There is nothing nicer in my opinion than a nice slice of delicious home made cake with your afternoon tea and this one fits the bill perfectly!
It's another recipe from the awesome Lee Watson of TheBeachHouseKitchen and one of the many delicious cakes we sampled on the Vegan Retreat!
Gluten free cakes tend to be more dense and flatter than cakes made with wheat flour, especially when they are also egg free, but with so many folks sensitive to gluten then this cake is a perfect treat without the associated digestive issues!
This cake is Almond and orange but I'm just not a big fan of almond flavour and I detest marzipan! I used to be horrified by those wee baskets of marzipan fruits when I was a kid, just uugh...
However I do love almonds for their texture, flavour, versatility and health benefits, of which there are many so I'm not averse to using flaked almonds as decoration on my cake! If you love almond flavour then go ahead and add almond extract to the cake as well. Seems to be another love it or hate it flavour!
On the other hand, I love oranges and orangey flavour so I added a whole big orange AND some orange extract. On our recent holiday to Portugal there were orange groves everywhere with the most delicious, sweet and largely seedless oranges falling by the roadside! The photo in this post was one of our morning haul of oranges and wild flowers for the table. Foraging for food just makes me happy, delicious food for free and no pesky plastic packaging to dispose of!
Laura made the most delicious wee sponge cakes on holiday with foraged oranges and local honey and eggs. They were neither gluten free nor vegan but they were moist, delicious and just yummy!
I love using local and seasonal ingredients, its so much fun. We also had loads of fresh rosemary growing in our garden and Lee did suggest that dried rosemary would be an interesting flavour to add to this cake, so if anyone tries it could they let me know. 1 teaspoon was the suggested amount!
A few interesting ingredients in this cake you may not have used before in baking. If you are gluten intolerant or coeliac then you may have used gluten free flour, Doves Farm do a good selection but they are quite expensive, in comparison to.......
Gram flour which is made from chickpeas, one of my favourite foods and packed with all sorts of nutritional goodies! Its also known as Besan.
Its really cheap, I bought a 2kg bag from Asda for £2 and its really versatile.
Apart from being gluten free, its extremely high in protein and fibre. 1/2 cup contains 10g protein and 5g fibre.
It has all the associated health benefits of chickpeas, contains calcium and magnesium in perfect ratio, high in folate, essential for healthy pregnancy, loads of B vitamins, iron and selenium along with a good array of other vitamins & minerals, so its definitely worth using!
Here is another way to use it in a Savoury Pancake
The other unusual ingredient in this cake is Polenta which is made from corn and a lovely yellow colour. Its also gluten free and contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals. I also use it instead of breadcrumbs as a crunchy coating on veggie burgers.
Again most supermarkets sell it, mine is from Lidl. make sure you buy the quickcook polenta, not the readymade one which is sold in a block!
The glaze is optional but gives the cake a lovely sheen and makes the flaked almonds stick so fairly essential in my opinion!
This cake has a fairly dense texture so you can serve it with some soya cream or whipped coconut cream to lighten it up!
So here is the recipe Enjoy......
ORANGE & ALMOND POLENTA CAKE
Ingredients - makes 8 to 10 slices
60 g polenta
130g gram flour
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
large pinch salt
100g light brown sugar
50 ml olive oil (or other mild tasting oil like sunflower)
90 ml non - dairy milk (soya is good)
1 large orange (peeled and blended to a liquid)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon orange extract or 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup or honey
1 tablespoon orange juice plus some zest
......your health in your hands.....
Now it seems a bit out of season to be posting an immune boosting soup when its supposed to be spring but hey its been really cold in Glasgow and poor Laura has swollen glands and a stinker of a cold. Sometimes the change in temperature, returning from sunny holidays to the cold of Glasgow can take a bit of adjusting to!
Laura also has exams all week so she's a bit stressed too, which doesn't help. So I've been making her apple kuzu drinks ( a macrobiotic drink which is very strengthening and soothing), giving her ginger compresses, to speed the healing process and I specially made a big pot of the most healing soup on the planet, and its also rather delicious.
The best kind of medicine!!
This soup is crammed full of all sorts of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and vitamins, it will literally stop any infection in its tracks. It’s absolutely brilliant for relieving the symptoms of colds and flu, will put your immune system into super-drive and send all those “nasties” into oblivion; it also tastes great and is really easy to make.
Both shitake mushrooms and goji berries contain a similar polysaccharide which stimulate the immune system by causing an increase in the production of white blood cells.
Garlic is the mother of all natural antivirals; it is also antibacterial and antifungal.
Ginger is a strong anti-inflammatory and also stimulates circulation which increases the rate at which white blood cells move around the body fighting infection and removing waste products from infected tissues.
Chilli has painkilling properties and can thin out mucous making it easier to remove from the body.
Sweet potatoes contain various anti-inflammatory compounds including beta carotene/flavanoids.
Turmeric is an incredible anti-inflammatory agent due to a group of chemicals called curcuminoids - as good as many powerful drugs, including hydrocortisone, but with none of the nasty side effects.
Coconut milk is full of good fats which are antifungal, antibacterial & antiviral.
So you really can't fail to feel better if you fill yourself up with this most soothing, healing, nutritious soup. Your immune system will thank you!
· 1 red onion, chopped
· 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
· 3 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into small dice
· 1 red or green chilli, finely chopped
· 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
· 1 punnet shitake mushrooms or 2-3 dried shitakes soaked in hot water for 30minutes
· 1 handful of goji berries
· 500ml vegetable stock
· 1 can coconut milk
· 1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
· 1 level teaspoon turmeric
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to season
1. Add the finely chopped onion, ginger and chilli to a pan with a tablespoon of oil and sauté for a few minutes until the onion softens.
2. Slice the shitake mushrooms. If using dried, discard the stalks which are tough and bitter.
3. Add the mushrooms, diced sweet potato, goji berries, garlic, turmeric, coconut milk and stock.
4. Bring to the boil, and then gently simmer for about 20 minutes until the sweet potatoes are soft.
5. Puree with a hand blender, season with sea salt and enjoy!
I'm happy to report that Laura is feeling much better now!
.......your health in your hands.....
Apologies for not posting on my blog for a few weeks. I've been away on holiday to Portugal and was hoping to return with glowing skin, a lovely tan and feeling all relaxed and raring to go!
I had a wonderful time but returned with someone elses skin, which was about 2 sizes too small for me, red, dry, and inflamed! EEk!
I have very sensitive skin and use minimum products. Since we went hand luggage only, I didn't pack any suncream and we just bought a factor 30 from the local shop. I was fine for the first few days then I woke up one morning with very swollen eyelids and a red puffy face! Not the look I was hoping for!!
Thank goodness for sunglasses! My skin then proceeded to totally dry out and felt like sandpaper! I pride myself on my youthful skin but felt I had aged about 10 years.
So extreme measures were required on my return to gently exfoliate and hydrate my face and neck, both inside and out!
Luckily for me Jenna, my daughter makes her own organic, natural beauty products so she had some organic shea butter which felt so moisturising. . I also tried aloe vera mixed with cucumber to tone down the redness, homemade kefir to gently exfoliate and also avocado, mashed banana and manuka honey as a moisturising mask. I'm not sure what combination worked but it took a few days before my skin felt like my own!
I also decided to work from the inside and provide my body with the highest quality organic Juices to provide vitamins, antioxidants and live enzymes to aid in the regeneration of my skin.
Our cells actually regenerate continually so making sure our body has what it needs in terms of building blocks is a very good idea and I'm all for giving my body a helping hand!
Luckily I'm a big fan of Juicing and I know the value of nutrient dense, easy to absorb, hydrating, nourishing delicious juices!
I've actually been meaning to write a post on Juicing for rather a long time so this seems like the opportune moment to share my thoughts and rather comprehensive experience of the whole juicing process!
I have experienced the power of juicing in various forms, from preparing my own to having raw organic juices delivered for a 3 day cleanse from the awesome Juice Warriors to the most amazing week at _The Body Toolkit in the Highlands, which was actually this time last year - see my blog post here
PREPARING YOUR OWN JUICES
I have been juicing seriously for a good few years now and use one of the first cold press slow juicers from Biochef, which I rate highly.
It has been updated to the Atlas model which costs £199 from Vitality for Life and comes with a 5 year guarantee.
Cold Press Slow Juicers make the most nutritious juices since all the antioxidants, vitamins and live enzymes are intact and not damaged by heat. These are also known as Masticating Juicers, and also give a higher yield of juice so although more expensive initially, they can work out cheaper long term.
Centrifugal Juicers, which tend to be cheaper spin so fast they generate heat which can damage the sensitive plant enzymes and antioxidants so the juice is not quite the same nutritional quality.
So Cold Press Juicers are the best on the market but no matter which Juicer you buy, you will reap the many benefits of boosting your intake of veggies and fruit.
If you already own a juicer, dust it off and start juicing!!
A freshly prepared veggie and fruit juice is essentially like a shot of pure vitamins, minerals, plant enzymes and antioxidants straight into your bloodstream. The nutrients will be fully absorbed in 15 minutes. and bypasses the digestive system, giving it a well earned rest.
Another point to note, for maximum benefit, use organic fruit and veggies, see Organic blog post for fruit and veggies with highest pesticide residues.
You really don't want to expose yourself to pesticides when you are trying to give your body a rest and detoxify.
ADVANTAGES of juicing on your own.
1. Limitless combinations of flavours!
2. Tends to work out cheaper.
3. You drink the juices freshly made when most nutritious
1. You need to buy a Juicer
2. You need a LOT of organic fruit & veggies
3. Time consuming washing and prepping the fruit and veg.
4. You need to wash the juicer, which can be a bit of a faff, depending on the model you have!
Here is a wee slideshow of some of my juices!
Some of my favourite juicing ingredients are Beetroot, pineapple, carrots, kale, pomegranate, sweet potato, cucumber, rhubarb, pears, fennel, cabbage, broccoli, lemon, lime & ginger.
Check out this link from Neil over at The Juice Junkie for lots of fab juicing ideas
A much easier option is to order your juices from Juice Warrior, a brilliant business set up by Glasgow couple Megan and Daniel. Its the first Raw Cold Pressed Organic Juice Company in Glasgow and their juices are absolutely delicious!
They offer a range of Juice Cleanse options at very competitive prices with free delivery in and around Glasgow.
I did the Cleopatra Juice Cleanse and was mightily impressed by their passion, knowledge and the quality of their juices.
They use recyclable glass bottles which I liked and all their cleanses come with a Fact Sheet full of useful information and they even throw in a few organic herbal teabags to keep you hydrated!
I really couldn't recommend them highly enough. They have just opened a shop in Edinburgh and their juices are stocked in Marthas and various other outlets in Glasgow.
I opted for a 3 day cleanse which included 6 juices a day, one of which was a sprouted nut mylk.
It was actually quite a challenge to drink them all in one day!
The juices were all the colours of the rainbow but all equally delicious. My favourite was Pina-Kale-Ada which was pineapple, coconut water, cucumber, kale & spinach and my other favourite was Sweet Beet - carrot, apple, beetroot, lemon and ginger!
If you do a JUICE WARRIOR cleanse, you have nothing to do other than drink the juices and rinse the bottles. No shopping, no meal planning, no washing up, its like a holiday for most of us and just frees you up to either chill out and relax or get creative doing whatever you fancy. That's priceless, in my opinion!
So after my 3 day Cleanse, I lost 6 pounds , had glowing dewy hydrated skin, no brain fog, loads of energy and just generally felt great! I also achieved loads since my brain was firing on all cylinders and I had loads of time to get creative!
I had so many comments on how well I looked and I genuinely felt 10 years younger!
Not bad for 3 days of juicing!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF JUICING?
The benefits of juicing are many and varied, not everyone has the same experience but you can generally expect;
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO DO A JUICE CLEANSE OR DETOX?
In conclusion juicing is just a brilliant way to give your digestion a rest and your body a break from the onslaught of toxins found in our processed, refined diet. Its literally like hitting the RESET button on your health.
A habit well worth adopting on any level, in my opinion!
PS My skin is back to normal now!!
......................your health in your hands......
A healthy lifestyle blog with green living tips, plant-based recipes and natural health magic.