Sunday, 19 April 2015

Easy Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins

I have to share this recipe because it is so simple, delicious and extremely popular with kids! And healthyish...

These were thrown together to take to a picnic when I didn't have much in my cupboards (a recurring event in my life), and I've made them many times since. I find that my kids always enjoy simple and plain baked goods over fancy or complicated ones.

I really like these too. They have that trademark dense yet cakey muffin texture and a purity that is rare in my baking because I usually try to boost the nutrition in my baking my adding seeds, nuts and whole grains. I still ultimately prefer whole grain and refined sugar-free muffins, but these are very, very good and perfect for kids!

Easy Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins (makes 7 large muffins)

1.5 cups plain flour (I have also included wholemeal spelt flour with success - you can also use self-raising flour and omit the baking powder)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup vegan choc chips
pinch of salt
3/4 cup soy milk
2 tbsp oil
dash of vanilla

Combine the dry ingredients. Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir until just mixed. Put the mixture into greased or lined muffin tin (makes about 7 large muffins). Bake at 180C for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

7 Easy Raw Dessert Recipes

I must admit that I tend to glaze over when I'm reading a raw dessert recipe that requires ingredients I don't usually have on hand (like Irish Moss paste!), equipment I don't have (Vitamix or food processor that is less than 12 years old) and seems overly involved (10 layered raw cakes).

I love the process of making up raw sweets that are reasonably simple to make (along with interruptions from kids!) and are satisfyingly sweet in a nourishing and healthy way.

As you will see, I've been doing this a lot lately!

I really need to spend less time creating raw desserts, and more time planning dinner. My kids will have memories of me running around the kitchen like a mad scientist, rummaging through the cupboards and fridge for ingredients and blending very loudly, with no dinner to show for it!

Here are some of my recent raw dessert creations. I've been posting them on Instagram, but I want to record them all in one place here. The only advanced prep you may need to do is soaking, and they can all be made in about ten minutes flat. There's freezing time of course, but if you're impatient like me you'll end up sampling them before they've properly set!

Raw Lime Mini Cheesecakes (makes 12-14)

1/2 cup almonds
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup packed soft medjool dates
pinch of salt

1 cup soaked cashews
1/2 cup chopped avocado (about half a large avo)
1/4 cup lime juice (about 3 large limes)
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/4-1/3 cup water, as needed to reach smooth consistency
4 tbsp melted coconut oil

To make the base, grind almonds and coconut to a coarse powder in a blender. Transfer to a food processor and process with the dates and salt until the dough starts to stick together. Press into 12-14 mini muffin cups.

To make the filling, blend all filling ingredients until smooth. Pour onto bases and freeze for about 2 hours.

Raw Coconut and Ginger Squares

1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup walnuts
2-3 tbsp liquid sweetener (I used rice malt syrup)
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
dash of vanilla and salt

1/2 cup soaked cashews
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
3 tbsp liquid sweetener
1-2 tbsp water
1-2 tsp fresh grated ginger (depending on how strong you want it - taste as you go!)

To make the base, grind the coconut and nuts to a coarse powder. Transfer to bowl and add sweetener, coconut oil, vanilla and salt. Press into a small square dish lined with baking paper.

To make the topping, blend all ingredients until smooth. Spread on top of base and freeze for about two hours. Cut into squares!

Apple Pie Balls (makes about 10 small balls)

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup almonds
4 soft medjool dates
3/4-1 peeled and chopped apple
dash of cinnamon and salt

Grind oats and almonds to a coarse powder in a blender. Add dates, apple, cinnamon and salt and process in food processor until the dough starts to stick together. Roll into balls.

Raw Plum Pudding (makes 2 small servings)

1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup chopped plums
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/8 cup water
1 tbsp melted coconut oil

Blend all ingredients until completely smooth. Put into two small dishes (or 1!) and refrigerate for about an hour. I topped mine with coconut yoghurt and more plums!

Raw Lime Strawberry Cups (makes about 10)

1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup freeze dried strawberries
1 tbsp nut butter (I used peanut butter)
pinch of salt
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp melted coconut oil

1/2 cup soaked sunflower seeds
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/3-1/2 cup fresh sliced strawberries
juice of 1 lime
dash of vanilla

To make the base, grind almonds, oats and freeze dried strawberries to a powder. Mix in nut butter, salt, maple syrup and coconut oil. Press into a mini muffin tray (makes about 10).

Blend all filling ingredients until smooth and spoon on top of each base. Freeze for at least 2 hours.

Vanilla "Nicecream" with Date Caramel

4-5 frozen bananas
Liquid sweetener to taste
Non dairy milk as needed
dash of vanilla

Date caramel
4 soft medjool dates
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
3-4 tbsp water as needed
dash of vanilla and salt

In a food processor, process frozen bananas with sweetener to taste, dash of vanilla and non dairy milk until smooth and ice cream-y.

Blend all caramel ingredients until smooth.

Top the nicecream with caramel and walnuts!

Fig Lemon Bliss Balls (makes about 12 balls)

1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup almonds
3/4 cup dried figs (about 7)
pinch of salt
squeeze of lemon
grated lemon rind from one lemon

Grind the cashews and almonds to a coarse powder. Transfer to a food processor and the rest of the ingredients. Process until the mixture sticks together. Roll into balls.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Castle Birthday Cake + Other Party Food!

I have to be careful what I pin on Pinterest these days because Sylvia now knows how to find and scroll through my "kid's stuff" board. She selects whatever takes her fancy and "orders" it (her terminology). Luckily, the castle birthday cake she chose from there for her 5th birthday was within my capabilities!

This cake took a while to make and decorate, but it was not difficult. It was a lot of fun and definitely worth it. Sylvia and I did the cake decoration together. It was simple enough that she could do a lot of it herself and she loved it. Sylvia was very happy with the result. She told me that it looked even better than the picture we copied it from. In my sleep-deprived pre-party delirious state, I almost burst into tears of relief and joy! My only goal was that she love it.

I copied the cake from this picture. I made three square tins of vanilla cake (same cake I made for the Easy Car Cake) and two round chocolate cakes (recipe from the Oh She Glows Cookbook).

For the bottom, I placed two of the square vanilla cakes on top of one another and cut the other square vanilla in half and placed the halves on top of each other to make a rectangle base (I didn't have appropriate rectangular trays, but obviously this would be easier!). Then the two round chocolate cakes went on top sandwiched together. The filling between the vanilla cakes was vanilla pastry cream (same I as I used for my trifle) and the filling for the chocolate cakes was chocolate pastry cream (just 2 tablespoons of cocoa added to a batch of vanilla pastry cream). These fillings were brilliant! All of the cake was then covered with a lot of vanilla buttercream icing with a bit of red colouring in it to make pink.

Pre-decoration - note Sylvia in the background!
For the decoration, we used Oreos, lollypops (instead of the marshmallows in the original photo), ice cream cones, ice cream wafers and lifesavers for the drawbridge put onto skewers.

Here is some of the other food we had, all selected by Sylvia!

Sandwich snake
Fairy bread spirals
Choc chip pikelets with chocolate spread
The fairy bread spirals and sandwich snake are ideas from a Woolworths magazine. We also had jelly shots (I managed to find vegan jelly!) but I forgot to take a photo.

Here is some of the other food geared more towards the adults. Not pictured are the usual and unbeatable sausage rolls, my mum's amazing vine leaves and fruit.

Banana muffins
Spinach dip

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Raw Brazil Nut Fudge

Poor brazil nuts are so underrated. After all, they are the universally discarded nuts from mixed nuts packets - am I wrong?!

I love brazil nuts, so I decided to create a raw sweet to honour them.

This fudge is so luscious and rich. It melts in your mouth. The chocolate topping just completes the swoon!

Raw Brazil Nut Fudge

1.5 cups brazil nuts
2/3 cups rolled oats
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
3 tbsp liquid sweetener (I used maple syrup)
dash of salt and vanilla

Chocolate topping
2 tbsp each of melted coconut oil, maple syrup and cocoa/cacao

To make the fudge, grind the brazil nuts and oats together until they form a fine powder. Add the coconut oil, sweetener, salt and vanilla. Press (or pour - the mixture is actually soft and a bit runny, but don't worry it does set!) into a loaf tin lined with baking paper and pop it in the freezer.

Make the chocolate topping by whisking the oil, cocoa and maple syrup together.

Spread this over the top of the fudge.

Freeze until set!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Raw Tahini Shortbread with Coffee Icing

I'm so excited to share this recipe!

I'll admit that there was a fair bit of luck involved in the creation of this raw dessert. It involved throwing around quite a few random ingredients in my feverish need for something sweet and I was so pleasantly surprised at the result. There was a lot of exclaiming going on as I sampled it directly from the freezer, beckoning other people in the household to come and try it!

The shortbread base is biscuit-y and crisp, which is really delicious with the soft and smooth coffee icing. This comes together in a flash too, with ingredients I always have on hand.

Raw Tahini Shortbread with Coffee Icing

Shortbread base
1/2 coconut flour
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup liquid sweetener
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
dash of salt

Coffee icing
1/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup soft medjool dates
4 tbsp brewed coffee
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
dash of vanilla

To make the base, mix the ingredients together and press into a small container or dish lined with baking paper.

To make the icing, blend all ingredients together until smooth. Spread over the shortbread and freeze until set, about 2 hours.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Raw Raspberry Cheesecake

I have figured out that as much as I love it when I have an opportunity to buy raw desserts ready made, it leaves me feeling a bit sad that I haven't been able to make it myself! I enjoy the process of "raw baking" and seeing the heaps of healthy ingredients that transform magically into rich and gorgeous desserts.

I made up this simple recipe to satisfy a craving for a basic creamy raspberry cheesecake. I was a bit short on time and flustered (which is always when I seem to crave these desserts) so I couldn't be bothered searching for a recipe.

I really like the hazelnut and oat crust, which is quite thick. This isn't a tangy cheesecake - it's more creamy, fruity and sweet. I sold it as "ice cream" cake to the kids, and they liked it!

Raw Raspberry Cheesecake

1 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup oats
1 cup soft medjool dates
pinch of salt

2 cups cashews (preferably soaked)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/3 cup agave
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup raspberries (thawed if using frozen)

To make the crust, grind the hazelnuts and oats to a coarse powder in a blender. Pop into the food processor and add the dates and salt and process until it starts sticking together. Press into a cake tin.

To make the filling, blend all the ingredients until smooth. This took me quite a few minutes. Pour onto  the crust and freeze for a few hours or until set.

Healthy Mini Choc Chip Cookies + Other Lunch Box Ideas

Sylvia has started preschool for her second year! I'm quite excited about experimenting with different foods for her lunch box. Really, it's just an excuse for me to make amounts of food that far surpass the needs of this household, but she needs something in her lunch box right?

These little beauties were very popular with both Sylvia and Lexie. They are so cakey and cute! And they can be made in ten minutes from start to finish! I've adapted them only slightly from our favourite wholesome chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Healthy Mini Choc Chip Cookies (makes about 18 mini cookies) (adapted from Live.Love.Learn.Eat )

1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup sunflower oil
dash of vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour (half plain, half wholemeal)
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup vegan choc chips 

Whisk together the maple syrup, oil and vanilla. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and choc chips. Combine, roll into balls and slightly flatten. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 180C.

Here are a few other things I've tried with success.

This seasoned sushi rice stuffed into cucumbers was adored by Sylvia. I got this idea from Play.Love.Vegan.  

This malteser slice from Like a Vegan is very addictive. It contains malt extract syrup and vegan white chocolate to hold the slice together. It's great for lunch boxes because it holds together when when not refrigerated. 

These pizza bread sticks were something different - pizza dough made with semolina, spread with nutritional yeast mixture and twisted. This recipe is from Vegan Lunch Box

Any other lunch box ideas are welcome!

Related: Baking for preschool lunches
Vegan lunch boxes for preschool