Friday, 22 January 2016

Indigo herbs review- part 2. Superfood Guacamole on Toast.

I'm back for part 2 of my Indigo Herbs review. The thrid and final installment will be next week so please stop by for that, we'll be making something sweet and delicious with moringa powder.

For this review, I wanted to tweak one of my all time favourite breakfast dishes- avocado on toast. How do you make this already yummy dish even more spectacular? By giving it an added superfood twist!

I love avocados, they are filling, tasty, a healthy fat source and one of my favourite things for breakfast when served smashed on top of rye or sourdough toast. However, in a bid to shake things up a bit, I've topped this toast with a super-food guacamole with an added boost from Indigo Herbs wheatgrass powder, and finished it with a sprinkle of hemp seeds .

Wheatgrass powder is amazing, but while we are all familiar with the potent wheatgrass shots, the powdered form is a little less well known.
Taking wheatgrass in powdered form is a convenient way to get the benefits of wheatgrass into your diet- and there are many! Full of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, it is also said to have a cleansing effect on the body due to the occurrence of  chlorophyll. A little goes a long way, and so it is also very economical- a 100g bag of organic wheatgrass powder from Indigo Herbs costs just £3.99, check it out here:

Wheatgrass Powder

There are many ways to take the powder. It can simply be added to smoothies, veggie soups and juices, and thanks to its mild (for a green powder) taste, it can be added to other foods too. We once used it to colour some green cashew icing for a cake and it worked a treat! And, when added to this guacamole recipe, it really doesn't overpower it at all. Thanks to the other strong flavours such as lime juice, garlic and red onion, it really becomes a flavour explosion!

If you're not fond of toast, serve this guacamole with veggie crudités, tortilla chips or over Mexican rice and beans for a tasty nutrition boost.

Superfood Guacamole
Serves 2

1 small clove of garlic (or half a larger one)
Large pinch of tsp sea salt
Juice of 1/2 lime (a juicy lime!)
1/2 tsp wheatgrass powder
1 small tomato
1/4 small red onion
1 large avocado

Crush the garlic with the salt in a pestal and mortar. The salt breaks down the garlic in no time! Add the lime juice and the wheatgrass powder.
Very finely dice the tomato and red onion and add that to the lime garlic mixture.
Cut the avocado in half and take out the stone. scoop the flesh out and add to the other ingredients. Crush everything together until well mixed. I like to leave a little texture in the avocado but you can mash it until it is as smooth as you'd like.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Indigo herbs review- Part 1: Supergreen Cherry Soda

Those of you who follow my blog regularly will know I am a huge fan of Indigo Herbs and the choice and quality of their products; they really are just superb. When they asked me if I'd like to review some of their new products and check out their smart new packaging, of course I was very excited to.

The new package design is really simple but effective. I love the natural toned colours and the slight sheen of the packages which gives a classy edge to them, and it is great that they reseal too!

I'd agreed to try out some of the 'Superfood' range, including some products which were new to me which was a nice surprise. With so many exciting ingredients to work with, I'll be splitting up my review into a couple of posts for you, and over the next couple of posts I'll be testing out the following:

Organic Moringa Powder
Organic Spirulina Powder
Organic Wheatgrass Powder
Organic Supergreens Powder
Organic Superprotein Powder

The chia seed protein powder was particularly exciting as I've been looking for a nice, natural protein powder for my post work out smoothies now that I'm back in the gym (I am determined to get strong!). So many protein powders are just full of added ingredients that really aren't needed, and this is a natural powder, rich in essential fatty acids and containing no nasties.

I also wanted to test out the greens powder which is a blend of wheatgrass, barley grass, moringa, spirulina and chlorella powder. This supergreen powder can be added to smoothies, breakfasts and soups, giving a wide range of vitamins and minerals. This blend also contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein too. Interestingly, I tend to react quite severely with taking chlorella- it makes me quite sick! This is odd as many of my friends and their children enjoy this nutritious algae daily, and the benefits to taking it seem quite impressive. I take spirulina with no ill effects and find this is a nice alternative for me.

So for the first recipe I was keen to work with these two ingredients, which were just crying out to be put in a shake of some-kind. I really wanted to do something a little different from the usual banana based, thick and very filling protein smoothies. I wanted to 'shake' it up a little, (pun totally intended- I am sorry!) and create something a little more zesty.

As I had a bottle of delicious kombucha sat in my fridge, I decided to make a sort of superfood cherry soda. Rich in vitamins and minerals from the greens powder, and protein from the chia powder, this really packs a punch, but it tastes light, sparkly and refreshing. The colour remains red and beautiful so can be a good option for those who are put off by green smoothies too; it definitely looks attractive. I've included a small amount of greens powder as per the package recommendations, but you can gradually increase the amount to suit your needs.

Obviously, my hubby was taste tester for this drink due to my chlorella issues- but it got a massive thumbs up! I used spirulina in my version and it was absolutely delicious. In fact I'll be making it frequently.

Supergreen Cherry Soda
Serves 1

275ml kombucha, (I like original or ginger flavour)
1/2 cup frozen cherries
Squeeze of fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2-1 tsp supergreens powder
2 tsp superprotein powder

Blitz in a high powered blender until incorporated. Note that the drink will split the longer it is left so drink immediately! Adding a banana will solve this problem and bulk up the drink if the aim is also to feel fuller.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Vegan pizza quiche

Happy New Year!

So I'm back after a fun packed Christmas break and a pretty long break from social media. I really love all my blog and social media friends (I feel very blessed to have met some amazing people through this little old blog of mine), but it can be a total distraction for me! Over Christmas, my husband had lots of time off and I was determined to relax and switch off a little more, to just enjoy being with my family which was truly wonderful.

I think it was totally worth me taking this time for re-charging. We're only a few weeks into the new year and I've already made some super yummy foods and feel like my kitchen passion has been reignited. I'm stacking up some tasty recipes to share with you in the next few months, including our new years dinner success, 'Triple Stuffed Roasted Squash', my ultimate vegan and refined sugar free sponge cake, and today, my very latest creation- the Vegan Pizza Quiche! This quiche is literally one of the best things I've eaten in a long time and I'm excited to share the recipe with you. I know it looks complicated as there are lots of steps, but it is actually quite a quick dish to put together if you have leftover boiled or baked potatoes to use up!

I made a very rustic gluten free pasty crust for this recipe, to be fair, my pasty is always rustic. I am just not patient enough to make a pretty and refined one- I can't imagine what Paul Hollywood would say! But it is tasty. I've included the recipe for you, but go ahead and use whichever pastry recipe you prefer for your quiche. I also think these would be cute made as little tarts for a buffet or party as a change, let me know if you try that out!

2 flax eggs*
Big drizzle of olive or hemp oil
Small pack (125g) ground almonds
1 cup of oats
2 cups of buckwheat flour
Pinch of sea salt
Cold water to mix

Blitz everything except the water in a food processor until you have the consistency of fine bread crumbs. Then slowly, about a tablespoon at a time, add the water until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Adding a little at a time is key as you want to stop adding the water as soon as it starts to form a dough, if you add too much it will be soggy!

Press the pastry mixture into a lightly oiled pie or flan dish until you have an even crust. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until just starting to cook and turn very light golden. When just golden, remove and set aside. While the base is cooking, you can prepare the filling.

*To make a flax egg, mix 1 tbsp ground flax with 3 tbsp water and leave to set for a few minutes.

Filling step 1

2 small potatoes(cooked and cooled, or use leftovers, see below)
1 red onion, sliced into half moon slices
2 courgettes, diced

Bake the potatoes in the oven until cooked through, about 25 minutes. Alternatively you can boil them and drain them, letting the steam evaporate off and the potatoes to be dry.

While the potatoes are cooking, sauté the onion and courgette until golden and softened.
When the potatoes are cooked and cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and add the potatoes to the food processor with the step 2 filling ingredients.

Filling step 2

1 block of silken tofu, drained
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp ground paprika
1 cup nutritional yeast
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup passata
1/2 tsp dried oregano

Blend all the filling step 2 ingredients (except the passata and oregano) together along with the cooked potatoes until you have a thick and creamy mixture.

For the next step, take your part-cooked pastry case, and spread the passata and the oregano over the bottom in an even layer. Top with the sautéed onion and courgette. ~Finally, pour the creamy filling over the top, tapping the bottom of the dish to evenly distribute.

Bake the quiche for around 25 minutes until the top is golden brown. Be sure to cool for 10 minutes before cutting as it will firm up a little as it cools.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Bonfire Night Mulled Hot Chocolate

I love Bonfire Night! There really is something special about gathering round in the (often drizzly) cold evening, while being warmed by a roaring bonfire and drinking hot chocolate or mulled wine. The childhood memories attached to Bonfire Night are immense!

I grew up in Sussex, and boy do we take it seriously down there. From processions of burning martyr's crosses in Lewes to carnivals in Uckfield, Bonfire Night is a pretty big deal. One thing I've never gotten used to in Oxfordshire is the lack of processions at this time of year!

Here in Oxfordshire, we usually go to a couple of local village displays rather than the bigger displays, so we can get close to a bonfire and see people we know. One thing that always amazes me is how impressive the fireworks are, they usually go all out! Watching them while sharing a flask of warm hot chocolate together is pretty awesome.

Since we don't eat refined sugar or dairy, we are used to bringing our own drinks, and this year I've been unable to decide whether to bring mulled wine or hot chocolate. In a flash of inspiration I decided to blend the two, and created a delicious mulled hot chocolate- a winning combo that is rich and chocolatey with all the flavour of the mulled spices while being alcohol free! Perfect for the whole family.

My favourite chocolate to use in drinks is Hasslacher’s. It is amazing quality pure, dark, roasted and unsweetened chocolate, that comes as a block, flakes or little disks. It is easy to find now, our local Saisnburys has it as well as our local heath store. I really recommend you search it out, but if you can't find it, use a good quality cocoa powder instead.

Mulled Hot Chocolate
Serves 2

4 squares of Hasslacher’s chocolate
600ml almond milk
3 tbsp coconut palm sugar
1/2 orange sliced
4 cloves
1 cinnamon stick or quarter tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 bay leaves
2 star anise
1/2 vanilla pod, split down the middle
A few grates of nutmeg

Melt the chocolate in a pan on a gentle heat. When melted,  whisk in the milk. Bring the heat to a rapid simmer and add the rest of the ingredients. Reduce heat to a low simmer for 5-8 minutes, whisking to stop it catching at the bottom. Remove from heat, strain out the spices and serve warm.

 Photo bombed by Gink our kitten!

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Zingy Tomatillo Salsa

I cannot believe what an exciting month this has been for me! To be in the final of PETA UK's 'Great Vegan Bake Off' and a nominee for Vegfest UK's 'Best Vegan Cook Book' is just mind blowing. I am so excited and so nervous that I've not had much time to be creative in the kitchen. That is until the girls insisted we have a Mexican night!

We used to have Mexcian nights for dinner every Sunday, but over the Summer this slipped from our routine as we've been so busy, and hardly at home. But I was so glad they brought it up, and it gave me a chance to use up the delicious tomatillos that I got in our veg box last week.

You don't come across tomatillos very much in the UK, but the good news is that this salsa works just as well with tomatoes. If using regular tomatoes, I like to add a squeeze of fresh lime at the end, it gives it that zing that you'd get with tomatillos.

We'll be serving this up tonight alongside some slow cooked beans, rice, organic corn tortilla chips and fresh guacamole- I can't wait!

If you guys have had a chance to vote for me in the bake off, thank you so much! Votes close this Friday, so if you haven't I'd really appreciate you popping on over to The Great Vegan Bake Off to vote, lets get my sugar free Schichttorte on the map and show you can have your cake and eat it!

Tomatillo Salsa

8 tomatillos, or tomatoes
1 small onion
1 jalepeno chili
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 tsp sea salt

Peel the husks off the tomatillos, and peel and quarter the onion. Add everything together in a saucepan, and simmer for around 25 mnutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Pour into a food processor and process to a smooth salsa.
If using regular tomatoes, add a squeeze of lime at the end.

That's it! It's the most simple salsa ever, but tastes amazing.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Ultimate Vegan, sugar free Schichttorte

So you know I love a challenge right, and as I've been away for so long, I figured I'd better come up with a real cracker of a recipe for you guys to make up for it!

I've been watching the Great British Bake off, (as I do every year, in the hope somebody makes vegan bakes!) and loved that they had a dairy free, sugar free and gluten free week. This just shows how far things have come in the world of baking and it's very exciting- I hope next year they'll do a Vegan week, imagine how awesome that would be!

A few years ago now, about six in fact, my family quit refined sugar. And everybody thought we were crazy. Forward to 2015 and Jamie Oliver is presenting a programme called 'Sugar Rush' and even my dear Dad is trying to cut down the sugars he has in his tea! Times they are changing and I couldn't be happier.

While I am passionate about all vegan food, and am partial to the odd Taifun tofu hot dog, I maintain the belief that most of our diet should come from wholefoods rather than processed, and truly believe in ditching the refined sugar. My mission is to show that this doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste and enjoyment of food as nothing is off limits, even cake! I make lots of gluten free recipes these days too, as I get many requests for them, and modern wheat just isn't what it used to be, it is, well, rubbish! I don't follow a gluten free diet myself as I include spelt, kamut, barley and rye into my diet, but I really like being able to offer alternatives to those who want them.

So, when they declared to Ugne on 'The Great British Bake off' that making both gluten free and sugar free in the one recipe was perhaps a step too far, the little rebel in me thought, 'Hmmmm, I'm going to do that and more!'

It was quite by chance that on the same day, I noticed PETA UK was accepting entries to their 'Great Vegan Bake Off', which I took as a sign for me to enter. It is a little daunting to put a creation up to be judged though and I haven't taken this decision lightly, I am a little nervous! So like a crazy lady on a mission, I decided to go all out and give it my best shot, and that just has to be a vegan, refined sugar free, gluten free, multi layered, chocolate covered masterpiece of a cake, better known as a German schichttorte!

I know this cake at first glance seems intimidating. Each layer is grilled individually to a nice golden brown creating something that looks like a cross between a stack of pancakes ad a cake, but it is not as hard as it looks I promise. Each layer needs just a couple of minutes under the grill, making it quicker than baking a standard cake (if you go for less than the traditional twenty layers that is), plus you never have the worry of it no being cooked through to the middle! I baked mine with six layers, because two were a little fat and I ran out of mix to make the eight I originally wanted. This batter mix makes the perfect amount for eight more even layers though, so if you are less heavy handed than me, this should be a breeze. The perfectionist in me wanted to make this cake again with perfectly even layers, but as I noticed this contest so late, I just didn't have the time. Plus it still tastes divine and I know you will all love it!

The first version I tried I made with coconut palm sugar, and while it tasted out of this world, and was described as 'the best cake i've ever eaten' by one of my daughters friends, you just couldnt see the layers as the coconut plam was too dark. So next I made it with agave nectar. You can see the layers beautifully in this version, and it tasted like delicious, zingy, lemony, chocolate heaven! Though the texture is a little denser than when made with the coconut palm sugar, it was still kept light by using the latest vegan baking craze, whisked chickpea liquid in place of the egg whites! Whisked chickpea liquid is a vegan baking revelation and it works really rather well. I promise it is worth the effort!

The chickpea liquid from one can (use the chickpeas for dinner!)
100g vegan spread (I use Biona Cocomega)
180ml agave nectar
2 tbsp tapioca flour whisked into 125ml organic soy milk
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
200g doves farm self raising gluten free flour

For the topping
2 tbsp apricot jam (we use St Dalfour as it is cane sugar free)
100g  dark chocolate (we use plamil xylitol sweetened)
1 tbsp vegan spread
1/2 cup flaked hazlenuts or almonds
1/4 cup whole hazlenuts

Optional caramel coating
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1 tbsp water

Grease and flour a 16cm lose bottom cake tin and preheat the grill to high.

Drain the liquid from the chickpeas into a bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until light and fluffy and forming peaks. This can take around 10-15 minutes and should look like this:

Set the whisked chickpea liquid aside while you make the batter.

In a large bowl, beat together the agave and coconut spread until light and creamy. I like to use an electric whisk for this, until the day I convince my hubby to invest in a Kitchen Aid that is!

Add the soy milk with the tapioca flour, the lemon zest and the vanilla extract and the sea salt. It looks like the mixture is seperating at this stage but it will come together when you add the the flour.

Sieve the flour into the mixture and combine well.

Next, with a large metal spoon, gradually add in the whisked chickpea liquid. You want to fold this in carefully so as to not knock out the air.

When the whisked chickpea liquid is well mixed in, add a large serving spoonful to the cake tin, tilting the tin to spread the mixture into an even layer. Put this under the hot grill and cook for around two minutes, until quite dark golden on top. You need the top to be very brown so that the layers show up in the cake. The top of the cake tin should not be too near to the top of the grill, I had a good 10cm of space between the top of the tin and the grill.

Continue adding a large spoonful of batter at a time, and grilling until all the batter is used up, it should make around 8 layers.

When cooked, leave to cool for a few minutes before removing from the cake tin and transferring to a wire rack to cool further. While cooling, heat the apricot jam in a saucepan until just warm, and brush all over the cake. This helps the chocolate to stick to the cake.

Next make the chocolate topping! In a glass bowl, set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate together with the spread. Pour over the cake, smoothing it down over the sides until the whole cake is covered in delicious chocolate!

Let set slightly, and garnish with the flaked hazlenuts or almonds around the edge.

If you would like to make caramel hazlenuts for the centre garnish. Heat the coconut palm sugar in a pan with the water until bubbling, be careful as this stuff can burn. Let it cook for around 5 minutes before removing from the heat and cooling by setting the pan in a bowl of cold water. The caramel will start to thicken as it cools. Add the hazlenuts and stir to coat, transfer to greaseproof paper to cool, then pile them up in the centre of the cake.

Voila! You will have an amazing centre piece for any party of get together, that will surely impress, as well as being pretty virtuous in the cake department. Who said you can't have your cake and eat it! We noticed that this cake tastes best on the day it is made, as it has a tendency to dry out if left overnight, but luckily left over cake isn't such a problem in our house!

I would also like to thank a lovely guy named Matt, who lives near me, who came over to give me a crash course on inside photography and help take some of these pics for me! I have a lovely new camera now, and have started to learn the ropes. Boy oh boy is there alot to learn.

If you want more tasty vegan and refined sugar free recipes, check out my book How to Eat a Rainbow! Available in the US from Vegan Publishers and in the UK from the Vegan Society and signed copies from Coles Bookstore.

How to Eat a Rainbow has been nominated for 'Best Vegan Cook Book' Woo-Hoo! So excited! I would love it if you could vote for it at VegfestUK, it would man the world to me and help spread the message that healthy vegan food is delicious! Thank you.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Rice pasta with beetroot greens, raisins and lemon

One of the things I love most about getting an organic veg box delivered to our door, is that lots of the veggies come with their greens still attached. This morning as I unpacked the box (while fending off the children who were grabbing cucumbers and tomatoes before I could even drag the box to the kitchen), I was super excited to see that my beetroot had an impressive bouquet of greenery on it.

I adore beetroot greens and always wonder why you can't find them in supermarkets over here. Travel to the continent and you find these greens in abundance at local farmer's markets- clearly they know something that we don't! They are super mild in taste, a cross between chard and spinach and are packed with nutrients too, including vitamins A & C as well as calcium and iron.

As I was pushed for time today (as always!), I decided to make these greens the star of a quick and simple pasta dish, along with some raisins that I had left in the cupboard. As I love to add garlic and fresh lemon zest to as many things as possible, I decided to add these as well. The combination of the earthy greens, sweet raisins, punchy garlic and zesty lemon was a match made in heaven. Simple, filling, nutritious and inexpensive, I am sure this will be a summer family favourite!

Rice pasta with beetroot greens, raisins, garlic and lemon
Serves 4

400g brown rice pasta (or pasta of choice)
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic finely sliced
6 cups beetrot greens, washed and finely shredded
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 tsp salt to taste
Zest of 1/2 lemon

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, and when boiling add the pasta and cook according to the packet directions.
In a deep frying pan (I like to use a deep cast iron pan), sautee the garlic in the olive oil over a medium heat until it starts to turn golden. Add the beetroot greens, stiring until they just begin to wilt and release their juices. Add the rasins and cook for a further 8 minutes until softened, Season with sea salt.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the greens, mixing well. Grate the lemon zest over the top and serve immediately.