Caramel Maca Chocolates – GF + Vegan

Caramel chocolatesAs a kid (and adult!) I had a big thing for white and golden caramel chocolate, especially Caramacs, Milky Bars, white chocolate mice, well white chocolate anything really. I’m just a fiend for white and gold chocolate full stop but the thing is it’s just so sweet, my taste buds must have matured or something! A lot of commercial white chocolate is rammed full of sugar and trans fats so the plan was to make some myself. Plus I was also looking for an excuse to use my heart shaped silicone chocolate moulds!Chocolate making!

These aren’t really like traditional white or golden chocolate because they contain lucuma and maca – they’re Peruvian superfood chocolates! The lucuma provides natural sweetness in maple/caramel tones and the maca gives a malty cereal flavour making them great additions. Both are super healthy for you, so this chocolate is turbo charged with a natural sweetness and a lot of goodness.

Maca, also known as the Peruvian ginseng is an adaptogen which basically means it helps the body to adapt to particular stresses, allowing it to deal with these and adapt naturally. In my opinion this is what makes maca a superfood but of course there’s more to this wonderful root from the radish/broccoli family. It’s rich in protein and B vitamins which is helpful for vegan diets and it’s renowned for it’s positive effects with regards to endocrine hormones balance, fertility issues, mood balance, osteoporosis, skin conditions and as an overall energy tonic. I must start adding this to my smoothies more often.

Sweet and fragrant lucuma is pretty special too and is a fantastic sweetener that doesn’t actually raise blood sugar levels. How that is even possible, I do not know! Derived from the subtropical fruit of the lucuma tree, this powder contains 14 essential trace elements including potassium and calcium and is rich in B vitamins. It’s anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, regenerative and has been shown to aid skin repair and wound healing. I’m in.Simple & vegan chocolate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t think making chocolate from scratch was for me being super easy to buy and a lot cheaper too. However,I wanted to make something that was actually good for me, dairy free, with less sugar, contained maca (don’t ask me why!) and of course would make use of my love heart moulds. So I found this recipe on the Sunfood website which looked really easy and is also supercharged with healthful ingredients, like maca. It wasn’t only simple, it was very quick too -just a case of melting the cocoa butter and adding the remaining ingredients before transferring to silicone moulds for the freezer. See- 5 minutes tops. I found I didn’t need as much lucuma (I used just 4 tablespoons) but you can pretty much gage quantities as you combine the ingredients. The key is to create a consistency that’s not too thin but also not overly thick so it can’t be poured into the moulds with ease.I also added two tablespoons of sweetener and a tad more vanilla than the original recipe for a softer flavour.

Easy process for a superfood chocolate

The taste was quite a shock at first as they’re nothing like my Caramac memories but fear not these are delicious in their own spectacular superfood way. Like shop bought chocolate these had a very creamy taste and texture but the flavour is much less sweet with malty cereal undertones. Satisfying. Update: I’ve just eaten another and it tasted better than the first, they’re very moreish! Although I thought ‘do it yourself’ chocolate wasn’t for me, I am ever so slightly converted, mainly because it’s so easy, the results are pretty good and you can control the sweetness levels and flavours too. The plan is to make a darker coconut variety next, or peanut butter, or spiced orange……..

What’s your favourite chocolate and do you make your own?Heart shaped chocolates

Caramel maca chocolates

(makes 20 small chocolates)

1 cup cocoa butter
4 tablespoons lucuma
1 tablespoon maca
vanilla pod, deseeded
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon agave nectar

Method.

1. Melt the cocoa butter over a very low heat until no solids remain.
2. Transfer to a bowl & add the remaining ingredients, mix until smooth.
3. Transfer mixture to silicone moulds or paper cases. Freeze for 30 minutes. Remove from the moulds before the chocolates reach room temperature.

Grain Free Coconut, Apple + Cinnamon Muffins – GF + Paleo

DSC_6649Panic over! I thought I’d run out of coconut flour but  I managed to scoop just enough out (just) to make these amazing muffins. Yes, they really are amazing because they’re grain free and low sugar but taste delicious! Of course I was too happy to make a muffin with all three of my favourite ingredients – obviously coconut flour was involved but so were my over lovers, cinnamon and apple. I just love these two together, what legends.A lot of eggs!

That’s exactly what I thought too: such a lot of eggs! The thing is coconut flour isn’t like those other grains, it sucks up any fluid put it’s way and these eggs help to bind the mixture which creates a moist yet low carb muffin. The apple and cinnamon just transport these to another level for me and the honey adds just the right sweetness. I’ve been eating them all week and they are goooood, just sweet enough, deliciously spiced with cinnamon, nicely light but still moist with apple and raisins.A lot of muffins!

What’s more is they’re wholesome, natural with endless selling points: grain free, low carb, high in medium chain fatty acids (they’re good fats and the ones the body doesn’t readily store but would rather use as energy), blood sugar regulating, fibre rich and a protein kick to boot. Are you’re sold yet? These didn’t last long because they’re the perfect snack and tick off all of the criteria from my snack wish list: easy to transport, delicious, healthy, low carb/high fat, contains at least one form of coconut, cinnamon friendly and a provider steady energy. Job done.A ray of sunshine!

These light and tasty treats are perfect with an afternoon cup of tea. They’re healthy enough to go with breakfast too, really they’re just screaming out ‘healthy snack’ for any time of the day!

What’s your ideal afternoon snack?Deliciously moist coconut muffin

Grain free coconut, apple + cinnamon muffins

(makes 10-12)

5 eggs
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 apple, grated
1/4 cup nut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
handful raisins
1 tablespoon honey

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 ºC. In a mixing bowl, whisk (or blend) all the ingredients (apart from raisins) thoroughly ensuring a smooth batter.
2. Fold through the raisins & allow to stand for 5-10 minutes. Line a muffin tray with paper cases & spoon 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each case.
3. Bake for 15 minutes until the muffins are brown & not too soft to touch.
4. Leave to cool before removing & storing.

Sun Dried Aubergine Bake + Italian Kale Salad – GF

“I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself” ~Rita Mae Brown

I’m not having a bad day or getting deep on you, I just love this quote, well quotes generally. It’s one of many I’ve been reading whilst I should be working. I do this a lot! But I need  inspiration every now and then and this is just a reminder that it’s OK to make choices slightly outside of the box or against the grain. It’s all about keeping strength in the face of social conditioning because let’s face it at some point we’re all subject to societal expectations. Not that I’m making any radical choices right now (although that depends on your idea of radical!) but occasionally I do feel the pressure to do things a certain way and I need to reality check when this happens. I don’t want to be in a box anyway! I usually just search quotes on a certain subject and lose myself in a sea of inspiration. I guess I just love random, out of the blue musings, such a great way to distract my mind from a mundane task or worry that I’m headed down wrong choice lane, wherever that may be. At least making an aubergine bake is definitely not down that lane!Aubergine bake italian style

I don’t often cook Italian food  but when I do I wonder why I don’t make the effort more! This really is gorgeous, especially with this mediterranean inspired kale salad. Lately, I’m just loving this massage your food malarkey, it gives the kale a much softer taste and texture as a result of the oil and lemon infusing their magic. I think I’ll be manipulating my kale a lot more! Of course any salad would work well with this, I’m just looking for more excuses to get more kale in to my meals and as I should be.Italian kale salad

Kale is a complete powerhouse of nutrients and has got to be one of the healthiest veggies on the block. Check this out: 1 cup of this humble green veggie provides 1327% of our daily vitamin K needs, now that’s powerful stuff! Let’s just take this fact as an indicator of it’s superiority in the healthy foods arena as it also contains impressive levels of vitamins A, B6 and C, tryptophan, copper, iron, calcium and fibre. Of course there’s more, it’s jam packed full of anti-oxidant, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory nutrients too, wow! Apologies for the science lesson but I’m just writing a quick note to myself: eat more kale! Slice, griddle, assemble & bake!

So the bake, well I call it bake but I’m sure there’s a pretty Italian name for this. Anyhow, this recipe is really simple (just slice, griddle, assemble and bake!), unbelievably tasty and full of vitamins and phytonutrients. Apparently, aubergines contain nasunin, an important free radical scavenger that helps protect brain cell membranes, I know – scientific stuff and I’m not one to turn down a brain boost! This is a great alternative to lasagne, especially if you’re looking for a lighter option as it’s very low in carbs. However, I cannot eat this without bread, it’s just one of my  rules.

Delicious aubergine bake!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to quotes, what’s your quote of the day?

Sun dried aubergine bake

(serves 2)

2 aubergines, sliced lengthways 1/2 cm thickness
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped roughly
1/2 teaspoon red chili
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
salt & pepper
1 can tomatoes & half can water

generous sprinkle parmesan (vegetarian), grated

Italian kale salad

2 handfuls fresh kale, stalks removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 fresh tomatoes
1/2 red onion, sliced finely
handful olives, chopped

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 ºC. Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil, charring on both sides in a griddle pan over a low heat. This will need to be done in batches.
2. Meanwhile lightly fry the onion & garlic in a pan over a low heat for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (except cheese) and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
3. Spoon a little mixture into an oven proof dish. Arrange one layer of the aubergine & repeat with a thin layer of sauce. Repeat until all slices have been used. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven 5 minutes before the end to add the cheese.

Note: It’s important to griddle the aubergine prior to baking to soften them, plus a griddle effect looks nice too. I’ve never assembled this without pre-cooking them but I guess this would be fine as long as the total bake time is extended.

Salad:

1. Place the kale & chopped onion in a bowl or on a chopping board. Combine the oil, lemon & salt in a small bowl. Massage the dressing into the leaves & onion mixture for 3 minutes.
2. Place on serving plate and dress with remaining ingredients.

Goodness Green Spinach, Kiwi + Spirulina Smoothie

Putting the green into a green smoothie!I cannot tell you how happy I am to be drinking green smoothies. Why oh why has it taken so long for me to start this habit? I am loving my Vitamix too, who knew such a simple thing could do so many amazing things. Anyway, this is the first (of many!) green smoothies I’ll be making in this little darling. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen the Thomas Crown Affair remake (the one with Pierce Brosnan), I think I was about 18 when I watched it. Anyway, there’s a scene with Renee Russo drinking one of these green smoothies and I remember wondering what the hell it was! Randomness, I know but I felt the urge to share that. It also goes to show how the US are space ages ahead when it comes to certain super foods and health crazes. Green juicing has become pretty mainstream now but I have to say the office were still a little taken back by my large glass jar crammed full of green stuff! It’s literally everywhere though, I watched ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead’ the other night and was amazed by how juicing can actually transform lives. Of course these people were extreme cases and personally I couldn’t juice for extended periods of time but it really opened my eyes to the health benefits of a time limited juice diet.Smoothie making

This particular smoothie contains spirulina which of course is entirely optional but gee whizz it gives a superb health boost and really puts the GREEN into a green smoothie. This amazing post on Mind Body Green is all the evidence I need to put a teaspoon into my greens. I buy this green algae from Holland & Barrett but there are good bargains to be had on Ebay too.DSC_6594

I’m the first to admit it isn’t exactly pretty but the taste is utterly delicious! The kiwi, banana and almond milk balance out the spinach and spirulina flavours perfectly, resulting in a silky, smooth, supercharged health tonic that has you feeling on top of the world! Of course, if the spirulina makes this green smoothie just a little too green for your taste, just leave it out.Spirulina smoothie

It’s near impossible to list the vitamin and mineral boost this drink provides but let’s just say there’s hefty amounts of vitamin A, B1, B2, C, E, K, magnesium, potassium, calcium and tryptophan. It’s high in fibre and protein and the perfect health tonic for a pick me up late afternoon or as part of a power breakfast.Smoothie all gone!

Spinach, kiwi + spirulina smoothie

(serves 1)

2 handfuls fresh spinach
1 kiwi, skin removed
1/2 frozen banana
1 teaspoon spirulina (optional)
1 cup almond milk

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz on high for 45 seconds or until smooth. Enjoy the goodness.

Easy No Bake Granola Bars

Easy no bake granola barsMy Vitamix arrived yesterday morning and at first I was scared of it so I left it in the box, all day. Today I thought I should get her out, so I reluctantly did and I’m glad now because I was pleasantly surprised by her sleek, fuss free, two switch appearance. It was the simplicity and lack of dials that did it for me, I have no desire to play around with numerous gadgets and add ons so this is just the ticket. I’m clutter phobic, especially when it comes to pointless gadgets, so this is me, very me. I have an aversion to large, bulky, complicated ‘things’ and some of the models I was looking at were frankly quite scary and intimidating. It’s OK though cos the Vitamix and I are getting along just fine. So anyway, not daunted by these two switches I really wanted to pulse something to oblivion to see what this baby could do! Dates seemed like a good place to start so I blitzed a whole bag of them into a big gooey ball! Wow, the thing is mighty powerful but I didn’t actually think about what I was going to do to with my dates post Vitamix treatment! After staring at them for  a good five minutes wondering what to make I decided on granola bars.Granola bars ready for the cut!

Never having made a proper granola bar before this seemed like the most suitable destination for my pulsed dates. I’ve eaten plenty but have never been bowled over by a particular brand and the majority have a disappointingly high sugar content. Many boast of ‘all natural ingredients’ on the sleek packaging fooling us into thinking they’re healthy but sugar is natural, right! Another downside is the price, why are they such a rip off? Never mind, my first world problem is now solved with these beauties. Easy & good value granola bars

These worked out fabulously for my first shot at cereal bars. I focused on creating a wet ingredient consistency that would bind well with the dry bits and the whole mixture came together nicely.  They do hold together well but I still wouldn’t want one jiggling around in my handbag, not unless I fancied granola instead! I’m not talking break a tooth sturdy but rather a chewy robustness that will take a few knocks here and there. Anyhow, these are better than any health store bar I’ve had, by miles and they’re just the start of my mission to produce a robust, tooth friendly and delicious cereal bar.  I’m very happy with this bar for now though.Easy no bake granola process

Right, a bit about the ingredients. I used almonds and sunflower seeds purely because they’re a favourite but I suppose any nuts / seeds can be supplemented here. I like to toast the oats and nuts because it really brings out the flavour, plus it smells heavenly. The peanut butter can be replaced by any nut butter and the honey for agave or maple syrup. Chocolate, dried fruit and other cereal would also make good additions. They’re pretty adaptable and can be changed to suit your store cupboard, as long as the wet and dry ratios are kept similar to the original recipe. I bet you even have the ingredients to make some now?

So, what’s your secret to a granola bar that can handle a ride in my handbag? Is there a secret ingredient?Yummy granola bars

Easy no bake granola bars

1 cup pitted dates
1 1/2 cups oats
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
pinch of salt
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup clear honey

Method:

1. Pulse the dates until a doughy ball forms. Remove & place in a large mixing bowl.
2. Toast the oats, almonds and seeds over a low heat for 10 minutes. Alternatively place in a medium heat oven for 10 minutes.
3. In a pan over a low heat, combine the peanut butter, honey, salt & date mixture until well blended. Add to the oat mixture and combine fully.
4. Line a 8″X15″ baking pan with plastic wrap or grease proof paper. Press mixture into pan evenly and compact.
5. Freeze for 30 minutes. Slice in to 10 bars. Store in an airtight container.

Simple Celery Soup – Vegan

Simple Celery SoupWhy do you hate celery? Maybe I’m being a little presumptuous but if in fact you’re not a hater, then why do so many people detest poor old celery?

I’m guessing it’s something to do with the taste, texture or appearance.  But to me, fresh celery has a pretty inoffensive grassy, earthy flavour, a nice crunchy bite and is quite attractive when compared to some other vegetables! Simple Celery Soup

This simple celery soup is versatile too – topped with crunchy peanut butter, a long squirt of salad cream, lovely in salads, smothered in cheese, a pasta sauce, simply roasted and of course lovely celery soup.

I remember having this soup when I was a kid and loving it, almost a bit too much for a ten year old! For some reason I haven’t had it since and lord knows why because it’s simple, super cheap and pretty good for you too.Simple Celery Soup

To me celery is an impressive little vegetable considering it’s 95% water. It’s packed full of antioxidants and provides sizeable quantities of Vitamin A, C and K, folate and potassium.

I reckon I could sell celery to any doubters and this smooth, silky, creamy soup is a sure fire way to convert those who are not yet celery fans.

Not only is it supercharged with nutrients, it cost less than £1 to make. It’s quick too, taking less than half an hour to make and can be stored in the fridge for a leftovers lunch.

On the occasions I don’t feel like cooking I usually make a simple soup, they’re so time efficient that I can’t really find an excuse not to cook fresh.Simple Celery Soup

Give your body some goodness and make some super cleansing, hydrating simple celery soup. Even more delicious when served with fresh, warm bread.Simple Celery Soup

Delightful Simple Celery Soup

(serves 4)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped roughly
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon thyme (optional)
1 head of celery, cleaned & chopped roughly
1 white potato or 1 cup cauliflower, chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock
pepper

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a non stick pot and add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Puree the soup using a blender. Hand held works fine.
  4. Return to the pan, check seasoning and serve.

Smoked Chipotle Black Beans – GF

Beans, taco & tortillaThis is my favourite, most delicious dish EVER! Really, I mean it, I adore these black beans, they’re my go to comfort food and always will be. Some cuisine is just better without meat and even when I wasn’t veggie I always preferred my Mexican meat free, same for Indian come to think of it. Of course now I prefer everything meatless and I eat these chipotle beans a lot. If I had a pound for every time I’ve made these I would be…….well maybe not rich but it would be enough to put a smile on my face! Now I’m actually wondering how much it would be!

Food like this makes it easy to be a vegetarian. They’re delicious, simple, full of goodness and adaptable! What more could anyone want? Except perhaps eating them at the beach, in Mexico, watching the sunset, listening to the gentle crash of the waves with a coconut margarita in hand. I digress but I can dream and it’s good to do so! Anyway, I’m proud to say that Russ classes these as his favourite food, EVER! So much so that we eat them twice a week sometimes and always once. Is that a bit habitual? The thing is I love them, they are comforting, healthy and a real vegetarian victory!Russ & his black bean taco!

I prefer to use black beans for the size, colour and softer texture but this works perfectly well with kidney, pinto, haricot and black eye beans. In fact, kidney beans being just under thirty pence in most supermarkets make this dish a seriously cheap option.  For added sweetness, texture and nutrient bumping I add cubed squash and red pepper but they’re equally yum with carrot, green peppers (any peppers), sweetcorn, peas and courgette. See what I mean about being super healthy – full of protein and vitamins!Beans, salad & tortilla!

I know chili and chocolate is no new partnership but I was still a little reticent when I first lobbed a hunk of gloriously dark chocolate into my chili bean hard work. However, it adds a real deep rich colour and aroma when combined with the smokiness of the chipotle chili. The chipotle dried chilies will need overnight soaking but I’ve found that a few generous shakes of chipotle sauce work pretty well if you don’t these. Smokey dried chillies are fantastic for Mexican cuisine and simply require soaking for five or more hours.  We buy our chipotle chillies from the Mex Grocer who provide an amazing array of Mexican goods. I make a point to never run out!! Yep, in fact I’m addicted to these beans and stuff my tortillas to the brim with them, there’s no such thing as too much! Just ask my tortilla………Chipotle chili & licked bowls!

Fantastic served with crunchy tacos (always heat before serving – gosh it’s like a completely different food), soft tortillas, lettuce wraps (for those wanting something lighter). or simply rice and nachos. Dress up or down with copious amounts of salad, cheese, sour cream and salsa and be transported to chill choco black bean heaven. Prayers answered!

Smoked chipotle black beans

(Serves 2)

1 tablespoon of oil
1 onion, peeled & chopped
2 gloves of garlic, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
salt & pepper
2 chipotle chilies, presoaked & chopped finely
1/2 can of tomatoes & 1 can of water
4 squares dark chocolate (dairy free for vegan beans)
1 teaspoon oregano/cumin/coriander/cinnamon
1 cup of squash (peeled and cubed)
1 can black beans (drained)
1 handful of coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a non stick pan. Gently fry the onion, garlic and pepper. season with salt & pepper.
  2. Stir in the chipotle chili, tomatoes, water, chocolate, spices & squash. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Stir through black beans & coriander until heated through.
  4. Serve as a hearty stew or as a filling for tacos & tortillas.

Apple & Blackberry Coconut Bake – GF & Paleo

Apple & blackberry coconut bakeYou don’t get anything for free these days, aside from a bowl of blackberries and this is just once a year and not for very long. There’s no such thing as a free lunch so when it comes to blackberry season I like to get involved! I was far too happy to see there’s several bushes along a pathway near our flat which have fruited early this year. The thing is there’s lots of foot traffic down this path and these poor blackberries have been picked on a lot. I’ve noticed certain foragers getting a little territorial with thriving bushes and if it’s close to home it’s theirs, ready for the pie dish. I should know, I use to frequent the same old bush in anticipation that nobody has touched my blackberries!Blackberry picking

Of course it’s always the easiest most accessible sections of the bush that are barren.  The parts that are out of reach and buried in bramble  are usually bursting with plump, dark purple, juicy, sweet, fizz on the tongue berries. These are the ones I go for, I like a challenge. Russ and I always joke that we should dress up in protective clothing in order to avoid the tangly stinging nettles and brambles intertwined with the blackberry bushes. Maybe we should mark out our territory with some tape or a few hazard cones….just kidding! I can avoid these scrapes and stings by going to the market instead but it’s way more fun to pick your own, eating a few along the way with purple stained fingers.

I remember blackberries being most fruitful at the end of the summer holidays and as kids me and the sister always frequented ‘our’ bush with the motivation of a homemade  pie or crumble for tea, the latter was by far my favourite. We were always smugly happy to be the first ones there, filling our tupperware to the brim!. My sister always used to get a lecture  (from me!) on picking protocol: ‘you can tell which berries are ripe and ready, they come off easily when given a slight pull, OK?’. Before returning home we scanned  for bushes close to ripening for our next visit. I still do this and have already made a mental note of the abundant close to ripe reddish fruit that I’ll be going back for next week. I think I love blackberry picking just as much as the eating! Im definitely feeling that forager/hunter gatherer vibe!!Apple & blackberry bake

I can’t be bothered with traditional apple pie though. It’s stodgy, heartburn inducing and is usually very high in sugar and since I’ve weened myself off the stuff I find most ‘sweet’ treats these days just a bit too sweet. Anyway, I decided it was high time I made an Apple Charlotte (well it is my name- Charlotte not Apple!) but then I realised I didn’t have enough bread and of course I have everything coconut  so I settled on an apple sponge bake type thing.  I loved apple spongey cake stuff as a kid so thought  a similar dish with a twist made sense. Apples are  easily one of my favourite fruits and I adore the blackberry combo for the flavour but also the colour the two create when stewed.  I had a crack at coconut sponge mix and I have to admit when I first put it together it looked a bit lumpy so I wore myself out beating it over and over. I stopped when I realised the specky lumps were desiccated coconut, doh. Anyway, I kept adding milk and water until the mixture had the consistency of  a classic sponge mix ready for spreading onto the apple and blackberry in a glass dish. Of course, it doesn’t need to be glass but the colours of the fruit are amazing and it’s nice to see. I ended up baking this for 40 minutes and mid way through was a tad dubious about it working out but by the end the sponge had indeed set with a springy touch. After a little cooling (I could only manage 10 minutes due coconut aroma induced hunger!) I cut a slice and was quite smug when it slipped out beautifully. A dollop of greek yoghurt and a fork later I ate this on the patio steps in my own apple, blackberry, coconut heaven. Super excited about taste testing on Russ later.  Sometimes you need to check you’re not delusional in thinking your baking is utterly delicious when in fact it isn’t all that good!Eating bake

Of course this is good for you. Check out the ingredients list, it’s also low in carbs and sugar making it a much better choice than standard apple sponge/pies. This beats any apple dessert I’ve had before and I’ll be making it again soon, perhaps with pear and blueberry next time.

The only downside to this whole apple and blackberry episode is my ceramic pan is now purple inside, any suggestions?finished bake

Apple, blackberry & coconut bake

(serves 4)

2 cups apples
1 1/2 cups blackberries
2 tablespoons stevia
cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup dessicated coconut
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
vanilla pod, deseeded
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 egg
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup of water

Method:

1. Pre -heat oven to 180 ºC. Simmer apples, blackberries, cinnamon & 1 tablespoon of the stevia in a pan with 2 tablespoons of water until softened – about 10 minutes. Add more water if the fruit begins to dry out.
2. Beat the remaining ingredients to form a sponge like batter, adding the water carefully to prevent an overly thin the mixture.
3. Transfer fruit to a glass baking dish. Spread the coconut batter over the top ensuring an even spread. Bake for 40 minutes until firm to the touch with a slight spring.

Note: Coconut is very absorbent & some brands differ. As such, take care when adding the milk & liquid as you may need slightly less or more according to the coconut flour brand.

Peach, Maple & Cinnamon Rice Pancakes – GF

Rice pancakes & peachesA randomly acquired food rule I broke yesterday: Pancakes are reserved for weekends or holidays. Yeah right!

Well first up, what a silly rule and such a terrible way to live! To think about all those weekdays I’ve been missing out on my own personal pancake (well these are more crepe like) party. I suppose I’ve always associated pancake breakfasts with lazy weekends or scenes from American sitcoms where nobody’s in a rush to get to work. But these aren’t even time consuming. In fact, they’re quick, very quick, so I’m gonna make a point of eating these during the week in the hope of tricking myself! If this means I’m late for work then so be it, my pancake stack is worth it. I’m worth it!Peachy pancakes

As if being delicious isn’t enough, these are a great way to start the day and an excellent canvas for adding fruit and other delicious extras. I’m trying to eat less gluten so rice flour provides a tasty alternative  to wheat. These are a little heavier than they would be if you used almond or oat flour but the overall result is pretty satisfying. I love peaches, especially when they’re on the verge of over ripe. Yep, I reckon peaches are my favourite fruit and I love them even more with cinnamon and sticky syrup. These would work with any fruit really, dress them up or down, they’re easy going and accepting of most additions. Just be sure not to eat all your fruit before the pancakes are finished, like me! How can anyone in their right mind slice a ripe juicy peach and leave it alone? Peachy pancake process

These are just too simple not to make, enjoy them any way you want them. Be sure to break your own food rules and take some time over breakfast…..even if it makes you a few minutes late!

Peach, maple & cinnamon rice pancakes

(Serves 1)

50 grams rice flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 organic egg
1/4 pint coconut/almond milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup
coconut oil, for frying
1 ripe peach, sliced
Maple syrup for drizzling

Method:

1. Combine the rice flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Place milk in a measuring jug, adding the egg and maple syrup.
2. Combine the wet and dry ingredients to form a smooth batter.
3. Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add a ladle of batter. Cook on each side for a minute and transfer to a warm plate. Repeat until batter is finished.
4. Arrange pancakes and peaches on a plate. Drizzle with maple syrup. Enjoy.

Courgette & Quinoa Pizzas – GF

Courgette & quinoa pizzasThis isn’t strictly ‘pizza’ pizza but honestly, it’s just as tasty with a courgette base and of course it’s healthier. I didn’t know what to write in the title post – courgette or zucchini. I’ve always been a courgette person although zucchini is infinitely nicer sounding so I may even swap teams! It ‘s always interesting to see where others fall too, the same with aubergine/eggplant, coriander/cilantro and turnips/swedes. I witnessed a full blown argument with the last two, over whether it was indeed  a swede or a turnip. It was definitely a swede but needless to say I stayed well out of it! I don’t even think it’s an American / English thing either as I’ve heard British people say zucchini and friends from the States have a preference for courgette. Anyway, it’s just one of those things that fascinates me, same goes for you say tom-ay-to, I say tom-ar-to, I say pot-ay-to, you say pot-ar-to! It’s probably just me but I love all these little differences and preferences in life. Courgette & quinoa pizzas

Names and titles aside, these are neat little low carb pizzas with a good protein kick and 2 servings of vegetables. Sometimes you just want a lighter meal and these are the perfect way to lighten up. Pizza would work equally well in aubergine, mushrooms, beef tomatoes but I think courgettes (I mean zucchinis!) are pretty ideal and there was an abundance at the market this week. They’d be really tasty with some fresh baguette or pitta bread if you’re looking for a more substantial meal. We had them with some leftover spelt buttermilk bread which was really nice. These are super easy and can be made ahead of time for a quick grilling before teatime. Courgette pizza process

Any cheese would be nice but mozzarella is a an ideal choice as it turns stringy and pizza like under the grill. The quinoa gives the stuffing a pleasing texture but also boosts the protein which along with the cheese makes a protein rich dish.Courgette pizzas with cheese

Are you in team courgette or team zucchini?

‘Zucchini’ & quinoa pizzas

(serves 2)

2 large courgettes, hollowed (see pictures)
1/2 red onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt & pepper
1/2 can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup mozzarella, grated
handful chopped olives

Method:

1. Cut the courgettes in half and scoop out the insides. Put innards aside and place courgettes on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil & bake for 15 minutes at 180 ºC.
2. Lightly fry onion, garlic & courgette innards, adding the herbs and seasonings after 5 minutes followed by the tomatoes and cooked quinoa.  Simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Remove courgettes from the oven and fill the courgettes with the tomato quinoa mix. Dress with mozzarella and chopped olives. Place under a hot grill for 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and stringy.

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