Nana Bar

One Friday after work, we did something crazy. We ordered dessert BEFORE dinner. And it was the best. It tasted naughty but oh so nice. And full of goodness so it was practically salad.. right? 

The Nana branding is on point and fits in perfectly with its East London surroundings. So much so, that there’s talk of extending its 3 month stay and branching out from just ice cream.

At the moment, the concept is simple but effective. 7 flavours on the menu, one for every day of the week. And it just so happened that we turned up on a Friday and this was, in my opinion, the best (if not the only) day to come. Peanut butter day! (Heart-shaped eye emoji). Peanut butter blended banana ice cream, topped with raw cacao nibs, popcorn, pink himalayan-salted peanuts, cacao fudge sauce and crunchy peanut butter. Heaven. I will definitely be returning before Summer’s up!

http://peelme.nana.bar/

Island Poké

Move aside sushi, there’s a new kid in town! Poke (poh-keh, poke-ay) is my latest obsession. Overnight, this Hawaiian sensation seems to have become London’s biggest food trend, with various poke joints having opened up around the capital seemingly overnight. And I can see why. Sushi has been one of the most popular foods in the London scene for a number of years, and poke has brought this deconstructed, wholesome one-bowl concept to the city for the easiest and healthiest of lunches on the go.

It’s no surprise that when I turn up at Island Poké in Soho at 1pm, the queue is already out of the door and on its way down Kingly Street. Believe me, it is worth spending your lunch time queuing for! And perhaps part of the reason it tastes so good is because Island Poké is the whole experience. For the few minutes that you’re ordering, waiting for your bowl to be carefully constructed, and topping it with the self-serve sriracha mayo, the music, decór and friendly staff will take you far far away from the hustle-bustle of the busy streets and office life, and you can almost believe you’re in Hawaii.

Pick from sushi rice, brown rice or their house ‘raw slaw’, and build your bowl on top of this. You can pile it as high as you like with fresh salmon or tuna and an array of toppings from spiced macadamias to roasted beetroot to kimchi. This is where flavours you never thought would go together work in perfect harmony. If you don’t trust your experimental side, then you can choose one of the delicious house bowls which are equally as delicious!

Island Poké have just opened their second location at Broadgate Circle, Liverpool Street with a later opening time than the Soho branch, so it’s the ideal place to stop for a healthy, quick dinner on your way home.

http://islandpoke.co.uk/

Sweet Potato, Kale and Stilton Spelt Quiche

quiche_ quiche2

Recently I’ve been replacing the flour in so many recipes with spelt. It adds a whole new dimension to a dish, giving it more texture and a rich, nutty flavour. And this quiche is no exception. The tangy stilton and sweet potato balance the flavours perfectly, making it a substantial meal with just a side of fresh salad. 

I’ve kept this quiche in the fridge for a week of dinners, taken it as a packed lunch and also served it at dinner parties where it’s disappeared within minutes. It’s just as delicious cold as it is straight from the oven.

Sweet Potato, Kale and Stilton Spelt Quiche
 
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Ingredients
  • For the crust:
  • 250g spelt flour
  • 110g butter at room temperature
  • 1 medium-large egg
  • 5g salt
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • For the filling:
  • 1 small brown onion
  • 1 medium -large sweet potato
  • 2 handfuls kale
  • 125g stilton
  • 5 medium-large eggs
  • A generous grind of black pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl
  2. Rub the butter into the flour until it forms fine crumbs
  3. Crack the egg into the mix and use your hands to slowly bind the mix together and work the egg in until the dough forms
  4. Finally add the water to soften the dough slightly and work in until the dough is smooth
  5. Put the dough into the fridge for half an hour
  6. Once chilled, place the dough onto a square of greaseproof paper
  7. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  8. Place another square on top and roll the dough until it is about 5mm thick
  9. Peel off the top layer of paper and gently pick the rolled dough up with the bottom layer of paper still there
  10. Carefully turn the dough upside down on the paper and into an 8-inch push-up tart tin
  11. Gently push the dough right down and trim the edges
  12. Put one of the squares of paper into the tin and pour in a jar of baking beans (you can also use dried pulses if you don't have these)
  13. Bake the pastry with the beans for 15 minutes and remove to cool
  14. Meanwhile, chop the onion really finely, and the sweet potato into 2cm cubes
  15. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan on a medium heat and fry the onion until soft and clear
  16. Remove and set aside, then fry the sweet potato until softened, adding the kale after about 5 minutes to wilt
  17. Carefully arrange the onion, and sweet potato into the pastry case and crumble the stilton and scatter the kale over the top
  18. In a separate bowl, beat the 5 eggs with black pepper
  19. Pour the eggs over the fillings in the pastry, mixing in slightly with a fork if needed
  20. Put the quiche back into the oven for 25 minutes
  21. Rest for 5 minutes and serve with a simple side salad

 

 

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

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I’m not a very patient person, especially when it comes to recipe testing. Once I have an idea, I want to try it out there and then. But sourdough bread is something I had wanted to try for a while and I kind of liked the idea that you could fit it around your life. And all of the best, real food takes time and care. Whilst on a mission (still) to perfect my sourdough loaf, I’ve been trying out other forms of sourdough along the way and these hot cross buns were a first-time experiment that just happened to go really well. 

The sourdough creates a denser texture than your average shop-bought buns, which makes them perfect for toasting. And none of that hard candied peel, thank you. I’m all about the zesty orange and warming mixed spices that infuse the juicy sultanas in this recipe. 

Although the number of stages in this recipe may seem daunting, I promise you it is actually really easy and apart from the amount of proving time you need to let the magic happen, these actually don’t take up many of your precious minutes at all. So stick with it and the reward will be well worth the wait! 

Here is the recipe that I used for my starter. You will need 5-7 days for it to become active enough to use in this recipe, depending on its conditions: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-your-own-sourdough-starter-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-47337

I’m currently trying sugar free and vegan versions of this recipe, but note the alternative options I give have not yet been tested. However, if you do test them I would love to know how they work!

3.0 from 1 reviews
Sourdough Hot Cross Buns
 
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Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk of choice (I have tried dairy, almond and rice milk and all work fine)
  • 2.5 cups strong white flour, plus extra for kneading and the crosses
  • 1 cup active sourdough starter
  • ¾ cup + 1 tsp caster sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • 1 large orange
  • 50g butter, melted (or coconut oil)
  • 4 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2.5 cups sultanas
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp honey or maple syrup
Instructions
  1. STAGE 1: 5 HOURS
  2. Gently heat the milk in the microwave to about 30 degrees celsius and place in a large bowl
  3. Add the starter, 1.5 cups of the flour and the tsp sugar and combine until smooth
  4. Cover with cling film and leave for at least 5 hours to ferment
  5. STAGE 2: 8 HOURS
  6. Gently melt the butter and add to the preferment mix
  7. Zest the orange and add the zest, along with 3 tsp of the mixed spice and the cinnamon and mix well
  8. Add the remaining sugar and the remaining cup of flour and mix lightly with a spoon and then use your hands to combine the dough, adding more flour if needed
  9. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 20 minutes until springy and elastic (when you pull the dough apart it should spread thin until it is almost see through without breaking)
  10. Once the dough is kneaded, place it into a floured bowl and cover with cling film, leaving either all day or overnight (a minimum of 8 hours)
  11. Place the sultanas in a bowl along with the other 1tsp of mixed spice
  12. Juice the orange and pour the juice over the sultanas, along with enough water to cover them and leave to soak whilst the dough is rising
  13. STAGE 3: 5 HOURS
  14. Once proved for at least 8 hours, turn out the dough onto a floured surface
  15. Make a hole in the middle of the dough and drain any remaining liquid from the fruit
  16. Place the fruit into the hole and knead into the dough until it is well combined and smooth again (this will take a bit of time and patience as the dough will become much wetter at first, keep adding more flour during kneading)
  17. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces with a knife and role into balls, then slightly flatten
  18. Place the balls into a tray with at least a cm edge lined with baking paper, so that they are almost touching but slightly apart
  19. Cover with cling film and leave for a minimum of 5 hours to prove
  20. STAGE 4: BAKING
  21. Once proven for at least 5 hours, preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  22. Make the paste for the crosses by mixing 3 tbsp strong white flour with 6-7 tbsp water and combine until smooth
  23. Pour the paste into a piping bag and carefully pipe on the crosses
  24. In another bowl, beat the egg and honey, then carefully brush this mixture over the buns with a pastry brush
  25. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown and slightly firm to touch
  26. Leave to cool before breaking the buns apart
  27. Cut in half and serve with butter or jam, toasted or not. The buns will keep for about 5 days and can also be frozen for a grab-and-go breakfast later on!

 

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Protein Bars

proteinbars

Protein was never something I really thought about much, let alone if I was getting enough. As I eat fish and eggs, I just assumed that my body had what it needed. It was only when I started following a workout plan that I looked at increasing my protein intake as a friend suggested and I instantly felt more energised and less hungry all the time. As I have started paying more attention to fuelling my workouts and recovering with protein and good carbs, I’ve begun to experiment with high protein recipes. When I visited New York I discovered Quest bars and really wanted to make something similar. 

These chocolate chip peanut butter bars are a real afternoon treat and the perfect fuel for an intense gym session. They’re best kept in the fridge, wrapped individually in silver foil for a grab-and-go snack!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Protein Bars
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • ½ cup oats
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter (I use meridian)
  • 3 scoops protein powder of choice (I used a pure grass-fed whey protein)
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 50g dark chocolate, at least 70%
Instructions
  1. Line a Loaf tin with cling film
  2. Blitz the dark chocolate in a food processor until it forms small chunks and set aside
  3. Place the oats in the food processor and blitz until they form a fine powder/flour
  4. Add all of the other ingredients except the chocolate and process until smooth
  5. Fold in the dark chocolate and press the mixture into the lined tin, spreading the top until even (you can use the back of a spoon dipped in boiling water if it is hard to spread)
  6. Set in the fridge for an hour and then cut into 6 individual bars

 

Mexican Inspired Smoothie

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I realised the other day that I have only really made one particular smoothie in my Nutribullet for a long time now. I had run out of bananas (my go-to staple) and the only things in my fruit bowl were an apple and a lime, so I decided to get creative. Earlier in the week I had ordered a Picante De La Casa and thought: if you can put chilli and coriander in a cocktail, why not have it in a smoothie too?!

The avocado can either be added or left out of this smoothie, depending on how substantial you want it to be. The apple adds a sweet contrast to the tangy lime and fiery chilly. The herbs and spices make this a great one for nipping a cold in the bud. I’ve made it three times in the past week, so it is well and truly tried and tested!

Mexican Inspired Smoothie
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, grain free, dairy free
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 apple, skin removed (I used a pink lady)
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • A handful of spinach
  • 1 tsp honey or maple syrup
  • About 5 sprigs of fresh coriander
  • 1cm cube of fresh ginger
  • ½ a small medium chilli (add more or less to taste)
  • ½ an avocado (optional)
  • 1-1.5 cups water (depending on whether you add the avocado)
Instructions
  1. Place the ingredients in a high speed blender until completely smooth and serve

 

An Alternative Mince Meat

mincemeat mincepies

I’ve never liked mince pies. Or fruit cake. Or Christmas pudding. Until last year when I started to experiment and my sister made some mince pies with apple and orange. Then, I realised, perhaps it’s the shop-bought ‘peely’ fruit mixes that I actually have a problem with. And I was right. So I embarked on a journey of making my own versions of my previously-loathed foods and finally joined in with the festive traditions. 

This year I decided to do my new-found mince meat recipe justice by encasing it in a traditional shortcrust pastry of organic plain flour, grass fed butter and free-range egg. The real test will be when I present them to my colleagues this week.. But I know that from now on, these will be a yearly tradition for me. 

An Alternative Mince Meat
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, grain free
Ingredients
  • 50ml brandy (I used cherry brandy)
  • 125g caster sugar or 150g coconut sugar
  • 2 large bramley apples
  • 1 large orange
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 300g sultanas
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of ground clove
Instructions
  1. Place the brandy and sugar in a pan and heat on the lowest heat until the sugar has dissolved and a syrup has formed
  2. Grate in the zest of the orange
  3. Remove the rind from the orange and finely chop into pieces
  4. Peel and core the apples and chop into 5mm cubes
  5. Add the orange and apple to the pan, stirring every minute or so
  6. Once the juices from the orange and apple start to release, add the cranberries, sultanas and spices
  7. Cover the pan with a lid and stew heat on a low heat for about 15 minutes
  8. Drain the excess liquid (you can use this for mulled wine) and use the mince meat as desired, or store in the fridge in a air tight jar for up to one week

 

Roast Brussels Sprout, Squash and Goat’s Cheese Salad

bridgetsalad saladbrussel

Christmas is coming round so quickly and I can’t believe it was a whole year ago I was releasing a recipe a day throughout December for my Advent Calendar (you can still find all of these recipes on my site). Unfortunately my time and creativity didn’t stretch to another 24 recipes this year, but I have added a few special festive treats that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I am!

My favourite way to eat winter vegetables is honey roasted… a huge plate of them. They’re perfect and so warming at this time of year and full of goodness to balance out all of the festive treats! I truly believe that the more you add to a salad, the better it becomes. With the right flavour and texture combinations, a salad can be the most delicious and filling meal. I love the soft, sweet squash and sprouts in this salad that contrast with a tangy goats cheese and crunchy pomegranate seeds.

Roast Brussels Sprout, Squash and Goat's Cheese Salad
 
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Recipe type: gluten free, grain free
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 2 large handfuls of curly kale
  • ½ a medium butternut squash
  • 3 cups brussels sprouts
  • 1 small pomegranate
  • A small round of tangy goat's cheese
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp himalayan or sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius
  2. Cut the sprouts in half and the squash into cubes and spread out on a baking tray
  3. Drizzle with 1tbsp of the olive oil, honey, salt, pepper and thyme and roast for approx. 25 minutes until soft and golden
  4. Meanwhile, place the kale and remaining olive oil in a large bowl and massage for about 5 minutes to soften
  5. Towards the end of the squash and sprouts cooking, turn off the oven, spread the kale onto another tray and place in the oven for the last 5 minutes so that it softens and crisps at the edges (keep watching to ensure it doesn't burn!)
  6. Remove from the oven and place the kale in bowls, then top with the roast squash and sprouts
  7. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate and sprinkle over the salads and crumble the goats cheese on top
  8. Finish with freshly ground black pepper

 

To Eat: New York

The Butcher’s Daughter- Kenmare Street

butchersdaughter

Having seen other bloggers rave about this place, there was no doubt I would be making a trip here myself. The white exterior gleamed in the sunshine and the atmosphere was buzzing, even on a week day. I made myself comfortable at a window seat and admired the white brick interior that housed copper utensils, open pipes and rustic lighting.

I went for the Butcher’s Grilled Cheese because, well, when in New York.. And I just had to try the adzuki bean bacon. It was smokey, salty, and went perfectly with the vegan cheese. The sourdough was crisp and so buttery considering it had no.. butter.

The cafe has recently opened a take-out market store next door where you can buy hot drinks, salads and treats to go, as well as their super cool cold-press juice boxes. 

http://thebutchersdaughter.com/

Juice Press- various locations

juicepress4

Mint choc chip was always my favourite ice cream flavour as a kid. And now it’s been cloned into a protein shake?! Wow. This was delicious. The smooth, creamy mint base came from fresh coconut meat, almonds and brown rice protein and the chocolate chip crunch came from chia seeds and cacao nibs.  

Juice Press serves a range of meals and snacks, both sweet and savoury such as salads, raw oatmeal and chia pudding. I also tried the ‘Clean Green Protein’ smoothie which was really tasty, but the mint choc chip was a winner hands down.

https://juicepress.com/

 Babycakes Gluten Free & Vegan Bakery- East Village

babycakes

For all the vegans out there, a visit to the New York branch of this bakery is a must. The recipes are gluten free and use low GI sweeteners where possible. On offer is an array of American-style bakes such as muffins, cookies and donuts. I tried the samoa donut which tasted so indulgent you wouldn’t know it was ‘free from’ anything!

https://www.erinmckennasbakery.com/

Ess-a-Bagel

bagel

When I want to find the best of something in a certain city, I always know I can count on Time Out. And one of the ten ‘best New York bagels’ did not disappoint. I arrived late morning and Ess-a-Bagel already had a queue through the middle, a mix of tourists and suits. Always a good sign. 

The menu was extensive and covered an entire wall. With over ten varieties of tofu cream cheese, this is another one for the vegans. I decided to go classic with a smoked salmon and cream cheese ‘everything’. There were also healthier bread options on offer such as wholewheat everything and oatbran bagels. This was probably one of the best things I ate in New York. In fact, I don’t think I really knew what a bagel was until this. ‘Nuff said.

http://www.ess-a-bagel.com/

Organic Avenue- various locations

organicav

I didn’t spend much time in Organic Avenue but I did pop by to pick up this delicious basil and mint iced tea which was very welcome on such a humid day. Also on offer were fresh salads, wraps and desserts. With various locations around town, this is a convenient stop for a light and fresh lunch or breakfast.

https://www.organicavenue.com/

Two Little Red Hens American Bakery- Upper East Side

cheesecake

Another trusty Timeout search, this time for traditional American bakeries, led me to this wonderful little shop on the upper east side. There was so much choice and I was having as hard time deciding as the two kids in the queue in front of me. I decided to go traditional with this New York baked cheesecake which I took to a scenic spot in central park. Also on offer were giant cupcakes, scones and pies.

http://www.twolittleredhens.com/

Jack’s Wife Freda- West Village

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This American-Middle Eastern restaurant is a blogger’s dream. Everything is photogenic, including the sugar sticks. My friend had named this restaurant as a must for whilst i was in the Big A. My first trip here was when I had just arrived from my flight and the red wine was very much welcome. This accompanied the sesame-soy glazed salmon with kale, with sides to share of the eggplant (aubergine to y’all fellow Brits) and spicy beet dip.

The second trip to Jack’s was for Sunday brunch. The atmosphere was buzzing and we had a short wait for a table which we spent walking around the neighbourhood with a cold brew. Unusually, for my indecisive self, my choice of the green shakshuka was made within seconds. Served with the first challa I have ever tried, it was the dream. Then, in true New York style, we ordered the orange blossom honey pancakes to share. I wish I could make pancakes like the Americans do, it’s a work in progress. 

My only quarm was the echo of the building, meaning I had to put my lip reading into practice at times, butJack’s Wife Freda will definitely be my first stop next time I’m back in town! 

http://jackswifefreda.com/

Chelsea Market- West Village (The High Line)

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This quaint market is located just a few hundred metres from the start of the High Line. Perhaps not quite a Borough or Broadway market, but nonetheless worth exploring. There is plenty of food and drink on offer from lobster to donuts to gourmet bakeries. There’s also a couple of specialist supermarkets and a space for temporary sample sales. At the time, this was Billy Reid where I found a few gems. I then picked up some (surprisingly delicious) Japanese-meets Mexican tacos and took these back up to the High Line and found a shady spot to eat and people-watch.

http://www.chelseamarket.com/

Five Leaves- Brooklyn

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A chilled weekend in Brooklyn really showed the New York summer at its best. The weather was perfect and not too humid and we headed to Five Leaves for a late brunch. There was initial outrage at the removal of the mushroom toast from the menu, but I was sold on the farro bowl purely because of how beautiful it looked. It was full of fresh, vibrant goodness and lots of flavour. Once again, in true New York style, we shared the pancakes. This time fluffy ricotta pancakes with berries, honeycomb and maple syrup. Delish.

http://fiveleavesny.com/

Wholefoods- various locations

wholefoods

I’ve always loved wandering the aisles of supermarkets in other countries. American Wholefoods was a whole other level, I was like a kid in a candy store. They even sold sweet potato and parsnip yoghurts. Yup. 

This store was located on the Upper East Side, the perfect place to grab a wholesome lunch and head to Central Park. I had a mixture of the salad and hot food, the perfect opportunity to try some mac ‘n’ cheese!

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/

Victory Garden Goat’s Milk Ice Cream- West Village

icecream

This was a must-try place, recommended by my lovely friend. A quaint little store with a middle eastern vibe located in the middle of the West Village buzz, Victory Garden changes its menu regularly. I’m always swayed by unusual flavours so I dared to try the mastic ice cream topped with halva. It was different but delicious and I would definitely have it again! The store also sold original and salted caramel flavours for the more traditional palette. The coffee here was also a hit when I returned for a cold brew a day later.

http://victorygardennyc.com/

Buddha Cups- various stores

buddha

I spotted these raw little cups of goodness on Instagram about a year ago and was dying to try them. I hadn’t seen them anywhere in the city until the last day when I was wandering around Brooklyn and found them in a small newsagent (yes, healthy and niche food is so much more readily available than it is in London!). These make a nice alternative to the often sickly-sweet peanut butter cups, and definitely something I need to try and recreate in my kitchen! If you can find one, buy it!

http://www.buddhachocolate.com/

Lara and Quest Bars- various stores

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It’s a tough life, this Instagramming. You see all these wonderful treats half way across the world that you can’t find back home. The grass is always greener! My sister had already given me a list of Quest and Lara bar flavours, in order of preference, so I had to leave plenty of room in my suitcase! They aren’t hugely different to the raw bars you can buy in the UK, but somehow American flavours seem so much more exciting! It’s worth scouting out a few health stores to see if you can find some offers, I managed to get BOGOF on the Lara bars, score!!

http://www.larabar.com/

http://www.questnutrition.com/

Broccoli and Feta Salad With Mint Dressing

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This is the kind of salad that my friend Ruby would describe as “one of those salads with too much in” but this is my favourite kind! I love a wholesome, nutritious salad that is a meal in itself.

Every element of this salad contributes to the overall flavour, without overpowering it. The tangy pomegranate seeds contrast with the creamy yoghurt and feta and the mint keeps it really fresh. I like to cook my broccoli al denté so that it maintains its bite.

I really hope you like this salad as much as I do, it makes the perfect meal or side at any time of the day!

Broccoli and Feta Salad With Mint Dressing
 
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Recipe type: gluten free, grain free, vegetarian
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • ½ cup buckwheat groats
  • ½ head broccoli
  • 1 cup frozen edamame
  • 1 small pomegranate
  • 50g feta cheese
  • ½ cup almond flakes
  • 1 tbsp greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh mint
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
Instructions
  1. In a frying pan, lightly toast the almond flakes on a low heat for a couple of minutes and set aside
  2. Finely chop the broccoli, including the stems
  3. Cook the quinoa and buckwheat on the hob until almost soft
  4. About 3-4 minutes before the end of cooking, add the edamame and broccoli to lightly cook through. Then remove from the heat, drain and rinse
  5. Place the mixture in a bowl with the salt, pepper, cumin and paprika and mix well.
  6. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate, crumble the feta and mix in
  7. In a separate small bowl, mix the yoghurt, olive oil and mint
  8. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve with the toasted almonds on top

 

Spiced Banana and Tahini Shake

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I can’t get enough of anything spiced, in case you hadn’t noticed! I’m constantly adding it to recipes, sweet and savoury, whenever I can! This shake is great as something a bit different, especially if you’re bored of fruit smoothies. 

I always keep frozen bananas in the freezer and put them into most of my smoothies to make them thick and keep them colder for longer. I don’t use any other fruit in this smoothie so that the banana flavour still comes through. The tahini in this adds protein and richness, and you could always switch it out for almond or cashew butter instead. I also add a protein powder if I’m having this shake as a breakfast post-workout!

Spiced Banana and Tahini Shake
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, grain free
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp maca or lucuma powder
  • 1.5 cups almond milk
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • A pinch of nutmeg to serve
  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth
  2. Serve in a glass and dust with nutmeg to finish

 

Aubergine and Chickpea Moroccan Stew

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Moroccan food isn’t something I make often, but when I made this stew I promised myself it would become a more regular thing. This one-pot vegetarian dish is full of goodness and high in protein, making it the perfect dish to cook up and divide into portions which can be kept in the fridge for a few days or frozen for when you need a quick, nourishing meal. If you have a sweet tooth like I do, this dish is so satisfying as the apricots and cinnamon give it a really sweet, comforting taste which is a great contrast to the spicy chilli. However, if you have a more savoury palette the apricots can easily be omitted and the cinnamon reduced and it’s a win win situation! Similarly, you can reduce the amount of chilli if you aren’t a fan of hot food, or use a coconut or soya yoghurt for a vegan version.

Aubergine and Chickpea Moroccan Stew
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, grain free, vegetarian
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large aubergine
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 medium-hot chilli (optional)
  • 3 large beef tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 litre vegetable stock or bouillon
  • A handful of dried, unsulphured (brown) apricots, chopped (optional)
  • A large handful of fresh coriander, plus extra for serving
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp greek, coconut or soya yoghurt (per person) for serving
Instructions
  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan on the hob on a medium heat
  2. Roughly chop the onion and chilli and add to the pan and fry gently until soft and then add the stock, bringing to a simmer
  3. Peel and dice the carrot and add to the pan along with the bay leaves and spices
  4. Simmer for about 5 minutes and then roughly chop the beef tomatoes and add to the pan
  5. Cut the aubergine into 1cm slices and add to the pan with the chickpea
  6. Add the chopped coriander and continue to simmer the stew for a further 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft
  7. Turn off the heat and add the apricots if using
  8. Serve in bowls topped with yoghurt and coriander

 

 

Spiced Orange and Sea Buckthorn Smoothie

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Spiced Orange and Sea Buckthorn Smoothie
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, grain free, sugar free
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 medium seedless clementine, peeled
  • ¼ cup cashews (ideally soaked overnight)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp sea buckthorn powder
  • a pinch of ground cloves
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender for about two minutes until smooth. enjoy as a healthy breakfast or snack any time of day

 

Black Bean Chocolate Cake With Coconut Ganache

bb choc cake I only recently discovered black beans as an alternative for flour and the results are surprisingly good! The dark colour makes them especially great for chocolate cakes because they add to the richness and indulgent texture! This cake is something special and also works just as well in brownie or muffin form. Eaten straight from the fridge this cake has a great gooey yet chewy-edged brownie texture. It can also be heated up and eaten with ice cream (the dream). 

This particular version was made to take to work as a birthday cake and it went down well. It also went far as it is quite rich and you only need a small slice. In hindsight, I should have taken it out of the fridge earlier as it was quite firm and a bit difficult to cut with only a plastic knife to hand!!

I made the ganache as an experiment as I’ve never really made a dairy-free icing with anything other than cashews but the results were great, I was surprised how simple it was! I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did!

Black Bean Chocolate Cake With Coconut Ganache
 
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Recipe type: dairy free, gluten free, grain free, sugar free
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2 x tins black beans
  • 1 tin full fat coconut milk, refrigerated for at least 4 hours (I use Biona)
  • 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids minimum)
  • 4 medium-large eggs
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • ½ cup cacao or good quality cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • A large pinch of salt
  • Raspberries or strawberries for decoration
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius and line a deep cake tin with baking paper, greasing the sides with coconut oil
  2. Break 125g of the chocolate into a mixing bowl with the coconut oil and place into another bowl of boiling water and stir occasionally until melted
  3. Meanwhile, place the black beans (drained) and the eggs into a food processor and blend until smooth
  4. Add the cacao powder, coconut sugar, baking powder and salt to the processor and blitz again until combined
  5. Pour the mixture into the melted coconut oil and chocolate and stir well until the mixture is smooth
  6. Pour into the cake tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes until a knife can be taken out of the cake clean (if the cake starts to brown, cover with foil half way through cooking)
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cook completely before removing from the tin
  8. For the ganache, grate the remaining 75g dark chocolate
  9. Open the coconut milk and scoop the hard cream layer off the top and into a small saucepan (you can keep the thinner liquid for making smoothies)
  10. Heat the cream on a low heat until it starts to simmer (but not boil)
  11. Simmer gently for 3-4 minutes and then turn off the heat
  12. Add the chocolate and a pinch of salt to the pan and leave to melt for 5 minutes (do not stir)
  13. After 5 minutes, stir the mixture well until smooth and shiny
  14. Leave the mixture to cool until it reaches room temperature and then place in the fridge for 30 minutes
  15. Once it has set to a spreadable consistency, spread the ganache over the top of the cake and decorate with the fruit
  16. Store the cake in an air tight container in the fridge

 

Chilli and Lemon Prawn Courgetti

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Salads are great in the summer, especially when it’s so warm you don’t feel like eating much. But sometimes you just need something light and fresh that still feels like a substantial meal. This dish is the perfect meal for a quick and easy summer evening, but also special enough for a dinner party or guests. They would never believe it only took you 10 minutes to make!
 
 
 
Chilli and Lemon Prawn Courgetti
 
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Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 medium-large courgette, spiralised
  • 8-10 pre-cooked prawns
  • 1 tbsp finely grated parmesan or similar hard cheese
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • A handful of pine nuts
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Keep the same pan on the heat and add the olive oil. Finely chop the garlic clove and fry for about a minute
  2. Turn the heat up to medium and add the courgetti, prawns and lemon juice
  3. Heat for about 3 minutes, constantly tossing so that the courgetti and prawns are heated through
  4. Add the parmesan, chilli flakes and salt and pepper and toss through the courgetti
  5. After another minute, remove from the heat and serve, topped with the toasted pine nuts
 

Bakewell Slices

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Ahhh you know those cakes that you used to love but you now try to avoid and swap for a raw brownie or banana bread? Well… dreams can come true! Admittedly, some of those old favourite sticky treats can be very difficult to recreate in ‘free from’ form, but not the bakewell slice! Don’t get me wrong, I love brownies and banana bread and all that, but sometimes it’s nice to make something that bit extra special for afternoon tea. And these are surprisingly easy and taste just like the real thing! The rich, bakewell flavour comes largely from the almond extract, so my only advice would be to buy a decent quality almond flavouring. Enjoy!

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Chocolate and Banana Marble Cake

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I always forget how good banana bread is, and then I’ll find my bananas are too ripe make up some random variation from my head, depending on what I have in the cupboard! Admittedly I rarely measure what goes in, I just hope for the best and I’ve never really had a B-Bread disaster! But this time I wanted to create something more special, more of a cake than a bread. And what better way to use some of my Creative Nature raw cacao?! This is the perfect afternoon tea to serve to friends and family, and although it’s really simple it looks pretty impressive when you cut into it! I love how the chocolatey flavour comes through, and it’s equally as delicious served cold (the texture is almost fudgey) or warm with ice cream! And even better you can keep it in the freezer as an emergency snack!

Chocolate and Banana Marble Cake
 
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Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 2 large bananas
  • 3 cups ground almonds
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp rice syrup
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius
  2. Line the bottom of a deep round tin and grease the sides with coconut oil
  3. Place the eggs and banana in a blender and blend until smooth (or alternatively mash the banana by hand and beat in the eggs
  4. Gently melt the coconut oil in a large bowl and add the banana and egg mixture
  5. Add the rice syrup, salt and vanilla and mix well
  6. Add the baking powder and ground almonds and beat until the mixture is well combined
  7. Add half of the mixture to the cake tin
  8. Mix the cacao powder into the other half of the mixture and add this to the tin, spoonful at a time
  9. Using a knife, swirl the mixture in to create a marble effect
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes and then bake for another 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out of the cake clean
  11. Leave to cool and turn out of the tin onto a wire rack
  12. Store in the fridge, it is delicious straight out of the fridge or gently warmed in the oven!

 

Hot and Sour Miso Soup

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Miso soup is a really quick and easy dish, and something I don’t make often enough. Hopefully that will change now! I was really craving miso soup for a few days, and when I finally got round to making it, I just kind of threw in a few extras and voilà! This soup recipe was born! I have always been a fan of spicy, tangy, comforting Asian soups but have never quite managed to recreate one myself until now.

What I love about this dish is the simplicity and versatility. I have given you my exact ingredients below so that you can recreate my soup, but you can actually just use the base of this and add whatever you like, or whatever you need to use up! The dish is completely vegan excluding the prawns, and you could always add some tofu for some extra protein, or even some meat if you wish! It really is a dish for everyone. And although it may look super fancy and impressive, it actually only takes 10-15 minutes to whip up, making it perfect for a healthy, comforting evening meal.

Hot and Sour Miso Soup
 
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 3-4 salad onions
  • 1 medium-hot chilli, depending on tastes
  • 2cm cube fresh ginger
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1 tbsp miso paste (I use Clearspring Brown Rice Miso)
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • A handful of fresh coriander, plus extra to garnish
  • A large handful of bean sprouts
  • Two handfuls of fresh greens (I use 1 handful of kale, stalks removed and 1 handful of spinach)
  • 50g soba noodles (I use 100% buckwheat)
  • 6 pre-cooked king prawns (optional, leave out for a vegetarian or vegan version)
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • A pinch of salt
  • A wedge of fresh lime to serve
Instructions
  1. Place the coconut oil in a large saucepan and melt on the lowest heat
  2. Chop the onions and chilli finely and grate the ginger and add to the oil
  3. Cook gently for 1 minute
  4. Add the water and turn up the heat slightly
  5. Add the broccoli and gently simmer for 2 minutes
  6. Add the miso paste, tomato purée and stir well until dissolved into the water
  7. Add the bean sprouts, greens, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper and simmer for a further minute
  8. Finally, add the prawns and noodles, turn the heat down low and simmer for 4-5 minutes until the noodles are soft and the prawns cooked through
  9. Gently pour the soup into a bowl and garnish with extra coriander
  10. Squeeze the juice from the lime wedge over the soup and serve piping hot with chopsticks and a spoon

 

Buckwheat Sultana Scones

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I used to have a reputation in my family for making the worst scones. The regular, plain flour variety. For some reason my dough would always be too sticky so they would end up looking like hedgehogs! Thankfully my baking has come a long way since then and I was actually really surprised at how quickly the recipe for these came together, especially as they were just an experiment that turned out nearly perfect!

Buckwheat isn’t always the easiest flour to bake with as it can make the texture really crumbly, which isn’t ideal for most cakes and biscuits. But the egg and oil in these scones binds the flour and creates a that perfect, short texture that you would expect for your afternoon tea. Considering these don’t use any butter, the they are incredibly similar to your regular scone, but with much more added goodness! Buckwheat is full of protein, as are the eggs, which makes these a really satisfying afternoon snack, along with the good fats from the small amount of oil. I teamed mine with a sugar free, pure fruit jam, but these would also be great with a homemade chia jam (check out my strawberry-orange recipe here) and some whipped coconut or cashew cream. Yum!

Buckwheat Sultana Scones
 
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Recipe type: gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, grain free
Serves: 9
Ingredients
  • 2 cups buckwheat flour
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted or olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • 1.5 tbsp rice syrup or honey
  • 2 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a flat tray with baking paper
  2. Place the buckwheat flour and baking powder into a bowl and mix well
  3. Add the oil (if using coconut oil, gently melt it first in the microwave)
  4. Using your hands, rub the oil and flour together until the mixture forms a bread crumb-like texture
  5. Add the sultanas and salt and mix in
  6. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs with the syrup or honey
  7. Add the egg mixture to the other mixture, keeping about 1tbsp aside to glaze the scones
  8. Mix everything until well combined and turn out onto a lightly floured surface
  9. Press the dough together until it is about 3cm in thickness
  10. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out circular shapes and place onto the baking tray (you will need to re-form the dough a few times until it is all used)
  11. With a pastry brush, use the rest of the beaten egg and syrup to lightly glaze each scone. This will prevent them from crumbling in the oven and give them a nice, shiny finish.
  12. Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes until they are golden and firm on the outsides (if they start to look too brown, take out of the oven earlier)
  13. Leave to cool completely before cutting in half to serve
  14. Store in an air tight container

 

Saag Paneer

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Flash back to three years ago when I was living in Leicester as a student, this dish was a relatively staple part of my diet. Described by many as the UK’s curry capital, Leicester is a vegetarian’s dream. I lived on a road with three vegetarian Indian restaurants serving an array of authentic Indian and Indo-Chinese dishes, all of which you could go to and pick up a takeaway or have thali for less than £5. Since leaving Leicester and moving to London, I have never found a Saag Paneer dish quite as good. Once restaurant even served me some wilted spinach topped with melted cheddar!!

So, I made it my mission to create a Saag Paneer as similar to my favourite takeaway as I could. And I think this is a very successful attempt. What’s more, this dish is full of spices and immune-boosting fresh ingredients, and I have used yoghurt to add a creaminess rather than a thick cream. I have even added a vegan and dairy-free option where you can replace the paneer and yoghurt. People often see Indian food as fattening and very rich, whilst forgetting the amazing healing benefits of Indian spices. This recipe proves that you can still create an authentic, indulgent dish from scratch that can be enjoyed by everyone, completely guilt-free!

I hope you love this dish as much as I do and enjoy cooking it for families and friends. But perhaps not dates, because as my friends pointed out, they did leave my small kitchen with their hair nicely infused with a curry aroma! If you are cooking this recipe in a small or enclosed space without an extractor fan, you could cook down the curry paste in advance!

Saag Paneer
 
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Recipe type: Indian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500g spinach
  • 450g (2 packets paneer)
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 hot chillies, depending on your tastes
  • 1.5 inch cube of fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp brown rice syrup
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp yoghurt
  • 1 cup water
  • Or for a vegan version (saag aloo)- three large potatoes and soya or coconut yoghurt
Instructions
  1. Finely chop the onion, garlic, chilli and one of the tomatoes and add to a food processor
  2. Grate the ginger and add
  3. Add the garam masala, cumin and turmeric to the food processor
  4. Blend until a relatively smooth paste forms
  5. In a large pan or wok, heat the oil on a medium heat
  6. Add the curry paste along with the bay leaves and cook for 20 minutes, constantly stirring to release the aromas and cook the onion and garlic
  7. Preheat the grill to 200 degrees celsius
  8. Meanwhile, place the spinach in a steamer and wilt (you may have to slowly add more as it cooks down)
  9. Once wilted, add the spinach to the food processor and blitz until it is puréed
  10. Chop the paneer into cubes and spread on baking paper or foil on a large baking tray
  11. Grill the paneer for approximately 15 minutes until the edges are golden
  12. Once the curry paste has cooked for 20 minutes, add the spinach and mix until completely combined
  13. Add the salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown rice syrup and the other tomato, roughly chopped
  14. Cook for a further 10 minutes and taste, adding more salt if needed
  15. Add the cooked paneer cubes to the curry and stir in until coated
  16. Add the cup of water gradually and cook for 10 more minutes so that all of the flavours combine and soak into the paneer
  17. Turn off the heat and stir in the yoghurt and serve immediately with rice
  18. For the vegan version, omit the paneer and dairy yoghurt- peel and cube and parboil the potatoes. Toss in oil and bake in the oven for approximately 10-15 minutes until the edges are slightly crisp. Add the potatoes to the curry at the same time you would the paneer, and stir in vegan yoghurt in place of dairy yoghurt at the end.

 

Salted Caramel Fondant Easter Eggs

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I was really excited about my new Easter egg mould and really wanted to create something special for you guys! I wish I had more time to create lots more recipes but unfortunately there’s not enough hours in the day/weekend at the moment! However, I am so happy with the filling for these eggs and already have some ideas for recipes that I want to create using this base so stay tuned!

I used dark chocolate for the shell of these eggs, but you could use a chocolate of your choice or homemade raw chocolate for an even healthier version! I really like the contrast of a bitter dark chocolate to the sweet and salty centre. This recipe makes six whole eggs, so you will need two egg moulds or to create the recipe in two batches.

Salted Caramel Fondant Easter Eggs
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, grain free, sugar free
Serves: 6 eggs
Ingredients
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 100g pecans
  • 4 large medjool dates, stones removed
  • Half the cream from the top of a can of refirdgerated coconut milk
  • ½ tsp himalayan salt (or good quality sea salt)
Instructions
  1. Fill a large bowl or dish with boiling water
  2. Break 160g of the chocolate into squares, setting the rest aside, and place in a slightly smaller bowl
  3. Place the bowl of chocolate inside the bowl of water and stir until the chocolate is completely melted
  4. Spoon a 1.5 tsp of chocolate into each of the eggs in the mould and place in the freezer for a couple of minutes so that the chocolate is slightly less runny but not set (don't leave in too long or you will have to re-melt!)
  5. Remove the mould from the freezer and using the back of a teaspoon, spread the melted chocolate around the mould until the egg is completely covered
  6. Place back in the freezer for 10 minutes until solid and then use more melted chocolate to fill any holes or thinner parts
  7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius and roast the pecans on a baking tray for approximately 10 minutes until lightly toasted
  8. Place the pecans in a processor and process for about 5 minutes until a butter is formed
  9. Add the dates, salt and coconut cream and process again until the ingredients are completely combined (you may have to scrape down the sides a few times)
  10. Place 1 tsp of the mix into each of the eggs, smoothing the surface of the caramel with the back of a spoon
  11. Gently remove the eggs from the mould and place on a flat surface
  12. In a new bowl of boiling water, melt the remaining 40g of chocolate and using a teaspoon, drizzle the melted chocolate around the edge of one half of the egg shell
  13. Take another half and sandwich the two together to seal the egg
  14. Immediately place back into the freezer for 5 minutes
  15. Make sure you work quickly so that the eggs do not melt in your hands!!

 

 

Tropical Guarana Energy Bars

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I had never really discovered guarana before until I was kindly sent some to try by Creative Nature and decided to learn more about the benefits. It turns out that guarana is chemically similar to natural caffeine and be up to 2.5 times more powerful than tea or coffee in providing an energy boost and focus. However, unlike the caffeine you find in your daily brew, the energy within guarana is released slowly over the course of a few hours, with a much more gentle effect on your body. Pretty interesting, huh?

I decided to put this powder to the test and create a snack that is easy to make, convenient for on the go and suitable for any time of the day. And here it is, my tropical guarana energy bar recipe. These have a texture really similar to flapjacks and feel really indulgent, but without all of the unhealthy fat and refined sugar content. The edges are crispy and the inside is chewy, the best kind of oat bar! I have been eating these in the morning when I need a quick breakfast, and in the afternoon around 3pm when I need a pre-workout, afternoon pick-me-up!

 

Tropical Guarana Energy Bars
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 cup gluten free oats
  • ½ cup apricots, chopped finely
  • ½ cup dates, chopped finely
  • ½ cup raisins or sultanas
  • ½ cup dessicated coconut
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2.5 tbsp rice or maple syrup
  • 2.5cm cube fresh ginger, grated
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp guarana powder
  • A pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius and line a square 6-inch tin with baking paper
  2. Place the coconut oil, syrup, lemon juice, salt and ginger in a large pan and heat on the lowest heat until the coconut oil is melted
  3. Add the dates and apricots and stir constantly for approximately 5 minutes until slightly softened
  4. Turn off the heat and add the oats, coconut, raisins and guarana and mix in the pan until everything is completely combined
  5. Spoon the mixture into the lined tin and spread with the back of a tablespoon until the surface is flat and even
  6. Bake in the oven for approximately 20-25 minutes until the edges are slightly golden and firm to touch
  7. Leave to cool completely and then slice
  8. Store in an air tight container

 

Raw Coconut Mylk Chocolate Nests

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I feel like Easter has become so commercialised, just like every other holiday in the UK, and sometimes it might feel like it’s difficult to avoid eating endless amounts of cheap chocolate! For me, the real treats at Easter are the homemade and enjoying them at home with family and friends. Last year I created my vegan, gluten and grain free Hot Cross Bun recipe and it was so nice to be able to share it with my sister who avoids gluten so that she didn’t miss out!

These nests not only look attractive but they taste delicious and are so full of goodness. The coconut cream adds a creamy taste to the chocolate and makes them seem even more indulgent. I used gluten free cornflakes, but you could also use any cereal of your choice such as brown rice puffs. I decorated my nests with homemade, sugar free marzipan eggs (you can find the recipe here). They would also be great with raw bliss balls rolled into egg shapes or other raw chocolate treats! I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

Raw Coconut Mylk Chocolate Nests
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 3 cups gluten free cornflakes
  • 100g cacao butter
  • Approx ⅓ bar coconut cream (I use Biona)
  • 2.5 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2.5 tbsp brown rice syrup (or maple syrup)
  • A pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Place the cornflakes in a bowl and set aside
  2. Place the cacao butter and coconut cream in a small pan on the hob on the smallest ring and lowest heat
  3. Heat, stirring constantly until melted (Do not leave to melt, make sure you constantly stir)
  4. Add the cacao powder, syrup and salt and mix into the pan until all of the ingredients are completely combined
  5. Remove from the hob and place in the fridge for about 5-10 minutes (depending on fridge temperature) so that the chocolate becomes slightly less runny but not set
  6. Pour the chocolate over the cornflakes and mix well until the cornflakes are all covered
  7. Place spoonfuls of the mixture into cupcake cases in a muffin tin, making a slight dip in the centre for the toppings
  8. Place in the fridge for about 2 hours until completely set

 

Marzipan Easter Eggs and Chicks

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I LOVE marzipan. It’s always been the only part of Easter cake that I like! And I didn’t realise until now how easy it is to make. This marzipan is really quick to make, easy to work with, and makes the best decorations whatever the occasion! I decided to make chicks and eggs for my easter nests and used Finnberry powders to colour them naturally. I would love to see what you colour your marzipan with and what designs you can create with this super simple recipe! Happy no-baking!

NB: This recipe makes either eggs or chicks, to make both you will need to double the ingredients and divide before colouring them!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Marzipan Easter Eggs and Chicks
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, grain free
Serves: 20 mini eggs or 6 chicks
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup ground almonds
  • 1.5 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1-2 tsp superfood powders for colour (I used Finnberry cranberry and sea buckthorn powders)
  • For the chicks I used cacao nibs and pumpkin seeds for decoration
Instructions
  1. Place the ground almonds in a bowl and mix the superfood powder with the almonds until well combined
  2. Add the brown rice syrup and almond extract and mix, pressing with the back of a tablespoon until the mixture forms a sticky ball that can be moulded into shapes
  3. For the eggs, roll into small balls and then shape slightly at the top
  4. For the chicks, roll one small ball and one slightly larger, then shape the larger ball into a sausage shape and make a tail. Place the head onto the body and then use two more small balls of marzipan, rolled and flattened to create wings. Use other superfoods such as nuts and seeds to create the face!

 

Lebanese-Style Stuffed Aubergine

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This is such a simple and delicious dish that is great eaten either hot or cold, making it the perfect light main course, side dish for a dinner party or packed lunch! Lebanese flavour combinations are some of my favourite and there is so much experimenting you can do. This recipe combines a spicy quinoa and kale mix with the delicate, soft aubergine . The tahini-yoghurt dressing cools down the chilli and the pomegranates add a crunchy sweetness.

I have given the ingredients for one medium-large aubergine but you could increase the quantities to feed the family or serve at a dinner party!

4.0 from 1 reviews
Lebanese-Style Stuffed Aubergine
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free
Serves: 1-2
Ingredients
  • 1 medium-large aubergine
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • ½ litre vegetable stock
  • 1 handful of curly kale, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder or chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • A small handful of fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp ground sumac (optional)
  • 2 tbsp greek/soya/coconut yoghurt
  • 1 tsp tahini
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • A handful of pomegranate seeds to garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  2. Prick the aubergine with a sharp knife and place on a baking tray, roasting whole for about 25 minutes until the middle of the aubergine is soft when tested with a knife. Once soft, remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa and kale in the stock for about 12 minutes on a low heat
  4. Remove from the heat and drain well, then replace into the pan
  5. Mix the spices, salt and parsley into the quinoa
  6. Gently cut the aubergine in half lengthways and scoop out most of the flesh, adding this to the quinoa mix
  7. Using a fork or potato masher, mash the aubergine into the quinoa until well combined
  8. Place this mix back into the aubergine halves and place back into the oven for about 10 minutes to crisp up slightly
  9. Meanwhile, mix the yoghurt, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil in a jug until combined
  10. Remove the aubergines from the oven and put into a dish or straight onto plates
  11. Drizzle the yoghurt dressing over the aubergines and sprinkle with pomegranates
  12. Serve immediately or leave to cool and store in the fridge

 

Baobab and Blueberry Porridge


baobabporridge

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There are some mornings when simple is best. There’s nothing like a perfect bowl of porridge. And it can be so nourishing too if you add the right things to it. The addition of baobab to this breakfast classic ensures that you get a good dose of vitamin C to set you up for the day along with an array of other vitamins and minerals. The citrusy flavour makes it a great addition at breakfast time, along with the almond milk and cinnamon that give the porridge a natural sweetness. A sprinkling of coconut sugar offsets the tang of the blueberries perfectly and these toppings add a great texture to the smooth, creamy oats.

What’s even better is that this porridge only takes a few minutes to make and will keep you full until lunch time, making it a great breakfast when you are in a rush with a busy morning ahead! Enjoy!

Baobab and Blueberry Porridge
 
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Recipe type: Vegan, gluten free, dairy free
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 cup porridge oats
  • 1 cup almond milk (or other milk of choice)
  • 2 tsp baobab powder
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar (or honey, brown rice syrup or maple syrup)
  • A generous handful of blueberries
Instructions
  1. Put the oats, almond milk, cinnamon and baobab into a small pan on a low heat and heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly
  2. When almost done, turn off the heat and stir for about 30 seconds more to make the porridge really creamy
  3. Transfer to a bowl and top with the coconut sugar and blueberries

 

Blueberry and Banana Buckwheat Pancakes

 

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These are my favourite go-to pancakes for brunch at the weekends. They are full of nutrition and feel like the ultimate weekend treat. The pancakes are thick and fluffy and the mashed banana adds a sweetness to the mixture. I love how the blueberries burst when these pancakes are cooking, adding such a beautiful colour and texture when you cut through the stack. Buckwheat flour is such a great, gluten free flour alternative that is full of protein and binds really well with the eggs to create the perfect pancake. I have just given the recipe for the base pancakes here as I tend to change my topping choice every week! But perhaps I will work on a pancake topping post for you all soon! These are great topped simply with maple syrup, and equally as delicious if you want to get more creative and invent a variety of sauces. The recipe for these serves 1-2 people depending on how hungry you are. You could always compensate with extra toppings or simply increase the quantities for more people!

Blueberry and Banana Buckwheat Pancakes
 
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Recipe type: gluten free, dairy free, sugar free
Serves: 1-2
Ingredients
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 medium sized ripe banana
  • ½ cup buckwheat flour
  • ½ cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • ½ cup blueberries (can use frozen)
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp superfood powder of choice (optional, I used Finnberry Lingonberry powder!)
  • Toppings of choice
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, mash the banana with a fork until fairly smooth
  2. Add the eggs and beat into the banana
  3. Beat in the buckwheat flour, baking powder, superfood and salt and combine well
  4. Add the almond milk gradually and beat until smooth
  5. Alternatively, blend all of these ingredients in a food processor until smooth
  6. Heat the coconut oil in a pan on a medium heat
  7. Add the blueberries to the pancake mix and ensure they are evenly distributed
  8. Place tablespoons of the mix into the pan to form the pancakes, cooking for approximately one minute until flipping over
  9. Press down gently so that the blueberry juices run
  10. Cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side until the pancakes are firm but soft
  11. Alternatively, use a ring to make the pancakes all an even shape
  12. Serve in a stack with your toppings of choice

 

 

Spicy BBQ Sweet Potato Crisps

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Following on from the success of my honey and black pepper parsnip crisp recipe I created for my Advent Calendar, I decided to experiment more with this super easy snack! There are so many options for delicious flavourings but this is one of my favourites as it is sweet, salty and smokey with a good kick of spice which you can add to taste. All vegetable crisps require a certain amount of time in the oven to crisp up and dry out, so it’s always worth making them in advance ready for a night in and keeping in an air tight container! And they are also the perfect ‘posh’ snack to impress dinner guests with! No one will believe that they are homemade! I took these into work and they were gone within 5 minutes…

One sweet potato makes enough for one to two people as a snack, but I must warn you these are super addictive so you might want to double the ingredients!!

 

Spicy BBQ Sweet Potato Crisps
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, grain free
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tap coconut sugar or brown rice syrup
  • 1 tsp good quality, finely ground salt
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder (or to taste)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees
  2. Peel the sweet potato
  3. Continuing to use the peeler or switching to a mandolin, slice the sweet potato thinly until it is all cut
  4. Spread the sweet potato slices out onto a couple of baking trays lined with baking paper
  5. In a mug or jug, mix the rest of the ingredients until well combined
  6. Using a pastry brush or similar tool, brush the spice mix over the sweet potato slices so that they are evenly coated
  7. Bake in the oven for 1-1.5 hours until the crisps are completely dried out, turning over half way through cooking
  8. Turn the oven off and leave to dry out of possible
  9. Store in an air tight container

 

Spinach and Coconut Soup

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Sometimes making soup can seem like quite a lot of effort, waiting for all of the vegetables to soften to the point where you can blend them. This is the ideal soup to quickly whip up on a weekday evening or any time you want a speedy, delicious dinner as you do not need to wait for anything to cook other than the onion and garlic. I like to always keep some good quality sourdough or gluten free bread on hand so that I can make a quick, satisfying dinner! Although this soup isn’t particularly thick, it is surprisingly filling and provides you with such a good boost of essential minerals, such as iron. For a thicker soup you can reduce the amount of stock or increase the amount of spinach to make it go further. The coconut compliments the spinach really well and adds a sweetness. Once again, you can reduce the amount of coconut to taste. I hope you all find this as easy to make and tasty as I do!

Spinach and Coconut Soup
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, grain free
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • 1 large brown onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 150g spinach (1 large bag)
  • ½ bar coconut cream (I use biona, you can use the oil from the bar to cook the onions) plus extra for decoration
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder
Instructions
  1. Heat the coconut oil on a medium heat in a large pan
  2. Finely chop the onion and garlic and add to the pan, cooking for about 5 minutes until soft
  3. Add the stock, coconut cream, paprika and chilli and stir until the cream has melted into the stock
  4. Add the spinach and turn off the heat
  5. Leave for about two minutes until the spinach has wilted and then blend with a hand blender until the soup is smooth

 

Lebanese ‘Baked’ Eggs

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Although this is under the Breakfast section of my website, it is actually the ultimate anytime meal! The perfect comfort food in the evening, or an indulgent brunch at the weekend! These eggs are ‘baked’ in a saucepan, but I guess you could say they are technically poached in the tomato sauce. This dish could also be baked in the oven but I like to keep the heat at the bottom of the dish so that my yokes stay nice and runny! The mushrooms add such a soft texture to this meal and the greens add extra colour and a boost of nutrients.

I have recently become addicted to ‘Mr. Organic’ tomato sauce. It is quick and easy when I don’t feel like cooking and only contains a few ingredients and no preservatives. It is the perfect product to keep in the cupboard at all times for when you need a 5 minute meal! This sauce is also what I used for these eggs. You could use any kind of tomato-basil sauce, or better still you could make your own!

Lebanese 'Baked' Eggs
 
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Recipe type: Vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, grain free
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • ½ cup tomato sauce (either homemade or from a jar, ideally sugar free. I use Mr. Organic)
  • 5 chestnut mushrooms
  • A handful of spinach
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp za'atar spice
  • A pinch of hot chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley to garnish
  • Your choice of toast
Instructions
  1. Place the coconut oil in a small saucepan on a low heat (using a small pan makes the sauce 'deeper' for poaching the eggs)
  2. Chop the mushrooms and cook in the coconut oil until soft and the juices are running
  3. Add the tomato sauce, spices and spinach and simmer on a low heat until the spinach has wilted
  4. Stir well and make a well in the sauce on one side of the pan
  5. Crack in the egg and then repeat on the other side of the pan
  6. Turn the heat up slightly to a medium heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the egg white is completely cooked but the yoke still runny
  7. Using a deep soup spoon, carefully remove the eggs and sauce from the pan and into a small ceramic dish
  8. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top
  9. Serve alongside your toast of choice for dipping into the egg yokes!
  10. Double the recipe to serve two

 

Kale, Coconut and Aubergine Dhal

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This is a recipe that I have developed over time to the point of perfection. The fragrant asian spices, the texture of the kale and lentils, the softness of the aubergine and the sweetness of the coconut all come together in this dish to create something so spectacular. If you need some healthy January inspiration but you can’t face cold salads in this weather, then this is the one! The fresh spices provide some excellent immune-boosting properties which are perfect for fighting off Winter colds, and the kale gives you that iron and B-vitamin boost your body might so desperately be needing right now! Aubergine has always been one of my favourite vegetables, and adding it to this dish was such a good move as it acts like a sponge, soaking up the coconut milk along with so much flavour from the tomato, spices and coriander.

Now January has begun I feel so ready to get back into a routine, eat lots of warming and nourishing foods and get fit and strong! Although this dish is so full of goodness, it also feels like the ultimate treat so you will not feel at all deprived! The recipe makes enough for four people, so why not nourish the whole family? Or alternatively be greedy and keep it all for yourself so that you have a delicious dinner to come home to every evening 😉 What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Kale, Coconut and Aubergine Dhal
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, grain free
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried split yellow lentils
  • 1 can coconut milk (Or 2 inches of a creamed coconut bar and 1 cup water)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 medium aubergine
  • 3 large handfuls of kale
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 brown onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • A 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 medium chilli
  • A handful of fresh corriander
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover with water
  2. Boil for around 30 minutes until cooked and soft
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  4. Dice the aubergine and place in a roasting tin and drizzle with the olive oil
  5. Roast for around 20 minutes until soft but not too browned
  6. Meanwhile, finely chop the onion, garlic and chilli
  7. Heat the coconut oil in a deep pan or wok on a low heat and add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook until soft
  8. Add the ginger, garam masala and cumin and mix well to release the flavour
  9. Add the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk or cream and water and continue to cook until the coconut is well combined (this will take longer if you're using creamed coconut)
  10. Remove the aubergine from the oven and add to the pan
  11. Add the kale and mix well, leaving this on a low heat for around 10 minutes to shrink down and soften, stirring occasionally
  12. Once cooked, drain the lentils and add the the pan
  13. Chop the coriander and add along with the salt and pepper
  14. Mix everything well and add a little bit of water if the dhal is too thick
  15. Leave to simmer for a further 5-10 minutes to combine the flavours
  16. Serve with brown rice or rotis

 

Leftover Roast Vegetable Crumble

crumble

It is always difficult to be creative after Christmas with your recipes, especially when you have spent so long building up to the big day. And there is always lots of food to use up that you have no idea what to do with! This is one of my favourite, easy meals that is delicious and nutritious and uses all ingredients that you will already have in your cupboard! The nutty flavour of the rich sauce compliments the sweetness of the parsnips and the bitterness of the sprouts perfectly in my dish, but you could use any vegetables you have. And for me, the more topping the better as it really makes this feel like a substantial meal. Alternatively, if you are stuck for side dish ideas and you have guests, this would be a great option! Serves two-three as a main or four as a side!

Leftover Roast Vegetable Crumble
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 medium parsnips
  • Approx. 15 brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1.5 tsp honey/brown rice syrup
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup cashews
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 4 slices bread of choice (I used sourdough but you could use a gluten free option)
  • 1 tbsp seeds of choice (I used sunflower)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  2. Peel and chop the parsnips into batons and place in a large roasting dish
  3. Chop the sprouts in half and also add to the dish
  4. Drizzle 1 tbsp of the olive oil and 1 tbsp of the honey or syrup over the veg and bake for approximately 20 minutes until soft
  5. Alternatively, use leftover, pre-roasted vegetables
  6. Meanwhile, place the nuts, water, pepper, salt, garlic, mustard/vinegar and 1 tbsp of the nutritional yeast into a processor or high speed blender and blend until smooth
  7. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and either transfer to individual baking dishes or leave in one large dish and add the peas
  8. Pour the nut sauce mixture over the top and mix until well combined
  9. In a separate bowl, break the bread into breadcrumbs and stir in 1 tbsp of the nutritional yeast
  10. Add the other 1 tbsp of olive oil and mix until combined
  11. Spread the breadcrumbs over the top of the vegetables until they are evenly covered
  12. Drizzle with the other 0.5 tbsp honey or syrup and place back into the oven for about 10-15 minutes until the crumble is golden brown and crisp and the sauce is bubbling
  13. Serve immediately

 

Honey and Thyme Roast Winter Vegetables

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This one is a delicious but simple side dish. It is important to pay attention to the vegetables that will accompany your main meal and ensure that they are really tasty and nourishing. For a completely vegan version, you can replace the honey here with brown rice syrup. I love the sweetness that the honey or syrup brings to this side, it balances out the slight bitterness of the sprouts perfectly and slightly caramelises the vegetables. A small amount of thyme makes a meal taste so festive and flavoursome. Don’t forget to season the vegetables well with a good amount of high quality salt (I use himalayan) and pepper. This recipe serves 4 as a side!

Honey and Thyme Roast Winter Vegetables
 
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Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 large carrots
  • 4 medium parsnips
  • Approx. 15 brussels sprouts
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp pure runny honey, or brown rice syrup
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  2. Peel and chop the carrots and parsnips lengthways into batons and place into a lined roasting dish
  3. Cut the sprouts in half and set aside (these take less time to cook)
  4. Drizzle the olive oil and apple cider vinegar over the vegetables and sprinkle on the salt and pepper
  5. Toss the vegetables until the oil is evenly distributed
  6. Drizzle the honey or syrup over the vegetables and garnish with the thyme, breaking off some of the leaves so that they are loose
  7. Roast for about 15 minutes and then remove from the oven and add the sprouts
  8. Mix the sprouts into the other vegetables to ensure they are covered with oil and place back into the oven
  9. Roast for about another 20 minutes until golden brown

 

Orange and Cranberry Christmas Fizz

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For a day of indulgence, a Christmas drink is definitely needed. Bucks Fizz is a tradition for breakfast here, and this is similar but has more depth and flavour. It is the perfect drink to serve the whole family as it is delicious on its own or with a shot of alcohol. Or why not serve something impressive at a Christmas or New Year’s party? I’ve even included instructions for decorating your glasses! The small amount of spice in this gives the cocktail something different, and a really festive feel. You could even make up the syrup in a larger amout and keep in a glass bottle until you want to use! The recipe given will serve 4.

Orange and Cranberry Christmas Fizz
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, grain free
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • The zest and juice of 2 oranges
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar + 1 tbsp for decorating (or 2 tbsp brown rice syrup + 1 tbsp coconut or other sugar for decorating)
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries plus extra for decoration
  • A pinch of ground clove
  • A pinch of ground cinnamon
  • A shot of pure vodka or gin (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place the orange juice and cranberries in a small pan and heat on a low heat for 10 minutes until the cranberries are soft
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the glasses
  3. Place the orange zest and 1 tbsp coconut sugar in a small bowl
  4. In another small bowl, fill 0.5mm with cold water
  5. Dip the rim of the glasses into the water, then into the sugar and orange zest mix (you could use any other superfood powder of choice in place of the orange)
  6. Once the cranberries are soft, add the coconut sugar or brown rice syrup and spices and stir until the sugar is dissolved
  7. Using the back of a spoon or a potato masher, mash the cranberries to release the juices
  8. Pour the syrup through a sieve into a jug or bottle
  9. Distribute the syrup evenly between the 4 glasses
  10. Top up with sparkling mineral or soda water and decorate with orange zest and cranberries

 

Smoked Paprika and Rosemary Coconut-Roast Potatoes

potatoes

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These are honestly the best roast potatoes I have ever made. Roast potatoes can still be a healthy treat and don’t have to be covered in animal fat! If, like me, you won’t be having meat with your Christmas dinner and want to make your side dishes a bit more interesting, this is the perfect thing. The flavours are not too overwhelming, and the coconut oil gives the potatoes such a crispy finish with a fluffy centre when you bite into them. If you don’t like smokey flavours, I would recommend substituting the smoked paprika for regular paprika, or a pinch of cayenne if you like a kick! I use Biona Cuisine coconut oil for things like this as it is steamed so it doesn’t hold such a coconut flavour. This is recommended if you don’t want to taint your potatoes. This recipe serves 4 as a side.

Smoked Paprika and Rosemary Coconut Roast Potatoes
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 medium sized roasting potatoes
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (I use Biona Cuisine)
  • 1 tbsp rosemary leaves, chopped
  • ¾ tsp sea salt or himalayan salt (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
Instructions
  1. Peel the potatoes and chop into pieces, about an inch thick
  2. Place the potatoes in a large pan with boiling water and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are soft when tested with a knife
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a roasting tray
  4. Drain the potatoes in a colander and shake well so that they become 'fluffy'
  5. Place into the roasting tray and put the coconut oil on top (the heat from the potatoes will melt it)
  6. Once melted, toss the potatoes until they are evenly covered in the oil
  7. Add the rosemary, salt, pepper and paprika and toss again
  8. Roast for approximately 25 minutes until crispy on the outside!

 

Cranberry and Apple Sauce

 

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I love this recipe as a homemade, authentic addition to a roast dinner. It is so rich and the perfect balance of sweet and tangy, and so much better than the stuff you buy in a jar! It also uses coconut sugar, a much healthier alternative to the sugar laden pre-bought sauces. No one should miss out on their favourite foods at Christmas, and there is usually a healthier alternative to most recipes, it just requires a little more time and patience! This sauce makes the perfect addition to meat, nut roasts and vegetables. You can use it either as a sauce on the side, or toss into roasted vegetables half way through roasting for a sticky glaze! Yum!

Cranberry and Apple Sauce
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, grain free
Ingredients
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ½ cup apple puree
  • The zest of one small orange
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • A tiny pinch of salt
  • 1 cup water
Instructions
  1. A tiny pinch of salt
  2. cup waterwater
  3. Place the water in a small pan with the cranberries and simmer on a low heat until the cranberries are soft
  4. Turn off the heat and drain out most of the water, leaving about 0.5mm at the bottom of the pan
  5. Using a potato masher, mash the cranberries into the water so that they break down
  6. Turn the heat back on low and add the coconut sugar
  7. Stir constantly until melted, then add the apple puree, orange zest and salt
  8. Heat on the lowest heat for about 5 minutes until well combined, stirring constantly
  9. Turn off the heat, leave to cool and transfer to an air tight jar
  10. Keep in the fridge until it is time to serve!
  11. *please note this will only last 3-4 days due to it not containing any refined sugar

 

Double Christmas Smoothie Bowl

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There is so much rich food at Christmas, healthy or not, that sometimes you just need a break and something refreshing. This smoothie is perfect to give you that extra boost and create a light meal after lots of indulgence. And it still has a Christmassy feel, and is the perfect consistency for some smoothie art! Why not get creative and give the family an exciting, healthy Christmas breakfast treat?! I would love to see your smoothie art!

Double Christmas Smoothie Bowl
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1.5 cup coconut water
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or powder
  • 1 apple
  • A handful of spinach or kale
  • 1 tsp moringa, spirulina or wheatgrass
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Place the bananas, 1 cup of the coconut water, the maca and the vanilla into a high speed blender and blend until smooth
  2. Place into a bowl or jar
  3. With no need to wash the blender, add the apple, greens, superfood powder of choice and cinnamon and ½ cup of the coconut water and blend again until smooth
  4. Add to the jar or bowl and create your design!
  5. **To make the holly: place two oval shapes of the green smoothie into the bowl on top of the banana smoothie. Using a knife, slowly draw out the leaves. Use fresh cranberries to create the berries

 

Thyme, Mushroom and Hazelnut stuffing

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I can’t really take complete credit for this recipe. I first tried it when my lovely friend Claire made it as a vegetarian option for her Thanksgiving dinner. And since then, I have adapted it and eaten it as my main dish for Christmas dinner. The rest of my family eat it as a side along with their meat. It is the perfect balance of moist yet crispy, and the hazelnuts provide such a lovely texture. The real flavour comes from the thyme, the mushrooms and the leak. It is not a strong flavour, although the thyme is most prominent, making for a real Christmassy treat. I tend to use good quality, rustic sourdough as the base, but you could use a bread of your choice, especially if you avoid gluten. The stuffing reheats perfectly in the oven, and therefore it is great for Boxing Day too!

Thyme, Mushroom and Hazelnut stuffing
 
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Recipe type: gluten free, dairy free, sugar free
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 100g hazelnuts
  • 1 large leek
  • 1 large onion
  • 10 chestnut mushrooms
  • 5-6 slices rustic sourdough or gluten free bread
  • ¾ litre vegetable stock (or ½ litre if not using the egg)
  • 2 tbsp thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius and toast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes or until the skin starts to crack
  2. Remove from the oven and leave to cool
  3. Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a deep pan or wok on a low temperature
  4. Finely chop the onion, leek and mushrooms and add to the pan
  5. Cook for approximately 10 minutes until soft
  6. Pour the mix into a large glass or ceramic roasting dish
  7. With no need to clean the pan, add the vegetable stock, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer on a low heat
  8. Simmer for approximately 10 minutes to reduce
  9. Meanwhile, rub the hazelnuts together to remove most of the skin and roughly chop with a knife, adding to the roasting dish
  10. Break up the bread roughly into crumbs and add this to the roasting dish
  11. Sprinkle on the thyme and use a wooden spoon to mix all of the ingredients in the dish together
  12. If using the egg, make a well in the middle and crack it into the mix
  13. Using a fork, beat the egg and mix into the rest of the ingredients
  14. Turn the oven up to 180 degrees Celsius
  15. Pour the liquid from the hob over the bread and vegetable mix evenly
  16. Place in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes until the top is crisp but not too browned (you may need slightly longer if not using the egg)
  17. Serve as a main for vegetarians or as a side with meat

 

Mulled Red Cabbage

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This is a recipe that I have made every Christmas for the last few years, and has become a family favourite. It is quite simple and doesn’t require too much attention (other than ensuring nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan) and therefore is an easy dish for multitasking whilst you focus on the rest of your Christmas dinner. This makes for a great side dish no matter what the rest of your Christmas dinner involves, and is a bit more interesting than just boiled vegetables, which is especially welcome if you are vegetarian or vegan! This recipe will serve 4 as a side.

Mulled Red Cabbage
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, grain free
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ½ a red cabbage
  • Juice of ½ an orange
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium apple
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Shred the cabbage with a knife into long, thin pieces
  2. Place in a deep pan with the water and put on a medium heat
  3. Place a lid on the pan and simmer for approximately 20 minutes until the cabbage begins to soften
  4. Drain out half of the liquid and add the orange juice
  5. Peel, core and dice the apple and add to the cabbage with all of the spices, salt and pepper
  6. Cover again and turn the heat down to low and simmer until the apple is soft and cabbage completely cooked (about a further 15 minutes)
  7. Mix the apple and spices into the cabbage well, drain and serve immediately

 

Raw Coconut Mylk Chocolate Almonds

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There is something so festive about Christmas markets and I have visited quite a few in the past couple of years. The crisp, winter air and the smell of mulled spices and log fires, there is nothing better to get you in the mood for all the festivities. I love the idea of all of the snacks that are served, even though not many are particularly healthy! Candied and chocolate nuts and fruit have become such a tradition, especially in Berlin where I visited last year, and are so addictive. This year I decided to create my own perfect snacking food, incorporating almonds, one of my favourite nuts, and one of my best recipes for raw chocolate. Adding coconut cream to this raw chocolate gives it a rich, satisfying milk chocolate texture, but in a dairy free way. I love the idea of dusting the chocolate with a festive spice, but you can adjust this part to your own tastebuds!

Raw Coconut Mylk Chocolate Almonds
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, grain free
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 100g almonds
  • 1 heaped tbsp. coconut oil or cacao butter
  • 1 inch piece of coconut cream bar or the cream from 1 can coconut
  • 1.5 tbsp maple or brown rice syrup
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • Ground cinnamon or nutmeg for dusting (optional)
Instructions
  1. Gently melt the coconut oil or cacao butter and coconut cream in a small over a bain marie
  2. Once melted, stir in the syrup, cacao powder and salt until well combined
  3. Place in the fridge for about 10 minutes until the mix becomes slightly thicker but not solidified (make sure you keep checking!)
  4. Remove the chocolate from the fridge and add the almonds and mix until they are all covered
  5. Line a flat baking tray or large flat plate with baking paper and spread out the almonds onto the paper
  6. Sprinkle with cinnamon if you wish to use and place into the fridge so that the chocolate sets
  7. Keep in the fridge and serve in small bowls or paper cones

 

Thyme-Roasted Warm Vegetable Salad

 

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salad

This recipe has both a vegan and non-vegan version. I know a lot of you don’t eat cheese, and I don’t eat it often but as I am not intolerant I do indulge from time to time, especially when it’s Christmas! Having said that, this recipe is equally as delicious without cheese, and why not add some cashew cheese instead?! The salad is full of flavour from the thyme, onion and other seasonings, and is so warming that it feels like proper comfort food. This would make the perfect salad to share with guests or family, and also the perfect break from all that heavy christmas food! The ingredients below serve two as a main dish or four as a side.

Thyme-Roasted Warm Vegetable Salad
 
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Recipe type: gluten free, grain free
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 2 large handfuls mixed salad leaves (I like rocket, spinach and watercress)
  • 2 medium fresh beet bulbs
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 cup crumbled goats cheese or feta or cashew cheese (optional)
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • A handful of mixed seeds (Or Punchfoods Mega Omega)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • A few chilli flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  2. Finely chop the onion and place in a lined, deep roasting tin (important to put this at the bottom so that it steams and softens rather than going crispy)
  3. Peel and chop the beetroot and squash into cubes and add to the tray
  4. Sprinkle the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper and chilli flakes over the veg
  5. Then remove the thyme leaves from the stalks and sprinkle over
  6. Using a wooden spoon, toss the veg slightly to combine the ingredients, keeping most of the onion at the bottom
  7. Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft
  8. Meanwhile, prepare the salad leaves in a bowl, or separate bowls if serving as a main meal
  9. Place the mixed seeds in a dry frying pan and toast for about 5 minutes on a low heat, then set aside
  10. Remove the vegetables from the oven once done, leave for about 5 minutes, then add to the salad leaves along with the goats cheese if using, so that it softens slightly
  11. Sprinkle on the toasted seeds and serve immediately

 

An Honest Christmas Pudding

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I never liked Christmas pudding. Or Christmas cake. Or mince pies. I couldn’t stand those hard bits of ‘candied peel’ or the glace cherries or currants. But this was unusual as I love anything festive and spiced. This year, when making my own Christmas recipes, I realised that a Christmas pudding didn’t have to be quite so traditional and I could still make a rich, fruity, spicy pudding that suited my taste buds. I am so happy with the results and have fed it to many willing participants who agree it is delicious and not far from the real thing. Furthermore, it is so healthy with no gluten, grains or refined sugar, so you can enjoy another traditional Christmas dish in a much more body-friendly way! My family have agreed to replace our usual Christmas pudding with this for the big day (after a taste test approval from my sister), and I am really happy that we will all be enjoying this all together! (Except for my dad, he is quite suspicious of anything unfamiliar!!).

An Honest Christmas Pudding
 
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Recipe type: gluten free, dairy free, grain free, sugar free
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup dried cranberries (sweetened with fruit juice, not sugar)
  • ½ cup sultanas
  • ⅔ cup chopped, pitted dates
  • ½ cup brandy (optional)
  • 1 large, unwaxed orange
  • 1 unwaxed lemon
  • ¾ cup ground almonds
  • ½ cup buckwheat/coconut/brown rice flour
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ½ cup apple puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, gently melted plus extra for greasing
  • 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (optional, but gives the pudding a rich flavour)
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 1 heaped tsp ground mixed spice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of clove
  • A pinch of salt
  • For the glaze:
  • The cream from one can of coconut milk (I use Biona, refrigerated)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp brandy
Instructions
  1. Place the cranberries, sultanas and dates into a mixing bowl and grate in the orange and lemon zest
  2. Juice the orange and pour this over the fruit with the brandy, if using
  3. Cover and leave overnight for the fruit to soak up the liquid
  4. The next day, add the apple puree, molasses, coconut oil, spices and salt to the fruit and mix well
  5. Add the ground almonds, flour, coconut sugar and baking powder and combine
  6. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and crack in the two eggs
  7. Beat the eggs together and then slowly mix into the rest of the ingredients
  8. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius
  9. Grease a small ceramic pudding basin with coconut oil
  10. But out a small circle of baking paper (I used an upside down glass as a guide) and place this into the bottom of the basin
  11. Pour in the mixture to the basin, it should come almost to the top
  12. Place a large circle of baking paper over the top of the basin (I used a plate as a guide this time)
  13. Using garden string, tie the baking paper over the top of the basin, then cover with foil
  14. Place the basin into a deep roasting tin filled with boiling water to make a bain marie
  15. Bake in the oven for approximately two hours until the pudding is firm to touch
  16. Either serve warm, straight away, or keep in the fridge for up to two days and reheat in the oven
  17. If you are not serving the pudding straight away, turn out of the basin to ensure it doesn’t stick and leave to cool. Wash the basin, dry, and then return the pudding to the basin and cover well to store.
  18. For the brandy glaze:
  19. Place the ingredients into a small pan on a low heat
  20. Whisk well to ensure a smooth glaze
  21. Once heated, pour over the pudding before serving
  22. *if you have any mixture left that doesn’t fit into the basin why not make an extra one or two extra individual puddings in small ramekins!

 

Beetroot and Rosemary Hummus

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Hummus is just amazing. There are so many different flavour combinations, it is quick to make, it is perfect for sharing and it is really healthy! And this is my festive version. I wanted something a bit different that would work really well as a snack over Christmas that people could dip anything into! I love to serve it with crudités for some raw goodness, and this particular flavour would work in harmony with my sea salt and rosemary festive crackers! It is an addictive snack perfect for Christmas afternoon, and before you know it, it will all be gone!!

Beetroot and Rosemary Hummus
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, grain free
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pre-soaked or canned chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 small beets, either pre-cooked or raw (peel and boil for approximately 30 minutes and then leave to cool)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary, plus extra whole sprigs for garnishing
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • ½ cup filtered water
  • ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp cumin
Instructions
  1. Place all of the ingredients into a processor and process for approximately 5 minutes until smooth
  2. Serve in a bowl with fresh rosemary to garnish

 

Salted Hazelnut Praline Truffles

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These are by far the best truffles I have ever created. When you bite into one, you wouldn’t even know it was healthy!! The flavour that roasting hazelnuts brings out is incredible and so indulgent. If you are a big Nutella fan, you will love these! And they are entirely sweetened by dates, no sweeteners or syrups are even needed. And you can use whatever kind of chocolate you like, or even a mix to add some variety into them. I have used a really dark chocolate as this gives a great combination to the sweet, soft and salty centre. I added the salt to make them slightly different and it is just enough to give them something unique but not be overwhelming.

These truffles make the perfect gift, and this has been tried and tested. You could present them to anyone and they would be seriously impressed, and probably not even guess that they were vegan and sugar free! I like to use small truffle boxes to present the truffles in, and tie them with pretty ribbon or string and a gift tag. Or they would look equally as nice in a cellophane bag tied with ribbon. Why not get creative! You could even roll the outsides in some different superfoods to add some different colours!

Salted Hazelnut Praline Truffles
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, grain free, sugar free
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1.5 cups dates
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 40g chocolate of choice (I would recommend using raw or 80% dark)
Instructions
  1. Set aside ¼ cup of the hazelnuts and place the rest in a roasting tin
  2. Roast at 150 degrees for 15 minutes until slightly golden and the skin is cracked
  3. Remove from the oven and leave to cool
  4. Meanwhile, place the uncooked hazelnuts into a processor and blitz for about a minute until they form small pieces suitable for rolling, and set aside in a small bowl
  5. Using a paper towel, rub the roasted hazelnuts together until most of the skin is removed and add to the processor
  6. Process for about 2 minutes until a smooth hazelnut butter begins to form
  7. Chop the dates and remove the stones and add them into the food processor along with the coconut oil and salt
  8. Process for about another 3 minutes until all of the ingredients are combined and smooth
  9. Line a flat tray or large plate (that will fit in the freezer) with baking paper or cling film
  10. Take out small handfuls of the mixture one at a time and roll into small balls about 1 inch wide (this can get quite messy due to the oil that is released so be prepared!)
  11. Place the balls onto the lined tray and once finished, place in the freezer to set for about 20 minutes
  12. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a small bowl in a bain marie
  13. Remove the truffles from the freezer and one at a time, roll them into the melted chocolate and then into the hazelnut pieces you set aside earlier (work quickly so that they don't melt too much)
  14. Once rolled, place them back onto the lined tray and place them back into the freezer to set
  15. Once set, store in an air tight container in the fridge. Best served straight from the fridge!

 

My Favourite Gingerbread

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OK, so I know that there are a lot of healthy gingerbread recipes out there, both vegan and otherwise, but this truly is my favourite gingerbread. I am so proud of this recipe and the ingredients that make it so unique. It is exactly as gingerbread should be; soft in the middle with a slightly crisp outside, a sweet, spiced flavour and easily mouldable into shapes. This is something that I wasn’t sure I could achieve in the form of a completely vegan, gluten and refined sugar biscuit, but I did! And it’s all down to one ingredient that I have not previously seen in gingerbread recipes; almond butter. This replaces the fat that you would usually find in gingerbread from the butter, and gives it the soft, biscuit-like texture. The dates naturally sweeten the gingerbread and also provide a great binding material that keeps the biscuit soft, yet dense. Gingerbread often uses treacle for a really rich, indulgent flavour. I have replaced this with blackstrap molasses that still gives that depth, and it works perfectly, although you can just replace this with more maple or rice syrup if you don’t have any to hand.

Last year I travelled to Berlin to enjoy the Christmas markets and tried lebkuchen (no, not very healthy) for the first time. The texture was almost a cross between a macaron and gingerbread; crispy but light on the outside and soft in the middle. These are often coated in chocolate, which gave me the idea for decorating my (much healthier) gingerbread. With a steady hand, dark or raw chocolate can create some great designs! I also love using desiccated coconut as this sticks easily to the melted chocolate and resembles snow!

Top Tip: I made tree decorations by using a straw to cut out a hole in the shape prior to cooking and they came out perfectly with a hole just big enough to thread through some ribbon! They make great decorations as they last at least a week as they do not contain any animal products.

My Favourite Gingerbread
 
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Serves: 20
Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups buckwheat flour plus extra for rolling
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (optional)
  • ½ tbsp brown rice or maple syrup (or 1 tbsp if not using the molasses)
  • 1.5 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground mixed spice
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
  • 40g raw or 85% dark chocolate (for decoration)
  • 2 tbsp dessicated coconut (for decoration)
Instructions
  1. Place the dates, coconut oil, almond butter, molasses and syrup into a high speed processor and process for about 5 minutes until smooth
  2. Add the spices and salt and then gradually add the buckwheat flour, adding a bit at a time and processing in between
  3. Preheat the oven to 130 degrees celsius
  4. Once all ingredients are combined, gather the dough into one ball and turn out onto a sheet of baking paper dusted with buckwheat flour
  5. Place another sheet of baking paper on top and roll with a rolling pin until about 5mm thick
  6. Cut out desired shapes and gently place onto a lined baking tray
  7. If you want to hang your decorations, use a straw to cut a hole into the shape
  8. Keep re-rolling and cutting until all of the mixture is used
  9. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes until the biscuits are well bound but still soft to touch
  10. Remove the gingerbread and leave to cool
  11. Once cool, melt the chocolate in a bain marie and decorate using a steady hand, adding decorations of your choice

 

 

Spiced Poached Pears

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When all the rich Christmas food has got too much, this is the perfect light and refreshing dessert. And with the addition of some raw chocolate sauce or dairy free ice cream, you can make this treat as indulgent as you like! I love that it is so quick to make, yet such an impressive and attractive dessert to serve to guests with minimal effort required! Just arrange the pears and spices on your prettiest plate and voila!

If anything is Christmas on a plate then this is! It is such a great way to fill the house with a festive aroma. Although the cinnamon sticks and whole star anise are not essential, I really recommend them to give the dish that extra something special! The ripeness of your pears dictates how long it will take to cook through, and I would recommend using pears that are ripe enough to eat as these have much more sweetness. The coconut sugar adds a caramel note to the syrup, although if you prefer, you could use brown rice syrup or maple syrup instead.

Spiced Poached Pears
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, grain free
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe pears
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbps coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • A pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Holding the pears by the stalks, gently peel off all of the skin with a vegetable peeler
  2. Place the pears in a pan and pour in the water
  3. Add all of the spices and salt and coconut sugar and bring the water to a gentle simmer
  4. Cover with a lid and gently simmer for about 10-15 minutes, turning the pears every couple of minutes, until a knife easily passes through the pear
  5. Serve by removing the pears first and then pouring the spiced syrup over
  6. Decorate with the cinnamon and star anise

 

Warm Apple and Walnut Quinoa Salad

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I love how versatile this dish is. It is perfectly delicious on its own, or served as a side with roast veg, fish or meat. It also makes a great stuffing. Why not try it stuffed into a large flat mushroom or a winter squash? It wouldn’t even be out of place as a meat substitute on your Christmas dinner plate. Full of protein from the quinoa and walnuts, this is a really satisfying meal or side. And I am currently obsessed with the complimentary tang that apples can bring to a lot of savoury dishes! (Did you see my parsnip and apple soup?!)

One of the best things about experimenting in the kitchen is discovering unusual combinations that work really well! Sage is a herb that I have never used much in the past, but has become a real favourite of mine this winter. It compliments winter vegetables so well and works perfectly in stews and risotto. Sage has a really hearty, comforting flavour which makes it a great addition to any vegetarian dish, especially if you are using the dish as a meat substitute! I really hope you all find this recipe as versatile as I do, and I would love to see how you decide to use it!

Warm Apple and Walnut Quinoa Salad
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (preferably homemade or without palm oil)
  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 medium eating apple
  • 1 small brown onion
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • A good amount of freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Place the coconut oil in a medium pan on a low heat and melt
  2. Finely dice chop the onion and add to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until soft but not browned
  3. Add the stock and the quinoa to the pan and bring to a simmer
  4. Simmer for approximately 5 minutes
  5. Meanwhile, peel, core and dice the apple
  6. Add the apple, sage, smoked paprika and black pepper to the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes until the quinoa is cooked and the apple soft
  7. Turn off the heat and gently mash with a fork to blend the apple in slightly
  8. Add the chopped walnuts and stir
  9. Serve with more walnuts and fresh sage leaves on top

 

White Chocolate and Cranberry (no) Cheesecake

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OK, cacao butter is expensive, I know it is, but it is Christmas after all and if Christmas isn’t the best time to indulge in something extra special then I’m not sure when is! I wanted to make something festive and raw that could be a real centrepiece, but something that was a bit different to all the other raw cheesecakes out there. I don’t actually find cranberries a particularly versatile ingredient; fresh cranberries are very sour and it is hard to seek out dried cranberries that don’t contain a higher percentage of sugar than cranberry. However, this recipe contains just the right amount to add a contrast to the sweet, white-chocolate and vanilla filling and sticky date base,  without being too bitter. I have added a tiny bit of lemon juice to replace the tangy ‘cheese’ flavour you would find in a normal cheesecake, and it brings out the flavours really well.

If you aren’t keen on Christmas pudding, this would make the perfect alternative Christmas day dessert. Or you could impress your friends at a Christmas party. Although the recipe says it serves 8, it could be cut into many more pieces as it is so decadent and just a tiny bit is satisfying. I really like this cheesecake served straight from the fridge as the cacao butter allows it to set really well and be easily cut. And why not have some fun decorating the top with your favourite festive ingredients? I chose to use fresh mint leaves and frozen, frosted cranberries as these gave the dessert a proper  Christmas makeover. I would love to see how some of you choose to decorate your Christmas desserts!

White Chocolate and Cranberry (no) Cheesecake
 
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Recipe type: vegan, raw, gluten free, grain free, dairy free, sugar free
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 200g medjool dates, pitted
  • 200g cashew nuts, soaked overnight
  • 100g almonds
  • 100g cacao butter
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • The juice of half a lemon
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup/brown rice syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla powder (or seeds from 1 vanilla pod)
  • A pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Place the almonds and salt in a processor and blitz for a minute
  2. Add the dates and process again until well combined with the almonds
  3. Line a push-up tin with clingfilm and press the mixture into the bottom, smoothing with the back of a spoon dipped in hot water if needed
  4. Place in the freezer
  5. Meanwhile, place the cranberries in a pan of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes until soft
  6. Drain them, add 1 tbsp of the maple or brown rice syrup and mash slightly with the back of a spoon and set aside
  7. In a bain marie, melt the cacao butter
  8. Place the cashews in a processor and process until smooth
  9. Add the vanilla, cacao butter, lemon juice and 3 tbsp of the maple or brown rice syrup and process again until combined
  10. Add the cranberry mix to the processor and blitz on the pulse setting for about 5 seconds until evenly spread but not blended (you still want pieces of cranberries!)
  11. Remove the tin from the freezer and pour the topping on top of the base
  12. Smooth with the back of the spoon and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving
  13. Decorate with fresh mint leaves and cranberries for a stunning Christmas centrepiece!

 

Rosemary and Sea Salt Crackers

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Getting the snacks right is really important at Christmas. Christmas day after all, is a day of snacking. These crackers are something for the whole family, no matter what their tastebuds. The flavours are subtle but satisfying, and just the right amount that they can be eaten alone or topped with other treats. They are perfect to be topped with cheese (dairy or vegan) and served on a platter with chutneys and fruits, or to snack on like crisps in front of an afternoon Christmas film.

If these are cooked thoroughly enough, they remain crisp and could be given as thoughtful, homemade presents! Why not experiment with a few different flavours to create your very own selection of ‘biscuits for cheese’? My poppy seed version is also in the snack section of my recipes for an alternative flavour idea!

Rosemary and Sea Salt Crackers
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, grain free
Serves: 18
Ingredients
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • ½ cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • 1.5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped, fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp finely ground sea salt or himalayan pink salt
Instructions
  1. Mix the flaxseed and water in a bowl and leave for at least half an hour until a glue-like substance has formed
  2. Preheat the oven to 140 degrees celsius
  3. Gently melt the coconut oil
  4. Add the coconut oil and all the other ingredients to the flax-water mix and combine well
  5. Line a couple of baking trays with baking paper and spread the mixture on, as thin as possible, in rounded shapes
  6. Bake for around 45 minutes until completely crisp with no soft areas
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely
  8. Store in an air tight container

 

Coconut Porridge with Spiced, Stewed Plums

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Recently all my body wants is warm, comforting food. Especially when I’m working during the day. But this is fine, as long as I can find a healthy balance of food that is warming and filling, but also nutritious. I have been making this porridge for a while, particularly at the weekends when I have a bit more time, and it is also an impressive brunch that you can share with the family or guests. It is easy to make and doesn’t require too much attention, and you could even stew a batch of plums and keep them in the fridge so that they are ready to go the next time you need them in a hurry! And I don’t really like rules, why not try a different fruit or a combination of what you have available?

I didn’t used to like porridge too much, that was until I discovered the variety of different things you could do with it! There are so many things you can add into the mix, or add on top to make it interesting and really nutritious. It is difficult to get bored when you can make it a completely different flavour each day! Although due to my limited resources at work, my staple breakfast recently has been almond milk porridge with chia seeds and raw honey, topped with bananas or raspberries! If you are organised you can still take your favourite food with you on the go. This Christmas recipe is complete guilt-free weekend indulgence for me, and perhaps my perfect Christmas morning recipe, especially if we are not eating until later on in the afternoon…

 

Coconut Porridge with Spiced, Stewed Plums
 
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Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar free
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 cup porridge oats
  • 2 inch piece of a coconut cream bar
  • 1 tbsp maca or lucuma powder (optional)
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 3 tbsp raw honey/maple syrup/brown rice syrup
  • 3 plums, chopped and stones removed
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Nutmeg for topping
  • A handful of almonds, chopped
Instructions
  1. Place the plums and half a cup of water in a small pan on a low heat
  2. Cover with a lid and simmer for approximately 10 minutes until soft, stirring often
  3. Once soft, remove the lid and add 2 tbsp of the sweetener and the spices
  4. Using the back of the spoon, mash the plums slightly and stir in the spices
  5. Set aside and drain any excess liquid
  6. Now place the oats, coconut and 2 cups of water in a medium pan and heat on the lowest heat, stirring constantly
  7. Once the coconut has melted and the oats begin to absorb the liquid, add 1 tbsp of the sweetener and the superfood powder
  8. Stir again and remove from the heat once the liquid is absorbed and the consistency is to your personal tastes
  9. Serve the coconut porridge in bowls and top with the plum mixture
  10. Sprinkle the chopped almonds and a dusting of nutmeg on top and serve immediately