Well I can't believe that the summer holidays are over and the kids are all back at school! It's not been much of a summer, although we have made the most of it! We are now the proud owners of an old classic VW Camper Van called Bruce and I just love him. Its so much fun, its like camping but all nice and cosy with a pull out cooker, a really comfy bed, an excellent cool box and loads of storage for all our stuff.
I have decided to extend my holidays until October to make the most of Bruce before the weather changes and the nights are shorter! I'm so good to myself!
We are going to a 3 day Festival in Inveraray at the beginning of September which I'm most excited about!
I'm also heading back to Wales to another Vegan Cooking Retreat run by my cool dude buddy Lee Watson of Peace & Parsnips fame, my favourite vegan cookery book!
So lots to look forward to and enjoy, lucky me!!
I have a blessed life indeed.
So back to sharing some healthy recipes with you lovely people!
Another of my healthy obsessions is cookery books and the latest addition to my collection is;
Veggie Desserts and Cakes by Kate Hackworthy
so for my first blog post in a while I thought I'd share a really simple recipe from her book.
I love veggies and eat shed loads of them so this book appealed to me big time!
I think we are all familiar with Carrot Cake, but this book takes the use of veggies in cakes to new levels! Parsnips, beetroot, cauliflower, kale, peas, sweet potatoes, aubergine, spinach, swede, and sweetcorn all get a mention!
I'm all for using sweet veggies in cakes but I'm yet to be convinced by cauliflower and kale!!
I once made a chocolate and cauliflower cake for the BBC Kitchen Cafe Programme which I was a guest on. The very smell of it was awful and was not improved by the most luscious chocolate frosting. I couldn't even try it, the cauliflower smell was so strong and off putting! Maybe I just used a particularly strong cauliflower but I thought at the time that some things are just wrong and cauliflower and cake is one of them!! So needless to say I won't be trying that again!
On the plus side, there are many lovely recipes to try, so I thought I'd start with these Beetroot Seedy Squares! I'm a big fan of beetroot and always have a few vacuum packs in the fridge.
I adapted the recipe a bit, I used half the amount of beetroot and rolled them into balls instead of cutting them into squares. Beetroot although sweet has a strong earthy taste which can be overpowering and I didn't want to make a whole batch then discover that no one liked them! I can't stand waste so I played it safe and I'm delighted with the results. These wee bites are a lovely colour so I decided not to roll them in seeds or coconut. I like them bare!! The beetroot flavour is very subtle and perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the dates. Mixed seeds, ( I used sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and linseeds ) add texture, loads of good fats, protein and minerals, oats contain soluble fibre and dates are just packed with everything a body needs!
So these wee nutrient dense power bites make a delicious healthy snack at any time of day or when you feel in need of an energy boost!
Also great for packed lunches and hungry kids!!
So overall verdict for these wee bites is a big thumbs up! Next on my list are Pea and Mint Cupcakes, Sweet Potato and Pecan Blondies and Cucumber and Lemon Cake with Gin Icing!! I was sold at the Gin icing!!
Kate also has a blog which is well worth checking out.
So here is her recipe, slightly adapted...
BEETROOT BLISS BITES
Makes 25 wee bites
My daughter Jenna made this chocolatey fruit and nut concoction a few weeks ago and I can't tell you how deliciously moreish it was!!
So I obviously had to make a batch myself!
We chocolate lovers can delight in the knowledge that good quality high cocoa solids chocolate is incredibly good for us! It contains antioxidants with heart protective qualities, phenylethylamine, an amphetamine like compound which acts as a natural mood enhancer along with magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and B vitamins.
All of that considered, dark chocolate just doesn't have the same creamy mouthfeel as milk chocolate, even though most of us are aware that milk chocolate doesn't have any of the benefits of dark chocolate and has lots of refined sugar!
So this recipe, adapted from The New Vegan by Aine Carlin, one of my favourite vegan authors actually manages to combine all the health benefits of dark chocolate with a lovely texture and creamy mouthfeel, due to one of my favourite ingredients....tahini!
Tahini is made from sesame seeds, its packed with calcium and magnesium and its alkaline so easy for the body to absorb. It's so versatile and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
We literally use it every day!!
The other healthy ingredients in this delightful sweet are hazelnuts, goji berries and apricots, coconut oil and a good pinch of Himalyan sea salt.
With thoughts turning to Christmas, this could be made quite festive with the addition of cranberries and a teaspoon of mixed spice or cinnamon and maybe some orange zest! It really is good enough to give as a gift.
I will most definitely be making this again before Christmas.
It is perfect with an after dinner coffee or in fact any time you happen to pass the fridge!
It will keep happily for a fortnight in aforementioned fridge but not in our house! It's literally gone in a few days max!!
So here is the recipe.....
CHOCOLATE TRUFFLE SLICE
100g bar of dark chocolate
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup or brown rice syrup
large pinch of himalyan sea salt
30 g hazelnuts, lightly toasted and chopped
30g apricots, raisins or cranberries
1 tablespoon goji berries(optional)
cocoa powder for dusting
It was Jenna's birthday this weekend and since she has been vegan for 10 years and has influenced our family food choices we enjoyed a fabulous vegan day out with her.
We started off at The Vegan Food Fair where we met the truly lovely Laurianne of Lauriannes Raw Vegan Cakes and were blown away by the wonderful selection of cakes and tarts she makes. We bought five and they were all delicious! Apricot tart, chocolate and salted caramel tart, raw chocolate sponge, vanilla & blueberry cheesecake and carrot cake!
All made without dairy or refined sugar, packed with nutritious ingredients and totally delicious!
She makes cakes to order from her cottage in Killearn and also supplies various outlets in Glasgow, she also runs workshops in and around Glasgow. I'll be booking myself on one soon!
You can find her on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter. All details can be found here
Like most of us I really enjoy a delicious fruity creamy cheesecake but not the dairy variety which I find heavy and difficult to digest! Dairy and fruit are never a good combination and in ayurvedic terms, its a big no no!
So how do we acheive that creaminess without all the dairy and refined sugar?
With cashew nuts!!!
They are high in protein, fibre, minerals, good fats and health enhancing phytochemicals and they blend into the most delicious and healthy creamy base for cakes or sauces and are a godsend for those of us who would rather avoid dairy!
I buy nuts and dates which make up the base of this awesome cake from Lidl, whose prices are excellent! Nuts can be expensive and there are a lot of cashew nuts in this cake! I also bought delicious organic maple syrup for £2.99 which is an unbelievable price! Organic week at Lidl is officially over but you can still find organic bargains in lots of Lidl stores. It's well worth stocking up at these prices!
So what makes this cake so awesome...?
This is a really brilliant cake to impress your friends and family and can be made in advance and just thawed for 30 minutes before you serve it! Perfect for unexpected guests!
So the base of this cake is simply nuts and dates blitzed in a food processor and the delicious creamy topping is quite literally cashew nuts blended with maple syrup, berries, fresh or frozen, vanilla and lemon juice!
It doesn't get much easier than that!
All you need is a blender or a food processor and a freezer!
The cashew nuts need to be soaked preferably overnight but 6 hours would do if you are short of time. Any berries would work fresh or frozen. I used my own organic strawberries which are delicious and pesticide free! I have also used frozen blueberries and raspberries which works well too!
I used Aine Carlin's recipe here but have adapted it slightly.
Once the cake is frozen you can use your imagination for decoration but if you want to keep it frozen then don't decorate it with fresh fruit or edible flowers, neither of which freeze well!
I used sliced strawberries, borage flowers and lemon zest. Its actually nice to keep it simple and just pile some fruit in the middle!
So I give you the awesome No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake!
NO BAKE STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE
Ingredients - Serves 8 to 10
For the crust
200g nuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds and hazelnuts all work well
100g pitted dates, medjool are best
For the strawberry layer
250g strawberries or other berries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons maple syrup
125g cashew nuts, soaked in cold water preferably overnight, but 6 hrs min.
For the vanilla layer
300g cashew nuts, soaked as above and drained
100ml maple syrup or brown rice syrup
seeds from a vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 or 3 tablespoons water
1. Place the dates and nuts in a food processor or blender and blend until crumbly.
Put the mixture into a 20cm loose bottomed spring-form cake tin and press down firmly using the back of your fingers or a spoon. Put in the freezer while you get on with the toppings!
2. Wash and hull your strawberries, put in your blender or processor with the drained cashews, lemon juice and maple syrup. Blitz until smooth. Taste for sweetness and add more sweetener if you like. Maple syrup is quite runny so don't add too much more!
3. Remove the base from the freezer and pour the strawberry mixture over it. Smooth with a spatula and put it back in the freezer.
4. Wash your blender and then add all the ingredients for the vanilla layer. Blitz well, you don't want bits of nuts so just keep blending until it's completely smooth!
5. When the strawberry layer has set, carefully pour over the vanilla mixture. Smooth with a spatula and return to the freezer for a few hours.
6. Decorate just before you are going to serve your cake, sliced strawberries, edible flowers and grated lemon zest all work well but use your imagination!
I served mine with a strawberry coulis, just strawberries blitzed in my Vitamix with some lime juice and maple syrup!
You can also just do a single layer, which is slightly less faffy, in which case, just soak all the cashews together and blend the ingredients for both layers at the same time! Less washing up but your cake won't look quite as pretty!
....your health in your hands...
🍃 Health educator🍃