Sugar-Free Spiced Pumpkin Granola (gluten free, vegan)

August 24, 2013 § 5 Comments

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I love muesli. Actually it’s fair to say I lived solely on cereal for most of my twenties. Weetbix, muesli, granola, Ricies, even junk food like Nutrigrain. Especially junk food like Nutrigrain. It’s all coming out now.

I still have a love affair with sweet muesli and milk, but these days I prefer the healthier homemade (and vegan and gluten free, naturally) variety. Now that I no longer have a dehydrator I can’t make grawnola, but with this current sugar-free kick and a special on pumpkins in our organic box delivery I came up with this spiced pumpkin granola to satisfy my addiction.

Serve for breakfast, lunch or dinner with coconut yoghurt and non-dairy milk. Feel free to make this muesli your own: add nuts and seeds if you like, or dried fruit – use what you have in your cupboards.

Spiced Pumpkin Granola (gluten free, nut free, vegan, sugar free)
1/2 pumpkin
1/4 cup xylitol (or other granulated sweetener)
10 drops stevia (optional)
1/2 cup soy milk (or rice, oat, almond, whatever you prefer)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground dried ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 cups gluten free rolled oats
1 cup puffed rice
1 cup puffed millet
2 cups desiccated coconut
1 cup buckwheat groats

Preheat oven to 180degC. Chop pumpkin into large pieces, removing skin and seeds. Place in an oven tray and bake in oven until tender (about 25 minutes but all ovens are different). Don’t let it burn. Remove (leave oven on but turn down to 90degC) and while it’s cooling, place oats, puffed rice, puffed millet, desiccated coconut and buckwheat in a large bowl and stir to combine.
In a blender or food processor place cooked pumpkin and all remaining ingredients and blend until it makes a thick, smooth paste. Add this to the bowl and stir well to combine. I used my hands to make sure it the dry ingredients were all coated in the paste. On two baking trays, split the mixture evenly and distribute so it makes a single layer. Place trays in oven and cook for about an hour – check from 40 minutes or so. You want it dry and crispy. Alternatively if you have a dehydrator you can dry it in there overnight instead.
Once dry to the touch, remove and let cool. Store in an airtight jar. Serve with fruit and coconut yoghurt with a splash of non-dairy milk.

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Gluten Free Vegan Brandy Snaps and a Grateful Lunch

August 19, 2013 § 2 Comments

I’m not sure why, in the infancy of my first attempt to go sugar free, I decided it was a great idea to ask my Facebook likers which favourite childhood treats they’d like veganised and healthified. One week in and my butt has landed firmly on the ground next to that wagon. The question turned up many Kiwi treats I used to love: lamingtons, lolly cake, caramel slice, afghans, mushrooms in the grass, ginger crunch (you can find my recipe for that here), along with a couple of new ones (in case you’re wondering, poofy stuff is apparently fruit salad or tinned pineapple with whipped cream).
My top pick had to be brandy snaps – my Nanna used to make these at Christmas and we’d scoff the lot in under five minutes. So I got to veganising this classic – I tried to make a healthier version first using date paste but they turned into warm soggy pancakes. The final version uses coconut oil instead of butter, coconut sugar instead of white death, brown rice flour instead of white death and coconut cream instead of whipped white death. I’m not sure how many more of these recipes I can veganise right now, I’m keen to get back on the sugar-free buzz, but anything I can sub in stevia or xylitol instead I will experiment with.

Before I made myself sick eating the brandy snaps I made an awesome lunch with a salad inspired by watching Nigella last night, and a new creation I was hoping the kids would like – which they did, success! So here are three recipes, all for you.

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Veganised Brandy Snaps (vegan, gluten free, nut free)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp ground dried ginger (if you like it extra gingery, add another tsp)
5 tbsp brown rice flour

Heat oven to 180degC and line a baking tray with baking paper. Place coconut oil, coconut sugar and maple syrup in a saucepan on a very low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved and mixture is well combined. Add ginger and stir, then add rice flour, one tablespoon at a time, stirring well to combine each time. Once you have a smooth glossy liquid, spoon a tablespoonful onto the baking paper and make a thin circle. You should be able to fit 6 on a tray. They need to be done in batches so keep mixture warm (or you can gently reheat) for the next batch. Place in the heated oven for 6-8 minutes, checking constantly. It needs to go a little browner and be in long enough so that it goes crispy once it cools but you have to catch it before it burns. Remove from oven and let cool for a minute or two until it’s firm but still pliable, and use something round to roll them onto – I used the handle of an icecream scoop and a wooden muddling stick. Both worked fine. Let cool until you can remove, then pipe with the whipped coconut cream (recipe here) by placing cream in a small plastic bag and cutting a little corner off then squeezing.

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Angel Hair Vegetable Fries
1/2 large kumara or sweet potato
1 carrot
1/2 large beetroot
1 tbsp avocado oil
1 tsp dried rosemary or other dried herbs (I used the Braggs salt free herb seasonings)
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 160degC. Using a julienne slicer, slice all vegetables and place in a bowl with oil, salt and herbs. Massage to combine then place on a well greased tray. Place in oven for around 20 minutes or until crispy – keep an eye they don’t burn. Serve hot with a green salad.

P.S. I also promised an update on my son’s health post-Dr visit. The long and short of it is he has an overgrowth of a bad bacteria known as clostridia, which creates spores, gut dysbiosis and a whole host of other issues related to this, most notably in Roman mineral and vitamin deficiencies, an inability to break down oxalates (hence no nuts, seeds, spinach etc), low seratonin (explains his bad moods and poor sleeping) and bad bowels. We’re not sure how the overgrowth occurred in the first place – it normally happens after antibiotics when the flora is disturbed however he has never had them so it’s a mystery at this stage. Unfortunately the only available treatment are targeted antifungals and antibiotics along with strong probiotics and cutting all sugars (which feed the bacteria) – but we are also looking into Fecal Microbiota Transfer, although no one in NZ does it so that’s going to be an interesting DIY path if we do. Will keep you posted.

Raw Vegan Coconut Ice

August 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Coconut ice sweetened with maple syrup, left, and stevia, right.

Is coconut ice a totally Kiwi thing? I’m going to say yes, because it’s the interwebz and I can claim anything I like.

Man I used to looooove making that stuff, boiling butter and milk and sugar together and adding heaps of coconut. That was my 13-year-old self’s idea of a wild Friday night, before watching Aliens (remember that TV show? They all had pointy spotty heads? I still love sci-fi) and stuffing my face with that sugary goodness. Makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it.

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Well it might be winter here in NZ but I’m sharing one of my first raw recipes with you because it reminds me of summer (strawberries! from the garden!) and of lazy nights well before sick kids kept me awake all night. If you don’t have any strawberries you can just colour the pink half with food colouring (a little beetroot juice goes a long way) but you’ll be missing the incredible and intense strawberry flavour. You need a dehydrator for the strawberry part, and you will need to plan a day ahead. You can also buy freezedried strawberry or raspberry powder in specialty stores – this is a good one you can find in NZ.

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Here’s to summer – and kinder, healthier treats.

Raw Vegan Coconut Ice (raw, vegan, sugar-free depending on sweetener choice, gluten free, nut free)
2 cups strawberries, thinly sliced (or 2 tbsp storebought freezedried strawberry/raspberry powder)
1 cup coconut butter (recipe here, just don’t toast first)
Sweetener of choice to taste – I used a few drops of stevia, but you can add maple syrup, regular sugar, whatever you like.
1 tsp vanilla paste or inside of 1 vanilla pod (just don’t use an alcohol based extract)
Pinch salt

To make the strawberry powder, place thinly sliced strawberries in the dehydrator and dehydrate for at least 12 hours or until completely dry and brittle. Once dry, grind in a coffee grinder until it forms a powder. You will need to do this in batches and it should leave you a little extra. Set aside.
Push some baking paper into a small square tin.
If your coconut butter is hard, melt gently first in a bowl over a pot of water on the stove. Once melted, add sweetener, salt and vanilla and stir to combine. Pour half of the mixture into the tin, squashing it gently with fingers until it’s about a centimetre thick. Pop in fridge for 5 minutes to harden up a little. To the remaining mixture add 2 tbsp of the strawberry powder and stir to combine. Scoop this mixture on top of the base layer and use same method to distribute evenly. Put in fridge to firm up a little – 5-20 min should do – then remove, slice into squares, and place back in fridge to finish firming up.

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