Wednesday, 23 April 2014

St George's Day Scones! (Paleo, vegan, refined sugar free)

Happy St George's Day everybody! Isn't it weird that this day is so widely ignored these days? What happened to St Georges Day? Where are all the Morris dance displays and folk music celebrations that used to go on when I was little?

One theory is that in England we don't like to appear nationalistic, that it might go against our wonderful mixed cultural heritage of today, and the fact that the Flag of England is seen to have many negative connotations attached to it now. Even so, the fact that St Patrick's Day is so widely celebrated in England makes this even more strange, we don't seem to mind celebrating other countries national days!

What really fascinates me is that St George was not actually English at all. He was believed to have been born in Turkey, he grew up in Palestine, and later became a Roman soldier. He seems to be the perfect example of all an English Saint should be in today's modern times; multicultural, multinational and very brave. So with that in mind, I think st George's day is far from being nationalistic.  It celebrates the very opposite; this multicultural wonderfulness that we have today and that I myself am proud of. In fact what it all comes down to really, is an excuse to get together and eat.

Historically St George's day was celebrated as a national feast day. So I say lets make this day all about the food (no surprise there), and bring back the tradition of celebrating this feast day. With lots of food, friends, family, dancing and laughter it could have all the makings of a wonderful celebration- like Christmas, but without the endless marketing and gift buying.

As I'm right at the start of a bit of a Spring cleanse, I wanted to make a traditionally English dish that I could still actually eat. Famous for our heavy pies and cream laden desserts this presented a bit of a hurdle for me, but then I came up with this new version of scones and jam which really is a win win. Scones are not only a super traditional food, when topped with the coconut yoghurt and red jam, they represent the colours of the St George's cross.

Although these scones look just like the original, they contain no sugar, no gluten, are vegan and paleo friendly and the jam is all raw!



For the scones (makes 8)
2 cups ground almonds
2 heaped tbsp coconut flour
2 flax 'eggs'
1 tbsp xylitol (or coconut palm sugar)
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup coconut yoghurt (we used Coyo)
2 tbsp almond milk (plus extra for brushing)

For the jam
10 large strawberries
8 drops of plain or vanilla stevia
1 tbsp chia seeds

Method
First preheat your oven to 170 degrees (fan).
Add all the scone ingredients to a bowl and mix with your hands to create a knead-able dough. Just like with traditional scones, don't overwork the mixture!

Press the dough into a rectangle shape about 2.5cm (1 inch) thick, cut out 5cm diameter rounds and place on a lightly oiled baking tray. Brush the tops with almond milk and cook for 15 minutes until golden on top.

While the scones are cooking, blitz the strawberries, vanilla stevia and chia seeds in a food processor until you have a jam like consistency. Put aside to thicken up.

When the scones are ready (you can test by tapping the bottom of the scone, it should sound hollow), cool them on a rack.

When cool, cut in half and top with coconut yoghurt and the strawberry jam. Yummy!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Raw Vegan (refined sugar free) Cream Eggs

I am SO excited to share this recipe with you. I absolutely used to adore Cadbury's cream eggs growing up. I was always so excited to see them on the shelves at Easter- it's hard to believe that I haven't eaten one in 5 years! Over the past couple of Easters I've made a few attempts at recreating them to be refined sugar free and I've come pretty close, but never good enough to share. But that is about to change!

When I made my first attempt at these I used agave. I wanted a sweetener without a strong taste and with a neutral colour to replicate that cream egg filling. We hardly ever use agave, but as it was a one off indulgent recipe I decided to just go for it. I have since made them with pale coconut nectar which is a preferred sweetener of mine, but it is hard to find in stores. Brown rice syrup also works for a very subtle sweet flavour and is much gentler on your system than agave. You can use whichever you feel comfortable with, they all work well.

The nuts have also been a huge part of the experiment. Macadamia nuts give a really creamy, pale finish and a neutral taste which works well. Texture wise, soaked cashew nuts worked better, much smoother and similar to fondant, but I could still taste that cashew flavour so I went with macadamia. I conclude that both nuts are acceptable choices! Which ever you use, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

So after all the fun and experimenting, this week I finally cracked it- and this version is absolutely perfect. They're creamy, sweet and very gooey. In fact the texture is so much like the original I could almost believe I'm eating a Cadbury's egg! Even though these are super sweet, they're not as sickly as the originals, which is a great thing! Having eaten free from refined sugars for so long I am quite sure I couldn't eat the original now anyway. I hope you love these. Happy Easter!



Ingredients
100g of your favourite raw or dark chocolate

For the egg white
100g macadamia or cashew nuts, soaked overnight*
6 tbsp pale coconut nectar, brown rice syrup or agave
2 tbsp coconut butter, melted
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tsp sugar free vanilla extract
1 tbsp filtered water
1 tbsp lemon juice
Pinch of fine sea salt

For the egg yolk
2 tbsp of the finished egg white recipe
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp pale coconut nectar, brown rice syrup or agave

Method
Add the egg white ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a bowl. Remove 2 tablespoons of this mixture and mix with the turmeric and extra sweetner to make the yolk.

Break up the raw chocolate and add to a bowl. Stand the bowl in a larger bowl of hot water and stir until melted.

Take a mini Easter egg mould and with a teaspoon, spoon a little of the melted chocolate into each mould. Use the back of the teaspoon to coat a nice layer all around the mould. Pop into the freezer for 5 mins to firm up. Repeat, 'painting' another layer of chocolate to make a thicker shell for your filling. Freeze again for 5 minutes.

Carefully turn out the moulds onto a plate and fill almost to the top with the egg white mixture.

Next dollop a small amount of the yolk mixture into the centre of each egg and gently push it into the cream to create the yolk.

That's it! They're ready. You could also put the two halves together to create whole eggs but the filling is very gooey and a bit messy so I left them as half eggs.

*I have since discovered that using a mixture of half cashew and half macadamia is the absolute perfect combo!

Updated March 2015.