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This Is What Got Me Through A Decade (& Carrot Cake Bites)

This Is What Got Me Through A Decade (& Carrot Cake Bites)

In the book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck”, Mark Manson writes “Life is essentially an endless series of problems. The solution to one problem is merely the creation of another.”

The irony of this wisdom is that it’s the easiest to forget when life is going great, and the hardest to remember when the chips are all the way down.

Then there’s the kind of problem that has no solution – like losing someone you love. At times like these, it feels like all you can do is bite down on that shit sandwich, gargle some mouthwash and try to summon the energy to make it out of bed.

As the end of a decade closes in, I realise my own experience of the last 10 years has been terrifying and heartbreaking; thrilling and poignant; adventurous and challenging,

My personal cocktail of problems/solutions/shit sammies include:

  • Moving to New Zealand
  • Surviving home renovations
  • Welcoming a fifth child
  • Graduating from studies
  • Saving a home from a fire
  • Grieving the loss off of a (step) father
  • Starting a business
  • Separating from a Beardo
  • Commencing therapy
  • Selling up
  • Starting over in Australia
  • Terminating a pregnancy
  • Reuniting with a Beardo
  • Adopting a rescue puppy
  • Growing a child into adulthood
  • Speaking at public events
  • Dodging melanoma
  • Treating cervical cancer
  • Celebrating a teenager
  • Losing an Uncle

Through the happiness, uncertainty, fear and loss, the one constant I had was my plant-based lifestyle.

At times, the food that I ate was all I could control and it gave me the energy to power through events that felt completely foreign and out of depth.

Plant-based eating is my fuel to weather the storms.

The fuel to grow a family.

The fuel to ask for help.

The fuel to survive a broken heart.

The fuel to summons courage.

The fuel to start over.

The fuel to learn and grow.

The fuel to find things to feel grateful.

If 2020 is your year to eat more plants, here are 10 quick tips to get you going: 

ONE – Drink plants.

Add fresh or frozen fruit or vegetables to your smoothies. Stock your freezer with frozen bananas, berries, mango, spinach, cauliflower, zucchini and any other fruits and vegetables you want to blend up. Make up smoothie bags and freeze them so it’s as simple as emptying into your blender, adding water / milk / juice and whizzing away.

TWO – Bake with plants.

You can easily replace eggs in baking recipes with plant-based alternatives. Mashed banana, apple sauce and flaxseed act as a binder, and without all the bad cholesterol.

THREE – Make plants taste better.

Dry veg is sad veg. Make them sing by adding a spoonful of tahini dressing, a natural peanut butter or rub the leaves with avocado or hummus.

FOUR – Wilt plants.

The beauty of leafy greens is that they wilt down considerably. Add handfuls of greens like baby spinach, silver beet, and kale to soups, stir-fries, sauces, and spaghetti sauce at any given chance.

FIVE – Use plants to create new favourite meals.

Add healthy fats to vegetables to make them tasty. Wilt greens into EVERYTHING! I can almost guarantee you that the internet has already published a plant-based recipe for your most favourite non-vegan meal. Just let your fingers do the googling. e.g. ‘Plant-based pasta alfredo’ or ‘vegan beef stroganoff’.

SIX – Turn plants into noodles.

Veggie noodles are a fun addition to salads, stir-fries and pasta. You can make them with a spiraliser. Veggies that works best are carrot, zucchini, cucumber, capsicum, onion, beetroot and parsnip.

SEVEN – Choose organic plants

The great news with buying organic produce means never having to peel it! Perfect for quick snacks and cuts down time during meal prep. Just be sure to wash it thoroughly first.

EIGHT – Prepare plants in advance.

If you have a fridge full of prepared fruit and veg, you’re more likely to eat it. Every few days, get to work washing them, chopping them, and storing them.

NINE – Travel with plants.

When hunger strikes, don’t be caught without snacks! Fruits like bananas and oranges are perfect for grab-and-go snacks, along with a handful of nuts or trail mix.

TEN – Eat plants as an entree before main meals.

Make this one a habit and you’ll not only massively increase the amount of plants you eat, but you’ll also eat less of your main meal too (great if you have weight-loss goals). Where possible, always start with a salad.

Life is glorious, devastating and precious –sometimes all at the same time. Nothing can blanket us from future problems but a diet rich in plant fuel can provide the energy needed to stay afloat on the unpredictable river of life.

What was your stand-out memory from the past decade? I would love to hear it in the comments below.

Carrot Cake Bites

Carrot Cake Bites

  • 1 cup pepita seeds or sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup desiccated cocounut plus extra to coat
  • 1 cup wholegrain oats
  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/3 cup sultanas
  • 2 medium sized carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons rice malt syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Combine pepitas or sunflower seeds, coconut and oats in a food processor and grind on high speed until mixture becomes a powder/meal texture.

  2. Turn the processor to a low speed, and add the dates one at a time. Then add sultanas, diced carrot, rice malt, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.

  3. Taste the mixture once combined, and adjust as needed to suit your taste. If mixture is dry or crumbly add a few tiny drops of water or if the mixture is too moist then add extra desiccated coconut until desired texture is achieved. Mixture should be easy to roll like play dough. I usually add 1/4-1/2 cup desiccated coconut if the dates used are really fresh and juicy.

  4. Roll mixture into balls and coat in coconut. Place in fridge and set where they will last 5 days or freeze in glad bags for up to 4-6 weeks.

You may need extra if mixture is a touch moist depending on texture of the dates.

Makes approximately 36 bites, depending on size.

Wishing you love as you enter a brand new year filled with possibilities. May it involve a decision to fuel with plants.

In Gratitude,

Gabrielle xo

Do you want to meet some like-minded friends in the new year? Bounce on over to our private, preach-free Facebook group. We’d love to have you.

But I Could Never Give Up Cheese (& Veggie Based ‘Cheese’ Sauce)

But I Could Never Give Up Cheese (& Veggie Based ‘Cheese’ Sauce)

Recently I came across a busy thread in a vegan Facebook community. There were hundreds of comments to one question … “what food do you miss the most?”

After flicking through the feedback, it was pretty obvious that the most mourned food in a plant-based life is cheese.

The yellow, melty gooeyness has become America’s love child and largest source of saturated fat. The average American consumer eats approximately 33 pounds of cheese each year. That’s over 60 thousand calories that never needed to be eaten!

Our lizard brain LOVES it because humans evolved from a time when food was scarce and high-calorie morsels were to be savored for energy and survival. But evolution is a slow process. Our brains need to catch up with modern times of food abundance so that diets are more focussed on obtaining key nutrients from food instead of calories.

A further reason why cheese-lovers are adoring fans is largely due to the opioid-like effect on the brain that is similar to taking drugs. Cheese contains casein. It also contains casein fragments called casomorphins, a casein-derived morphine-like compound. Basically, dairy protein has opiates that attach to the same brain receptors that heroin and other narcotics attach. It makes the desire to eat it again a powerful urge to deny.

The cold truth is that cheese (and dairy) is responsible for a range of common health issues – from asthma and acne to ear infections and period pain. In my work with people to help them quit dairy (some are diagnosed as lactose intolerant), they’re always surprised to heal other complaints that they had come to accept as having to live with forever.

Sometimes it’s not until we stop a eating something noxious that we make the connection.

I think cheese would be easier to deny if people knew how a lot of it is made. This information not only helped me to never eat cheese again, but never want toA subtle but important distincion.

Here’s the deal …

Calf rennet is extracted from the fourth stomach of young, nursing calves as part of livestock butchering. These stomachs are a byproduct of veal production. Rennet contains enzymes that helps the baby animal digest the protein from the mother’s milk. Humans have found it to also help in cheesemaking by separating it into the solid curds and the liquid whey. 

My own stomach is curdling right now … 

If you’re ready to kick the stuff, it takes at least one full month for cheese cravings to die off. Sometimes it’s longer but when you consider the effects on human health, it’s short-term pain for a long-term reward.

Women who eat cheese at least once a day put themselves at a 49% higher risk of death. According to Dr Neil Barnard this is because of the hormones in cow’s milk (from which cheese is made) that causes cancer to grow.

Science also indicates a strong correlation between cheese consumption and Alzheimer’s disease. The higher the consumption, the higher the risk.

The best approach to breaking up with cheese is firstly accepting that there really is no substitute that will give you the same “fix”. There are some highly processed alternatives like Daiya, and Miyoko brands, but these lack the dopamine hit and are devoid of any real nutritional value.

Rather than looking to substitute, it’s better to look for non-dairy alternatives that also taste great where cheese would have had a place too.

Here are five of my favourite foods that you can use in the places where cheese might have lived:

ONE: Almond meal

Ground, sifted whole almond have a similar texture to Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle on top of dishes like pasta, soups and pizza where you’d usually use it. You can also mix the almond meal with some dried herbs and a little salt for more flavour.

TWO: Nutritional Yeast (aka ‘nooch’)

‘Nooch’ is a heavily used ingredient in a cheese-free kitchen because of it’s cheese-like qualities. It’s also an umami bomb! Sprinkle it on popcorn, pasta, pizza, and soups. Add it into sauces and fillings. Nutritional yeast is also a source of Vitamin B12, folic acid, selenium, zinc and protein making it a great addition to any recipe.

THREE: Avocado

The humble avo is versatile in a dairy-free kitchen. Use it in sweet or savoury dishes – in sandwiches, on pizzas, inside burritos and quesadillas. It can also be used to replace butter in cakes and makes a mean chocolate pudding! It’s rich and creamy texture satisfies the senses. Just be mindful that it is also high in calories so limit intake to a quarter avocado per day if weight-loss is a goal.

FOUR: Cashews

Another staple in the pantry is the humble cashew. These are usually mistaken for nuts but are seeds because they grow inside the cashew fruit (aka drupe).

Just one of the many ways to use them is to soak cashews for a few hours, drain and then puree with a little garlic and nutritional yeast to make a kind of spreadable cheese. You can also use cashews to make cheesecake, and cheese-like sauces and dressings.

FIVE: Miso Paste

If you’re a lover of older and stronger cheese, this is likely due to its umami taste. Miso paste, made from fermented soybeans, has a rich umami flavour. A little goes a long way so just a tablespoon of miso paste can add serious flavour to sauces, dressing, marinades and soups.

There you have it. Five awesome new things to try in the kitchen instead of reaching for the cheese.

So … enough of the “I could never …” statements. If you’re scared of kicking it to the kerb because it brings you comfort and pleasure, then that’s the truth.

You CAN give up cheese and the great news is that when you’re ready to quit the excuses, face the fear and step into action, you’ll kick it forever. I know you will.

What’s something you’ve given up in the past that you never thought you could? Please let us know in the comments below.

Veggie Based ‘Cheese’ Sauce

Veggie Based 'Cheese' Sauce

  • 2 cups sweet potato, diced (approximately 2 small sized sweet potatos)
  • 1 cup carrot, diced
  • 1 brown onion, quartered
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chickenless chicken stock (I use Massel brand)
  1. In a large pot, boil the sweet potato, carrot and onion until tender.

  2. Transfer vegetables to a high powered blender and blend until smooth. 

  3. Drizzle over nachos, steamed veg, or gluten-free pasta. Serve immediately.

If the sauce is too thick, add more water until the desired consistency is reached.

Here’s to a happy week ahead filled with honesty and action.


In Gratitude,

Gabrielle xo

Do you want to quit cheese but need support? Join our non-preachy, private Facebook group filled with likeminded #plantbods and let’s do this together.

How Tacos Help Your Kitchen Space (& Velvety Macadamia Cream)

How Tacos Help Your Kitchen Space (& Velvety Macadamia Cream)

Jump to recipe

It might sound obvious, but if your kitchen is disorganized, unattractive and cluttered then it’s not going to inspire you to spend much time there. And if the goal is to eat food that’s better for you, you’ll need to make more meals at home which means more time spent in the kitchen.

When it comes to that space, I want you to think about TACOS – because tacos are delicious. You could also think about Liam Hemsworth or Mila Kunis but that isn’t going to turn into a handy acronym for this makeover.

Cupboards and drawers
Oven and cook top

#1 – Tools

The good news is that plant-based cooking actually requires less, not more. Having a few essential tools in top condition is all you need – forget the whizz-bang gizmos and gadgets for now. When you move your food sources closer to nature, you automatically simplify matters. The ingredients are then given a chance to stand out in their own right.

Check that you have the essentials – a good cutting board (preferably wood), 2 sharp knives (chef and paring), vegetable peeler, sauté pan (with a lid), mesh strainer, and a clean and sturdy baking tray. A high-powered blender is also recommended for making light work of tough jobs.

Sharpen your knives. You can either sharpen them yourself (watch some popular YouTube tutorials) or call your local hardware store to see if they offer the service. Ironically, I’ve had mine sharpened by the local butcher. Wherever you get them done, the prices are typically per knife.

Make sure your chopping board is clean and hygienic. You can give it a deep clean with a baking soda paste. Use 1 tablespoon each of baking soda, salt, and water. Scrub the paste into the board and rinse thoroughly with hot water. This will get rid of any stains and smells.

#2 – Accessories

An accessory is a thing which can be added to something else in order to make it more useful, versatile, or attractive. Here’s what I mean by adding an accessory to your kitchen …

… are you a visual person? Try keeping a vase of beautiful fresh or silk flowers nearby. Move a favourite art piece to the area. If music’s your thing, move your sound dock into the room so you can cook away to your playlist. If you thrive on being productive and like to multi-task, introduce your tablet. Then you can listen to podcasts or catch-up on Jon Snow’s latest squeeze while you stir.

Think about what you can introduce to your kitchen space to make it a more inviting space that’s uniquely you.

#3 – Cupboards and drawers

Ever noticed how the food is laid out at your local Subway fast-food chain? Everything is close at hand or has its place nearby. The sandwich assembly process flows and repeats.

This follows Kaizen principles which is a Japanese business philosophy of continuous work practices, including personal efficiency. And while we don’t run a sandwich bar at home (although I feel like I do with five kids), it’s frustrating when everything seems too hard and takes longer than it should.

Try rearranging your cupboards and drawers by opening each one and matching things up. Be sure you don’t overfill. Donate the things you don’t use. Match saucepans and plastics with their lids. Make sure your essential tools are close at hand and they have a regular place. I keep my cutting board on the bench top along with a knife constantly. Once I’ve used it, I wipe it down and put it right back in the same spot so it’s ready to go again and again. The convenience of it being right there means I’m more inclined to use it instead of reaching for a packaged snack.

#4 – Oven and cook top

Cleaning a dirty oven is perhaps the worst of all the household chores. Wait, no – cleaning my children’s toilet is. So, let’s call it the second worst.

Not only is a dirty oven a fire hazard, but a stove full of smouldering oil and old food rot can ruin the flavour of food by filling it with a nasty smokiness that it doesn’t deserve. The grease that clings can become soft during heating and drip into your food while it’s cooking. Gross!

Clean your oven and cook top, making it all sparkly fresh and free from built-up muck. Try to use a non-toxic cleaner. Instead, you can try baking soda and vinegar. Again, tutorials on the internet will offer cleaning recipes that are effective.

#5 –Surfaces

I’ve always had a love of a clear surfaces. We didn’t live this way growing up – all benchtops were cluttered from loose change bowls, knickknacks and key jars. This used to irk me so much that when mum would disappear for a good half day, I would spend it finding homes for all the things that cramped the kitchen space.

There is a calm that comes when you wake up, walk downstairs and see a kitchen all ready to go. It’s the difference between cleaning up the night before and leaving it until the next morning. I bet you’ve done both. And I bet, like me, you feel grateful for the times that you wake to a clear workspace to prepare breakfast, create lunchboxes, make coffee or whatever usual morning ritual you follow.

It’s about getting into the habit of clearing your surfaces as you go. Ideally – after every meal. Get the family on board to form the habit. The adage of ‘many hands make light work’ is an adage for a reason.

Get rid of knickknacks and anything sitting on your bench top that doesn’t belong there. The space should be mostly clear. To invite you to cook more plant-based meals, get a few inspiring recipe books and place them nearby for quick and easy reference.

Concentrating on making your kitchen an inviting space is an important yet often overlooked aspect to healthy eating. By giving it a bit of love and attention, you may just find yourself wanting to hang out there and make … tacos.

Velevety Macadamia Cream

















Velvety Macadamia Cream

  • 1 cup raw macadamia nuts (soaked overnight and drained of water)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup water (varies depending on desired thickness of cream)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Place all ingredients, starting with only 1/2 cup water, in a high speed blender or food processor. Blend or process until completely smooth (the process should take about 1-2 minutes in a high speed blender and about 4 minutes in a food processor). If using a food processor, stop a few times to scrape down the bowl and then continue blending. Drizzle in extra water as needed to reach a desired consistency and add sweet or savory flavorings of choice. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

If you’re using a high speed blender, the nuts will only need 2 hours of soak time.

Wishing you an inviting week ahead in the kitchen.

In Gratitude,

Gabrielle xo