dairy-free cheese collage - to her core

I am always looking for new and interesting ways to use wholefood ingredients, especially ones that minimalise waste. I recently discovered macadamia nut milk which fast became my favorite nut milk – it’s smooth, creamy and has a lovely subtle flavour which isn’t as strong as other non-dairy milks meaning that it works wonderfully in places where other milk substitutes hold up poorly. It also means that I have been making copious amounts of the stuff which has left me with lots of nut milk pulp.

There are many uses for nutmilk pulp – it can be dried and then blended into nut flour, mixed into cookie and bliss balls, mixed with some spices to create a tasty dip or rolled out and baked at a low heat to make savoury crackers. But by far my favorite way to use up nut milk pulp is to turn it into delicious savoury cheese.

orange + hazelnut vegan cheese - to her core

dill caper dairy free cheese - to her core

orange + hazelnut dairy-free cheese - to her core

I am a huge lover of most things cheese, but I try not to include too much dairy in my diet as I’ve noticed that it aggravates my skin when I’m eating too much if it. I have a condition called dermatographic urteria, which means that my skin produces histamine without necessarily having an antigen to set it off, which basically means that my skin gets quite itchy and marks easily. I use antihistamine tablets to control the symptoms, which have been lessening over the past few years. Over the Christmas period however, the symptoms got worse and I had to start taking the antihistamines more frequently. The only thing I could think of that had changed was that I was having more dairy – I went to a food fermentation course late November and was given some milk kefir grains which I was using to make milk kefir which I turned into breakfast smoothies a few days a week, plus I had started eating a lot more cheese. You may have noticed an increase of cheese-related recipes here leading up to Christmas which was reflective of my diet – Baked Ricotta, Haloumi Stir Fry,  and lots of sneaky blue cheese going on. 

I normally wouldn’t have had any inclination to overshare my odd skin condition here – it’s something I consider to be very minor and doesn’t really affect my day to day life at all – it normally isn’t visibly noticeable and these days creates only a little discomfort (the odd itching) until the recent flare up, however after realising how dairy affected it I assumed that this may be something that other people had come across, yet a quick Google search revealed nothing of the kind. So I guess part of my sharing this with you is to highlight how some foods that we perhaps wouldn’t suspect can aggravate other conditions, not necessarily in an overly obvious way (by which I mean I show no signs of being dairy intolerant).

So in the best interest of my skin – and my mind (anyone who has suffered itchy skin conditions will know exactly what I mean here!) we’re steering clear of dairy for the moment and embracing non-dairy alternatives. 

hazelnut + orange dairy free cheese - to her core

vegan cheese dill - to her core

lemon dairy free cheese - to her core

Gone are the days when those who couldn’t consume dairy (or chose not to) had to live off commercially made soy products only. There are so many options these days, including grain and legume options, as well as nut and seed varieties which I tend to favour. I actually made a quick video of how to easily make your own nut milk at home, but it’s incredibly over exposed so I may have to have a second crack at it I think, and in the mean-time I’ll point you in the direction of Tasty Yummies’ guide to nut milks which gives you a step by step guide on how to make nut milk plus four delicious flavouring options. And once you have made your nut milk and are left with just the pulp, you can go ahead and use it to make some of this yummy dairy-free cheese. This cheese is most similar in taste and texture to ricotta, and as with ricotta, is quite bland on its own so needs a little extra flavouring to really make it shine. I’ve given you three flavouring options here, but you really could play around with the base recipe to add in whatever flavourings you like. if you do experiment and come up with anything that really impresses, be sure to let me know in the comments below so that I can try it out myself! 

dairy-free cheese - to her core 1

dairy free cheese three ways - to her core 1



Dairy-free cheese, three ways
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Dairy-free cheese base
  1. 1 cup nut milk pulp
  2. 1 Tbsp nut milk
  3. 2 Tbsp olive oil
  4. 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  5. 1 tsp salt
Zesty mustard + toasted sesame
  1. 1 heaped tsp lemon zest
  2. 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  3. 1 Tbsp mustard
  4. 1/4 cup sesame seeds
Roasted hazelnut, orange + smokey paprika
  1. 1 tsp smoked paprika
  2. 1/2 tsp smoked salt
  3. 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  4. 1 heaped tsp finely grated orange rind
  5. 1/4 cup hazelnuts
  6. Caper, lemon & dill
  7. 2 Tbsp chopped capers
  8. 2 tsp lemon juice
  9. 1/4 cup chopped dill
  1. Preheat oven to 200 C || 390 F
  2. Add the hazelnuts to a baking tray and place in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes until starting to brown and smell fragrant. Remove, and allow to cool, the crush roughly in a mortar and pestle (or alternatively chop with a knife).
  3. To toast the sesame seeds, heat a fry pan over medium to high heat and add the seeds. stir with a wooden spoon until lightly toasted - this will only take a minute or so. Remove immediately from the hot pan so that you don't burn the seeds.
  4. To prepare the cheese base, add the pulp to a bowl and then mash in the olive oil, lemon juice, nut milk and salt until well combined.
  5. Choose a flavouring and mix in all of the ingredients listed except the bottom ingredient (ie the sesame seeds, hazelnuts or dill). Roll the mixture into 3 or 4 balls (roughly golf-ball sized), and then roll in the bottom ingredient for that flavouring list.
  6. Chill in the fridge before serving. Lasts around three to four days in the fridge if you wish to make ahead.
  1. The amounts for the different flavourings are what you'll need for the whole amount of the cheese base (ie 1 cup nut milk pulp). If you want to divide the base mixture to make all three flavourings as per the pictures, you'll need to divide the amounts of the flavourings by a third.

Australia day - to her core

This coming Monday is Australia’s (official) National Day. For my non-Australian readers, the date (January 26th) is the anniversary of the arrival of white European settlement on Australian soils back in 1788, though Australia was inhabited long before this time by Indigenous Australians, and Australia as a nation was not established until over 100 years later. 

Australia day falls in the middle of the summer, and therefore usually means a trip to the beach, and/or a BBQ in someone’s backyard listening to the Triple J Hottest 100. It also means a public holiday, which means a long weekend, which is always good news in my book.

In an incredibly unpatriotic move, a look through my recipe archive reveals absolutely no “Australian” recipes. There’s no meat pie recipes (seriously? On a vego health blog? ;) The desserts section sports no pavlova (is that really all that Australian anyway?) and there are definitely no Vegemite sandwiches to be seen! (Do we even need to go there?)  To be quite honest though, most of these foods aren’t ones that feature at all in my diet. Most of my recipes and cooking is influenced by other food blogs, or by my Italian background, travelling, or food I have eaten at various restaurants and cafes over the years. Living in a multicultural society here in Australia we are very fortunate to have a massive range of authentic cuisine on display in most cities, and I think that this food heavily influences the diet of most Australians. 

However, being Australia day I thought I might showcase for my overseas readers some of the uniquely Australian foods and recipes, and in the true spirit of mateship, I’m pointing you in the direction of some of my fellow Australian food bloggers to introduce you to traditional Australia tucker.


Pretty Pavlova

Ah, the pavlova. A contentious dessert that – like the nationality of Russell Crowe, Crowded House and Phar Lap – Australians and New Zealanders have fought furiously over the true origins of since the early days of colonisation. This dessert, usually served at Christmas time (and on Australia Day), is a meringue case filled with whipped cream, berries and other fresh fruit.

Berry Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Wild Thyme Honey – Laura’s Mess (pictured)

Pavlova Icecream – Kinko Kitchen 

Pavlova with Rosemary Poached Rhubarb, Mango + Passionfruit - Finger, Fork + Knife


The (meatless) “sausage” roll

Whilst perhaps not technically a homegrown Australian recipe, you would be hard-fetched to go to any Australia Day BBQ (or kids birthday party/morning tea/afternoon tea/other social event) without at least seeing some variation on a sausage roll. I was never a huge fan of the sausage roll growing up – and obviously less so now! – so instead I’ve picked out some healthier vego options which are waayyy more my style!

Homemade Vegetarian Sausage Rolls – Veggie Mama

Pumpkin and Harissa Sausage Rolls – Delicious Everyday



The humble lamington

Most countries have some kind of traditional cake recipe. In Australia, we have just the one – the lamington. Baked in a flat, rectangular pan, coated in chocolate and sprinkled with coconut. If you’re lucky, you may get a smathering of jam in the middle, and if you’re really lucky, perhaps a dollop of cream as well.

Lamingtons (Gluten and refined sugar free) – The Whole Daily (pictured)

Gluten-free and Refined Sugar Free Lamingtons – The Holistic Ingredient 

Gluten-free Lamingtons – Souvlaki For The Soul

True Blue ANZAC biscuits

ANZAC biscuits are the quintessential traditional Australian homemade biscuit, made up of oats, golden syrup, butter and coconut. As the story goes, ANZAC biscuits got their name as wives would send them to their soldier husbands during the First World War as their ingredients wouldn’t spoil easily. 

Quinoa ANZAC Cookies – My Darling Lemon Thyme

Vegan ANZAC Biscuits – Quirky Cooking 

Paleo ANZAC Biscuits – the Healthy Chef


Oh my Tim Tam

Tim Tams, for the uninitiated, are Australia’s shining star when it comes to chocolate biscuits. Chocolate cream sandwiched between two chocolate biscuits coated in chocolate. It’s a chocolate overload which has families fighting over the last one, partly because they are addictive and incredibly moreish, and also because the packet contains an uneven 11 biscuits which either leaves a winner or loser, depending on if you’re the lucky recipient of the last Tim Tam or not. And if you manage to get your hands on one of these little chocolately sensations, there is a correct and incorrect way to eat them. If you take a bite like you would a normal biscuit, then you’re doing it wrong! If instead you bite off each end and dunk it in your cup of tea and suck the tea through from the other end, your doing it the correct way (and are also now covered in chocolate!)

Tim Tams – Wholefood Simply (pictured)

A Healthy Tim Tam – A Free Spirited Fish


Australia day - to her core

Roasted rhubarb relish - to her coreWhen I moved in with B a little over two years ago, he had a very sad looking patch of soil in the courtyard just begging for a little TLC. It was littered with beer bottle caps, cigarette butts and other rubbish that had gathered over the year of it playing unfortunate host to a share-house of 20-something boys who liked to have parties frequently but responsibly dispose of their litter less often. 

The first year, I planted two tomato plants and a cucumber plant. I also bought a worm farm with the intention of using the worm wee and castings to fertilise the garden and build up the health of the soil. It was all very trial and error at that point. My cucumber died almost straight away, but the tomato plants both grew and slowly produced a little fruit. The worm farm went fairly well and now I have a tray of castings which I put back through the soil every 2 – 3 months or so. The soil health slowly improved and the following summer I increased my crop to include more tomato plants, zucchini, kale, lettuce and spring onion, as well as another failed attempt at eggplant. This year, I’ve increased the number of tomato plants, and lettuces, ditched the kale which just used to get eaten by little green caterpillers anyway, kept the spring onions which are still going strong and also added silverbeet, eggplant, fennel, purple cabbage and finally have had success growing cucumber! 

I think the success of the garden is largely due to the improved health of the soil. I can’t say that I have delved to much into the science of how best this works – asides from using the worm deposits and a little Seasol, my gardening technique more runs along the lines of “let’s just chuck it in the ground and hope for the best!”

Roasted rhubarb relish - to her core

rhubarb - to her core

 My Dad on the other-hand is somewhat of a gardening guru who spends a lot of time in his garden and works of a four-year crop rotation cycle to ensure that each crop is at its optimal best. Every time we go to visit him we get a tour of the garden which is always thriving, and the best part – a bag full of healthy, homegrown produce to take home with us. 

Last summer Dad bestowed upon us a huge bag of rhubarb which went to a few renditions of this stunningly beautiful coconutty rhubarb cake. With my rhubarb loot this year though I wanted to something a little different, and decided to try my hand at a rhubarb relish after sampling some that my stepbrother-in-laws’ mother had made.

Roasted rhubarb relish - to her core Roasted rhubarb relish - to her core

Relish is traditionally quite high in sugar which I try to limit in my diet, so instead I decided to roast the rhubarb along with the apple to caramalise them, adding a little to the sweetness and a lot to the flavour. Note that when you roast these too, the apple will brown up nicely on the edges and hold its shape well, while the rhubarb will also gain a golden hue yet slowly start to break down a bit and get a bit mushy – this is fine, you want them to soften completely for the finished product anyway.

Another note here – I’ve cut back on  the total amount of sugar and also replaced the standard refined sugar you’d normally see in relishes with a less processed coconut sugar. If you don’t have coconut sugar, you could easily use another sweetener of your choice here, though coconut sugar is the only one I have tested and can personally vouch for. And if you still want quite a sweet relish, maybe add an extra table spoon or two to the pot – I like that this isn’t overly sweet and you can still taste the tart rhubarb, but make sure you taste the mixture before it’s done to ensure it’s to your liking.

Roasted rhubarb relish - to her core

Roasted rhubarb relish - to her core

Roasted rhubarb relish
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  1. 400g rhubarb washed and diced
  2. 2 large apples, washed, cored and diced
  3. 1 heaped Tbsp coconut sugar
  4. 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  5. 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  6. 1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  7. 1/4 cup currants
  8. 8 cloves, roughly crushed in mortar and pestle
  9. 1 tsp cinnamon
  10. 1 garlic clove, minced
  11. 1 heaped tsp freshly minced ginger
  12. 1 tsp each salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 190C | 375 F
  2. Dice the rhubarb and apples. Add to a lined baking pan, sprinkle with coconut sugar and bake for 45 minutes.
  3. About half an hour before the rhubarb and apple have finished roasting, start preparing the remaining ingredients. Add all the prepared ingredients to a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, while the rhubarb and apples finish roasting.
  4. Once the rhubarb and apples are cooked, remove from heat and add to saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook another half an hour or so until thick.
  5. Place relish in a glass jar and store in the fridge up to two weeks.