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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!
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
2 tsp honey or maple syrup
STAGE 1: 5 HOURS
Gently heat the milk in the microwave to about 30 degrees celsius and place in a large bowl
Add the starter, 1.5 cups of the flour and the tsp sugar and combine until smooth
Cover with cling film and leave for at least 5 hours to ferment
STAGE 2: 8 HOURS
Gently melt the butter and add to the preferment mix
Zest the orange and add the zest, along with 3 tsp of the mixed spice and the cinnamon and mix well
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
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)
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)
Place the sultanas in a bowl along with the other 1tsp of mixed spice
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
STAGE 3: 5 HOURS
Once proved for at least 8 hours, turn out the dough onto a floured surface
Make a hole in the middle of the dough and drain any remaining liquid from the fruit
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)
Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces with a knife and role into balls, then slightly flatten
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
Cover with cling film and leave for a minimum of 5 hours to prove
STAGE 4: BAKING
Once proven for at least 5 hours, preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
Make the paste for the crosses by mixing 3 tbsp strong white flour with 6-7 tbsp water and combine until smooth
Pour the paste into a piping bag and carefully pipe on the crosses
In another bowl, beat the egg and honey, then carefully brush this mixture over the buns with a pastry brush
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown and slightly firm to touch
Leave to cool before breaking the buns apart
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
Half the cream from the top of a can of refirdgerated coconut milk
½ tsp himalayan salt (or good quality sea salt)
Fill a large bowl or dish with boiling water
Break 160g of the chocolate into squares, setting the rest aside, and place in a slightly smaller bowl
Place the bowl of chocolate inside the bowl of water and stir until the chocolate is completely melted
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!)
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
Place back in the freezer for 10 minutes until solid and then use more melted chocolate to fill any holes or thinner parts
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius and roast the pecans on a baking tray for approximately 10 minutes until lightly toasted
Place the pecans in a processor and process for about 5 minutes until a butter is formed
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)
Place 1 tsp of the mix into each of the eggs, smoothing the surface of the caramel with the back of a spoon
Gently remove the eggs from the mould and place on a flat surface
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
Take another half and sandwich the two together to seal the egg
Immediately place back into the freezer for 5 minutes
Make sure you work quickly so that the eggs do not melt in your hands!!
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!
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!
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!
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
Place the ground almonds in a bowl and mix the superfood powder with the almonds until well combined
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
For the eggs, roll into small balls and then shape slightly at the top
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!
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!!
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!
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!
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!!
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!
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.
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!
I wasn’t completely sold on the idea of Mince Pie Brownies to start with (chocolately, fruity, spicy, cakey… they sounded like there was just too much going on), but as these were a request I decided to give them a go. And I was actually pleasantly surprised. Who knew someone who dislikes mince pies, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding could be a convert? It all comes down to the fact that when you make a recipe that is wholesome and pure from scratch, you have the power to adjust anything to your own tastebuds. After all, it is the ‘glace’ cherries, ‘candied peel’ and currants that I am not keen on, but when you make your own mincemeat from sultanas, dates and apple, it becomes a whole other story.
Considering the amount of cacao and carob in this recipe, you would expect the chocolate flavour to be overwhelming, but it is actually quite subtle. The result is a rich, fruity, moist brownie with such a festive feel. I cannot recommend these enough, and I have tried them on colleagues and housemates who approved! They are the perfect Christmas snack to take into work or serve at a party or with afternoon tea. If you want a real treat for dessert, why not serve these warm with brandy sauce? (Note to self, must try this next time…)
I hope you all manage to get your heads around the chocolatey, spicy, fruitiness and enjoy these as much as I do!
Has anyone else always loved vegetable crisps more than your average potato chip?! Sweet potato, beetroot, parsnip… you name it! And they are surprisingly easy to make, too. When I made these at my Parents’ house, I came downstairs an hour later and the bowl was half empty. These are the perfect snacking food, whether you are entertaining guests or snuggling up on the sofa to watch a Christmas film. Christmas is the best day for constant snacking, and this way it is a little more guilt-free!
The honey that I have added to this recipe gives the crisps a sweet, aromatic flavour, whilst the black pepper adds a contrasting heat that is really warming. If you are vegan and you don’t eat honey, you could replace this with maple syrup or brown rice syrup for the same effect. Top Tip: When left for a long period of time, the crisps tend to soften slightly, but popping them back in the oven on a low temperature for about 10 minutes brings them back to their crunchy texture!
For me, anything spiced is an absolute dream: apple and cinnamon, chai lattes, fennel tea… especially when it reaches Autumn and Christmas is in sight. The key to fighting those sugary, comfort food cravings during the cold winter is to ensure you always have delicious, healthy snacks on hand. I love the versatility of muffins these when I make up a batch, as I can take them to work for 3pm tea time, share them with colleagues and friends during catch ups and occasions, and they also make the most amazing dessert when you toast them and serve with some (dairy free) ice cream or coconut cream! For breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner these are the ultimate, guilt-free treat.
The brown rice flour in this recipe allows for a nice crisp top on the muffins and adds texture, whilst the diced pear locks in the moisture and prevents the cake from becoming too dry. And if you have a different ripe fruit to use up, why not give it a try and see which flavour combinations you can come up with! The muffins are best kept fresh in the fridge as they only contain natural sugar, and then serve gently heated or leave at room temperature for a couple of hours if you don’t like them too cold. Enjoy!
This isn’t my most original recipe, but it’s a classic and one that you definitely develop to meet your own tastes. I served this to friends at a party and many asked for the recipe so I decided to post it. This is the recipe that I use as a base, but I often add other ingredients for different flavours such as an avocado, 2 roasted peppers or steamed beetroot. Hummus is such a good way to add interest to salads, serve at parties with crudités or as a protein snack. The smoked paprika and cumin give the hummus a fuller flavour without the need for too much garlic!
Did you ever used to make gingerbread as a kid and love eating the raw dough?! I think I almost preferred the dough to the cooked biscuits! Well, it just so happens that these taste exactly like that sweet, sticky, spiced mixture that you used to spend hours rolling out and decorating! However, these are much quicker to make and completely guilt free! They have become a staple in my packed lunches and something I like forward to at around 3pm with a cup of tea for that mid-afternoon energy boost.
These are so packed full of goodness. Ginger is great for inflammation and soothing the stomach. The Maca gives a great energy boost when it is needed, especially during the afternoon! The chia seeds expand to fill you up. The walnuts provide vitamins and protein and that slight bitterness which compliments the sticky medjool dates, providing sweetness and fibre. So all in all, these are a pretty great snack to have to hand! I like to keep them in a jar in the fridge as this keeps them fresher for longer and stops them getting too sticky.
I am so happy to finally be posting this recipe as I have been waiting to share it with you all for a while! Yesterday I was lucky enough to be able to attend a picnic in Regent’s Park with lots of wonderful plant-based foodies. We shared some amazing food that everyone had prepared and chatted food, favourite London hideouts and lifestyle tips for hours! I had decided to take these brownies with me as a form of ‘recipe testing’, which I was slightly nervous about due to the number of people with such beautiful accounts attending! But they were received really well and I was even asked for the recipe, so here it is…
Although they are baked at a low temperature, these brownies still have quite a ‘raw’ texture due to the amount of wet ingredients. However, this makes them really rich and fudgy and satisfying and means you only need a small piece at a time. They are really great straight from the fridge as they hold together well this way, or alternatively gently heated in the oven or microwave and served with dairy free ice cream for the ultimate, indulgent dessert! I often make a batch of these and then freeze them so that I have dessert at hand when I am craving something sweet. You can pop them straight in the oven on a low temperature from the freezer if you don’t want to wait!
I made this jam as a healthy alternative to traditional jam to go with my Hot Cross Buns for Easter Sunday. This recipe is so simple and delicious and can go with most things! I really love the texture and simplicity of this recipe, so that it doesn’t distract from the flavours of it’s accompaniment. Make sure you plan ahead and make this the night before it is needed, or at least a few hours so that there is enough time for the chia seeds to expand. This jam works in perfect harmony with my vegan, gluten free hot cross buns which are in the ‘Snacks’ section of my blog. The jam will keep for up to a week in an air-tight jar. The recipe is enough to make one small size jar!
Admittedly, I’ve never been a huge fan of traditional hot cross buns or fruit cake, but this recipe was developed from a cinnamon roll experiment and the texture and flavour provided a fantastic result, not far from the real thing! The secret ingredient (see below!) and dates mean that the amount of sweetener needed is kept to a minimum, using just 1 tbsp of honey or maple syrup. This isn’t the simplest of my recipes but the result really is worth the effort and it means that no one misses out over the bank holiday weekend! These are vegan, gluten free and sugar free so that the whole family can enjoy guilt free! I know I will be having these as a light dinner on Easter sunday with a cup of tea after a hearty family meal at lunch time.
The psyllium husk powder used in the hot cross buns gives them a moist, bread-like texture so that they do not crumble. These are perfect cut in half and grilled, then smothered with strawberry chia jam (see my recipe for strawberry orange chia jam, coming soon). Enjoy a lovely, healthy easter weekend!
I really wish that I had invented this recipe earlier and in time for Christmas. The rich, yet delicate flavours combined with the warming hints of clove could almost have you fooled that it is early December once again. However, as an advocate of all things spiced, I will happily make this recipe over and over again throughout the year. I recently packaged a batch of these beauties up and presented them to my mum for her birthday. She was more than impressed!
When purchasing dried cranberries, always look for those that are naturally sweetened with a fruit juice such as apple juice or pineapple juice (some dried cranberries contain up to 70% added refined sugar!!).
These crackers are such an easy, versatile snack that really keeps me full, especially at work. They are full of protein and have a mild flavour, making them the perfect accompaniment to most dips. I love them dipped into homemade hummus or guacamole, and they’re perfect to have on the table at a party or as an easy snack with afternoon tea. I will definitely be experimenting with variations of these so stay tuned for some exciting flavours!
These truffles make such a quick, easy and tasty gift (if you don’t eat them all yourself first!). I purchased some really cute flatpack chocolate boxes online and have given them to friends for Christmas and Birthdays and they have never disappointed. The cacao butter gives the truffles a luxurious, rich flavour and helps them to set in the fridge. The dates add a natural sweetness and prevent the truffles from setting solid, giving them a smooth, fudgy texture. The possibilities are endless for experimenting with different flavours!