Posts tagged spice
Spicy Carrot Pickle

I want to start by saying I love this stuff!!

I've been eating it dolloped on top of soups..... mixed through a sty fry..... to jazz up a plain tomato sauce.... as a cracker topping with hummus....  the list really could go on and on!!

Before I go any further I give full credit for this recipe inspiration to Paul's Pickles as I originally bought a jar of his version from a craft market some weeks back and then when i ran out I went through the ingredients list and recreated my own, it tastes almost identical and so now i'm curious to go along the shelves of the supermarket checking out ingredients lists and making more of my own intriguing flavours :-)

Here is the original... if you are ever in the area and see Paul's stall he has loads of yummy things to offer- apparently this pickle in his best seller!

carrot pickle 5a.jpg

The pickle is packed full of strong flavours and Indian spices, it's powerful stuff eaten straight off the spoon, and tastes best mixed with another 'milder' flavour, veggies and sauces.  It also tastes better over time (three days onwards) so don't worry if the vinegar flavours stands out a little when freshly made as this mellows right back. I have used cider vinegar but you could use an alternative vinegar.

It's so so easy to make, once you've got the various ingredients to hand,  and would make the perfect gift by making a few jars in a batch... I originally made a coupe of jars but then made four more jars at the weekend. I am not too sure how long this stores for but since it's a pickle I would imagine a good few weeks minimum in the fridge. 

Let me know what you think of you do make it, and what your favourite way to serve it is!

A couple of my own serving suggestions are below.

carrot pickle 2a.jpg

Recipe: Spicy carrot pickle

Makes approx. two jars


  • 4 medium grated carrots (use a coarse grater or mandolin slice or both)
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar (or mild light coloured vinegar of choice)
  • 2 tbs oil (I used olive)


  • ¼ cup fresh coriander- chopped
  • 1 tbs crushed chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked garlic
  • 2 tbs turmeric
  • 1 tbs galangal paste (or grated ginger)
  • 1 tbs garam masala
  • 1 scant tsp salt
  • 1 tbs mustard seeds
  • 1 tbs fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tbs cumin seeds


Mix the top three ingredients together and then add the spices- you could add them directly to the carrot mix or mix them together first and then add- it doesn't matter as long as the resulting pickle is well mixed.

Pack into a jar or two, store in the fridge or a cool place.

Simple mixed through plain quinoa and endamame

Simple mixed through plain quinoa and endamame

Dolloped on top of soup....(recipe for soup to come!)

Dolloped on top of soup....(recipe for soup to come!)

More quinoa.....

More quinoa.....

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Spicy red pepper risotto

A few weeks ago a friend informed me that she had a vegetarian and wheat free guest coming for dinner….’what should she cook?’

Looking back through my recipes I realised that I had a shortage of substantial main meals since many of my recipes are healthy sweet treats or those that are savouries are snacks, sides or lighter bites.

However my winning recipe and the one I recommended to my friend is my sweet potato chickpea curry

….one of the first meals I ever made when transitioning to the vegan lifestyle, and still one of my favourite go-to recipes even now. Even the meat-eaters love this dish. 

Mmmmm...sweet potato curry!

I have also had a similar discussion in recent days with my dad who has been struggling to break out of a vegan food rut and bring some simple but interesting protein rich meals back into his diet. Getting a healthy balanced vegan diet does require a little effort to make sure you hit the nutritional quota…but luckily I love the challenge and so was all the more up for getting a variety of substantial main meals on the table.

So, in order to address this balance I will hopefully be adding a few more ‘main meals’ to the recipe collection in coming days and weeks. Meals that are both vegan and gluten free but most importantly should satisfy even the hardcore meat-eaters in your life! There will still be plenty of sweets as well!

Here is a little recap of some of my other ‘main meal’ dishes so far, you can find them all under my newly organised recipe collection- see this link.

For today I wanted to get the ball rolling with a simple one-pot dish, perfect for both the summer or winter months.

Serve a smaller portion with a large side salad in summer, or a larger heartier portion to warm you through during the winter months. This spicy red pepper risotto had a kick to it, so feel free to go easy on the spices if you prefer!

In addition I used red palm oil to create a rich deep yellow, but this is in no way essential.

Recipe: Spicy red pepper risotto

Serves 3-4


  • 1tbs red palm oil (for orange colour) or use coconut oil or olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • (crushed)
  • 1 red or white onion-finely chopped
  • 2 red peppers- cut into slices
  • A pinch of salt
  • ¼ tsp parika
  • ¼ tsp turmeric (optional- if you want a yellow colour without the red palm oil)
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes (add more or less to taste)
  • 1 1/3 cup risotto rice
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine (or more stock)
  • 1 can red kidney beans


In a deep saucepan, fry onions, peppers, garlic, and spices in oil for about 5 mins.

Add the rice and mix through for 1 minute.

Add the wine and vegetable stock a little at a time over the space of 5 minutes and then simmer for a further 15 mins stirring occasionally so rice does not stick.

Add the beans about 5 minutes before the end. It is ready when most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice has a slight bite.

Freeze left over portions in individual bags.

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Roasted chickpea 'croutons'

I had come across numerous recipes for roasted chickpeas but I’d never had a go myself until now.  The principle is so simple…..get your cooked chickpeas (I cook mine from dried in big batches and then freeze them until needed), add seasoning, roast until crisp and golden.

The perfect alternative to popcorn for a night in with a DVD, a handy snack alternative to roasted nuts or even sprinkled over a salad for a crispy bite offering a GF alternative to crispy bread croutons.   You can vary the seasonings as you wish. I went for an Indian theme for my first batch and then through in a few Italian spices and a little tomato paste for a lovely crunchy salad topper. I would really recommend the salad topper as a really quirky alternative to croutons as the texture is great!

The chickpeas will keep for a few days if stored in an airtight container so you’ll have plenty of snack options to hand. I haven’t yet tried freezing these but I imagine that would also work well.

The spice combinations below are just examples of what I went for so feel free to through in whatever you choose!

Recipe: Roasted chickpea Croutons

Makes one bowl

Ingredients Indian:

  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbs ground flax or chia seeds
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbs red palm oil or olive oil
  • 1 tsp agave nectar (optional)
  • 200g cooked drained chickpeas

Ingredients Italian:

  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp mixed Italian herbs
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbs ground flax or chia seeds
  • 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbs red palm oil or olive oil
  • 1 tbs tomato puree
  • 200g cooked drained chickpeas


Preheat oven to 200C. In a medium bowl all the ingredients and mix well adding the chickpeas last.

Place the seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on a greased or parchment lined baking shee. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring once during cooking, until chickpeas are slightly crispy.

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‘Twelve Days’ day 7: Mincemeat- simple and sugar-free!

When I pulled open my blind this morning I realised we’d had our first snow! Ok, so it wasn’t really much to write home about and wasn’t particularly photo worthy either…but it was still snow! Wohoo!

It now feels much more like winter, a little boost to the Christmassy spirit!

So far this year it’s been very mild outside, I’ve barely had to scrape my car at all in the mornings before heading off to work but in the last week or so there has definitely been a winter chill in the air and snowfall was only a matter of time.

Time, to cosy up indoors with snuggly slippers a dressing gown and maybe a glass of mulled wine?   No… I’m saving that for Christmas! A mug of herbal tea with have to do.

It’s time like this I really wish I had a crackling fire to sit next to as I write…no such luck, although the glow of the tree lights is nice.  Actually an open fire would probably be a bad thing…I’d fall asleep in no time!

In all the talk of warmth and spices, Christmas is not complete without mincemeat….. Oh no, I can see some of you pulling a face…stop and re-consider.  I’ve never really liked mincemeat, it always seemed full of too many currants, mixed peel  and things like that and for someone who previously disliked dried fruit it just wasn’t my thing. 

I’d never even considered making my own and certainly not realised how simple it really can be! Now I'm brimming with ideas using this basic concept...for example a 'summer fruits' or 'tropical' version for summer time- who says mincemeat is for Christmas only?

It's simple…pick the dried fruits you like (ok so ideally there should be some sort raisin/sultana combo going on but you can add other things too) blitz together and you’re done. No cooking, no sugar, not fat and no mess. This will easily store in a jar for a few weeks and freezes well too….so make it now to see you through the holidays.

As noted above this recipe is fat free and sugar free….it’s just pure and simple and needs nothing more. The dates along with the other fruits give it all the sweetness it needs.

I have a couple of mincemeat recipes coming up.  I had planned on including the first recipe as part of this post, however the daylight faded before I’d finished in the kitchen so the photoshoot will have to take place tomorrow with recipe to follow.

Recipe: Mincemeat

Makes approx. 2 ½ cup


  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (I used the sweetened variety since I could not find unsweetened at the time)
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • ½ cup coarsely ground dates
  • ½ cup whole blanched almonds
  • 2 small to medium apples
  • grated rind of one orange
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • 1 tbs arrowroot/tapioca flour (or any fine flour) optional
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp mixed spice or nutmeg
  • 1 tsp rum extract (optional- I did not include this as it tasted great without)


Peel and core the apples and chop into quarters. Chop the dates in a food processor to get a course meal. Add all the ingredients and process until you have a sticky chunky mixture. I added a tbs of arrowroot to absorb a little of the liquid and help bind the mix together but this is not a necessity. 

When I tasted the mixture I felt it really didn’t need the rum extract but feel free to add some at the end before a final whizz if you fancy. You could also include actual rum or brandy but again I didn’t feel it needed it and it would also have changed the consistency of the mixture.

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‘Twelve Days’ day 6: Mini Christmas puds

So, a couple of days ago I told you there was another marzipan inspired treat coming up….no more waiting…. it’s here!

So cute it seems cruel to eat them!

These are a combination of my chocolate orange smoosh bars and the marzipan to create a mini Christmas pudding with custard top. I added some ’holly ’using a little bit of green colouring to the marzipan and a topped with a clove for completeness.  Because cloves are so powerfully fragrant, they added a slight spiced taste to the whole pud. I really liked this as It made it all the more Christmassy flavoured, but if you are not  keen on the taste of cloves I suggest you omit or just use for decoration right before serving so they aren’t in place for so long.

These will store well for a couple of weeks, perfect to make in advance for guests throughout the holiday season. They are also gluten free, raw, super simple, super healthy and just…well…super all round! If you used the marzipan recipe I gave for the stollen you should have enough left over to easily make about 20 custard tops (maybe more). To make 20 puds you will need to double the recipe below.

See my original posts highlighted above or simply refer below where I have included the recipes again for efficiency.

Recipe: Mini Christmas puds

Ingredients - Pudding:

(makes approx. 10 puddings)

  • 100g dates
  • 60g cashews
  • 45g raisins
  • 20g coconut flour
  • 10g ground oats
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • Grated rind of 1 orange or ½ tsp orange extract

Ingredients - Marzipan:

(you will need only 1/3 of this amount for the topping- use or freeze the remainder)

  • 100g finely ground almonds
  • 100g white coloured ‘healthy flour’ e.g spelt or other GF flour
  • 100g coconut butter
  • 50g agave (tiny pinch stevia)
  • 1 tsp almond extract (more if needed to taste)


The method is so simple! Blitz together each batch of ingredients in a food processor until a fine sticky powdery crumb is formed. Create the balls by pressing together with your hands. Make sure there is no contamination between the batches (or from your hands) otherwise the marzipan will be discoloured.

Make the custard tops by taking smaller balls then flattening them out over the top of the pudding balls smoothing the edges down and to give the effect of poured custard or cream.

Mix a little bit of green food colouring to part of the dough, mix through well then pull off small pieces to pinch into shape as holly leaves. Press the leaves onto the top of the ‘custard’ and add a clove for decoration.

Leave to chill in the fridge for a little while to fully firm up but then these can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

Note: you will probably find the marzipan dough feels oily as you mould it, this is just the oils from the coconut in the warmth of your hands. Once cool the marzipan will not be oily.

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.

These make great little gifts... which reminds me I had planned on linking to a few of my favourites Pinterest pins that i'd come across for the holiday season. There is still plenty of time to get crafty.... I know i'll be using a few of these myself!

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