Cashew “nutella”

I was in a health store yesterday after coffee with my girlfriends and at the entrance were 2 plates of little bread squares – one with chocolate macadamia spread and the other with cashew spread. The former was divine but a bit too sweet for my taste (owing to the added sugars).

This morning, my daughter asked me for a sandwich as her post-gym snack. I couldn’t help but think of a chocolate spread, so off we headed to the kitchen to whip up this delectable spread.

It’s so easy, you could have your kids help out (or lick – ahem, I mean clean – up after). What’s better is that this can be tweaked to your taste. Want it sweeter, add more dates; like it chocolatier, add more carob; don’t have cashews/sunflower seeds to hand, use hazelnuts or peanuts. In short, the quantities don’t matter much.

Carob is naturally sweet – nature’s chocolate – so you don’t need to add sweetner like you would if using cocoa powder. I might try a version with cocoa powder to see if it’s any different, but I quite like taste of carob 🙂

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Ingredients

  • Dates
  • Carob (powdered or pods) – I had pods
  • Cashews
  • Sunflower seeds

Preparation

  • Soak the dates, cashews and sunflower seeds while you prep your carob.
  • If using carob pods, wash them well and boil for 20 minutes to get the seeds out. If you want it raw, grind them in your food processor and fish out the bits of hard seed. I did the latter.
  • Add the dates, cashews and seeds and a little bit of the water they soaked in to the carob and blend again. You might have to do this in batches.
  • Keep adding as much water as you need to attain the desired consistency.
  • Serve on bread or crackers.

“Leafy” Fruit Salad

I recently visited a friend who lives out in the country side, on a golf course. Her husband is a very talented artist (you can see some of his extraordinary work here – Frank Rosenzweig) who has helped me design some pretty awesome business cards.

This salad was served for lunch and it rocked! I must have helped myself to 3 servings (and that was me holding back!). This is a sweetish salad – perfect for a meal/dessert combo.

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Serves 8 -10

Ingredients

  • 1 pack rocket leaves
  • 1 pack lamb’s lettuce (if you can find baby spinach leaves, add them too)
  • 500g pack of vine ripened cherry tomatoes (first quarter these and half each quarter)
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1 punnet of blueberries
  • 2 ripe mangoes, diced
  • 4 figs (first quarter these and half each quarter)
  • 2 avocados, diced

Mustard vinaigrette dressing

  • 3 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice)
  • 3 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons water (optional)

Preparation

  • Combine all the salad ingredients in a large serving bowl.
  • Combine the ingredients for the dressing.
  • Add the dressing to the salad bowl and toss again.

 

 

 

Raw Vegan Orange and Blackberry “Cheesecake”

This is by far the BEST cheesecake I’ve made! Really, you have to eat it to believe how good this is. I took it to a summer party in August and it was ALL gone!

The icing on the cake (literally) – the berry “sauce” – was made with wild, organic blackberries picked from a massive blackberry bush we found growing in our neighbourhood (No one told me the ordeal I’d have to endure to hand pick these babies – eaten alive by mosquitoes and skin ripped by thorns – now I know why they’re so damn expensive to buy).

I didn’t get a chance to take pictures (that’s how good it was!), so for now the featured picture in the link below will have to do 😉

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Source: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/recipe-raw-orange-and-blueberry-cheesecake/

The spring-form pan I used was about 23 cms so I doubled the quantities below. This recipe has been adapted from One Green Planet’s Raw Orange and Blueberry “Cheesecake”:

Ingredients

Crust 

  • 2 cups mixed raw nuts
  • 1 cup sultanas (dates and raisins will work too)

Orange Cheesecake

  • 3 cups cashews
  • 3/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • zest of all the oranges you juiced

Blackberry Layer 

  • 2 cups fresh blackberries (you could use any type of berry here – fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup of the orange cheesecake mixture

Preparation

  • For the crust, process the nuts and sultanas in a food processor until the nuts have become crumbs and the mixture sticks together when you press it. Press into the bottom of a spring-form pan and put in the fridge.
  • To make the orange cheesecake, blend all ingredients (except orange zest) until very smooth. Add in the orange zest and mix with a spoon.
  • Reserve 1/4 cup of this mixture for the berry topping – pour the rest onto your crust and put in the freezer.
  • To make the berry layer, blend the berries and the 1/4 cup of cheesecake mixture until creamy or still with small pieces of blackberry (depending on preference). Spread this over your cheesecake and keep in the freezer overnight (if you can wait) or transfer to your fridge.

Enjoy with sliced oranges and berries.

 

Black Bean Burgers

I’ve been on the hunt for a vegan burger that mimics the meat version (anyone who’s newly “turned” will know what I’m talking about here). It’s not easy to get the right consistency so that it doesn’t fall apart, and still keeping it moist.

I came across a recipe by Cookie and Kate which I must say produced pretty good results. It uses sweet potato, quinoa and black beans. I experimented with baking the patties and frying them. The baked ones won hands down!

You could substitute the quinoa for bulgur and perhaps even the black beans for another kind of bean you have in your pantry (I haven’t tried it, but if you do please do let me know how it turns out).

Instead of the buns, I wrapped my burgers in lettuce and served them with homemade ketchup.

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So here it is, the exact recipe from Cookie and Kate’s Black Bean Burgers:

Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds sweet potatoes (smaller potatoes cook faster)
  • ⅓ cup uncooked millet or quinoa (or 1 cup cooked)
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats (use certified gluten-free oats if you are avoiding gluten)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups cooked black beans)
  • ½ small red onion, diced
  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder or smoked hot paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne powder (optional, to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • High quality vegetable oil for cooking burgers (or coconut oil, if you don’t mind the coconut taste, olive oil may burn)
  • 8 whole wheat hamburger buns (optional)
  • your favorite burger fixings (avocado or guacamole, tomato or pico de gallo, lettuce, sprouts, ketchup, hot sauce, mustard, pickles, cheese)
Preparation
  • Roast the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (about 200 degrees Celcius). Slice the sweet potatoes down the center lengthwise. Place the sweet potatoes cut side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until they yield to a gentle squeeze, 30 to 40 minutes or longer. Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin (it should pull off easily) and roughly chop the insides. Set aside to cool completely.
  • Cook the millet: In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to boil. Stir in the millet, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender (about 25 minutes). Drain off any remaining liquid and set aside to cool. OR cook the quinoa: Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh colander, then combine with ⅔ cup water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to boil, then cover and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let the quinoa steam with the lid on for 5 minutes. Then drain off any excess water and set aside to cool.
  • Grind the oats: Use a food processor or blender to grind the oats until the flakes are broken up, but not as fine as flour.
  • Mix the burgers: In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your electric mixer, combine the cooled sweet potatoes and millet, black beans, onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, chipotle or paprika, cayenne (optional, add to taste for spicier burgers) and salt. Use a potato masher, big mixing spoon or the paddle attachment of your mixer to mix really well. It’s ok if the black beans get smashed in the process.
  • Mix in the oats: Sprinkle the ground oats over the mixture and mix well with a big spoon until the mixture holds together when you shape a portion into a patty. If possible, cover and refrigerate the mixture for best results (the patties will hold together better during cooking if they are chilled first).
  • Shape the burgers: Use a measuring cup to measure out ½ cup of the mixture. Gently shape it into a patty about 3½ inches in diameter. Use your hands to gently flatten the burgers and smooth out any jagged edges. Repeat the process for each patty; you should end up with 8. If you would like to toast your hamburger buns, preheat the oven to 350 degrees now.
  • Pan fry the burgers: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, place several burgers in the pan, leaving enough room to flip them. Cook each patty until browned and heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet for each pan of burgers you fry.
  • Toast the buns (optional): Place the buns on a baking sheet, cut sides up, and bake until lightly toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Asian Soba Veggie Bowl

I never appreciated Asian food until I moved to Europe. I also never appreciated the Sun shining all year round, and that for 22 years I’d evaded the “winter blues” – a term I thought was exaggerated lol!

Being in the Northern hemisphere has made me realise how much I need warm weather and food bursting with flavour and spice.

As Autumn descends on us and the skies turn a permanent shade of grey, the Asian in me is coming alive. You will find me using generous sprinkles of chilli and squirts of sriracha sauce on EVERYTHING!

Here’s a recipe I came across on Cookie and Kate. It has everything I love – sugar snap peas, soba noodles and sriracha. I adapted it to include soy beans, red pepper and extra sriracha. The sriracha I bought has a decent oomph to it, if yours could do with some then add some extra chilli flakes.

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Serves 8-10

Ingredients
  • A pack of soba noodles
  • Pack of frozen soya beans (you can sub edamame here)
  • Pack of frozen sugar snap peas
  • 8 medium/small carrots, grated
  • 3 Large or 5 small red peppers, diced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh coriander (I couldn’t find fresh, so left them out)
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
Ginger-sesame sauce
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • juice of 2 small limes
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup (or any other sweetener)
  • 3 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha (plus chilli flakes if desired)
Preparation
  • To make the sauce: whisk together the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Bring 2 pots of water to boil. In one cook the soba noodles according to the instructions. Drain and rinse in cold water.
  • In the other pot, cook the soy beans (according to package instructions).Towards the end of the stated cooking time, add the sugar snap peas. Once the peas are warmed through, drain.
  • Toast the sesame seeds in a pan until brown. Be sure to stir them around frequently so they don’t burn.
  • Add the noodles, veggies, beans and peas in a large serving bowl and combine.
  • Add the prepared sauce and toss again.
  • Top with the toasted sesame seeds and coriander.

Enjoy!

Simple Late Summer Salad

I love a good salad. For some reason, this year hasn’t seen very many of them feature on my dinner plate. I remember it being a lunch time staple in my pre-(ve)gan days, and thought I should give it a go again despite the constant craving for hearty meals. This salad was so simple to throw together, I was done 15 minutes, and had my little girl to “help”.

You could throw in any raw veg you have lying around – not much you can do to mess this up.

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Makes about 10-12 servings

Ingredients

  • Lots of leaves – lamb’s lettuce, romaine lettuce, rocket (feel free to use spinach, kale or anything leafy that’s in season). I used the entire bag of lamb’s lettuce and rocket, and half a head of romaine lettuce
  • 5 small carrots, grated or sliced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 2 small red bell peppers, chopped
  • 500g pack of cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 4 tbsp sultanas (I’m in love with these lately so was very generous in adding them – you can reduce the amount or sub raisins)
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds, roasted
  • 2 Tbsp sunflowe, roasted
  •  2 tsp flax or chia seeds
  • Himalayan sea salt (optional – i omitted it)

Prepration

  • Mix the leaves and veggies in a salad bowl
  • Top with raisins and seeds.
  • Serve as is or drizzled with a little olive oil.