{Recipe} Baked Pumpkin, Chickpea, and Grape Tomato Salad | Zesty Lemon Dressing

It was time for salad….


…..We were halfway through our Sydney vegan eating tour holiday.

Mixed Berry ice creams, Vegan's Choice, Newtown

Mixed Berry ice creams,
Vegan’s Choice, Newtown

We had (over) indulged in yum cha, Thai food, Chinese food, tofu ice cream, baked cheesecakes, raw cheesecakes, cupcakes……More temptations awaited us in the days ahead. I was beginning to fear that my jeans would require alterations.

Salad-therapy was required!

I prepared Baked Pumpkin, Chickpea, and Grape Tomato Salad for a family dinner at my sister-in-law’s house. She prepared a delicious rice salad and a scrumptious roast vegetable dish. Perhaps a healthy dose of salads would negate some of the sugary morsels that I had enthusiastically consumed? Well, one can have hope!


Baked Pumpkin, Chickpea, and Grape Tomato Salad with Zesty Lemon Dressing

Serves 6-8 as a side dish


2 cups chopped pumpkin

1 1/4 cups /200g grape tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes)

3 1/2 tightly packed cups /120g  mixed lettuce leaves

1 cup chickpeas, cooked or tinned

1 avocado, sliced

1/8 cup chopped red onion

1/8 cup walnut pieces

For the dressing:

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp hommus

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp maple syrup

1 tsp tamari/soy sauce


1. Place the pumpkin on a lined baking tray, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a moderate oven (180C/350F) for 20-25 mins. While pumpkin is baking, prepare the other ingredients.

2. Spread a large serving platter with the lettuce leaves.

3. Scatter the lettuce with grape tomatoes, chickpeas, walnuts, onions, and avocado.

4. Once the pumpkin is cooked, add it to the platter.

5. For the dressing: Add all of the ingredients to a small jar. Stir with a fork, then screw on the lid, and shake the jar until ingredients are mixed well.

6. Pour the dressing over the salad just before serving.


What foods do you turn to when you have over-indulged on treats and restaurant meals? When was the last time you over-indulged?

Every Monday, I share a delicious vegan meal that is enjoyed by my family. I sincerely hope that your family enjoys it too. 

I am submitting this recipe to Healthy Vegan Fridays. Check out the recipes for delicious inspiration!

{Restaurant Review} Cardamon Pod Vegetarian, Broadbeach

We visited Cardamon Pod Vegetarian restaurant for lunch this week. Cardamon Pod is located at Broadbeach (on the Gold Coast), just a couple of blocks from the beach. This Hare Krishna restaurant continues to impress me with its vibrant and tasty vegan food.

My strongest memories of Hare Krishna food are steeped in my university days. The Hare Krishna food on campus had few vegan options, and I can recall lots of dairy-based foods. That is not the case at Cardamon Pod. Vegans are catered for, more than adequately. There was not a dairy-based mango lassi in sight! (Disclaimer: there may be one on the menu, somewhere….).



We were famished on arrival. There was a hive of activity – it was 1pm, peak time. We had no trouble finding a table, and chose to eat inside. We sat at a large table with a long bench seat covered in about a dozen colourful and cheerful cushions. The décor is very eclectic, and visually pleasing to the eye. The tables are mismatched. There is a couch outside. There are purple plastic chairs, and there are wooden-framed chairs with soft, bouncy seat cushions (like the ones we sat in). There are grand looking chairs, with high backs and wide arms. We saw parrot candle stick holders, with melted wax covering the birds. The food is also visually appealing.

ecclectic decor


Diners at Cardamon Pod can choose from a variety of hot and cold dishes. The hot dishes are presented bain marie style. I noticed one of the staff members using a thermometer to check the temps of each hot dish, which may be reassuring for those who have concerns about eating food from bain maries.

Mat was excited to notice that they had vegan kofta balls. We only know of one other restaurant that makes vegan kofta balls, so Mat was thrilled to have the option.

I was feeling overwhelmed by my hunger and the plethora of choices. I knew that I wanted salad. Mat suggested that we order a Vegan Platter. It consisted of our choice of 2 hot dishes and 2 salads, rice and a samosa. We chose vegetable curry, Kofta balls (of course!), Sweet Potato, Broccoli and Sesame Tofu salad and Dutch Carrot, Almond and Rocket salad. The platter cost $26. It consists of more food than one person can comfortably eat.



We also decided on vegan nachos and an additional samosa as we knew the kids would enjoy both of these. We also shared our salads with the kids. The samosas are huge, so 2 samosas between 3 kids and 1 adult is adequate (Little Baker and I didn’t indulge in samosa).
The curry, nachos and salads were gluten-free. The nachos cost $16. The samosa cost $4 and came with a sauce that was called ‘tomato chutney’. However, it had the smooth consistency of a sauce – there were no tomato chunks. Mat and my daughter couldn’t stop raving about the chutney (sauce). This was also the sauce that was poured over the kofta balls. They were right in their assessment, it was scrumptious.



My daughter tried all of the dishes, and informed me that her favourite was the nachos, specifically the kidney bean concoction covering the corn chips. The beans had a subtle hint of lemon. The boys loved the samosas, and corn chips -of course! Mat’s favourite were the kofta balls. The Dutch Carrot salad had a surprising, but welcome, bite of chilli to it. I also enjoyed the taste and consistency of the triangles of tofu. Little Baker enjoyed them too – these are easy finger food. He was trying to use a fork at one stage, imitating his siblings. I watched him attempting to balance a piece of rocket on the fork.

I did worry about Little Baker spilling food on the beautiful cushions. He had grains of rice spread across the table and stuck to his shirt. At one stage, our 3 year old clearly forgot that we were in a restaurant. After he scoffed his samosa, corn chips and broccoli, he curled up like a cat on a couple of cushions. He was set for a nap! Someone knocked over a glass of water. Ah, eating out with 4 children is rarely completely relaxing!



Cardamon Pod also has a juice and smoothie bar, and serves raw desserts like chocolate mousse. We didn’t order a drink or dessert on this visit. On a previous visit, I ordered The Hulk (they had run out of baby spinach, so I was offered a double dose of spirulina. I agreed. It was the first time I had consumed spirulina in a smoothie. It was radio-active green, and delicious. Afterwards, I felt incredibly energised).

There wasn’t room for a Hulk or a dessert this time. Mat suggested that we visit solely for dessert one day. Great idea!
So, for a grand total of $46 my family of 2 adults, 3 children and a baby left Cardamon Pod with full and happy bellies, eager to visit again soon.

Look at what we spotted across the road, etched into the footpath……


Cardamon Pod Vegetarian

11/110 Surf Parade,

Broadbeach, QLD

Phone 0452 218 108 for opening hours.



I want to extend my gratitude to those that have voted for me in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Vegan and Vegetarian Moms 2013

I am currently in the number 2 spot! This is very exciting! I would love to maintain this position. If you enjoy reading Made of Stars, please vote for me here.

I really appreciate your support. 

You can vote for me once every 24 hours. You are not required to register, or provide your email address. You just click. It’s really quick!

The competition ends on 7 February. Thank you. :)


{Recipe} Mango and Macadamia Cous Cous Salad | Cherry Cake

I am posting two recipes today. Both recipes are suitable for an Aussie Christmas lunch (or dinner). The Cherry Cake is suitable any time of year!

Mango and Macadamia Cous Cous Salad takes advantage of the Summertime abundance of delectable mangoes. Macadamia nuts, fresh herbs and spices also feature in this easy recipe. This salad is adapted from a vegetarian Weight Watchers recipe book that belonged to my mother-in-law, Maureen, many moons ago.

I also present Cherry Cake – a decadent, moreish treat that is my ‘go to’ cake for special events. I have found it to be popular with non-vegans too. The original source of the recipe is unknown, unfortunately. A non-vegan version of this recipe was passed on to my mum by a friend who had copied it out of a magazine. My mum veganized it, and I made further small amendments.



Mango and Macadamia Cous Cous Salad

Quantity: Serves 6 people as a side dish

(For a gluten-free version, use gluten-free cous cous).

You will need:

1 1/2 cups wholewheat cous cous (I use Macro brand)

1 3/4 cups boiling water

2 small mangoes, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

50g raisins or sultanas

75g macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground cardamon

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped (I use garlic chives)

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 -1 /2 cup extra virgin olive oil (optional)




1. Prepare the cous cous first. Prepare as per instructions on the pack, or use the following simple method that aims to avoid added oil.

Boil water in a kettle. Pour cous cous grains into a saucepan, then add the boiled water. Stir the grains briefly. Cover the saucepan. Do not place the saucepan on a hot plate. After 5 minutes, remove the saucepan lid and use a fork to separate the grains.

The grains should appear fluffy and light, like this:

cooked cous cous

2. Transfer the cous cous to a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

3. Place a fry pan on a medium heat, add approximately two tablespoons of water, and heat. If you prefer to cook with oil, use that instead of water.

4. Add the spices and stir until fragrant, then add the onions and cook until soft, stirring occasionally to ensure the onions are coated with the spices. Add the garlic, stir.

5. Add macadamia nuts and raisins, mix well, then turn off the heat.

6. Add the onion mixture to the cooked cous cous. If using olive oil, pour it in now. Mix well.

7. Add the mango and herbs. Stir gently. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and decorate with parsley sprigs and blades of chives.

Mango and Macadamia cous cous1


Mango and Macadamia Cous Cous2


Cherry Cake1

Cherry Cake

Quantity – 12 slices

Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C/350 F

You will need:

For the cake:

1 1/4 cups wholemeal flour

1/2 cup raw sugar

1/4 tsp salt

175g vegan margarine, melted

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp soy or almond milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:

 400g can/jar of Black cherries OR Morello cherries, drained and cut in half

1/4 tsp lemon juice

For the topping:

1/2 cup plain flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tbsp vegan margarine, melted


Grease and line a spring form cake tin.

For the filling: Although I always buy pitted cherries, I cut each cherry in half to ensure that no pits are present. Invariably, I find one or two. In a small mixing bowl, add cherries and lemon juice. Stir, then set aside:

Morello Cherries

For the topping: In a small mixing bowl, add flour and brown sugar, mix well. Pour melted vegan margarine over the mixture, and use a fork to combine the ingredients until they form coarse breadcrumbs:



For the cake: In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, raw sugar and salt. Add melted vegan margarine, soy milk and vanilla. Stir only until ingredients are incorported. Do not over stir.

To assemble the cake:

Pour mixture into the cake tin:

cake batter

Cake mixture

Sprinkle half of the topping over the cake:

Add topping

Add half the topping

Next, spread the cherries across the surface of the cake:

Add cherries

Add the cherries

Then, sprinkle the remaining topping over the cherries:

Sprinkle topping

Ready for the oven!

Bake in the oven for approximately 35 minutes. I always check this cake at the 25 minute mark (I have a temperamental oven). If the top already looks very golden, I cover the cake tin with foil for the last 5-10 minutes of baking.

Allow the cake to cool on the bench for 10-20 minutes before removing the sides of the cake tin. Carefully remove the bottom section of the cake tin, and transfer the cake to a rack to cool entirely. Or, indulge while it is still warm.

Cherry cake is delightful on its own, or you can serve it with vanilla soy ice cream or non-dairy cream.



Cherry Cake2

Each Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe (or two!) that is enjoyed by my own family. I hope your family enjoys it too.



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