Friday, 21 February 2014

Storecupboard Pumpkin Seed Pesto- vegan, gluten free

Roasted cherry tomatoes, olives or peppers would make a great accompaniment to this simple pasta dish
This is not an amazing, original, knock-your-socks-off showstopper. Making it is not exactly rocket science. But what it is, is a home made, yoga-friendly dressing to go with pasta, jacker potatoes, gnocchi, zucchini noodles, salad or whatever, made quickly and easily from ingredients that, if you are vegan, you will probably have in your storecupboard. It's a no-sweat standby for school holidays, impromptu lunches, snowed-in-and-can't-get-to-the-shops days etc. We hope you will find it useful. And delicious. We did.

Serves about 6 with pasta:
100g pumpkin seeds
70g almonds
3 tabs dried basil
1 tsp compound hing
3 tabs yeast flakes
1 1/2 tsps seasalt
1/2 tsp black pepper
250ml extra- virgin olive oil
1 tab lemon juice
  • First grind the almonds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Then mix everything together in a bowl.
  • It's done! (You can store any you don't use at once in a glass jar in the fridge.)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Chocolate Chia Pudding- raw(ish), vegan, no cane sugar

Chocolate chia pudding

 Today it seems like Spring is just around the corner- I threw open the curtains this morning to let some long-awaited sunshine in, and as I write this I can hear all kinds of twitterings from birds in the hedges and cooing woodpigeons in the tall trees at the bottom of the garden. There are delicate little flowers and green shoots peeping out of the ground. Mmmmm... just the kind of morning for a tasty but healthy breakfast...
Chia pudding might seem a bit weird if you're not used to concept of raw, gelatinous little seeds from South America mixed with plant milk and other stuff, but believe  me, it's so quick and easy to make and so utterly delicious it's well worth a try. It would be even more yummy and sustaining served with berries on top for breakfast (just whip it up the night before and leave it in the fridge) or dressed up in pretty glasses as a dessert - or maybe just forget all that and go and sit in a sunny window and spoon it out of your favourite bowl as a healthy comfort snack at any time of the day (or night). Chia pudding is packed with nutrients-see here for just how good chia seeds are- as is cacao, so go ahead and devour this pudding, guilt free ; ) I used coconut milk so the pudding came out nice and thick, but almond milk is also good, and more likely to be raw as you can make your own. The texture is somewhere between mousse and tapioca pudding; sort of like mousse with bits. The mouthfeel is positively velvety-soft and the flavour is quite intensely chocolate-y but without the bitterness. But my words probably don't do it justice; you'll just have to try it and find out for yourself!

Don't be put off by chia pudding's unusual texture

Makes enough for 3-4 servings:
1/3 cup chia seeds (about 4 tabs)
a 400ml can coconut milk  (or 1 1/2 cups almond milk)
1/2 tsp natural vanilla essence
2 tabs cacao
2 1/2 tabs raw maple syrup (or raw agave would also work well)

  • Just whisk everything up together in a bowl and leave in the fridge awhile.
  • Spoon into individual bowls or glasses and dress it up however you like with berries, chocolate curls etc. to serve.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Recipes Revisited: Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies- vegan and gluten free

Bake-me-now excuse: The chickpea flour and nuts mean these cookies are full of protein! 
These delicate, melt-in-the-mouth cookies are crazy good- I first made them a couple of years ago -here- and to be honest, we'd all forgotten about them, but then I was writing this year's Valentine's Day post and found them in the archives. It just so happened there was a bag of hazelnuts in the cupboard so I set about improving on the original recipe. They did contain xylitol instead of sugar, but this time I used a combo of soft light brown raw cane sugar and agave nectar. Melted coconut oil provides a healthier alternative to processed margarine too. It's still not the easiest of cookie doughs to handle, but okay as long as you're careful. (The cooked biscuits are also very breakable when they first come out of the oven- best not touch them until they've cooled down somewhat.) I think they would team up beautifully with our vegan blackberry icecream, or maybe vanilla Swedish Glace; perhaps as an icecream sandwich?

Makes 16 small cookies:
200g ground hazelnuts (leave some bigger bits if you're doing this yourself, for textural interest)
125g gram flour (chickpea/ garbanzo/ besan)
125ml coconut oil, melted
125g soft light brown raw cane sugar
2 tabs (approx) agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla essence
about 100g vegan dark chocolate
  • Mix together the chickpea flour, sugar and ground hazelnuts.
  • Add the vanilla to the oil and mix with the flour and nuts.
  • Add enough agave to get a dough that will hold together when pressed.
  • Divide the dough into 2 and make 2 rolls. Wrap them in clingfilm and refrigerate for about half an hour, or until they're chilled.
  • Carefully slice the rolls of dough into 8 pieces each roll. (Mine came out oval rather than round this time.) They should be 4 or 5 mm thick at this stage.
  • Slide them onto a lightly oiled baking sheet and press gently with a spatula to flatten. (It makes a pattern on them too!)
  • Bake for about 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 200C. Do not over cook.
  • When cool, lift them gently off the baking tray and half dip in melted chocolate, then lay them onto a sheet of baking paper to set.
I think hazelnut, dried raspberries and vegan white chocolate would be a great flavour to try next; what do you think? Do you have a favourite flavour combo that would work for these cookies?