Gluten Free Kecap Manis & Broccolini® with Soy and Sesame

Kecap manis, pronounced like “kitCHUP maneese”, is a sweet, sticky, Indonesian soy sauce. It’s not an obscure thing, so you don’t have to search Asian grocers or health food stores for it – it’s available at most supermarkets near the soy sauce. Most of the time, though, you’ll see questionable ingredients listed on the bottle, such as “flavours” or three digit numbers… And I’m yet to come across a store bought version that’s gluten free. So, “why not make it myself?”, I thought.

Gluten Free Kecap Manis
Gluten Free Kecap Manis

1/2 C Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
1/2 C + 1 T Soft Brown Sugar, firmly packed

  • Put ingredients into a small saucepan and simmer on low heat for 6-10 minutes, stirring constantly. If your mixture starts to bubble up too much, simply remove it from the burner for a moment to let it settle. The consistency will be comparable to maple syrup and will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Leave to cool, then store in a glass jar in the fridge.

Broccolini Soy Sesame
Broccolini® with Soy and SesameServes 4 as a side or 2 as a main

The above recipe is what inspired me to make and share a gluten free version of kecap manis with you; I didn’t want my gluten free readers to miss out! I really loved this dish, and as you can tell by the bright glossy photo, I ate it on the verandah (porch) as the sun set on my beautiful twenty acres of Australian flora and fauna. What a way to relax!

The only change I made to the original recipe was to use one tablespoon of kecap manis, not the recommended two – this was sweet enough for me, but if you want something a bit richer, feel free to toss in the second tablespoon. I also chose to eat it as a main rather than a side and served it with some brown rice.

Tofu Puffs

This broccolini dish is also really great with a couple of cut up tofu puffs tossed into the mix. They’re a specialty item that I’ve only ever seen in Asian grocery stores, either in the fridge or freezer section. They’re the only type of tofu that you can freeze and defrost without altering the texture. They’re spongy, a little chewy and hold stir fry and curry sauces fabulously!

Broccolini® & Cucumber Salad

This started as a recipe review for Broccolini® with Cucumber & Chilli Sauce. There were a few things not-quite-right about it, so instead of just giving you my critique, I thought I’d offer you another version of it – a version that’s less of a “side” and more of a “main” – because I’m all about making veggies the star.

With the original recipe, you’ll find yourself trying to split one bunch of broccolini® between four people, which leaves you with a stalk or two each. That’s not enough of this wonderful vegetable, in my opinion. You’ll also have a lot of sauce left over – a sauce which uses two tablespoons of sugar. The kids will love it, but their teeth won’t. My sauce has a little more bite to it!

Broccolini Cucumber Salad
Serves 1 as a main or 4 as a side.

2 Bunches Broccolini®
1 Lebanese Cucumber, diced (or 10cm/4″ section of another kind of cucumber)
1 T White Wine Vinegar
1 T Water
1/2 t Raw Sugar
1/4-1/2 Long Red Chili, finely diced
1/2 Garlic Clove, finely diced
1 T Fresh Coriander, roughly chopped
1/2 t Sunflower Seeds

  • In a skillet or small saucepan on very low heat, combine the vinegar, water and sugar until just dissolved. Add the garlic and chili to soften and take the raw “sting” out of them. This should only take a minute or two – don’t leave this on the heat too long or let it boil, or your dressing will start to evaporate and condense. Leave to cool.
  • Cut the broccolini® stalks into thirds and blanch for 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • Toss the broccolini®, cucumber and dressing together in a salad bowl. Serve sprinkled with coriander and sunflower seeds.

Another Raw Lunch!

Yet another recipe from Addicted to Veggies – this is the Loaded Creamy “No Pasta” Salad. I made a half batch, marinated my broccoli for 4 hours in the zip lock bag and skipped the optional pickle relish. The tenderising technique Sarahfaé has come up with is brilliant – I thought the broccoli seemed very lightly blanched. If you like cooked broccoli, don’t be afraid to leave this in the fridge overnight.

Loaded Creamy No Pasta Salad

I don’t know if you can really call healthy food “badass”, but I’m going there. This meal kicks butt.

Even half a batch of the original recipe was pretty huge – I’d say about a third of the full recipe would be one serve for me. Towards the end, I was at that point of knowing if I kept eating I was going to feel sick, but it just tasted so damn good that I couldn’t help myself! Yep. I finished it. Deeeeelicious. This might end up being a semi-regular lunch for me. Not only is broccoli my favourite vegetable EVER, but it really wasn’t that hard to prepare this. I already had some AtV sour cream on hand; the rest of the work was just chopping and storing ingredients in separate layers of my tiffin, ready for a quick assembly at lunch time.

Today’s Lunch

I’ve decided to start sharing photos of some of my meals with you that don’t necessarily have recipes attached to them. I hope you find them inspiring – or at the very least, entertaining. The boys at work are constantly amused by what I eat!

Raw Cracker Lunch

Today’s lunch is “Savory Pumpkin/Flaxseed Onion Crackers” – the recipe is from my wonderful gal pal Sarahfaé at Addicted to Veggies.

I’ve tried blindly making raw crackers a few times before. I have the texture down pat, but always manage to mess up the flavour somehow. These are excellent; the amount of salt is just right and the onion flavour is present without being pungent. I made one change to the original recipe; I had to substitute 1 C of pumpkin seeds with sesame seeds because I didn’t quite have enough in my pantry.

If you dig raw foods, or are at the very least a little curious, give these a try – and try not to be intimidated by all the photos on the original recipe post. They really are just a matter of wet mix + dry mix + dehydrate = success!

Fresh On Charles


Fresh On Charles
178 Charles Street
Launceston, TAS 7250
Ph: (03) 6331 4299

I like to think of myself as a very fair and honest person. Before writing this review, I deliberated a lot, wondering if maybe I hold vegetarian/vegan restaurants and cafés to higher and harsher standards than other places… but came to the conclusion that this isn’t the case. After all, if I went to a restaurant/café dedicated to any one theme and was presented with something that didn’t show a comprehensive understanding of it, I’d be pretty disappointed.


We ordered coffee to start. My soy latté arrived quickly despite the café being busy – and it was strong. Definitely no complaints about that! The girls serving us were super friendly.


After a quick perusal of the menu, I had my heart set on the pho (Vietnamese soup) from the lunch menu and Mr. AA ordered the sweet potato hash brown dish from the breakfast menu.


We were waiting a VERY LONG TIME for our meals; I’ll explain more about this later. Fresh On Charles no longer stocks Phoenix cola, but they stock their ginger beer – so we ordered a couple of those and were impressed to see them served with a decent chunk of ginger in a glass of ice. I don’t know why I’d never thought to do that myself!


This is the pho. When the menu said “greens”, I was expecting something Asian. Baby choy sum? Asian broccoli? Even some boc choy or bean shoots, maybe? No. What was in there was a handful of baby spinach and a few WHOLE leaves of wombok cabbage, which were pretty awkward to try and eat. In addition, the noodles were over cooked, the tofu was dumped on top of the soup as a slab and there was a giant lime cheek floating in my bowl. There were no fresh herbs in sight; can you understand why I was more than just a little bit disappointed?

The broth was nice, but it wasn’t very complex – I suspect it was a standard veggie stock with some soy sauce and lime juice added to it. I can’t believe I paid $20 for this. It was a pretty poor attempt at pho.


This was Mr. AA’s meal – at $17, this was significantly smaller than mine, which only proved that there’s no correlation between portion sizes and price here. He had no complaints and said that the sweet potato hash browns were excellent – however I could clearly see his eggs were over cooked. The yolks, for the most part, were solid.

Now onto my severely disappointing story about the long wait for our meals…

The venue is deceivingly large. From the front, it looks fairly small, but it stretches pretty far back and has some pretty adorable retro furniture. We ventured right through to the outdoor area before finding a spare table – so based on this alone, I was understandably expecting that there might be a fair wait for a meal. I was prepared to be patient. What I was NOT prepared for, was this: witnessing a waitress skip someone else’s meal to the front of the queue because she knew them.

The waitress wasn’t at all discreet about it, either. She was chatting with the women at the table next to us loudly and actually offered to push their meals forward. Those women had sat down and ordered well after us – and yet our meals didn’t arrive until they’d already finished eating.

Now, I’m generally a pretty relaxed person. I was holidaying at the time and in no rush, but honestly… that kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable. What’s worse is that after we’d paid, I quietly spoke to the manager about it and she didn’t actually offer me an apology – her words to me were “we try to discourage people from doing that”. Hang on — back up, lady. This happens all the time? Way to make your patrons feel equally appreciated.

I definitely won’t be returning.

Fresh On Charles on Urbanspoon

Recipe Review: Raw Ice-Cream

When Mr. AA saw bananas on the kitchen bench last week, he exclaimed “We can afford bananas? We’re living like kings!”. For all my international readers: bananas are around $14/kg in Australia at the moment.


Easy Banana Almond Ice-Cream

I want to start by saying that I’m not a raw foodist – not by a long shot. However that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy some raw food lovin’ every now and then.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the raw food world, one of the most revolutionary things to come from it (in my opinion, at least), is banana soft serve. Someone once told me that Gena’s post would change my life – and it did. It meant that I was no longer stuck with soy ice-cream – which, as a general rule, I find a little revolting. Soy anything, really. I’ve just learned to tolerate it.

Sarahfaé from Addicted to Veggies really took banana soft serve up at least 23 notches when she created her easy banana almond ice-cream. Not only is this recipe easier than pie – it’s also super amazing and admittedly a recipe I’ve used at dinner parties more than once to knock the socks off unsuspecting omnivorous friends. The end result is sweet, creamy, nutty & a little zingy.

Give it a go, guys! You won’t regret it.