What we are Reading (and Cooking)

The Gluten Free Cooking Mega List!

By Melian Jarvis

These sites are some of my favourite gluten free recipes go-tos. They are mostly gluten free, and mostly Vegan. Note that most of these sites are American, and have recipes containing oats, which are NOT considered gluten free in Australia (and Australian oats can be contaminated with wheat anyway).

Mostly gluten free & mostly vegan - my favourite recipes from the Minimalist Baker  (click through images for full details)

Mostly gluten free & all vegan - my favourite recipes from Oh She Glows  (click through images for full details)

All Vegan & all gluten free - my favourite recipes from Allyson Kramer's Recipes  (click through images for full details)

Vegan & mostly gluten free - Gluten-Free-Vegan-Girl  is an archived site but the recipes are really good.

Also Vegan Richa has a lot of flavourful plant based recipes that are inspired by the author’s Indian upbringing, including many gluten-free, soy-free, and oil-free options

Vegan, some gluten free - One Green Planet is a collection of user recipes, so quality is variable but generally pretty good.


Also - It doesn't taste like chicken a fun site that focuses on fuss-free cooking.


Winter Warmer – Spinach Dal Recipe

Winter has arrived. Despite the cold weather and short days, there is a lot to look forward to in terms of cooking and winter recipes. It is the time for soups and stews, fragrant curries and pies, rich chutneys and cheeses. We could go on, but for now we will leave you with this easy spinach dal recipe. This dal is vegan-friendly, high on flavour and packed with fibre + proteins leaving you feeling full for longer. Serve it with some Basmati (or any long grain) rice and a dollop of yogurt for a complete meal.

Yellow lentils with spinach dal recipe
Jump to Recipe

Lentils To Choose From

There are a variety of lentils available to choose from. This spinach dal recipe uses “split” red or yellow lentils. Yellow Mung dal lentils are the best as they cook the fastest and are the easiest to digest. Because of their split nature these yellow/red lentils cook quickly and turn soft. These lentils are best for curries, stews and dal recipes like this one.

Further we found a cool infographic with quick tips on cooking lentils, nutrition facts and ways you can incorporate more lentils in your diet. Enjoy!

Source: Fix.com Blog

Sourcing Lentils & other Ingredients at Alfalfa House

Alfalfa House stocks all the ingredients for making this wholesome flavourful dal i.e. lentils, cumin seeds, turmeric powder and fresh spinach( Order our weekly veg box here).

Using dried lentils vs the canned variety makes a huge difference. We have access to a wide variety of dried lentils in our very own Alfalfa House. Buying a bag of red lentils won’t break the bank, will be good for your body and the planet. So whatever your reason for including lentils in your diet, we hope you enjoy cooking these as much as we do!

If you do make this spinach dal, please share your photos and tag us on Alfalfa House Instagram. We would love to see your creations 🙂

Types of mung bean lentils
Featured above : Split Yellow Mung, Yellow Mung, Whole Green Mung

Spinach Dal (Lentil) Recipe

Adity Kaushal (Volunteer at Alfalfa House)
A  recipe for a quick and easy vegetarian gluten-free spinach and lentil dal. This is great as a light meal or can be served as a side. Use coconut oil instead of ghee to make it vegan. The soup uses yellow mung/moong bean , but you can substitute any other lentils on hand like red lentils, green mung, split peas
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2


  • 1 cup yellow mung bean lentils
  • 120 g baby spinach leaves
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 small tomato finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 knob ginger grated, thumb sized piece
  • 1 medium green chilli  chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp ghee or virgin unrefined coconut oil for vegan version
  • 1/2 small small lemon juiced


  • In a deep sauce pan, boil the mung bean lentils with water. Keep cooking for about 20 minutes until the lentils turn soft and mushy. Alternatively use a pressure cooker to quickly cook them in about 10 min.
  • Once lentils are cooked, begin the tempering process. In another sauce pan heat ghee and cumin seeds. Allow them to sizzle.
  • Next add in the chopped green chilli, garlic and onion in that order. Sauté until the onions turn translucent.
  • Add a pinch of salt and turmeric powder. Then add in the chopped tomatoes and chopped ginger. Sauté for a few minutes until the tomatoes are cooked through and turn mushy.
  • Next add the boiled lentils and baby spinach. Mix well.
  • Add boiling water to bring to the thickness of soup / stew you desire.
  • Bring to a boil for a few minutes. Then pour the soup in bowls and squeeze over the lemon juice.


Making it Vegan: Use coconut oil instead of ghee to make it vegan
Keyword dal, lentils, spinach, turmeric

Meet Freya Haywood Coyle, shop co-ordinator

Interviewed by Caroline Brakewell

I’ve been part of the Alfalfa team since last November and I love it.

You can find farmer direct produce that's also biodynamic or organic and an important, safe space community for people with similar principles to gather together and work as a team.

I love our community notice board. There's a wide variety of organisations and events that are run and created by our members all on display as you walk into the shop. It's a great way to get involved with the community.

As a not-for-profit, the co-op's purpose is to give back to the community. That's something that’s earned my support. I've learnt so much from being part of Alfalfa House. It's clear, people can achieve so much when they come together.

I am studying Horticulture, and focusing on conservation and bush regeneration. This aligns perfectly with what we do here. The co-op has an ethical and sustainable approach to sourcing the right produce. Alfalfa House promotes a zero-waste lifestyle that looks after the environment.

The shopping experience at Alfalfa House is different.  As a community, we all work to find the best zero-waste, ethical produce and groceries available. We encourage customers to reuse their old jars and containers and we stock things you can't find in your average supermarket. We sell in bulk, so you can buy as much/as little as you want!

My hope for the future is a zero-waste planet, with thriving fauna and flora environments.

Freya has a beautiful kelpie dog but loves all animals equally!

Meet Phil Lavers, owner of Moonacres Farms

Interview by Jennifer Saminathen

“Food is part of the planet – you’re going to put it in your mouth and eat it. You can do it in a way that honours life, or just takes from the planet.”

What’s your name, and your role in the farm?

  • Phil: farm owner and hands-on manager.

How would you describe Moonacres?

  • 150 Acres, 2 main growing areas, 1,800 fruit trees, verdant, high rainfall area, year-round farming – the soil is some of the best in the country. The farm brings me a lot of pleasure, the work is outdoors and varied. I enjoy seeing the kale healthy and alive!
  • It’s also, very spiritual – you’re working with a living thing, that’s frail and delicate. Humans incorrectly assume they can control nature – if they can’t, they often destroy it. You have to let go, and be an accepting participant in this amazing process that we’re all part of. I recognize my limitations and want to work WITH nature. What’s not spiritual about that? It’s just beautiful.

What is the most important thing about what you do?

  • I’m looking after the soil. With agricultural industrialisation after WWII and widespread conventional farming, globally, soil has been neglected and degraded. Soil IS a living thing, and we must look after it, because if we don’t it won’t feed us anymore. I have been entrusted with the care of the soil, and am looking after it on the community’s behalf. Working with something that is alive, like soil, is rewarding – spiritually, physically, and intellectually. What a great job!

Why do you partner Alfalfa House? (We whole-heartedly appreciate this!)

  • I was an Alfalfa House member in 1986, and I’m honoured to be on the Alfalfa team. Lots of Inner West people know what good produce tastes like. When you eat food that is naturally and properly grown, your life can change. Being connected to real food, brings a level of aliveness – you become clearer. Alfalfa House has been a good customer for us, it allows connection to the soil.

One of the core pillars for Alfalfa House is sustainability – we try to reduce our environmental impact through our practices and supply chains. How does Moonacres approach sustainability on the farm?

  • I’m insane about sustainability. Moonacres is organically certified and ferociously looking after its soil. We’re working on a project called Farming the Sun. The goal is to get the farm solar independent, create a virtual battery, and share energy with each other. Energy reticulation will also run our café.

Describe the Soil Project.

  • Soil is a living, breathing, biologically active membrane on the surface of the planet, which provides us with nearly all of our terrestrial food, not just chemical nutrients. It’s actually a LIVING thing, a whole cosmos of life we know very little about. What we put into it affects how alive it is. I want to learn how to grow better food. The aim of the project is to keep the microorganisms, the living system healthy.

What is the one thing you want people to know?

  • Life depends on healthy soil. Picture what I call the upside-down food pyramid of doom, with its point is pushing into the soil. Shops and markets are at the top, with the combined weight of our unsustainable society squeezing down on farmers, and crushing the life out of the soil at the bottom. Consumer choices at the top of the pyramid either support sustainable farming, or contribute to the pyramid of doom, are they are made every time you shop. Food is part of the planet – you’re going to put it in your mouth and eat it. You can do it in a way that honours life, or just takes from the planet.
  • I’m asking you to make a wise choice: help me and help the soil. Because when you do, you lift a tiny bit of weight off the pyramid of doom, and if we do that, we will be healthier, and so will our planet.

When you shop, be grateful you have an opportunity to commune with the planet. People can make a difference, and create a food pyramid of joy instead.

Rapid fire questions

  1. Sustainability = joy
  2. Food = life
  3. Change = what you make it


Winter Warmer – Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

Below is a recipe for a vegetarian minestrone style soup that uses pantry staples. We like making a big batch of this soup. It reheats well and is excellent for leftovers. The soup uses whole unprocessed ingredients that is great for our tummies (and body). It serves a crowd. With a few changes , this soup is good for fall, winter, spring or summer (although drinking soup during the hot summers in Sydney may not be a great idea). During fall, you should find all the vegetables in the market. In winter, use a can of good quality canned tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes. Be sure they are good quality and not over-seasoned with vinegar or salt.

vegetarian minestrone style soup

On Vegetable Broth

A well made broth is the essence of making a good soup. Here is a recipe for a basic vegetable broth to make at home. Making your own vegetable broth at home is an excellent way to use up excess veg or using all those odd ends and bits that end up being thrown.

However sometimes you don’t have a homemade broth when you want it. So don’t worry – We all buy store bought at times. But choose carefully. Few points to note here :

  • Check the labels. Avoid anything with too much sodium, gums and ingredients you may never have heard of .
  • Some of the canned vegetable broths that might be alright ingredient wise, maybe too concentrated to use. In such a case dilute it for the recipe.
  • Some bulk food stores (like Alfalfa House 🙂 ) , stock dry veg stock powders. These are mostly made of dehydrated veggies that are ground into a powder. This dry good quality veg stock powder without any additives is perhaps one of the better options than using the canned varieties of broth.

A Note on Sourcing the Ingredients for Minestrone Soup

As mentioned above, this vegetarian minestrone soup uses pantry staple ingredients. And good news – we have all the ingredients stocked in store at the Alfalfa Shop (read veggies, dried beans, olive oil, dried herbs, hard cheeses). Further this soup is a power house of vegetables, giving you more than 5 serves of veg in a single meal. Check out the below pic of our Alfalfa House shelves stocked with all the fresh produce that you will ever need for this soup. And if you are looking for a quick pick-me-up vegetable option, then order our weekly veggie box online here . Our weekly veggie box has you covered. Thereafter make a big batch of this soup with all the healthy package-free produce from Alfalfa House.That’s dinner sorted for a few nights a week 🙂

Alfalfa House Veggies In Store

If you do make this soup, please share your photos and tag us on Alfalfa House Instagram. We would love to see your creations 🙂


Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

Adity Kaushal (Volunteer at Alfalfa House)
This is a great pot of soup. Perfect to feed a crowd. It is vegetarian made using whole foods and seasonal vegetables. It can be made vegan if you skip the cheese toppings
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Cooking Time for Beans 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 50 mins
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Australian
Servings 4 people


  • 100 g dried beans cannellini, lima, butter beans are all excellent
  • 4-5 medium garlic cloves peeled and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion chopped
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • 2 medium celery stalks thinly sliced
  • 450 g tomatoes canned or fresh
  • 200 g zucchini
  • 100 g greens baby kale, baby spinach or thinly sliced savoy cabbage works
  • 1 litre basic vegetable broth See notes in the post
  • 2 tbsp olive oil App. 30 ml
  • 1/2 cup small pasta of choice like fusilli, penne, macaroni
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian herbs
  • 15 g fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 15 g oregano fresh or dried
  • 30 g hard cheese like a sharp cheddar or parmesan optional


Preparing the Beans

  • Soak the dried beans overnight. Atleast for 8-10 hours. Soaking dried beans and legumes not only reduces their cooking time but is also great for digestion
  • The next day, rinse the soaked beans thoroughly under cold running water. Then put the dried beans in a large pot with 3 cups of water and 2 peeled garlic cloves . Bring the water to a boil , then lower the heat, and simmer covered for atleast an hour OR until the beans feel soft and tender but not completely mushy
  • You can use the beans immediately if preparing the soup OR let them sit in the refrigerator for upto 2 days and use them when you need to make the soup

Preparing the Soup

  • Heat the olive oil in a deep soup pot. Add in the finely chopped onions and remaining 2 cloves of garlic. Saute for 8-10 minutes until the onions turn translucent and begin to brown
  • Next add in the chopped celery and carrots . Add a pinch of salt and continue to stir for around 7-8 min more.
  • While the onion-celery-carrot mix is in the stock pot, chop the tomatoes and zucchini into small chunks. Also finely chop the greens that you are using – If using Kale remove the tough stems in the kale
  • Next Add in the dried herbs, chopped tomatoes, zucchini, finely chopped greens and vegetable broth in the soup pot. Give it a good stir, season with salt and let it simmer until the tomatoes start to turn mushy
  • Once the veggies are semi-soft, add in the cooked beans and pasta of choice in the soup mix. Continue cooking until the pasta is al dente in the soup
  • Ladle the soup in bowls. Check for seasoning and season with salt and black pepper as per taste. Garnish with finely chopped parsely , oregano and grated cheese. For a vegan version, skip the cheese and add in a glug of olive oil
Keyword minestrone, vegetarian

Volunteer Spotlight – Micky

Interview by Dea

D: Hi Micky, thank you for taking the time to be interviewed today for Volunteer Week. Can you share with us your pronouns, and your volunteer role here at Alfalfa House?

M: No worries! My name is Micky, he/him pronouns, and I mostly do the jobs of receiving stock, filling the shelves and anything else that needs to be done.

D: When did you start volunteering here and what made you want to start?

M: I started almost two years ago, mainly for two reasons. One, I had just moved to the city from the country and I didn’t really have any connections or friends, those hadn’t developed yet, so that was one aspect. Also, I have volunteered since I was about 15, so it’s always been something I’ve done.

D: So, what was your first volunteer role?

M: I volunteered at an aged-care home when I was in high school. I played games with the people there and cooked them food and stuff, it was fun!

D: That’s sweet! It’s really interesting that you said you started volunteering here at Alfalfa House to make connections and friends. When I first came to Sydney, the first place I went to was the co-op and that’s how I found my first share house.

M: It’s really cool how we can share connections like that through the co-op. Everyone here is so lovely, and they all come from different fields and walks of life, which I really enjoy.

D: Yeah, it is a really great place where people can come together, be accepted and give back.

M: It really is. I love the concept of people consciously coming together and making a difference not only to the community but also to the environment. A big factor for me, is how can we help the environment as much as possible? Alfalfa does its best to do that and demonstrates different ways we can sustainably live in society.

D: In what ways do you see Alfalfa House and our volunteers giving back to the Inner-West Community?

M: Alfalfa House is a space where people can come and connect with others. It also has that open, almost ‘home-like’ feel to it that you don’t get when shopping for your groceries elsewhere, and you can just come in and enjoy the community garden out the back too.

D: I’m not sure if a lot of our shoppers know we actually have a community garden out the back you can spend some time in and just chill out. I love starting my volunteer shift spending a few minutes out in the back garden, ‘grounding’ before I get into it.

M: It is so important that a space like Alfalfa House exists. There aren’t many places like it where you’re just completely welcome.

D: Let’s talk about National Volunteer Week and this year’s theme: “Recognise. Reconnect. Re-imagine.” What does this mean to you?

M: With, “Recognise”, I go straight to how Alfalfa House really recognises the different things we can do as human beings to help the environment, and consciously makes that effort. I think it’s so cool that we now have a container so people can sustainably dispose of their old toothpaste tubes and tooth brushes. It’s important to keep recognising the small things and the difference they make.

D: What does “Reconnect” mean to you as a volunteer?

M: Making connections with new and established volunteers. We’ve just met and instantly connected, but we’ve both been volunteering here for some time, just on different shifts!

D: The last part of the theme is “Re-imagine”. What does that mean to you as a volunteer here at Alfalfa House?

M: Mmm, let’s look around. It would be cool if we could paint a rainbow on the floor or wall! That’s my callout to an artist member who wants to volunteer their time and come in and paint us a rainbow here!

D: The world can always do with more rainbows! Now you’re also an employee here. How did your volunteer work lead you to being employed?

M: I was talking to Carina about being dissatisfied with my then paid job, and she told me that we had an opening and that I should apply. I thought this was amazing, I had been a volunteer for a long time and built these great friendships, I didn’t think that could be an option for me. It really shows how important this space is to connect, and what those connections can bring to your life.

D: That is perfect timing, and really does align with this year’s theme. You were able to form a deeper connection with the people here and be employed in a role that you didn’t consider or see as an option before. Your skills and effort were recognised in a way that allowed you to re-imagine your career, while staying true to your values and goals. 

One last question Micky, what would you say to someone considering becoming a volunteer at Alfalfa House?

M: Definitely do it! It’s enjoyable and nice to know your actions will make a real difference, and that’s all we really have control over in our lives. At Alfalfa House, you can make a difference for the community, the environment, and yourself.

D: That was beautiful and powerful to end on. Thanks so much Micky for what you do and taking the time today for this interview.

M: Thank you, it was fun!!