Tag Archives: vegan

Raw Double Chocolate Brownies

Raw Vegan Brownies

Here is a brownie that ticks all the right boxes – raw, vegan, gluten-free, paleo… – and they taste delicious too. The classic raw brownie is made by blitzing dates, nuts and cocoa in a food processor and mushing the mix together into a ball or bar. Though tasty, those raw brownies are also very dense and usually very sweet because it takes a lot of dates to hold the mixture together. These raw brownies are a slightly different breed. Made with coconut flour, ground almonds and apple puree, they have a texture that’s much more like a traditional brownie.

I was inspired to make these by Emma Potts of Coconut & Berries who posted a recipe for Raw Berry Cream Brownies which totally got my attention. I used a similar method for the brownie base, but instead of a berry cream topping, I went for chocolate ganache – it was a double chocolate kind of day.

This recipe uses cacao powder, which you can readily buy at health food shops or online. I make my own cacao powder from Naturya Cacao Nibs which I blitz to a powder in my blender (I use a Froothie Optimum 9400 which has a jug specially made for grinding dry ingredients). You could do the same to make almond flour, too.

Raw Vegan Brownies

Alternatively, if you’re not fussed about the raw aspect, you can use regular cocoa powder (cocoa powder is made by roasting cacao at high temperatures, which destroys some of the enzymes, and makes it no longer raw – snap!).

Another bonus to these brownies is they give me an opportunity to use my retro vintage nut grinder! Perfect for sprinkling walnuts on top of the brownies! (Of course, you could just use a knife and a cutting board instead.)

Raw Vegan Brownies

Raw Double Chocolate Brownies 

Makes 6 brownies.

For the brownies:

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-4 Tbsp maple syrup or agave (add more or less depending on how sweet you like your brownies)
  • 1/3 cup apple puree or mashed banana
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder if you aren’t worried about the raw thing)
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds or almond flour
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • pinch of salt

For the ganache:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar (or other liquid sweetener of choice)
  • small pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Method

  1. Line a small baking tin or container with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all of the brownie ingredients together with your hands or in a food processor. You should get a very thick mixture.
  3. Spread the mixture into the prepared container and smooth out the top. Refrigerate or freeze.
  4. For the ganache, melt the coconut oil over low heat in a medium pot. Remove from heat and whisk in the cacao powder, agave, salt, and vanilla until combined and smooth.
  5. Pour the ganache over the brownies and spread out evenly. If you’d like, dust the top with cacao powder and/or chopped walnuts. Put back into the refrigerator to chill.
  6. Remove from the refrigerator, slice and enjoy!

Raw Vegan Brownies

There are lots more people out there grinding their own flours and powders to make awesome snacks. Check out Nazima’s Fig and Blackberry Crumble using her own quinoa flour, and Emma’s Flatbread made with almond and oat flour.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

 

Beetroot and Carrot Slaw

Raw Carrot & Beetroot Salad with Raisins & Pine Nuts

I’m on a bit of a raw food kick lately. Of course when it comes to raw food, it’s all about the quality of the ingredients, which should ideally be organic and locally sourced to maximise their flavour potential. In this way, my recent Riverford boxes have been packed full of autumn inspiration, with carrots and beetroot being mainstays for the last couple of weeks. Most of my beets typically go straight into the juicer, but recently I’ve been look for other ways to enjoy beetroot in its pure unadulterated form.

Riverford Box

Most recently, my favourite way to enjoy raw beetroot is shredded in combination with carrots and dressed with something sweet and tangy. Here I use raisins for the sweetness and lemon and white wine vinegar for the tang. Feel free to experiment with other dried fruits like dates, apricots or prunes. Same goes for the nuts: I use pine nuts but pistachios would be fantastic here, as would some toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Raw Carrot & Beetroot Salad with Raisins & Pine Nuts

Many people don’t often brave the gory hand mess that comes with handling raw beetroot. But really, folks, the mess isn’t that bad and the result is fantastic. Just wear an apron and go to it!

And if the slaw isn’t enough, here’s more beetroot inspiration for you:

Raw Carrot & Beetroot Salad with Raisins & Pine Nuts

Beetroot and Carrot Slaw

Serves 2-3 (or one greedy Monica)

Ingredients

  • 2 carrots
  • 1 beetroot
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp raisins
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • small handful parsley
  • small handful mint
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted

Method

  1. Combine the raisins, vinegar and garlic in a bowl and leave to sit for about an hour.
  2. Peel the carrots and beetroot and grate them with a box grater or a julienne slicer (a julienne slicer looks prettier).
  3. Combine the raisins, vinegar and garlic with the carrots and beetroot, then toss with the olive oil, lemon juice, most of the parsley and mint, salt and pepper.
  4. Serve the slaw scattered with pine nuts and sprinkled with the extra herbs.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.

Nettle Farinata

Nettle farinata.

Farinata (also called socca, torta di ceci or cecina) is a chickpea flour flatbread akin to a pancake or crepe, and it’s been a favourite food of mine for years. I’ve written about Farinata before (and its Indian cousin, Besan Cheela) but I’ve recently been rediscovering farinata through my favourite Springtime forageable: stinging nettles.

For one thing, nettle farinata just looks cool (I was inspired by this picture of nettle focaccia taken by Eat Pictures). But the nettles also add nice texture to the farinata, thanks to their prickly hairs which are no longer stinging since the nettles have been cooked.

Of course, you don’t need to use nettles here – you can use any vegetable you’d like – veggie chef Rachel Demuth does hers with artichokes – and feel free to kick it up with herbs, spices, black pepper, chilli, whatever you feel. This is why I love farinata: it’s so adaptable. It’s also inherently vegan, gluten-free, rich in protein and fiber, and an all around good eat that goes well with so many things. My recipe below is also lower in fat than most other farinata recipes, which tend to include a lot of oil in the batter. When I make this, the only oil I use is for greasing the pan. To me, it’s perfect this way.

You can cook farinata til its crispy and use it as a pizza base, or keep it malleable and use it almost as a vegan omelet – delicious with sautéed mushrooms! If you really want to green up your farinata, you can blitz some of the nettles (or whatever greenery your using) with the batter.

Wild garlic farinata / socca / chickpea flour flatbread. #vegan #glutenfree

Nettle Farinata

1 cup chickpea flour
1 teaspoon salt
olive oil
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
a bunch of nettle leaves, washed

Method

  1. Combine the chickpea flour and salt in a blender with 1 cup of water. Blend until smooth then leave the batter to rest for 2-12 hours.
  2. Heat up the oven’s grill / broiler. Heat an oven-safe non-stick pan on medium high heat. Coat the pan with some olive oil (either using a spray bottle or by drizzling in some oil and wiping it around with a paper towel).
  3. When the pan is good and hot, pour in just enough batter to fill the pan, about the thickness of a crepe – you can go thicker but I find a thinner pancake results in a nicer result. Immediately scatter some onions over the batter, then, using tongs, place the nettle leaves on top of the batter.
  4. When the batter is firm on top and brown underneath, remove the pan from the heat and place under the grill / broiler (if you’d like, you can spray a thin coat of olive oil on top of the farinata before placing under the grill). Cook until it’s starting to brown on top (this shouldn’t take very long so keep an eye on it).
  5. Remove the farinata from the pan and repeat the steps above with the rest of the batter.
  6. Serve immediately. You can slice the farinata with a pizza cutter, but it’s also nice to just tear into it with your hands!

Here’s what it looks like with wild garlic, also nice but not as texturally interesting:

Wild garlic farinata (I still prefer the nettle version).

Smarter Fitter Supperclub Recap and Recipes

Fwd:

Last night was my first ever Smarter Fitter Supperclub held here at my digs in the Cotswolds featuring a vegan, raw, gluten-free theme. There were 11 of us in total, and what fun it was having so many like-minded and adventurous people over to try some of my creations, share ideas, drink wine and have some great chat. It went amazingly well and I hope all of my guests had as much fun as I did. The stand-out dishes seemed to be the beetroot and walnut dip, sweet potato kofte, raw raspberry cheesecake and, funny enough, the “Juicer Dreg Crisps” I made in the dehydrator with leftover juicer pulp.

My only regret is not taking enough pictures! The only pictures I did take were of the beverages (which might explain a thing or two).

Infusing. #tequila

Will I do it again? I think so! The social opportunities alone make it worthwhile – I met some really interesting people and made a few new friends. Plus, it was great hanging out with people who are actually local to me – something I don’t do as much as I’d like to.

So I’m thinking a summertime veggie BBQ camp. Any interest?

The menu from last night is below, with links to a few recipes for some favourite dishes.

DRINKS

APPETIZERS

SMORGASBORD

DESSERT

Vegan Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Vegan "cream" of cauliflower soup     Lunch today & on the menu for my #detox workshop this Tues at @Demuths!

Last night I hosted my New Year Reboot cooking workshop at Demuths Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. The whole “reboot” concept is all about giving the body a chance to rest and recover after a season of excess, and get back to (or get started with) feeling awesome all of the time. The aim of the class was to provide strategies and recipes to help people design their own “reboot” according to their own personal tastes.

One of the strategies involves eating foods that are vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free. Another strategy involves eating a lot of soup (easy to digest, nutrient rich meals – kinda like smoothies)!

One of the soups I demonstrated was this “Cream” of Cauilflower soup. Blended cashews give this soup its velvety creamy texture – no dairy required! And based on the mmm’s of the students, I’d say this was one of the top recipes of the evening.

5.0 from 2 reviews

Vegan Cream of Cauliflower Soup
 

You don’t need milk, cream or potato to make soups creamy – use cashews instead. You also get the protein and healthy fat bonus that comes from using cashews. Plus, adding cashews or any nut to your soup will ultimately make them more satisfying, keeping you fuller for longer and keep you from needing to snack later in the day. You can use this same recipe to make all kinds of vegan creamy soups – broccoli and celery are great here.
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 liter of water or stock
  • a large handful of raw cashews
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
  1. Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottom pan. Cook the onion on a medium heat until it is soft, without letting it brown.
  2. Add the cauliflower and 125ml water. Raise the heat slightly, cover and let the cauliflower cook for 15-18 minutes, until tender.
  3. Working in batches, puree the cooked cauliflower with the stock and the cashews, then return to the pot and heat thoroughly.
  4. Serve garnished with sauteed mushrooms, kale chips or whatever tasty garnish you can think of!

Cashew Curry

Cashew Curry

Given yesterday’s news that nuts are tied to lower risk of cancer and heart disease, I thought I’d share this cashew curry recipe which I made recently as part of an Indian feast for my friend Sam’s birthday a couple weekends ago. The recipe is adapted from Reza Mahammad’s “Cashews in a Rich Coconut Sauce” from Rice, Spice and All Things Nice. Yes, this is a curry based entirely on nuts! A strange idea, I thought, but it works really well and makes a most interesting option for a vegetarian curry.

And if you’re worried about the fat content of nuts, don’t be!  The study showed that people who ate nuts actually tended to be slimmer than their non-nutty counterparts. And, bonus, they also had:

  • 29% reduced risk of heart disease
  • 11% reduced risk of cancer
  • 20% reduced risk of death

The results applied to all nuts, even peanuts, which are actually a legume, not a nut (in fact, I’d be willing to bet that people who eat legumes regularly experience the same benefits as nut fiends).

Here’s a few other nutty recipes I like:

Cashew Curry
Author: 
Recipe type: Curry
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 6
 

Skip the chillies if you can’t take the heat! Yes there is a 2-3 hour cooking time but this is MOSTLY unattended.
Ingredients
  • 200g raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 50ml vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1in piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 200ml coconut milk (1/2 can)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt
  • 2 green chillies, slit lengthwise

Instructions
  1. Cut the onion into quarters. Blend ¾ of the onion in a food processor. Finely dice the remaining onion.
  2. Rinse the cashews in cold water and drain.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the diced onion and fry on low heat for 10-15 minutes until it turns translucent and soft (do not allow it to brown!).
  4. Add the garlic, ginger, blended onion, turmeric and fennel. Pour in 500ml of water and stir well to incorporate.
  5. Add the cashews to the pan, return to the boil, lower the heat, cover, then cook slowly for 2-3 hours until the cashews are tender to the touch (stir the pot as little as you can during this time).
  6. When the cashews are soft, add the coconut milk, sugar, salt and chillies, then cook for another 30 minutes on a low heat.
  7. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 serving Calories: 350 Fat: 32g Saturated fat: 12g Carbohydrates: 16g Fiber: 2.5g Protein: 6g Cholesterol: 0g

 

Autumn Vegetable Tagine

Vegetable Tagine

My mom and I recently took a trip to Marrakech. It was our first time in Morocco and one of the things we looked forward to the most was the food. We both thought we knew what Moroccan food was like, but in retrospect, we hadn’t a clue beyond couscous and vegetable tagine. However, we quickly learned…

Our education began at our riad, Riad Tizwa, in Marrakech’s Old City. A riad is a large traditional house built around a central courtyard; in Marrakech many of these riads operate as guest houses and provide a much more intimate experience of the city than a traditional hotel. Ours was hidden amongst the maze of the Medina’s winding passages and we wouldn’t have found it were it not for our taxi driver (word to the wise traveller: if your hotel or riad offers airport transport, take them up on it). But behind an unmarked door was a beautiful palatial home scented with local perfume and full of light, greenery, fruit trees and flowers.

Relax, you're in Marrakech!

Our host greeted us with Moroccan mint tea (which I only knew about thanks to Urvashi Roe’s excellent write-up on the Art of Moroccan Mint Tea) and some sound advice on where we should go for great Moroccan food. As a result, we had some amazing, epic meals – most notably at Ksar Essaoussan and Le Tobsil - that were real lessons in how to feast Moroccan style.

The feast begins - Morrocan salads out the wazoo

To our collective vegetarian delight, meals started with a selection of cooked and raw salads, but not salads as I’m used too. These were more like little tasting plates of vegetables in various chopped, grated or pureed form. As a result, you didn’t quite know what you were eating until you tried it, making each dish an exciting surprise. Memorable salads include a celery and tomato diced salad with herbs which reminded us of tabbouleh without bulgar. We also had some amazing cooked peppers and tomato seasoned with paprika, cumin and garlic. Spices. Spices were used across the dishes in all kinds of crazy unexpected ways (tomato and cinnamon, for example, and it works).

Another tagine!

Main courses were less of a surprise, but I think this is largely due to the vegetarian thing. Everywhere we went we got couscous and vegetable tagine, all delicious and wonderful, but with surprisingly very little variation. Carrots and parsnip was par for the tagine course, with the occasional cauliflower or green pepper. Only once did we get chickpeas in our tagine. We kept talking about how good the tagines were, but how much we wished they had more of this or that, particularly cauliflower (my mother and I both are cauliflower fiends). But a glance at the city’s food markets made it pretty clear that these people were working with a pretty limited selection of ingredients, purely dictated by what was in season at the time. But isn’t that the way it should be?

Market in the Medina, Marrakech

In a way, this makes the tagine the ultimate seasonal stew, and one of the first things I did when I came home from Marrakech was to make a tagine.

Vegetable Tagine

In case you’re unaware, a tagine is a fragrant spicy stew named after the earthenware pot in which it is made (a normal pot, preferably cast iron, also works). With Marrakech in mind, I made my tagine using what was in season, but this time I was working with British ingredients: carrots, romanesco cauliflower and the last of the season’s courgettes and green beans. But this dish would work with almost anything and seems particularly adept to autumn and winter vegetables like swede, butternut squash, pumpkin, potato and cauliflower. I like to keep the vegetables in large chunks and serve it with sprinkled with toasted almonds. It’s the perfect thing on a cold, wet, dreary British day. And oddly, it also happens to be the perfect thing on a sweltering hot and sunny afternoon in Morocco: further proof that the tagine is one of the most miraculous dishes around, globe-spanning and eternally versatile.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Autumn Vegetable Tagine
Serves: 4
 

Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, minced (or 1 tsp grounded)
  • 1-2 tbsp grounded cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt
  • 1-3 tsp harissa (start with 1tsp and adjust to suit your spice tolerance)
  • 2 cups canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • a handful fresh cilantro
  • 1 small pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 small cauliflower, broken into big florets
  • ½ cup cooked chickpeas
  • a handful of raisins
  • toasted sliced almonds
  • couscous to serve

Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot and sauté the onion for a few minutes until it softens.
  2. Add garlic, ginger and the spices and stir around a bit.
  3. Add the harissa, tomatoes, lemon juice and fresh cilantro. Bring the tomato sauce to a boil and then lower the heat.
  4. Add the vegetables and stir around, make sure that all vegetables are somewhat covered in tomato sauce. Put the lid on and simmer for about an hour. Stir carefully once or twice, otherwise leave the lid on – and be patient!
  5. Serve with couscous and a sprinkle of toasted sliced almonds.

 

This recipe also appeared on Great British Chefs.

Beetroot, Apple and Ginger Smoothie

Beetroot, apple & ginger smoothie. It kicks butt: 1/2 apple, 1/2 raw beetroot, 1 prune, 1cm piece of ginger, 30g spinach, 40g avocado, 2tsp flaxseed, fresh mint, ice, water. #rawfood #realfood #cleanse #cleanprogram #detox #breakfast #vegan #vitamix #vege

I invented this smoothie as part of the Clean Detox and it was good enough to deserve its own blog post. I love the combination of the fresh crisp apple and earthy beetroot. It also happens to be fiber-rich!

It’s not a very sweet smoothie, so add more prunes (or dates) if you’d like it sweeter.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 apple
  • 1/2 raw beetroot
  • 1 prune
  • 1cm piece of ginger
  • 30g spinach
  • 40g avocado
  • 2tsp flaxseed
  • a few fresh mint leaves
  • ~1 cup of ice

Add enough water to blend and blitz on high until silky smooth.

Nutrition: About 200 Calories, 10g fat, 4g protein, 28g carbs, 10g fiber.

Indian-Style Pumpkin Soup

Indian style pumpkin soup

I’ve had a jar of Danival Organic Puree Pumpkin languishing in the back of my cupboard (bottom shelf) for years. I bought two jars of the stuff to make pumpkin pie and a failed experiment with the first jar led me to conclude that was NOT the pumpkin pie puree I was looking for (but really, is there any substitute for Libbys?).

But with this recent detox and the sudden inclusion of lots of soup in my life, I decided to unleash the pumpkin in hopes of a quick lunch soup fix. The fix was a success, using a recipe from the ever reliable How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. It’s my most loved and most used cookbook and once again it delivered the goods. His recipe uses fresh pumpkin but here’s how I did it using pumpkin puree.

Indian-Style Pumpkin Soup
Recipe type: Soup
 

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder (I made my own using Mark Bittman’s fragrant curry powder recipe)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 500g jarred or canned pumpkin puree (or 3lbs fresh winter squash like butternut or acorn, peeled and chopped)
  • vegetable stock or water
  • salt

Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onion and cook slowly until the onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Add the curry powder, garlic and ginger and fry for another minute or so until fragrant.
  3. If using pureed pumpkin, remove the pot from the heat. Add a little water and scrape up any spices that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. (If using fresh pumpkin, add the pumpkin with enough water or stock to cover and simmer until the pumpkin is soft.)
  4. Put the onion mixture into a blender with the pumpkin and enough water or stock to achieve a desirable soup consistency.
  5. Put the blender contents back into the pot and on the heat. Let it heat thoroughly. Taste, season and serve.

 

Clean Detox Day 15: Cream of all the soups!

Clean detox day 15

Breakfast: A variation on the black and blue smoothie, made with blackberries, mango, avocado, kale, flax seeds plus a dash of cinnamon and a couple drops of orange flower water.

Lunch: Besan cheelas (Indian chickpea flour pancakes) with Indian cabbage salad and coconut coriander chutney. Not sure why I took so long to make these pancakes – they’re quick, easy and awesomely delicious, plus that have that eat-with-your hands delight that makes them all the more satisfying. You can also make them non-Indian style (the Italian version is called farinata). I love to wrap the cabbage salad inside the besan cheela and eat with chutney, so I made some coconut coriander chutney following this recipe but it was a little mealy (the recipe uses desiccated/dried coconut). Maybe I should have soaked the coconut first? Or maybe I need to face a real coconut and bust out the hammer.

Clean detox day 15

Dinner: If I’ve learned one thing on my detox, it’s that if you saute any kind of vegetable with onions and garlic, then puree it with cashews and veggie stock, you get the most amazing silky smooth soup that’s basically a vegan version of all those “Cream of” style soups that I have such fond memories of. Today’s was a “cream” of celery soup inspired by my friend Sharon, garnished with that crispy kale I’m so into at the moment.

Clean detox day 15

I’m now scheming all kinds of other creamy soups I can make… cream of cauliflower… cream of broccoli… cream of asparagus! And let’s just give a shout out to the whole vegan protein bonus that the cashews bring to the soup. I reckon other nuts will be worth trying… almonds, brazil nuts… pistachios!

When tomatoes and peppers are back in my life, I’m thinking an almond version of the classic African peanut soup will be worth a try. Next week!

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