I’m just gonna put this out there from the get-go – I love winter! The crisp air on my face; the pitter-patter of raindrops; the wet shimmer blanketing my garden. Every aspect of the season feels like a warm hug from an old friend. At least from the comfort of my couch, which is where I enjoy most of the cold weather. You know – the part where I’m not actually out in the elements being wet, freezing, or miserable.
Now, winter gets a pretty bad rap, but there are so many creature comforts to celebrate this time of year. Allow me to impart my wintery wisdom upon you all, in the hopes of making your days brighter and your body temperature just the right amount of toasty. And for any nay-sayers reading, take note from the one and only Dolly Parton – ”…If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain”. So there!
Nothing screams winter like a big mug of hot chocolate to warm you from the inside out. While there are so many great chocolates out there for you to try, there is nothing quite like the vegan range of European-style hot chocolates by Melbourne-based company, Fräus. They’re served thick, rich, and piping-hot, and are in a whooooole other ball-park to your standard milk-based drinks. With a little bit of help from my favourite veg – the potato – its starchy goodness is contained in the powdered blend, allowing the drink to thicken the hotter it gets. Serve it as a hot custard-style consistency or use it as a sauce on your favourite cake or brownie recipe. You can even serve it poured over a generous scoop of ice cream with your favourite dessert liqueur. There are no hard and fast rules here – just whisk it on the stove and use as you desire!
Hot tip: For those who wonder if this may be a little too much on the richness scale, go for a combination flavour. Both the mint and hazelnut varieties offset the fullness of the chocolate perfectly, allowing for the just the right balance.
While many of us have our minds on soup when the temperature plummets, let’s not forget the simple and often underrated magic of the jaffle. Warm, toasty, and so versatile, you can enjoy them at any time of the day. Try a cheesy Mexican number with aaaalllll the jalapenos; an Italian-style pizza sauce with all the roast veg you can throw in; or keep it nice and easy with your favourite melty plant-based cheese and tomato. Just don’t forget to make your dessert counterpart! Packed with warm chocolate spread (I’m talking Vego, here!) and dusted with icing sugar; cookie dough with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg; biscoff spread with banana and strawberries…now that’s guaranteed to bring warmth to your insides!
You may have been resisting the Oodie craze, but I tell you what – there isn’t anything I find cosier than being curled up on the couch in mine, declaring my love of avocados to everyone in the household. Even if I am only sharing my home with one other human.
If avocados aren’t your thing, not to worry. There’s also prints with peaches, eggplants, garlic bread – and my personal favourite – almond milk. Or grab one with straight-up plants for the green thumbs out there. Just don’t forget to pick up some avocado and toast bedsocks before you checkout. Your home is your best friend on cold days, so make the most of hiding away in your comfiest clothes!
Now this is a great one for anyone, but especially if you have some small humans who need their time occupied. Small business Humble Jumble Foods have made baking as easy as pie with their all-vegan baking mixes, that only require having some nuttelex (or any dairy-free butter of choice) and plant-milk on hand. It really is that easy!
The range includes cinnamon buns with a wild Australian lime icing, double choc brownies, chewy choc chip cookies, and vanilla oat pancakes. For those of us who want our bakes quick and fresh without having to fill a basket at the supermarket, you’re onto a delicious, fresh-outta-the-oven winner that’ll fill your house with a scent that I like to call ‘pure happiness’.
You can find their list of stockists nationally here or purchase from the website directly.
The slightest chill in the air these days has me craving a hearty mash and gravy, thus deeming it the cold-weather go-to. Alternate between sweet potato to keep things new and fresh, but let’s face it – potato in any form is going to come to the rescue on any glum, grey day. And on the great days with perfect weather…? It’s just going to make those a little bit extra!
Roast some desirees to crispy perfection; slice some kipflers and throw atop a pizza; grate some kestrals for the best breakfast rosti; peel your pontiacs for a warming spicy potato salad. Whichever you choose and whatever you do with them, I guarantee – you can’t go wrong!
Hot tip: If you’re using potato on pizza and love a bit of extra warmth, this hot sauce collab from Lil’ Becky’s Hotsauce and Red Sparrow Pizza is literally made for this purpose! With habanero, roast garlic, and a blend of Italian herbs, you’re in for a treat!
On the couch, in your Oodie, with a hot chocolate – sounds like a far more comforting version of Cluedo, doesn’t it?! This scenario is exactly what’s needed for a wet weather timetable. All that’s missing now is some quality viewing.
While The Good Place will forever be the show I’ll re-visit a thousand times over, sometimes you just need a little something to inspire you to get in the kitchen. Enter Nailed It! – the baking show that brings in amateur home-bakers to re-create masterpieces from some of the most prestigious bakers in the world.
Now, this show isn’t plant-based. Nor is it intended to re-create the cakes at home. What it is however, is excellent at building up confidence in the kitchen. For those of you who love baking but are too embarrassed at how the finished product sometimes looks (ie. me), it’s ok – you’ve nailed it! Once you see some of the monstrosities that come out of the Nailed It! kitchen, you’ll never be scared to fail again.
Check out our dessert recipes here and see what takes your fancy, or for more ideas, you can refer to my previous blog, Let them eat cake: plant-based baking blogs for every occasion, where you’ll be treated to a goldmine of vegan desserts and to my very first Nailed It! baking moment!
There’s something about being so warm and cosy that calls for some pure indulgence. We’ve covered baked goods to satisfy your sweet tooth, but let’s face it – sometimes you just need to sit back, relax, and treat yourself to some smooth, creamy, morsels of chocolate. You don’t need to break the bank on the most expensive brands out there, but if you’re going to have it, you may as well buy quality. I have maaany favourites, as mentioned in my previous chocolate run-down, but it’s worth adding a special shout out for my latest addiction – the new range from House of Nestar. With licorice bullets, hand-crafted marshmallows, chewy salted caramels and more – all dusted in a coating of the most delicious French cocoa. You can’t go wrong.
Hot tip: As much as you will want all these for yourself, grab a few extra bags for gifting to loved ones all year round. It’ll keep you in the good books while also allowing you to have some quality treats on hand when those unexpected cravings hit.
There are few things that warm your insides and cast sunshine on your outlook the way that doing something nice for others does. It doesn’t have to be about grand gestures and spending money. It’s all about the small things. Here are some easy, cheap, or completely free ways you can spread that warmth a little further:
Acts of kindness don’t just give to others, but also give back to yourself. Nothing feels better than knowing you’ve made someone smile, so get out there and spread your inner sunshine!
So there you have it! Everything you need to get you feeling excited for the most magical time of year! Now if you don’t mind me, I’m off to bake my neighbourhood some plant-based treats, cut back my rosemary bush, and scrub up on my best dad-jokes.