fibre

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 ūüôā Just on the phone to Mcvities and Mr Kipling now to tell them, lol!

carrot cake vegan

And about the spelt flour‚Ķ..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 160¬ļC.¬†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 ¬ľ hours. Remove. cool. Tuck in. Save some for others.

Healthy Black Bean Chocolate Fudge Brownies (Gluten Free + Vegan)

Black bean fudge brownie stack!Because black beans are not just for tacos!

If there’s one bean I favour it’s the little old black bean and I just love everything about them. ¬†I’ve been blind to their amazing versatility as I usually just throw them in a Mexican stew or a big avocado salad, so I was pretty excited to combine my black bean love with my equal adoration of cocoa. I’m thinking, dark, chocolatey, fudge-like, gooey, crumbly at the sides and soft in the middle. I was right, this is exactly how they are…..were.Two black bean brownies......

Traditionally, chocolate fudge brownies are chock a block with bad fats, white sugar, digestive clogging gluten and dirty dairy but these are the perfect example of how something which really is ultra healthy can still be delicious. Let’s change all that, there really is no need to go without or crave junk when chocolate fudge brownies like this are knocking about. That’s good information to have. Make them and see for yourself, don’t take my word for it. If you don’t make them, please do take my word for it!Simple process

To achieve a fudgey brownie like texture I used agave rather than brown sugar and dotted each brownie with dark chocolate chips and pecan pieces for a richer more decadent treat. Scrap that, they’re hardly a treat with an ingredient list like this, more an everyday necessity. The black beans, chia, coconut oil and cocoa make this chocolate brownie a shining example of wholesome goodness brimming with health attributes, a brownie that kicks plant butt and makes you feel better than OK. Oh and don’t worry about eating the raw brownie batter straight off the spoon……it’s all plants so get stuck in.¬†Just as good uncooked?

So, here’s the black bean brownie lowdown:

grain free
dairy free
gluten free
iron rich
high fibre
good source of protein
so delicious

Please try these! Black bean chocolate brownies

Healthy black bean chocolate fudge brownies

(makes 12)

2 tablespoons chia seed soaked in  6 tablespoons of water
230 gram black beans (drained weight)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
4 tablespoons agave syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons almond milk
pecans + chocolate chips to dress

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 175 ¬ļC.¬†Add the chia egg to your blender ¬†or food processor + blitz for 30 seconds. Next add the remaining ingredients apart from pecans + chocolate chips + pulse until a smooth batter is achieved. The ideal consistency should be quite hard to pour but not as thick as frosting. Add more milk/water if it is too thick.
2. Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin tin. Spoon equal amounts of the mixture into the tin + dress with nuts + chocolate chips if desired. Bake for 25-3o minutes. They are ready when the outside of the muffin has come away slightly from the sides of the tin but some softness in the middle.
3. Allow to cool fully before loosening the edges with a fork to remove. They are pretty delicate so handle with care.

Note: The chia seeds can be replaced by 1 egg for a non vegan version. The agave syrup can be replaced by brown rice syrup, honey (non vegan), maple syrup or 1/4 cup regular sugar.

Adapted from Minimalist Baker.

Spiced Carrot Muffins

Carrot spiced muffin

Do you randomly reminisce about mediocre food you were fond of as a younger you? I do, all the time but come to think of it, I think about any food, all of the time! Of late it’s been the ginger biscuits I made as a kiddo, usually when I was bored or avoiding homework. They were nice but I wonder, were they really that good? I’ve been thinking maybe it’s the nostalgia that makes food seem more appealing than it perhaps was?! In their defence, these ginger biscuits were pretty popular though, my family loved them for a good tea dunking. It’s just that there really wasn’t anything special about them, they were just biscuits. But they were the first biscuit recipe I nailed and gosh was I proud! See, it’s nostalgia. They were bursting with immense gingery goodness, probably because I usually doubled the suggested 1 teaspoon to 2, well 2 1/2 actually!

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to make some gingery baked goods for a while now. I just love ginger with it’s warm, rich, spicy yet sweet flavour provoking memories of a gloriously sticky ginger pudding smothered in creamy pale yellow custard. Even a fiery Thai or Chinese stir fry packed full of ginger just makes you feel warm and comforted. Yes, I think there’s something comforting about ginger and I love that it’s good for us too. In India, ginger is viewed as a complete wonder spice and this is good enough for me (being a huge fan of all things Indian).

I used an overly-heaped teaspoon in the muffin mix because I just love the flavour and it works fantastically with the pineapple, carrot and raisins. In hindsight, these could even take some more – so if you like ginger go for 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons. Definitely a match made in heaven. I’m thinking of making oatmeal with these flavours, kind of like an exotic carrot cake breakfast.¬†I used honey and crushed pineapple to sweeten and to ensure it retained as much moisture as possible, plus I wanted to replicate the moist and sticky ginger puddings I loved so much as a kid.

Step by step

Alongside ginger I used a teaspoon of cinnamon, ¬†another spice I am completely obsessed with. I use ¬†both these exotic spices most days, even just a sprinkle on cereal, toast or porridge. A few years back in the middle of some hefty marathon training ¬†I read that cinnamon is amazing for blood sugar regulation. Obviously, eager to gain a winning edge I started stirring heaps into my breakfasts, popping it into smoothies, sprinkling on honey toast, whisking through pancake batter and adding generously to my curries, North African dishes, well anything really. I swear this carried me through the long hard training and not once did I ‘hit the wall’ as they say in running jabber. Purely psychological? Maybe, but there’s something in it, quite literally. Whenever I google ‘cinnamon benefits’ it never ceases to amaze me (same for ginger) how healing these can be! I’m pretty mindful about generous health claims but the taste, aroma and colour of these spices just make you feel like you’re doing your body a favour.

These muffins are super blood sugar regulators and high in fibre too.  Full of wonderful flavour and texture, these muffins are an acceptable breakfast snack and even a worthy pudding contender Рwith a scoop of ice cream or  a dollop of custard. Are you sold yet?

Carrot spiced muffin
Sticky, sweet, spiced & fruity

What was the first recipe you mastered as a kid (or adult for that matter!)?

Spiced Carrot Muffins

(makes 10-12)

1 1/2 cups of wholemeal self raising flour
1 teaspoon of ginger
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
small handful of crushed walnuts
small handful of raisins
2 tablespoons of honey
1 cup of shredded carrot
1 cup of crushed pineapple
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg

Method:

  1. Sift all the dry ingredients together and combine well. Add the walnuts, raisins and carrot.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients and mix just enough to fully combine.
  3. Place in 10-12 muffin cases and sprinkle with oats.
  4. Bake at 175 ¬ļC¬†for 25 minutes.

Bake for 25 minutes at 175¬†¬įC.