Ooh it’s a new logo

Keeping to the theme this Vegan MOFO of ‘New Beginnings’ I’m launching a new Vegan Urbanite logo. 

I’m really pumped for this as it’s been in the making for a while and I’m interested to hear your opinions. Do you love or loath the colors? Are you keen on the pic or should it be tweaked? If you’ve strong feelings either way, speak now or forever hold your tongue. 


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Roasted Tomato Soup

Roasted Tomato Soup

Roasted Tomato Soup - Vegan UrbaniteThis has become my new favourite vegan tomato soup. Not only is this little treasure super easy to create but it contains tons of the antioxidant lycopene, which protects your skin from sun damage, especially important during these long summer days. It’s also easily adapted to your taste.  

The recipe evolved when we accidentally doubled up on fresh tomatoes and had no space left in the fridge. What a great problem to have. For the rest of the week, every guest was invited to a bowl of delicate tomato soup and focaccia bread.

Tomato Soup IngredientsChopped Tomatoes
Roasted Tomato Soup on the Stove

Roasted Tomato Soup
Serves 4
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
1 hr 40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Total Time
1 hr 40 min
153 calories
21 g
0 g
7 g
4 g
1 g
503 g
528 g
12 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 153
Calories from Fat 66
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 528mg
Total Carbohydrates 21g
Dietary Fiber 5g
Sugars 12g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 6-8 large ripe tomatoes, quartered
  2. 2 yellow onions, quartered
  3. 6 cloves of garlic
  4. 2 Tbsp olive oil
  5. 2 cups of good quality vegetable stock
  6. 3 bay leaves
  7. salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F).
  2. Spread the chopped tomatoes, onions and whole garlic cloves on an oven safe dish and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Roast in the oven for 45-55 mins until the tops of the vegetables begin to darken and sizzle.
  4. Once cooked, add the roasted vegetables to a large pot with two cups of vegetable stock and the bay leaves. Bring to the boil then remove from the heat allowing the flavours to combine for a further 25-30 mins.
  5. Remove the bay leaves and blend the soup to form a rich red. You may need to do this in two batches as you should end up with 3 litres of soup or more.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley.
  1. Experiment: Add 1 can (435ml) of coconut milk before you serve to make this roasted tomato soup creamy. Or add 1/4 tsp of cardamon with the bay leaves to create a punchier heat.
Vegan Urbanite http://www.veganurbanite.com/
Focaccia Bread and Tomato Soup I like to serve mine with cheesy focaccia bread coated in a generous layer of vegan butter. It makes the perfect dipping companion for a bold soup like this one.

Focaccia Bread

Roasted Tomato Soup

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Vegan Month Of FOod

160x220_g3Life is full of surprises and new beginnings. And this month is a doozy. I wanted to reboot the Vegan Urbanite with some fresh content and fanatic energy, so I’ve signed on for Vegan MOFO 2013. If you’re not familiar with Vegan MOFO it’s a month of daily blogging (EST) on vegan related matters.

September will certainly be a month of firsts. Running with the theme of New Beginnings, here is a peek at what you’re in for:

~ VU goes raw for a week. I’m a little nervous about this one but interested to see if there are any visible effects after 7 days of eating at least 80% raw.

~Moving cities. Yes, we are packing up and moving to another city  country! After 8 years of living abroad I’m returning to New Zealand with my three animal companions to begin a new career.

~Vegan sunscreen. How sunscreens aren’t vegan and my recommendations.

~An ethical and observational probe into zoos around the world (with some outrageous and disturbing pictures).

~Interview with Tobias Leenaert on Germany’s popular Meat Free Monday’s.

~Restaurant reviews and of course recipes galore! Stay tuned



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Weekend Bingeing

Over the weekend I finally let myself go out and enjoy the bounty of summer. Being cooped up indoors ruthlessly studying did little for my positive outlook and even less for my backside. So I enlisted the help of some good friends to assist in all the eating and drinking I’d missed. This meant I finally tried the raved about vegan sushi roll from Sushi Berry.

Sushi Berry Vegan 2

The avocado was perfectly ripe and the roll excellently executed and seasoned. A cabbage side salad and wasabi were the perfect companions to this surprisingly light meal.

Sushi Berry Very

Next I was inspired to create my own magic. The plan was to attend a “Gaming Console Marathon Extravaganza”, the kind the 90’s would be jealous of. Having stretched my thumbs and decided which neon outfit to wear (orange of course), I needed to prepare a dish. With a little expert help from Aliens Day Out, I made some cinnamon pull apart bread which went down a treat.

cinnamon pull-apart bread 3

cinnamon pull-apart bread 2

Crunchy and buttery, sweet and spicy, this cinnamon bread was so moreish you’d think  nothing could make your day better. Alas, the gluttony continued at Benekong. Take a look at this cajun chicken salad and tell me you could turn that down.

Benekong Vegan Meal 2

I hope you had a blissful weekend too, to be followed by a fabulous week!

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Keeping to a Vegan Diet while Traveling

19415_10151407039210586_229707507_nIt is easy to stick to a routine when everything stays the same. However, it is difficult to know exactly what’s in your food when your eating at new restaurants, trying new dishes or translating your preferences between languages. As a traveling vegan myself, I know it is not always easy to find vegan meals. But it is possible to stick to a vegan diet and eat healthy while on vacation without much hassle. Here are a few tips;

Bring Food Along

It is always smart to pack snacks. Trips never go as planned and it can be hard to know when or where the next meal will happen. Having snacks around saves money and offers an energy boost while on the go. Plus, not every restaurant caters to vegans. Travelers may have to make many substitutions to a dish before it is ready to eat, and the leftover result may be simple and bland.  No one should have to settle for lackluster dishes while on vacation. Travelers should pack their favorite vegan condiments and discretely use them on food to increase the flavor. For example, bring along some vegan cheese, pine nuts or hemp seeds to sprinkle on a salad, or make some raw fruit treats for the road.

Research before Travel

No one is truly a stranger in a strange land thanks to the internet and travel guides. Travelers research climates, hotels and attractions before vacationing anywhere, and it is smart for vegans to research food options. Looking into the customs of an area, finding vegan friendly restaurants nearby a hotel and searching specifically for vegan cuisine is helpful before travel.

The most helpful pieces of advice will come from fellow vegans so look for blogs or reviews of hotels and restaurants to find tips from others. There may be specific vegan groups from an area on the internet, or a few travelers may have listed how they survived in a new location on a vegan diet. In my most recent travel to the west coast, I found a great site that allowed for me to better prepare for my trip by reading the reviews on Las Vegas hotels and finding vegan alternatives in the midst of the heavily condensed buffet zone. Being prepared beforehand will help travelers enjoy the sights without worrying about the food.

Learn the Language

Venturing across the world means there might be a language barrier. While people in many countries speak English, it is helpful to learn a few phrases in the native language. Do not just look for translations of the word “vegan” because this often just means a simple meal in other cultures. Assemble a list of basic vocabulary words that relate to foods vegans typically eat. There are tons of Apps to do this and several lists on the web too. This lets travelers inquire for specific and well liked items. Foreign countries often offer unique foods. There many be special vegetables or vegan dishes that a country is known for. Look up the vocabulary for local foods to try new vegan items.

Offer Ideas at Restaurants

Restaurants try to accommodate patrons, but many wait staff are not always familiar with the needs of a vegan diet. It may fall to the guest to ask questions and make suggestions to help inform the staff. Knowing what a restaurant offers beforehand and having ideas ready helps the process of dining out go smoothly. Those who are friendly and explain their dietary needs while making polite suggestions should find that the restaurant is willing to make changes, and who knows, maybe it’ll be a hit and stay on the menu permanently.

Cook While on the Road

Eating out for the entirety of a vacation is the fastest way to gain weight and lose money. Most accommodations have a kitchen area, so travelers should plan to cook a few meals. Cooking gives vegans total control of a meal and can be a worthwhile experience. This lets travelers visit authentic markets, buy local foods and create their own recipes. Making dinner in a different setting can be as memorable an occasion as anything else on a trip.

Staying true to your vegan diet while on vacation is not impossible. Some people may encounter locations that do not have vegan options, but all vacations have setbacks. Maintaining a positive attitude and laughing over challenges helps make the most of any vacation. There is always another restaurant nearby. You will not starve. Researching the area, planning beforehand and being flexible make it possible to have an enjoyable, exciting and relaxing vegan vacation.

Guest post by Cole Millen, an avid traveler and foodie who never forgets that life’s best memories are made through real life apprehension of legitimate “experiences.” Follow his blog at  Cole’s Mill.

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Green Pasta with Creamy Mustard Sauce

Green Pasta with Creamy Mustard Sauce and Mayo {Vegan} 3

This little treasure made it into my repertoire courtesy of my better half. Challenged to cook a meal for us to eat hot one night, and cold the following day, and with less than an hour to prepare the whole thing, his brilliance lead him to this. The magic is actually in the sauce. You can essentially combine anything with this slightly sweet, thick, and creamy sauce. Add a dollop of vegan sour cream or mayo and you’ve got yourself a savory treat.


1 ½ cups of uncooked pasta (spinach tagliatelle is ideal)
2 – 3 med. carrots
2 – 3 med. heads of broccoli
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 cup of mushrooms (shiitake preferable)
2 cups of spinach
2 cups of kale
2 cups of bok choi
1 Tbsp of Mixed herbs (basil/rosemary/thyme)
1 courgette
2 Tbsp hemp hearts – optional (for sprinkling on top)
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast –optional (for sprinkling)

For the sauce

2 Tbsp of vegan butter
1-2 tsp of all-purpose flour
1 cup of unsweetened soy milk
1 – 2 Tbsp of mustard (I use whole-grain English)
Salt and pepper to taste
Serves: 6-7Prep time: 30 mins.Cooking time: 15-20 mins


Preheat the oven to 180ºC
Cook the pasta for 10 mins according to directions.
Wash and chop the broccoli and carrots into bite-sized chunks. Steam until almost soft, usually no more than 10 mins. NB: they will continue to cook after you’ve taken them off the heat, and soggy broccoli is no-ones friend.
Fry the diced onion and garlic in a hot pan for 2 mins or until slightly golden.
Add the mushrooms to the onion and garlic, and cook for a further few minutes.
Drain the pasta, broccoli and carrots, return to them to the one pot.
When done, add the onions and mushrooms to the pot too.
Wash the greens. Remove the stems of the kale and the tails of the bok choi. Cut into large chunky pieces and blanche in a hot iron skillet or frying pan with a splash of water, for 2-3 mins. Beware: overcooking will reduce the flavour.
Add the greens to the pot.

For the sauce

Melt butter in a frying pan on a low heat.
Carefully add 1-2 teaspoons of flour, slowly adding milk and stirring continuously to prevent it from forming clumps.
Add the salt, mustard and mixed herbs to the liquid. Stir and taste to test. Adjust salt/pepper/mustard combination to taste.
Pour the sauce into the pan covering the ingredients as well as you can. Mix thoroughly. Transfer to an oven-safe dish.
Peel the skin from the courgette and discard. Carefully peel the remainder of the courgette lengthways.Lay the strips on top of the other ingredients in the oven-safe dish. Sprinkle hemp seeds or nutritional yeast on top to add a crunchy element to the dish.
Bake for 15-20 minutes and serve warm with some vegan sour cream or vegan mayo. (But it tastes good cold too.)

Green Pasta with Creamy Mustard Sauce and Mayo {Vegan}

Green Pasta with Creamy Mustard Sauce and Mayo {Vegan}

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VU in Beijing, China

VU in Beijing China

 As is often the case, you can find scrumptious vegan meals in every corner of the world, and China is no exception. Granted, I was nervous about going to Beijing knowing that the international dish of China was duck drenched in lard, and not speaking a lick of Chinese beyond ‘hello’, ‘thank-you’ and ‘beer please’, I had my work cut out for me.

I stayed in the Hutongs of old Beijing in a quant cosy backpackers aptly called On the City Walls. The snow had suppressed the worst of the pollution and the closure of factories over Lunar New Year meant smog was at an all time low. Even so, the streets echoed of celebratory fireworks day and night and the smoke of incense could be seen beyond the temple walls.

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Hutongs OverviewMy favourite vegan restaurant in Beijing was Xu Xiang Zhai which offered mouth-water dishes in its extensive buffet. disappointingly I found it at the tail end of my trip so was only able to dip into their exotic meals the once. They were conveniently located across from  The Lama Temple, a Beijing tourist attraction sporting a three storey high Buddha.

As well as a unique vegan buffet of sushi, tangsu-u and kungpow chicken, Xu Xiang Zhai offer an a la carte menu and take home TSP (Textured Soy Protein) in a variation of marinades and textures. This will blow you away – two servings of caramelized chicken ‘meat’ in a sweet and sour sauce cost the equivalent of US$2. Of course I bought 7.

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Xuxiangzhai Restaurant 5

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Xu Xiang Zhai Restaurant

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Xuxiangzhai Restaurant 3

Xu Xiang Zhai Restaurant

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Xuxiangzhai Restaurant 9

Xu Xiang Zhai Restaurant

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Xuxiangzhai Restaurant 4

Xu Xiang Zhai Restaurant

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Xuxiangzhai Restaurant 7

Mock meats and marinated vegetables at Xu Xiang Zhai Restaurant. 

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Beihe Vegetarian Restaurant

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing, Baihe Vegetarian Restaurant

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Baihe Vegetarian Restaurant

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing, Baihe Vegetarian Restaurant

The second favorite place to eat in Beijing was Baihe Vegetarian Restaurant. Again, the food was incredible, rich in spices and heat with an array of herbal teas and quant side dishes such as roasted asparagus or bamboo shoots.

Every time I ate at Baihe I noticed the calm, relaxed atmosphere. Families and friends sat along a central table exchanging stories and jokes while couples romantically touched hands in the dimly lit corners. I was comfortable sitting alone and didn’t draw the usual unwanted attention of being the only western person in the restaurant.

The restaurant itself was hidden down an alleyway in the Hutongs of old Beijing. The courtyard would be stunning during warmer months when tables and chairs set the scene for an impressive nights sky.

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Baihe Vegetarian Restaurant Mushrooms

Baihe Vegetarian Restaurant Mushrooms in Peppers with Soy Sauce and Cilantro

This one dish in particular impressed me. It was a variety of mushrooms served with peppers and cilantro. The deep flavors left memories in my mouth which I recall to this day. It was delivered upon the heat of a candle and would’ve made for a perfect shared dish. I however, gobbled the whole thing as was my obligation as the only person at the table.

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Baihe Vegetarian Restaurant Mushroom 2

Baihe Vegetarian Restaurant

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Baihe Vegetarian Restaurant Soup

Baihe Vegetarian Restaurant, Pumpkin Soup

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Baihe Restaurant Cashew & Faux Chicken Stir Fry

Baihe Restaurant, Cashew & Faux Chicken Stir Fry

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Baihe Restaurant Soup

Baihe Restaurant Soup, Chestnut Soup

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Baihe Restaurant Dessert

Baihe Restaurant Dessert, Depp Fried Coconut Milk

Overall I was content with the food options in Beijing. I did go out of my way to find decent food but there were choices for the less motivated. I saw street vendors selling corn and rice cakes, cafes sold salads and sandwiches and Subway stores were dotted around the city. Plus many touristy centers offered western food, at western prices.

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Temple

Lama Temple, Beijing

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Buddha

Lama Temple Beijing

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing burning incense

Lama Temple, Beijing

Vegan Urbanite in Beijing Pagoda

Lama Temple, Beijing

Beijing has a lot to offer.  The people are very generous with their time and in their efforts to help I seldom felt I was being taken advantage of. It’s a fascinating place drenched in culture and history. But more on that in the next post.

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Red Lentil Pate

Red Lentil Pate

pate 1

Enjoy making one of my favourite, deceptive recipes – Vegan Red Lentil Pate

No-one expects a vegan to serve pate, and this version is cruelty-free and delicious.

Yields: 1 loaf (perfect party entrée)        Time: 1 hour + chilling time


3 Tbsp (24 g) toasted sunflower seeds
3 cups (703 ml) plus 2 Tbsp (30 ml) water, divided
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 cup (160 g) diced shallots, diced
1 tsp (2 g) fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar or under a knife
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 Tbsp (16 g) tomato paste
1 Tbsp light miso ( bean paste)
1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white wine or sparkling apple cider
1 1/2 cups (288 g) red lentils, rinsed
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Mint, basil or parsley to garnish.


1. Brush a little oil on the bottom and sides of 1 large loaf pan. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds on the bottom of the pan and set aside.

2. In a large pot heat 2 Tbsp water. Cook the onion and shallots on a med-high heat, stirring frequently so that nothing sticks to the bottom, until the onions and shallots turn translucent (about 5-6 minutes). Stir in the fennel, thyme, garlic, tomato paste and miso, then cook stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until most of the liquid evaporates for a couple of minutes.

3. Add the remaining 3 cups (705 ml) of water, the lentils and the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to med-low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the salt and pepper and continue cooking until the lentils have melted into a coarse puree, about 10-20 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaf and add more salt if you fancy.

5. Stir well creating a smooth, thick mixture with a texture similar to that of cooked oatmeal. If the puree is thin and soupy boil it uncovered, stirring frequently until it thickens. For a smoother consistency puree in a blender once it’s cooled.

6. Ladle the puree into the oiled loaf pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, but overnight is preferable. Flip the loaf pan over a platter and lift gently to reveal the pate. Garnish with the parsley and serve with oat cakes, potato chips or sliced vegetables.

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Valentines Day Gifts

Valentines Day Gifts

Gifts for your loved one don’t need to cost a fortune. These homemade gifts are affordable and thoughtful. They’re not cheap or naff like the ones you used to make at school and with some creativity and time you may create something brilliant. And besides, if they really love you, they would love your macaroni card too.

I prepared a gift and a sweet treat for my valentine, the difficult part is trying to keep them secret, so even though I’m publishing this online fingers crossed he won’t read this post for a least a week.

52 things I love about you

52 things I love about you

52 Things I Love about you

These cards provided the perfect opportunity to say everything I adore and cherish about my husband. I repeated the qualities he knew I loved in him, the ones I’m grateful for and even the little secret loves I had kept private.

I used a regular pack of playing cards (minus the jokers) and simply cut and glued the statements onto the cards. I pasted my love notes on either the face side or the design side of the card, mixing them up for variety and colour. I then punched two holes on the left hand side so I could thread the key rings through them to form a little book. I didn’t put the cards in any particular order except with the “52 things I love about you” card on the front. I hadn’t painted the cards with gloss before I took these pictures, so imagine these cards a little bit shinier.

52 things I love about you - Valentines Day 4 52 things I love about you - Valentines Day
52 Things I love about you

52 things I love about you - Valentines Day

Vegan Cookie Fudge

Vegan Cookie Dough Fudge

Vegan Cookie Dough Fudge

We can’t buy vegan chocolate where we live so I wanted to share something sweet but simple with my sweetheart. I found an intriguing recipe at Oh How She Glows with easy directions on how to make a cookie dough fudge. I managed to whip these up in 15 mins and they tasted fabulous although less like fudge and a little more like flapjack. Next time I make them I’ll replace stevia for sugar to reduce the caloric value. Do give them a go, they are yummy.

Vegan Cookie Fudge

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Vegan Pumpkin Scones

Vegan Pumpkin Scone Recipe

Delicious Pumpkin Scone made compassionately.

Dairy-free pumpkin scone recipe.

These Vegan Pumpkin treats are a little savory with a spicy undertone and sweet surface. Seriously, this recipe will produce pumpkin scones better than any you could buy. I recommend serving them warm with butter and a cup of tea.

Prep Time: 15 minutes      Bake Time: 15 minutes


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or 2 cups if you don’t have whole-wheat)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup raw brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
4 tbsp vegan butter + more for greasing
1 cup pureed pumpkin (The Empowered Way demonstrates how to make your own)
1/3 cup dairy-free milk
2 tsp vanilla essence (optional)


Preheat oven to 180˚C / 400°F. Lightly grease a cooking tray with vegan butter.

Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl.

Cut the dairy-free butter into the dry ingredients until it is reasonably well blended. The mixture will stick together forming clumps in some parts and it should take on a yellow colour from the butter.

In a separate bowl combine the pureed pumpkin, milk, and vanilla essence (optional).

Use the wet ingredients to make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Combine until you can mix no longer and then knead with your hands. If the dough is too dry add milk by the tsp. It should have a light solid consistency but not be visibly wet or sticky.

Pat out the mixture onto lightly floured surface. Shape into circles about the size of your palm, then cut the dough diagonally to form triangles.  Place on the prepared cooking tray. Sprinkle with raw sugar for an extra sweet taste and bake for 15 mins or until the scones are golden. Perform the knife-in-out-clean test.

Leave on a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving warm with dairy-free butter or vegan whipped cream. Nom nom nom.

Kitty-Boo Loves Vegan Pumpkin Scones

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