Wednesday, 30 May 2012

What I ate on our extended weekend! :)

Yet again, my memory totally failed me on this mission!

To be fair, we have had a super busy week, Will had a few days holiday so we have packed in alot of fun! At the weekend Will spoke at Europe's largest veggie event, Vegfest in Bristol, which was totally awesome. I had big ideas to photograph the food we ate for that day, but it was so yummy I ate it all before I had a chance to remember to pull the camera out.....

My dad and his girlfriend visited us on Monday, and I did remember to photograph our dinner for that day, a fabulous vegetarian Indian banquet! That was all I remembered though, starting to see a pattern here...?

Today, I managed to photograph the remains of our summery al fresco lunch, and a super duper raw ball creation, that is honestly my best ever yet, So that's gotta go in!

So, I decided to pay homage to the culinary highlights of the last few days, together they make a perfect combination! Enjoy :)

Brekkie today:

Porridge with maple syrup and ground flax, yumbo! Always a great family standby when we've not planned anything else!

Snack Saturday at vegfest:

Falafal and salad bowl, raspberry and blackcurrant smoothie.

Lunch today:

Delicious homemade mushroom, brown rice and potato burgers

Move and I'll eat you......

Snack today:

Raw date, vanilla and cardamon balls! Oh my. These taste like caramel, no kidding. Best ones yet... Too bad I just threw a bunch of ingredients together with no regard for quantities, I'll have to make them again so I can post them on here (good excuse as any!)

Dinner Monday:

A fabulous Indian feast, shared with family :) We had cauliflower and potato coconut curry, cumin roasted butternut squash, Moroccan spiced greens, spinach and cauliflower greens and brown basmati rice. Delish.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Beetroot and Arame salad

This is such a colourful salad, packed full of nutrition and really appealing to children (though white T-shirts are not recommended while eating)!

Arame is a wonderful sea vegetable as not only is it super high in minerals and vitamins, it has a sweet, delicate flavour, making it a good intorduction to sea weed for children and first timers. So, if you're not usually a fan of sea weed, I reckon it's worth giving this salad a try!

Beetroot and Arame Salad (serves 4-6)

4 large fresh beetroots, peeled
4 large carrots, well scrubbed
10 strands of arame
1 clove of garlic, very finely diced
Juice and zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds
60ml extra virgin olive oil or flax oil

Soak the arame in water for around 15mins until doubled in size. Drain and chop into bits (I like to leave them big enough so they don't get completely lost in the salad, but you could cut them very fine if you wish). Next, grate the beetroot and carrot into a large bowl.
Add the arame and the remainder of the ingredients and mix well. Leave for the flavours to mingle for about half an hour before serving.
This makes a great alternative to coleslaw served up in jacket potatoes and compliments many a dish as a side. It tastes AMAZING with falafel and wholemeal wraps too!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Veggie dandelion pasties

This recipe has recently been updated to be veganized, in my bid to offer veganized versions of some of my older recipes that use dairy products! The vegusto piquant was amazing in the vegan version!

I am looking a little dandelion obsessed these days, but seriously... free food! ;)

These make a lovely change from a traditional meat pasty, or a plain cheese and onion one, they're much more exciting and packed with healthy vegetables! I actually preferred them to the original and well loved version (sorry Cornwall!)

We all really enjoyed them hot from the oven, but found they tasted even better the next day cold. This makes them the perfect packed lunch food....... yeay to that; any alternative to a sandwich and I get excited (it's the little things....)!

Veggie pasties (makes 6 large pasties)


1 small head of broccoli
2 leeks, diced
1 clove garlic, finely diced
4 large potatoes
100g  grated or vegusto piquant vegan cheese
2 handfuls of dandelion greens or spinach, well washed
1  flax egg
salt and pepper
olive oil
3 tbsp oat milk 

100g coconut vegan spread
250g kamut or whole spelt flour
Cold water to mix
A little oat milk for brushing

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. 
Scrub he potatoes and slice into 2 inch chunks. Cook them in boiling water until just cooked through- you don't want them too wet and falling apart. Drain the potatoes and mash with a drizzle of olive oil and 3 tbsp of milk of choice (I used oat milk) and set aside. Steam the broccoli until cooked and set aside to cool slightly.

In a pan, saute the leeks, greens and garlic until just soft.

Add the brocoli and leek mixture to the potatoes and mash all together. Season the mixture with the salt, pepper and a few grates of nutmeg. Stir in the grated cheese and flax egg until well combined. Leave to cool enough to handle.

Make the pastry:
In a food processor blitz the coconut spread and flour to make fine breadcrumbs. Slowly add the water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough starts coming together as a ball. Tip out, knead for just a minute to bring it all together, and roll out to about 3mm thick.

Cut disks, about 12cm in diameter out of the pastry. Fill a disk with 2-3 tablespoon of mixture, brush the edges with a  oat milk and place another round on top. Crimp the edges with a fork and make a slit in the top so the air can escape. Repeat this process until you have used all the pastry and filling up (we had a little extra filling leftover, you can use this to make a bubble and squeek pattie for breakfast the next day... yum!).

Brush the pasties with the beaten egg and pop into the oven for around 20 mins till golden brown.

*Recipe veganized September 2015! 

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Savoury dandelion flower pancakes

We have tons of dandelions in our garden, and we are really making the most of them! When the dandelions flower, the larger leaves can be a little tough and bitter than the leaves pre-flower, so this time we've gone for the dandelion heads as the star of the dish. Plus the girls think it's absolutely brilliant that you can eat flowers!

These make for a really pretty and tasty starter and are also pretty fab for picnics and snacking on. Serve with a tamari dip or relish such as sweetcorn or roasted tomato, yummy!

Savoury Dandelion flower pancakes

20 dandelion heads
1 egg **or mix 1 tbsp ground flax to 2 tbsp water to make a flax egg
1 cup of kamut or fine wholemeal flour
Sparkling water- enough water to mix into a thick pancake style batter.
Cover the dandelion heads in water and add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, soak for 30mins. This just helps the bugs that are caught in the petals to make their way out!

Spin or pat them dry. Cut the stem and base of, as close as you can without the flower petals falling apart!

In a separate bowl, mix the flour and egg, and slowly add enough water to mix into a thick ish batter, very slightly thicker than when you make regular American style pancakes. If it is too thin it will fall off the flowers rather than coat it, but you don't want it too thick either- this will just make heavy dough balls instead of light little pancakes!

 Heat enough oil in a pan to coat the bottom. When medium-hot, take a flower head at a time, dip it into the batter to coat really well and drop into the pan. It will be ready to flip when you see little bubbles surfacing to the top, about 1-2 minutes.

Drain on a kitchen towel or paper, and serve with a dip or relish!

**Updated and veganized December 2014

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

My first ever 'What I ate Wednesday', yeay!!!

Ok so this is a reeeeeeally cool idea from Jenn over at Peas and Crayons - this is 'What I ate Wednesday' (WIAW)! Every Wednesday on her (very) fabulous blog, she gives a run down on what she's eaten on a specific day that week, complete with pictures. This doesn't have to be what she ate on that Wednesday, it is just on a Wednesday that it is revealed to the world... Alot of cool bloggers have joined in this fun game, and link up to Peas and Crayons sharing what THEY ate too, so we can all kind of spy on each other... It is SO fascinating to see what people eat, we are all rather nosey about that kind of thing, this gives the perfect excuse!

So just in case any of you are curious, here is my very first what I ate post! It doesn't look that exciting, as most of the photos are missing their salad sides or just plain missing... ahem. I was so determined to join in the WIAW fun after Jenn kindly explained how to do so in an email to me (thanks for helping me out there!), that last week I was positively bursting with excitement! Then I  completely forgot about it.... Suddenly we had reached Tuesday evening, and I'd not photographed anything in the week! I'd just plain forgotten....

I did remember just after eating Tuesday nights dinner however. Not wanting to miss out today, I decided to work with what I had leftover; there was still some pie left in the dish from dinner, and, being a little slack in cleaning the dishes department, I can at least provide you with some empty plate action from earlier in the day, which is a little more interesting than the blank spaces there would have been....!

I'll do better next week, I promise... with a cherry on top... and a photograph to prove it! ;)


large glass of water
Plain yoghurt with oats, spirulina, banana and pumpkin seeds and a cup of tea with nut 'milk'

Morning snack:

Buckwheat crispbreads with yeast extract, an apple, a big green juice (lettuce, celery and lemon)
Sorry- I don't have any evidence of this, you just have to trust me!


Green salad with olives and brown lentils, oil and vinegar, water, pictured here is all that was leftover!

Afternoon snack:

Tamari apricot kernals, cup of tulsi tea


Butternut squash and leek pie with a kamut crust, side salad, followed by pear and rhubarb crumble (with a date sweetened topping).... more water to drink :)


Cup of chicory with nut milk!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Seitan ragu

I love, love, love seitan, it is so incredibly tasty and a really simple ingredient to use. It lends itself really well to dishes like ragus, chillies, veggie patties and other comfort food dishes. Seitan is made from wheat gluten so this may not be a great choice if you have a sensitive digestion and I wouldn't recommend you eat it too frequently. From personal experience, I think too much gluten can gunk up your digestion a little. Saying that, once in a while, it is a fun ingredient to cook with, especially if you're cooking for people that are used to meatier meals! 

It has fascinating beginnings and is said to have been created way back in history in China by Buddhist monks, though the practice of flavouring it in broth originated later in Japan. After rinsing a flour and water dough several times, you are left behind with just the gluten, this is then simmered in water with delicious things added like tamari and kombu giving it that light flavour and colour. Many people seem to prefer it over tofu as it has some 'bite' to it and more favour, though of course if you cook with tofu right, that too is delicious.

You can make your own seitan pretty easily (though a little time consuming), this is something I have been meaning to try forever, perhaps this week I will give it a go....! Luckily for me, you can pick it up either chilled, frozen or in a jar - my favourite by far is the Yakso jarred version; it is organic, contains no thickening agents or vegetable oils and is flavoured with kombu - a highly nutritional sea vegetable. We get ours from here:

Seitan ragu

1 jar of seitan, drained and diced (about 200g of homemade or frozen)
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
6-8 shiitake mushrooms (or chestnut), finely diced
1 large or 2 small carrots, finely grated
1 jar of passata sauce (600g ish)
1 stick of celery, finely diced
1 heaped tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp ground paprika
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil for cooking

In a large pan, lightly saute all the vegetables in the olive oil until just softened, about 5-10 mins. Then add the passata, herbs and seasonings. Bring this just to a boil, immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and add the seitan. Let this simmer away for about 30 mins until nicely thickened.

That is it! It is a super easy dish, you can serve this over wholemeal pasta, rice, courgette 'noodles', baked sweet potatoes or millet! enjoy :)

Seitan before slicing up for the ragu

Monday, 14 May 2012

Raw (& vegan) Parmesan style 'cheese'

Ok, so if you're looking for a vegan or raw cheese that tastes exactly like parmesan, this isn't it! But if you're looking for a topping for your pizza, pasta or salad that is dairy free, with a cheesy like taste and parmesan texture, this is it!

Although you can buy vegan cheeses in the shops, so many vegan products (like any processed foods) are full of hydrogenated oils, sugars, preservatives etc. It is hard to find natural products even in the health stores sometimes so recipes like this are brilliant to have on hand, especially ones that only contain a handful of ingredients!

I have to admit that I thought I was pretty clever coming up with this recipe, but a little search on the net to confirm I was indeed a genius (tee hee, kidding ;)) showed a huge amount of raw Italian style cheeses already existed- way to burst my bubble! Anyway, this is the version I came up with and I'm really happy with it, it is soooo yummy! You could make extra and store this in a kilner/mason jar, I reckon it will keep around 4 days in the fridge...

Raw 'Italian' cheese

1/2 cup ground almond
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
Teeny pinch of ground turmeric (optional- for colour)

Blitz everything together in a mini chopper or food processor till it resembles grated parmesan cheese. Store in a jar in the fridge ready for when needed!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

How to prepare yerba mate

Here in the UK mate is still a very mysterious drink. It has baffled many a friend of ours who visits, most of them upon seeing this strange object in our kitchen, think we're smoking something rather dodgy! After having to assure many people that it is only an innocent beverage and nothing more untoward, I decided it may be time to do a post on the subject, not only to explain exactly what mate is, but how to prepare and enjoy it too!

So, tonight I have a very special guest blogger on Ele's Kitchen, my husband, Will. Will is author of two blogs, Culture THIS!, which is dedicated to all things fermented, and The Ethics of Mass Eating, an ethical eating blog bringing you updates of the work he is carrying out for his book of the same name!

Not only is he a great blogger, he also happens to be half Argentine. Being brought up drinking mate with his family, I could think of no better person to tell you how to prepare and enjoy this healthful and tasty drink!

So a bit of background for you....Mate is a popular drink that is consumed in many parts of South America, not just in Argentina. In some countries it is drunk cold, sometimes flavoured with orange or lemon or other more exotic flavourings. In Argentina it is usually consumed hot, using a milder tasting version with leaves and stems which is often sweetened, in the method that we're about to show you.

In the UK, you might see it in tea bag form in some health food shops, but it is VERY hard to track down in its loose form here, and even harder to find the gourd and bombilla to drink it from! Luckily you can source it on line now so it is available if you fancy giving it a go, and something I think will take off here as an alternative to green tea. It is very similar in taste, though a little stronger than green tea, and has many antioxidant benefits. It is also claimed to help with a number of things such as weight loss, blood pressure and digestion. I cannot vouch for all its health claims, but can tell you for sure it contains plenty of vitamins and minerals, and is a very sociable drink, so give it a try and let us know what you think!

If you'd like to try the loose form version of mate in this way, The Natural Grocery Store sells the tea instore and online here and you can buy the gourds and bombilla's here!

Note: you can keep topping the mate up with hot water as you go, it will be good for at least 7 top ups, ntil you lose the taste! 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Lunchtime veggie pasties :)

 April 2016: Update! We use the updated vegan version of these pasties made with vegusto cheese and they're amazing!

I have been terribly slack about posting packed lunch ideas recently, but as 'what on earth shall I pack for the children's lunch' seems to be a very common theme amongst Mums (me included) I think it's nice to share ideas out there with the world when I get them!

Now Fia is home schooled, I only have to pack a pre-school lunch for Dorrie twice a week, so really I have no excuse to not do a lunch post at least once a week do I?! Famous last words........

So, here is Dorries pre-school lunch for today:-

Homemade pasties, filled with leek, potato, garlic yarg, broccoli & dandelions encased in a whole spelt and kamut pastry case, with mixed bean and lentil sprouts, cucumber and carrots and plain yoghurt sprinkled with bee pollen :)

Check out the recipe for these here!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Virtuous vegan chocolate muffins, need I say more....

Ok, so it took a few batches to perfect these delicious little muffins, but I assure you, it was SO worth it!

They are moist, chocolaty, sweet enough to satisfy without being sickly, and best of all, pretty much guilt free! Packed with whole grains, good oils and vitamin & mineral rich coconut palm sugar, as well as being dairy free, these are a treat you can really feel good about. You can use either raw coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil in this recipe, I like it best with olive oil as the result is lighter in texture, but you actually get a nice brownie effect using coconut oil so it's a personal preference thing.....

I topped them with a raw cashew frosting, that is also dairy and refined sugar free keeping up with the healthy theme of this muffin, it also tastes really delicious and creamy.

Always on the look out for ethical products, I was super chuffed when I saw these muffin cases in the health store. Made by 'If you care', they are the Eco friendly answer to regular muffin cases as they are unbleached, toxin free and compost-able to boot! This really makes these muffins extra virtuous in my opinion, and I think the natural shade of beige is quite complimentary to the browns of the muffin and frosting, giving them a real 'earthy' look.

Virtuous chocolate muffins  (makes 10- 12)

2 cups wholemeal spelt or kamut* (if you can't find these flours then use a regular fine wholemeal flour)
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/4 cups (310ml) of oat, nut or hemp milk
1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil, or melted virgin coconut oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp of fine sea salt
1 tsp sugar and alcohol free vanilla extract
1 tsp chicory granules dissolved in 1 tbsp water (totally optional, to give a slight mocha flavour to the muffin)

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
In a large bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients until well combined.
Add all the wet ingredients to a jug and whisk them together.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well (pretty simple recipe this!)
Fill each muffin case about 3/4 full, pop them in the oven and bake for around 15 mins, you'll know they're ready when a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool on a rack ready for frosting!

Raw cashew frosting ingredients:
1 cup of cashews
1/4 cup (60ml) of maple syrup
4 tbsp melted coconut oil
The seeds of a vanilla pod or 1/2 tsp alcohol & sugar free vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125ml) filtered water
1 tbsp cocoa powder

To make the frosting:
Throw all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until as smooth as possible- this may take 5 mins of blending and stopping to scrape down the sides of the jug if you don't have a high speed blender, but be patient it is worth it! Pour out into a bowl and pop in the fridge to firm up a little before piping or spreading over the muffins. Top with sprinkles of sesame seeds, goji berries, cacao nibs or dried flower petals.

* Different flours absorb more or less moisture so this will have an effect on the result of your muffin. For kamut flour the liquid ratio is perfect, for whole spelt I recommend using slightly less milk, maybe a cup plus 2 tbsp, I haven't tested with regular wholemeal so experiment with it, the batter should be thick enough so that it doesn't pour easily off a spoon, but not so thick you could stand a spoon up in it!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Roasted courgette (zucchini) dip

My latest mission was to come up with a way to entice the girls to eat more courgettes while making use of some leftovers I had hiding in the fridge (four lonely herbed olives in oil and a teeny bit of goats cheese; not even enough for a sandwich!) 

Fia claims to be not much of a fan of courgettes, however she managed to eat no less than four servings of this dip! This is definitely a child friendly family dish, it is extremely tasty and a great way to utilise that herbed oil left over from the olives, success all round!

The olives we used for this recipe were 'Olives Et Al' kalamata olives, the Herbs de Provence in the oil really made the dip extra special. We love this olive brand, the girls would eat a jar each if we let them.....!

Roasted courgette (Zucchini) dip                                

4 courgettes (zucchini)
1/2 cup of organic soy yoghurt (125ml)
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
4 marinated olives, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil from the olives (with all that leftover herby goodness)
35g vegan cream cheese
Juice of half a lemon
Sea salt to taste
1 tbsp flax oil for drizzling

Pop the courgettes in the oven and roast at 180 degrees for around 40 mins until softened.
When they are cooked, remove from oven, chop roughly (be careful not to burn yourself!) and leave them aside for 10 mins to cool down.
Pop the courgettes, along with the rest of the ingredients into a food processor, and blend until mixed, but still with a little texture.

Pour into a dish, drizzle with the flax oil and serve right away at room temp. We think this dip is fabulous with flatbreads and salad!

**Updated and Veganized December 2014