Cheap and Easy Black Bean Veggie Burgers

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This may have been my breakfast this morning… I served it with guacamole, home grown stripy beets, grilled asparagus and some of my tangy macadamia ricotta.

Scott Marquart from One Week Without is guest posting here today. I was pretty stoked when Scott emailed me, because I love the concept of his blog – every week he goes without something and posts updates about how it’s going and what he’s learning from the experience – something that, contrary to a lot of blogs, is more self aware than self indulgent. It’s an admirable thing to dedicate yourself to and I was even more impressed when I saw that he’d been a week without television. He approached me because he was planning a week without meat and wanted to share part of it with Appetite Affliction’s readers – so here it is!

Until just over a month ago, my life was stale, conventional, and stagnant. Finally, I got fed up and decided to challenge myself to give up one aspect of my routine in order to learn, grow, and keep questioning and improving my habits.

This past week, I decided to go without meat (up until this point, I had been something of a die-hard carnivore) and instead indulge in vegetarian dishes which I had lived my whole life without trying. In the end, I discovered that I could live happier and healthier without having meat as a significant part of my diet.

Still, diving headlong into a vegetarian diet took some adjusting to. At the beginning, the easiest way for me to get my fix of my old diet, without indulging in meat, was through black bean burgers. In fact, I made these several times during the past week and perfected my own spin on the classic bean burger that’s cheap, easy, healthy, and most importantly, tasty.

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Serves 4

2 Cups Cooked/Canned Black Beans, rinsed
1/3 Cup Instant/Quick Oats
1/4 Green Pepper, minced
1/4 Yellow or Sweet Onion, minced
2 TBSP Ketchup
2 TBSP Mustard
1 TBSP Garlic Powder
1 TBSP Onion Powder

  • Preheat oven to 200C.
  • Mash the beans in a large bowl until they reach a smooth consistency.
  • Stir in Ketchup, Mustard, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder.
  • Fold in Oats, Green Pepper, and Onion until mixed evenly.
  • Form into 2 cm thick patties (roughly 10cm in diameter) and place on greased baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 mins.
  • Take out and turn over patties gently (bean burgers are very fragile).
  • Cook for an additional 8-10 mins, or until crispy on outside.
  • Optionally, sear each side for one minute in a skillet over medium heat with olive oil.
  • Add toppings to taste (I like spinach and mustard on 12 grain bread) and enjoy!

About the Author:
Scott Marquart is a writer and the founder of One Week Without. You can follow his adventures at oneweekwithout.com and on Twitter @scottmarquart. He also has a Facebook page.

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Click to read the blog posts Scott wrote about his experience (1, 2 & 3). If you’re vegan you may feel uncomfortable reading some of it, but please don’t judge – I have nothing but encouragement and support for anyone who tries to better themselves and this world, regardless of the perceived significance.

Thank you, Scott, for sharing your experience and a tasty veggie burger recipe! I tried it out myself and the only thing I’d do differently next time would be lightly sautéing the onion & capsicum before adding it to the burger mix to help it stick together – and maybe a bit of salt. These were otherwise a winner and I can’t wait for Mr. AA to try them out.

*Photos taken by Nat/Appetite Affliction.

Another Veg Garden Update!

Overall Garden

Are you a little shocked..? I am. Seriously, just… WHAT HAPPENED? 0_0

Our humble little veggie garden has had some considerable growth lately. We’ve even been harvesting more than just lettuce which is lovely!

Basil
Basil.

Chili
Chili.

No matter how many I pick or how many the mice (I suspect) eat, this chili bush continues to grow and is constantly bearing new fruit. Win!

Tomato 2
Tomato.

Some teeny weeny tomatoes are starting to grow, but my late planting means they’re prone to frost so we’re going to have to try to make some kind of improvised/temporary hot house for them this weekend. The plants are nearly taller than me!

Kale
Kale.

I’ve had a steady supply of kale from the garden and have been sharing it with some local vegans! <3

Celery
Celery.

It feels like the celery is taking forever to grow! It’s by far the slowest thing in the garden. It probably hasn’t helped that I’ve been picking leaves off it for our rabbits (Winston & Miso) every few days. I might be stunting its growth…

Rocket Seed
Rocket.

The rocket & cos lettuce are going to seed now. After I’ve collected seeds this week I’m thinking of removing them from the garden and trying for a second round of broccoli (this time with Mr. AA’s special mesh box over it for protection!).

Cucumber Escape
Cucumber.

I totally underestimated how much space the cucumbers would need. They’re climbing and creeping EVERYWHERE, despite my attempts to tame them. We’ve harvested 5 cucumbers which were SO beautiful and crispy, but it’s a lot of plant for very little food. Mr. AA & I are considering removing them and starting up a dedicated cucumber and/or pumpkin patch. All in good time…

Golden Beet
Golden Beet.

This baby is about ready for picking and there’s a few more that are also close. Looking forward to eating my first ever golden beet in the near future!

Jalapeno
Jalapeno.

There’s quite a few jalapenos growing. I’m quietly hoping the garden gets bombarded with them because I really want to pickle them and give them away to friends who are fans of them.

Red & White Stripy Beet
Red & White Stripy Beet

I think this bugger is ready to be picked, but I’m leaving him there for a few more days, until I decide on what to do with him. Raw beet ravioli? Something else? Ideas anyone??

Capsicum Bell Pepper
Capsicum / Bell Pepper.

I eat A LOT of capsicum and they cost a fortune to buy organic, so I really hope these mature & survive. There’s only one cluster of them so far, but there’s several capsicum/bell pepper plants that have potential.

Potato Tyres
Potatoes.

These bad boys were rogue plants that grew from my not-quite-finished compost. To keep them growing and producing more potatoes, you need to keep building up the soil around them. Friends of ours (Adam & Airlie!) suggested using tyres for this and stacking an extra one on top each time soil needs to be added. So far, the plants are looking pretty healthy and they’re 2 tyres tall. I hope I have a crapload of potatoes to eat when we finally knock it down. Potatoes are awesome.

So there you have it – one hefty garden update. I’ll keep y’all posted as more happens!

Himalaya Bakery & Café – Third Time Lucky!

Do you guys remember my last visit to Himalaya Bakery & Café? When I wrote about it, I wasn’t kind – but I stand by what I said. Their scrambled tofu is rubbish. Their pies, on the other hand, are delectable!

We passed through Daylesford a couple of days ago, and I decided to give the café one last chance. I grabbed a couple of pies to go and a mini orange cake to share with Mr. AA. Much to my delight, the pies were a pleasure to eat.

Mexi Bean Pie 1
Mexican Bean Pie

The first thing I noticed and loved was the pastry. Not only was it wholemeal, but it was also very bread-like, and not the typical greasy, flaky mess you’d expect. It was sort of like a calzone, but fluffy. I’ve never eaten a pizza pocket before, but I imagine this just about sums it up!

Mexi Bean Pie 2
Mexican Bean Pie – Inside

They were a little stingy on the filling, but what it lacked in volume it made up for in taste. It was not unlike burrito filling and corn stuffed into warm bread. How could that possibly be bad? It can’t. And wasn’t.

Tofu Veg Pie 1
Smoked Tofu & Veg Pie

The pastry on this was the same as the Mexican bean pie and had a lone cashew pushed into the top.

Tofu Veg Pie 2
Smoked Tofu & Veg Pie – Inside

The filling in this was much like what I remember veggie pasties being like (though I could be way off the mark here, as it’s been a loooong time since I had one). The first thing to hit my senses was the smoky flavour, but it subsided after a few bites. If the girl behind the counter hadn’t told me it was vegan, I would have gone back and insisted that it had egg in it. The filling held together really well and was the perfect consistency. Whatever they used to bind it works a charm.

Orange Cake
Orange Cake

I made a careful choice with this, knowing that the apple scroll on offer was far too big and the chocolate cake was going to be more rich than what I was in the mood for – so I settled on the only option in the cabinet that was both vegan for me and sugar free for Mr. AA – the orange cake. The zest in it gives off a slightly bitter flavour, but it’s otherwise excellent. It melted in my mouth and reminded me of the Greek cake “revani” that my great aunty makes every Christmas. I’m not sure if it’s a typically Greek tradition or just something my family does, but every year my great aunty Sophia bakes the cake with a coin wrapped in aluminium foil in it. Whoever happens to get the piece of cake with the coin in it is supposed to have good luck. My middle sister and I fought over it every year as kids – not for the good luck, but for the fact that it was $2 with no strings (chores) attached.

Anyway – family memories aside, at the very least Himalaya Bakery & Café is worth it for the pies. I’ll be insisting on stopping by every time we pass through Daylesford in future!

Note: For those of you concerned, there’s gluten free options on the menu & in the sweets cabinet.

Loving Hut [Richmond, Melbourne]

We made a trip to Melbourne recently, which ended up in tetris-ing the car with items from Ikea. FOUR TIMES. If you’ve ever bought more than you can take home (I’m looking at you, Shantael!), you’ll understand how stressful it is at the time – but how funny it is afterwards. We had to call someone with a ute to help, which was pretty embarrassing (thanks dad!). My boss likes to call Ikea “the relationship test”… I now understand why.

I was confident that the Ikea café wouldn’t have anything vegan for me to eat, so I did a quick Google on the way and found this post at Veganopulous about Loving Hut in Richmond. My eyes glazed over at the sight of the “lucky rainbow pockets”, so I insisted on stopping there, despite the horrendous traffic/lack of parking.

LH Outside

Loving Hut [Richmond, Melbourne]
10/242 Victoria St
Richmond, Victoria 3121
AUSTRALIA
P:(03) 9427 8916

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Fruity Noodles

Today’s recipe is brought to you by the fruit “mango”. I’ve been eating so many of them lately that in the [thankfully untrue] words of any adult to a child, I’m “going to turn into one”! I’ve used a Honey Gold mango in this recipe – they’re man-sized mangoes. If for some reason you can’t find these, use 3-4 smaller mangoes.

I’m normally one of those freakishly organised people that makes meal plans for the week – then I write out my shopping list according to what store & aisle I need to visit to buy the ingredients I need. I’m not kidding. Yes, it’s a bit over the top for most people, but it works for me. This routine has fallen by the wayside over the past few months, as I’ve lacked time and energy and decided to let loose in the kitchen with whatever I can find. At first, this was pretty scary – it still is sometimes. But for the most part it’s liberating and my diet it seeing a lot more variety than before. My bank account, on the other hand, is not quite so impressed.

These “fruity noodles” were a high risk experiment that went right. Really right. Mr. AA ate seconds. If that’s not a seal of approval, then I don’t know what is!

Fruity Noodles 2
Serves 3

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Honey Gold Mango & Nectarine Salsa-Salad

This recipe is a favourite in our house. When served on some sweet coconut rice, it’s a perfectly refreshing, tropical dinner on a hot summer night. Best of all, it’s quick & easy to make!

Honey gold mangoes are in season at the moment; not only does this mean they’re abundant – they’re also cheap! These giant beauties were 2 for $4 last week and I may or may not have picked up an entire box of them.

Mango Nectarine Salad 2
Serves 4 as a side dish

1 Honey Gold Mango
2 Firm Yellow Nectarines*
1 Haas Avocado
1 Tomato
Juice from 1 Lime
1/4 C Fresh Coriander, roughly chopped
1 Small Red Chili, finely diced (optional)
1 t Sesame Seeds
1 T Pine Nuts
S+P to taste (optional)

  • Roughly dice the mango, nectarines, avocado & tomato. Place in a bowl and toss with the lime juice & coriander (& chili, salt & pepper if that’s how you dig it).
  • In a dry skillet on high heat, lightly toast the sesame seeds & pine nuts. I recommend putting the sesame seeds in first and the pine nuts 10-20 seconds later. Toss constantly until lightly browned and serve on top of the salad. Watch these carefully – you don’t want them to burn.

That’s seriously all there is to it! YOU’RE WELCOME.

*The crunch of particularly hard nectarines will work in your favour in this recipe, lending a crisp and varied texture to the salad along with the toasted sesame seeds & pine nuts. It’s much more exciting than a sloppy ol’ standard mango salsa, believe me!

Mango Nectarine Salad 1

For a raw version, simply skip toasting the sesame seeds & pine nuts.

I realise that the salt & pepper might be a little too weird for some of you, but for those of you that are adventurous, I strongly recommend it!

Disclosure statement: Piñata Farms supplied me with some free mangoes for recipe development.

Taking Chances in Regional Victoria: You Win Some, You Lose Some

Mr. AA & I recently made day trips to nearby towns – to get out of the house and look at old junk. We love old junk and the only thing that trumps early morning garage sales is second hand stores & markets. We rarely buy anything; we just love to look and in a sense, feel like we pushed the “random” button on a time machine.

Himalaya 1

Himalaya Bakery & Café
73 Vincent St
Daylesford, VIC 3460
AUSTRALIA
P: (03) 5348 1267
Himalaya Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

The bad news first: We went to Himalaya Bakery & Café in Daylesford and it proved to be terribly overrated.

We hadn’t planned to go there. We’d been there once before, and, after being loudly humiliated in front of other customers by the venomous shrew behind the counter (for simply requesting a side salad, mind you), I was disgruntled enough to vow never to return.

Himalaya 2
I thought the fair trade, organic, carbon neutral sugar was a nice touch.

Since then, I’ve heard other vegans rave about how much they love the place, so I finally decided to give it a second chance. I’m not sure whether it has changed hands since I was last there, but the old so-and-so wasn’t around, which immediately gave me hope.

Then this happened:

Himalaya 4
Scrambled tofu with tomato, capsicum & onion.

My initial reaction: “did someone just eat my meal and regurgitate it back onto the plate?”

Now, I know that ugly food can be delicious. Curries are a prime example of out-of-this-world tasty but generally not at all sexy. But this… Was pretty horrifying. And sloppy. And bland. The thing is, it didn’t need much to lift it – salt, pepper & some fresh coriander would have been perfect to fix the flavour (I added S+P which at least made it sort of edible), but believe me when I say I hesitated to even try it. The tomatoes were too watery and the tofu was too soft/the wrong type, so the whole thing just ended up being a very disappointing slush.

Himalaya 3

The coffee was alright, but nothing to write home about.

Himalaya 6

The sweets looked beautiful – so I tried not to let my brunch discourage me. I ordered a vegan cupcake to go (vegan items were clearly labeled), only to realise half an hour later when I was about to eat it that I was actually given the wrong cake — one which wasn’t vegan. Cue intense pouting.

Daylesford Mill Market Vegan Cake 2

Daylesford Mill Market / Peppermill Café

We ended up at the Peppermill Café later, which is part of the Daylesford Mill Market building. While the vegan food options were scarce, they DID have a lonely little vegan cake in the bottom corner of their display cabinet so I grabbed a slice. It was sweet, rich and very more-ish! I was also pretty pleased that they had a big brew of iced fruit tea up on the counter (it was a Tea Tonic one) – I can’t remember what variety it was, but it was sugar free, a deep pink-red in colour and absolutely divine. The tea & cake saved the day!

In other winning news, we went to Geelong a couple of days later – again with only a very loose plan of what we were going to do. We stopped at the closest café to where we parked because, quite frankly, I was being lazy.

Cravings Geelong 1

Cravings Without the Guilt Café
24 Malop St
Geelong, VIC 3220
AUSTRALIA
P: (03) 5222 8877
Cravings Without the Guilt Cafe on Urbanspoon

It was a gorgeous day and outdoor seating was available, so we decided to roll with it.

Cravings Geelong 4

I loved the colour coded menu that showed gluten free, diabetic friendly, vegetarian and other options. Unfortunately vegan wasn’t listed, but of the two vegetarian items I spotted, one of them was definitely vegan and the other could have been made vegan.

Cravings Geelong 2

I went with the Mediterranean salad which was lush with bright spinach and roasted veg. It was served cold with toasted walnuts and you guys, THE WALNUTS TOTALLY MADE IT. I didn’t think I was really *that* into walnuts, but this converted me. I’ve had some in the fridge ever since! (In the fridge because it’s been morbidly hot here. We just experienced 5 days straight of 41-44C weather.)

The only down side was that this was the “large” serving and it wasn’t quite enough to sustain me for a big day of walking/looking at old crap. If I’d had it for lunch on a day at the office, it totally would have been enough. But on this occassion, I ended up grabbing a fruit & nut bar a couple of hours later.

Cravings Geelong 3

The café was very clean and quaint and the staff were extremely familiar with the customers, which led me to believe that people get sucked into being regulars here – and I could see why. If I were a local I’d want to kick back there on a nice day, too, despite the busy road.

Leaf Tea Geelong

Leaf Tea
124 Ryrie St
Geelong, VIC 3220
AUSTRALIA
P: (03) 5223 1750

We came across a happy accident between lunch and one of the stores we were heading to – Geelong’s own tea company, Leaf Tea. After doing a miniature happy dance in this tiny store, I sampled a couple of teas, then spent what felt like forever feeling completely overwhelmed and sniffing jar after jar of infusions. The woman in the store was super helpful and explained the cleverly colour coded labels, which made the experience seem a lot less daunting. We ended up walking away with Samurai Lime, Earl Grey Blue & Glo-Skin Tonic. To be honest, they all smelled amazing – I would have happily gone home with any/all of them!

Lotus Peak White Tea

When people use buzz words and phrases like “anti-ageing”, “fights cancer” and “prevents disease” I generally take what I’m hearing or reading with a grain of salt. By which I mean: they’re over simplifying something and being misleading. Also, they’re possibly nuts. If someone doesn’t take the time to explain these things properly, it all sounds like complete BS.

Hot White Tea 3

For example: I get irrate when reading about people “curing” their type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise. No. It’s not possible to cure it, but you can manage it this way. I’m all for promoting a healthy lifestyle – but don’t tell outright lies about it.

After being sent a free box of Lotus Peak White Tea to try, I decided to do a bit of reading on the researched health benefits of this tea. Below are some things that I learned. Continue reading

Veg Garden Update

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for your patience over the past few months! I plan to start posting recipes again soon (next month, hopefully) – I certainly miss messing around in the kitchen. I’ve had to devote a lot of energy to my day job for a while – which I love dearly, but it has taken its toll. The load will lighten in the near future; in the meantime, learning how to better manage stress is something really important that I need to do for myself. The veg garden has truly become a therapeutic place of joy for me – even if I’m only there for a few minutes in the morning pulling out weeds while I have some breakfast.

Veg Garden 7 Jan 14

Last week I finally finished filling in the garden bed on the left. I turned some compost into the soil, fertilised with Seasol this time (instead of my home made mix) and used organic sugar cane mulch instead of straw. The straw worked fine in the other garden bed, but it broke down pretty quickly. I’m hoping the sugar cane mulch holds up a little longer. Continue reading