Product Review: Accessories By Hello Vegan

Hello Vegan Accessories

I recently posted about visiting Melbourne’s World Event To End Animal Cruelty. One of the stalls I really wanted to visit was Hello Vegan and I was glad to finally have a chance to see their necklaces and earrings in person.

Hello Vegan create beautiful accessories using fairly traded and/or vintage materials, with a strong focus on vegan and environmental ethics. I had a tough time deciding what to get from the Etsy shop then a tough time browsing in person because I loved so many things, but with my daughter’s persuasion, the cats had to win! So on that note, in honour of our two (very spoilt) new family members, I settled on these sweet cat earrings (one for each cat!):

Hello Vegan Accessories

It took me a while to decide which cat necklace to buy. The earrings have the matching necklace, but I opted for the necklace with the cat and wooden heart. DeeW likes hearts and cats and I’m sure she would love to wear this necklace (if I feel like sharing!). I was able to select from the 16 inch or 18 inch silver plated chain, or the 22 inch ball chain. I went with the 16 inch chain, so it would be a better size for DeeW. And how lovely are the heart earrings? They’re also made with surgical stainless steel and are on hooks, like the cat earrings: Hello Vegan Accessories

Ordering from Hello Vegan’s Etsy shop was easy and my order was shipped and received super fast. The earrings and necklace arrived in their own little bags, along with a magnet and this wee mouse playing card which made me smile. Along with the personalised thank you card, I thought these were really nice touches. I was excited enough to see the envelope waiting for me at home but the playing card in particular was the vegan icing on the vegan cake!

Hello Vegan Accessories

As well as accessories, you can also purchase gift vouchers from Hello Vegan’s Etsy shop. Items are shipped from Melbourne and can be posted internationally. There are lots of other designs available and great gift ideas too.

For more information, Hello Vegan have a Facebook page.


Product Review: Leda Banana Bars, Baked Fruit Filled Bars, Minton Biscuits and Rum Balls

I’ve passed many Leda packages in the supermarkets when looking for either vegan or vegan+gluten free products. When I became vegan, other vegans told me to go and try Leda products quick smart, raving about the Minton and Choculence cream filled biscuits in particular. I’ve tried the Choculence in the past and can understand why they’re a popular item!

Leda Nutrition have been providing gluten and dairy free snack products since 1996 and today produce fourteen gluten free products, sold in both Australia and New Zealand. Leda have also completed the reformulations required to no longer include palm oil in their products!

Leda kindly sent me the following palm oil free products to review. Naturally, someone else decided to ‘help’ me with the photos:

Leda bar

The Leda Bar in Banana flavour is made with besan and tapioca flours, two of my favourite gluten free flours to use here at home:

Leda bar

The bars are quite thick and chewy– I had to apply a bit of force when cutting them in half. In addition to dried banana, they contain dates, sultanas, almonds and coconut. Each bar is 85g and I was full for quite a while afterwards, making these a good healthy snack option to have in my bag. We’re going on a family holiday soon and I’ve been wondering what baked treats I can take along. These Leda bars will be perfect, so that’s one bit of “what will I make?!” stress taken care of! Arthur loved them and has asked if we can pack them when we go out on our regular adventures:

Leda bar

The Baked Fruit Filled Bars come in individually wrapped packs of five. The other flavours in the range are strawberry and triple berry:

Leda Baked Fruit Bar

Like the banana bars, these apple flavoured bars are made with besan and tapioca flours. They’re a good size for a lunchbox snack (or my handbag on family outings!). I would have liked to take more care with the photo but I had to work fast. The photographer’s assistant was sniffing around a bit too much:

Leda Baked Fruit Bar

Before I was vegan, one of my favourite chocolate cream biscuits was a certain popular choc-mint one. Ditto for my sister, so we were happy to learn there is a vegan and gluten free alternative. The box is also marked as being free from palm oil:

Leda Minton

There was a bit of a stand off:

Leda Minton

The family were only too happy to help with taste testing and the Mintons earned a thumbs up from everyone. It’s very much a case of “when we next take tea, shall we invite the Mintons?” And are there still kids out there who try to scrape all the mint bit off with their teeth whilst trying to avoid snapping the base???

Leda Minton

They dunk well! Yes, I’m a dunker. I dunk cake if I can get away with it:

Leda Minton

I left the Rum Balls until last as the final experiment. I’m not usually a fan of rum so I was curious to see how these would taste:

Leda Rum Balls

They were really good. The rum, for me, is very subtle. There are eight balls in the box (which is also marked as palm oil free). I might have eaten quite a few after this photo…

Leda Rum Balls

You can see Leda’s other products on their website here: http://www.ledanutrition.com/shop/  You can also read about Leda’s palm oil policy at http://www.ledanutrition.com/welcome/palm-oil-policy/

Leda post announcements to the Leda Nutrition Facebook page.

After sampling these products, I would be happy to buy them again (and invite the Mintons over for morning tea, afternoon tea, elevenses…). I think my sister will receive a packet of Mintons in her Christmas stocking and the banana bars will go on holiday with us!

Have you tried any Leda products? Got a favourite?

* Disclaimer: I received the above products to review. All opinions are my own and I would happily recommend these products, as you can see! My cats highly recommend the boxes.


What I Ate (Recently…)

apple smoothie bowl

I really should rename this series to “What I Ate… this month or so”. I swear I try to get my What I Ate posts up every week. A lot of the time the stuff I make seems too heavy on the mega-boring to blog about (I don’t want to subject you guys to more green juice!), or it’s hard to take pics because I get feline interference, so the food slops everywhere while I’m trying to juggle camera and cute cats:

sweet potato curry

The smoothie bowl up the top there is a slightly modified version of the Golden Apple Smoothie Bowl from Fragrant Vanilla Cake. It seems I bookmark nearly every one of those recipes! I added some baby spinach to my smoothie for some green goodness and topped it with a Pura Veda muesli mix. Great recipe and one I see myself making a lot.

Husband likes the Beefy Asparagus Stir Fry from Isa Does It. I got everything ready then saw the asparagus had gone all the way to funky town. Next stop, compost town. So in place of asparagus (and anything mock-meaty) I used all the stir fry kinda veggies Husband eats plus toasted broken cashews (I never buy whole raw cashews. Broken raw cashes are much cheaper!)

veg stirfry

Since my happy Reuben sandwich experience at True North last week, I’m determined to get in to making fancy sandwiches. I have Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day! but have never made anything from it, though I love the photos and drool over everything. Here’s the French Tofu Salad with Grapes, minus the grapes. There were grape alternatives listed which suits me as grapes in anything other than fruit salad just isn’t my thing. This is a recipe I will make again and again, it was that good. Assuming I don’t go to the bread bin (again…) and discover I only have one piece of the fancy bread left then have to pretend it’s an open sandwich:

tofu french salad sandwich

A hazelnut milk smoothie with some usual smoothie suspect stuff thrown in like banana, protein powder, cacao and flax:

hazelnut smoothie

This was a spur of the moment creation. DeeW asked for spaghetti with pasta sauce, so I used a bottled basil oregano sauce. To my serving, I added sundried tomatoes, chilli flakes, olives, baby spinach and capers, all topped with vegan parmesan:

mixed up pasta

This is the Velvety Pumpkin Pie Smoothie from The Oh She Glows Cookbook. DeeW insisted Mario be in the picture, because this smoothie gives you a ONE UP. Or a POWER UP.  Works for me because I loved it:

pumpkin pie smoothie

More DeeW styling. The farfalle pasta is a simple walnut pesto, with more toasted walnuts on top. A snake with a FORKED TONGUE. Har harrr!

walnut pesto pasta

I found a jar of vegan laksa paste in the fridge. I really should clean the fridge more often… anyway, I fried up the paste with the tofu and veg, then added in some coconut milk, vegetable broth and thick rice noodles:

laksa paste noodles

I made this sweet potato and black bean curry based on the Isa Does It recipe. I made it a while ago and froze it. It made for a very welcome quick meal on an I-can’t-be-bothered-cooking day:

sweet potato curry

I’m feeling inspired in the kitchen this week and have a bit of an itch to make more fancy sandwiches. If you’ve made recipes from Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day! please leave a comment with some recommendations!


A Few Recipes I’m Really Enjoying

pumpkin pie custards

We’ve had typical Melbourne spring weather, which means we have some very warm days followed by some really cold days. To give you an idea, a few days ago I got sunburnt. Today, as I type this, I’m rugged up in my dressing gown and heating up lavender bags to keep warm. The other night we had crazy thunderstorms of the window-rattling-I-can’t-sleep variety. All this means BAKING.

I love the cooler days because it means I can turn the oven on and get a heap of baking done. The aim is always to bake things to freeze so we can enjoy them on the hotter days. But you know, lots of things mysteriously don’t make it to the freezer. Anyway, here are a few recipes I’m loving lately. First up, Banana Ginger Medjool Date Mini Loaves by Joann at Woman In Real Life. I don’t have mini loaf tins (HOW has that happened?! I have mini hearts, mini flowers, mini fancy things I never use, but I don’t have cute mini loaf tins?!), so I baked this in a regular larger loaf tin. I only had half the ginger specified in the recipe but it turned out great regardless and I think the full amount of ginger would be just as great. I put this on my autumn leaves sandwich plate so I could pretend we are actually in autumn here and distract myself from the awful reality that is the approaching summer:

banana ginge rdate loaf womaninreallife

To keep with the autumn theme (which is more like me desperately hanging on), I made this pumpkin pie from Plant Powered Kitchen. Dreena Burton’s recipes are popular in my kitchen and this pie was great. The filling has the perfect level of sweetness for me– not that sickly sweet, or even a-bit-too-sweet sweetness. Just right. Unfortunately I screwed up with the base and you can probably tell how dry it turned out. There are dates in the base (you chop everything up in a food processor) and when I went to the get the dates, all I found was an empty container, so I used sultanas instead. They did the job but the real problem was going to get my almond butter and seeing I only had half of what the recipe needed. Gah! I had to add a little almond milk to get the mixture to stick together but I should have added a bit of oil.  Still, it all turned out fine and my mum loved it:

Pumpkin pie

No idea how the pie plate ended up all sticky and dirty looking on the outside, considering the pie was cooked on the inside:

pumpkin pie

Another Dreena Burton recipe I made was Cinnabon muffins. I used wholemeal spelt flour though I think white spelt would be a little lighter. For the topping I just mixed up cinnamon and sugar and left out the chopped dates. Arthur and DeeW loved these and demanded I make them again. Who am I to refuse…

Cinnabon muffins

Then, because I can, I decided to put one of the muffins in the panini press. Have you ever had a cinnamon donut in a sandwich press?! DO IT DO IT. Must have ice cream or cream to go with it. Vegan of course tastes best ;)

Cinnabon muffins

To use up the last of the pumpkin puree, it was back to Plant Powered Kitchen again for Dreena’s Pumpkin Pie Custards. These are awesome!  The recipe has a brulee topping and the whole fam stood around the table excitedly as Husband tried to (theatrically) get the mini flame thrower going. It didn’t happen. Maybe there’s an anti-dork setting? Then I tried to shove the ramekins under the portable grill but they didn’t fit so we admitted defeat. Aaaanyway, I used less sugar in the recipe because the butternut pumpkin was quite sweet. I had mine with coconut cream, though it’s fine without:

pumpkin pie custards

pumpkin pie custards

I’ve got more baking lined up, while the weather is still okay for having the oven on. I’m feeling envious, reading all the blogs from the other side of the world and seeing all the autumn/pumpkin/cinnamon recipes coming back!



Raw Trader, Melbourne City

Raw Trader

I have been seeing countless photos of the raw vegan creations at Raw Trader and it all got too much. I had to go there before I exploded. I did go some weeks ago but hadn’t realised they weren’t open on all weekdays. The most exquisite looking (and sounding) raw desserts, being thrown at you day after day, when it’s not that easy for you to actually go there? And then you go past, on your one day in the city, and they’re closed? WAAAAAH!

After my lunch at Overdosa at the Diwali Festival of Light, I trammed it (that’s Melbourne-speak for having caught a tram) up to Sutherland Street, which is right near the corner of La Trobe Street and Elizabeth Street. If you’re coming off La Trobe Street, Raw Trader is down the lane a bit on your left.

What delights awaited? ALL THIS:

Raw Trader Raw Trader Raw TraderRaw TraderRaw Trader

I honesty stood there completely unable to decide what to get. Which is why the $15 tasting platter stood out as the only logical option:

Raw Trader

And this is where I point out, yet again, how I sorta get so sidetracked by the food that I forget to actually ask what it is I’m eating. Because when what I’m eating is so good, I just completely lose the mental processing power it takes for me to remember the simple point of “find out what this is so you can blog about it”. So err, sorry you guys. I think the far left was a lemon slice, the second was the cherry garcia, the third was like a caramel slice, the larger white one with the kiwi fruit also had a banana moussey kind of taste and texture and I’m unsure about the last one to the right. Look, just take my word for it– these were all so good that I don’t really mind not knowing the exact details!

Service was great and very gracious in allowing me to take photos. As there were other customers right near me, I didn’t take photos of the space inside. There were some small two seater tables, then some taller round benches to seat a few more people.

Raw Trader offer organic, raw, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free desserts. You can also order organic coffee, tea, hot chocolate and home made nut milks, smoothies, fruit and vegetable juices. Raw Trader also use packaging that can be reused or recycled.

I have a friend visiting here soon and Raw Trader is a place I am definitely taking him to. It’s easy to understand why Raw Trader has become such a favourite with a number of vegans in particular. The feedback I hear is from other vegans and all the feedback has been positive. Service was excellent overall and very helpful when I asked to take photos.

Raw Trader is a definite winner and a fantastic addition to the Melbourne CBD area!

Raw Trader

Raw Trader

10 Sutherland Street

Melbourne City/CBD

Closed Mondays

Raw Trader on Urbanspoon