Vegan banana pancakes

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These pancakes were our breakfast on bank holiday Monday, a little treat (but a healthy one!), when there was nothing else in the house. They are so simple and very tasty with no sugar whatsoever. The chickpea flour provides protein and we all know that banana’s are good for us! Serve them with whatever you fancy, we used more banana and maple syrup. I’ll definitely be making these again and again!

Ingredients (to make the amount shown in pic):

1 small mashed banana
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4-1/3 cup water

Method:

In a mixing bowl combine the mashed banana, chickpea flour, cinnamon, baking soda and 1/4 cup water and mix.
Add more water if necessary to get the consistency somewhere between thick-runny and runny.

Preheat a non-stick pan over medium heat. I used a very small amount of vegan spread in the pan to stop them sticking.

Scoop about 1/4 cup batter into the pan for each pancake. (Notice how mine got smaller at the top?! I would use just less than 1/4 cup if you want a stack like this and you want them to be the same size!)

Cook on one side until the top is bubbly, then flip and cook for about another minute. The pancakes should be browned on both sides but nice and cakey! 

Enjoy! 

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Raw Vegan Cheesecake

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So at the start of my sugar free challenge what better than a sugar free cheesecake to get me through my sweet cravings?! 

I took this recipe from http://www.therawtarian.com and it was a huge success. My Mum loved it (non-vegan) and I have loads left over for tomorrow which I know will please Tim. It wasn’t a perfect replacement for the cheesecake you might be used to, but I think it was nicer, and far healthier! It also could have been because I used maple syrup which has a distinct flavour, and I didn’t use a high speed blender. The base was quite crunchy and textured, but we really liked it like that. 

I did find that there wasn’t quite enough base mixture to cover a normal cheesecake dish, and so I used a smaller square pyrex dish, but then found there was too much ‘cheese’ mixture, making the layers quite thick in the smaller dish. It just meant we had smaller slices as it is quite rich, but we still both managed to have 2 of them! 

I will be trying this again with different fruit combo’s and think it could also work great with crumbled diary free ginger biscuits as the base and pineapple on top, for when the sugar free month is over. So here it is, simple and suprisingly healthy cheesecake! 

Ingredients:

Base:

1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts

1/2 cup dates (soaked over night to soften)

1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Pinch of salt

Cashew cheese filling:

3 cups cashews (I soaked mine over night to activate them and soften them)

3/4 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup agave/honey (I used maple syrup and honey)

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Water if you need to blend, I didn’t need any but use as little as possible

Topping:

2 cups frozen strawberries (I used raspberries!) 

1/2 cup dates (softened over night) 

Method:

Sprinkle your dish with the coconut and set aside

Using a high speed food processor, blend your macadamia nuts and dates until they are well processed but still airy. 

Press the nut mixture to the bottom of your dish (over the coconut which will stop it from sticking)

Blend all of your cashew cheese filling ingredients until smooth and pour on top of the nut base. 

Place in the freezer whilst you make your topping (the original recipe said an hour but I skipped this part completely and it still worked fine.)

Blend your fruit and dates in a high speed blender until smooth. It should look like a sorbet! Pour on top of the cheese filling and place back in the freezer, or the fridge like I did, until it reaches the desired consistency. The recipe says 5 hours in the freezer but I only put mine in the fridge for about 3 hours and it was perfect, the cheese had firmed up nicely.)

Mum left hers out of the fridge for a while before eating to take the chill off but I had mine straight away, your choice!  

Enjoy, guilt free! 

Thanks to http://www.therawtarian.com/raw-cheesecake-recipe for an amazing recipe!

Sugar Free Month

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My friend and I have just started a sugar free month. I have always wanted to be sugar free but didn’t think I would manage. I don’t eat an awful lot on a daily basis, but I do like it in my tea and we all know I am partial to a bit of cake or brownie. But with everything we have been doing lately, right back to our holiday to Italy, family BBQ’s, social events and the brilliant festival we went to last weekend, I have been eating more and more junk and feeling really awful as a result. It has made me realise just how much my diet has changed for the better since having Poppy, as I can literally see the difference in the mirror. I have put on weight, my eczema is back and I have acne. So I haven’t been feeling too thrilled about this. As well as that I feel lethargic and have awful headaches. This isn’t all down to sugar of course, bacon rolls are not exactly a super food, but even those were laden with sugary ketchup, and the more sugar I ate, the more I craved. These cravings caused me to make bad choices, like having a bowl of cereal for breakfast whilst visiting family, just to get that sugar fix which then left me feeling sluggish and hungry again within an hour. I wonder if Poppy became ill this week because all of the sugar I was eating had weakened her immune system.

So seeing as we don’t have any more excuses to pig out on rubbish food this month, I decided I would see exactly how sugar affects us. We are allowed natural sugar in fruits, and dates are always my lifesaver, but nothing with added sugar or artificial sweetener. I actually extended my challenge to basically rule out any processed food at all, so every meal will be freshly prepared by yours truly, so I know exactly what is in it. We are only on day 3 but I honestly already feel better. My skin is clearing up at last and I have more energy. I am making green smoothies every morning, and I have even tried making my own almond butter in my juicer, which was so easy! I will definitely be making my own nut milk next, because the ones you buy in the supermarkets have added stuff we don’t necessarily want.

I struggled initially knowing that I couldn’t detox whilst breastfeeding (because the toxins are eliminated into your breastmilk). Whenever I have over indulged in the past I have gone on a strict detox, such as a juice cleanse, to fix all the damage before starting from scratch. It was actually difficult knowing that I couldn’t do this quick MOT, and that my naughty slip ups would probably have more long lasting effects and require more hard work to undo. But at least I don’t have to cut down on the amounts that I am eating, because I am still providing enough for two! I realised that I could still eat clean and my body would detox itself, without compromising Poppy’s health. That way I get to enjoy heaps of delicious healthy food and spend lots of time doing what I like to do most: cooking!

If anyone wants to join us on this challenge then let me know and I can add you to our facebook group. I will try to post about our results on here and hopefully it will all be good news!

Breastfeeding: 10 things they don’t tell you

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It is world breastfeeding week! Instead of a soppy post about how amazing our journey has been and how lucky I feel to be able to breastfeed my daughter (which I do), I thought I would inject a bit of light hearted fun into the week and warn all of you mother’s to be about the things the midwives don’t tell you. I know many of my readers will get this, for those of you without children, and my Dad, I apologise if this is TMI. So here goes:

1. Your newborn doesn’t give a damn who the milk comes from:

You may want to warn visitors to wear high cut tops, unless they are down with wet nursing. Your little bundle of joy will nuzzle into any warm, welcoming chest if their tummy is rumbling, even Grandad’s.

2. You need different sized bras for morning and night:

Depending on your babies sleeping schedule, you will probably find that sometime during the morning you look like Katie Price, and feel like you could model for the cover of FHM. By early evening that E cup bra is hanging off of your deflated balloons and you understand why your mother-in-law warned you that breastfeeding will give you spaniels ears for tits.

3. In the early days – you stink:

This isn’t always the case but I guess I was lucky. All of the weird hormones flying around your body, and I am assuming the fact that your milk producing glands are modified sweat glands, may mean that for the first few months of breastfeeding, you stink. Remember when I told you that I couldn’t make that lunch date because Poppy was over tired/poorly/teething/all of the above? I meant to say that I just couldn’t shift this smell of B.O and didn’t want to put you off your food. Of course if you manage to avoid this lovely by product of breastfeeding, you are still likely to smell pretty offensive. Sour milk anyone?

4. You might just leak all of the time:

Pre-baby if someone had told me they had enjoyed a milk bath it would have conjured up romantic images of some new age spa treatment in a mountain retreat, surrounded by exotic flowers and floating candles. 9 months later and I was having them on a daily basis, through no choice of my own. But hey, at least when we had unexpected visitors we didn’t need to worry about having the fridge stocked with fresh milk.

5. Your baby does not care about your dignity:

Poppy has never been the type to settle down for a cosy, lazy, relaxed feed. At least not when we are in company. God forbid she misses something more interesting! She latches on and off and on and off, making sure everyone gets a good look at my chest in the meantime. I have heard people say it IS possible to feed discreetly…I am sceptical.  At first you feel self-conscious, but you soon surround yourself with understanding people who you know are not offended by a woman’s beautiful, natural anatomy. If that isn’t possible you get very quick at the top up, top down, top up, top down manoeuvre and hope that in your sleep deprived state you don’t get it the wrong way around. TIP: By all means relax in the comfort of your own home and let your baby latch on and off as much as they please without a care in the world. But I speak from experience when I say that if you are so relaxed that you haven’t noticed you are still undressed after your baby is finished and playing on the floor, just make sure the curtains are shut if it is around the time that the postman does his rounds. That parcel exchange was the most awkward I ever had.

6. Nursing bras are hideous:

When I was pregnant I went to get fitted for a new maternity bra. The woman in the shop clearly mistook me for an 80 year old virgin as she fetched the most hideous contraptions I have ever seen. I swore that I could still be a Mum, a breastfeeding Mum, and be sexy too. I was wrong. A year later and I am longing for those supportive, practical, beige, boulder holders as I desperately faff about with uncomfortable, lacy, balconette bra’s every time Poppy gets hungry. I try to pretend that she isn’t the only other person who ever sees them, but who am I kidding?

7. Babies are not immobile, floppy, blobs forever:

Eventually they learn how to sit up, crawl, do the crab…and you might find they like a “drive-thru” as much as the next person. You see babies are busy little beings with lot’s to learn, and sometimes they just don’t want to stop and do nothing whilst they eat their lunch. If you breastfeed lying down, like I do on occasion, you may find your baby getting into all sorts of funny positions, nipple still in mouth. It is actually quite amazing how stretchy those things are. Downward dog was a favourite in our house for a while, sometimes with a little twerking for good measure. Sometimes she doesn’t have time for a full tank. She stops, mid-play, pulls down my top as affectionately as you would unscrew a petrol cap, and refuels, sitting bolt upright the entire time. The blue-eyed baby in the follow-on milk advert doesn’t do that.

8. Babies are also very flexible:

Settling down for a good feed is the perfect time to practise their acrobats. Foot to face is the favourite…your face that is. I am kicked in the face and have toes up my nose on a regular basis. A word of warning: when your baby first discovers they can do this. DO NOT PLAY KISS THE FOOT! It is cute the first time, your baby looks at you and giggles as you pretend to nibble their sweet little toes. But the thing is, babies like repetition. Mums like peace and quiet. So if you want to make the most of that “peaceful” twenty minutes, try not to interact with them at all.

9. Nipples are to babies what speed is to sniffer dogs:

There are times during the night when I do my best not to feed Poppy back to sleep. But, for practicality reasons I don’t always sleep with a top on (sorry for the mental picture, or you are welcome depending on who you are). So there I am lying on my front, absolutely adamant that my goodies are staying firmly squished into the mattress as I attempt to shh her back to sleep. Poppy is rooting around and I have this very brief smug feeling of power (I did not just say that, all of my AP friends close your ears!), when all of a sudden, out of nowhere I feel a familiar suckling and Poppy is looking pleased as punch as she drifts into a milky dream. How….? Wha…? I told you they were stretchy!!

10. Breasts are really interesting for a 10 month old:

*See earlier points about elasticity of nipples

So we are 11 months in and the fun continues! But would a change a thing? Absolutely not. For all of the inconveniences, there are so many positives. If you are considering breastfeeding, do it, do it, do it – just don’t say I didn’t warn you!

HAPPY BREASTFEEDING WEEK EVERYONE!

Chickpea Tagine

Root-Vegetable-Tagine

You may already know that we are a little obsessed with this recipe. In fact it was the first meal we cooked when we had decided to give veganism a go, and it was so good that we didn’t think we would ever be tempted to eat meat again! These days we are ‘chegan’s’; a name I heard somewhere that means vegans who cheat. Everything I cook at home is vegan, but if we are invited to a social event, we would rather just join in and eat what everyone else is eating to make life easier and ensure our social life doesn’t die out. I have also found it really difficult eating in restaurants, as a lot of the vegetarian options still contain cheese, so I often just opt for something with meat in order to avoid dairy. It is early days, but I think overall we are doing pretty well. 

Anyway, back to the tagine. This recipe has been adapted ever so slightly from one in our ‘Crazy Sexy Kitchen’ recipe book by Kris Carr. It is really delicious and healthy, and although it seems like a lot of ingredients, I now kow the recipe off by heart and it is easy. Try not to skip any of the flavour-y (it’s a word) ingredients as the overall taste is amazing! I once ran out of cumin seeds and discovered that these are an essential part of the dish!

You can, however, use any root veggies you like. For some reason I am always drawn to orange veg for this dish! I make my own tomato paste for this recipe, so I will start with that.

Tomato paste:

8 sun dried tomatoes

1 large tomato

1/4 red pepper

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cinnamon 

1/2 tsp black pepper

Blitz and set aside.

Chickpea Tagine:

1 tbsp. cumin seeds 

1 tbsp. ground coriander

3 tbsps. olive oil

1 medium white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

Your pre-made tomato paste

1 pint (ish) vegetable bouillon

3 large carrots peeled and diced

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1/2 butternut squash

1/4 jar pitted and chopped green olives

400g carton of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 jar artichokes (optional but tasty)

Zest of 1 lemon

Large handful raisins

3 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus some to serve

3 tablespoons chopped coriander, plus some to serve

(The original recipe also had mint, but we don’t usually buy this so I leave it out)

Method:

1. Toast cumin seeds and coriander in a pan until aromatic. Once toasted, add to your tomato paste and mix in. 

2. In a large heavy-bottom shallow pot or deep skillet (cast iron works best) on medium heat, add oil, onions and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent and golden, stirring continuously for about 4 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the tomato paste and all of your root veggies (not the chickpeas), coating them in the paste.

4. Add the vegetable bouillon, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. 

5. Add the olives, chickpeas, artichokes, lemon zest and raisins. Continue simmering for about 5 minutes. 

6. Add parsley and coriander and season with salt and pepper if desired. 

7. Garnish with sliced red chili and fresh herbs if desired.

I have just eaten a huge bowl of this! It is also one of the only meals that keeps Poppy’s attention for longer than 5 minutes. She picks out the chickpeas and eats them one by one! And today she had a go at the carrot and sweet potato too!

Enjoy!