Wednesday, 23 April 2014

St George's Day Scones! (Paleo, vegan, refined sugar free)

Happy St George's Day everybody! Isn't it weird that this day is so widely ignored these days? What happened to St Georges Day? Where are all the Morris dance displays and folk music celebrations that used to go on when I was little?

One theory is that in England we don't like to appear nationalistic, that it might go against our wonderful mixed cultural heritage of today, and the fact that the Flag of England is seen to have many negative connotations attached to it now. Even so, the fact that St Patrick's Day is so widely celebrated in England makes this even more strange, we don't seem to mind celebrating other countries national days!

What really fascinates me is that St George was not actually English at all. He was believed to have been born in Turkey, he grew up in Palestine, and later became a Roman soldier. He seems to be the perfect example of all an English Saint should be in today's modern times; multicultural, multinational and very brave. So with that in mind, I think st George's day is far from being nationalistic.  It celebrates the very opposite; this multicultural wonderfulness that we have today and that I myself am proud of. In fact what it all comes down to really, is an excuse to get together and eat.

Historically St George's day was celebrated as a national feast day. So I say lets make this day all about the food (no surprise there), and bring back the tradition of celebrating this feast day. With lots of food, friends, family, dancing and laughter it could have all the makings of a wonderful celebration- like Christmas, but without the endless marketing and gift buying.

As I'm right at the start of a bit of a Spring cleanse, I wanted to make a traditionally English dish that I could still actually eat. Famous for our heavy pies and cream laden desserts this presented a bit of a hurdle for me, but then I came up with this new version of scones and jam which really is a win win. Scones are not only a super traditional food, when topped with the coconut yoghurt and red jam, they represent the colours of the St George's cross.

Although these scones look just like the original, they contain no sugar, no gluten, are vegan and paleo friendly and the jam is all raw!



For the scones (makes 8)
2 cups ground almonds
2 heaped tbsp coconut flour
2 flax 'eggs'
1 tbsp xylitol (or coconut palm sugar)
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup coconut yoghurt (we used Coyo)
2 tbsp almond milk (plus extra for brushing)

For the jam
10 large strawberries
8 drops of plain or vanilla stevia
1 tbsp chia seeds

Method
First preheat your oven to 170 degrees (fan).
Add all the scone ingredients to a bowl and mix with your hands to create a knead-able dough. Just like with traditional scones, don't overwork the mixture!

Press the dough into a rectangle shape about 2.5cm (1 inch) thick, cut out 5cm diameter rounds and place on a lightly oiled baking tray. Brush the tops with almond milk and cook for 15 minutes until golden on top.

While the scones are cooking, blitz the strawberries, vanilla stevia and chia seeds in a food processor until you have a jam like consistency. Put aside to thicken up.

When the scones are ready (you can test by tapping the bottom of the scone, it should sound hollow), cool them on a rack.

When cool, cut in half and top with coconut yoghurt and the strawberry jam. Yummy!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Raw Vegan (refined sugar free) Cream Eggs

I am SO excited to share this recipe with you. I absolutely used to adore Cadbury's cream eggs growing up. I was always so excited to see them on the shelves at Easter- it's hard to believe that I haven't eaten one in 5 years! Over the past couple of Easters I've made a few attempts at recreating them to be refined sugar free and I've come pretty close, but never good enough to share. But that is about to change!

When I made my first attempt at these I used agave. I wanted a sweetener without a strong taste and with a neutral colour to replicate that cream egg filling. We hardly ever use agave, but as it was a one off indulgent recipe I decided to just go for it. I have since made them with pale coconut nectar which is a preferred sweetener of mine, but it is hard to find in stores. Brown rice syrup also works for a very subtle sweet flavour and is much gentler on your system than agave. You can use whichever you feel comfortable with, they all work well.

The nuts have also been a huge part of the experiment. This final recipe uses macadamia nuts as they give a really creamy, pale finish and a neutral taste. Texture wise, soaked cashew nuts also worked but I could still taste that cashew flavour which I wasn't so keen on in this recipe, so I prefer the macadamia version.
I was determined to make them happen this year. So after all the fun and experimenting, this week I finally cracked it- and this version is absolutely perfect. They're creamy, sweet and very gooey. In fact the texture is so much like the original I could almost believe I'm eating a Cadbury's egg! Even though these are super sweet, they're not as sickly as the originals, which is a great thing! Having eaten free from refined sugars for so long I am quite sure I could't eat the original now anyway. I hope you love these. Happy Easter!



Ingredients
100g of your favourite raw chocolate

For the egg white
200g macadamia nuts, soaked overnight
6 tbsp pale coconut nectar, brown rice syrup or agave
2 tbsp coconut butter, melted
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tsp sugar free vanilla extract
1 tbsp filtered water
1 tbsp lemon juice
Pinch of fine sea salt

For the egg yolk
2 tbsp of the finished egg white recipe
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp pale coconut nectar, brown rice syrup or agave

Method
Add the egg white ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a bowl. Remove 2 tablespoons of this mixture and mix with the turmeric and extra sweetner to make the yolk.

Break up the raw chocolate and add to a bowl. Stand the bowl in a larger bowl of hot water and stir until melted.

Take a mini easter egg mould and with a teaspoon, spoon a little of the melted chocolate into each mould. Use the back of the teaspoon to coat a nice layer all around the mould. Pop into the freezer for 5 mins to firm up. Repeat, 'painting' another layer of chocolate to make a thicker shell for your filling. Freeze again for 5 minutes.

Carefully turn out the moulds onto a plate and fill almost to the top with the egg white mixture.

Next dollop a small amount of the yolk mixture into the centre of each egg and gently push it into the cream to create the yolk.

That's it! They're ready. You could also put the two halves together to create whole eggs but the filling is very gooey and a bit messy so I left them as half eggs.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Roasted sweet potato and ginger soup

This soup is so tasty, the roasting really brings out the natural sweetness and makes for a deeper flavour.

Serves 4
Ingredients:
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 onions, diced
3 sweet potatoes
8 tomatoes
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1.5 litres of vegetable stock
Lime wedges to serve
Coriander (cilantro) for garnish (optional)
Sea salt and pepper to taste



Method:
Scrub and chop the sweet potatoes into 2 inch sized pieces.
Add them to a lightly oiled baking tray, throw the tomatoes over the top and roast at 180 degrees for around 30 mins or until cooked through.

While the potatoes are roasting, saute the onion, garlic and ginger in the coconut oil. Add the roasted veg, stock and seasoning, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 mins and blend to your desired consistency. Lastly, add in the chickpeas and heat through for around 10 more minutes. It really is such a simple soup! Great served with the lime wedges and coriander.



Saturday, 15 February 2014

Store cupboard Gluten free vegan gravy

I'm SO busy right now with my book campaign that blogging, recipe tasting, everything really has been put on the back burner. We're doing so well but are a ways off completing our goal to get mine and my talented Sister in laws magical healthy children's cookbook to print! It will happen I'm sure of it because of the wonderful people out there like you supporting our campaign, but it has meant our family meals have got simpler and simpler over the past couple of weeks! Making time to create a good gravy is just one of the areas that has suffered.

Ok, so I know it is easy to make a really good plant based gravy, but it takes a little time. Sauteing onions and mushrooms gives depth to the gravy and adding a splash of wine can really richen it up but it's not super quick. When I'm making a midweek dinner, I often don't have that extra time, what I'm looking for is a magic little mix that you can whip up quickly and easily!

That leads us on to buying ready made gravy mixes. But...Have you ever checked the ingredients on those packets? They've got refined sugars, they've got colourings, flavour enhancers, gluten, all sorts of stuff you don't necessarily want in your dinner. So what is the answer? 

Home made gravy mix! My frustration at the poor quality of gravy mixes led me to mix up my own gravy powder that I now keep stored in the cupboard ready for emergencies. I admit that this isn't as rich as a beautiful homemade veggie onion gravy, of course not, but it sure makes my life easier when I'm rushed for time and definitely passed the family taste test!

To check out how we're getting along on our campaign, check here!  http://ow.ly/tioRx




Makes enough for 4 batches, each batch serves 4 comfortably!

4 tsp boullion powder (I use marigold low salt)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
3 tsp instant chicory
1 tsp coconut palm sugar
1/4 tsp ground white pepper*
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
2 tbsp arrowroot flour
6 tbsp brown rice flour

* I use white pepper as when I tried it with black it was far too overpowering

 Blitz everything togther in a spice or coffee grinder or mini atatchment on a food processor to ensure everything is uniform size and evenly distributed through the mix.

When making it up I use about 1 1/2 cups of water per 1 tbsp of mix, you can adjust depending on the your preferred consistency! Using the cooking water from cooked veggies enhances the flavour and nutrient value. Simply whisk powder with water and cook in a saucepan over a medium heat for around 10 mins until thickened. Easy as pie! Easier actually...

You can also add dried herbs to this gravy if you prefer a herby flavour.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Pease pottage hot, pease pottage cold!

Hey guys! Ever heard the pease pottage nursery rhyme?

"Pease pottage hot
Pease pottage cold
Pease pottage in a pot, nine days old"

We used to sing that alot as kids. I've always loved this split pea dish, it was one of my favourite dinner ac compliments and my Nan used to make it for me special. It's traditionally served as a side dish to boiled ham and cabbage but I really thought it deserved to be a dish in its own right,  I wanted to make it the star of the meal!

Even though I follow a plant based diet I do still enjoy a good old Sunday roast and the main part is usually a nut roast or veggie loaf of some kind. But one weekend it dawned on me that pease pottage would taste pretty darn good as the centre piece of a roast! So I boiled up the split peas with some onion, sea salt and water (yup, you heard me right, just four ingredients!), and then baked it in the oven to firm up so it could be cut into slices.

The result was so good that it's been the centre of our family roast dinners ever since! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.




500g yellow split peas, soaked overnight
1 onion, roughly diced
1/2 tsp sea salt
Filtered water to cover


Drain the soaked split peas and add to a large sauce pan. Add the chopped onion and pour over the water to cover about 2 cm over the top.

Bring to the boil, then reduce to a high simmer. You'll notice foamy stuff apearing on the top, this can be removed with a spoon. You want to cook this mixture down until it is like a thick puree, it needs watching and topping up with water when necesarry. It usually takes me about and hour and a half to reach desired consistancy, then add the salt.

At this stage it can be poured into a bowl and used as a spread on toast and crackers or as a sandwich filling when cold, it can be used just like a hummous would.

As this was the main attraction for our roast dinner I wanted to set the mix. So i poured it into a large pyrex roasting dish and baked it uncovered at 170 degress for about 35 ins. Then i turned off the heat and left it to go cool in the oven. This produces a delicious sliceable pease pottage that is a great alternative to a nut roast any day!


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

What I ate Wednesday- Raw banana ice cream & how to eat a rainbow!

Wow. It's been waaay longer than I realised since I last wrote a blog post. Sorry guys and thanks for sticking with me! Most of my creative energy has been taken up with an amazing book campaign my talented Sister in Law and I are running. She is a most fabulous artist and we've joined forces to bring you all a healthy children's recipe book!

This one is really special, it's illustrated with tons of fairies and magical beings, just like a picture book and comes complete with a fairy food certificate for your little ones to fill in! Our recipes contain no refined sugars, are free from gluten and dairy and packed with tons of fresh fruits and veggies. It's called 'How to Eat a Rainbow'. We are running the campaign on indiegogo and our book can be pre ordered there too. We really hope to reach our target of $8000 so we can make it a reality- we are soooo excited! You can check out our campaign video and pre order here on indiegogo.

So with all this happening and less time for recipe creating, I thought I'd ease myself gently back in to the world of blogging with a WIAW which is always lots of fun! And what have I been eating? Random things! My time has been spent so busy, its all been a little chaotic...

We're looking at buy Tuesday eats today! And for me and the girls the highlight of the day was a tasty chocolate cookie dough ice cream we made. I made this to help with our campaign (ahem - any excuse to eat ice cream) but it's not just tasty. It happens to be refined sugar free, dairy free, raw and gluten free, so I'm guessing that it's ok to eat a ton of it! Just kidding, I didn't really eat that much. My friend came and photographed it so I actually do happen to have a very pretty picture of it for you to see! If you'd like the recipe for the tasty ice cream please check it out on our face book page 'How to eat a rainbow'


For lunch I had a big old spinach salad with chickpeas and roasted veg. Roasted veg is just so easy to throw in the oven and forget about  for a while. The girls weren't crazy about this as it had Jerusalem artichokes in it which really aren't their  favourite, but you can't win them all!



At dinner time I was lucky enough to be invited to dinner with my good friend so I didn't have to cook. It was so lovely to have some time out and catch up and she made the most delicious mixed bean chili, totally yummy. So yummy I did not photograph it, sorry!


For snack time it was apple power and a cup of rooibos chai tea with almond milk. Really love this tea, it is so tasty and nice to have a caffeine free option. Which caffeine free teas are your favourite?

I''m sorry I've been away a while but I promise to be better! Thanks for reading, can't wait to see what you've all been enjoying!






Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Good Hemp milk and Good oil review

A while ago I reviewed Good Hemp's delicious plain and flavoured seeds which quickly became a staple in our house! We use the Italian seeds as a delicious alternative to parmesan cheese over raw and cooked pasta dishes, I actually think it tastes better with the seeds than the cheese ever tasted too.

So today I'm super excited to review two more of their products for you!


Good hemp oil

The good hemp oil is a delicious oil made from hemp seeds that contains omega 3's (super important for growing children). The description on their website says that the oil is free from pesticides, never bleached or deodorised and is produced by cold pressing which is great news for us.

So how does it taste? It has a slightly nutty taste but is very mild and blends easily with balsamic or apple cider vinegar to make a tasty salad dressing. It is also mild enough to be blended into smoothies (popular with the children), porridge and as a drizzle over soups. We blended some with extra virgin olive oil as a dip for our sourdough rye bread and it was amazing. I think this is a wonderful product and we'll definately be buying this oil again.


Good hemp milk

The milk got mixed reactions! When Good Hemp first released their milk onto the market we all loved it. It was hands down our favourite pre-made non dairy milk. Then they changed the recipe and none of us liked it at all, it was such a contrast! We actually stopped buying it.

 However, the milk recipe was altered again to produce this version and I am happy to say that we all liked it, though it was not my eldests favourite milk. It does have a very slight after taste that is noticeable in a cup of tea or chicory but as a base in smoothies or hot chocolate it was really creamy and tasty due to the slight vanilla flavour that it has. I can imagine it would be great with porridge too. I am really glad I got to try this milk again as it's now firmly back on the buy list!

I hope you enjoyed these product reviews, let me know if you've tried any of these products and what you think!For more information on these products please check out http://www.goodhempnutrition.com/