Month: October 2013

Vanilla Chia + Berry Pudding (Gluten free, Raw + Vegan)

Because PROTEIN is EVERYWHERE and plants are powerful!Delicious vanilla chia pudding

Yesterday I went for a check up at the doctors and I feel the urge to share some of our chit chat with you:

Nurse: “Make sure you eat lot’s of meat for protein”.

Me: “I don’t eat meat”

Nurse: “Oh right, so where do you get your protein from?”

Me: “Chia seeds”

Nurse: ‘What are they?”

I wont go on and yes, don’t worry I was just being a tad difficult with the whole chia seeds comment. Admittedly, I could have reeled off a whole host of ingredients she’d most likely heard of but I was having a moment and I thought that being a nurse she’d have a bit more of a grasp on non meat protein sources. Of course I explained that I eat a lot of plant based protein and it seemed like her mind was put at ease, albeit with intrigue. She really was a lovely nurse but gee whizz, I just wasn’t expecting that, not from a nurse anyway. I get asked the protein question a lot and it’s hard for me to answer without providing so much information that the other person switches off (what? I’m passionate!). Usually, I go for a simple yet adequate response to this regular question with ‘oh, lot’s of different plant sources’. I’d rather it this way than start a mini powerpoint presentation to preach on how wonderfully abundant protein is within mother nature.Vanilla chia pudding

So this vanilla chia pudding is a celebration of plant based goodness….and protein of course. There are endless fantastic plants that are an excellent source of protein but today I’m picking on chia because of it’s overall amazingness. I really do love the chia seed for it’s versatility and abundant health benefits. Chia really is the seed that just keeps on giving. Check out my post on the the health benefits of this Aztec wonder food and why it’s such a great addition to any diet.Vanilla chia pudding

Vanilla chia pudding is super easy to make and requires just a little pre-soaking before being thrown into the blender for a sweet, creamy and insanely healthy pudding. Great layered with any fruit you want but berries just fit so well and I dressed mine with cocoa nibs because they’re deliciously good for you. The little green sprig is in fact stevia. I cannot believe I found a stevia plant and it was completely by accident and at a builder’s merchants….so random! Of course I’m now looking for any excuse to use fresh stevia and this is one of those!Easiest pudding recipe ever!

Chia really does give good pudding.

So, where do ya get your protein from? Only kidding! No but seriously now, what’s your favourite way to use chia?

Peace, love and acceptance.Chia pudding + spoon ready to go!

Vanilla chia + berry pudding

(Serves 1)

1/4 cup chia seeds
3/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple or agave syrup
1 banana (I used frozen)
a large handful of raspberries + blueberries
cocoa nibs for dressing

Method:

1. Soak the chia seeds, milk, vanilla, syrup + banana for at least an hour in a mason jar. Soaking overnight is ideal.
2. Empty the contents into a blender + blitz until smooth. You may need to add a little more milk here for a yoghurt like consistency. Taste + adjust sweetness if necessary.
3. Layer a glass bowl or tumbler with the pudding + berries + dress with cocoa nibs or your favourite nuts.

Healthy Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Kale + Cashew Cheese (Paleo + Vegan)

Cauliflower is more than just a cheese bake or a token side of veg.Cauliflower crust pizza with kale + cashew cheese

And this cauliflower crust pizza with kale + cashew cheese has been a long time coming. I’ve been planning on making this for over a year but I gotta say it’s totally worth the wait. I’m so sold on cauliflower as a pizza crust, in the same way I’m a fan of it as a rice replacement. Sometimes you just want a lighter alternative, maybe you’ve ditched the grains or perhaps you just want a variation on a favourite pizza. Regardless, cauliflower crust just works, it’s tasty and a great way to reduce the carb load of your meal whilst increasing the nutritional density. You really don’t think you have to be following a paleo diet to enjoy such things either.Cauliflower pizza dough

This cauliflower pizza is entirely plant based but of course you can add cheese (and anything you want for that matter!) but I wanted to keep this fresh and vibrant with crisp clean greens and creamy unadulterated cashew cheese. Can we take a moment to appreciate the humble cauliflower………………The humble cauliflower

Aesthetically pleasing, versatile and healthy too, very healthy and not surprising as cauliflower belongs to the kale, cabbage, broccoli and collard family. So let’s not reserve this wonderful vegetable for a cheese bake or a token side dish but commit to using more of this good stuff. Here’s some good reasons to include more of this humble vegetable in your meals:

a cruciferous detoxifying vegetable scientifically proven to contain cancer prevention properties
high in vitamin C, K and antioxidants, it really is a powerhouse of nutrients
fibre rich and perfect for digestive support and optimum function
a milky, sweet nutty + low carb option for ‘rice’ and pizza ‘dough’

Cauliflower pizza pre cashew cheese

See, cauliflower really is the perfect base for a grainless pizza, ticks pretty much every  box and beats a heavy, dough laden, soggy pizza base any day. It takes no longer to throw together than a regular wheat dough but is a whole lot healthier. Of course you can replace the chia egg with 2 regular eggs if you eat animal products but I found the chia egg did a great job. A shop bought tomato sauce can be subbed if you are really tight on time but this one really is very quick, can be made in advance and stored in the fridge.Cauliflower pizza process

Feel free to add any topping you love but I just had to use some pretty greens to ramp up the nutrient levels. I’m still living by the rule, ‘eat more kale’ but now I have the addition of, ‘eat more cauliflower’! Not hard to do with a recipe like this.A slice of pizza!

This cauliflower crust pizza with kale + cashew cheese is nutrient dense, fibre rich, grain free and suitable for most diets. Now that’s what I call plant power.

Enjoy.Cauliflower pizza with kale + cashew cheese

Cauliflower crust pizza with kale + cashew cheese

(serves 2)

for the cauliflower dough:
1/4 cup chia seed
3/4 cup water
1 small head of cauliflower
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons almond flour

for the tomato sauce:
1/2 can tomatoes (200 grams)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon raw brown sugar
salt + pepper

toppings:
kale, torn into small pieces
red onion, sliced finely
black olives, sliced
cashew cheese
rocket

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 ºC. Prepare the chia egg by combining the chia seeds with the water + setting aside for 15 minutes.
2. Break the cauliflower into smaller pieces + place in a blender. Pulse until a light cauliflower flour like consistency is achieved. You may need to do this in batches. Transfer cauliflower mixture to a large bowl. Using your hands, squeeze handfuls of the cauliflower over an empty bowl to release any excess water. Add the remaining ingredients to the cauliflower along with the chia egg. Combine fully until a doughy consistency is achieved. Add more almond flour if necessary but the dough will always be ‘wetter’ than wheat doughs.
3. Transfer the dough ball to a greased baking pan + push down into a pizza shape (I like oval), leaving the edges slightly thicker. Place the base in the oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and set.
3. Meanwhile heat the olive oil + lightly fry the garlic until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients + simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Lightly fry the red onion + kale in olive oil for 5 minutes until softened. Set aside.
5. Remove the pizza base from the oven + add the tomato sauce, followed by the red onion, kale + olives. Return to the oven for 8-10 minutes.
6. Drizzle with cashew cheese + sprinkle with rocket.

7 Cheers for Chia Seeds – a Weight Loss Weapon

Chia Seeds 5This chia seed craze isn’t going anywhere soon, it’s here to stay. I’ve had many a fleeting affair with the latest in vogue food, some working out and others not. Sorry goji berries, it’s not you, it’s me. With chia it’s different…….I am fully committed to the humble chia seed, it won’t enter my life for a few weeks of dabbling only to be pushed to the back of the cupboard, lonely and forgotten! Chia has a firm place in my kitchen and has made itself very comfortable.

I wasn’t at first convinced when my first bag of chia arrived and as they bounced along my kitchen work top I couldn’t help but think these tiny seeds seemed a bit, well small and fiddly. And anyway, how could such a tiny seed contain so much goodness? So much goodness.

Chia is yet another amazingly nutritious food from the superfood continent South America (quinoa, maca, lucuma, cocoa nibs- why do they have all the best ingredients?). Anyhow, first recipe in I really liked them but I loved them a whole lot more when I learnt about their nutritional attributes and impressive versatility within plant based recipes. Chia doesn’t have a truly distinct flavour  but it has a unique consistency when combined with liquid, providing an excellent base to add your own flavour and experiment with your favourite ingredients. I like to think of chia as a powerhouse nutritional canvas to get creative with! Chia + liquid = very swollen seeds and a consistency that resembles tapioca pudding, all part of it’s secret weight regulating powers.

There’s a whole lot more to these Aztec wonder seeds and there’s very good reason(s) why they’re one of the big players in the realms of wellness. Here’s 7 of them:

  1. High in fibre so excellent for digestive function. Most of us could use more fibre and these contain a third of our daily requirements in just 2 tablespoons. We all know that a fibre rich diet keeps us fuller for longer, enabling us to maintain a healthy weight and beat cravings. These seeds swell to 10 times their original size when combined with water form a gel high in soluble fibre, which fills the stomach and satiates. Naturally, this fuller feeling reduces tendencies to over eat, so chia’s a weapon to any weight loss eating regime.
  2. A remarkable amount of antioxidants. Go away free radicals, ageing and cancer. Such high levels give chia a lengthy shelf life of up to 2 years.
  3. Calcium. Who needs dairy when you can get 1/5 of your daily needs from just 2 tablespoons, 5 times more than milk. These powerhouse seeds also contain sizeable amounts of magnesium and phosphorus.
  4. Good source of Protein. Made up of 30 % complete protein, containing all 9 amino acids in proper ratios,  they certainly give meat products a run for their money!
  5. No Gluten. Enough said.
  6. Brilliant egg replacer for plant based recipes. Mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 of water and leave for 10 minutes to thicken.
  7. One of the richest plant based sources of omega 3’s. In fact it contains 8 times more than salmon so is super for heart and brain health.

Bonus: I find chia helps fight fatigue, keeps me energised for longer and less likely to have late afternoon lethargy. I’m a recreational runner and find I am recovering quicker post exercise. Chia is a runner’s best friend.

So get cracking with an easy, feel good, filling chia pudding, a chia studded smoothie, sprinkle on cereal or make your own egg substitute.
Vanilla chia pudding

Start the day in spectacular fashion by making a yummy chia pudding!

Let’s all chia up!

Almond, Cocoa + Maca Energy Bites

Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? I’ve been dipping into some seriously decadent dark chocolate truffles the past few nights, and whilst they’re good, there just seems to be something missing. I think its the bite, there isn’t any really! I need some texture, some nuttiness, something to get my teeth into when it comes to sweet treats. I do like a sweet treat after dinner so I gave these almond, cocoa + maca energy bites a shot, and they worked despite the guess work. They worked really well.Energy bites in a bowl

Question: how healthy are these power balls packed full of these raw ingredients? Answer: way too healthy for words.Raw + healthy ingredients

These bites are completely free of refined sugars and full of heart healthy fats, vitamins and antioxidants. This really is good mood food, I swear I felt better after a couple of these nutrient dense chocolatey nut balls. Thank you cocoa and almonds. The dates provide a natural sweetness and more vitally the binding force for the rest of the ingredients. Not only is maca super good for you, it lends a super malty cereal undertone, a bit like malted milk balls (you know, maltesers!) but nicer. Packed full of goodness, gluten free, dairy free, soy free, deliciously rich, nutty and taste like they should be bad for you. This here is raw almond, cocoa + maca energy bite success. Cocoa + maca energy bites

I blitzed the ingredients in a Vitamix as I don’t own a food processor and it worked fine. A little prodding, poking and scraping was required but all in all I’m happy to do the recipe again in a blender. Yep, a food processor would be better but a blender really is fine with a bit of extra work. Super simple process

These are super quick to put together and really adaptable too, I used almonds purely because I had a surplus but any nut would work well. Same goes for the maca powder as I reckon coconut powder, extra cocoa, carob, ground chia or hemp seeds would be great in an energy bite. Just mix it up and make your preferred ball of energy.

Are you team blender or team food processor? Maybe both?Delicious cocoa + maca energy bites

Almond, cocoa + maca energy bites

(makes 10 bites)

1 cup almonds
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons maca powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 dates

Method:

1. Blend the almonds until chopped finely but not to a flour as you need some texture. Set half aside.
2. Add the remaining ingredients to a food processor and blend until a sticky dough forms. If like me you’re using a blender you may need to scrape the bottom of the jug to redistribute the dough or pat the sides. Add the remaining almonds and blend once more.
3. Transfer the dough to a bowl and fill a smaller bowl with tepid water. Using your hands form 10 small bites, using the water to dip your fingers for a more pliable consistency.
4. Transfer the bites to the freezer for 30 minutes and store in the fridge for up to a week. You’ll eat them before then, take my word for it.

Note: Date sizes vary a lot so you may need a little more or less. To achieve a more pliable dough it’s advisable to dip your fingers in tepid water for a smoother, more uniform bite.

 

The Very Healthy Cookie (GF + Vegan)

The healthiest cookie there is!I’m not just saying it, these are very healthy, incredibly so. I wouldn’t lie to you. A cookie doesn’t need to be rammed full of sugar and trans fats to taste great and ‘the very healthy cookie’ is proof of that.

A creamy oat base with vanilla undertones filled with gooey chocolate and chewy walnuts. Yeah, they’re really good.A very healthy cookie

I’m so over shop bought cookies, biscuits and cakes and the ‘extras’ they seem to come with. These ‘very healthy cookies’ are pure living proof that plant powered health food does indeed taste better than processed, manufactured sweets and even white sugar laden home baked goods. So easy to put together, literally throw it all in the bowl, mix and make balls. Cookie balls!Cookie process

I love using oat flavour for the texture, creamy taste and heart healthy benefits plus humble old oats are great for stabilising blood sugar and warding off sugar cravings. There’s a little sugar in these but levels can be altered to suit your tastes, I could have actually used a little less but its entirely dependant on how sweet your sweet tooth is. Although these look like quite a dense cookie, they’re in fact pretty light and not too crumbly to bite into with a softer rather than a crisper crumbly texture. You’re not left with a lap full of cookie crumbs after munching on these. Just the way I like ’em.

Perfect gluten free, whole food snacking.Cookies + chocolate chips

The Very Healthy Cookie (GF + Vegan)

(makes 15-20 small cookies)

140 grams oat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup walnuts
3 tablespoons dark chocolate chips (I used dairy free)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons almond milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 195ºC. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the wet ingredients to the mixture, mixing thoroughly to form a workable dough. The oats will soak up much of this so add more milk if required.
3. Break small pieces off the dough and roll into balls, place on a baking tray + gently press down.
4. Bake for 10 minutes + leave to cool when removed from the oven.

Plant Powered Butter Bean + Harissa Burgers with Honey Lemon Onions (Vegan)

Harissa burgerRuss and I had a fabulous time in Alaska and Canada but now I have serious case of post holiday come down fueled by my worst jet lag of all time, it’s cruel! The last two weeks were pretty special though, definitely this year’s highlight as I adore travelling by RV road trip style. We managed to cook some amazing food on the move too, stopping off at local stores for a fridge top up and a mosey. I fell in love in Canada, with Whole Foods. I have to say I really have developed quite the love affair with Whole Foods supermarket. Why oh why is this not a permanent fixture in my life, come on the UK – get with the programme. Whole Foods is almost reason enough to move to Canada! Seriously, I was so impressed by the layout, the actual food, the choice, the cosmetics, the take out counter, come to think of it I was impressed by Canada in general. But shopping in that supermarket is pure pleasure, I need Whole Foods here!

Moving on, travelling by camper van really is pretty special and gave us total freedom and flexibility to explore and make stops at our leisure. The kitchen was amazingly user friendly and well equipped so there really was no excuse not to make some great food. It was so nice to stop off somewhere different everyday, make a fabulous meal and soak up the scenery.  The only thing is the van did have the faint aroma of cumin and curry powder when we delivered it back to Vancouver. Oops, that’ll be those black beans and the delicious lentil curry!Harissa burger al fresco :-)

I made this butter bean and harissa burger before we went away, when it was a little warmer and we were eating outside. What is that about- I’m away for two weeks to return to close on winter weather? No matter, I’m layering up and will continue eating outside until it’s near freezing! Bring on the chili sauce and harissa paste for a bit of warmth. The harissa (formed of red peppers) in this burger has a some good spice and adds a very authentic North African flavour and makes a great colourful looking pattie too. The lemony onions are a delicious and sweet addition to the punchy and spicy flavours in the butter beans, I just have to, actually need onions with my burger. Any bean would work really, I just happened to have some of these handy the day of my burger craving.10 minute recipe!

You just gotta love a good old juicy bean burger. They’re just so satisfying and beans are fabulous for carrying robust flavours and are miles tastier than meat varieties. Making bean burgers is sooo easy too, they take no time at all and it’s really pretty satisfying to create your own burger from scratch, in a flavour to suit your tastes. I really do think you can pretty much form a workable burger entirely from guess work and have it in the frying pan in 10 minutes flat. You can adjust quantities as you combine the ingredients to create a workable consistency and more importantly have full control of what is going into your burger. Let’s face it, you cant say that for any shop bought varieties out there. This better, I mean ‘butter’ bean and harissa burger is entirely plant powered as it contains chia egg for binding the mixture but a regular egg would work also.Easy, spicy, plant powered and delicious. Nice.

Today’s the day for making a super plant burger. What’s your next veggie burger going to be?Plant power harissa burger

Butter Bean + Harissa Burgers with Honey Lemon Onions

(makes 2 large burgers or 4 small patties)

1 can (240 gram drained) butter beans
2 teaspoons chia seed just covered in water or 1 egg if not vegan
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt + pepper
handful basil leaves
3 teaspoons harissa paste
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 burger buns (I used Waitrose gluten free quinoa rolls)

for the onions:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
juice of half lemon
1 tablespoon honey

Method:

1. Drain the butter beans + transfer to a large bowl. Mash the beans with a fork + add the remaining ingredients continually pressing down with the fork until you have a pliable burger ball. If the mixture is too sticky add some oats + if too dry add a little milk.
2. Divide the mixture into two + form into 2 burger shapes.
3. Preheat a medium grill. Heat the olive oil in a large pan + fry the burgers on 1 side until browned. Flip + finish cooking under the grill for an even brown finish.
4. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a small pan + add the onion, lemon + honey. Cook until softened.
5. Slice the buns, add the burgers, top with honey lemon onions + salad.

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