Yes, Another Chia Pudding. But this is Bressert.

September 25, 2013 § 2 Comments

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Chia seeds. So lauded in health and fitness circles they really need to start their own raw food blog. Packed with omega-3, protein etc etc. Actually I’m not sure, you can look it up on Wikipedia, but suffice to say they are beloved of all things that involve the words super, health, raw and, my favourite, clean (when did food go all eugenicist, anyway?).

So chia puddings are all the rage, and why not, they’re super healthy raw clean and they fill you up, but best of all they are not porridge and they are easy to make. Also, I turned mine into breakfast dessert, cos that’s how I roll.

Behold: super healthy raw clean delicious creamy berry tastic chia pudding bressert. Dayum.

Creamy Blackcurrant Chia Pudding Bressert (raw, vegan, can be made gluten free, nut free, soy free)
1 can Trade Aid coconut milk (or similar Thai coconut milk)
3 tbsp chia seeds (or 5 if omitting oats)
1/2 cup gluten free jumbo oats (can omit if grain free)
1 1/2 cups blackcurrants, fresh or defrosted from frozen (can use any berries really)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
2 star anise
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract, or the scraped insides of 1 vanilla pod
Heaped tbsp maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)

Shake coconut milk can, open and pour into a mason jar. Add chia seeds and oats, stir to combine. In another jar, combine all other ingredients and stir well. (If your berries are frozen and you haven’t defrosted them yet you can warm in a pot on the stove until defrosted, then add other ingredients.) Put lids on both jars and store in fridge overnight. In the morning scoop out desired amount from each into a bowl and demolish. Be careful not to eat the star anise. Serves two hungry people or one hungry person over 2 or 3 days.

Baby Coconut Cream Pies with Salted Caramel (vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free)

September 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

These are the best thing I have ever made. That is all.

UPDATED: You MUST use Trade Aid coconut milk for this recipe, or if you use another brand it has to be 99% coconut with the only other ingredient listed as GUAR GUM (this is also very important).

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Baby Coconut Cream Pies with Salted Date Caramel (gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, can be made nut free)
Base:
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup almond meal (use ground buckwheat if nut-free)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp almond butter (use tahini or sunflower seed butter if nut free)
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
Pinch salt

Filling:
6 Trade Aid medjoul dates
1 cup Trade Aid coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt

Cream:
Cream from 1 can Trade Aid coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Garnish:
A little grated Fairtrade dark chocolate

The day before you make your Baby Coconut Cream Pies, place one of your two cans of Trade Aid coconut milk in fridge overnight. In the morning, open it and gently scoop out the cream on top into a bowl and set aside. (You can use the remaining liquid in a smoothie or milkshake.)

Preheat oven to 160degC.
To make the base, combine all ingredients in a food processor (use the small bowl attachment unless doubling the recipe to make a large pie) and process until well combined. Press about two tablespoons of the filling into each of your three mini springform pans and press until bottom and sides are covered. Place in oven for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool completely.

To make the filling, combine dates and coconut milk in a saucepan on the stove. Bring to boil then turn to low and simmer for 20-40 minutes (UPDATED: depends on how low your lowest setting is – may be faster or slower, just until it’s thick) stirring constantly to make sure it doesn’t catch. Once it has become a smooth thick paste, remove from heat and add vanilla and salt. Stir well to combine. Once the mixture has cooled completely scoop into the pie cases.
To make the topping, whip the coconut cream (that you set aside earlier) and vanilla for a few minutes using an electric beater until it becomes light and fluffy and stiff peaks form.

Scoop the cream onto the cooled pies and garnish with some grated Fairtrade dark chocolate. Serve immediately.

Figging Delicious Raw Vegan Double Delight

September 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Thanks to a family friend, the extraordinarily talented gardener and food creator Wendy, I was gifted several bags of her homegrown and dried figs. You can taste the Hawke’s Bay sunshine in their chewy, earthy sweetness and it brings me back to my years visiting mum when she lived down there. I still think it’s the most special place on earth.

While it might be doing their simple perfection a disservice to process them into other figgy creations, I just can’t resist. What can I say? It’s a compulsion. Plus I wanted to make some treats for some friends.

Today I give you a healthy-ish Fig and Ginger Slice, and a definite occasional treat, Fig and Vanilla Fudge. Both are vegan and gluten free, and the slice is also raw. Thank you Wendy!

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Fig and Ginger Slice (vegan, gluten free, nut free)
Base
1 cup oat flour (I made mine in a Vitamix with steelcut gluten free oats – could also use ground buckwheat groats instead)
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 small SOFT dates (or 3 large mejools)
Pinch salt
Topping
2 cups dried figs
2 tsp dried ground ginger
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Place figs in a bowl and cover with water to soak for at least two hours. Drain and set aside. To make base, combine all ingredients in food processor and process until well combined and the mixture sticks together when pressed between thumb and finger. Add a tiny bit of water if still too crumbly. Press base mix into a baking paper lined square tin.
To make the topping, combine all ingredients in food processor and process until it makes a well combined paste. Scoop onto base and smooth flat. Place in freezer overnight, then cut into slices – keep frozen. Enjoy!

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Fig and Vanilla Fudge
(vegan, gluten free, nut free)
1 cup dried figs
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch salt
5 tbsp brown rice flour

Place dried figs in a bowl and cover with water for at least two hours. Drain and process in small bowl attachment of food processor until a rough paste. Combine sugar, oil, syrup and salt in a small saucepan over a low heat until oil is melted and sugar is no longer granulated. Add rice flour one tbsp at a time and stir well to combine. Add this mixture to the figs in the processor and process until it becomes a smooth paste. Scoop into a sealable container and smooth to make about an inch thick slab. Place in freezer overnight, then slice into pieces and eat the whole lot all at once and feel sick with joy.

Some Crepe My Kids Ate (vegan, gluten free, perfect)

September 11, 2013 § 11 Comments

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OCT 12, 2013 UPDATE: We love this recipe so much in our family we make it once or twice a week at least. I’ve tried it a few different ways now and I’m going to update the recipe to reflect what has worked even better – I’ve realised you can use all water, or mostly water, instead of milk and they’re just as great so I’m swapping those two measurements around.
I never make it with the melted coconut oil anymore so I’m removing that altogether (now it’s oil-free, save for the little used in the pan).
I’ve tried it just using buckwheat flour and it’s still pretty good, but the brown rice flour cuts the strong flavour nicely. I’ve also made it without the tapioca and it’s fine, but I do like to use a little starch as it adds to the pancakey flavour.
You can also add a cup of fresh garden greens (young kale/spinach) to amp up the nutritional value (although when I did this I also added a little sweetener – a date and a tbsp of xylitol). I’m also going to try with banana and see how it goes.
If you’re making them and keeping them warm in the oven they sometimes have a tendency to stick together, so I stack mine in 2 or 3 piles in the oven on the lowest setting – ready to put onto each plate.
I’ve tried making them in our cast iron pan and it turns into a sticky mess – you really do need to make it in a pan/skillet with a smooth surface (though I don’t recommend Teflon pans). Let me know how yours turn out, and if you have any hot tips!

greencakes

Crepes with greens from the garden

Oh man, crepes from the French Markets on a Sunday morning with a hot coffee. Is there anything better? Warm and fresh off the hot plate with melty nutella. Or lemon juice and sugar. Or cream and maple syrup. I might forgo the cruelty and ill health these days, but that doesn’t mean I need to give up the deliciousness.

Until now I have been more focused on creating fluffy American style pancakes and not the thin and delicate French delights. Why, I’m not sure, because now that I’ve found the best killer crepe recipe of all time there’s no looking back.

These might be vegan and gluten free, but you wouldn’t know it. They taste just like the ‘real’ thing. Turns out you don’t have to eat crap to eat crepes.

Now that we’re back on the sugar free wagon until my son finishes his treatment (just during the day for me, I still sneak Nice Cream at night) I served ours with Trade Aid coconut milk mixed with a little stevia, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of my spiced pumpkin granola. But by all means go crazy with the chopped fruit, maple syrup, vegan nutella and whipped coconut cream.

I’ve been making this mix the night before and popping in a jug in the fridge ready to use the next morning, but it works just as well if you make it to use straight away (I trialled that this morning, was still great).

Adapted from this wonderful recipe, thank you Bold Vegan.

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My son’s plate with his own chopped fruit and the card he made for his daddy for Father’s Day

Best Crepes Ever (dairy free, egg free, gluten free, soy free, nut free, sugar free, oil free)
1 cup buckwheat flour (I made mine in the Vitamix using organic groats)
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour (or you can just use 1/2 cup more buckwheat flour)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 tsp salt (opt)
2/3 cup non-dairy milk (I’ve made them using soy, rice and oat, all worked well)
2 cups water
1 tbsp vanilla extract (opt)

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Warm a little coconut oil in a pan over a medium heat then scoop 1/4 cup batter in and swirl around until it makes a very thin pancake. When it turns brown at the edges and has lots of holes flip carefully with a spatula and cook other side. Replenish coconut oil after every few crepes. Keep in a warm oven until ready to serve. Makes about 12.

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The Basics: Whipped Coconut Cream Tutorial

September 4, 2013 § 2 Comments

Ginger tarts with whipped coconut cream

Ginger tarts with whipped coconut cream

So I totally thought I had this down but turns out I had it all wrong. We buy coconut cream and coconut milk in trays from Ceres (an organic supplier) and every time I tried to make whipped coconut cream like the other foodie blogs told me my cream separated/split into waxy cream and water. If I didn’t put the coconut milk can in the fridge overnight and just scooped out the cream on top (Ceres cans aren’t homogenised) and beat it very briefly it was OK, just very thick and not light and fluffy like dairy whipped cream. And it definitely split if I added anything to it, like vanilla extract. I tried coconut cream instead, same problem (I’m pretty sure what we call coconut cream in NZ, elsewhere in the world call coconut milk, and their ‘lite’ coconut cream is the same as our coconut milk).

After our third night of curry in a row thanks to all the failed coconut cream experiments I thought stuff this and bought another brand from the organic store, popped a can each of coconut cream and coconut milk in the fridge and opened them both the next day. And the heavens opened.

The coconut milk was just a well homogenised liquid that hadn’t separated at all but the coconut cream was DELIGHTFUL. I could tell immediately it would whip into a luscious fluffy cream that I could heap onto thickshakes and pies and use as icing for cakes.

But how to know which brand to buy?

After more digging it turns out the ORIGIN of the coconut is important. I don’t know why but it is. So here are my top three tips for great whipped coconut cream:

+ DO NOT buy Sri Lankan origin coconut cream, Thai seems to be the best.
+ If in NZ, buy coconut cream, not milk. A little guar gum in the ingredients is fine.
+ Do not buy coconut cream with stabilisers as it won’t separate.

Edited to add: I have tried both the Spiral coconut cream and Trade Aid coconut milk – both are great. All of the Thai ones at the supermarket had stabilisers in them so I didn’t bother buying them.
OCT 12, 2013 UPDATED: I have also tried the 100% coconut cream Ayam brand, however this, like the organic Ceres brand, didn’t seem to whip properly, although the origin from memory was Malaysia, not Thailand. I’m now thinking the guar gum is what helps the cream to whip beautifully. If anyone can shed more light on the Great Coconut Cream mystery let me know.

Kale and coconut cream pie thickshake

Kale and coconut cream pie thickshake

Whipped Coconut Cream (vegan, soy free, nut free)
1 can Thai coconut cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 drops stevia or a tsp of favourite sweetener

Place can in fridge and leave overnight. Remove from fridge, turn upside down, open and pour the liquid into a cup. reserve for use in a smoothie or thickshake. Scoop remaining cream into a bowl, add vanilla and sweetener and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy and well incorporated.

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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.

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.

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