delicious

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.

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.

Easy 3-Minute Coconut Flour & Chocolate Mug Cake – GF & Paleo

Oh my goodness, I can’t believe how late I’ve arrived to the mug cake party. First, coconut flour and now mug cakes. My quality of life has improved immeasurably with these two things!

Chocolate & coconut mug cake

Seriously, how long has this mug cake malarkey been around? It’s amazing, I mean literally in from work and I can have cake in 3 minutes. I do like a piece of cake and I’m fond of a pretty mug too, especially a good old fashioned english bone china one! To think that I can eat cake from my favourite tea cup, well this is a complete revelation to me and the ultimate comfort food. Chocolate coco mug cake & PB

This isn’t any old cake either, this is a healthy, low carb, low GI, protein and fibre rich cake in a mug. If you’re following a low carb or paleo diet this is a perfectly acceptable treat due to the low carbs/grain content. For me, I just like to try new things and a low carb sweet treat is the ideal way to balance my love of bread and other grains. What really put the icing on my cake is it’s absolutely delicious, turning out chocolatey, nutty, moist and rich. Second time round, I added a little extra milk and a few chocolate chips which definitely gave it the winning edge. Also, on my second shot I used Russ’ coffee cup so maybe this is the lucky mug!Chocolate & coconut mug cake

Definitely extra taste points when smeared with peanut butter but I really think that next time a simple chocolate sauce may be in order. In fact, ice cream, cashew cream, extra syrup, banana, nuts or just milk would easily make friends with this mug cake. This is up there as one of my new favourite snacks.Mug cake & vanilla pod

Can you tell how I’m oh so happy to finally be part of the mug cake circle? There’s endless scope for creativity too, I’m already planning a ginger syrup variety. This chocolate coconut version was good though, really good. The only shame was I had to share it with Russ, but now he’s now fully briefed on the mug cake protocol he’s happy to make his own next time. I don’t mind sharing this once.

Have you had a mug cake before? What’s your latest exciting food discovery?Chocolate & coconut mug cake

Coconut flour & chocolate mug cake

1 tablespoon coconut flour
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 egg (or vegan egg replacement)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 vanilla pod, seeds removed or 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
3 tablespoons coconut / almond milk
sprinkle of chocolate chips (optional)

Method:

  1. Place the dry ingredients to a microwave proof mug & combine well.
  2. Add the wet ingredients taking care to incorporate fully for a smooth mixture.
  3. Microwave on full power for 1 1/2 minutes. Take out & enjoy from the mug or empty into a bowl & start a mug cake party of your own.
  4. Nuts, peanut butter, ice cream, cashew cream all welcome.
    😉

 

Coconut Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

Coconut Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

So, if I could eat only one thing for the rest of my life it would be COCONUT. I’m loving everything coconut these days – coconut flour, milk, cream, oil, butter, shavings and even simple coconut water. Clearly I’m looking for any excuse to use coconut in any form and my “coco thing” at the moment is flour. Coconut flour is amazing stuff because it’s high in fibre and protein but low in carbs. I mean really, who needs wheat and gluten anymore?

This delicious flour is made from the fresh pulp of coconuts (that’s it) – dried, degreased and ground into gold….I mean flour! I love the way it just sucks up liquid giving a wholesome and nutty boost to pancakes, bread, cookies, muffins, crumbles, mug cakes, any cake for that matter and so much more. It’s perfect for sweet and savoury recipes with it’s mild coconut (funny that!) flavour and best of all, you’ll be doing your body the world of good. If you’re avoiding gluten or cutting carbs, coconut flour is definitely your friend.Coconut Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

Unlike shop bought gluten laden, additive-packed cookies, these low carb coconut peanut butter gems won’t send your energy levels crashing post sugar buzz. This low sugar cookie satiates, providing fibre, protein and a steady source of energy. These cookies are…..correction, were goooood! Firm on the outside, a nice chewy inside and just sweet enough with a creamy peanut buttery nutty flavour. Perfect for an afternoon snack with a cup of tea.Coconut Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

I just love the question, ‘if you could eat just one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?”. I know that it’s a toughy, but for me coconut marginally pips the post with oats a close second.

So, I’d love to know, if you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?Coconut Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

Coconut Flour Peanut Butter Cookies

(makes 8-10)

1/2 cup coconut flour
pinch of salt
sprinkle cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons coconut/almond milk
1 tablespoon Flax Seed to 3 of water

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC. Combine the dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the peanut butter, honey, milk & flax mixture. Add this to the dry mixture & combine to form a dough. Add more milk if necessary.
  2. Roll the mixture into 10 small balls and place on a lightly greased baking tray. Push each cookie down gently with a fork.
  3. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove & allow to cool before storing.

Lentil & Portobello Burger with a Quick Apricot Chutney – GF

Lentil & mushroom burgerKiller circuits this morning, a murderous self inflicted session in the living room! There was no trainer yelling at me to man up and give him twenty more, it was just Russ and I and we were going for it! In all honesty, when it’s just me I swear I don’t work out as hard but when we join forces and workout together it’s like we just push each other that bit harder. There’s an unspoken ‘keep it going’, ‘don’t be a god damn wimp’ type pressure and it’s pretty effective! This is why I love working out with someone else, time flies and it’s way more fun. Needless to say today’s Saturday session was a fabulous full body workout, followed by amazing stove top coffee and quinoa granola! But this isn’t even about granola, that granola was good though. This is about burgers, vegetarian patties, healthy bun fillers, veggie sliders….I’m always on the endless quest to find a great burger.

The great lentil portobello burger.

Lentil & mushroom burger with apricot chutney

These lentil based beauties are bursting with rich umami flavours resulting from a hearty mix  of onion, garlic, mushrooms, parmesan, soy sauce and red wine. They have a rich, earthy, savoury taste and a pleasant texture which firms up nicely after a quick fry and a good grilling. There are so many options when it comes to plant based burgers but this is ideal for those looking for a slightly richer flavour and hoping to avoid some of mushier bean varieties.Lentil & mushroom burger process

It’s pretty filling too and satisfied a ravenous circuit induced hunger nicely. The apricot chutney is definitely a good friend to this burger with a sticky, smokey sweetness shining all over the bun and down my fingers! We had our burger in polenta topped buns with lettuce, tomato and onion and it was good.Lentil & mushroom burger with salad

Who’s your workout buddy? Do you push yourself that bit harder when you have someone with you?

Lentil mushroom burger & a quick apricot chutney

(makes 2 ‘big’ and 4 normal burgers- we made 2 of course)

1/2 white onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup of portobello mushrooms, chopped finely
1 carrot, grated
splash red wine
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1.2 cup cooked lentils
1/4 cup vegetarian parmesan, grated
1/2 cup oats
1 egg
parsley, chopped
oil for frying

apricot chutney

6 small apricots, chopped
i cup water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
dash of cinnamon
1 tablespoon liquid smoke or chipotle sauce

Method:

1. Saute the onion, garlic, mushrooms & carrots for 5 minutes. Add the red wine, soy sauce, thyme & cooked lentils. Keep on a low heat until all liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl & allow to cool a little.
2. Add the oats, parmesan, parsley & egg to the cooled mixture, combining thoroughly. Set aside for 30 minutes.
3. Shape into 2 large or 4 smaller burger patties.  Transfer to a greased frying pan for 5 minutes to set on one side. Turn over and finish under a medium grill for 10 minutes or until firm to the touch & browned. Reduce grilling slightly if making 4 burgers from the mixture.
4. Enjoy in a bun with salad and liberal quantities of apricot chutney.

For the pickle:

Combine all ingredients and simmer on a low heat until apricots have softened & the chutney has a sticky appearance. Add more water if necessary. Transfer to a serving dish to cool.

Paleo Almond Pancakes & Quick Blueberry Compote – GF

Take two!

I have a confession to make…

These pancakes didn’t turn out as I’d planned and that was a problem for me because I’m still unlearning being a perfectionist. It wasn’t a disaster, not even close, they were delicious. They just didn’t look exactly as I’d expected and this bothered me, at first. So I tried again and although they came out neater, plumper and cuter, guess what? They still tasted the same, they were still delicious, they weren’t a failure, they were just flatter and randomly shaped.Bleberry almond pancake

Just two simple things, less milk and a little baking soda, resulting in a thicker batter second time round. I remember now, I poured in a tad too much milk, this is what happens when you’re hungry and making delicious pancakes! The hand shakes, the concentration slips, you get the picture. It’s actually a good thing I made these again because now I know not to make pancakes when you’re really hungry! At least I got to have a double helping pancakes, every cloud all. The thing is though, I don’t actually like perfect, or neat and tidy either.  This wasn’t the problem. My perfectionist brain was the problem,  they were NOT how she had pictured and she wasn’t amused. Eventually she got lost!

Blueberry almond pancakes second time lucky!“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”  Salvador DaliImperfect pancakes

You can tell the difference, right? These darn almond pancakes aren’t supposed to be perfect and they weren’t, by any stretch of the imagination. These are perfectly imperfect Paleo pancakes. Perfect isn’t welcome here anyhow. But the taste, the taste was delicious and this is the important part because delicious and healthy is the aim of the game.

A bit about the pancakes. Made from almond flour, these are perfectly Paleo and although I’m not a Paleo girl myself, I do see the benefits of going a little easier on the grain. Almond flour like coconut and peanut flours is ideal for baking these low carbohydrate recipes. Almond flour is a favourite of mine because I adore almonds with their sweet, fragrant creaminess- the main reason why I was a cherry bakewell and marzipan fiend as a child.. So making pancakes with flour and milk from the delectable almond is quite exciting for me and if it turns out that I have a few less grains, that’s just a bonus.Almond pancakes & blueberry compote

Another thing about these pancakes is they’re super filling but not in a lead brick afternoon slump full but more a light, energised ‘I’m super productive’ way! What’s more is they’re fluffy, nutty and sweet with a blueberry compote that’s way too delicious for just 3 ingredients. Just perfect.

It all gets messy in the end.
It all gets messy in the end.

Paleo Almond pancakes & quick blueberry compote

(serves 2)

1 cup almond flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of maple syrup
coconut oil for frying
extra maple syrup for serving

For the blueberry compote:

1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon of stevia
3 tablespoons water

Method:

1. Place the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a measuring jug whisk the milk, egg & syrup. Combine the wet & dry ingredients, whisking thoroughly.
2. Heat the coconut oil in a griddle pan over a low heat. Ladle a spoonful of batter into the pan & cook until golden brown and just set. Flip & repeat until batter is all gone.
3. Serve warm stacked pancakes with blueberry compote & extra maple syrup.

Blueberry compote:

Heat all three ingredients over a low heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until desired consistency.

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