Friday, 29 April 2016

Coconut and Lime Bread and Butter Pudding (vegan)

The birds are singing, the sky is blue and Spring is certainly in the air; but don't be deceived, it's still super cold out there! This week we've seen snow, hail and a chilly wind that is making me still crave comfort foods. This tropical twist on on the classic bread and butter pudding is just as satisfying as the regular version, but much lighter on the taste buds, plus it's vegan too.

Made with spelt bread and low glycemic coconut palm sugar, you can enjoy this rich and tasty pudding knowing that it's packed full of wholesome ingredients!

Coconut and Lime Bread Pudding
Serves 6-8

1 400g loaf of spelt or sourdough bread
4 tbsp coconut butter or non-dairy spread*
100g raisins
4 tbsp toasted coconut chips
1 tbsp coconut palm sugar

For the custard

1 can coconut milk
500ml non-dairy milk of choice
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod
2 tsp coconut extract
5 tbsp arrowroot or tapioca flour
8 tbsp coconut palm sugar
Zest of 1 lime


Preheat your oven to 180/350 degrees.

Cut the spelt bread into around 10 slices, roughly 1cm thick. Spread them with the coconut butter or spread and cut each slice into halves.

Spread half the raisins over the bottom of a 25 x25 cm square baking dish.

Arrange the slices of bread in the dish so that they are slightly overlapping, and sprinkle over the rest of the raisins. Set this aside while you make the custard.

Add the custard ingredients to a saucepan, and set on a medium heat. Whisk constantly for around 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened into a custard consistency.

Pour over the bread and leave to soak for around 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the tablespoon of coconut palm sugar over the top, and bake for around 25 minutes until crisp and golden. For that extra tropical taste, serve this alongside griddled pineapple slices.

*We like Biona Cocomega which is free from hydrogenated fats and coloured only with carrot juice!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Vegan Malt Loaf

Malt extract is a sticky syrup like ingredient that is derived from barley. It has a sweet (but not too sweet) and rather unique taste that can be used as a replacement for sugar in most recipes.

I confess to being slightly addicted to all things malt flavoured at the moment. It is particularly good for sweetening hot chocolate, but of course it is really best showcased in this delicious British classic; malt loaf.

Malt extract has been enjoyed traditionally in the UK for generations, especially during the war when it was used as a popular children's supplement to keep colds at bay and energy levels up. While I'm not so sure it actually will keep those colds at bay, it definitely contains some nutrients (mainly B vitamins) and makes for a wiser choice than regular refined sugar. Plus its tastes amazing!

This sticky, chewy loaf is the perfect tea time treat. Like a good fruit cake, the flavours and texture will develop and improve over a couple of days. So if you can resist the delicious smell when you take it out the oven, then leave it to cool, wrap it up in a little greaseproof and set aside for a day or two before enjoying. It goes wonderfully with a mug of steaming hot tea.

Malt Loaf
1 cup of sultanas
150ml hot, strong earl grey tea
125ml malt extract, plus 1 for glazing
1 tbsp black strap molasses
2 tbsp coconut palm sugar
125g spelt flour
125g wholemeal spelt or einkorn flour
100g oat flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade.

Grease and line a 2LB loaf tin (mine is 24.5 x 14.5 x 7cm) with greaseproof paper, and set aside while you make the mix.

Soak the sultanas in the tea together in a bowl for 15 minutes until the sultanas have absorbed some of the tea and are juicy and plump.

Stir in the malt extract, black-strap molasses and coconut palm sugar, mixing until well distributed.

Sift in the flours, baking powder, bicarb and sea salt and gently mix with a wooden spoon.

Transfer to the loaf tin, and bake for an hour until cooked. Keep a close eye on it as it can burn easily; you may need to cover the top with greaseproof toward the end of cooking to prevent over browning.

Test that it is done by inserting a cocktail stick into the centre, if it comes out clean, it's ready!

When the loaf is done, lightly brush the top with a little more malt extract, and then leave to cool.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Poached Potatoes

When I outlined this post, her in the UK it was wet and windy and blowing a gale! When the weather outside is (frightful?), all I want to do is snuggle under a blanket on the sofa with a good book and some comfort food, and this is some pretty good comfort food I promise. Served up alongside some veggies and roasted chestnuts, this is one of my all time favourite dinners. Now the sun is out, the sky is blue (I promise I'm not doing this on purpose), but it's still rather chilly outside, so give this warming dish a go, I'm sure you'll love it.

But before we skip into the recipe, did I tell you guys about my exciting TV debut? Last week I had a blast making a delicious variation of the Chia Seed Pudding from 'How To Eat a Rainbow' on That's Oxford TV. It was completely nerve-racking, but once I was in the studio I had so much fun. The Presenter and crew were all so friendly and super professional which helped me lots. Hope you enjoy the video and the recipe, please give it some likes!

Copies of How to Eat a Rainbow are now available in the UK at your local Grape Tree store and in the USA from Vegan Publishers and Amazon. We were kindly sent Organic Blends acai berry and chia seeds to try out in this recipe; they're fab quality and I'm sure you'll love them!

Poached Potatoes
Serves 4

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large baking potatoes
1 clove garlic, crushed
500ml vegetable stock
Handful of fresh parsley

Lightly oil the bottom of a large cast iron skillet or oven top casserole dish with the olive oil.
Finely slice the potatoes into thin slices as possible, just a couple of mm.
Arange half the potato in a layer in the dish. Top with the crushed garlic and then make a second layer with the other half of the potato slices. Top with the stock, it should cover the potatoes.
Put a lid on the pan and bring to a rapid simmer. Simmer for around 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
Finish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and serve!
The remaining liquid makes a great base for vegetable gravy, I freeze mine to use later.

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!