Gluten Free Banana Bread


 
Oh hai! Suffice to say this book writing business is overtaking everything at the mo, hence the lack of recipes on the blog – it seems every time I have a good idea I feel compelled to save it for the publication. I can’t even claim this one was intended for this space, as it was originally created for the current issue of WED Mag (go buy it!), along with two other equally delightful dishes. Call it laziness or just my eagerness to share but this borrowed (from, er, myself) recipe is all I have to offer right now … although I have two blog posts lined up for the very near future (you loving that vagueness?) that I hope will make up for my persistent peasoupeats neglect.

 

This particular Banana Bread recipe is (no lie) an absolute lifesaver thanks to its gluten and (refined) sugar-free status … in fact, you could go as far as to say, it’s good for you – disclaimer; it’s probably not ‘good for you’. Moist, crumbly and ridiculously delicious, it flies in the face of everything you have ever thought about gluten free goods, which, let’s face it, are often bemoaned for their dense, stodgy texture that taste more like sand than cake – not appealing, not now, not ever. So, even if you think gluten free isn’t your thing, I urge you let this banana bread change your mind because healthy eating or not, this recipe officially ‘rules’.

 

what you’ll need

130g Gram Flour
70g Ground Almonds
1 tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder
½ tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
Pinch Salt
2 Ripe Bananas
3 Medjool Dates
1 tbsp Maple Syrup
1 tbsp Coconut oil
70g Raisins
30g Flaked Almonds

 

what you’ll do

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and prepare a medium-sized loaf tin by greasing it with a little coconut oil.

 

Place the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a bowl and whisk together.

 

Soak the medjool dates for 10 minutes in warm water.

 

Meanwhile, mash the bananas with the back of a fork to form a smooth puree.

 

Remove the stone from the dates and place in a small chopper or hand blender along with the maple syrup and blitz to form a thick, sticky paste.

 

Melt the coconut oil in a small pan on the hob … this will take mere seconds, be sure not to let it boil.

 

Whisk the pureed banana, date paste and melted coconut oil together, along with two tablespoons of water, until thoroughly combined.

 

Stir the raisins into the flour, ensuring they are evenly dispersed. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the banana mixture. Fold gently until everything is combined before transferring to the loaf tin. The batter will be quite thick so spread it out using a spatula before sprinkling over the flaked almonds.

 

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin. Place on a cooling rack for a further 30 minutes. Cut into thick slices and serve.

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The Fresh Vegan Kitchen … Corn Chowder


 

I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to be able to follow a recipe instead of creating one. In the midst of this book writing business, receiving this gorgeous offering in the post was a welcome relief and meant I could forget about my own creations for at least one meal. Although they probably don’t know it, the writers of this heavenly vegan cookbook were the first ‘real-life’ vegan cooks I ever encountered. Four years almost to the day, I was booked into a raw cookery class at Saf in Shoreditch (sadly now closed), which was led by the magnificent David Bailey who was accompanied by his lovely wife Charlotte. A newbie vegan at the time (I was about a year into my journey ) this was a real eye opener for me and I learnt so much… and tasted some pretty incredible food in the process – so you could say I’m already a bit of fan girl when it comes to this duo. Since then they’ve gone on to win awards for their scrumptious street food (keep an eye out for their WholefoodHeaven van at festivals) and, of course, release a wonderful cookbook.
 

Not only is it a stunning book to simply browse through but offers a range of dishes from the very basic (dips, dressings and soups) through to more adventurous fare that all have something of an Asian twist. I went for something moderately easy to begin with in the form of the New England inspired Corn Chowder … mainly because my fridge and cupboards are pretty bare right now so it was a bit of a make-do situation. I’m rather ashamed to say I had to use (don’t judge!) canned (cough) sweetcorn and I didn’t have any coconut milk (or stock) to hand either, however, despite my embarrassing modifications it was still a resounding success.
 

What I’m most excited about getting my chops around next is the Hot Aubergine Salad, which looks sensational, with the Churros a very close second. Hot, crispy, sugary goodness – you’re talking my language! What I love most about this book is the balance it strikes between uber-healthy recipes and more indulgent dishes that don’t shy away from things like flour. There’s something for everyone whether you’re raw, gluten-free or, like-me, dabble in a little bit of everything. It’s easy-going flair is its biggest selling point … I predict it’ll be a book I’ll come back to again and again. In a nutshell, it’s fuss-free food, full of flavour that will inevitably put a smile on your face.

 

Corn Chowder

adapted from The Fresh Vegan Kitchen

 

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small carrot, chopped

200g sweetcorn kernels

4 salad potatoes, roughly chopped

1 tsp hot sauce

juice 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup soya yoghurt plus more for serving

salt and pepper

 

for the herby croutons

1 slice of bread, cut into 1cm squares

1 tbsp olive oil

1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped

 

Method

1. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sautee for 3-4 mins, then add the carrot and sweetcorn, season and saute for another minute or so.

 

2. Cover the saute mix with water (about 1ltr) and add the potatoes. Season generously, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15-20mins, until all the vegetables are tender.

 

3. While the soup is simmering make the croutons. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Put the bread in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and rosemary. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 10 mins until lightly golden, moving the croutons around every couple of minutes. Set aside.

 

4. When the soup is ready transfer to a blender and pulse until smooth. Return the soup to the pan, stir in the yogurt (or coconut milk), lemon juice, generously season and reheat for 10-15 minutes over a very low heat.

 

5. Divide into bowls and garnish with a few reserved sweetcorn kernels, sliced radish, spring onion and not forgetting the croutons, which I served alongside .

 

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Easter Chocolate Orange Loaf

 

I am in such a blogging rut right now. Any good ideas I have are being poured into the book, which leaves very little to spare in terms of blog posts. I know things will settle down after my deadline but I can’t help but feel this space needs some much needed (and long overdue) TLC. I’m in the mood for a Spring clean – a yearly spruce up, if you will, although I can’t guarantee it’s all going to happen overnight. An image overhaul is definitely in order and I really want to make it easier for you guys to navigate your way around the site… I am fully aware my categories are confusing and totally outta control – seriously though, have you seen how many I have listed on the sidebar? Talking of control, I need to find a way of letting go of my daily control-freak ways a little, as it’s not only hindering my work but also my happiness. Truth be told, I poured over these images for an hour and half, tweaking this and that, and I’m still not satisfied with them. It was my first time using a DSLR for a while and I’d practically forgotten how to effectively use the settings – not to mention the light was piss poor, hence their ‘intentionally’ moody demeanour, ahem. I’m not sure how often bloggers talk about their photography woes but when you’re bombarded with brilliant images on an hourly basis, one can’t help but feel like any offerings I might be contributing to the internet’s growing library of incredible food shots fall somewhat short of the mark.

 

Or course, great food photographs aren’t the be all and end all of a good blog – I hope! I like to think the recipes and occasional (read negligible) witty repartee also go some way to making a blog, erm, ‘good’. Personally, I return to blogs that are open and honest, and don’t try to be something they’re not. I’m no professional photographer (heck, I’m not even sure I qualify as an amateur one) so recipes are where I can make up for bad lighting, poor composition and anything else that makes an image just okay. This Chocolate Orange Loaf is what I’ll be chowing down on over the next few days … and f.y.i. the frosting is not optional. Yup, it’s a total, unashamed sugar-fest because hey, it’s Easter and I don’t ‘eat clean’ all the time anyway. Frankly, I think we’re all becoming a wee bit obsessive about every (single, itty-ibtty)  morsel that passes our lips, so take this recipe as a defiant stand against the ‘nutritionalistas’ of the world that have left us feeling ashamed for even thinking about a slice of the good stuff – or bad, as the case may be. Besides, I think portion control is much more effective than shunning all these so-called ‘naughty’ foods, which is why you’ll notice this is baked in a pretty small loaf tin and contains about the half the ingredients of a similar recipe. I figure this way I can have my cake and eat it, innit.

 

Look, I’m as guilty as the next person of using the ‘clean eats’ hash tag when promoting my wares on places like instagram and twitter, so you could say I’m perpetuating this fixation we have with ensuring everything we consume has some nutritional value – heads up, this loaf has none. Whilst I’m all for making healthy choices, I really don’t see the harm in having an all singing, all dancing chocolate loaf now and then… yes, I know there are great alternatives out there, and I partake in those too, but sometimes only cake (this kinda ‘hooray for cake’ cake) will do. If you’re of the same mindset, then read on for the recipe. If not, then there are plenty of raw/gluten-free/sugar-free recipes on the blog too. Either way I wish you all a very HAPPY EASTER – here’s to occasional, but necessary, full-fat, gluten-filled, sugar-laden treats.

 

Oh, and if you’re wondering where those gorgeous printed napkins are from, head over to the Tori Murphy website to oggle (perchance to buy) more of her incredible designs – I’m officially obsessed!

 

Ingredients

120g plain flour

70g sugar

30g cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 banana

45ml olive oil

120ml plant milk (I used homemade hazelnut milk)

1 tsp orange extract

 

for the frosting

3 tbsp vegan margarine

100g icing sugar

1 heaped tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp orange extract

 

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees celsius.

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb together in a large bowl.

Mash the banana and whisk together with the oil, plant milk and orange extract until smooth.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and pour in the wet ingredients. Gently fold until everything has fully combined.

Transfer to a greased 71/2 inch loaf tin, tap it firmly on your worktop to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake for 30-35minutes.

Whilst the loaf is baking make your frosting by whisking together the margarine, icing sugar, cocoa and extract until smooth. Refrigerate until needed.

Once baked, allow the loaf to cool on a rack before removing it from the tin. Let is cool completely before adoring it with the chocolate frosting … I like to roughly spread it over the top of the cake using a spatula.

HAPPY EASTER!!

 

 

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Meat Free Week Menu

Okay, okay, so I’m a day late to the game but hopefully just in time to inspire your meat free meals for the rest of the week. I’ve delved into the ‘peasoupeats’ archives to come up with a varied menu that should (fingers crossed) cover all bases… from soup to salads and even sushi, there’s a little bit of everything but do let me know what your favourite is. Personally, I’m all about the Sweet Potato & Pearl Barley Stew but that’s probably because I haven’t fully transitioned from my winter diet yet – yup, still craving that warmth! The pearl barley is certainly lighter than rice but has that ‘stick to yer ribs’ quality that I’m so loving right now. If you’re currently getting yourself in shape for summer though, the Noodle Salad for One is a super option – filling yet light and full of flavour. Anyway I’ll let you decide – there are six recipes to choose from and they’re all pretty delicious and, as ever, super easy. Happy ‘Meat Free Week’ everybody!

 

Humdinger Hummus Sandwich
 
Possibly the perfect lunchtime sammie crammed full to the brim with hummus, sprouts, avocado and more. I’m a total bread/carb fiend so this is my ideal midday scenario and best of all it takes minutes to make. Om nom nom.
 

 

Lentil salad
 

Summer is creeping up on us and soon I’ll be bemoaning the fact I didn’t get in shape sooner. When I do finally get into the swing of things though, I’ll be relying on salads like this to see me through … tasty, filling and seriously simple to make.
 


 

Spiced Lentil Soup
 

Another mainstay in my kitchen, this spiced lentil soup is the ultimate comfort food. Make a big batch tonight for a go-to pot of yumminess throughout the week … #meatfreeweek sorted.
 


 

Sushi
 

Fill it with whatever you fancy or stick to this grated carrot, peashoot & pepper version – either way, this is a sure-fire weekend winner for when you have a little more time to play in the kitchen. Get yourself a bottle of sake for a full-on Japanese evening experience and say ‘cheers’ to going meat-free!
 


 

Sweet Potato & Pearl Barley Stew
 

Yes, the weather is warming but that doesn’t mean I don’t still crave stodge. This pearl barley stew is a huge favourite of mine because it feels indulgent whilst still managing to retain some healthy credentials – who says comfort food can’t be good for you, eh?
 


 

Noodle Salad For One
 

I like to make the most of my solitary meals and this one features frequently – hence it’s addition here. It was originally commissioned for Marcus Samuelsson many moons ago and it still gets a great reception to this day… I hope y’all enjoy it too!
 

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Supercharged St.Patrick’s Day Smoothie


 

Shamrock day is almost upon us so I’m flexing my green smoothie muscles in preparation. Several years ago this green hued elixir would’ve been of the beer variety but now that my drinking days are pretty much behind me (one cider and I’m anyone’s … no lie) I’ve diverted my attention to a drink that is not only good for you but renders you hangover free the following day – hurrah! I’m actually going to be in Ireland for St.Paddy’s this year, albeit it briefly … we actually fly back to Cornwall on the day, which probably explains why the flights were so much cheaper, hmmmm. Having grown up in the Emerald Isle (not to mention living in Chi-town for a while) I am all too aware of the importance of this celebration for Irish folk but in recent times it has almost passed me by. Honestly, had it not been for the internet I probably would’ve forgotten the date altogether – I hang my Irish heritage head in shame. So, this year, I vowed to be a little ahead of the game and seeing as this supercharged smoothie is most likely what I’ll be ‘cheers-ing’ with, I thought it only too appropriate to make it into some sort of blog post.
 
I can already sense the collective cucumber revulsion so let me assure you right here, right now, that whilst the cucumber is indeed a crucial component to the drink, it doesn’t leave an overriding ‘cucumbery’ taste- that’ll be because we’re going to peel and de-seed the sucker. Ditto the fennel. I realise many people also have an aversion to this wonderful ingredient because of its strong aniseed overtones but a mere slice will merely lift the drink not overpower it so I urge you to keep it in.
 
Being a total green smoothie convert and having made it my mission to refine the combination of veg versus fruit to ensure a perfectly balanced smoothie, I am only too happy to report that this one in particular is possibly my favourite. Not too sweet, not too sour, it’s a beautiful blend of all that’s good for you and all that tastes, well, yummy. Still on the ‘green smoothie’ fence? Give this a whirl and then come back to me. In the meantime…
 

May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks.
May your heart be as light as a song.
May each day bring you bright, happy hours that stay with you all the year long.

 

what you’ll need

1 x 3 inch piece of cucumber, peeled and de-seeded

1 small slice of fennel

30g curly kale

1 x kiwi

1 x medjool date

juice 1 blood orange

1 heaped tsp hemp powder

1 tsp chlorella powder

100ml filtered water

 

to serve

passion fruit seeds

sliced cucumber

 

what you’ll do

put everything in a blender and blitz until smooth.

serve immediately topped with a slice of cucumber and some passion fruit seeds

 
 

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Easy No-Bake Granola Bars

 

Where has this week gone? I feel like I’ve got absolutely nothing done and all of a sudden we’re being hurtled back into another weekend… ugh. Thankfully, I have had some precious time to spend in the kitchen creating this and that for the forthcoming book. These no-bake granola bars were a second attempt because the first batch were a bit too crumbly for my liking (I instagrammed them for posterity though!) so it was immediately back to the drawing board, which quickly resulted in me adding more nut butter and coconut oil – and hey presto, they came out perfectly. My Husband was so taken with them he wanted to bring the lot into work… unfortunately for him I still hadn’t yet snapped the little blighters for the blog so he’ll have to make do with a weekend’s worth of nutty, chewy bars at his disposal. I’m certain he won’t be complaining.

 

You could easily play about with the add-in’s … it would be great with goji berries and pistachios too. It’s such a stupidly simple recipe to whip up and (aside from refrigeration) would make a terrific last minute option for bake sales and the like. They’ve already been put on the snack rotation list here and, in my humble opinion, equal bliss balls in their nummy nutritional greatness – I’m going to have so much fun creating variations and already have my sights set on a full-on cacao version complete with nibs. Yep, this one is definitely a keeper.
 

what you’ll need

150g oats

1/2 tbsp maca powder (optional)

30g almonds, roughly chopped

30g sunflower seeds

30g pumpkin seeds

30g raisins

2 large medjool dates, chopped

30g desiccated coconut

30g chocolate chips

1 ripe banana

4 tbsp coconut oil, melted

3 tbsp peanut butter

2 tbsp cashew or almond butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 tbsp agave

pinch salt

 

what you’ll do

mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.

 

mash the banana and whisk in the melted coconut oil, nut butters, vanilla extract and agave until completely smooth. pour over the granola mix and stir to combine.

 

line a brownie tin and tip the sticky granola into it, flattening to the edges with the back of a spatula.

 

refrigerate for at least 6 hours. cut lengthways into long bars and then halve each one – you should get about 16 bars from each batch.

 

tip: melt some dark chocolate chips and drizzle over the top before cutting. refrigerate for about 30 mins before serving.

 
 

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PANCAKE TUESDAY… Vegan ‘Buttermilk’ Pancakes


Photo Credit: ALI ALLEN

 

It’s Pancake Tuesday, which can only mean one thing… er, well, pancakes. As a self-confessed pancake crazed loon I have about a gazillion variations up my sleeve for such occasions but none really top my ultimate “Summer Berry ‘Buttermilk’ Pancake” recipe from my cookbook Keep it Vegan. It’s not too late to grab a ‘nana and some flour on your way home and whip up a storm in your kitchen after work – I know my Husband will be expecting a batch as soon as he walks through the door and I shall gladly oblige. The candied walnuts are my favourite pancake topping too. I just love the added bit of crunch they lend to the dish, particularly alongside the uber-soft pancakes… I’m a texture gal, through and through. Of course, seeing as it’s not summer, I’ll forgive you for opting for a more seasonal fruit although supermarkets seem to stock berries year round these days so you shouldn’t have a problem getting hold of them. What really sets these pancakes apart from the rest is the ‘buttermilk’ element, which is simply soya milk that has been mixed with cider vinegar and set aside to curdle – sounds horrendous, tastes incredible. It really gives this dish depth of flavour and renders them slightly fluffier too… whatever chemical reaction it instigates, I ain’t complain’ – just eatin’ ‘em up and makin’ some more. Happy Pancake Day!!
 

Summer Berry ‘Buttermilk’ Pancakes

Makes 8-10 pancakes/serves 2-4

 

Pancakes are perfect brunch time fodder and a sure-fire way to get your weekend off to a good start as well as impressing guests. This basic mixture can be tweaked and added to as desired (blueberries, choc chips or raisins work wonderfully too), but I just love this candied walnut and nutmeg combo.

 

Ingredients:

For the pancakes

150g plain white flour

40g caster sugar

11/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

pinch of sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

240ml soya milk

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 banana, peeled and mashed

15g soya butter

1 tablespoon sunflower oil plus extra for cooking

 

For the candied walnuts

100g walnut pieces

1 tablespoon agave nectar

 

To serve

fresh berries

freshly grated nutmeg

agave nectar or maple syrup

 

Method:

1) In a large bowl thoroughly combine the dry pancake ingredients. Mix together the soya milk and cider vinegar in a jug, set aside for several minutes and allow to curdle – this will be the ‘buttermilk’ element.

 

2) Whisk the banana into the soya milk mixture. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture, folding gently until incorporated.

 

3) Melt the butter with the oil in a medium, non-stick frying pan and pour into the bowl, ensuring everything is fully incorporated – I use a whisk. Allow the pancake mix to sit for a while – the pancakes will puff up better.

 

4) Preheat the oven to 100°C/gas mark ¼. Heat a little more oil in the frying pan and add a small ladleful of mixture to form a pancake. Don’t overcrowd the pan – only cook one or two pancakes at a time. They should come to about 8cm in diameter. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface before flipping over and cooking for a further few minutes on the other side. Transfer to a plate and keep the pancakes warm in the oven – try not to stack them or they may go soggy.

 

5) Wipe the pan with kitchen paper, add the walnuts and toast on a medium heat for a few minutes before adding the agave. Allow the walnuts to become sticky and then slightly hard – stir constantly so they don’t stick to the pan.

 

6) Serve the pancakes with fresh berries, the candied walnuts, a good grating of nutmeg and lashings of agave or maple syrup. Brunch time!

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Cooking with Clearspring … Mega ‘Morning’ Chia Matcha Smoothie


 
It’s that time again … yup, ima cookin’ with Clearspring. Or rather, ‘constructing’ with Clearspring, as I’m not entirely sure making a smoothie counts as cooking. Regardless, this is one heck of a nutritious start to day, packed full of  ’em superfoods you hear people banging on about… and not without good reason too, I might add. Chia seeds are the buzzwords on everybody’s lips right now, partly due to their gelatinous texture when mixed with liquid that make them perfect for puddings and smoothies but also because, despite their minuscule form, they are nutritionally mighty. If you’re worried about your protein or omega-3 intake then these are the boys for you. They also happen to possess some antioxidant properties, which I’ve boosted further by the matcha inclusion. But (I hasten yo add) it’s not all about nutrition – it has to taste good too, so I’ve attempted to keep some flavour equilibrium by adding the dates (for sweetness, obvs.), kiwi, blueberries and lime… they have a touch of zesty sourness that work really well with the other ingredients. The avocado gives the smoothie that wonderful creaminess much in the same way a banana would but seeing as I know many of you like your smoothies sans banana, I thought this would be a terrific alternative. Not forgetting the coconut water too – in this instance it lends a much cleaner taste than plant milk. I must admit, I’m pretty taken with this particular ‘King Coco’ variety, which is seriously lush… I was tempted to just stick a straw in and be done with it but I’m glad I didn’t in the end because this smoothie was, well, mega.

 




 

what you’ll need 

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 bottle Clearspring ‘King Coco’ coconut water, chilled

1 heaped tsp Clearspring Matcha powder

1/2 avocado

1/2 kiwi

juice 1/2 lime

3 medjool dates, pitted

large handful blueberries

(optional) few ice-cubes

 

what you’ll do

place the chia seeds in a small bowl and cover with a little coconut water. set aside for 10 minutes to activate.

 

put everything into a high-speed blender (I use a Froothie) and blitz until completely smooth.

 

divide into two glasses and top with blueberries, chopped kiwi and chia seeds.

 

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Dressing for No-one

 

Vulnerability. This (not so) little word has been cropping up a lot of late and for some reason the notion behind it has really resonated with me. Being a self-confessed control freak probably means I am the least ‘vulnerable’ person in the world in the sense that I won’t allow myself to be. But, y’see, over the past year it’s begun to dawn on me that perhaps my lack of vulnerability isn’t doing me any good. In fact, I’d probably go as far to say it’s doing me actual harm. I keep joking with my Husband that ‘I’ve lost the ability to relax’, which would be funny if weren’t so true. Of course, there are things in my life I can’t help but fret about (my Dad’s illness is never far from my mind) but that still doesn’t account for my anxiety levels being continually through the roof. Up until recently I’d never considered myself to be an ‘anxious’ person but perhaps I just don’t know myself as well as I previously thought. Being permanently glued to the internet certainly doesn’t help matters although I have taken measures to combat this, such as not browsing the web before bedtime (yup, my New Year’s resolution is still going strong!) and also having designated internet-free days … we both did it last Saturday and it was bliss.

 

Okay, so at least I’m recognising things are not quite what they should be, and again, I keep coming back to this ‘vulnerability’ thing. How can I make myself more vulnerable? What does it entail? I know a lot of what is holding me back is the fear or failure or rejection – I am both a people pleaser and a perfectionist so this is particularly hard for me. Much like the rest of the world I also compare myself to others from time to time but with a seemingly endless bevy of beautiful, talented and witty females floating about this is basically a highway to no-where. So why do we do it? I have my own abilities and unique way of doing things … it may not be the best way but it works for me – and thankfully, a few other people seem to like it too. I’m generally happy with my appearance and have accepted my face and form for what they are although that doesn’t mean I won’t still have a ‘I hate my thighs’ tantrum from time to time. It’s only natural. Like most women I only see the bad bits when I look at images of myself, which is why you’ve not seen many outfit posts on here of late – I just couldn’t face editing photos of myself in various ridiculous poses.

 

However, in the interests of fully instigating this vulnerability melarkey I thought it only too apt to begin by opening myself up a little more on here. No, the shots are not in some fun location (baby steps) but I felt more comfortable easing myself back in, in my own back yard and the outfit is hardly noteworthy either, but again, this is all about offering up the truth and not some styled-to-the-max version of my very quiet Cornish life. Without a doubt my style has changed significantly since moving here – and if I’m being honest with myself, it’s definitely for the better. It’s a more laid back look these days with still the odd pop of colour and print but generally speaking I take my inspiration from places like Toast (I want everything), OSKA (my fav place to browse in St.Ives), Egg (one day I will visit this store!) and Margaret Howell (her ad campaigns are the epitome of cool, casual) than I do looking at trendy fashion blogs or their magazine counterparts. I simply can’t relate to it any more.

 

 

Paired down with a smidge of personality is the way forward for me, and I’m not even a little bit sad about it. It’s actually a relief not worrying about these things although that doesn’t mean I still don’t get excited by clothes – I’m currently obsessed with a denim pinafore I bought recently online and cannot wait to wear it. My eye is drawn to cleaner lines and dramatic shapes, as well as natural fabrics such a organic cottons and linens… ugh, and don’t even get me started on denim. This mustard cardi was a highstreet bargain I picked up on a recent trip to London. I would never normally shop at Forever 21 but it was only place open on Bond Street at the time and I was surprised (understatement) at how nice the range was … not super trendy with loads of nice basics. Who knew? And even though there’s a big part of me that hates to feed the fast fashion machine I couldn’t resist making a purchase – not a great excuse but my meagre budget will only stretch so far and with a price-tag of £6.99 I hadn’t the strength to walk away. It’s immediately become a staple in my wardrobe and I wear it almost everyday – like seriously, every-day.

 

The jeans you’ve seen before and the blouse was a secondhand find from when I worked in Kentish Town. Oh, and the shoes are an ASOS special that have come in very handy indeed. I’m a total mid-heel girl and these give me enough height without crippling me – I love their patent retro vibe too. Comfort is key here and whilst I might switch up the items, my core ensemble of late is resolutely jeans, tops, cardi, go. I may throw a scarf on my head but that’s about as adventuress it gets these days. So, I’ve clearly mastered the casual attire bit, now to work on that over-active mind of mine. Vulnerability, here I ruddy-well come.

 

what i’m wearing…
jeans/topshop
blouse/charity shop
necklace & cardigan/forever 21
shoes/asos

 



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Cooking with Clearspring … Coconut Rice Pudding with Prune Puree & Persimmon


 

Today marks the first in a series of posts I have dubbed ‘Cooking with Clearspring’, which will see me utilising a few of the truly awesome ingredients from their entirely vegan range of foodie goodies. If you don’t know already, I am huge fan of Clearspring products and use them all the time in my kitchen, so when they sent through a gift box full to bursting with noodles, (two different types of) miso, oil … and even matcha (!!!) I did a little happy dance and then promptly got down to cooking. I hummed and hawed what to use first before unleashing the power of the coconut in this Asian inspired twist on a very British classic – the mighty (and occasionally contentious) rice pudding.

 

Now, I’m sure we all have memories (good and bad) of rice pudding growing up – thankfully, mine are all triumphant. My Dad happened to be an expert rice pudding maker so you could say I learnt from the best. It was always unctuously creamy with just the right amount of sweetness. In a nutshell, this dessert spells home, comfort and quiet Sunday nights with a warming bowl of pud in my hand … ah, memories. And because those memories can never be matched, I knew it was time to put my own spin on things and so this coconut ‘sushi rice’ version was born – it certainly helps having top notch ingredients at your disposal too.

 

The sushi rice kernels are the perfect shape and size for this type of pudding. They won’t loose their shape and disintegrate into mush, and are just brilliant at absorbing all that yummy coco-nutty flavour … they also have a natural sweetness, which, when combined with the coconut milk, means you hardly have to add any sweetener at all. I choose to go down the palm sugar route with this one (keeping with the broadly speaking ‘Asian’ theme and all that) but you could easily sub it out for any sweetener of your choosing (agave, maple, brown rice syrup or even plain ol’ sugar). In my opinion though, quality coconut milk is crucial in this instance and because the Clearspring variety I used here was so smooth and creamy, all the hard work was done for me. I didn’t have to linger over the stove for hours on end like normal rice pudding either – just 30mins and, bingo, you’re done.

 

The biggest revelation for me was actually the prune puree. I could literally eat this stuff straight out of the pot and will definitely be using it again on yoghurt and oatmeal … it is sheer fruity heaven. Because it possesses all that lovely sourness, it was the ultimate antidote to the milky richness of the rice pudding. The persimmon (sharon fruit) was a final flourish on what is already a delightful dessert but feel free to leave it off if you can’t get your hands on one. Personally, I’m obsessed with these maple flavoured fruits, and therefore will use them at any available opportunity.

 

Even if you’re recoiling in horror at the thought of revisiting a school dinner-esque nightmare, I’m hoping this updated version might just be enough to sway you… your new and improved rice pudding future awaits!
 



 

 what you’ll need

1/2 cup Clearspring sushi rice

1 x can Clearspring coconut milk

1 heaped tbsp palm sugar

Clearspring prune puree

1 x persimmon/sharon fruit

desiccated coconut to garnish

 

what you’ll do

thoroughly rinse the sushi rice and set aside.

 

empty the contents of the coconut milk into a small pan and bring to a gentle simmer.

 

whisk in the rice and stir vigorously in the first few minutes to ensure the kernels don’t clump.

 

add the palm sugar and reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. It is vital you stir frequently to prevent sticking, adding a little water now and then if it appears too thick.

 

peel and slice the persimmon.

 

serve hot or cold topped with a spoonful of prune puree, sliced persimmon and dessicated coconut.

 

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