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

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Rich Chocolate Chia Mousse + Other Healthy Chocolate Adventures

I've changed a lot from the days when I used to come home from uni or work feeling a little flat and consume a whole block of dairy chocolate. 

Or have I?  

I went to see a movie on my own a few weeks ago (total bliss), and I ate almost a whole block of chocolate. Yes, it was organic and raw, but I guess the tendency is still there!

These days I mostly gravitate towards more wholesome and raw chocolate sweets. 

It all started with my raw chocolate cupcakes

Then I made these raw cakey brownies from Feasting with Fruit. They're made with only cocoa, oats and dates but are so delicious! I ran out of dates so improvised a yummy raw icing out of blended banana, cocoa, coconut oil and maple syrup. So decadent!

Then my partner's sister very kindly made me this: 

The BEST chocolate mousse I've ever had! It's a Jamie Oliver recipe, made with avocado, coconut cream, melted chocolate, cocoa, maple syrup and vanilla. I'll definitely be making this myself. I love it when non-vegan friends introduce me to new vegan recipes!

On a chocolate roll, I made up this rich chocolate chia mousse to use up some thickened coconut cream (I use Alpine) I had lying around in the fridge. It's probably more of a dessert, but I had it for breakfast. It's very creamy and thick after being in the fridge overnight. I loved this one a lot!

Rich Chocolate Chia Mousse

1/2 cup thickened coconut cream (coconut yoghurt would probably work)
1/2 cup soy milk
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp chia seeds 
2 tbsp maple syrup/agave or to taste
dash of vanilla

Combine all ingredients and pop in the fridge overnight. Toppings as desired!

Monday, 19 January 2015

Raw Chocolate Cupcakes

So, my raw dessert obsession has reached new heights since my visit to Sadhana Kitchen!

These little gems came together the other day when I felt like something chocolatey. They are indulgent, nutty and rich. A great bite sized snack or dessert to have on hand in the freezer!

Raw Chocolate Cupcakes (makes about 12 mini cupcakes)

1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup soft medjool dates

1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 tbsp cocoa
dash of vanilla
pinch of salt

2 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp agave/maple syrup
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
2 tbsp cocoa

Blend the cashews, walnuts and coconut together until a coarse powder. Transfer to food processor and process with the dates, peanut butter, cocoa, vanilla and salt until the dough starts to stick together. Press the mixture into a mini muffin tray (it makes about 12). 

Blend the icing ingredients together and spread on top of the cupcakes. Place in the freezer until set. Store in the freezer. 

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Sadhana Kitchen: Sydney Organic Wholefoods and Raw Cafe

I've been wanting to go to Sadhana Kitchen for ages so I was very excited to have lunch there recently with a friend. A little too excited, perhaps. As my friend suggested: "You should get out more often!" Ha!

In short, this place is basically food heaven for me. As much as I love cooking, I do sometimes dream about having a personal chef to cook me all the food I adore. Which is the kind of food at Sadhana. So sitting down to eat all of this gorgeous and nourishing food prepared by someone else, and not having to worry about the kids being entertained, not destroying the place etc., was a total treat!

To start with, we had some Better Than Tim Tams, just to make sure we could fit in as many sweets as possible! Chocolate cream between cashew cookies coated in raw chocolate. Yes, definitely better than the original biscuit! Rich and indulgent.

We moved onto legitimate lunch food. I ordered Sadhana Lasagne, layers of zucchini pasta, cashew cheese, pesto, walnut mince, spinach and tomato sauce. This was absolutely amazing. The tangy creamy cheese really made this dish.

My friend ordered Prana Pad Thai, kelp and zucchini noodle, salad, veggies and raw pad thai sauce. This was lovely and fresh, but I think the lasagne really stood out.   

We also had smoothies with our lunch: The Daily Green and Smooth Criminal. Very refreshing!

I wanted to order every single one of the raw desserts on display. My friend decided on the Mango Float Cheesecake. The texture of this was so creamy and light. 

I chose the White Chocolate Banoffe Pie. I'm not sure what was in all the layers, but it was one of the best raw desserts I've ever had.

I have no idea why anyone would eat the traditional dairy and egg laden versions of these desserts when these are an option. I love the care taken with every detail of these desserts.

I can't wait to go back. Check out the Sadhana menu if you're interested, or even better, go there to support this brilliant place. 

Sadhana Kitchen
147 Enmore Rd. Enmore, Sydney

{I have not received any compensation for this review. These are my independent thoughts!}

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Easy Carob Fudge

At my primary school canteen, they used to sell carob buttons. I tolerated them and didn't mind the flavour (faintly minty it seems to me), but I do remember viewing carob as a poor chocolate substitute.

Ricki Heller's carob fudge, on the other hand, is a totally delicious sweet in its own right and, as Ricki says, will make a carob lover out of anyone!

After reading Kari's post on a carob latte (which I am looking forward to making tonight), I'd had it in my mind to give carob a chance. I hadn't eaten it in years. It seems that most carob bars available contain milk solids. So when I saw some pure carob powder recently in a health food shop, I grabbed it! 

I had to make a few changes to Ricki's recipe based on the ingredients I had on hand. Instead of the stevia and the vegetable glycerin/yacon syrup, I used 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 2 tablespoons of agave. I also substituted peanut butter for the almond butter. 

The result is gorgeously rich and melts in your mouth. Everyone loved this, even Sylvia and Lexie. Give it a go!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

101 Yummy and Healthy Breakfasts!

I used to skip breakfast. Now I'm planning what to eat for breakfast as I drift off to sleep! 

And how could I miss one more opportunity to cook and experiment with food?!

Ice cream breakfasts

I have been loving eating variations of "soft serve" ice cream made with frozen banana and other frozen fruits this summer. 

Mango and banana 
Apricot and banana 
It's like magic! You just blend frozen fruits (in food processor) with a bit of non-dairy milk, sweetener such as maple syrup or agave, and vanilla. Add toppings as desired!

Banana and raspberry

Raspberry, banana and cherry
Eggy breakfasts

I certainly don't miss eating eggs, but I love these faux egg recipes using chickpea (besan)flour. 

I've raved about these scrambled eggs before. So delicious!

This spinach omelette is also really really good. Actually, I might make this for lunch!

Muffin breakfasts

I love muffins, even more than cupcakes! My favourite breakfast muffins are the bran muffins from How It All Vegan. I usually add raspberries or blueberries. 

I tried these almond apple muffins the other day and was really impressed by them. They have no flour or oil!

Toast breakfasts

I love toast for breakfast when I can find bread I really like. 

Avocado with nutritional yeast is a favourite with Sylvia and Lexie. 

I love tahini, molasses and nutritional yeast. This is an idea from The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook.

Porridge breakfasts

This overnight raw buckwheat cashew porridge is my absolute favourite at the moment. It is divine topped with fruit and walnuts. 

This is my standard cooked porridge recipe. I use 1:3 oats to liquid ratio, and stir in ground flaxseed after the porridge has cooled a bit. I love the texture of this! 

These are my overnight oats (without the raspberries) with puréed stawberries, agave and vanilla on the top. 

Raw desserts breakfasts

It is totally legitimate to have raw desserts for breakfast!

This is my raw hazelnut caramel slice that I've been known to have for breakfast on occasion.

I made this amazing raw strawberry cheesecake for our friends on New Year's Eve. Loved this so much! And the leftovers were the best breakfast to start the year with.