Posts tagged picnic
Chocolate Crispy Cake 'Bliss Bars'

So here's a super simple recipe that I first made a month or two ago and I think I have now made at least 4 times since! It's a great one to make with or for kids too.

They are soooooo moreish it's unreal.... a soft and chewy 'bliss ball' texture with loads of crispy flakes mixed through.

The added bonus with the high proportion of flakes mixed in is that it helps lighten up an otherwise dense snack... that's the only problem with bliss balls/energy balls- they are very dense for their size and if like me you have a tendency to 'eat with your eyes' - it's very easy to overdo it!

crispy cake raw bars 1a.jpg

Guilty admission- as I sit here writing this post, I have a box of these bites beside to take on a road trip with a friend this afternoon, BUT I have already munched through the about four of them! Oooops.... ;-)

This most recent batch I made had protein powder added instead of the coconut flakes. This really helps bump up the protein count, if that's your thing for for it. One tip- I found they flavour was so much better the following day- on day 1 I could slightly taste the protein powder but by the second day onwards it had pretty much disappeared as the flavours had time to meld.

You can use any type of crispy flaked cereal you like, but for extra nutritional value I used these amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat cornflakes by RealFoodSource (amaranth is shown in the photos here) 

You can press the mix into a square pan and cut into squares/bars or roll into balls, both work great. They freeze well too, and can even be munch o straight from the feeezer (mind your teeth- you may prefer to defrost a little!)

Add any 'mix-ins' you fancy, some other dried fruits, nutty chunks or an extract such as peppermint, orange or almond always go down well. If using an extract- about 1/2 tsp should do mixed in at the start, with other ingredients pulse through at theed for a chunky texture.

crispy cake raw bars 3a.jpg

Recipe: Chocolate Crispy Cake 'Bliss Bars'

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups chopped dates

  • 1/2 cup cocoa (or raw cacao)

  • 1/4 cup ground flax (optional but I like the hidden nutritional boost)

  • 1/2 cup ground almonds (or any ground nut)*

  • a pinch of salt

  • 1 cup flakes cereal

handful chocolate chips or cacoa nibs- optional for extra crunch and chocolateyness

* for the protein version I swapped the ground nuts for defatted almond protein powder- you favorite neutral protein blend would also work here.

Method:

Place the dates, cocoa, flax, nuts and salt in a food processor. process until you have a soft-ish, sticky and clumpy mix- you will likely need to add 2-3 tbs water to create the right consistency.

Add the cereal flakes and choc chips (if using) and pulse through to mix in evenly.

Press firmly into a tin or roll into balls, Chill for an hour until firm.

Will keep for a week or two in the fridge or you can freeze them.

crispy cake raw bars 2a.jpg
crispy cake raw bars 4a.jpg

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My favourite 'meat'ball and chunky tomato sauce recipe! (plus the Raw Retreat experience. no. 2)
Recipe: vegan Meat Balls

Last weekend saw the second Raw Retreat Experience take place... and it was just as epic as the first!  

The moment I walked through the front door of the hall, I breathed a sigh of relief and all my worries fell away. The weekend was ours. The energy of the simple unassuming village hall in the quirt Derbyshire countryside is incredible! Half of the participants had also been to the first retreat, and as they came through the door I heard a couple of them say "it feels like coming home". It did indeed.

As it says in the details, the Raw Retreat weekend is stripped back experience to remove luxury and create an environment for deeper connection with your inner spirit. As we arrived we each set up our beds and got cosy for the evening. There is a wonderful childlike sense of having a 'camp out' throughout the retreat, even when people have a little snooze during the day, or take time to zone out and meditate, there is a special energy about it all taking place in the same environment where someone maybe reading, eating or crafting just a few meters away. 

The focus throughout is on connecting with our senses... through food, movement, nature, crafting, conversation, space and stillness to go within.

Some of the tribe shared with wonderful words about the experience and it makes me heart smile, I can't wait to create more retreats for more deep connection...

"It felt like coming home, space to BE!"

I have learned loads about myself, I met wonderful people that feel the same as me inside. This is the closest I get outside 'recovery' in connection with feelings, emotions and understanding".

"Lovely vegan food, lots of walking, lots of talking and brilliant company."

My friend Dionne at Manabika yoga led us through energising morning yoga practices and a yoga nidra bedtime session on the first evening.  Then there was the food.... wonderful food (if I do say so myself, ha!) Thought the focus was not on raw food (just healthy vegan food) Dionne also created a masterpiece of a raw cake... recipe to come soon.  One of my favourite recipes are my 'meatless meatballs'.... I can't believe I haven't shared them on my blog before (I even had to double check!) as they've been a favourite at both Lanzarote retreats and both Raw Retreats!

They are so versatile, can be rolled into balls or pressed into larger burger style patties, they can be made with beans or mushrooms or a combination. They also freeze well- so I always make a big batch!  Seriously- what's not to love?

The recipe for the 'no-meat' balls and my chunky tomato sauce is below, but first I want to share with you the energy of the retreat in photos. I plan to run 3 or 4 of these retreats a year so keep your eyes on the main info page for the latest dates!

The wonderful raw cake... mmmmmm!

The wonderful raw cake... mmmmmm!

Here we all are in our PJ's and onesies... having just woken up, drinking mugs of hot lemon and ginger water before morning yoga! ha ha

Here we all are in our PJ's and onesies... having just woken up, drinking mugs of hot lemon and ginger water before morning yoga! ha ha


Recipe: 'Meat' balls

Makes approx. 30 balls (they freeze well but you can halve the quantities if preferred)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked beans* (mix of red and black or just one type)

  • 1 cups sunflower seeds (approx 350g) soaked and drained

  • 1 cup oats

  • ¼ cup flax seed

  • 2 small red onions

  • ¾ cup sun dried tomatoes

  • 2 tsp cumin

  • 1 heaped tsp mixed herbs

  • 1 lemon- juice

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • Approx. ¼ cup soy sauce

* Note: I used beans as one of the participants on the retreat had a mushroom allergy, but I have also used mushrooms instead of beans (arguably even more authentic!) pulsed in a the food processor to get a 'mince' style texture. Pat with kitchen towel to take as much of the moisture out to prevent wet balls.

Method:

Pulse beans in a processor until you have a loosely blended mixture. Set aside.

Pulse remaining ingredients together until you have a smooth but still chunky mixture. In a large bowl add the mushrooms and mix through well.

Roll the mixture into meat ball size balls and place in a lined baking sheet. Bake at 180C for 25 - 30 minutes until crispy and golden. (also great eaten cold)

Serving options: spaghetti (or courgetti) and tomato sauce, pasta, quinoa, topping for a salad or in a wrap. Also make great burgers.

Recipe: vegan Meat Balls

Recipe: Chunky Tomato sauce

Makes approx. 3 cups worth

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp oil

  • 1 small onion sliced

  • 2 garlic cloves crushed

  • 1 tsp Italian herbs (fresh basil optional)

  • 2 tbs cup tomato puree

  • 1 can chopped tomatoes

  • 1 carrot finely grated

  • approx. 4 dried apricots - chopped

  • 250ml vegetable stock

Method:

Heat oil, onion, garlic and spices for a few minutes, then add the puree and cook for another couple of minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes.

Recipe: vegan Meat Balls

There photos above are of the 'bean' version as served on the retreat, below are a couple of photos I had taken previously when I made the 'mushroom' version as balls and burgers at home. The result is darker (and more meaty looking?) I love both options. Just be aware that the mushroom version can become a little too wet if the mushroom mix has a lot of moisture once chopped up and isn't pressed/patted dry.

Let me know if you make them and how you serve them... I'd love to hear!  Tag me @johodson on Instagram ;-)

Recipe: vegan burgers
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High protein pizza base... in minutes!

I never really worry much about getting protein on a vegan diet as my focus on real whole foods of maximum variety typically does that by default, but it is nice to know that it's easy to put together a high-protein meal when needed- particularly something like this pizza when the base itself gives a great protein boost and you can top it up with anything you like knowing that I've got a well balanced meal in the bag!

vegan High Protein Pizza Base

In addition it's always nice to have an answer to the question 'where do you get your protein?' and also offer a simple option for those who are looking for high-protein veggie-based meals.

oh and did I say... Pizza?

Yay, pizza :-)

The pizza base contains just three ingredients- quinoa, almonds and flax (plus any herbs if you wish to add them). Each ingredient is in itself a great source of protein, amongst other nutrients, Plus it couldn't be easier to make in minutes. Such a winner!

You can top the base with anything you like, I'm not a fan of fake vegan cheeses so I used home-made hummus mixed with tomato purée and then just any veggies I had to hand. This base also freezes beautifully as I have now done on multiple occasions since I first created the recipe. It makes for an amazingly speedy last minute dinner!

vegan High Protein Pizza Base

Recipe: High protein pizza base

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa

  • ½ cup ground almonds

  • 2 tbs flax

  • 1-2 tsp mixed herbs (optional)

  • ½ tsp salt

Pizza topping:

  • 1 tbs tomato puree

  • 2 tbs hummus

  • 1 cup worth finely chopped veggies of choice- tomato, onion, bell pepper, courgette and sweeetcorn work well.

Method:

Process all ingredients together until you have a well blended slightly sticky dough. It should still be easy enough to handle and roll. I found it didn’t stick to my rolling pin at all but if this is a problem for you that’s the running pin with a little dry ‘flour’ of some kind- such as fine almond flour or protein powder. Attentively press out into pizza bases with your hands.

Once you have rolled the dough to approximately 3-4mm thick, bake at 180C for 10-15 minutes until sealed then flip over and bake for a further 10 minutes until just beginning to turn golden.

You can remove from the oven and allowed to cool and then freeze at this point or simply add all your pizza toppings and bake for 10 minutes until cooked and golden.

vegan High Protein Pizza Base
vegan High Protein Pizza Base

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Bliss Balls of Delight!

I made these a few moments ago and they are so amazingly delicious that I had to share since they would make the perfect last minutes Valentines treat... or a perfect way to show some love any day if the year!

every balls bliss balls turkish delight

Best bit... they only take 10 mins from start to finish. Winner!

These are like chocolate bliss balls crossed with Turkish Delight. Rich yet light and delicate. The beetroot dusted coating gives the perfect finish and a hint of subtly sweet and earthy flavour.  

To be honest of you dont have the beet powder, you can omit it- they just wont look so passionate! ;-)

Make a big batch as they'll keep well in the fridge/freezer for a few weeks. Perfect gifted in cellophane bags with a ribbon round the top too!

every balls bliss balls turkish delight

Recipe: Bliss Balls of Delight!

Makes approx 12-16

Ingredients:

  • 2 packed cups dates
  • 1 cup finely ground nuts (I used a mix of almonds, macadamia and flaked coconut)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa or raw cacao
  • 2 tsp rosewater (or more/less to taste)
  • 2 tbs beetroot powder
  • approx. 3 tbs water
  • To decorate: 2 tbs desiccated coconut and 1 tbs beetroot powder

Method:

Add the nuts to a processor and blitz until finely ground. Add all remaining ingredients except the water and continue to process until beginning to get sticky, and the water and process for a few more seconds until the mixture is very sticky and clumpy.  

Using your hands roll into balls and dust in the beet covered dessicated coconut. Allow to chill in the fridge to fully firm up. 

every balls bliss balls turkish delight
every balls bliss balls turkish delight
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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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Nutty keto crackers... pack in the protein!

When it comes to following a vegan ketogenic diet, I have found one of the easier way to keep on top of things without having to specifically track every macro to the last detail is to focus on packing in the veggies in my main meals and make up most of my protein needs through snacks in between. The hemp porridge is a great boost in this respect but handfuls of nuts and seeds (and spoonfuls of nut butter!!) also factor in pretty heavily.

These crackers are virtually the same as eating a handful of nuts and seeds but a lot more interesting with the flavours and texture. I would serve these up alongside a big salad, or just nibble on their own with a slather of PB or almond butter. The pictures show hummus which isn't really so keto friendly :-)

I use a dehydrator for maximum nutrition (no heat destroying nutrients) but you could use an oven on the lowest hear setting- just keep an eye on the timings as I haven't tried it that way.I always soak the nuts when I make crackers, this makes the nutrients much more bio-available to the body as in the nature nuts have enzyme inhibitors which make them harder to digest- soaking them breaks this down. You don't need to soak the hemp seeds. 

I haven't added any extra spices to the recipe below as you can leave plain or add your own... I love chipotle pepper sauce, or soy sauce instead of salt. Italian herbs would work well too.

These crackers freeze well so I tend to make a double (or triple) batch, and sometimes divide the mixture before mixing in different spices.

Recipe: Nutty keto crackers

Makes approx. 15-20 crackers

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup each 3 types soaked nuts/seeds (I used shelled hemp, almonds* and sunflower seeds)
  • 1 small tomato (or 2-3 cherry tomatoes)
  • ½ an onion
  • 2 tbs flax seed
  • scant 1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Method:

Process all ingredients together until you have a sticky, lightly chunky mix.

Spread the mixture on to a lined dehydrator tray and smooth to approx 3mm thick as evenly as possible.

Dehydrate for 2 hours at 50C then 6 hours at 40C. Flip the sheet carefully and finish with 1 hour at 40C. Or try oven baking on the lowest temperature for approx 1 hour (maybe more?) To keep the temperature low you could leave the door open a crack.

Slice to serve. The crackers may be a little crumbly depending on how finely you've ground the nuts.

* walnuts are also especially good too.... but for this recipe version I was looking for the highest protein and lowest carb option so opted for almonds. Sunflower seeds could be swapped for pumpkin or another lower carb option, but I happened to have sunflower to hand at time time!

These were some similar crackers using almond, sunflower, sesame and chia.

These were some similar crackers using almond, sunflower, sesame and chia.

Why not sign up for my newsletter in my sidebar where I feature roundups and special offers plus my 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 hanging out in these places:

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