Saturday, 30 June 2012

Back to Basics


Being human, I find it easy to fall back on the easy option sometimes. That’s all fine… Until it becomes a habit and you stop living your life to the full. Because the easiest option is rarely the best option.


As a vegetarian it’s very easy to become overly reliant on snacks like nuts, bread and dairy products. These all taste great with absolutely minimal effort.



When you’re hungry and you have the choice between popping a pitta bread in the toaster and slathering it with pb + jam versus spending 30 minutes chopping vegetables and slaving away over the cooker to make a soup most of us will choose the first option because its convenient and comforting.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attacking peanut butter. Peanut butter is the bomb.



But sometimes high fat foods like nuts and dark chocolate are just a bit heavy on your system. Regardless of the fact that these are really healthy foods they shouldn’t be the basis of our diet.



Fruits and veggies should make up at least 50% of what we consume in my opinion. They’re light, filling and packed with nutrients. Unfortunately raw veggies don’t really pack as much flavor as their higher fat plant buddies do.



So here’s two delicious recipe’s that can be prepared in under 20 minutes and taste just as good as soft and chewy peanut butter sandwich. For optimal speed efficiency prepare the hummus while the soup boils. Race ya to the stove!


Herby Hummus


  • 2 tins of chickpeas
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • juice of ½ lime
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • handful of fresh coriander
  • handful of fresh parsley
  • handful of fresh mint
  • ¼ cup of water (You can use oil if you want a richer hummus but this one is meant to be light on your system)
  • sliced scallions to garnish
  • cucumber circles and wholemeal pitta to serve


1.     Pop all the ingredients into the blender and blitz the living daylight out of them until a smooth consistency is reached.




Creamy Honey, Ginger and Parsnip Soup


  • 2-3 parsnips
  • ½ a cauliflower
  • a decent lump of ginger (the amount depends on personal taste)
  • 2 small onions
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 200ml soya milk
  • salt to taste
  • fresh herbs to garnish


1.     Chop the vegetables finely. The smaller they are, the quicker they cook.
2.     In a soup pot, sautee the onion in a little water. Meanwhile boil some water.
3.     Add the chopped cauliflower, ginger and parsnips to the pot. Add enough boiling water to cover the vegetables but not enough as that they float apart. Boil for 10 minutes.
4.     Add the honey, salt and soya milk. Blend until smooth.
5.     Add water or extra soya milk until it is as thick or thin as you like. Heat and serve with a garnish of fresh herbs.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Say what?


Don't you just love the look on peoples faces when you tell them their chocolate mousse is made from avocado? Or that their brownies are made from beans. Or that ice cream is really blended tofu. 



Maybe it's really mean but I totally get my kicks from that. I think it's hilarious. 



But just don't tell them until after they've eaten it. Otherwise they'll discriminate against your baked goods :(



Anyway I saw cauliflower chocolate cake on Chocolate Covered Katie so I decided to have a look around to see what other recipes were going. As yummy as Katie's recipe looked I thought these looked a little bit richer.



Having used up all my coconut flour for my buns I decided to give buckwheat flour a go in its place. I also randomly picked up macadamias the other day so I decided to chuck them in.



I wasn't sure how these would turn out and when I tasted them hot I was a little bit disappointed. But I'm always disappointed by the flavour of hot baked goods. I think flavour is more intense in cold goods. Anyway when I guzzled half of one of these the following day post run, pre tennis lesson (which was paid for with brownies :P) I was in shock. They we're the nicest brownies I'd made since I stopped using Nigella Lawsons recipe (that is the dirtiest page in all of my cookbooks...).

Cauliflower Macadamia Brownies


Ingredients:
  • 1 cup cauliflower puree (boil half a cauliflower, puree til smooth and measure 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup soya milk
  • 40g dark chocolate (I used greens and blacks)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 oz cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Stevia or sugar to taste (I used about 1/3 cup stevia)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • 3 handfuls of macadamia nuts

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate on the stove.

3. Meanwhile blend together the cauliflower, cottage cheese, soya milk, eggs and agave.

4. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. 

5. Add the chocolate butter mixture to the cauliflower mixture.

6. Fold wet mix into dry mix and add chocolate chips and macadamias.

7. Grease a baking tray (or two depending on the size) and pour in the batter.

8. Cook in the middle of the oven for 20-30 minutes depending on how deep your baking tray is. Make sure not to overcook these as brownies should never be dry. 

Friday, 22 June 2012

In the A.M. hours

Last night I woke up at 4 a.m. 



It was raining outside and I could hear our range oven buzzing away in the kitchen heating the house. I was too warm to sleep and didn't fancy the idea of tossing and turning for hours.



So I surfed the internet for a while on my phone until I ran out of credit. God damn it, that's 10 euros in two days! Oh well. That's what I have a job for right? 



So I had cupcakes on the brain and no recipe. I took to the kitchen in the early hours and did what I do best; improvised. I even cleaned the house while I waited for them to cook.



 My cupcakes came out great. And I actually managed to save them 'til the morning. I literally took the tiniest crumb off the side just to make sure they were good. Wow. Definitely worth waiting for. 



I then noticed that the fruit bowl was positively brimming with orange. I swear to god, we go through 2 bunch of bananas in 3 days but one bag of oranges lasts us 2 weeks.



 It's because we're all far too lazy to peel them. So I decided that I must save the citrus fruit before it all rotted and went all smelly and mouldy.



I began peeling about a dozen orange, something I usually hate doing. The juice always sprays all over me. But it was surprisingly theraputic in the early hours when everything was quiet and the sun was just beginning to peak up over the hills.



 Usually I like music when I cook and clean but the silence was really beautiful. You don't get much silence when you have two younger brothers, a dog and seperated parents.



So after I'd left the kitchen spotless and all the pretty buns laid out I snuck back into bed. I felt like the tooth fairy or something. Though according to my mum the toothfairy would probably be quieter while unloading the dishwasher.


Bright eyed and bushy tailed after my late night adventure. 
I guess I had to make a tropical feast to make up for the crappy weather. Come to think of it, this counts  as my midsummers eve celebration right?

All the Bits Orange and Lime Juice.


Ingredients:

  • 10 oranges
  • 2 limes

1. Peel the oranges and put the in the blenders. Segment if your blender isn't very high power.

2. Squeeze the lime juice into the blender. 

3. Blend for 2 minutes. Pour into a jug and cool in the fridge


Coconuty Buns.


Ingredients:

  • 65g spelt flour
  • 40g coconut flour
  • 80g xylitol
  • 1 packet of stevia
  • pinch of salt
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • 40g desiccated coconut
  • 25g olive oil
  • 40g soya milk
  • drop of vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • oil spray

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

2. Sift the flours into a mixing bowl. Add the salt, xylitol, coconut, stevia and baking powder. Stir to combine.

3. Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, olive oil and soya milk. Add them slowly to ensure no lumps.

4. Spray a bun tray with oil spray or line with paper cases. Spoon the mixture into the tray. It should be enough for 8-9 buns.

5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes until light brown on top and dry inside.










Rewarding

Thursday must have been the crappiest midsummers day in the history of midsummers days... But I kicked myself out the door for my run anyway... It ended up being about 3 miles longer than the estimated 5 miles I'd mapped out in my head and by the time I was on the homeward stretch I was already absolutely wrecked. And all I could think about was eating chocolate pancakes with peanut butter, banana and maple syrup while lying on my couch watching The Big Bang Theory (my new obsession). 



The only problem was by the time I got home it was lunch time and I had a nagging feeling I should prooooobably eat some vegetables. Not that I have a problem with vegetables obviously, I just really wanted chocolate pancakes. And totally deserved them :P



Along came a courgette in a cape... He flew from my fridge into my hand and sqweeked ''please use my subtle flavour and crunch in a chocolate pancake''. Well me and the Caped Crusader go way back so I agreed to try out his suggestion. 



I added raisins for a bite of extra sweetness and give the whole thing a ''tiffin square'' kinda feel. If you're feeling extra naughty feel free to top with the caramel sauce from my caramel squares recipe.



I guess the run wasn't so bad after all...


I swear... It's like instant chocolate brownies for lunch... What more could you want.

Courgette Tiffin Pancakes



Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • 40ml soya milk
  • 1 egg
  • drop vanilla essence
  • half a courgette, grated
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 packets of stevia or 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tbsp chocolate chips
  • oil spray
  • maple syrup, banana and peanut butter to top.

1. Stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and sweetner.

2. Add the egg, vanilla and soya milk and whisk to a smooth batter. 

3. Stir in the courgette, raisins and chocolate chips.

4. Spray the pan with oil spray and cook the batter. I made one big pancake and cut it into quarters but you could easily make smaller ones. Make sure its cooked on both sides and poke it with a fork to see if it's cooked inside.

5. Top with maple syrup, banana and peanut butter. Scoff immediately with sickening enthusiasm.

Monday, 18 June 2012

A Pleasant Surprise


You know when you just kinda chuck a bunch of ingredients into a pot and don’t expect much of it but then it turns out to be surprisingly amazing. Sometimes the best results yield from the least effort.



This was one of those magic pots. I had a bag of slightly wilted, sad looking spinach lurking in the back of my fridge just begging to be used up. This was the magic answer.



The trick to spinach soup is you’ve got to add ingredients that will thicken the soup a lot like potatoes or beans otherwise you’ll end up with a sad watery mess that hardly qualifies as a broth. You’ve also got to inject it with a big bang of flavor. Leeks add great flavor to soup. They’re technically part of the onion family but I think they pack a bigger flavor punch.



The colour and flavours in this soup just sing of summertime. It’s a beautiful pale green with dark green specks. The herbs are mellow yet flavoursome. And it’s ready in 15 minutes. No slow cooking needed…


Spinach, haricot and summer herb soup


Ingredients:
  • 200g spinach
  • 1 tin of haricot beans, strained
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 2 stock cubes
  • 200ml milk of choice
  • 1 tablespoon sage
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de provence
  • natural yogurt, fresh mint and rosemary to garnish
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil


1.     Sautee the leeks in coconut oil for 10 minutes.

2.     Add the herbs, haricot beans and spinach and cook for a further 5 minutes so the flavours can mingle.

3.     Dissolve the stock cubes in 300ml boiling water. Add to the pot. Add the milk and blend the soup until smooth. Add more water or milk if you like.

4.     Heat to desired temperature and serve with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped mint and rosemary.



Sunday, 17 June 2012

Cream of the Crop


I recently made a very exciting purchase…


Drum roll….



I bought an ice-cream maker! Yeah baby!



So far I’ve only used it twice due to the miserable weather. But I swear it was soooooo worth the dough we splashed out on it. Especially with the price of ice cream these days. 7 euro for a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. And if you choose a healthier indulgence a tub of Booja Booja raw cashew ice cream will cost you a whooping 9.50. You could probably make your own for half the price!



I’ve gone down the frozen yogurt route both times seeing as it’s so cheap (I get organic tubs of yogurt for 1 euro in Lidl) and easy. This recipe is the first flavor I made and it is beautiful. I was inspired by a homemade facemask my friend Nina and I made the day before hand from yogurt, honey and banana. It was so good I wanted to eat it instead of putting it on my face….



The walnuts were inspired by the Ben and Jerry’s flavor ‘’Funky Monkey’’. Walnuts and bananas are just meant to be together!



If you don’t have an ice-cream maker but you have a high power blender you can blend the ingredients, freeze them and blend them again to get that creamy consistency.



If you are using an ice cream maker make sure your bowl is frozen the night before hand otherwise your ice cream will end up being a milkshake. (Not that I have a problem with milkshakes!).


Walnut, banana and honey frozen yogurt.
 

Ingredients:

  • 250ml natural yogurt
  • 1 packet stevia
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 handfuls walnuts
  • 1 mashed banana
  • Optional: Drop of vanilla essence


11. Mix the honey with the yogurt, banana, vanilla and stevia together. Stir in the walnuts.

  2. Pour the mixture into the ice-cream maker and freeze for 20-30 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved.