Leftover Almond Pulp Lunch Box Crackers

crackersAgain, my photo’s are embarrassing compared to the food porn that is all over the blogging scene. But, alas, I don’t have time to set up a photo shoot in the kitchen and take a million shots, so you will just have to trust that these look and taste good!

I have been making my own almond milk recently and needed to find a use for all of the almond pulp that was leftover. I had saved a few recipes but not got round to trying them as they were too complicated or required special ingredients I didn’t have. I needed something quick and easy that was useful to have in stock instead of just making more food for the sake of it (which would be the case with almond cookies for example!)

I followed a recipe for almond crackers but the mixture was crumbly and too oily, so I added my own bits including a chia egg to hold it all together, hoped for the best, and came out with these more-ish, nutritious snacks. Not crunchy like crackers, more like oat cake texture, but great to spread with avocado, dip in humus or pack in your child’s snack box.

As I made the recipe up for the most part I have guesstimated quantities. The final mixture held together fairly well but it doesn’t need to be very dough-like. It had some moisture but didn’t stick to my hands. Just make sure you press it down firmly into the baking tray and it shouldn’t fall to pieces! You can try all sorts of flavours, just swap the herbs, add seeds, olives, sun dried tomatoes whatever you fancy!

Ingredients:

1 cup roughly almond pulp (as I use a juice my pulp is already quite dry, you might need less oil if your pulp is wetter)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup chickpea flour

1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water

Pinch of salt

4 sprigs of thyme, leaves only

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules or fresh, minced garlic

Method:

Start by making a chia egg (you could also use flax seeds here) by combinging chia seeds and water and setting aside for a few minutes.

Mix all of the ingredients together, adding the flour and oats a bit at a time and using the chia egg last to combine and hold together. If the mixture is too wet then add a little more flour or oats or both.

Press mixture into a small oven proof dish or baking tray. You want the crackers to be about 1/4 cm thick.

Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes or until the edges start to turn darker brown.

Cut into squares and leave to cool before moving to a different container.

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VegFest London 2014

P1040599At the end of September a friend and I went to VegFest in London (with the babies!) It was busier than I expected, which was difficult with the babies, but I am not suprised because the event had a lot to offer. Whether you are interested in vegetarianism, veganism, you are dairy-free or just interested in healthier eating or greener living, it was a great place for information, tasters and discussions. In fact the less you know about veganism the more you will gain from the event! I will definitely go again next year, when I can hopefully leave Poppy behind! Because there were so many talks, demonstrations and workshops we would have loved to stay for, but the babies were getting restless. We managed to pick up loads of leaflets though, all reaffirming my reasons for going (mostly) vegan and motivating me to try harder! As for the dairy debate, all I can say is that I am so glad we no longer consume that junk, and I can’t believe how brain washed people are into believing it is good for them! I will put some links at the end of this post if you want to educate yourself further on this matter.
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For those of you who haven’t got a clue what vegan’s eat then take a look at the photo’s below and know that it is not just slop or lettuce leaves! Granted, the doughnuts are not going to be the healthiest choice, but my point is that you don’t HAVE to be health obsessed to make positive changes to your diet, and you can still have a treat when the mood strikes. On the other hand, healthy choices can be delicious too! We had a wrap filled with all sorts of healthy goodies for lunch. I was completely stuffed and yet could probably have devoured another it was beyond delicious. The choice of food was amazing, from chocolate to cheesecake, burgers to burritos. If you think veganism is restrictive, think again!
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There were also stalls with beauty products, clothing, petitions and more. The children’s area looked like good fun with cooking classes and other activities, and there was a cinema area that was showing informative films. And it wasn’t limited to vegetables! There were also discussions on raw food diets, lots of information about healthy and not so healthy fats, sugar, juicing and even green products such as cloth maternity pads! Overall it was well organised, despite the queue to get in and the broken lift fiasco, and I would have loved to have spent more time there. However, I don’t think I would want to take kids again as it was too busy to focus on everything and them! For the price of the tickets it was well worth a trip, although be warned, you could easily spend a fortune on all the tempting stalls.
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Some of the posters and flyers were eye-opening. I initially chose to cut down on meat for health reasons but I can’t deny that the facts on farming make me feel pretty sick and they do make me think twice if I ever get a meaty craving. It is too easy for us to detach ourselves from the reality, when we buy our meat all neatly packaged up in the supermarket with pictures of happy animals on the front. We are allowing outrageous torture to animals and damaging our environment at the same time. If you do eat meat, at least know exactly where it comes from and how the animals are treated. But even organic doesn’t always mean cruelty free due to the very fact that farming is a business and therefore certain procedures have to take place in order to meet demand, and don’t be fooled by the words ‘free-range’ either.
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There is loads of information out there on the health benefits of vegetarianism, veganism and going dairy-free AND it is better for the environment. It makes me laugh when people think that vegan’s don’t get enough nutrients. Sure, there will be unhealthy vegan’s out there, but if you are following a plant based diet with plenty of variety, some raw foods, good fats and natural sources of protein…you are bound to be getting exactly what you need. People often wonder if Poppy will be bought up as a vegan, as if they are worried that she won’t grow properly or have lifelong problems because I am so irresponsible I am depriving her of protein! But I am not worried in the slightest because I know that everything she needs is available in the fresh, wholesome foods we eat. Most of the information we are given about dietary requirements are inaccurate and even worrying. The popular eat well plate for example has a small section suggesting that we need some foods high in sugar and fats (with photo’s of fizzy drinks and biscuits). No one in the world NEEDS these sorts of processed foods, ESPECIALLY not a baby! Of course you can enjoy them in moderation if you choose, but this information is given out in schools which I find irresponsible and misleading for parents who don’t know any better. I have taken Poppy’s health into my own hands so that I can be absolutely sure she only gets the best.
P1040537 They weren’t as energetic on the journey home!

For more info take a look at the following links:

http://www.viva.org.uk
http://www.milkmyths.org.uk
http://www.vegansociety.com/try-vegan/why-go-vegan
http://www.grownathomewithlove.wordpress.com/tag/food-intolerances/
http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/cows/dairy-industry/
http://www.vegsoc.org/
http://www.govegan.org.uk/
http://www.london.vegfest.co.uk/

Gluten-free, sugar free, vegan breakfast muffins

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Sometimes I just fancy something new for breakfast, and sometimes that ends in disaster. Especially when it comes to baking as I’m no good at guessing quantities and figuring out how to bind ingredients together or make sure it rises. But much to my surprise my recent experiments with breakfast muffins have turned out very well. I looked at a few recipes online, realised we had none of the ingredients in the cupboard, and made something up myself. I used flax eggs and banana to bind the mixture, although you could also use a vegan egg replacer instead of the flaxseed mix (the banana may even be enough but I felt safer using something I knew would definitely work!) You can add anything you like, such as dried apricots, cacao nibs or nuts, and adjust the sweetness with your choice of natural vegan sweetener. I like the fact that it feels like you are eating a cake but there is nothing naughty in there at all! They are also great for when you need breakfast on the go or something to grab when you first wake up, which is why I have just made a fresh batch for our holiday. I try to be prepared so that we are not tempted to eat out too often which will no doubt be unhealthy and expensive (I have been baking bread and making soup today too!) These muffins are easy, tasty, great for little hands and full of goodness; perfect for baby led weaning as well as lunch boxes!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup chickpea flour

3/4 gluten-free self raising flour (I used doves farm)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons milled flaxseed with 6 tablespoons non-dairy milk

3 bananas, the riper the better!

1/3 cup olive oil or coconut oil (melted)

1 tablespoon molasses

1/2 cup sweetener (agave, maple syrup, honey if non-vegan)

1 apple, grated

Small piece of ginger, grated

Mixed seeds of your choice (I used, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, golden flaxseed)

Handful desiccated coconut

Handful chopped dates

Method:

Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.

Prepare your flax eggs by combining the milled flaxseed and non-dairy milk and setting aside for a couple of minutes for the seeds to absorb the liquid.

Meanwhile, mash the bananas and add them to the flour mixture.

Add the flax eggs and combine well.

Stir in the oil, sweetener and molasses, followed by the rest of the ingredients.

Spoon into cupcake cases and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for around 20 minutes, or until they start to turn golden brown.

Leave to cool before serving with a cup of tea!

Enjoy!

Cocoa-nut bites

photo 2-1There are hundreds of these delightful little balls circling the blogging scene! I usually just make them up as I go along, but this one was particularly good. I haven’t been updating you on my sugar free challenge at all! But because of little lifesavers such as these nutritious snacks, I have managed fairly well. It hasn’t been as hard as I imagined, but then again we haven’t cut out natural sugars, so I can still satisfy my sweet cravings. Although many people say sugar is sugar, processed or not, I have to disagree. The foods that I get my sweet fixes from have so many health benefits that far outweigh the sugar content, and the extra goodness in them helps your body to process the sugar more efficiently anyway. I do feel better as a result of the challenge, with no more energy dips mid afternoon. I slipped up yesterday when I was testing a brownie recipe for the party this weekend, and today I have been feeling so lethargic! The other girls are doing great too and the online food diary has helped us to share ideas and really evaluate what we are putting into our bodies. I have realised that I really don’t snack as much as I thought! Michelle has lost a heap of weight and we have both said we want to make it a more long term change. I am also pleased that I have managed to, pretty much, cut out all processed bread (and haven’t eaten anything else processed the entire time!) and am now considering asking for a bread maker for Christmas!

If you have ever thought about going sugar free you should definitely try it. If you are happy to eat natural sugars in fruit, honey and maple syrup, for example, then you may find it is a piece of *sugar free* cake!

So to get you started here is a quick recipe for those moments when you just need a treat:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup soaked cashews

2-3 cup soaked dates

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Handful raisins

Desiccated coconut to coat balls in

Method:

Puree or blend your dates, cashews and coconut oil (I used my juicer to do this which makes them much smoother than blending, but either works ok) If the mix seems too crumbly add more dates. It should be sticky, holding together easily but not wet.

Put mixture in a bowl and stir in cocoa powder and raisins until mixed well. You can add more or less cocoa depending on how chocolatey you want them.

Roll into bite sized balls and then roll through the desicated coconut.

Refrigerate for an hour before serving (unless you are desperate to eat them straight away, but they really are better after being in the fridge!)

Store them in an airtight container and pack them in a picnic, in your child’s lunch box, for a long journey. You could even put them in a pretty box and give them as a gift…or just demolish them all whilst watching your favourite tv!

Enjoy!
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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! 

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!

Rainbows and Smiles

10291854_10154031925635346_1747914046365390881_nA couple of weekends ago we celebrated my beautiful Nan’s 80th birthday, and I promised I would write a post about our weekend. Of course I didn’t get time, but I had to at least share the cake with you. I made this 6 layer rainbow cake by following the basic recipe at Kerry Cooks: http://kerrycooks.com/easy-6-layer-rainbow-cake-step-by-step/ BUT, get this, I had to use TRIPLE the ingredients…it was a BIG cake! That included 18 eggs, 3 tubs of dairy free spread, over 1kg sugar…you see I am not always health obsessed! Depending on how greedy your friends are I would say this would serve 20.

I made some of my own additions and changes. I added lemon zest to the sponge and of course it was made with Pure spread and so was dairy free. I also couldn’t use her cream cheese frosting, so I made my own lemon frosting, with Pure spread, icing sugar, lemon juice and super white powder food colouring, because the bright colours really do look great against bright white. If you are not dairy free you can use Lurpak to make a lighter frosting, therefore needing less white colouring to get the desired shade.

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All of the other colours were the same as the ones Kerry used, except for purple I used Sugarflair pastel colours in ‘Lavender’ and it turned out perfectly. You must use professional gel colours in order for this cake to be a success, not just supermarket gels or regular liquid food colouring. Just add a little bit at a time until it is as bright as you want it.

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My tins were 26cm, and so took a little longer to cook. I would say it was about 30 mins per layer. The sponge was lovely and putting each layer in the fridge wrapped in cling film before decorating definitely helped! All in all the cake was simple to make, just slightly time consuming.

P1020685I wanted the inside of the cake to be a surprise so I covered it in the white lemon frosting, and then decorated it with yellow to match the lemon theme. I love yellow and I love lemon cake, reminds me of spring time and happiness. I would say lemon cake is nice and light too, but this probably can’t be described as light if you have a 6 layer slice, like I did!

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I also made this lovely bunting with my Nan’s name on it, out of thread, cocktail sticks and thin card. I stamped her name onto separate card, cut out the circles and stuck them to the flags. The flags are just folded over the thread and then glued together. It looked very pretty and girly, and added to the summery vibes!

My Nan loved it and everyone was commenting on how beautiful it was…and then she cut into it and revealed the wonderful rainbow! It went down a storm and tasted delicious.

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Piña colada smoothie

Ingredients:

2 heaped tablespoons desiccated coconut (I liked the texture but you could use fresh coconut if you prefer)

1/4 pineapple

Coconut milk

1 heaped tablespoon of nut butter of your choice (I try to add peanut butter to a lot of my smoothies because healthy fats are essential when breastfeeding)

1 heaped teaspoon maca powder

Ice

Blend! Easy and delicious!

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Super Saturday Breakfast

ImagePoppy’s tooth still hasn’t cut through, and she was up a lot in the night. Nothing will settle her, not even Mummy’s milk, so I was feeling very sad for her. She woke up this morning in a slightly better mood. I, however, am feeling rubbish! This lack of sleep definitely isn’t helping my body fight the ickyness, so I needed a good breakfast to give it a helping hand. I am hoping this fresh juice and delicious porridge will do the trick, with the juice boosting my immune system and the porridge pushing me through my day of studying!

Immune boosting juice:

1 or 2 apples

1/2 cucumber

A good chunk of ginger (for all it’s immune boosting super powers!)

1/2 a lemon

2 or 3 carrots (for their vitamin C)

Put all of the ingredients through a juicer and enjoy! The ginger is very strong so if you are not fighting illness you can use less of this, but I needed it’s goodness today.

Super Porridge:

Organic porridge oats (I blitz mine in a mini blender because I prefer them finer which makes a creamier, comforting porridge!)

Coconut milk

1 big teaspoon coconut oil (melted in when heating)

1 tablespoon honey

2 dates and 2 dried apricots, chopped

Cacao nibs

Chopped pecans

Shelled hemp seeds

Milled flaxseed

Sunflower seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Put all of the ingredients into the pan and heat slowly, stirring often. I haven’t put quantities as you can just put as much or as little as you like and of course you can leave out anything you don’t like or add extras such as different dried fruits or nuts.

But this combo was absolutely delish!

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Thai squash soup

P1020343I often use up leftover veggies in soups, and rarely know what it’s going to turn out like. Every now and then I discover something wonderful, and this was certainly one of those times. This veggie soup is absolutely divine, Tim said it was my best soup ever, and I make A LOT of soup!

I have called it thai squash soup simply because of the flavour the coconut milk and coriander give it, but apart from that it isn’t all that thai at all. It is very healthy of course, so simple and perfect for a grey day like today.

Ingredients:

(I used half these amounts as that’s what was left in our fridge, this will make a lot of soup)

1 Butternut squash

1 Swede

6 large tomatoes

1 large white onion

Medium madras curry powder (or your own choice of curry powder)

1 can coconut milk

Bunch of coriander

Enough veggie stock to cover the veggies in the pan (I use marigold bouillon for plenty of flavour and less salt and additives)

1 clove garlic (optional)

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Method:

Roast the butternut squash and swede in chunks, lightly coated with rapeseed oil and sprinkled generously with curry powder.

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Meanwhile fry the onion until soft and add some more curry powder (1 tsp) to this. Once soft add the garlic, chopped, and the tomatoes, chopped into quarters roughly, and fry for a further 5 minutes.

Once the squash and swede are roasted add them to the pan and mix all the ingredients well.

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Pour over the stock and simmer for 5 minutes or so (Because the veg are all cooked you are only really combining flavours and making sure it is nice and hot!)

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Pour over coconut milk and stir through. Blitz it all up with the coriander, saving some to garnish.

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Enjoy!