whole foods

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.

 

 

Pistachio, Pumpkin Seed + Herb Falafel (Gluten Free + Vegan)

Pistachio, Pumpkin Seed + Herb FalafelFor me falafel is a full on, fill me up, give it to me now crave food. It’s pure comfort food. When I want something filling, fresh, warming and healthy yet satisfying this is it. The thing is I rarely make falafel and it’s not like it’s easy to get in fast food joints around here either. Oh, what I would do to have a little local cafe nearby that baked me falafel when I needed it most, now that would be good. Until my make believe plant based Arab inspired fast food joint opens I’ll be making this myself and more often.

I am in love with North African flavours so naturally falafel is pretty high up there on the favourites list, I definitely ate my fair share (ok, more than is fair!) in Egypt. Were they better? Ummmm, not necesserily! The trouble is most falafel is deep fried as that’s in fact the traditional way of preparing it but it’s way toooo oily for me and so unnecessary as IMO they taste so much better baked. These pistachio, pumpkin seed + herb falafel are fragrant, lightly spiced, fresh, crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside and devastatingly good, in taste and for health! Yes, every recipe on this blog is healthy………

This here is falafel, just how it should be.Green falafel + yoghurt mint dressing

Baked not fried.Green falafel + yoghurt mint dressing

Russ was on ball making duty as it’s not my forte and his balls are so uniform, round and smooth (humour me). And green, nice and green thanks to the mint, coriander, pistachio and pumpkin seeds. Not only does this add a nice touch visually it really ramps up the nutritional density too. This pistachio, pumpkin seed + herb falafel is high in protein, contains only heart healthy fats, low in sodium and the herbs provide immense anti-inflammatory and ant-bacterial benefits. You just gotta love fresh green herbs. Russ making falafel

These little blighters are super easy to put together and can be whipped up in 15 minutes flat,  get somebody else to roll your balls and it’ll be quicker than that! I’ll send Russ round?Easy recipe....

Extra tasty served in fresh crisp lettuce leaves, the best way. Gone are the days when I felt self conscious eating from a lettuce or cabbage leaf, where others would sometimes make comments in confused wonder or assume I was just a weird eater. I’m not sure why either as it’s one of the most delicious ways to eat food minus the heavy carb and gluten load, just ask the Koreans. Since living in Korea for a year I soon learnt to love the leaf wrapping as they wrap everything in a fresh lettuce leaf, a crunchy wad of cabbage or a crisp sheet of seaweed. Oh I do miss that place and it’s food, but not the soups so much, particularly the ones where they sneak tiny bits of pork into it and tell you it’s vegetarian! Back to the leaf, Korean supermarkets have entire refrigerators dedicated to housing the most pristine, organised and colour coordinated lettuce leaves you have ever seen. Our local store even had a designated lettuce leaf handler (nice guy too), in charge of bagging, weighing and most importantly keeping the green, purple and red (yes, they put a lot of love and affection into their lettuce!) display looking beautiful. Tangent….yes falafel…..eating out of a lettuce leaf = good.

Falafel, lettuce wraps + salad

So, although I’m no longer leaf wrapping on a daily basis I always take up any opportunity to use fresh plant- powered wraps, especially if there’s falafel involved. I do wonder if I’ll ever be able to eat from a leaf again without thinking about Korea!! Good times.A whole lotta lettuce wrap

Falafel is a classic veggie staple and is delicious served with a big salad and if lettuce leaf wraps aren’t for you a wholewheat pitta would be amaze-balls (get it?) too. I like both, falafel wrapped in lettuce and stuffed in a pitta, finished off with generous dollops of minty dressing. Oh dear, now that is delicious.Falafel in hand

Pistachio, pumpkin seed + herb falafel

(10 balls)

1 can drained chickpeas (240 grams)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
small handful fresh mint
small handful fresh coriander
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
salt & pepper

mint dressing:
small handful mint, finely chopped
2 tablespoons yoghurt + 1 of water

Method:

1. Rinse + drain chickpeas, set aside. Place garlic, onion + green herbs into a food processor or blender + pulse until roughly chopped. Add the nuts + seeds + pulse to a rough texture. Add the chickpeas, cumin + salt/pepper + blend until fully combined so that it retains a rough like texture. You may need to redistribute the mixture with a spoon in between blending.
2. Form 10-12 balls from the mixture + place on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper. Bake falafel in the oven for 20 minutes until firm + crispy on the outside. Combine the mint dressing ingredients in a small bowl or cup + set aside.
3. Serve in lettuce with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds + a drizzle of mint yoghurt dressing.

Plant Powered Butter Bean + Harissa Burgers with Honey Lemon Onions (Vegan)

Harissa burgerRuss and I had a fabulous time in Alaska and Canada but now I have serious case of post holiday come down fueled by my worst jet lag of all time, it’s cruel! The last two weeks were pretty special though, definitely this year’s highlight as I adore travelling by RV road trip style. We managed to cook some amazing food on the move too, stopping off at local stores for a fridge top up and a mosey. I fell in love in Canada, with Whole Foods. I have to say I really have developed quite the love affair with Whole Foods supermarket. Why oh why is this not a permanent fixture in my life, come on the UK – get with the programme. Whole Foods is almost reason enough to move to Canada! Seriously, I was so impressed by the layout, the actual food, the choice, the cosmetics, the take out counter, come to think of it I was impressed by Canada in general. But shopping in that supermarket is pure pleasure, I need Whole Foods here!

Moving on, travelling by camper van really is pretty special and gave us total freedom and flexibility to explore and make stops at our leisure. The kitchen was amazingly user friendly and well equipped so there really was no excuse not to make some great food. It was so nice to stop off somewhere different everyday, make a fabulous meal and soak up the scenery.  The only thing is the van did have the faint aroma of cumin and curry powder when we delivered it back to Vancouver. Oops, that’ll be those black beans and the delicious lentil curry!Harissa burger al fresco :-)

I made this butter bean and harissa burger before we went away, when it was a little warmer and we were eating outside. What is that about- I’m away for two weeks to return to close on winter weather? No matter, I’m layering up and will continue eating outside until it’s near freezing! Bring on the chili sauce and harissa paste for a bit of warmth. The harissa (formed of red peppers) in this burger has a some good spice and adds a very authentic North African flavour and makes a great colourful looking pattie too. The lemony onions are a delicious and sweet addition to the punchy and spicy flavours in the butter beans, I just have to, actually need onions with my burger. Any bean would work really, I just happened to have some of these handy the day of my burger craving.10 minute recipe!

You just gotta love a good old juicy bean burger. They’re just so satisfying and beans are fabulous for carrying robust flavours and are miles tastier than meat varieties. Making bean burgers is sooo easy too, they take no time at all and it’s really pretty satisfying to create your own burger from scratch, in a flavour to suit your tastes. I really do think you can pretty much form a workable burger entirely from guess work and have it in the frying pan in 10 minutes flat. You can adjust quantities as you combine the ingredients to create a workable consistency and more importantly have full control of what is going into your burger. Let’s face it, you cant say that for any shop bought varieties out there. This better, I mean ‘butter’ bean and harissa burger is entirely plant powered as it contains chia egg for binding the mixture but a regular egg would work also.Easy, spicy, plant powered and delicious. Nice.

Today’s the day for making a super plant burger. What’s your next veggie burger going to be?Plant power harissa burger

Butter Bean + Harissa Burgers with Honey Lemon Onions

(makes 2 large burgers or 4 small patties)

1 can (240 gram drained) butter beans
2 teaspoons chia seed just covered in water or 1 egg if not vegan
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt + pepper
handful basil leaves
3 teaspoons harissa paste
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 burger buns (I used Waitrose gluten free quinoa rolls)

for the onions:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
juice of half lemon
1 tablespoon honey

Method:

1. Drain the butter beans + transfer to a large bowl. Mash the beans with a fork + add the remaining ingredients continually pressing down with the fork until you have a pliable burger ball. If the mixture is too sticky add some oats + if too dry add a little milk.
2. Divide the mixture into two + form into 2 burger shapes.
3. Preheat a medium grill. Heat the olive oil in a large pan + fry the burgers on 1 side until browned. Flip + finish cooking under the grill for an even brown finish.
4. Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a small pan + add the onion, lemon + honey. Cook until softened.
5. Slice the buns, add the burgers, top with honey lemon onions + salad.