Raw Berry Coconut Cheesecake

cheesecake vegan

So, when you’re having hardcore meat and dairy lovers round for tea, what in god’s name do you make for them and more importantly what about dessert? You make this of course, this raw berry coconut cheesecake.

Yep, it’s vegan AND raw, so I’m breaking them in gently but boy it’s good and nuts don’t need cooking. This is pure heaven on a plate and our guests thought so too. Thank the lord.

vegan cheesecake

There’s something about inviting meat eaters round for tea, like I almost feel guilty about subjecting them to plant based food as a break from their meat twice-daily norm. Really, come on, it’s not that bad – some veggies just for one meal for one day of your life. I like eating this way, I know how good you can feel so for me I just cannot believe how much of a novelty it becomes for other people. Y’know – not having meat or dairy at lunch time is like, so weird? What’s happening to the world when we can’t seem to have a couple of animal free days a week? Ah man, c’mon stop breaking my heart.

cheesecake vegan

Who were these ‘people’ anyway? Russ’s parents, who love their meat and love their dairy desserts. The thing is we don’t actually broadcast our food choices unless at family occasions where we’ll always cater for ourselves and take an appropriate dish. I gotta say people are generally OK when you’re a vegetarian, ‘but you still eat dairy and eggs, right?’, followed by a deep breath and then an ‘oh good’ when you nod yes. That’s why we haven’t gone there with family, it really feels like treading cement so when Russ’s Mum asked whether we ate dairy and Russ answered no, I really was not prepared by the reaction which was a mixture of disappointment, disapproving, judgement, bewilderment and slight anger. Really, I was cringing inside and upset for days after. It was just plain awkward.

Anyway, I had to have a show stopping dessert, a dessert that says yep there’s no egg, milk or cream in me but geez i’m the best god damn cheesecake you ever ate. Period.

This did it. Thank you raw berry coconut cheesecake. You made my day. You made that cringeworthy moment not so bad.

vegan cheesecake

Raw berry coconut cheesecake

(8 slices)

crust:
1 cup almonds
1 cup dates
1/2 cup dried coconut
pinch of sea salt

cream:

2 cups cashews (soaked for 4 hours)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup water
juice of half lemon
pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping cup of berries (I used frozen raspberries + blueberries)

berries + raw coconut for dressing (entirely optional)

method:

1. In a food processor or blender pulse the nuts to a fine crumb. Then add the coconut, dates + salt continuing to pulse until a sticky smooth dough forms. I used a Vitamix so had the push the ingredients around a little to get it all smooth. Press mixture firmly, evenly + smoothly into a 7 inch springform pan.
2. Drain + rinse cashews. Blend with remaining cream ingredients apart from the raspberries. Pour half the mixture over the almond crust + place in the freezer for 1-2 hours.
3. Add the raspberries to the remaining cream mixture + blend to a pretty smooth mixture. Pour the pinky/purply cream over the cheesecake. Freeze for 4 hours until set or overnight.
4. Remove from freezer 2 hours before serving + top with delicious things like more berries + coconut.

 

 

Super Moist Wholegrain Carrot Cake + Why You Don’t Have to Ditch the Sugar!

Since being pregnant I am into Cake. Like really into it. But I’m also quite health conscious and I don’t see why my poor baby has to suffer processed white flours, refined sugars and trashy fats. But that’s fine because there is no need with cake like this, a cake that, to be quite frank is wholly acceptable to eat EVERYDAY – hell twice a day. What….I’m pregnant and finally past that nausea stage which means food is my friend again! There’s so much stuff out there suggesting we give up sugar, I agree, I really do but we don’t need to give it up 100% but rather the refined processed junk, yuk! I’m gonna tell you about sugar that is actually a health tonic- truly and sincerely. It’s all OK.

carrot cake vegan

So anyway, I made THIS fruit cake and it knocked my socks off (yeah I like old lady cakes mostly) but the thing is I ate most of it and that makes me feel bad cos it’s Russ’s favourite cake too. My excuse is pregnancy. No matter, I’m gonna make this badass snackage again and ice the hell out of it.

So this one’s for you Russ. Well just a slice or two maybe!

Sorry to go on but gosh I love small wonders like this….. a carrot cake that’s healthy as hell. Yeah yeah what does that even mean- it means this:

WHOLEGRAIN
NO REFINED SUGARS
ZERO TRASHY FATS
THERE’S VEGETABLES, OH AND FRUIT
HIGH FIBRE

vegan carrot cake

Now about the molasses…..hello…sugar with health benefits is good enough for me. This is the good stuff that’s left behind after we’ve taken the toxic stuff from sugar cane. It’s dark, rich, sweet, healthful- this IS the good, good, good stuff. With such a low glycemic load, it’s even fine for diabetics. Good for regularity if you know what I mean, owning 14% of our iron and 12% calcium needs in 1 heaping tablespoon and also linked to improved hair health. Blackstrap molasses are literally a health tonic. There you go, no need to give up sugar! Other lovely healthier alternatives to refined sugar are dates, xylitol and coconut sugar. Sugar is not evil 🙂 Just on the phone to Mcvities and Mr Kipling now to tell them, lol!

carrot cake vegan

And about the spelt flour
..I know it’s not strictly a GF flour but hey it’s pretty low in gluten and a breeze to bake with. You can literally sub white flour in EVERY recipe and it works brilliantly. It’s tasty too, like in a sweet nutty way. The truth is I wanted to add walnuts but I was out, I think I ate them on my porridge so I used coconut and I was loving it.

Fear not, it’s not one of those – ‘this tastes healthy’ cakes. It IS NOT at all.

Vegan Carrot Cake

Super moist wholegrain carrot cake

1 heaping cup coarsely grated carrot
3/4 cup raisins
1 1/4-1/2 cup water
1/2 cup molasses
30g vegan butter or coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bi-carb soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 160ÂșC. Combine first seven ingredients in a saucepan. Stir over a low heat until smooth, simmering + the dried spices are dissolved.

2. Allow to cool. Stir in sifted flours, salt & baking powder + soda with coconut.

3.  Pour into well greased 7″ cake tin.

4.  Bake for 1 Œ hours. Remove. cool. Tuck in. Save some for others.

Aduki Paprika Stew with Sweet Potato Apricot Dumplings (GF + Vegan)

Because food ruts happens to us all!

Russ and I can get a little stale with our vegan stews. You know how it is, if it aint broke don’t fix it and if it’s your favourite then of course you wanna eat that and not experiment with other stuff. But there’s only so much black bean squash stew and spanish chick peas you can eat before looking at each other and laugh. It’s like a food rut that you choose to be in!

Anyway, this recipe is the result of a Saturday late morning dabble, a rummage through the cupboards and fridge and this stew happened.

Vegan Aduki Bean Stew

Aduki beans, sweet potato, kale, gluten free, zero dairy. Let’s do this.

It is what it is. A healthful, superfood packed stew suitable for vegetarians, vegans, gluten free guys, lactose free kids and hell bent carnivores.

Food for EVERYONE.

aduki bean stew

The beans and mushrooms provide substance, the dumplings give good comfort and the smokey spice of the paprika and apricots give a sweet warmth. It is delicious! I still love my black bean squash stew and Spanish chick peas, I always will!

aduki bean stew

I have no more words. See you soon.

Aduki bean stew vegan

Aduki Paprika stew with sweet potato apricot dumplings

(serves me + Russ)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 celery stalks, chopped finely
1 carrot, chopped into small pieces
10 mushrooms, chopped
2 handfuls kale, torn
1 can aduki beans, drained (240 grams)
1 can chopped tomatoes + 1 of water
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
seasoning

dumplings:
1/2 cup GF flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 apricots, chopped finely
1 small cooked sweet potato, flesh only
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon soya yoghurt
1 teaspoon chopped dill or parsley
seasoning

method:
1. Heat olive oil over a low heat + add the first 4 ingredients until softened.
2. Add the remaining ingredients + simmer on low for 15 minutes. Add more water if necessary.
3. Combine the dumpling ingredients to form a cookie dough consistency. Form 6 small dumplings or spoon the mixture straight into the pot. Cook, cover for a further 15 minutes.
4. Serve with a sprinkle of herb + crusty bread. Why not?

 

Dairy Free Chocolate Birthday Cake

No not my birthday, mine’s July! I took this to my brother’s 40th tea party at my Mum’s house. She’s a good kid.

vegan birthday cake

So yeah, when you go over to the vegan side, mainstream cake is like really hard- eggs, butter, milk etc. It’s one big animal party in a cake. The thing is I like some chocolately dense cakeage and I knew I had to do something about it, so I made this. It really is like your average sponge, nothing ground breaking but hey I wasn’t trying to break any plant based cake ground but rather master a simple Chocolate Cake. I just swapped each animal ingredient for a plant ingredient such as coconut oil and nut milk. YUM! Of course I topped it with kiddy sprinkles, I was trying to be popular 😉 and make an appealing looking chocolate cake.

Vegan birthday cake

The other thing is I am pregnant, 5 months pregnant and I figured I will soon have the responsibility of being able to knock up a chocolate sponge that’s delicious and healthy too. C’mon, what Mum can’t make cake? Crikey, still can’t get used to that word.

I love how this is wholegrain with no dairy and no unrefined sugar. I know a few peeps who would knock me for this in a ‘oh let your hair down girl, it’s a birthday!’ I just say ‘bugger off’, life’s already short and ‘my’ cake is delicious and healthy and the bonus is it wont make you feel sluggish, collapse your bowls later in life, or cause a nice bit of type 2 diabetes. Steady on!

Vegan chocolate cake

It’s so easy too and takes 3 minutes to knock up with ALL the ingredients available at your local Sainsbury’s. The thing is if you don’t have coconut oil, use another vegetable oil such as canola, same goes for xylitol, just use raw cane sugar or maple syrup (but please do get involved with xylitol as it’s truly amazing stuff).

Not having an overly sweet tooth, chocolate cake has been on my to do list for a while, yeah who else can say that?! Anyhow, it’s done now and the result was: SUCCESS.

Vegan birthday cake

I have 4 nieces and they all ate this…..and enjoyed it too. There was a non vegan sponge and carrot cake too at the party. Fact is THIS vegan birthday cake got eaten first, seriously! Ashamed to say this recipe makes a pretty small cake, so next time I plan to double the ingredients and sandwich two seven inch cakes or make a larger single layer!

My work here is done.

Vegan birthday cake

Vegan Chocolate Cake

(8 slices, big ‘uns)

1 1/4 cups spelt flour
3/4 cup xylitol
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup almond milk
1 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut oil

chocolate topping:

4 tbsp margarine
1/2 cup xylitol
2 tbsp almond milk
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

sprinkle with anything

method:
1. Preheat oven to 180 Âș CELSIUS. Sift flour, baking powder + cocoa into a large mixing bowl. Add the xylitol + salt, combining thoroughly. In a measuring jug, mix the remaining ingredients + add to the dry mix. Using a whisk, combine the mixture thoroughly resisting the urge to drink it all.
2. Transfer to a greased 7 inch cake tin. Bake for 30 minutes.
3. Remove + cool completely.
4. Meanwhile, combine all the chocolate topping ingredients in a small pan over a high heat and stir until smooth, silky + fully combined. This will thicken as it dries so glaze cake within 5 minutes + top copiously with yummy things like berries, cocoa nibs, sprinkles or anything that takes your fancy.

Being Pregnant + Vegan

healthy diet pregnancy
Pregnancy has been harder than I thought what with the weight gain, nausea and numerous other weird physical side effects (!) but I tell you something, it’s that much harder being pregnant AND vegan! Like really hard. Not in a diet and ‘oh geez, what can I eat?’ way but in a socially acceptable way. I truly wasn’t prepared for the amount of questioning I’d receive with regards to my diet, my baby and the absence of meat and dairy in my diet. It’s been a little like this:

‘So, now that you’re pregnant are you eating meat?’

‘What about milk, you need calcium for the baby?’

Are you still a vegan now you’re expecting?’

No, I know and Yes.

I admit, I’ve struggled the past few months with these questions and although I know people only mean well, I can’t help but feel annoyed and at times a little like public property! Of course I answer politely and tell them I get plenty of calcium from alternative sources etc but the look of uncertainty is all the proof I need that they just don’t get it.

The thing is, I know about food, about nutrition, I’m kinda sensible and I’m a bit of a research nerd so naturally I did my homework on a plant based pregnancy. I know what I’m doing, it’s everyone else that’s doubtful, and there lies the problem. The other day was a particularly busy one for questioning, like 3 people asked me straight out whether I was still a ‘veggie’ at a team meeting in between congratulations. I’m pretty steadfast, I have the necessary knowledge but there’s only so much you can take before you start to doubt yourself and go home to calculate your calcium intake for that day, your protein for the week and the iron content of your lunch. I’ll send a text to Russ relaying all of this, to be greeted by his response of reassurance followed by my own realisation that I really do know the facts and that I’m doing the best for my baby.

My recent scan showed everything is progressing nicely with baby being the perfect size for her weeks. I am not deficient in anything, have bundles of energy and my weight gain is bang on target!

I refuse to measure nutrient levels and weigh absolutely anything (well except when baking, lol!), believe it’s completely unnecessary and why should I anyway? My body isn’t lacking a single nutrient, I look and feel full of energy and my baby is happy and healthy. I believe this is because I eat REAL food. Nobody seems to comment or judge the mum to be who drinks diet coke, eats KFC and a large bag of haribo but rather they are reassured they are eating for two and to enjoy it whilst they can!

Diets, especially during pregnancy are pretty personal and very individual and the following is what works for me but everybody is different, thank goodness 😉 Above everything, knowledge sure is power.

Here’s what I’ve been doing since being pregnant:

1. I have gone ORGANIC. Or partly organic. I try to at least buy the dirty dozen all organic alongside staples such as bread, nuts and oats. This change will stick with me, less chemicals is never a bad thing.

2. I have increased my intake of healthy FATS at each meal particularly oiive oil, nut butters, avocados, nuts, seeds, tahini, vegan cheeses. I find this alone has helped me feel more satiated and given me a level energy throughout the day.

3. I make sure I eat CALCIUM rich foods daily and it’s really quite a breeze on a plant based diet. I personally maintain healthy levels by eating the following: green leafy veg such as broccoli, kale, spinach and cabbage (did you know there’s more calcium in a cup of collard greens than in 1 cup of milk), fortified nut milks such as almond or coconut that contain 30% RDA in 200 ml, tahini which provides 10% RDA in just 1 tablespoon, molasses to sweeten, fortified oatmeal (Ready Brek) provides an excellent source too with a large bowl containing a whopping 60% RDA, an orange a day because I just love them, a handful almonds whenever I’m peckish, chickpeas / any pulse really (20% RDA in 1 cup) in a stew/curry or hummus and fortified wholemeal breads.

4. I have upped my IRON intake a little too by making sure I eat a wide selection of iron rich foods throughout the day including sweet potatoes, raisins, dates, figs, prunes, molasses, peas, artichokes, dark leafy greens, spirulina in smoothies, pumpkin, all whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans, beans and more beans.  At least once a day I’ll try to have a food rich in vitamin C alongside iron rich foods such as baked beans and sweet potato to improve the iron absorption. Oh and chocolate too – a 3 oz. portion of cooked ground beef (70% lean meat, 30% fat) contains 2.11 mg of iron, while 3 oz. of dark chocolate boasts 10.12 mg.

5. I drink way more WATER. This has made a HUGE difference to my digestion and energy levels and I just know that 3 litres a day makes a big difference to my wellbeing and my baby’s too.

6. Dear old PROTEIN and where d’ya get it from!  Well I aim for a little more than before, about 70 grams per day. It’s easy as hell to get enough protein as a vegan if you cook real foods so I just keep a mindful eye on making sure I get some quality protein in at each meal from my favourite sources, including greens (most people don’t think of greens as punching much of a protein punch but they really do), nuts, seeds especially hemp, lentils, beans (15 grams in 1 cup!), nut milks, sprouted grain breads, oats, quinoa, cocoa (yeah really!) and occasionally Quorn. I don’t sweat this protein lark as other people do, that’s enough for me!

7. I have VICES. Beer and coffee. No more beer but I still drink coffee, just two cups in the morning and refrain from caffeine for the remainder of the day.

8. I take a general pregnancy SUPPLEMENT as advised by my midwife such as Pregnacare and also a B12 supplement.

So I pretty much eat the same foods I ate before, but at the start of my pregnancy I made sure to take a closer look to ensure I was covering all bases. I believe my body (and midwife!) will tell me if something’s up and I plan to continue eating a whole foods plant based diet for the reminder of my pregnancy and after that too.

Some light reading:

http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/veganpregnancy.php

http://www.vegansociety.com/lifestyle/parenting/vegan-babies-and-children/pregnancy.aspx

https://www.vegsoc.org/

http://www.vegkitchen.com/nutrition/vegetarian-pregnancy/

Running During Pregnancy + Reasons to Continue

Running is definitely a big part of my life, I really do LOVE it. I’ve been running for 11 plus years with a 39 minute 10K and a 3.04 Marathon time under my belt. So although I’m no Paula or Kara, I was still pretty good for an amatuer. I say ‘was’ because I really don’t feel like the same girl, the girl that popped on her running shoes for a pre-work 40 minute 6 minute mile paced run. The girl who jumped on the treadmill to race Russ on a 5K time trial! It’s all very different now and I don’t even know if i’ll be as good as I was again.

running pregnant

 

I knew things would change when I got pregnant, and being a worrier I have done a hell of a lot of research into the effects of moderate exercise, specifically running when pregnant. I have found nothing that concerns me whatsoever but rather have been inspired by other pregnant runners and the major health benefits that remaining fit and healthy throughout pregnancy brings with it. Of course I’ve had to make changes and adapt to my changing body but keeping up with running has kept me sane and healthy in my first 5 months! Well almost……I’m pregnant after all!

Here’s how I’ve continued to run:

I mentioned it to both my doctor and midwife. Both were happy for me to continue.

I’ve had to explain to the worriers. So some people are really shocked by a pregnant runner whilst others are like, ‘oh cool’. This is pretty hard when you know you are doing nothing but good for yourself and baby and a few people remain concerned and sometimes alarmed! So to the worriers I explain how slow I now run, that I’d never push myself, how good it is for me and baby and that it really IS healthy. No one’s spat on me yet as I’ve jogged on by, lol!

My Goals have shifted big time. It’s no longer about the times and the fitness but rather the fresh air, endorphins, blood flow and pure enjoyment of getting out there. No GPS needed.

Gosh I’ve slowed down! To be honest I could still run a lot faster than I am but it’s like a mental running block, I just can’t and won’t go my old pace and don’t believe that would be healthy for me or my baby. Anyway there’s been something rather liberating about just running for the sheer fun of it with no timers and no measurements whilst just taking it all in.

During the first month or so of pregnancy I was running pretty much my average times but after 6 weeks or so I slowed to an 8 minute per mile pace and at 5 months I’m now averaging 8.5-9 minute miles. For me this feels right but of course everyone’s different. I can still chat rubbish as I run and generally enjoy the time I spend outside in the mornings but still have that post exercise endorphin rush. Winner.

I diitched the watch- it was hard seeing my time go slooooooooooower and slooooooooooooooower so I quit timing and all that. It’s been so much more enjoyable.

I cross train more often- I don’t feel like I can or want to run as much as my former pregnant self did but I enjoy the cross trainer, walking, yoga and resistance as an alternative.

I make sure I stretch and do those pelvic floor exercises- I am so paranoid about peeing myself that I am actually pretty good at doing these and stretching post run helps with lower back pain and wards off extra soreness too.

I go with how I feel- if it doesn’t feel right or I’m way too tired, I don’t run.

running pregnant Utah

I’ve learnt to let go. Let go of being fast, catching other runners up, racing when I want and looking like a runner. Russ is racing a 10K with my brother at the end of April and I’m only a tiny bit jealous.

I’m now at that point where I need a bigger bra. I’ll be purchasing a new one asap as my ‘new’ boobs are making running a lot harder for me!

Some people think pregnancy is a time for relaxing and slowing sown and I’m one of those people which is why I still run. It’s therapy to me, it’s me time, fun time and at times bliss but there are so many other reasons to keep active whilst pregnant and these are mine:

Why I run during pregnancy?

  • Because above all I’m a runner and with a few adaptations I can continue safely.
  • Maintaining my fitness has positive effects not only throughout pregnancy but for labour too.
  • It’s good for heart, circulatory, digestive and mental health and a healthy Mum = a healthy little one.
  • Endorphins! I have given up my coffee habit, a few weekend beers, the odd glass of wine and I refuse to give up running albeit a slowed down version of my former self. Running simply makes my head feel great.
  • SLEEP- my sleep is not like it used to be pre-pregnancy and the difference in sleep quality and length between run and non-run days is unbelievable.
  • Circulation- although running has a myriad of health benefits I specifically have noticed how my body feels mighty sluggish since I’ve been pregnant and running has been my saviour for a better digestion and overall feeling.
  • Fresh air and bonding time with my baby. I really do feel quite connected to her while I am running in the early morning peace and quiet.
  • Energy- sounds funny but on run days I’m more energised for the day ahead.
  • Reduces the excess weight gain, cellulite and varicose veins that pregnancy seems to bring with it!

 

running pregnant
Running is really working for me so far and as long as it remains painless, I’m injury free, at a healthy weight and my baby’s growth targets are on track, I’ll continue to do so. Similarly, when she’s here I will continue to run as it truly does make me a better and nicer person and I believe I’ll be a better Mum for it.

 

Vegan Boiled Fruit Cake

I love dried fruit so it’s no shock that fruit cake is one of my favourite cakes. Actually, it IS my favourite cake. Raisins, sultanas, dates, apricots, currants, cranberries, blueberries – all of ’em, I love them. So it was hard for me growing up with a sister who picked the raisins out of her muesli, the currants out of her buns, the dates out of her puddings and turned her nose up at a moist iced wedding cake! What is she mad!? It actually stumped me because there is nothing nicer than a thick slice of fruit cake, to me anyhow. A big statement but so true.

Vegan Boiled Fruit Cake Vegan Boiled Fruit Cake

It seems that everybody’s Nan or Mum makes the best bolied fruit cake recipe ever so I’m not claiming this is the best by any means but it’s certainly free of any animal products (love that of course), is possibly a little lower in sugar, undoubtedly wholegrain too. This vegan boiled fruit cake is already a winner to me. Ok, this is better than your Mum’s and your Nan’s, sorry.

vegan boiled fruit cake

So why is this vegan boiled fruit cake better than your Mum’s?

It’s vegan- yippeee. I DON’T need cow stuff in my cake and nor do you!
It’s lower in sugar, dried fruit is pretty sweet already right?
Hello wholegrain. Spelt flour is pretty impressive when it comes to baking and much higher in fibre and lower in gluten than your average white flours. Spelt flour is a good friend.

So yeah it IS better than your Mum’s AND your Nans – so so sorry but it’s true.

vegan boiled fruit cake

Oh and another thing, fruit cake isn’t just for Christmas but all year surely. There is nothing better than a pot of tea and a wedge of fruit cake in the afternoon, or evening! Oh and the smell of freshly baked fruit cake is pretty hard to beat for me too.

Vegan Boiled Fruit Cake
Enjoy and get fruity.

Vegan Boiled Fruit Cake

120 grams vegan butter
1/2 cup raw brown sugar
400 grams mixed fruit
1/4 cup chopped cherries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda + 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1 cup almond milk
1/4-1/2 cup water
2 cups spelt flour

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 160ÂșC + line a 7-8 inch cake tin.
2. Meanwhile add all the ingredients apart from the flour to a pan over a low heat + simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Allow to cool before adding the flour. Once the flour + fruit mixture is thoroughly combined transfer to the cake tin + bake for 1 hour or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
4. Allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.

Christmas Stuffed Peppers

christmas stuffed peppers

Ha ha ha! Christmas stuffed peppers, I know, I know! I did this months ago (like in DECEMBER!) but then I kinda got pregnant and I felt sick. Really really sick. Like all the delicious food I lusted after I suddenly hated! I lost all my energy, I was tired and let the blog slip. I went to India in December (yes, I did go to India with horrific morning sickness and it was hardwork! This is another story) and came back in January with a nasty bug which was making good friends with pregnancy nausea. Man, I felt like shit. I let the blog go more and I found my fleece blanket, a good book, salty potato anything and turned the heating up for weeks.

But but but but…….I am FIVE months nearly and I don’t feel sick, or tired but full of energy and my love of food has returned to me! Hence, I can now look at these peppers again. God, in no way are these just for xmas but they seemed like an appropriate thing to eat on the day in place of bird and sauce.

christmas stuffed peppers

What the heck is a Christmas stuffed pepper anyway? I’m not sure either but these are damn tasty and do actually contain walnuts and cranberries which are pretty Christmassy! Oh and just red and green bell peppers too – true Crimbo colours! When you don’t eat meat you need to be a little more creative but it’s sure worth it cos these are tasty, satisfying and miles better than any sliced meat I ever had. Of course I’m going to say that, I don’t eat meat – but it’s true. Any vegetarian or vegan would be happy to be served these if you’re ever struggling to cater for these fussy fellows 😉

christmas stuffed vegan peppers

I love stuffed peppers for how easy they are and you can stuff them with absolutely anything!
Here’s to many more recipes to come!

vegan stuffed peppers

Christmas stuffed peppers

(serves many)

6 bell peppers, tops cut off + cleaned inside
3 garlic cloves
1 small onion, diced
2 cups chestnut mushrooms, chopped roughly
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 cups cooked lentils/rice
1 teaspoon each of thyme + cumin
salt + pepper
2 large handfuls kale
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 375 ÂșC. Prepare peppers + cook rice/lentils if not already cooked.
2. Fry onions, garlic + mushrooms until fragrant + softened.  Add tomatoes, lentils, seasonings, kale, cranberries + walnuts + gently simmer for 5 more minutes.
3. Spoon the mixture into the hollow peppers and replace the lids. Bake for 40-50 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven + serve immediately on ANY day of the year, not just for Christmas.

Polenta Taco Pizza (Gluten Free + Vegan)

Who doesn’t like pizza?

polenta GF pizza

I really like it but rarely eat it these days seeing as it is so hard to find gluten free or even healthier alternatives. I just don’t have the stomach for doughy, heavy, stretchy glutenous pizza bases. Which is why I love (am loving!) polenta based pizzas! Not only does it allow for a gluten free base but it really is so much tastier than wheat pizza – really.

I’m not sure I’ll bother with regular pizza again after this. Polenta is pretty magical stuff, like instant pizza dough but way more delicious and gluten free. Why are we not seeing more polenta pizza out there, c’mon Zizzi and Pizza Express – get with the program!

polenta pizza

Seriously, this is so quick, no yeast, no rising, no kneading, no resting but rather instant dough that you can form into the pizza of your dreams whether that be thin, fat, round, square or mighty irregular! This is a vibrant, nutrient dense easy peasy pizza crust! The smoked chipotle sauce and a little avocado later and you have a Mexican polenta pizza for one. Just double the recipe if you care to share. I didn’t feel much in the mood for sharing mine.

polenta GF vegan pizza

Don’t buy pre-made pizza – make polenta pizza because it really is that easy and have a personal polenta pizza party.

polenta GF vegan pizza

Polenta taco pizza

for the crust:
1 cup polenta
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil

for the sauce:
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons chipotle paste
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 garlic clove, crushed

toppings:
tomatoes, sliced
green bell pepper, sliced
sweetcorn
avocado
preferred vegan cheese

method:
1. Heat the water in a small pan until bubbling + slowly pour in the polenta, stirring continuously until smooth + thick. Turn off the heat + stir through seasoning + olive oil.
2. Preheat oven to 200Âș C. + line a baking pan with parchment paper (I used a round 8″ pan).  Pour the polenta mixture into the pan + flatten with the back of your spoon, allowing for a thicker crust. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Bake for 30 minutes. Prepare sauce + toppings whilst base is in the oven. Remove pizza + top with all toppings apart from avocado + bake for a further 10 minutes.
4. Remove + serve with copious amounts of avocado + wedges of lime for a taco inspired pizza.

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 200ÂșC. 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.

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