Posts tagged vegan
Ten minute pizza (gluten free)

On weekday evenings, when I go straight to a gym class after work, I often get in quite late.  On these days a super speedy dinner is in order.

I have to admit, I often resort to a big bowl of oats with their endless variations of toppings. Other times I might opt for a defrosted portion of one of my soups, (this one is my current favourite), or a bowl of cous-cous and veg.

Earlier this week I made pizza…the fasted pizza I’ve ever made! 10 minutes from first having the idea the pizza was on my plate ready to eat (ok, I had to allow for a 5 minutes photo shoot first!)

The pizza base is also gluten free as it is made using my flatbread dough, I simple made a larger flatbread to act as a pizza base. The original recipe made 4 small flatbreads but I doubled them up to make 2 larger pizza bases (in actual fact I halved the recipe to make a single serving).

I obviously haven’t used ‘cheese’ here, as I really don’t think it needs it. The tomato-hummous base is full of flavoursome. You could add some cheese/vegan cheese if you fancied when you pile the veg on top of the bases.

Recipe: Ten minute pizza (gluten free)

Serves 2 

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch of flatbread dough (formed into two large rounds)
  • 2 tbs tomato puree
  • 2 tbs hummous
  • Mix of vegetables for roasting (chopped small)- I used peppers, tomatoes, courgette, onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil plus ½ tsp seasonings of choice
  • Handful of sweetcorn and/or canned beans (defrost sweetcorn if frozen)

Method: 

Prepare the pizza base dough according to the flatbread recipe form into two larger pizza sized rounds.

Place the pizza bases on a lightly floured baking sheet under a pre-heated grill.  Grill for 3-4 mins each side until lightly golden.

Prepare the vegetable for roasting and coat in the oil and seasoning mix. Spread it n a baking sheet and place in the oven for 5- 10minutes (depending on size of pieces) and roast until just cooked.

Briefly remove the pizza bases from the grill and spread with 1 tbs each of the tomato puree and hummous. Top with the roasted veg and add the sweetcorn/beans. Place back under the grill for 2-3 minutes to finish cooking.

Serve with a salad if you like.

Did that take 10 mins?....ok well maybe 15 tops!


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Valentine's Coconut Ice

Valentines is such a commercial holiday…but then again, any cause for celebration is good enough for me!

I’m not really the type to celebrate Valentines in a big way, I much prefer showing a little love at any other time of the year and not when I’m ‘told’ I should. But since I have no Valentine of my own it’s a little bit pointless debating my options (or maybe I’m just a tad jealous)!

A thoughtful gesture always means so much more than anything money can buy. A little homemade gift is sure to raise a smile... and a tasty yummy treat all the more!

I have a few simple Valentine’s ideas to post over the next few days.  These would be perfect any time of year….another little way to remind someone how much they mean to you.

No Valentine? Then treat yourself, you best friend or your mum. Plus since these treats are super healthy you will all be smiling all day long.

First up, pretty pink coconut ice. 

You can use any dried red berries here- I used cranberries but cherries would be fabulous! The result is a lovely speckled pink cube of delight with a light crumbly coconutty texture and hints of delicate sweet berries. You could use any shaped moulds you fancy, just make sure to firmly press in the mixture whilst still soft and warm.

Recipe: Valentine's Coconut Ice

Makes approx. 12 cubes (1 ice cube tray)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut butter (make your own)
  • 2tbs cashew or almond butter
  • ½ cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 2 tbs agave nectar plus tiny pinch stevia
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Melt the coconut butter then combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a thick smooth paste is formed.  There should be ‘flecks’ of the red berries in the mixture as opposed to a solid colour. Whilst still warm, spoon the soft mixture into an ice cube tray or other candy moulds and press down firmly into each mould.

Freeze briefly to set and then store in the fridge.


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Homemade Granola- Two Ways (Banana & Nutty)

Last weekend I really fancied a bowl of granola!

I’d seen some posh tasty looking ‘healthy granola’ in the health food section of the super market, it was chocolate orange flavour and I wanted it there and then! I was so excited (is that odd?) to get home and try this new snack with a dollop of soy yoghurt as an afternoon treat… but I have to admit I was left a little disappointed. It just didn’t do it for me. I’m not sure if it was the flavour combo, the texture or the fact that maybe it wasn’t as amazing as the packaging would have me believe...plus it was very expensive!

Undeterred, I vowed to make my own. I’m surprised I haven’t done so before now. It is really so simple to make, stores for weeks in the cupboard (as if it would last that long!) and is the perfect snack to nibble on at any time of the day when a bowl of porridge just doesn’t quite have the same appeal. I just love oats in all forms!

My granola is now all but gone and today I made a second batch based on the ‘fruity nutty’ version- my favourite of the two if it had to choose, plus I trialled a healthy chocolate version of my own which will be posted soon no doubt once I've had a chanve to refine it a little more. I’m sure I’ll also be playing around with other flavour combos in coming weeks… I will keep you posted.

For now, here you have two recipes for starters. I ate the first as breakfast and the second as dessert…

Breakfast…a generous handful of the nutty fruity granola topped a bowl of grated apple mixed into soy yoghurt sprinkled with cinnamon.

Dessert…the coconut banana granola had a more tropical trip and was mixed through a bowl of soy yoghurt and mango chunks. Fresh mango would be ideal but I only had frozen chunks at the time which I allowed to defrost before mixing through.

I’d be interested to hear about your own granola experiments as I know so many people already make their own.

Banana coconut granola - Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup oats
  • ½ cup chopped almonds
  • 2 tbs each chia seeds/pumpkin seeds/sunflower seeds
  • 4 tbs dessicated coconut
  • 1 banana- pureed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbs cocout butter- melted
  • 2tbs maple syrup or brown rice syrup
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch salt

Nutty fruity granola - ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup oats
  • 2 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 cup mix of nuts (I used cashew, walnut and hazelnut)
  • 2tbs each of sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • 2tbs ground flax
  • 3 tbs apple puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs coconut oil- melted
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tbs rapadura/palm sugar
  • 1 cup dried fruit- optional (I used dates and cranberries) Note: mix into granola once cooled.
  • Makes approx. 3 medium bowls each (or two baking sheets)

Method for both: 

Melt coconut butter/oil into other liquid ingredients. Add all dry ingredients and mix through. Spoon onto two lightly greased baking sheets making sure to achieve a thin even layer with some clumpy bits.

Bake at 170C for 10-15 minutes until slightly golden.

Allow to cool fully before storing. Stores in an airtight container in a cupboard for a few weeks.


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Sweet Scones with Walnut & Cranberry

I like a challenge, the chance to do something a little different, the chance to explore a common theme with a little of my own imagination thrown in. I also enjoy seeing how others respond to an idea…

…for example if you were asked to make scones (aka American biscuits) what would you come up with?

Sweet, savoury, a circle of wedges, round scones cut with a cutter, fruity scones, chocolate scones, scones served with jam and cream for afternoon tea, scones served as a side with a casserole or broth…the list goes on!

I have recently joined the Daring Bakers and this was my first monthly challenge….scones! The challenges are set on the 1st of every month with a publishing date of the 27th of every month. It’s been very interesting to check out the results of the other bakers and to see just how different the outcomes can be.

For me the basic scone recipe presents simply the principle, one which I can then tweak to create a healthy vegan adaptation.  I opted for sweet scones as would be traditionally served with jam and cream (or in my case sugar free jam and a dollop of soy yoghurt). This is the type of scone with which I am most familiar; I remember days gone by cuddling up on the sofa with a warm wedge of light and fluffy baked scone slathered in jam and squirty cream!

I haven’t had too much experience with baking healthy vegan scones (or any scones for that matter), other than the first batch I ever made- my Halloween pumpkin scones which were a resounding success! This gave me a little confidence boost and I was keen to get cracking!

Traditional scones, whether sweet or savoury, consist primarily of plain flour, butter and milk. I adapted the basic recipe to incorporate spelt flour, almond milk and coconut oil and I’m pleased with the overall result…a good base for many flavour combinations.  I had three attempts at this challenge, tweaking as I went and reducing the liquid slightly and adding a little baking soda along with the baking powder, and adding a little dried fruit.  The original Daring Bakers January recipe challenge can be found here.

So, question time...Do you call them ‘biscuits’ or ‘scones’? Do you prefer sweet or savoury? What’s your favourite flavour combination?

Recipe: Scones with walnut and cranberry

Makes approx. 6 wedges or circles (I made one batch of each)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mix of white and wholemeal spelt flours
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • 2 tables coconut oil (not melted)
  • Slightly over 1/3 cup almond milk (or other non-dairy milk of choice) plus extra for glaze
  • 2 tsp agave syrup
  • ¼ cup mix of chopped cranberries and dates (optional)

Method

Mix/sift dry ingredients well to maximise air in the mixture. 

Rub through the coconut oil with fingers to achieve a breadcrumb like consistency, then mix through the dried fruit if using. 

Mix agave into the milk and add liquid to the dry ingredients. Use hands to create a soft dough ball that should be slightly sticky but manageable.

On a floured surface, knead dough into a circle approx. 2cm thick and either cut into 6 wedges or circles using a cutter. Brush a little ‘milk’ over the tops to glaze.

Lay close together on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 210C for 8-10 minutes until tops are golden. You may need to rotate halfway through to ensure an even rise.

Daring Bakers... Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Aud worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!


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Carrot & Citrus Bean Soup

For this week’s soup fix I wanted to bring on the lovely sweet and earthy flavours of the winter root veg but also a little citrus kick to perk things up on these cold winter days. Beans are (or should be) everyone’s best friend and are perfect way to get your protein, so a good mixture of beans also feature here for a nice variety. 

This recipe was based on a BBC Good Food recipe which used one can of mixed beans to serve 4, when I make this soup again I will definitely double this two cans to give extra body and oomph to the soup. My photos barely show any beans at all but I can promise you this soup had a lot more bulk than would appear- it sank to the bottom of the bowl!

I made this soup last Saturday as a quick lunch in between batches of baking, freezing the extra portions as I nearly always do. I actually had another portion for my lunch at work today and it was just as good.

My kitchen work top ends up full of ‘experiments’…this is what my typical weekend looks like! Note…this is what it looks like when I’ve already cleared up and wiped down and have tidied away all my ‘baking boxes’ full of goodies that end up being stacked on the floor around me. No creative cooks are tidy cooks…are they??

Here I have a pan of these granola barto keep me going through the week, my trusty smooshbars for a colleague at work, some remaining scones- recipe to come (minus the two I’d eaten) and four leftover pots of this soup for freezing.

I do love being surrounded by warm, freshly cooked food...I want to nibble on it all…it’s a good job it is all so healthy then!

Recipe: Carrot and citrus bean soup  

Ingredients

  • 2tbs olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • Approx. 450g carrots- roughly chopped
  • 1tbs garam masala
  • A thumb sized piece of ginger- grated
  • Juice of 1 orange or ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 200ml coconut milk (full fat or light is fine)
  • 410g can mixed beans- drained and rinsed (note- I would use two cans next time)
  • 2 tbs chopped corriander

Method

Heat oil in a large pan and gently fry the onions and chopped carrotfor around 15 minutes until softening. Add the garam masala and ginger and cook for 1 more minute.

Add the orange juice and vegetable stock, bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Once the carrots are tender, stir in the coconut milk. Using an electric hand blender (or pour into a blender) puree until fairly smooth (or as smooth as you like).

Add the beans to the pureed mixture in the pan, simmer for a few minutes. Add the coriander just before serving.

Note: if making this again I would use 2 cans of beans to make it even more substantial.

Left over portions can be frozen.


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The worlds healthiest fudge

This wasn’t supposed to be a fudge recipe.

This was supposed to be an energy power bar recipe!

It still is an energy bar recipe…..it just so happened to turn into fudge too….crazy things do sometimes happen!

Now, before you get ahead of yourself, these little treats aren’t identical to fudge…so don’t go expecting a regular sugar loaded, melt in your mouth (furry teeth inducing) fudge morsel.  These little treats are full of healthy ingredients, are sugar free and have a really soft but firm, chocolatey,  fudgey bite to them, I find them really moreish and the only word I could use to describe them is…well…fudgey!

Perfect for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up or a post work-out protein boost.  What provides the protein…black beans of course!

I have lots of notes and saved recipes from websites and books for various types of granola bars, energy bars, baked bars, raw bars….. and these bars were inspired by Enlightened Cooking who’s power bar recipe can be found here I was intrigued by the simple concept, having used beans plenty of times in my baking before, but never in a raw form. My recipe followed closely along the same lines with a few tweaks of my own.

The ‘dough’ is so simple to prepare and very easy to handle. It is also very ‘accommodating’, and by that I mean it holds together really well, so I imagine it could take all sort of mix-ins without a problem….chunks of nuts, fruits, chocolate chips. Feel free to experiment with your favourite flavours. I have used both cranberry and coconut here.

Recipe: black bean energy ‘fudge’

Makes approx 10 slices

Ingredients

  • 200gor ½ can black beans- rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium mashed banana
  • ½ cup cocoa powder (or raw cacoa powder for an even healthier boost)
  • 1/3 cup dates
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½  tsp cinnamon
  • ¼  tsp stevia
  • ½ cup ground oats
  • 2 tbs ground flax
  • 2 tbs chia seeds (optional)
  • Optional:
  • Dessicated coconut to coat
  • Cranberries (or other dried fruit)- finely chopped and mixed through

Method

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a smooth dough is formed. Add additional dried fruit here also if using. The dough should be fairly tacky but not sticky and should be easy to handle.

Form a log of dough approx. 5cm in diameter. Roll the log in desiccated coconut if desired.

Using a sharp knife, cut the log into rounds approx. 1-2cm thick. Store in a sealed contained in the fridge for up to a week. (these also freeze well).

Note: to form ‘bars’ divide the dough and roll into individual logs and flatten slightly.

 The fudge log before it was cut into pieces, see how soft and malleable the dough looks...just waiting for all those creative mix-ins!

By now you probably already know I've used beans to pack a protein punch and substitute some of the fats in many of my recipes (i don't stop going on about them)..... check out my blondies, my brownie torte and my sticky toffee pudding .  I have also made a few raw energy bars.... like my absolute favourite choc-orange smoosh bars , my power cubes and my raw gingerbread.


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Sweet Potato Curry

We've been in 'date mode' recently, with my new best friend the Date Syrup making an appearance. Don't worry he's not gone away for long- I have a couple more date inspired recipes for you next week...but for now I have a simple mid week winter warmer.

This dish is one of my go-to dishes and it never fails to please veggies and meaties alike.

I was one of the first meals I cooked for the Boy when I began to experiment with doing things the vegan way. I love it just as much today as I did back then. What’s not to love….it’s colourful, warm, creamy, comforting, lightly spiced and hints at the tropics. Close your eyes and maybe you’ll be taken to a far off land.

Ok, well maybe not that last sentence. But I guarantee this bowl of colourful curry will brighten your day.

It’s also a simple dish with few ingredients, easily adapted to other veggies/beans you may have, is thrown together in one pot and can be frozen for future speedy suppers.

Ok, so have I convinced you yet!  This would also work really well with my super simple flatbread as a healthy alternative to naan!

I also have another reason as to why this particular dish, or namely the photos, are making me happy. I’ve been trying to take decent ‘night shots’ of my meals for a while now, and up until recently I had been making slow progress. My research and investigations pointed me in the direction of two key props: a powerful light with good ‘white’ rendering (I’ve used a portable LED source) and a diffuser layer (I’ve used an old bed sheet over a wooden frame).

This shoot was a simple 5 minute experiment (before my dinner got cold), and I really wasn’t expecting much of an outcome. However, for such a quick first attempt I was really pleased with my efforts….well now to see if Food Gawker shared that same opinion!

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Recipe: Sweet potato curry

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons madras curry paste
  • 1 medium onion- diced
  • 3 medium (fist sized) sweet potatoes- approx. 800g (peeled and chopped into chunks)
  • 1 red pepper- sliced
  • 1 tin of chickpeas (or other white beans)
  • 200g bag of spinach
  • 1 can of coconut milk

Method:

In a large frying pan or wok, fry the onion for few minutes in olive oil till soft. Add curry paste and fry for 1 min. Add the coconut milk, sweet potato, pepper and chickpeas and simmer for approx. 15 minutes until potato is cooked. Add spinach (fold spinach through the mixture in handfuls) simmer for a couple more minutes until spinach is wilted. If not liquidy enough add a little water. Serve immediately with rice or naan bread as desired.

Freeze left over portions in individual bags.

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Date syrup and paste

This is a little quickie recipe…if you can even call it a recipe! My toffee granola bars posted last week and also my sticky toffee pudding called for using date syrup, and since it is so easy to make your own I thought I’d share a post dedicated to it.

Dates also have many nutritional benefits, particularly when compared with many other sweeteners and are also very popular with raw foodists. Without going into great detail here; dates are a rich source of dietary fibre, iron and a number of minerals, and are also very rich in antioxidant flavonoids offering protection to the cells in the body. For me the biggest reason to use them- they are a wholefood form of sweetener.

I use a lot of dates, particular in their raw form in my smoosh bar varieties, so I have bought a large box in bulk making for an economical syrup. I use organic deglet noor dates, but either deglet noor or medjoul dates (which are larger and slightly more juicy) should work fine. Medjoul may even be preferable but since I haven’t yet tried using these dates I cannot confirm this.

You can either make a date paste or a syrup simply depending on how much water you add. Paste like syrups work better at binding things together whereas a looser syrup works best to spoon over or mix through- i.e spooning over the sticky toffee pudding…Mmmmm!

Since dates naturally have a caramelly, toffee like flavour they make the perfect sweetener for a toffee or caramel flavoured dessert, this can be enhanced with other sweeteners such as brown rice syrup when a very sweet caramelly flavour is required in a desert, but on their own they provide a lovely subtle sweetness. I also add a touch of vanilla extract to the syrup to subtly enhance the flavour, but other flavours or spices could be used too.

The date syrup pictured used 1 cup of water.

Recipe: date paste/syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 heaped cup of dates (I used 1 heaped cup to compensate for the fact the dates were whole and not packed in- so you want to visually aim for a fairly packed cup)
  • ½ cup hot water-
  • for a thick paste
  • 1 cup hot water-
  • for a thick syrup ( used this for my granola bars)
  • 1.5 cups hot water
  • - for a smoother easily spoon-able syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract- optional

Method

Place the dates in a small/medium bowl. Pour the required amount of boiling water over the dates and leave to soften for approx. 30 minutes. Once softened pour the contents of the bowl, along with a little vanilla extract, in to a blender (I used my thermomix) and blend until smooth.

Pour the syrup into a jar and store in the fridge if not using straight away.  This keeps for at least two weeks in sealed container.

Note: the more water used the more 'dilute' the dates become and therefore less sweet the syrup. If you are afer a sweet syrup you may like to add a little stevia or brown rice syrup also.


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