Side Dishes

Vegan Soft Cheese With Pumpkin + Sun Dried Tomato (Soy, Nut + Gluten Free)

Like our cheesecake recipes, we made one version of a vegan cheese – amended it slightly and here is the next attempt…this time it’s vegan soft cheese, low fat and has gorgeous sun dried tomatoes in.
Clearly from the images you can see it’s been sliced (straight from the refrigerator) but this really is a soft and tasty cheese. Ready to spread or whatever you like!

vegan soft cheese

Combined together with oats, nutritional yeast and cooked pumpkin (or puree), this is a very healthy vegan soft cheese – you just have to look down at the basic ingredients list to see for yourself.
Treat this as a simple go-to recipe for a vegan, dairy-alternative to homemade soft cheese!
Enjoy 😉

Pumpkin + sun dried tomato vegan soft cheese

1 cup water
1 cup pumpkin puree/cooked pumpkin
1 cup oats
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
6 sun dried tomatoes (I used tomatoes preserved in oil)
1 teaspoon himalayan sea salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup water

1 1/4 cups water
2.5 tablespoons agar POWDER

Method:

  1. Add the ingredients in the order listed (not the agar + 1 1/4 cup water) + blend until very smooth with zero lumps.
  2. Heat the water + agar over a low heat until it becomes very thick + gloopy. Once thick, transfer to the cheese base + pulse until fully combined.
  3. Transfer the cheese to a mould of your choice. I used a loaf tin.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before using + store in the fridge for 5-7 days.

Adapted from Vegan paprika cheese from Cooking with Plants

Easy Vegan Cheese (No Soy, Heart Healthy)

Easy Vegan Cheese

Why make cheese when you can go to the supermarket and buy it? Well vegan cheese is pretty good these days, it melts, it grates, it slices, it tastes good – everything cheese should do but without the dairy. In my opinion, I think everyone should be trying the alternatives and not being all cheese-snobbish about the whole thing ” but it’s not even real cheese”. We all know cheese is a love for many people (in fact virtually everyone I know), so creating this vegan version is something to be proud of.

Easy Vegan Cheese

Not only is it delicious, it’s heart-healthy – it’s made with almond milk and olive oil, grates beautifully over ya beans ‘n’ tacos and slices up a treat in a sandwich toastie with some fresh organic wholemeal bread. There’s no dairy and no soy, just flavour and a nice solid block of cheese.
This recipe is simple, it’s quick and needs nothing more than five minutes of love and care, plus a bit of space in your refrigerator. Nice.

Easy Vegan Cheese

Looking forward to attempt number two at this cheese, a few changes for flavour perhaps or a few changes for colour perhaps..?

Easy Vegan Cheese

Easy Vegan Cheese

2 cups almond milk
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon hot mustard
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
4-6 tablespoons nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons agar powder
1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)

Method:

  1. Throw all the ingredients into a pan in no particular order + whisk away for 5 minutes on a low to medium heat until the mixture thickens.
  2. Transfer thickened cheese mixture to your preferred moulds and refrigerate until set. It’s really this easy.

Dairy Free Black Bean Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

choc vegan spread

I never understood the chocolate spread hype as a kid, it always looked so wrong to me, especially in a sandwich! It just plain old freaked me out, I was (still am) definitely more of a marmite or PB & jam kinda girl. I guess I was just highly suspicious of chocolate spread squished inbetween bread, in the same way that eating tomato ketchup with cold food was (and still is) way too much for me to handle – gross! Anyway, it’s not like I don’t like ‘Nutella’ spreads, it was clearly just a weird childhood thing……these days I’d rather make my own anyway, plus it’s super easy to do. Of course a great place to start is ya straight up hazelnut butter and chocolate combo but I wanted something a little less dense and healthy as a base, so naturally……….BEANS.

chocolate spread

I love beans full stop but I’m always really surprised at how much I like them in sweet treats like brownies and cookie dough butter! And now, basically straight up Nutella but on a whole other level. A black bean level which transforms your usual chocolate spread to one that is very, very healthy and free from dairy. This super black bean chocolate hazelnut spread has:

no refined sugars
no trans fats
low sugar
lower fat
higher protein
a lot less calories.

spread toast banana

This is so much lower in calories than your average chocolate spreads that I’d actually be quite happy to eat the lot for pudding. Seriously.

I’ve put the measurements below but they are fairly approximate as I think it’s best to adjust and taste as you blend. This is fairly sweet so do reduce the syrup if you’d prefer less sweetness, or indeed crank it up if you want uber-sweet! I just so happened to have roasted hazelnuts at home but hazelnut butter would be fine or sub this for peanut or almond butter if you’re not fussed on the chocolate hazelnut combo.

vegan chocolate spread

Just throw it all in and whip it up…oh and then decide how you’re gonna eat it, straight up chocolate pudding or rich nutty chocolatey spread………..?

chocolate vegan spread

Dairy free black bean chocolate hazelnut spread

1 can black beans
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup roasted chopped hazelnuts
pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Add EVERYTHING to the blender (I use a Vitamix) and blitz to chocolate heaven.

Detox Winter Vegetable Quinoa Bowl with Cranberries + Pumpkin Seeds

roasted veg

I feel quite sorry for brussel sprouts, they have a hard life. First off, they are a hugely love/hate food and brussel sprout haters seem to feel strongly about these poor green vegetables, like there’s hatred there!! The other reason why I feel sorry for brussel sprouts is they only come out once per year for a little christmas festivity + are generally always just a token at the dinner table. I propose we grow more and eat more sprouts outside of the festive season and secondly to promote the poor brussel sprout to something other than a side to a piece of meat. Don’t get me wrong, I like a side of sprouts, especially dipped in ketchup (is that wrong?) but I just think we’re selling them short that’s all. There are endless ways to celebrate sprouts and get more involved.

roasted sprout quinoa salad

How about a winter vegetable quinoa bowl?

Hail to brussel sprouts in curries, stir fries, roasted vegetable dishes, veggie skewers, salads and vegetable hash. They are versatile little buggers.roasted veg sprout quinoa salad

These are a super dietary form of vitamin and mineral antioxidants which helping to address chronic and excessive inflammation, they provide fantastic cardiovascular support with their powerful cholesterol lowering properties and being super detoxing they’re ideal for the excesses of the holiday season. But don’t wait ’til any holiday season to enjoy the deliciousness. Have this now and detox the tasty way!

quinoa sprout veg

Winter vegetable quinoa bowl with cranberries + pumpkin seeds

(serves 2)

2 cups brussel sprouts, cut in half
2 cups butternut squash, cubed
2 cups chestnut mushrooms, cut in half
1 red onion, chopped into segments
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt + pepper
2 cups cooked quinoa
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
herbs + lemon juice for dressing

method:

1. Preheat oven to 200ºC. Prepare vegetables + spread evenly on a large baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, season + roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven when softened + starting to brown.
2. Add the quinoa, pumpkin seeds + cranberries to a large serving bowl. Fold through the roasted vegetables, add a squeeze of lemon + adjust the seasoning.
3. Serve dressed with extra seeds + cranberries.

Sweet Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas

chick peas

Everything tastes better roasted. Fact. It really does. nuts, seeds, veggies, garlic and now chick peas too. I am a little late to the roasted chick pea party but I’m here now so that’s all that matters. I’m still a little too impressed with how these turned out and are nothing like a soaked chick pea but rather crispy and crunchy! Kinda satisfying. Just be sure to really dry those bad boys first, like thoroughly, using kitchen roll or a clean tea towel. Once they’re all high and dry they’re set for flavouring up and roasting to perfection!

chick peas roasted

The flavour combos are endless but I reckon salt ‘n’ vinegar would be a bit of a star. That’ll be my next batch, salt ‘n’ vinegar always was my favourite flavour. In the meantime these are sweet, nutty and beautifully spiced with cinnamon, umm umm.

chick peas roasted

Reasons to eat these as an afternoon snack:

no bad fats
no additives
high in fibre and protein too
100% natural
delicious

chick peas roasted

Come on, you can’t say that for your average bag of crisps/chips or shop bought cereal bar can ya? That’s why I make these in batches and store in an airtight container for those munchie moments.

Just dry ’em well and watch ’em roasting – too little and you’re like, ‘where’s the crunch?’ and too much and they’re a bit charcoaled! Enjoy guilt free delicious snacking.

chick peas roasted

Sweet cinnamon roasted chickpeas

1 can chickpeas, drained
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

method:

1. Preheat oven to 225ºC. Meanwhile, rinse your chickpeas under cold running water + dry thoroughly by spreading out a single layer, using kitchen towel to soak up all excess moisture. It’s important they’re as dry as dry can be.
2. Place on a baking tray + roast for 15 minutes.
3. Remove from the oven + drizzle oil over the chickpeas followed by the sugar, salt + cinnamon. Toss to coat evenly.
4. Return to the oven + roast for a further 15 minutes until crunchy. Amaze at how you just transformed chickpeas.

Raw Beet, Parsnip + Apple Soup

raw beet & parsnip apple soup
Some days you just want soup. Actually some days you just need soup. Today was one of those days and as I ‘needed’ it, it had to be quick, really quick. Thank you Vitamix. Not only does this blender make silky smooth soups, it heats it along the way. Nice.raw beetroot soup

Nature’s pretty magnificent right? These veggies were organic and I really didn’t want to over soup this soup so I didn’t. What does that even mean? Anyway, this soup is pretty darn simple.chopped veggies

My raw beet, parsnip and apple soup is perfect for when you’re craving a warming and hearty dose of goodness. It’s packed with super cleansing beetroot, contains heart protecting potassium and folate rich parsnips. It’s fibre rich and blood sugar-regulating thanks to the lovely apple.2 big bowls of raw beet soup

A simple way to cleanse, nourish and feel good.

The best part is the time it takes. This is a hearty healthy soup in 5 minutes flat! Who needs to cook soup ever again?raw beet soup close up

Raw beet, parsnip + apple soup

serves 2

1 raw beetroot, peeled + chopped
1 parsnip, peeled + chopped
1 apple, chopped
1 teaspoon miso paste
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 dates
3-4 cups hot water
pepper

pistachios, crushed
mint, chopped finely
non-dairy yoghurt or cashew cream

Blend all the soup ingredients until smooth. Serve immediately with pistachios, mint + yoghurt. Cleanse away.

Miso + Lime Rainbow Salad (Vegan)

miso saladBig deal, yeah I know it’s only a salad and that’s just it, a salad can be just a plain old salad or it can be a taste extravaganza with multiple layers crammed with texture, colour and a nutrient density through the roof. That’s this one here. A plant based salad in all it’s raw glory, bursting with goodness.

Why oh why is salad often so redundant on the dinner table, an afterthought or something that people feel they should have to add a little colour to the meal. Let’s put a little love and affection into our salads, each and every one.

I hate to see salad as a sad side lined side. This is wrong. And why oh why is salad often seen as freaky boring health food? This is wrong too. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Never. These two salads make a right. Two salads for me......

Salad must be pretty special as it’s the one thing I crave when I’ve been deprived of freshness for a few days, often when travelling. Times when I’ve felt a little sluggish and in need of fresh, raw and nutrient dense food. and it’s always salad I want and need to make me feel alive and healthy again. It’s a huge vibrant bowl of health I crave to offset the white and brown food induced coma that extended travel at times brings! What about a salad buffet…….who doesn’t love a salad buffet? I gotta say my salad building skills are pretty impressive, I’ve even had compliments on my salad engineering before! Well, where there’s salad love, there’s always a salad way. Four words for you: ‘Whole Foods’ salad bar…….enough said. DSC_8196

I do love a good dressing and there’s something about miso paste with it’s rich, salty, earthy flavours. I always roast my seeds, you should definitely too, you wont recognise them, honestly. I always add avocado because they are the best fruit in the world, end of. Let’s just take a minute to appreciate their amazingness……….j’adore. Yummy avocado

It’s so wise to make a huge bowl and keep it in the fridge, easy to dip into and the lime and miso combination will infuse and deepen the flavours further. This is super handy for a lunchtime meal or as a side to some delicious noodles or stir fried rice or stuffed into a soft tortilla wrap and drowned in cashew cream.. Yep, I’m the first to admit this could be neater, more symmetrical avocado pieces but you know what, it’s chopped and it’s really very delicious. Don’t be so superficial, wink wink. You just know that you’ll feel amazing after eating this, it’s bursting at the seems with pure plant giving energy. Yum. Miso + lime salad

Let this be a reminder to us all, never to sell salad short but rather put some love and affection into our next salad creation. It’s so easy, grab a handful of each ingredient, mix it up, pour over dressing, mix it up more, leave it alone for 5 and dress it up!

Salad rocks. A not so boring salad

Miso + lime rainbow salad

(serves 2)

1/2 white cabbage, sliced
1/2 lettuce, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced finely
1 red chili, deseeded + finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
3 inch piece of cucumber, cut into strips
small handfull fresh sweetcorn
coriander, chopped finely
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted

dress it up:
1 avocado, chopped into squares
1 teaspoon miso paste
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1. Throw all the salad ingredients into a large bowl. Mix the miso, lime + sesame oil together + pour over the salad. Mix thoroughly + leave to infuse for 20-30 minutes.
2. Top with pumpkin seeds + avocado. Eat it all or share it with another.

 

Socca – One ingredient Grain Free Bread (GF + Vegan)

Socca breadSimple is my new thing.

I’m pretty good at making things more difficult than they need to be, blindly overlooking all short cuts and getting knee deep with the complex stuff. So naturally i’m loving simple, yet rewarding recipes and this socca recipe is right down with this simplicity stuff. ONE ingredient, really, just the ONE. By the way, I’m not counting the water and the salt – I hope you think that’s fair. Oh, and coconut oil too, these extras don’t count, surely.Socca

The one ingredient is gram, garbanzo, chick pea flour – whatever name floats your boat. I like chick pea flour because I’m from the UK and this is what we say. I’ve always perused the bean flours in my local indian supermarket and thought about finding out more about it but never really got around to it. So after some serious googling I found that it’s not just indian cuisine that favours this flour. Chick pea flour is used to make Socca which originates from France and Italy and sold in pizzeries and bakeries throughout. It’s usually cooked in a tin baking pan with olive oil and eaten hot from the oven. In my opinion, this is the best way but I have enjoyed it cold several times. It’s pretty versatile too and i’m certain you could create some seriously delicious flavour combinations. I’m thinking chocolate already………pumpkin maybe?Just one ingredient bread

Anyway, since making this I’m perplexed by a couple of things. Firstly, why have I not come across socca on trips to Italy and France, ever? I’m pretty offended as I was only in France last week and I didn’t see any socca……anywhere. My second trouble is, why don’t more people love the chickpeas? I mean, chickpea curry, falafel, cookie butter, pupadums, delicious dips, chocolate chip chick pea bites and now socca. Where would we be without chick peas? They get a bit of a bad rap and people assume if you eat a lot of chick peas you’re a barefoot, tie dye, free loving hippie, well maybe not but you do know what I mean right? They also have a reputation for producing excess gas……my advice here is to eat beans and lentils such as chick peas more regularly, always chew well and your digestion will soon thank you for eating them.  They’re tasty, healthy with impressive versatility and don’t deserve the bad rap they get! Love ’em.Simple socca

Let’s all get some more chick peas in our lives…..they’re seriously cheap and full of health so you just know I wanna sell chick peas a little more to you. Well OK……….

fibre rich so fantastic for digestive support
scientifically proven to increase satiety and decrease calorie intake
blood sugar regulation
unique supply of antioxidants
lowers cardiovascular risks

So, the take home message is………eat more chick peas and why not start with this simple bread. You cannot go wrong with this recipe and it’s great to experiment with, I often make this soft and bendy and other times I prefer a crisp and snappy socca! I usually bake it in a 12″ square baking dish but by using a smaller dish you can achieve a thicker softer bread and for a crispier version just use a bigger dish or less socca batter. I like to use the same ratio of water and flour but I’ve tried it with more water which works great too for a less dense lighter version.Socca pre slicing

Either way, enjoy this gluten, dairy and grain free bread on it’s own, with a hearty stew, some smoked black beans, topped with peanut butter or humous or used for a simple socca sandwich. I like it with a little cookie butter smeared on top…..a double whammy of chick pea love. It’s the perfect carrier for other flavours so get creative and add your favourite herbs or veggies.

What’s your simple 1 or 2 ingredient go to recipe?

Socca + cookie butter

socca

1 cup chick pea flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 teaspoons coconut oil

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 ºC. Place coconut oil in a baking dish + put in the oven to melt.
2. Combine the socca ingredients to form a smooth batter. Leave to sit for 5 minutes to thicken.
3. Remove hot dish from the oven with the melted oil + pour in the batter. Place back in the oven + bake for 30 minutes.
4. Remove  from the oven+ flip the socca. Return to for a further 5-10 minutes or grill on high for 2 minutes for a crispier version.

 

 

Guilt Free Cookie Dough Butter (GF + Vegan)

Guilt Free Cookie Dough ButterBetter than peanut butter, chocolate spread, shop bought cookie dough…actually I don’t think you can buy raw cookie dough in the UK? If you can, it’s definitely better than this. I know this because its flies through the ‘can you eat it straight from the jar’ test.Cookie dough butter!

Whatever, this is a continuation of my sweet chick pea lovin’. I’ve been making little chick pea chocolate cookie bites and I usually end up eating half the ‘raw’ dough before I’ve made them……and then it dawned on me. I couldn’t believe how blind i’ve been – why the hell did I not make this guilt free cookie dough butter sooner?Cookie dough process.....

I hate words like ‘guilt free’ because I don’t think we should let guilt interfere with our enjoyment of food but let’s face it, it does all too often. So calling these ‘guilt free’ is just a way of conveying that this cookie dough butter is unprocessed, low in sugar, protein rich, has zero bad fats but more a big bowl of healthy. It’s hard not to eat the whole jar, I did urge Russ to take half to work to get it out of my reach….he forgot and I finished it….all of it. So delicious, it’s equally dangerous to prepare especially when spooning it into the jar, near impossible to do this without eating some. I’m just trying to tell you how good this is….and good for us, thank the lord it’s good for us. So happy that food like this is healthy cos it sure as hell don’t taste like it.Cookie dough butter

Add a little more or less milk for your desired consistency, I like mine quite thick but a little looser works well poured over ice cream – whatever floats your boat really.

Butter, a dip, dolloped in your morning oats, on cereal or yep…..straight up out of the jar, whatever.

Is it wrong to wanna dip a cookie in this cookie dough butter……I think I’ve answered my own question……no of course not. Enjoy.Cookie dough butter

Guilt Free Cookie Dough Dip

250 grams drained + rinsed chick peas
2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons vanilla essence
4 tablespoons maple syrup or 1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flaxseeds
1/4 cup almond milk
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (dairy free)

1. Place all the ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth. Stir through the chocolate chips and transfer to a glass jar ready to dip your spoon into.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container and use within 7 days.

Adapted from ‘Healthy cookie dough dip……..the famous recipe’. 

Easy, Vegan, Dairy Free Cheese Sauce

Easy dairy free cheese sauce & brown rice pastaSo I was googling ‘vegan cheese sauce’ like you do and this came up, which was handy because it’s a damn good recipe. The not so good is I lost an hour (and a half) again in a sea of foodie blogs whilst making myself super hungry.You know how it is, one recipe leads to another, one bookmark leads to a folder full…..anyway I’m so in love with this woman’s fantastic blog. ‘Oh She Glows’ was one of the first food blogs I came across (back when I had lots of time!) and she has the most amazing, creative and delicious recipes here. The photography is far too good and the recipes life changing.  It’s websites like this that change people’s perspectives on vegan/vegetarian food – this woman is a true trailblazer.

Dairy free cheese sauce & pasta

I was never mad on macaroni or cauliflower cheese so I don’t even know why I was looking for a cheesy recipe! Maybe it was for my lasagne, yes I think it was. Anyway, it’s known as comfort food for a reason, it is pretty comforting and today’s rain with greyest of grey cloud made me want this so bad, so I went to my bookmark folder and pulled this gem out. I also wanted to have a good base cheese sauce up my sleeve as it’s pretty versatile.Cheese sauce process

This cheese sauce has no cheese so the cheesy base flavour comes from the mustard and nutritional yeast. Being English I had to use English mustard (the burning nostril kind) over dijon and it worked really well. I can see why nutritional yeast is such a versatile, god sent ingredient – it really does taste like nutty cheese but with no nasties. Does life get any better. Seriously, it’s ramped with B vitamins and folic acid so is fantastic health wise. Also high in protein, fibre and gluten free. It’s a good news day because it’s also the only reliable plant food source of vitamin B12, just one more reason to get on the case. Glad that NY and I are finally together, see I’ve evened acronymed it because it’s become an essential store cupboard item for me.

We enjoyed this with brown rice fusilli and some kale stirred through. They always say the simple things are the best, well this is simple and it’s the best. What more could I ask for on a dull, rainy day?

Nutty. Cheesy. Creamy. Nourishing. Comfort food. Job done.

What’s your favourite way to use nutritional yeast in meals?Dairy free cheese sauce & pasta

Easy vegan, dairy free cheese sauce

1 tablespoon dairy free spread
1 tablespoon rice flour
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1/2 teaspoon onion & garlic powder
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon english mustard

Method:

1. In a small pan over a low heat melt the butter. Meanwhile in a seperate bowl whisk the flour & milk together.
2. Add the milk mixture to the pan, stirring continually over a low heat.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and keep stirring until sauce is thickened – about 5 minutes.
4. Serve over your favourite greens or with copious amounts of pasta.

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