Food Blog

Healthy plant-based recipes full of good stuff whilst being free from refined sugars and wheat. The food blog is a space to kickstart your inner creativity!

Cauliflower 'Cheese'.... fat free!

This is the recipe that has got me most excited in recent weeks!!

…And this is why!

...it’s quick to whip up, it uses two basic cheap ingredients, it freezes well, it’s so versatile as a sauce in so many recipes or even as a stand alone dip!

This would make a perfect ‘lightened up’ pasta bake or really anything that would use a regular cheese sauce. I made cauliflower cheese because to me that’s classic comfort food and it’s what I craved. You could add other vegetables or substitute the beans for the peas. I had some beans needing using up so I added them for extra protein and texture.

I can’t take full credit for the 'cheese' sauce as it has appeared in various guises around the Internet, and I tweaked this spices and removed the oil to make it my own.

I want to point out, that you could add some fat (see this recipe which was my main inspiration) and but I wanted to see what the texture was like without. Also, I prefer adding the fat component of a meal by way of ingredients such as nuts and avocados as opposed to adding unnecessary oils into sauces etc. That is simply my preference. 

Recipe: Cauliflower cheese

Serves 2

Ingredients- Sauce:

  • 2 small fist sized white potatoes- chopped on to smallish pieces (approx 350g)
  • 1 heaped cup chopped carrot (approx 150g)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast*
  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard

Other ingredients: 

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 can white beans (or beans of choice or peas)

Method:

Boil the chopped carrots and the potato for 15 to 20 minutes until soft. (I used a food processor for the carrots and potatoes and then only cooked them for five minutes or so).

Meanwhile mix the rest of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. 

Chop the cauliflower and courgette into smallish pieces and lay evenly in a medium sized glass oven dish.

Once the carrot and potato have cooked, transfer to a blender/food processor and add the remaining ingredients. I found the veg retained some cooking water, so add only a little extra water to start with as you do not want the sauce to be too runny, add extra if needed. 

Pour the sauce into the oven dish to fully coat the veggies. Bake at 180C for about 20 minutes until the top is golden and the veg cooked through.. Serve immediately with a side salad if desired.

*Do not skip or substitute the nutritional yeast, this is what gives the sauce it's cheesy flavour. I use this brand and it can be found in most whole food stores in the UK and online. It's a good store cupboard ingredient to have on hand for dairy free cooking!

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Chocolate banana brownie bread

I called this 'brownie bread'... as it's shaped like a loaf, but with a beautiful dense and chewy sponge, best described as a cross between banana bread and a chocolate brownie!

The easiest, healthiest, allergy friendly but totally indulgent cake you'll probably ever find!

Chocolate banana brownie bread

Well this recipe was totally unplanned! Making recipes on holiday in Lanzarote in my hosts kitchen! I have been eating all my meals with them, it's so lovely to be cooked for, especially since they eat a plant based diet also... i'll admit I haven't even needed to leave their house! 

Since I happened to mention I write a food blog, I was offered the opportunity to come up with a healthy cake or dessert using 'anything I could find' in the kitchen. Wow, what an opportunity... though I was also pretty nervous and apprehensive in case it didn't work out! It's one thing wasting your own ingredients but anything things when it's someone else's food! Plus, I didn't have all my up ingredients and kitchen tools to hand.

Chocolate banana brownie bread

Of course I wanted it to be as low in sugar as possible, and ideally contain chocolate, since I hadn't had any all week and it was calling to me! I needed a foolproof recipe that I knew would stand the least chance of failure.... that's when my crazy chocolate courgette cake came to mind. That cake is loved by so many, uses simple ingredients and I knew it would be a winner. To change it up a little I swapped the courgette for banana. This was in large part so that I could get away from using refined sugars- in the courgette version I use dates and pure stevia, but since I had no stevia to hand, I used bananas (and a teensy bit of brown sugar just to be sure) to hit the sweet spot.

Flour was also another factor to work around. I usually use fine ground oats in the chocolate courgette cake recipe, but all I had to hand here were emmer grains (an ancient grain similar to spelt and einkorn). This is what my hosts mill to make their own bread, so we milled some for this recipe. It worked perfectly.... phew! I imagine any of the ancient grain flours (or even regular wholewheat) would make a good substitute, or use fine oatmeal as per my original recipe (I haven't tried with purely gluten free flours but buckwheat or a GF flour blend could be a good bet if you do experiment).

Emmer grains- pre milling

Emmer grains- pre milling

Emmer flour being milled!

Emmer flour being milled!

I also had to improvise with other ingredients too. Usually I use a combination of baking soda and baking power. But there was only soda to hand... a quick google gave me my solution. Baking soda needs an acid to react to, so I simply added lemon juice to the mix and it worked perfectly on its own.  

The banana pieces on top were beautifully caramelised and chewy... feel free to add more or even mix some chunks into the mix to vary the texture and make more of a dessert bread, which would be amazing served warm with vegan cream or ice-cream.... or a slathering of drippy peanut butter! Oh yeah...

This basic recipe has been tried so many times now with little tweaks, it is virtually foolproof I promise! The verdict... they all loved it! Even two year old Shakti!

P.s You'll find plenty more of my 'loaf' style recipes HERE!

Chocolate banana brownie bread

Recipe: Chocolate banana brownie bread

Makes 1 long shallow loaf (or equivalent of a large deep brownie pan)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup chopped dates (packed quite tightly)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water (may need to add a few tablespoons extra at the end)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or other mild oil of choice)
  • 2 tbs chia seeds (or flax seed)
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 4 medium bananas (3 to be pureed and 1 chopped for the top)
  • 2-3 tbs brown sugar (you could omit this or sub with syrup or a few drops of pure stevia)
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cup emmer flour (or ground porridge oats or other flours as noted above)
  • 1 heaped tsp baking soda

Method:

Soak the dates in the 1/2 cup boiling water for a few minutes to soften ( I did this as I only had a small stick hand blender to use, soaking it optional for more robust blenders so you could just add water separately). Add the coconut oil to melt it. Add three rough chopped bananas, the chia/flax and the lemon juice to the date/oil mix and blend until very smooth. All the wet ingredients should now be mixed.

In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa and baking soda. Add the pureed mixture and stir through until fully combined. Taste and add the brown sugar (or sweetener of choice) to taste. I only needed to add two tablespoons.

The mixture should be a soft spoonable batter. Add a few extra tablespoons of water only if needed (I added a couple). Spoon the mix into a greased and lined cake tin/loaf tin of choice (or muffin cups). Smooth the top as much as possonle then press the chopped banana pieces on top to decorate.

Bake for approx. 35-40 minutes at 180C (this will depend on the depth on the cake pan and need less time for muffins). I loosely covered the top with foil after 20 minutes once the bananas were browned to prevent potential burning. Check the middle of a cake with a fork or skewer to see that it comes away clean.

Serve warm or cold as a healthy indulgent snack or dessert!  One easy cake- two ways!

 (P.s this cake freezes beautifully too!)

Chocolate banana brownie bread

This cake made it into PETA UK’s Great Vegan Bake Off final! If you like what you see, you can cast your vote for it here (and also know that you've made me a very happy girl!)


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Quick hemp and avocado 'coodles'

Want a rich and filling lunchtime snack ready in five minutes? This is perfect for Spring, requires no cooking and is a great base for any toppings you might have to hand.

I had fun with my spiraliser... feel like its been a while! Now we are getting closer to the warmer weather I think it will be making a more regular appearance again.

I've played around with avocado-based sauces and dips on numerous occasions but here I blended it with shelled hemp seed and a generous squeeze of lime for a tasty twist and an extra protein boost. Olives and tomatoes seemed the obvious topping to me but you could use what ever you fancy. Why not try some roasted veggies for a 'hot and cold' flavour combo. You could also use ground almonds instead of hemp if you prefer- usually tasty!

This would also make a great picnic dish for a lunchtime snack at the office or a tapas dish to take to a party.

This recipe was one of my keto experiments. I'm still playing around with the keto style of eating but I am trying to reintroduce a few beans and pulses back into my diet- patly because I really missed them (more than sweet things!) but also because they are such a useful protein source. Some days I am likely to be out of keto because of this, I am simply finding a balance that works well for me.

Avocado is such a versatile ingredient for all types of diet, it's mild and creamy and full of healthy fats. What's your favourite way too use avocado?

p.s I don't think I'll ever get bored of taking photos of tomatoes... perfectly photogenic :-)

Recipe: Hemp and avocado 'coodles'

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 courgette
  • 1 small avocado
  • 3 tbs ground almonds/shelled hemp
  • 3 mint leaves- finely chopped (or other herb- such as parsley or basil)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2tsp oilve oil
  • Toppings: chopped olives and sliced cherry tomatoes plus a little salt and pepper

Method:

Spiralise the courgette and set aside. Blend the avocado with the almond/hemp seeds, lime juice, chopped mint leaves and olive oil and mix through the courgette noodles.

Serve into a bowl and top with cherry tomato halves and olives with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

 

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The most versatile vegan quiche... four ways!

Wow... I owe you a recipe!!  Yeah this was once a recipe blog ;-)

I have so many recipes I want to share, and even more than I want to test out... but I have so many other things I ask want to share and only so many hours in the day to do it all!  Plus Wholeplus to manage on top of all that!

I hope this makes up for it! It was one of my favourites versatile creations during December. A spin off from this recipe that I knew at the time held so much more potential, and so it is that 'potential' I want to share with you today. I also featured festive variation using parsnip instead of cauliflower in my column in Definition Magazine in the November issue last year... yummy!

This recipe is also perfect for this time of year. Comforting yet light and tummy friendly, and perfect for a lunch or dinner. Packed with protein but without weighing you down... Winner!

When it comes to recipes, you surely know how high ease and versatility rate on my scale of importance by now! This does not disappoint... I promise! (even though the method looks longer than usual... it is really simple!!

I've called it a quiche, thought I guess it's not really in that it doesn't have a crust or use eggs, it's also lighter than a quiche with the chickpea/cauli infusion going on. It's definitely not a pie or fritatta either...so what else would I call it? Quiche is definitely the closest.

I've provided the base recipe below and all the addition options beneath. These are my flavours...but try experimenting with whatever takes your fancy or you happen to have to hand. You'll see in these photos I made single serve size quiches in jumbo muffin cups. They worked really well. You could make a big batch to freeze!

Recipe: The most versatile vegan quiche

Make 1 x 8” pie dish or 3-4 single serve jumbo muffin sized

Basic ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 tbs flax
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp general mixed seasoning
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • half a head of a small-med cauliflower (equal to 1 cup grated)
  • ½ a onion sliced thinly
  • 1 cup water

Options- add one of these (or more than one if making mini quiches):

  • 1/2 cup black beans (I teamed this with a smoky chipotle sauce and nutritional yeast)
  • 1/2 cup corn and sliced red onion (I used frozen corn and added paprika)
  • 1/2 cup sliced red pepper and sun dried tomatoes (I teamed this with fresh basil)
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach (I teamed this with garlic)
  • 1/2 cup sliced courgette (I teamed this with dried italian herbs and fresh rosemary)

Method:

Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside.  Chop the onion finely and grate/process the cauliflower (to a rice like consistency) and add both to the dry mix, then add the water and mix through well.

If you are making mini quiches, separate the batter now.

Stir through your chosen additions (add flavours at the same time as the other ingredients in previous steps if more appropriate to do so) 

The mixture should be thick and clumpy but easy to spoon into a tin. I used an 8” silicone cake tin, but you could also use a metal one with removable bottom, or large silicone muffin cups.

Press the mixture firmly into the pan but leave the top quite rough for some nice texture. Bake at 180C for approx 30 mins until the tops is nice and golden, or around 20 minutes for mini quiches (keep an eye on the colour).

Serve either hot or cold. This ‘quiche’ holds together really well when cold so would also be great for picnics/lunchboxes. It also freezes well and can be reheated in the oven.

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I've entered this recipe into the Health Bay Recipe Challenge because I reckon this hits the spot for both health and taste!  What do you think?

 

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3 ingredient choc-oat bars... and another Giveaway!

Remember I said I was teaming up with companies who's products I love... well it's now time for another giveaway!  This time with Rude Health who make lot's of oaty based goodness... which is heaven for a porridge addict like me!!

They also have two new products in their range. This coconut drink- made with real coconut butter, and these drinking oats- such a quirky invention. You know I like quirky!

Click on the images to zoom in and check out the new products.

Last week on the blog you had the oat bake... which seemed to be pretty popular! Today I'm bringing you a super simple three ingredient chocolate snack bar! You can of course use Rude Health oats or oatmeal for the recipe... or any oats you have to hand.

But first.... here's what you can win in my giveaway... a box packed up with all these bits and pieces! Note: this giveaway is not suitable for those with gluten sensitivity. UK only.

You can win a box full of these Rude Health goodies!

Scroll down to enter my giveaway... then go and make these bars... they won't take you much longer to make than entering the giveway itself!  The extra flavours are purely optional. You could make a big batch and divide it before adding a few different flavours for variety during your week.

Recipe: Chocolate oat bars

Makes approx. 10 bars

Ingredients

  • 2 packed cups chopped dates*
  • 1 cup ground oats (grind regular oats or use oatmeal)
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • Optional- 1 tsp cinnamon, vanilla, mint or orange extracts all taste great

Method

Process ingredients together until sticky. Press into the bottom of a lined small pan or loaf tin.

Chill until firm and slice into bars. Can be frozen.

*I used deglet noor dates but you may find medjool dates are softer and easier to blend if you don't have such a high powered processor.

I'd love you to join me in other places too!  

Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers  plus me FREE ebook. If you are new round here check out my 'About' and 'Getting Started' tabs up top. To buy nibbles you can also find me over at Wholeplus.  Day to day you can always find me in these places:

Enter the giveaway here!

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Dressed up bean salad (that will last you all week!)

I've been meaning to get this recipe up on the blog for you for ages!!

I made this salad quite a few weeks ago and have since recreated it in numerous guises depending on what beans I had to hand, peas also work well. I love the fact I can simply make up a big batch (i'm talking tripling the recipe to fill a huge tub) and then eating for lunch, or dinner or as a side dish or simply to grab a spoonful when i'm in need of 'a little something' that could otherwise have turned into grabbing a cookie (yeah, you know that feeling too!)

This is most definitely my salad of the summer and so I happy when I came upon the original version (noted below) which also had a hummus accompaniment (I was being lazy with that part but by all means add it too!)  This dressing is also beautifully balanced, lovely and light with a little kick from the red chilli pepper flakes. I'm enjoying using sun dried tomato paste with my meals the moment too, but you could substitute regular tomato paste.

Tell me, what are you favourite go-to summer dishes?

Recipe: Dressed up bean salad 

Recipe adapted from this recipe by Cookie and Kate

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked kidney beans
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas or cannelli beans
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 stalks celery- chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Dressing

  • 2 tbs sundried tomato paste
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • ½ tsp teaspoon salt
  • ½ tsp red chilli pepper flakes (less or omit of preferred)

 Method:

In a serving bowl, combine the prepared kidney beans, chickpeas, onion, celery, tomato, cucumber, parsley and mint.

Make the  dressing: Mix all ingredients together and pour dressing over the bean and vegetable mixture and toss thoroughly. Serve immediately for the most flavour, or let it marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for a couple of hours or longer.

Notes: I kept this in the fridge for 4 days and enjoyed it both warmed and cold. Different beans can be used- whatever you have to hand.

I'd love you to join me in other places too!  

Why not sign up foemails in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers. If you are new round here check out my 'About' and 'Getting Started' tabs up top. To buy nibbles you can also find me over at Wholeplus.  Day to day you can also find me in these places:

 

 

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Seeded spelt crackers

I've had crackers on the mind in recent weeks, partly because i've been experimenting with my dehydrator (they'll be a cookie recipe on its way to you very soon!) and dehydrator crackers have been fun to test out.  But even thought these crackers are obviously not made in the dehydrator they still popped up in my head one day when doing some recipe brainstorming.

spelt crackers 2a.jpg

These crackers use spelt so are not gluten free, though they are wheat free. I enjoy using spelt as it has so many similar characteristics to regular wheat flour but without the common associated sensitivities. I also loved how flaky these crackers were with the addition of coconut oil, you'll see in the note below that I tried a peanut version which just didn't have the same flakiness at all!

You can use any seeds you fancy, but i will note that smaller seeds are easier to cut/slice though compared to larger seeds! Just saying ;-)

Perfect with a dollop of hummus or how about this raw red pepper ranch dip.... There are more dips and recipes on this page and i reckon you could easily turn these crackers into a sweet variety with a touch of syrup and a little cinnamon. Hmmm, might have to try that out myself!

spelt crackers 1.jpg

Recipe: Seeded spelt crackers

Makes approx 30-40 crackers 

Ingredients:  

  • 200g spelt flour (1 1/2) cups
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 50g coconut oil (1/4 cup)
  • 50g water (1/4 cup)
  • 60g seeds (e.g 2tbs each of 3 types)
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Salt and pepper and other spices to taste
  • Glaze (optional) soy yoghurt*

Method: 

Mix the spices and baking soda into the flour in a large bowl.

Mix the coconut oil into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs and then add the water slowly until a firm and slightly sticky dough forms. You can add the seeds add the same time as the water or roll them onto the dough afterwards as preferred.

Roll the dough onto 2 parchment lined baking sheets until approx 3-4mm thick. Slice or cut the dough into squares or shapes.

Bake at 180C for approx 15 minutes or until golden and ‘hollow’ sounding when tapped.

*I used a pastry brush to add a layer of soy yoghurt as a glaze, but this is optional or you could use non dairy milk or a light oil in a similar way.

Note: I also tried this with peanut butter instead of coconut oil and it wasn’t as light and flaky.

spelt crackers 4a.jpg
spelt crackers 3a.jpg
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Sweet potato, orange and peanut rostis

Hot salads huh!  yep, here's another one...well maybe not so much a hot salad as hot rosti topping. Delicious!!

I was inspired by Abel and Cole with this recipe, the original recipe can be found here, I tweaked it to make it gluten free and also oven baked the rostis instead of shallow frying them. They were the perfect texture with a lovely golden coat, so I really can't see how frying could have given a better burger!

This is the second time I have made these burgers and the first time round I also added an extra handful of crushed roasted peanuts as I happened to have some to hand that I'd just roasted, however I didn't have any ready roasted this time around...feel free to through a few in if you fancy!

My salad consisted of a bed of mixed leaves, rocket and cucumber, along with some clementine segments to emphasise the citrussy flavours. I drizzled a little sweet chilli sauce over the top (I admit that part is a little naughty...oops!)

This makes a great light lunch and even a pretty substantial main meal.

For more 'burger' recipes... check these out.

Recipe: Sweet potato orange and peanut rostis

Makes approx 8 rostis

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves- crushed
  • ½ tsp ground ginger (or 1 tsp fresh grated)
  • ½ tsp chili flakes (more or less to taste)
  • 2 tsp freshly grated orange
  • A handful of fresh coriander or basil, finely chopped
  • ½ cup chickpea (gram) flour (or other GF flour)
  • 1 tbs chia seeds or flax meal (optional for good measure for binding!)

Method:

Peel and halve the potatoes. Plunge into lightly salted boiling water for 5 mins. Drain and cool.

Meanwhile mix the peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, chili, ginger and zest in a large bowl.

Coarsely grate the cooled sweet potato or squash into the mix. Add the fresh herbs, chia seeds or flax (if using) and chickpea flour and fold through until well mixed. Season to taste. The mixture should be sticky but firm enough to handle. Note: add more flour if too sticky or a little water or orange juice is too dry.

Spoon small handfuls of the mix to form patties on a flour dusted parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly glaze with a little oil if desired.

Bake at 180C for approx 25 minutes until golden. Flip over after 15 minutes.

These keep well in the fridge for a few days, I imagine they would also freeze well although I haven’t tried this.

For tips and info on recipe measurement conversions, ingredients, substitutions and the methods behind how I do things.... check out my 'baking tips' tab at the top of the page.

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