Nourishing Green Vegetable Noodle Soup with Basil & Puy Lentils

0A5AA3AF-CA63-4E1E-A365-7FFDAF6282EFWe are in the middle of some arctic weather, with snow, hail, icy winds and below zero temperatures, so I thought I’d post a recipe for a nourishing soup to warm us up, rather than the frozen smoothie bowl I had planned!

This doesn’t look pretty, but it tastes great and is very filling, having plantbased noodles as well as lentils in it. It’s a good way to use up small amounts of green vegetables that you have left over. In my case, I also had some precooked puy lentils in the fridge from the previous 2 days’ meals as I had seriously over-bestimated how many lentils to cook!

Lentils are such a good source of complex carbohydrates which boost metabolism and can help to control weight. They contain a large amount of dietary fibre, which helps to control cholesterol and stabilise blood sugar. They provide protein, folate and magnesium, are heart healthy, and keep you fuller longer.

We all know we should eat our greens, and this is a good way to do just that. You can use any lentils, or mung beans.

Ingredients

(Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairyfree)

Amounts are very approximate.

Precooked Puy Lentils – reserve some of the cooking water

Coconut Oil

Half a head of Broccoli florets

Small amount of White Cabbage

 Handful of Celery Tops & Leaves

Fresh Basil

1 Leek

Stock cube + water, plus a cup of lentil cooking water

Some Organic Endamame Spaghetti* or other good quality plantbased thin noodles, broken up

Method

Chop and sweat veg and celery leaves in coconut oil with black pepper

Cover and simmer on low heat until just cooked

Add broken up Endamame spaghetti or any other thin noodles

When done, blend slightly with stick blender to thicken a little

Place a few spoonfuls of cooked lentils in the bottom of a warm soup bowl and cover with soup

1BE925F2-9489-46AF-9620-9262C9AFA287Serve with fresh basil leaves and warm bread or toast, or you might like to try Savoury Vegan Glutenfree ‘Cheese’ & Herb Scones

or Vegan Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Scone Recipes: 1 Sweet, 1 Savoury

*I got mine from Aldi UK

39C3AEA8-8A44-4A19-B15A-D63B10827317

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Advertisements

Monday Meditation: Two Year Old Frank’s Berry Good Smoothie – Made With Love & Smiles

011DD6C8-E951-4474-BE0D-59A3DD11B990Two year old Frank watching his Berry Good Smoothie blending in the  Froothie Optimum, he has his own special ear defenders just for creating smoothies 😊 As soon a I mention making a smoothie he’s there like a shot, dragging the kitchen stool up to the counter, washing his hands and ready for action. Just like his dad at the same age, though he likes to make chilli-with-everything these days!

When cooking with Frank, I am always glad to have the opportunity of this time together, one on one: yes, it’s messy and yes, he can get a bit over-enthusiastic – I think we got about a third of a tub of baobab powder in there! – but I love watching him taking it all in, soaking up whatever I tell him and storing it away. I love his enthusiasm. I know that at some point in the future he will use it all and hopefully remember some of these times together.

He (and his older sister) have been cooking since they were literally babes in arms. They have always been willing to taste anything, and although they still go through the picky two-year-old stage, the fact that they have always been encouraged to be present in the kitchen and help with preparation means that they are familiar with cooking from scratch, using a wide variety of fresh foods.

They are already creating their own recipes: Frank’s four-year-old sister decided to try banana on her pizza and Frank likes the idea of dipping carrot sticks in strawberry spread! He loves homemade chips with balsamic vinegar and juices that contain ginger and turmeric. Olives and almonds are also favourites. The fact that actual vegetables are not allowed on his plate at the moment is irrelevant (except cucumber and raw carrot), he gets everything he needs in other forms* and is slowly acquiring the knowledge and skills to transform them into healthy meals when he does eventually give them house room. I have seen a photograph of Emily standing on a stool at the counter rolling pizza dough and chopping vegetables, and Frank sitting on the counter chopping cucumber! Children love to be involved in the kitchen and will be all the healthier – and self-sufficient – for it. Emily recently sliced a mushroom so thinly and precisely, with perfect control of the knife, just by copying her dad.

This is Frank’s smoothie recipe:

Large handful of frozen cherries, large handful frozen mixed berries, more than we wished for baobab powder, about 3 tablespoons oats plus what he spilled 😉 most of a medjool date minus a bite for tasting, a banana, a carefully tilted amount of cashews from the jar (with ‘help’ from Grandad), 2 tablespoons soya yogurt and a lot of coconut milk! It made enough for 3 of us and he had seconds and thirds, he said it was ‘berry good!’ Unfortunately, he doesn’t do washing up, our dishwasher is defunct (and so is my husband after a weekend without it!).

7F0B0417-D0FB-484D-87C0-1FEBCCD91140

*Frank doesn’t eat vegetables – apart from raw carrot and cucumber – but he will have juices and smoothies, even green ones, so seeing him have so much fun in the kitchen leads us to hope that one day he will be as much of a foodie as his dad and grandma.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

A Colourful Supersalad, A Supergreen Smoothie & A Discount Link

After all the cooked food and overindulgence of the Christmas/New Year period, it was time to get back on track. Despite continuing to have a daily juice, I felt bloated, heavy, overweight and lacking in energy. I am not used to having a big cooked meal midway through the day and I had been seduced by all the savoury snacks which had invaded our cupboards and are my one downfall.

By the time all our visitors had left, my body craved raw, healthy, crisp and colourful foods again, it was time for a supersalad!

479DE4D9-D20E-4175-BFE3-6B6DD51860D1

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this! It was so good to have fresh, nutritious plant foods and to eat at a time of my body’s choosing rather than fitting into a family timetable. I tend to work up to my main meal of the day, I’m more of a grazer, and this one was amazing and covered all the nutritional bases.

The salad was made of: purple chicory, little gem lettuce, spinach, rocket, watercress; cucumber, celery, baby plum tomatoes, avocado, homegrown mung beans, cress, homemade coleslaw with cashew mayo and some Heck Foods Bollywood veggie bites I’d bought for New Year’s Eve snacks and forgotten to use.* They have Indian spices and are delicious, I like them cold the day after. Now, don’t make me say where I get my protein from;-)

By now you know that practically every plant food contains some protein and no protein is superior to others, not dairy, not meat, protein is protein. Eat a wide variety of wholefoods and you will get all the protein you need (which isn’t as much as people often think).

Coincidentally, when I was about to schedule this post, Josh from Vivolife** sent an email with this easy to read graphic on the subject of protein on a vegan diet.

FF65FC84-2504-4B4B-9074-49D2637251A9

***

FDC31486-BFAE-4C72-83FA-07C32F91F82CNext up is the  Supergreen Smoothie I had next morning. I needed to boost my energy levels. I’ve just started trying a raw supergreen powder from Vivolife called Thrive for Her, in Wild Berry flavour. It contains powerful supergreens, minerals, vitamins, including B12, and Vitamin D (essential for mood boosting in the long grey January days) plus probiotics for a healthy gut. You take one scoop a day in water, juice or smoothie, it’s very pleasant and I already feel more alert and more energised. I like this company a lot. Their products are ethically and sustainably sourced, vegan, gluten-free and organic, and they donate 20p from each sale to the Streetgames Charity for disadvantage children. They also produce health information videos, and provide advice when needed. I bought the product, I wasn’t asked to review it, but when I asked permission to reproduce the graphic above, Josh kindly sent an exclusive £5 discount link for my friends and followers:

Get £5.00 off my favourite health and fitness brand Vivo Life with my referral code! You’ll love their PERFORM protein! Check it out: http://vivolife.refr.cc/chrismcgowan’

Ingredients for Supergreen Smoothie

Small Banana

Pear

Homemade Almond Milk***

Romaine leaves, chopped

Medjool Date

Heaped Tbsp Coyo Live Yogurt

1 Scoop Thrive Supergreen Powder

Blend and enjoy!

*Heck Foods

**Vivolife

***How To Make Almond Milk

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Monday Meditation: Mango Chia Pudding or Sunshine in a Jar – no blender required (plus hidden smoothie recipe)

81E39081-4E5E-4799-9FDD-F06C804F0520(I apologise to those of you experiencing snow and freezing temperatures while reading this, I wrote this post only 3 weeks before and now there are 3″ of snow on the ground and more promised next day! I feel like I should be posting about a bowl of piping hot porridge!)

The previous day had been soul-sapping: it was one of those depressingly endless steel-grey November days with rain, biting chilly wind and a need for continuous artificial light; one of those days where you feel yourself slowly desiccating in the central heating. I find it hard to motivate myself on these days, no energy whatsoever, I just want to stay under the duvet or sit in front of the tv wrapped in a shawl with chocolate and licorice tea for company!

This particular day, however, was its polar opposite and I was up with the lark: endless blue skies and bright sunshine greeted me when I woke up. I had my early Morning Glory juice (see 7 Juice Recipes) and went for a walk. I love being out in the fresh air with the warmth of the sun on my face, I feel I am a completely different person and I can do anything I put my mind to. I am full of gratitude for my surroundings: for the proximity of parks, fields, woodland, the creatures that inhabit them, and I greet everyone I meet with a cheery smile.

45EE5A14-5195-457D-A60E-D9FDE8B83B40I passed a garden being landscaped and found some small smooth pebbles in the pile of earth that I could use for painting. I saw a couple of squirrels running rings around a tree and digging up hidden larders of acorns. I stood and admired a soaring buzzard before leaving a painted rock on a war grave in our nearby cemetery.

I came home invigorated and ready to be creative with my rocks. First, though, I made breakfast: Mango Chia Pudding, the bright orange fruit reflecting the weather and my mood.

Before I left for my walk, I had put some chia seeds to soak with some homemade Tiger Nut Milk in a jar, and removed some chopped mango from the freezer. It was just a matter of layering my chosen ingredients in the jar, quick and easy. It looks and tastes yum! A nutritious jar of autumn sunshine.

Recipe

(vegan, gluten-free, organic where possible)

In a jar, tall glass or glass dish, mix 1 Tbsp Chia Seeds in 4 Tbsps Tiger Nut Milk (or any other plant milk) and stir vigorously (I get my organic, peeled tiger nuts from The Tiger Nut Company)

Leave in the fridge until the seeds have swelled.

Layer cashew pieces, live coconut yogurt (or any other kind) and mango pieces, until the jar is full.

Add your favourite toppings. I used goji berries, raw dried mulberries, cacao nibs, raw chocolate covered mulberry chips* and more mango. You can use seeds, coconut, blueberries, grated raw chocolate.

Order up some sun and some birdsong, relax and enjoy.

30200944_UnknownI sat outside on this early November morning to eat my breakfast pudding and it could have been Spring. The hanging baskets were still showing off, if a little windswept, the nemesia was still in full delicate bloom and I had seen daisies growing in someone’s lawn on my walk. The robin was hopping about, busying himself collecting insects where my husband had edged the garden path. What a contrast to the day before. I felt so much better. (The picture here shows the nemesia and the smoothie I had the following morning: banana, mango, blueberries, romaine, walnuts, golden linseeds, chia seeds, coconut water, live soya yogurt. There, two recipes for the price of one!).

(PS We now have 6″ of snow, it’s magical, like a winter wonderland from the old black and white Christmas films).

*I buy mine from The Raw Chocolate Company

Three Cheers for Chias! What Are Chia Seeds & How Do I Use Them? Recipes included

Painted Christmas Card Rocks & Taking A Break

Monday Meditation: Mindfulness and Rock Painting

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Monday Meditation: Indulgent No-Banana Cherry & Chocolate Smoothie

29935776_UnknownA different Monday Meditation this week. This is an indulge-yourself post. A spend-some-time-on-yourself post. A take-a-break-from-the-world post.

(Look out at the end of the post for a link to a FREE Moby download of relaxation music).

This is the smoothie I made on my  Much-Needed Day Off. I really needed some me time after a busy and stressful few weeks taking care of Mum’s affairs, so-to-speak (she isn’t really having affairs, I mean accounts, housing application, optician, etc.!)

Chocolatey and indulgent – bet that’s got your attention – a bit chilly for an autumn morning with Storm Brian currently battering at the windows, but if you warm up your insides first with some green or herbal tea, it’s worth it! Or save the recipe to celebrate the first day of Spring. Of course, if you’re in the southern hemisphere, you can just ignore that!

Full of nutritional goodies but still feels like a treat! Raw cacao is mood-enhancing and rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats. Go on, indulge yourself, you know you want to 😉

Ingredients

(Vegan, Gluten-free, Organic where possible, Can be Nutfree if you use a different plant milk)

1 heaped Cup Frozen Cherries

1 Cup Homemade Almond Milk*

1/3 Cup Raw Dried Mulberries**

1/4 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Tbsp Raw Cacao Powder**

2 Tbsps Live Plain Yogurt

Raw Chocolate Mulberry Chips to serve**

Blend all on high (except the Mulberry Chips) for 40 seconds.

Serve with Raw Chocolate Mulberry Chips or any other raw chocolate treat, eg grated chocolate, raw cacao nibs, raw chocolate covered raisins.

Play some relaxing music, sit back and enjoy.

*Nut & Seed Milks & Smoothie Recipes

**From The Raw Chocolate Company – they have some amazing healthy raw chocolate recipes on their website too.

Ps Here is the link to a FREE Moby download of ambient music on his website: it is 4 HOURS long, and can be used for relaxation, meditation, yoga or sleep. You can download it for free or pay to stream it. It is wonderfully relaxing and calming. Perfect start or end to the day.

Moby: Long Ambients1

29935696_Unknown

 Copyright: Chris McGowan

Vegan Dairy-Free Curried Cauliflower Soup with Sweetcorn

29398608_UnknownCauliflower is my favourite vegetable, but for some reason it doesn’t appear regularly on the family food order, so I find myself making a special request when I realise we haven’t had it for some time. Our local Waitrose isn’t too hot on organic foods and there’s no farmers’ market, so if we forget to include cauliflower in our weekly Ocado order, we have to wait another week.

Cauliflower is high in Vitamin C and a good source of protein, B Vitamins, Omega Oils, Vitamin K (for good bone health), Magnesium, Iron and many other minerals.

I am always thinking of new ways to eat this versatile veg and recently tried a curried cauliflower soup which turned out really well.

This recipe made enough for a large bowl for one as a main meal or two small bowls as a starter. It was ready in next to no time and is simple to make.

Not too spicy.

And the secret ingredient? Peanut butter! I love peanut butter and will use any excuse to include it.

Ingredients

(Organic where possible).

1 Heaped Tsp Coconut Oil

1 Small Onion, chopped

Approx. One third of a medium organic Cauliflower, washed and chopped, including any stalk

One and a Half Cups Sweetcorn, fresh or frozen – reserve the half cup until the end

1 Heaped Tsp Curry Powder

1/2 Vegetable Stock Cube

A Good Squeeze of Tomato Purée

Approx. 500mls Boiling Water

Heaped Tsp of Smooth Peanut Butter

Black Pepper & Pink Himalayan Salt

*

Melt the coconut oil until it is hot but not smoking.

Add the onion, stirfry for a few seconds, add the cauliflower and sweat for a few minutes with the lid on over a low heat.

Add the curry powder and stir well.

Add 1 Cup of the sweetcorn, dissolve the stock cube and tomato purée in the water and add to the pan.

Add a few twists of black pepper.

Replace the lid and simmer gently on a low heat until the veg is cooked.

When it is nearly cooked, lightly steam the remaining sweetcorn or cook gently in a little simmering water for a couple of minutes and strain. Set aside.

Blend the soup with a stick blender until most of it is quite smooth but leaving some unblended bits for bite, if liked.

Stir the peanut butter in well, adjust the seasoning, add the remaining cooked sweetcorn and serve.

29398640_Unknown

You might also like to try Fruity Vegetable Curry with Lemony Almond Cauliflower ‘Rice’ or ‘Couscous’

See also: Warming Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup

Zesty Orange Squash Soup – Yes, Really!

Cumin and Have Some Soup!

Vegan, Gluten-Free Carrot, Beetroot & Basil Soup

Sweet & Sour Vegetable Soup

Thick and Chunky Winter Soup with Green Lentils

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Vegan Birthday Burgers at O’Joy Wellness Bistro, Shrewsbury – Review

It was my birthday recently (no singing, please, no really, it’s fine) and usually it’s the biggest non-event of the year! It’s right smack bang in the middle of a host of family birthdays. Moreover, most family members are often on holiday and we’ve usually already had Mum here for her July birthday, which generally means I don’t see anyone. And to be honest – I’m not telling any family secrets here – my husband is not the most imaginative or proactive when it comes to birthdays or presents or surprises of any kind. It’s just not in his DNA.

Flowers from Mum

29134992_Unknown

Consequently, when he asked a few days beforehand what I’d like for my birthday, I thought I would prevent the inevitable purchase of some kind of gadget I would never use in a million years and ask for the kitchen to be painted! It is long long overdue, and this is what I opened on birthday morning:

IMG_3779

I had told him what shade I’d like – Apple White – but he thought he’d give me a choice!

I had been cooped up for so long with the floor restoration going on and the decorators before that, so I had hoped we could go out somewhere, but when I got up the weather was cold, wet and grisly and I resigned myself to staying indoors. With my dodgy back, I rarely go anywhere, seating is always a problem. I am used to this, but sometimes I can go out in the warmer summer weather, when we take a picnic and drive around the countryside to see where we end up. (Last year it was Wroxeter – A Roman City on A Beautiful Summer’s Day. )

I mentioned as much to my husband, who suggested we go to a lakeside café he and his cycling pals sometimes stop at, but it wasn’t somewhere I could confidently get food or drink to suit my vegan, gluten- and nightshade-free habits – see last summer’s post Chillin’ on a Chilly Afternoon with Chilli and you’ll see what I mean – so I decided to Google vegan cafés in the area in the hope we could go out for lunch, something I have done only once in 30 years.

We came across O’Joy Wellness Centre & Bistro in Shrewsbury. As I read about it, I remembered that the BBC’s ‘DIY SOS’ and ‘The Big Build’ presenter, Nick Knowles, became co-owner of a vegan restaurant after staying at a retreat in Thailand and subsequently adopting a vegan lifestyle. The centre also offers counselling and psychotherapy. I hadn’t realised it was in Shrewsbury. The photos looked promising, the seating looked manageable, with my back cushion. We phoned them up to get directions and they told us where we could park.

Needless to say, we got lost! Again. No, we still don’t have a Sat Nav, but I aim to rectify that in a few weeks when it’s His Nibs’ birthday! So many new roundabouts with rubbish signage! My husband reckons the highways people expect everyone to have sat navs these days and so anything beyond a basic N, S, E or W is redundant!

IMG_3812We found the bistro eventually, having turned left when we should have turned right! A dark blue frontage and ceiling, rustic oak tables, cheerful yellow chairs and welcoming young and friendly staff greeted us on what had degenerated into a typical chilly blustery Shrewsbury day. We were shown to our table at the back, for which I was grateful as the door was kept open and I was cold. Our bubbly, smiley waitress waited patiently as we sorted out which chair was best and put my cushion in place. She asked if I would prefer to sit over the other side where there was a bench with lots of plump cushions, but I was fine and didn’t want to cause any further fuss.

We later noticed a large sign asking patrons to order at the counter during the day, but the place was quiet when we arrived and the staff seemed happy to wait on us.

Here’s what I ordered:

7C353C4C-552A-49B9-B2A4-8E33A685471A

Everything is vegan and there are gluten-free options, like the bun with this burger. The Green Goddess salad originally came with croutons, but they were happy to replace them with toasted sunflower and sesame seeds. The raw carrot cake was gluten-free. I also had the Green Monster Burger with sweet potato fries, my husband had tomato and roasted red pepper soup, Cajun burger, and gluten-free raw brownie. There was a selection of herbal, fruit and green teas as well as smoothies and soft drinks.

We must have been there two and a half hours! People came and went, some with young children, ordering falafels or dips and pitta bread; others meeting friends and ordering tacos; all ate at leisure and no-one was rushed out the door. The place has a cosy feel to it and the staff were lovely. When I returned from the washroom, my husband had paid the bill and we said goodbye to our waitress who wished me a happy birthday and laughed at the look of surprise on my face. She had asked my husband what our plans were for the rest of the day and he said it was my birthday, so anything was possible. She replied we should have told her and they would have put a candle on my cake! There was no sign of Nick, he mustn’t have got the memo;-)

I had a lovely day and I was so full, I actually didn’t eat again until lunchtime next day, other than a small juice for breakfast. My husband came home and had to sleep it off for three hours!

Birthday girl:

IMG_3797

Oh, and the kitchen is being painted as I type:

CE1EA468-4DCE-463A-9224-86A07154B338

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Powergreen Plum & Banana Smoothie

We are getting a lot of plums in our Abel & Cole organic veg box delivery at the moment, so some are going into smoothies. The one used was a little under ripe, so a date was added for a little sweetness.

29133056_UnknownPlums are a good source of minerals and Vitamins A, C and K, which is needed for good bone health and blood clotting. (See also Vegan, Gluten-Free Plum Crumble – Nice, But Not Too Naughty!)

Our neighbour’s plum tree is so heavily laden with fruit at the moment, the branches look like they are going to collapse under the weight of them all. Must be all the rain followed by such hot sun.

Chia seeds are little powerhouses, full of useful nutrients:

IMG_3766

(See also Three Cheers for Chias! What Are Chia Seeds & How Do I Use Them? Recipes included)

Tahini is sesame seed paste, a vegan source of calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium.

Ingredients

1 Small Banana

1 Plum

3 Tbsp Oats

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds

1 Tbsp Tahini

1 Tbsp Juicemaster Powergreens

1 Medjool Date, pitted and chopped

Small to Medium Glass Coconut Water – more or less, depending how thick or thin you like your smoothie

Allow the oats and chia seeds to soak in the coconut water for 15 minutes to aid digestion, then blend with all the other ingredients.

Mine’s a thickie, so I ate it with a spoon!

img_1485

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Vegan Chilli Spiced Black Beans, Veggies & Buckwheat with Cumin & Coriander

28863488_UnknownWell, it’s mid June and still we are wearing long socks and woolly cardis while cowering inside from gale force winds and rain, but worry not, we Brits are a hardy bunch and we know how to keep our peckers up! Here’s an easy wholesome dinner that will not only warm your cockles but is satisfyingly healthy too.

Buckwheat is a good alternative to rice and quinoa and very versatile. You can even eat it without cooking: it’s a nce crunch in muesli or energy balls, goes well lightly toasted in granola or with other seeds and a splash of tamari. It’s gluten-free, a vegan source of protein and magnesium, B vitamins and fibre. It’s satisfyingly nutty – suits me then! – and filling.

Black beans are also a great source of vegan protein, vitamins, minerals and fibre.* This recipe uses some fresh summer vegetables: you can mix and match the types of fresh beans, mushrooms and tomatoes, use fresh chilli if you like it – I’m a bit of a wimp so this has a little chilli powder in it.

The thing is not to overcook it. It took about 30 minutes. How you serve it is entirely up to you – my husband decided to fry a (veggie) burger and some onions to have with it, I drew the line at the chips (fries) he proposed to have too :-)) I had it with some green salad.

All measurements and timings are very approximate.

Serves 2-3

All ingredients are vegan, gluten-free, and organic where possible and unpeeled

163B47F2-872A-4AB3-B65F-406C81CEF2BC

Ingredients

1 Tsp Coconut Oil, melted in a frying pan

1/2 Tsp Chilli Powder

1Tsp Dried Cumin

Onion, chopped

Pressed Garlic

Fresh Green Beans, washed, topped and tailed, chopped

Half a Courgette, washed and chopped

Few Chestnut Mushrooms, washed and chopped

Sweetcorn

1/3 Cup Buckwheat

Approx. 250mls Vegetable Stock

Few Fresh Baby Plum Tomatoes, sliced

1 Tsp Raw Coconut Palm Sugar

Fresh Coriander, chopped and some reserved

Tamari

Black Pepper

1/2 Tin Black Beans, drained and rinsed

Method

Cook the spices, onion and garlic in the coconut oil for a few minutes, stirring

Add green beans, courgette and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, stirring

Add the buckwheat, stirring, then the stock, sweetcorn, frsh coriander, a splash of tamari and black pepper.

Cover and cook on a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When almost done and most of te liquid absorbed, gently mix in the black beans and scatter the sliced tomatoes on top.

Cover and allow to heat through for a couple of minutes.

Serve in a hot bowl with fresh coriander.

****

*See also  Vegan Black Bean & Walnut Veggie Burger

Red Lettuce & Black Bean Protein Salad

Rice Bowl with Mildly Spiced Veggies, Vegan Black Bean Burger & Cashew Cheese Sauce

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Carrot, Apple & Spice Cakes with Cashew Frosting

28330000_UnknownMade these when we discovered we were about to be invaded by littles for their first Easter egg hunt with us, and then later by strapping, ever-ravenous teenagers always on the prowl for something ‘tasty’ (which is code for sweet!) Giant-sized pan of pasta sauce was on the go at the same time. Chocolate nests were in the freezer, marzipan eggs still to be made.

I’ve never really been a cake fan, but I always loved carrot cake with cream cheese frosting on special occasions. Since becoming vegan, I’ve been on the lookout for a suitable replacement. I found and adapted a recipe for Raw Carrot Cake Bites with CoYo Frosting – So Moreish!  but although I don’t do much baking in the oven, I wanted a recipe we could present to visitors who were less familiar with my raw food lifestyle. I discovered the recipe that inspired these cakes on Sarah Bakes Gluten Free and they worked out so well I made a second batch for another upcoming family visit this week and put them in the freezer.

I altered some of the ingredients, swapping canola oil with coconut oil, coconut palm sugar for the brown and cane sugar and reduced the amount of maple syrup. I used a combination of the flours we had in the cupboards and had no idea if they would work, but they did. I think in the second batch, the chestnut flour was in the majority, but any combination would work. We replaced the vinegar with lemon juice.

I also made my own version of the frosting – I even gave up my precious bar of Raw Chocolate Company Vanoffe Dark Raw Chocolate to grate and sprinkle on top.

Everyone loved them, from the 2 year old via the über-critical teenagers, to the adults.

There are no eggs, butter or gluten in them.

All measurements are approximate, ingredients are organic where possible, the first batch made 12, the second made 14!

Ingredients

1 Cup SR Gluten-free Flour

 1/2 Cup Chestnut Flour

1/2 Cup Cornflour

1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 Ground Ginger

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

Pinch of Salt

1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Milk  (in the second batch we used rice milk and it worked fine)

1 Tbsp Lemon Juice

3/4 Cup Coconut Palm Sugar

1 Cup Finely Grated Carrots

1/3 Cup Coconut Oil

1/4 Cup Carrot Juice or Apple Juice

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce

1 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Method

Prepare apple sauce and apple/carrot juice if making fresh. I got halfway through the recipe the first time before realising I needed apple sauce! I cooked a dessert apple in a little water or apple juice until soft and allowed it to cool.

Sift all flours, spices and salt together in a bowl.

In a separate large mixing bowl, add the lemon juice to the milk and stir well.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir before slowly mixing in the flours.

The mixture should pour like a batter.

Pour into cases.

Cook at 170C in a fan oven until a fine skewer/wooden toothpick comes out clean, about 15 – 17 minutes in our oven.

28329952_UnknownAllow to cool.

(These cases were a little big,  I used smaller ones for the second batch and the cakes filled them better, they also rose better.

I also decided to try silicone cases next time as the paper ones had a tendency to stick).

Prepare the frosting.

The measurements are very inexact as I just kept adding until the consistency was right.

I began with 4 very heaped tbsps of Coyo Live Plain Coconut Yogurt, 4 Tbsps finely ground Cashews (you could use ground almonds), 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract and 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup.

(You could use a little lemon or orange zest in place of the vanilla if you wanted a different flavouring).

Mix well until it’s firm but spreadable, you don’t want it to pour. Add more nuts if it’s too thin.

Spread onto the cooled cakes.

Grate some raw chocolate and sprinkle on top.

28330048_Unknown

The second batch looked better, they filled the smaller cases and had more frosting on them, but I forgot to take photos. Nevertheless, the Fairy Cake Queen in the family (my daughter-in-law) gave them the thumbs up, eating three just to be sure!

These kept well in an airtight container in the fridge and will also keep in the freezer – how long, I can’t say, ravenous teenagers and all that!

Copyright: Chris McGowan