Having a ball!

A week or so ago I shared my new recipe for lime and coriander balls. You can find it here.

I decided to try something a little different today. Still sticking with the same basic formula but changing up the flavours a bit.

This time I used orange zest, a mixture of orange juice and rosewater, and a mixture of cashews and pistachios.

These balls:

  • are VEGAN
  • can be GLUTEN-FREE (use GF oats)
  • contain NO REFINED SUGAR
  • are a PIECE OF CAKE to make!


(makes 16 balls)


  • 1 cup rolled oats (use gluten-free if needed)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup plus about 3 tablespoons pistachios
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons rosewater


  • Soak the dates in hot water for about 10 minutes, and drain.
  • Place pistachios in food processor and grind to a coarse powder. Take out about 3 tablespoons worth and set aside.

  • Add dates, zest, juice, rosewater and oil, and process until they form a dough-like paste (mixture will clump into a big ball – this will take less than a minute)

  • Divide the mixture into balls – the number of balls will depend on how big you like them. I usually make 16 because it’s easy to make them roughly the same size – I divide the mixture in half, then half again, then again, then again.

  • Roll the balls in reserved ground pistachios and refrigerate until firm. 

Veganuary – the story so far!


After 2 years of trying to eat plant-based MOST of the time (I estimate 85-90%) I decided to take the challenge to eat vegan for the entire month of January. As I write there is a week to go, and I can see one major challenge to come, but I thought this week I would write about some of the things I’ve learned so far.

1) Trying to eat vegan on the road is REALLY HARD unless you take your own food. Truck stops are not noted for their vegan options. Muesli bars and nuts are good portable road snacks. Fruit too, although you have to make sure you eat it all before you enter South Australia!

2) I sort of already knew this but wine and cider is not necessarily safe (in fact, more likely non-vegan than vegan). There is a very useful website called Barnivore which lists alcoholic beverages by veganosity. (I’m not certain ‘veganosity’ is an actual word but it’s a good one. ‘Veganity’ would also work). I now know a few ciders that I can safely drink – sadly not my absolute favourite but a couple that are readily available in Adelaide. I did manage to find a lovely vegan wine in Thredbo – naturally a South Australian one!

3) Balls are fantastic. I’m talking vegan energy balls. Quick to make, healthy (most of the ones I have made contain sugar only in the form of dates), portable and delicious. Dates are expensive though. It’s hard to find a cheap date!

4) Eating vegan at home is easy (I already knew that). Eating at other people’s places is a bit difficult – although my mum has catered to me admirably with a little help from the fantastic website One Green Planet (which is also the source of much of my inspiration) – follow them on Facebook and/or Instagram and prepare to have your mind blown! Eating with a group of people in a self-catering arrangement where you are the ‘only vegan in the village’ requires a bit of flexibility and creativity. And a couple of standbys such as canned chickpeas and peanut butter never go astray!

5) Eating at restaurants often needs a little advance preparation. For example, when dining out with the girls, I did a little research and picked an omni restaurant that has a vegan menu. Something for everyone. Simples! In Thredbo for our ‘official’ dinner I requested in advance a vegan meal and I was very happy with what they served up – it was clearly not just a token salad, or plate of roasted veggies, rather you could tell they had actually put some thought into it. On the other hand, rocking up to a restaurant and asking if they have any vegan options can be fraught – especially in a small town. (On one occasion in Thredbo I was told ‘no’. Not ‘I’ll check with the chef’, just ‘no’. Might be worth starting to carry a peanut butter sandwich in my handbag!)

6) You can pretty much make any omni dish you want into a vegan one. It might take more time and require some ingredients you can’t find in a supermarket, but it can be done if you want it badly enough! You can even get a vegan fried egg – not that I could imagine any vegan would want to eat anything that looks like (and presumably tastes like) a fried egg!

7) Forget about trying to get a vegan meal at a sporting event. Hot chips might be OK depending on what they’re cooked in, and if they’re cooked in the same vat as chicken nuggets etc. Plain crisps on the other hand, are generally safe (at least it’s easy to tell by reading the packet) but crisps do not a meal make.

8) As a rule you will tend to eat healthier – as you won’t go near most fast food, Bunnings BBQs and late night yiros/kebab joints. And it’s easier to control yourself at morning/afternoon teas at work if most of the delicious looking foods on the table are on the ‘no go’ list! Don’t be fooled into thinking that ‘vegan = healthy’ though. My current favourite raw vegan chocolate tart is loaded with calories and sugar. But no animals were harmed in the making of it, so I will happily eat it in moderation.

My next big challenge will be the 100km track championships this coming Saturday night. An overnight race – I will certainly be requiring some food but I’m not yet sure what, how much, and when. If I can get through that on a vegan diet, I’m pretty sure I can get through anything! I guess you’ll be hearing all about THAT next week!

(If you’re interested in seeing my daily Veganuary posts, my Instagram username is @moon_unit_ultra)

A few of my favourite things…


It’s been a bit of a ‘meh’ running week for me. Maybe because it’s been hot, maybe because I’m still recovering from my epic swimming session on Monday, maybe because it’s the ‘off-season’, who knows? I did enter a 100km track event which takes place next month, so I do at least have a short-term goal to focus on!

I didn’t even run on Sunday morning. The trail group ran at 6am – much too early for me! I couldn’t even drag myself out to the SARRC end-of-year race, which I somehow managed to win last year! Saturday night I was out at Le Diner en Blanc, and had spent much of the previous few days preparing food for that.

Which got me thinking… even though it would mean 2 straight weeks NOT writing about running, why not dedicate this week’s blog to another of my great passions, FOOD!

Almost 3 years ago I made the New Year’s Resolution to quit eating meat – at least until my planned trip to the US 3 months later. I thought vego in the USA would be a bridge too far! Well as it turns out, that trip never happened, so I kind of just kept going! In 2014 I decided to try vegan – well that’s still a work in progress, but at least all the food I make for myself is plant-based.

In the past 2 years I have ‘discovered’ some fantastic ingredients and recipes, and found that you can eat really really well on a plant-based diet!

I’ll admit I have a few weaknesses. Especially in the current hot weather, I find it hard to say no to really good gelato!

Anyway, today I thought I’d share some of my favourite ingredients and what you can do with them!

I think chickpeas would have to be top of the list. I eat them pretty much every day in some form. Half a can with a salad is great for protein. Smashed up with avocado and either some Himalayan salt (another new ‘discovery’ for me) or dukkah, is divine, and on a sandwich or toast is the quickest, easiest lunch you’ll ever make! Then of course you can use chickpeas in dips – you can’t go past a good hummus! I’ve never tried it but I’ve seen a few cookie recipes using chickpeas that I’m keen to try!

Speaking of sweet things, did you know that the canning water from a can of chickpeas can be used to make meringue? It turns out that the juice has very similar properties to egg white so can be used as an egg white replacer, including in meringue! I’ve made them several times – so light and airy! And so much fun to see the look on people’s faces when they try one and then you tell them what they’re made of!

Finally there is chickpea flour which can be used to make eggless quiches – super easy and surprisingly good! The texture is a little different but with the right seasoning they can be really tasty.

Smashes up really well with chickpeas. I usually have half an avocado in a salad for lunch. Others use it as a spread, in smoothies, and of course guacamole. Sooo creamy and delicious… I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to decide I like it!

I still haven’t got around to trying it in a dessert (eg chocolate mousse) but I can now see how it would work. I have tried some incredible avocado gelato (not vegan – as I said I’m still a work in progress!)

I love coconut! It can be used in so many ways. There is the ubiquitous coconut water which is supposedly the best thing ever – for me, the jury is still out and I haven’t quite got my head around the flavour. I use coconut oil a fair bit – great for cooking, and AMAZING in raw desserts. Desiccated and shredded coconut (I’m still not sure exactly what the difference is) is great in cakes, cookies, energy balls and also in salads. Coconut chips are pretty tasty! Let’s not forget coconut milk and cream, used for desserts such as chocolate mousse, and also in curries and soups. Then there’s a slightly different type of coconut milk, the one that is used as a substitute for dairy milk. I’ve used it in smoothies and it has a definite coconut taste but seems to work really well!

I love raw cashews but the main thing I use them for is cashew cream – the best! I use it in raw desserts – so easy to make and so creamy people will struggle to believe that there is no cream in it! I also throw a handful into my homemade rice milk to add a bit of creaminess.

Where do we start? Steamed cauliflower. Cauliflower curry. Cauli puree as a substitute for potato mash. Cauli ‘rice’ in ‘fried rice’ or ‘risotto’. One of my all time favourite soups – curried cauliflower. Cauliflower ‘steak’. So versatile. (I’ve written ‘cauliflower’ so many times I’m now looking at it, wondering if I’ve spelled it correctly!)

Who doesn’t love a hot date? Dates are a fantastic natural sweetener and binder, making them the ideal base for most vegan energy balls. I also use them with ground almonds to form the base for raw cheesecakes/tarts. You can also make caramel with them but I haven’t got around to trying that yet!

So there you have it. Just a few of my favourite versatile ingredients. Do you have any favourites?