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/


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Vegan, gluten & refined sugar free pumpkin pie!

The days are getting shorter, there is a (pretty fierce) chill in the air and it's Thanksgiving tomorrow; it's that time of year when you just need to eat pumpkin pie. I just adore pumpkin pie, it is so creamy and delicious- the perfect comfort food. I wish it were more popular in England!

Over the years my pumpkin pies have evolved from regular pumpkin pies, to wholemeal crust then on to refined sugar and dairy free and finally gluten free. I've never attempted to make one without the eggs before, as they seemed like such a vital part of the structure. How can you make a pumpkinny custard without the eggs? For the past couple of years I took the easy option and we've enjoyed a tasty raw version of this dish but this year I felt brave. Maybe it's all the Dr Who action I've been watching lately inspiring me with fearlessness, but I was finally ready to tackle the vegan, refined sugar free and gluten free pie!

As I was pondering how to go about it, I remembered I had some agar agar in the cupboard which I'd used to make fruit jelly last year. I am also a big fan of tapioca flour and use that to thicken up all sorts of sauces, so I reckoned with these two ingredients I was on to something.

So armed with my tapioca flour, agar agar and big old fresh pumpkin (it is super tricky to find canned pumpkin in the UK so no easy option for me!) I experimented. And you know what? It worked!



For the crust
1 cup of buckwheat flour
1/2 cup of brown rice flour
1 cup of maize flour
2 tbsp tapioca flour
3 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp ground flax
pinch of sea salt
Cold water to mix

For the filling
1 small-medium sweet pumpkin
1/4 cup of pumpkin juice*
1/2 cup of the thick part of the coconut milk
1 tbsp of agar agar powder/flakes
2 1/2 tbsp tapioca flour
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
2 tbsp maple or brown rice syrup
1 tsp sugar free vanilla extract
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice (or clove)
Pinch of sea salt

*This juice is created during the roasting of the pumpkin. You could also use boiling water.

Method
First preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan).

Step 1: Roast the pumpkin
Cut your pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut side up on a baking tray. Bake for around 1 hour until soft and cooked.
Remove the pumpkin from the oven. The pumpkin will have filled up with juice, drain this into a bowl and set aside for use in a minute.

Step 2: Make the pastry crust
Add all the ingredients (apart from the water) to a food processor and pulse to mix. Then gradually add the water a little at a time until it comes together as a dough. Tip the dough out and press into a greased 22cm pie dish. This part is much easier than regular pastry as no rolling involved, just press it in to an even thickness. You can make the edges fancy if you like by crimping them with your fingers, or pressing a fork around the edge.

Place the pie dish in the hot oven for 8 minutes just to firm up a little.

Step 3: Make the filling
Take 1/4 cup of the pumpkin juice and stir in the agar agar, whisk lightly.
In a food processor, add 2 1/2 cups of the flesh of the roasted pumpkin (about half to just over half of the pumpkin if it is medium) and the agar agar. Blitz well until smooth. Add all the remaining ingredients and process so there are no lumps remaining.

Step 4: Assemble
Open the oven door and carefully pour the pumpkin mixture into the pastry case. Put back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 160 (fan) and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the middle is set but still has a slight wobble. Cool on a rack for an hour and the transfer to the fridge overnight or for around 4 hours.

The pie is darker than regular pumpkin pie because of the coconut palm sugar, but the flavour is all there!

I used the rest of my pumpkin, the rest of the can of coconut milk and the remaining pumpkin juice in a dhal for dinner so nothing was wasted!





Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Back with a Bonfire night bang! Vegan, refined sugar free toffee apples.

My talk 'Where the wildfoods are'

Oh dear. I've been absent for so much longer than I thought I had, I have no clue where the time goes. The start of October saw both myself and my hubby giving talks at Vegfest in London with the amazing LifeWell Wellbeing hub which was super fun! I have long been freaked out by the idea of speaking in front of people, but I guess finding the area I love to speak about made it much easier than I thought. I was still super nervous, and I was convinced I'd blunder through it messing it all up so I was pleasantly surprised when that didn't happen!



Since that date we have enjoyed the company of my lovely Sister-in-law visiting from the States which has been a blast (sorry, more Bonfire Night puns!). We got to take fun trips to the Wye Valley and Wales and Sherwood forest, all sorts of adventuring. We even went to a pub that's in a cave, how about that. Not all play though, we've been working hard finishing a project that we're doing together so I've been pretty tied up. But things are calmer now and I realised how badly I've been neglecting this blog, I'm so sorry guys.

I'm starting back into the world of blogging with a bang- because it's Bonfire Night! For my non British friends the 5th of November in the UK is a day we celebrate with firework displays and bonfires, burning effigies of a bloke called Guy Fawkes. Guy back in 1605 attempted with a group of others, to blow up the houses of parliament. I'm not so sure why we pick on Guy specifically, as he wasn't even the ring leader, but every year kids make 'Guys' out of straw, old clothes and paper and we burn them on the fire. Whenever I explain this tradition I realise how gruesome it actually is, but it is my favourite celebration for so many other reasons.

In our dark cold Autumn evenings, there is nothing better than warming your hands near a big old bonfire with a cup of fragrant mulled wine, enjoying some crunchy toffee apples, steaming hot chocolate and maybe some bangers (that's sausages) with friends and family, while watching the pretty lights in the sky. These days our hot chocolate, sausages and toffee apples are of course vegan and refined sugar free wholefood versions, but just as tasty and atmospheric!


Today the girls and I made these uber tasty toffee apples and I am excited to share the recipe with you (watch out though, they're real tooth breakers!).

A little note of caution. This toffee mixture gets HOT. It will burn your skin and stays hot for quite a while. My girls like to measure out the ingredients and skewer the apples, I do the toffee making and dipping of the apples.


Toffee Apples (makes 4)

Ingredients
4 apples
4 wooden skewers, cut in half
1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp coconut oil




Method
First of all, wash and dry your apples and skewer them with the wooden sticks to make a handle, set aside.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a pan and heat over a medium heat, stirring constantly for about 4 minutes until thick and bubbly.
You can test if the mixture is ready by dropping a bit onto some greaseproof paper to see if it sets.
When ready, quickly dip the apples in the toffee and stand on some greaseproof paper to set. Don't worry if all your apple isn't coated, I think it actually looks more rustic and pretty this way.