little faces and huge, happy smiles I was brought back down and remembered it’s the simple things. It’s the simple things that can excite a little toddler and baby and it’s a simple smile or hand reaching out in awe that can make us parents feel so fulfilled. Seeing Baby D’s eyes widen at the sight of the ducks quacking and piglet snorting was so cute! And slowly the more I looked around the more I appreciated how special these festivals can be as they create lifelong memories that our kids will cherish. So get up, get dressed, and get out there and enjoy the wonderful world around you! <3

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Gasworks Farmers Market


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Gasworks Farmers Market, 21 Graham St, Albert Park – Every 3rd Saturday of the month

It was a fine Saturday morning for a trip to Albert Park with the family – I should have also brought Lando so he could check out all the cute dogs running around!

With around 70 stalls of fresh, local produce, we were spoilt for choice and as soon as we walked through the tall brick entrance I could smell veggies galore! The better half and I had a breakfast sausage hot off the bbq dressed with aoli and some home made relish. Baby enjoyed the sounds of “Old McDonald had a farm” provided by Little Feet entertainment. I was so glad that we got out of bed early enough to enjoy the Saturday sunshine before it turn to rain a couple of hours later.

There were free taste testings and a stop at the Gateaux de Bordeaux stall is what got me hooked on the small, sweet, French pastry called canele or cannele.  Being dubbed as the new macaroon a few years back, I can’t believe I had never tried this treat from Bordeaux until now! It is a delightful little pastry that has a crunchy caramelized outside and a soft custard inside. Move over cupcakes – I am currently crushing on caneles (is that the plural for canele?!). I am now wishing I had bought a box of them instead of just one which the hubby and I devoured right away. I wonder where else I can get my hands on these beauties!

The organic blueberries and bagel stalls both sold out of their stock before we got there so next time I’ll make sure we wake up even earlier. With the produce I bought from the market, I baked some kale chips (see here) and a Filipino dish called Sinigang. I guess you could describe it as the Filipino’s version of Thai’s tom yum soup – it’s a soupy, sour dish that has a bit of kick to it!

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Crispy Kale Chips

Kale chips

After our first visit to the Gasworks Farmers Market in Albert Park, I decided to see what all the hype was about in terms of kale and what could be more easier than baking some kale chips!

– 1 bunch of kale ($2)

– 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

– a sprinkle of salt

1) Preheat oven 2) Cut away the leaves from the thick stems 3) Tear leaves into bite sized pieces 4) Wash and dry thoroughly 5) Drizzle leaves with olive oil and a little salt 6) Place leave on a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 15-20mins or until leaves are a little brown on the sides.

Serve straight from the oven!

Transparent Moment!: Ok so they’re not as easy as I thought! Firstly I forgot to dry the leaves after washing them (they still turned out crunchy!). Then I didn’t have any baking paper so I used foil, and then I burnt one whole tray!! – and it wasn’t even the tray on the top (see the last photo below!). I’m no masterchef but the ones that did work out were great! Super crunchy and a great way to get your serving of greens 🙂

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Made in Melbourne May edit!

Made in Melbourne edit samples

L’ASCARI soy candles, Skin Naturale’s new range of all natural hand and body cream in Coconut Bliss, The Kandle Club candles in Baby Powder, Chanel No. 5 and Gardenia, Skin Naturale’s sample pots: Vanilla Chai, Mediterranean Dream and Coconut Bliss.

Because I missed out on a couple of blog posts last week due to a house full of sick boys and moving back home from a 5 week stint in the heart of Melbourne, I thought I’d do a special post for you all – Made in Melbourne! It’s also a double-post Monday so keep an eye out for a second post from Yours Truly today. Happy Monday everyone! <3

Made in Melbourne May edit!

Having recently spent some time (5 weeks) in our beautiful city I’ve been fortunate enough to find some amazing products handmade right here in Melbourne. With our fresh new floors looking polished but smelling of varnish fumes, I have been happily putting my recently acquired candles to good use – L’Ascari and The Kandle Club! With the winter weather settling in I have also been loving the all natural, all organic and vegan Skin Naturale brand and their new brand spanking new range of hand and body creams! So here is my Made in Melbourne May edit:

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L’ASCARI Artisan Soy Candles & Lifestyle Products

lascari.com.au

I first saw these candles at a boutique on Little Bourke street called Wilkins & Kent – they sell furniture and homewares. I was immediately drawn to the unique packaging and design, and fell in love with the frangipani scent – such a beautiful and delicate fragrance.  These artisan soy candles are hand-made by Melbourne based couple Luca Chiaravalle and Belinda Chiaravalle containing pure soy wax containing no petroleum, toxic materials, herbicides or pesticides. Each candle displays a photo of their Italian hometown – such a nostalgic touch! L’ASCARI candles can be purchased from a few stockists so be sure to check their website for more information. They also have some cool looking “ManCandles” and I think I’m going to have to purchase the Espresso one for my better half…and another frangipani candle…and also the French pear room diffuser! Mmmmm bliss!

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Skin Naturale – Natural and Organic Skincare Company

Website. Facebook. Twitter

Recently I was fortunate enough to meet the creator and founder of Skin Naturale, Lynn Ross, and scored myself some sample pots of their latest skin care range. I loved the smell so much I immediately had to have the Coconut Oil bottle! What I really love about Skin Naturale’s products is that they are made with all natural ingredients that have been tried and tested…not on animals! As I have such sensitive skin it is hard for me to find deliciously scented moisturizers that don’t cause my skin to break out or become irritated and having used the Coconut Oil moisturizer for around 3 weeks now, my skin is feeling so soft and smooth. Finally a locally made, natural moisturizer that leaves me feeling and smelling so amazingly good! Next up on my shopping list…Vanilla Chai! Upon placing my next order I asked Skin Naturale a few questions to get to know their brand:

Tell me about Skin Naturale and what makes this brand so different?

Skin Naturale has two different brands – Earth&Body which is now on the market and BrownSkinSecrets which will be released shortly.

The Earth&Body range includes hand and body creams that is nothing like anything on the market. It is made from fruit, nut and vegetable extracts (natural and organically derived ingredients) suitable for the most sensitive of skin.  We not only wanted to create a ‘well being’ product free from harsh chemicals, mineral oils, parabens, sulfates, polyethylene glycol (PEG’s), artificial colours and fragrances; but also wanted to provide people with an experience – In a café?  Vanilla Chai; On the beach? Coconut Bliss or Sailing the Mediterranean? Mediterranean Dream – take your pick!!

So this skincare range is packed full of the best ingredients for our skin?

Yes definitely! With years of research into natural ingredients and working with a cosmetic chemist I wanted to apply the natural secrets of what I discovered into a creating something for the hand and body that was made from the purest form of ingredients. The creams are high in anti oxidants, vitamins, minerals and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and is easily absorbed into the skin to soothe, nourish, protect and improve skin tone and texture.

Sounds like such great quality products! Where can we buy your skincare range?

We are so excited that the range has also been effective on babies and people with eczema; and that our products have been embraced by our customers in a short period of time, which we are very grateful for. 

Skin Naturale products are available for purchase online at our website www.earthnbody.com and are also available at ‘Nature Finds You’ Beauty Salon www.naturefindsyou.com.au at no. 2 Queens St, Melbourne, Australia.  We are also in current negotiations with stockists to make our products more readily available for our customers.

Check out Skin Naturale’s Facebook page here for updates on their latest products, research and skincare info.

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 The Kandle Club – Natural Soy Wax candles

Facebook

Thanks to your votes I won these cute candles from a Mother’s Day Facebook competition and my mum loved them! She loves the Chanel No. 5 perfume so when the lovely Karen informed me that I could pick two scents I chose Chanel No. 5 and Gardenia. They came in the mail via express post right on time for Mother’s Day with a special little extra – a set of tealight candles in the scent ‘Baby Powder’! Thank you Kandle Club for brightening up my first Mother’s Day and mum’s first Grandmother’s Day with your Melbourne made goodies!  If you would like to purchase some pretty little jars of natural soy wax candles then head to the Kandle Club’s Facebook page here!

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What are some of your favorite made in Melbourne finds?

P.S My blog is a contender for the Top 25 Foodie Mums of 2013 and voting closes tomorrow June 4! If you like reading my posts vote here by clicking on the heart icon. Thanks 🙂 -xx-

Spiced Tofu Stir Fry

Looking for something quick and tasty to cook for dinner? I found this recipe in a vegan recipe book when I was looking for some dishes to cater for a couple of friends who have chosen not to eat animal products. To my delight, it is a really easy dish to cook and is super tasty! – I love the combination of maple syrup and lime juice!

P.S Sorry I wasn’t able to take my normal step-by-step photos as this weekend I cooked 6 batches for a birthday party and was rushing to get it all cooked and ready to go.

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Spiced Tofu Stir Fry

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp paprika

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tbsp caster sugar

275g tofu

4 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves crushed

1 bunch spring onions sliced

1 red capsicum seeded and sliced

1 yellow capsicum seeded and sliced

generous 3 cups of muschroom, halved or quartered, if necessary

1 large zucchini

115g green beans

50g pine nuts

1 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp maple syrup

good pinch of cayenne pepper

salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

1. In a bowl, mix together the cumin, paparika, ground ginger and caster sugar with plenty of seasoning. Cut the tofu into cubes and coat the cubes in the spice mixture.

2. Heat half the oil in a wok or large frying pan. Cook the tofu over a high heat for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally (take care not to break up the tofu too much). Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Wipe out the pan with kitchen paper.

3. Add the remaining oil to the wok or pan and cook the garlic and spring onions for 3 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and cook over a medium heat for 6 minutes, or until they are beginning to soften and turn golden. Season well.

4. Return the tofu to the wok or pan and add the pine nuts, lime juice and maple syrup. Heath through and serve immediately.

Let me know how you go if you end up trying this dish! The original recipe stated 2 tsp of cumin but it was a little overpowering for me so changed it to 1 tsp.

Happy Monday everyone!! 🙂

(The aftermath – my dirty stove!)

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Organic & Vegan

Dream Cream ingredientsLush productsLush made byLush sample size

Lush

This month I decided to try out some products from Lush as I really liked their lip colour that I received in my January Lust Have It beauty box (previous post here). I have read a lot of great reviews about their Dream Cream doing wonders for people who have eczema so I decided to buy it and try it out when I went in to get a free sample of their 9 to 5 Cleanser.

The sample cleanser came in a little plastic container and you could easily get around 4 or 5 uses of the cleanser however I went a little crazy when I first tried it and used up too much! It has quite a strong scent as it has ylang ylang oil and having sensitive skin I am used to using products that are unscented so I immediately thought that I might break out after using this. Having used it for about 3 days now, it works quite well however doesn’t remove my make up so overall I think I might stick to my cleanser wipes as they are easy to use and easily remove my make up at the end of the day.

I purchased the Dream Cream for $28.95 and was really excited to try it out due to all the rave reviews. Again like the cleanser however, it has such a strong scent from the lavender and tea tree oil. My eczema has somewhat gotten quite bad over the past few weeks and I don’t know if it’s the change in weather or my lack of sleep etc but I really wanted to find something that would make it all go away. After using the Dream Cream for the first time on Wednesday my skin felt soft and I felt quite a cooling sensation when I applied this after my shower. Yesterday however, I used it again and I got quite itchy after wearing it for a while 🙁 I might try using it again but just on a small part of my arm or something to see what happens because I really want it to work!!

5am lid5m flavours5am texture

Another new thing I tried recently was the 5am organic yoghurt and OMG it tastes so good!! I initially bought the coffee bean flavour but after tasting that it was so deliciously creamy, my hubby and I went back to Woolworths to buy all the other flavours and they too tasted amazing!

It’s such a gamble sometimes when trying out new body creams and mositurisers as my skin is so sensitive but I guess that’s the only way you get to finding out what works and what doesn’t work right?!

What are some new things you have tried so far this year?