Friday, 29 April 2011

A very British dessert turned raw! - Raw Berry Crumble

It's the Royal Wedding day and I am sooooo excited about it, and so are the girls, they cannot wait to watch a Prince and soon to be Princess get married! Though Fia is a little upset that we didn't get invited, especially as we were at a Prince and Princesses Wedding (well she thought they were at least) only a couple of weeks ago (my lovely cousins). 

I was thinking what to make in honour of this day, something British, but with a healthy twist. Then I remembered a dessert I came up with about a month back that was a raw take on a well known dish, it was absolutely mouth watering and better than the real thing (In my opinion anyway), not to mention the fact that you don't get the crusty burnt dish to have to scrub after- brilliant.  And it went down very well. So here is my very British dessert, turned raw for you, Raw Berry Crumble!

5-6 cups mixed frozen berries (you can use fresh too, though you get more yummy juices with frozen!)
5-6  Nakd 'Oatie' Bars- I really like the 'Berry Cheeky' one for this recipe, though I think 'Apple Pie' would work too!
Juice and zest of half a lemon
Drizzle of maple syrup- or more if you like it sweeter
small handful of fresh mint, chopped fine

Mix the berries in a dish with the lemon juice, zest and mint. Leave to macerate at room temperature for a couple of hours.

Add the drizzle of maple syrup (or to taste) to the berries and mix.
Blitz up the Nakd Bars in a blender till you have a crumb resembling the traditional crumble mix!
Sprinkle the crumble mix over the berries and voila! You have a delicious healthy dessert!

Congratulations William and Kate!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

The perfect Easter Sunday, chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate!

OK, so I realise that this is another sweet things post, but it is totally unavoidable being Easter and all...... How could I not do chocolate recipes today?! We've had such an amazing day today. We were blessed by beautiful weather, went to really special Church service, had a delicious lunch all together, got soaked washing cars, worked on the start of a butterfly garden AND made a ton of raw chocolate treats! I thought the girls would be tired out but they are still up giggling in their room as I type this! 
We did two choccie recipes  today, scrummy raw orange chocolate Easter eggs and some homemade coconutty peanut butter cups. 

The first recipe, the chocolate eggs, we made from a raw chocolate kit that Nanny (my Mum) got the girls for Easter from 'Choc Chick' (Fabulous site- I recommend you check this out!). We stuck to their recipe that came with the kit, apart from adding some orange zest as the girls really like that combination. It was a nice activity for Fia and I to do together while Dorrie took a nap! You could purchase this kit online, or source the ingredients separately to make these.

The second recipe is one of my own, though there are quite a few healthy peanut butter cup recipes out there. There are no definite rules when it comes to peanut butter cups, you could use crunchy or smooth peanut butter, other nut butter fillings, ground almonds, dried berries, vanilla extract, coconut milk..... the list of possible ingredients is endless! 

Raw Chocolate Easter Eggs

100g Raw cacao butter
6 tbsp raw cacao powder
4 tbsp sweet freedom syrup (you could also use maple syrup)
Zest of an orange
pinch of sea salt

Chocolate moulds of your choice

Melt the cacao butter in a bowl over a pan of water, which is on a low heat.

When it is melted (be patient, you don't want to use a high heat) add the cacao powder, orange zest, pinch of salt and sweet freedom syrup. Whisk this until smooth.

Pour into moulds and set in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Pop out of the moulds and you have pretty little guilt free chocolates. Easy peasy!

Coconutty Peanut Butter Cups

80g raw cacao butter
10g virgin coconut oil
6 tbsp raw cacao powder or good quality cocoa powder
4 tbsp sweet freedom syrup or maple syrup
6 tbsp unsweetened dessicated coconut
3 tbsp unsweetened crunchy peanut butter with sea salt

Petit four cases

Melt the cacao butter and virgin coconut oil in a bowl over a pan of water which is on a low heat.
Add the cacao powder, sweet freedom and dessicated coconut, mix together till well blended.
Fill each petit four case about a quarter full of the chocolate mix, then spoon a dollop of peanut butter into the middle of each one.
Cover the peanut butter with more of the chocolate mixture and then leave them to set in the fridge until firm, about a couple of hours. These are totally delicious, and although not all the ingredients are raw, they are still packed full of goodness!

Friday, 22 April 2011

Soaked grain, slow rise Hot Cross Buns!

Last night at about 8 o'clock, it suddenly dawned on me that today we should be having Hot Cross Buns for breakfast, and that there was no way we were going to have any unless I got creative in the kitchen with a healthy version! So I spent a while looking online for recipes for a soaked grain, slow rise version, and do you know what? There wasn't one! Well at least I couldn't find one. Up for the challenge I adapted a traditional  recipe (quite a lot) to be made with oak smoked malted and wholegrain spelt flour and also sugar free, then I experimented with soaking the grains overnight. It was a total success! Huzzah! The oak smoked flour gave the buns such a gorgeous flavour, though I think they'd be pretty tasty with regular malted too. I know this comes a bit late for Good Friday, but, Hot Cross Buns are so scrummy and we have so many bank holidays coming up that there will be plenty of opportunities to be baking more I reckon.

Soaking grains is not a new idea, it was traditionally done (and still is) in many countries. Soaking the grains with liquid and an acidic ingredient, makes them more digestible and means the nutrients are more available to us, so if you have time its a very valuable and worthwhile process.

There are two ways you can do this recipe. You could do it the way I did as I had decided to make them pretty late at night and couldn't wait to try them out..... I soaked the grains over night, made the dough in the morning and did a 2 hour rise, followed by a 45min rise after they were shaped, and had them ready in time for lunch! Or to get a longer ferment and an extra slow rise, start the morning before you want to eat them, that way they'll be pretty much ready to bake for a slightly late breakfast the next day. The grains will soak during the day, at night the dough can be mixed, then it can rise slowly in a cool room overnight for a truly long fermentation. 

For a quicker take on hot cross buns, please check out this post for rye soda bread style hot cross buns! Updated December 2014.

Ingredients (1)
250g strong oak smoked malted flour (you can use regular strong malted flour)
200g wholemeal spelt flour (plus about a cup full extra aside for later)
7g dried yeast (I like Doves Farm)
210ml warm water
2tbs plain organic soya yogurt

Ingredients (2)
1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
grated zest of 1 orange
1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax and 3 tbsp of water)
50g melted vegan butter (we like biona)
140g of raisins and sultanas

For the cross
50g white spelt flour
60ml water
1 tsp melted coconut oil

For the glaze
2 tbsp boiling water
2 tbsp xylitol/maple

The night before, mix the first set of ingredients (1) together to form a wet sticky mix. Cover with  a plate and leave overnight to soak. The next morning it will look like this:

Next add to the mix the ingredients (2) and mix by hand until you get a very sticky dough.
Just before the fruit was added
Turn out onto a well floured surface and knead. You'll need to add between 1/2 to 1 cup full (depending on absorbency of the flour you use) of flour as you go to form a dough. Knead until elastic, around 5 mins. Shape it into a nice round, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rise somewhere warm for 2 hours, until it has doubled in size. After this time, gently knock out the air and divide the mix into 16 balls. Place them on greased baking trays, cover with a damp cloth or damp scrunched up greaseproof paper and leave to rise for 45 mins.
When they have risen, preheat the oven to 220 C (425 F). Mix together the ingredients to make the crosses, it should make a paste. Pipe the paste in the shape of a cross on each bun.

Pop them in the oven for about 15mins until lightly golden. As soon as they are ready, remove them from the oven and brush them right away with the glaze made from the boiling water and xylitol/maple. Leave a couple of minutes then enjoy with some vegan spread or coconut oil.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Best ever raw chocolate brownies

My husband has a bit of a sweet tooth. He is particularly fond of chocolate brownies. I've never really understood his love of these as I'm not a fan of rich or very sweet treats. But I took pity on him and decided to create a healthy version for him which I also happen to be rather partial to!

There are quite a few raw food brownie recipes out there, but I've created one that I think is rather perfect! They are chocolaty, sweet and chewy and reported to be totally scrummy by all my taste testers so far! These are a great idea for children's parties as an alternative to the traditional cake as they resemble something children are familiar with so they are likely to want to to eat them.  But don't just take my word for it, try them!

2 Cups of ground almonds
2 cups of pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/2 cup raw cacao (or a good quality cocoa such as green and blacks, though it won't be as nutrient rich)
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 - 3/4 cup dried unsweetened cherries

Put all the ingredients except the dried cherries into a food processor. Pulse until it comes together as a crumbly dough.

 Turn out the dough and knead in the cherries.

Press the dough into a glass or ceramic dish, about 4x6" (you can lightly oil the dish with virgin coconut oil if you wish though I find in a Pyrex dish they turn out pretty well). The brownies should be about an inch in thickness. Put in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up. When firm turn out and cut into squares.

 Enjoy your scrummy, healthy and super quick to make brownies!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Start the new term with the best ever lunch boxes!

Welcome welcome to my blog and the first ever entry! I am sooooo very excited to be finally up and running, it was quite a challenge to decide what to blog about first as I'm positively bursting with things to share! I figured though, I'd start at the begining- ways to make life easier in getting this scrummy food out to the kids, even when they're at school!

My eldest daughter Fia, takes a packed lunch to preschool. At first this caused me great alarm- what was I going to pack? No sandwiches and chocolate bars in this house, they were used to salads and other fresh delights!

The other worry was what kind of a lunch box she'd have. I try not to use plastic. We are down to two lonely little Tupperware now- the rest has been replaced with glass and ceramic containers- still, not such a great idea for a preschoolers lunch container! I was at first baffled as to what to do.... THEN I discovered PlanetBox. The best lunch box EVER. Seriously. It's made totally of stainless steel, has separate compartments to keep your foods from leaking, and if you buy the package deal, it comes with two stainless steel pots great for yogurt, salads etc, and a handy carry case too! Best of all, in Fia's opinion, it has funky magnets which you can decorate the box with, fabbo indeed. The slight drawback is that it is pricey ($59.95 for the complete package), and as of yet not available in the UK, though they do ship from the states.

I am very lucky to have the best mother-in-law in the world, who also happens to live in the states, and she kindly bought and shipped us one over! Now for anyone thinking 'I'm not about to ship in a lunch box from the States- has Ellie lost her mind?!' I can see where you're coming from. But this box has solved all our lunch problems, you can pack the healthiest lunch possible in this baby, and its gonna last a long, long time, much longer than your average plastic box.....AND its Eco friendly (less waste) and non toxic so safe for your little one. I highly recommend it. If however you are still dubious, I have found stainless steel Tiffin Tins to be another fab (and cheap) option- we got a kid size one for £6.99 on ebay) and there are some great bento style boxes out there too, so all is not lost! Also def worth checking out are Lunchbots which are stainless steel lunch boxes with dividers and you can also buy stainless steel pots for yogurts etc to go with them. 

 For both the girls water containers, we use a non toxic eco stainless steel bottle from 'Onegreenbottle'. They're fab although there are others on the market that are also great. What I really love about this make, is the great choice in bottle caps, and the cute new design they have out especially for kids (one little green bottle)- which I have no doubt we'll be upgrading to at some point in the not too distant future.....