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
I'm sharing another sweet recipe this week but I promise to move on to healthy savoury dishes and main courses suitable for a plant based Christmas next week!
Who doesn't love a chocolate truffle...? We love healthy, delicious chocolates but not so much the dairy and refined sugar kind! Last year I shared this recipe for festive chocolate truffles which are nut free and lovely too, but these ones
are a bit fancier and more festive in flavour.
The base for these delicious truffles are dates and nuts, two of my favourite ingredients and packed with fibre, protein, minerals and good fats so as well as tasting great these truffles do your body good as well!
These also make a lovely gift, packaged up in a nice box or a wee bag. I just think there is something special about a home made gift and just love to receive them!
I am very lucky that my daughter Jenna always makes special gifts for the whole family, she is a very talented and creative young lady! Handmade chocolates, chutneys, jewellery, lip balms, body scrubs and lotions, hats, place mats and beautiful natural floral arrangements have all been given and received with love. One year Laura, my youngest daughter, gave everyone a voucher for home made cakes, to be redeemed throughout the year! She is an ace vegan baker so her cakes are a real treat!! Kathryn writes lovely poems and puts such thought into them and that only leaves Emma, my oldest daughter who although she says she isn't good at making stuff, made delicious sloe gin last year with a handmade label!
It's just so nice when someone takes the time to make something.
We are fortunate in that we spend a lot of time trying out recipes and having lots of fun in the kitchen, one of the great things about writing this blog actually! So I hope that the recipes and stories I share are of interest and inspire someone out there to try something new!
So back to these very simple and delicious Festive Truffles, Chocolate Mint and Ginger, two flavours which I love, especially chocolate and mint which is a winning combination!
The method for making both flavours is the same so here are the ingredients you will need!
Gingerbread Truffles - makes 12
1 cup of soft pitted dates
pinch sea salt
1 cup of almonds, walnuts, brazil or pecan nuts or a mixture
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger or 1 inch piece of freshly grated ginger
pinch of ground nutmeg and cloves
coconut or finely chopped nuts for rolling
Chocolate Mint - makes 12
1 cup of soft pitted dates
1 cup of almonds, walnuts, pecans or brazil nuts
pinch sea salt
2 tablespoons of raw cacao or cocoa powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (taste and add accordingly)
cocoa or raw cacao for rolling
1. In your food processor, pulse the nuts until they are finely chopped. Put into a bowl.
2. Add the dates and sea salt and process on high until a smooth paste forms.
3. Add the processed nuts and the remainder of the ingredients. Process until thouroughly mixed.
4. Roll the mixture into balls ( makes 12 truffles) and coat in chopped nuts/coconut/cocoa.
5. Store in a covered container in the fridge or the freezer.
...your health in your hands...
Gingerbread biscuits just remind me of Christmas! When the girls were young, they all loved baking and biscuits are just the best fun to make. From mixing and rolling the dough to choosing what shape to cut, we always had a huge selection of cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes which we have collected over the years, and still use.
The brilliant thing about home made biscuits is they just taste better and you can have fun decorating them with icing and faces and patterns.
This recipe makes a small army of delicious festive figures, probably around 50 but they will keep very well and make lovely gifts- everyone loves home made biscuits!
You can easily halve the recipe if you would like to make less.
The dough is very soft and its way easier to work with if you chill it overnight in the fridge, although a few hours will suffice, if you are short of time!
The biscuits are lovely and crisp with a nice gingery flavour so go and get your festive pinny on and have some fun in the kitchen!
Here is the recipe....
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
🍃 Health educator🍃