Gluten Free, Soy Free Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

I love my local Chinese supermarket. In it I can get all sorts of spices, authentic bean curd, an array of noodles and rice flour at a rock bottom price – try 50p! Seriously, I paid 50 pence for a bag of rice flour, isn’t that insane? There is also a lovely lady who works in there who couldn’t be more helpful and makes shopping an absolute pleasure. Invariably we end up coming home with something unusual like peanut filled rice balls or some crazy paste, it’s always a little bit of a culinary adventure entering that place.

I’ve used rice flour in a few recipes now but I must say this has been my most successful endeavour to date. Although I’ve been striving for that perfect cupcake texture for a long while now none have come remotely close to these – I almost jumped up and down with pleasure when I bit into one; moist, fluffy, crumbly, lush. Nothing beats the feeling of triumphing in the kitchen especially when it comes to baking.

I may have mentioned this a few times already but pre veganism baking was kinda my nemesis. It’s not that I had a string of disasters but the outcome never made me squeal with excitement…..until now. Veganism has not only transformed the way I view food but it has uncovered a new found enthusiasm for baking and unlike before I am usually ecstatic about the results.

It may have a something to do with the fact I can’t stroll down to the local bakery and pick up a cake if the urge takes me. If I want something sweet and indulgent I have to invariably make it myself, which has been a blessing in disguise really because it means we only have supremely naughty treats about once a month. My hips, bum and thighs are ever grateful.

When it came to icing these babies I went for Babycakes style frosting – that is not beautifully piped but swirled using a palate knife with an added PeaSoup mini piped rosette off centre in a contrasting chocolate frosting. My style is probably what you’d call shabby chic and this extends to my cooking and presentation thereof. To me they look more appetizing this way too, that messy swirl makes me want to just sink my teeth into that cupcake instead of one you’d stand back, admire but are afraid to destroy. These cupcakes, on the other hand, were made to be destroyed.

Bonus points for the lack of soy (both in the cake itself and in the frosting) and the sheer effortlessness of which these can be made.

Is it just me or does anyone else have that panic moment right after you’ve filled those cupcake cases and popped them in the oven? Will they rise? Will they explode? Did I overwork the mixture? Did I fill them too much? Too little? Is the oven at the right temperature? Eek!

With regards to these particular cupcakes I can assure you that yes, they will rise (perfectly), no, they won’t explode (unless you mess with the amount of bicarb – not recommended!), fold gently until everything is just combined and cocoa coloured and that way you are guaranteed not to overwork it, fill them half way up and you’re golden and you’ll know if your oven is at the right temperature if you invest in a separate oven themometer (seriously, just buy one, they’re cheap and invaluable when it comes to baking).

If you do all that then these cupcakes will make you weep with happiness and you’ll not be able to resist one for breakfast. I didn’t and it was hmmmm hmmmm gooooood.

Ingredients

3/4 cup rice flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup xylitol or vegan sugar

1/4 tsp pink himalayan salt

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup coconut milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp white wine or cider vinegar (vegan)

1/8 cup oil

Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

Sieve the flour, cocoa, xylitol, salt, bicarb and baking powder into a large bowl. Lightly mix with a spatula to incorporate the ingredients.

Add the water, coconut milk, vanilla extract, oil and vinegar to the dry ingredients and gently fold using a spatula until everything is thoroughly combined. The batter will be fairly thick.

Line a muffin tray with six large cases and fill each one half way. Put immediately into the oven (ensuring it is at 175 celsius/350 fahrenheit).

Bake for 25 minutes. In the last ten minutes I turned the tray around to make sure they were all evenly baked. Insert a skewer into the centre, if it comes out clean they are ready. Allow to cool completely before icing. I let them cool for ten minutes in the tray before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Vanilla Frosting

1/2 cup vegan sunflower spread

2 cups vegan powdered/icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

splash of coconut milk

Combine the sunflower spread and 1 cup of the sugar using a spatula.

Add the vanilla extract, coconut milk and remainder of the icing sugar and whisk until light and fluffy using a balloon whisk. You can use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

For the chocolate icing

Take about a 1/4 cup of the vanilla frosting and combine with a heaped teaspoon of cocoa powder using a spatula.

Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a nozzle of your choosing – I went for a size 30 star effect one.

When the cupcakes are completely cool frost each one with the vanilla frosting using a spatula. Here is a helpful video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtzYFcl6nHw Clearly my frosting skills are nowhere near as good as these gals but I’m getting better. Also, my spatula is way to big to get a good swirl so it’s off to the shops with me to purchase a smaller one – any excuse!

After each one is frosted pipe a little rosette onto each one – off centre looks so much better and cuter in my opinion.

Now you have to eat them:)

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Humdinger Hummus, Carrot, Cucumber, Avocado and Alfafa Sprout Sandwich

This truly is a humdinger of a sandwich sammich. Hum.Ding.Er. I don’t eat many sandwiches nowadays. In fact, I don’t eat much bread but I really fancied some this week and you know what? It tasted good. Really good!

Obviously my new found appreciation of something as humble and basic as bread is probably bourne out of the distinct lack of it in my diet over the past few months. I’ve had the occasional slice of rye bread for brekkie – toasted and topped with almond or cashew butter and a smidge of St.Dalfour (my preserve of choice) – but other than that I’m struggling to think of when I last bought a proper loaf.

The first bite of that sandwich tasted unreal – I mean eye rollingly good. So good I insisted on making one for Hubbie to take to work today and I, of course, made another one for my own lunch – well I had to photograph for the blog y’know;)

The only slight change I made today was to include a little grated cucumber, which added another layer to the flavour combos – if you’re not a cucumber fan feel free to leave it out. I also chose to use a roasted red pepper hummus but plain ol’ traditional hummus would taste equally fantastic. One thing I cannot bend on, however, is the avocado and alfafa sprouts – holy moly, those two ingredients are the main components that bring the whole triumphant ensemble together, so mess with those at your peril.

I felt so happy throughout the entire eating of this sarnie, if someone had been watching (not sure why they would be because that would be a bit creepy but allow me to hypothesize for a moment)I’m sure they would’ve seen someone (me) chowing down with a stupidly self satisfied grin on their face. This is the kind of effect food has me. It has the power to make me ridiculously happy(the kind of happy that makes you smile from the inside out), to the point where at times I seriously worry about my sanity. Should a sandwich be able to do this or am I just a weird deranged sammich woman? On second thoughts, don’t answer that.

Hmmmmm, sammich. Goooooood sammich. Niiiiiiiiice sammich. Maaaaaaake sammich. Eaaaaaaaat sammich.

And once you’ve done that, you can officially join my ‘weird deranged sammich woman’s club’ (edit: you don’t have to be a woman to join, you just have to….make this sandwich, pinky swear you looooooove sammich’s and your in! Dems da rules. Get sammichin’!

Ingredients

2 slices of thick wholegrain farmhouse bread (vegan!)

1/2 cup of roasted red pepper hummus

1/2 large carrot

1/4 large cucumber

1/2 avocado

large handful alfafa sprouts

sea salt and pepper

Peel and finely grate the carrot and cucumber.

Halve the avocado, peel and slice lengthways.

Toast the bread – I like mine well done (on the cusp of burnt).

Spread one slice of toasted bread with a generous amount of hummus. Top with the grated carrot and cucumber.

Top with the avocado – layer it in a fan like fashion (fancy!) and lightly season with some sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread a little more hummus on top of the avocado – this will ensure the alfafa sprouts will stay put.

Add the final layer of alfafa sprouts. Spread the other slice of toasted bread with the remainder of the hummus and place on top of the sandwich. Carefully cut diagonally – put a sharp knife in the centre of the sandwich, cut outwards on one side and then repeat on the other. This way the ingredients won’t spill out the sides:)

Eaaaaaaat saaaaaammich.

6 comments so far. Want to leave yours ?

Stir-fried Rice

I’ve been feeling pretty lazy over the past day or so. Probably something to do with the fact I had my first proper days work since February. I feel fired up now and am ready to properly get back in the acting game after allowing it to take a bit of a back seat. I’ve gotten over the trauma of the tour and it’s time to give my career priority status again.

Not only have I been feeling like a lazy boner but I’ve also had a poorly Husband to deal with, so yesterday was officially slob day. I wasn’t in the mood for too much cooking although I still had to work on a recipe for BDT. Speaking of BDT, have you seen this weeks issue? It’s really fantastic with more great fashion, health tips and, of course, food! I was super pleased with my plum muffins, you should check them out;)

So after sorting out my BDT recipe all I wanted for lunch was something comforting, quick and tasty. I even got Hubbie to do some of the chopping – I’m slowly trying to get him to be more comfortable in the kitchen. It’s not that he isn’t willing but the kitchen is pretty much my domain so he gets to spend very little time in there  – apart from when he makes me breakfast on a Saturday (awww bless).

Brown rice is great grounder. It makes me feel satisfied in every way and I need to have it several times a week. How some people feel about fries is the way I feel about brown rice. Sometimes all I need is a bowl of brown rice with broccoli and I’m one happy girl. I was grateful there was at least some broccoli for me to eat on set the other day otherwise it would have been slim pickings – I paired it with chips (fries), which wasn’t ideal but unfortunately it was the only suitable food for me to eat.

Snack wise I did come prepared with cucumber, hummus, ryvita, marmite and a protein bar – it’s very important on days like these to have a selection of food with you otherwise you’re likely to find yourself in a situation where none of the available eats are vegan friendly. And from experience that is not a good feeling. Personally I go into panic mode because I need to know I have something to hand I can eat – long days equals lots of food.

Back to the brown rice and stir fry. This is a flavourful dish that takes minimum effort (exactly what I needed), perfect for a main or as a side dish – in fact, we topped it with some leftover thai red curry from the previous evening and it was scrummy. I firmly believe that as long as you have fresh garlic, chilli and ginger you can make anything taste great and this dish is a prime example. I’ve made variations on this recipe many times over and it never gets boring. Tell me, what’s your favourite brown rice dish?

Ingredients

1/2 cup brown basmati

1 large carrot

1/4 red pepper

3 large cabbage leaves (or spring greens/kale)

5/6 chestnut mushrooms

2 spring onions

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

small handful of sesame seeds

1 garlic clove

small thumbsize piece of ginger

1/2 large red chilli

chilli flakes

fresh thyme

tamari (or soy sauce)

olive oil

sesame oil

umeboshi plum vinegar

Cook the rice – 1 1/2 cups of water to 1/2 cup rice. Cover the rice, bring to the boil and then simmer until all the water is absorbed – about 20-25mins. Don’t be tempted to lift the lid. When cooked take off the heat and set aside.

Peel the carrot and cut into small cubes. Also cube the pepper. Heat a little olive oil in a pan, add the carrot and pepper, shake in a few chilli flakes, fresh thyme leaves, splash in some tamari and saute for several minutes.

Mince the garlic and ginger and finely slice the chilli. Add to the pan and lightly fry for a few minutes.

Wash and finely slice the cabbage, add to pan along with a splash of sesame oil. Let it cook right down – will take around 10mins. Roughly chop the chestnut mushrooms and add to pan. Let them cook for a couple of minutes.

Slice the spring onions and add to pan. Toss in the pumpkin and sesame seeds. Cook for a few more minutes before tumbling in the cooked brown rice. Splash in some ume vinegar, a little more tamari and stir fry the rice until it absorbs all the juices in the pan.

Serve.


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Vegan on a budget

Not a recipe today I’m afraid but something I hope you’ll find equally helpful? Interesting? Informative? Something?

We are currently on a very tight budget. It happens. Not that we’re particularly materialistic but there have been a few big purchases of late and now we’re paying the price – literally. Many people think veganism is expensive and it can be. That is if you’re buying such luxuries as cacao powder, chia seeds, coconut oil, however, these items last a fairly long time, so as long as you don’t go crazy and use massive amounts of  them everyday you can keep the cost down to a minimum.

I always make sure there are some staples in my cupboard so that my weekly shop doesn’t cost the earth. Well, I try to implement this system, some weeks more successfully than others and I will admit to having a tendency to frequently veer away from my carefully prepared shopping list especially if I spot a bargain or just fancy something I see in the supermarket. This tends to happen more often than I’d like. What ya gonna do!

If I really need to though I can reign myself in and stick to the list. I’m also pretty good at using up every scrap of food in my cupboards in order to make a little go a very long way. It takes a bit of planning and some imagination but the more you do it the easier it becomes. I’ve been making a weekly meal plan pretty much since I left home at 18. I’m not saying it happened immediately but I soon realised I needed to take control of my allocated weekly budget or else I would go very hungry(and I did) – you can only ‘borrow’ other peoples cereal so many times before they lose patience with you.

It was during my student days that I really got the cooking bug and I became an expert in making 50quid cover an entire weekly shop for two including wine. Including wine!! That’s breakfast, lunch and dinner with wine for seven days. Not bad even if I do say so myself. Some things never change and here I am all those years later still trying to make a small sum of money stretch to a now entirely vegan shop full of organic produce but without vino, which I now consider to be a treat rather than a nightly ritual.

Down to the nitty gritty then. I had 30 pounds (about $50). With that I needed to buy enough food for seven breakfasts, seven lunches and seven evening meals for two not forgetting enough snacks to satisfy an active hungry man and woman for a full week – phew! I also have to ensure my menu is balanced – protein, calcium, iron, vit c, you get the picture.

I had a few staples such as grains to work around. Here is a list of what I already had in my cupboards:

dried lentils (red and green)

vermicelli noodles

udon noodles

brown basmati rice

gluten free pasta

arborio rice

wild rice

mung bean noodles

canned tomatoes

cannellini beans

masa harina flour

polenta

rice flour

spelt flour

ryvita

dried mushrooms

sun dried tomatoes

and in my fridge and freezer I had:

2  Linda McCartney sausages

broad beans

soya beans

thai red curry paste

lemons and limes

spring onions

Of course I also have a host of herbs and spices as well as oils (extra virgin olive and coconut), vinegars, seeds, nuts, nut butters, dried fruit and teas. These are items you accumulate and I couldn’t live without them. Without these the following menu would be bland as an old boot. So stock up when you can on these essentials.

my menu read as follows:

Sunday: cannellini bean and courgette patties with a wild rice and arborio risotto

Monday: red lentil dhal with brown basmati and fried tofu

Tuesday: Thai red potato and cauliflower curry served with udon noodles

Wednesday: Tacos with green lentil meat and guacamole

Thursday: Pasta with a tomato and ‘sausage’ sauce

Friday: Butternut squash and black bean burgers

Saturday: Vermicelli stirfry 

My plan for lunches was to make the evening meal large enough so that my Husband could take some to work with him. I can always rustle something up for myself but frequently have soup and ryvita topped with either avocado or hummus and sliced tomato. Breakfast is very oat centered but that’s fine by me, as I can make a multitude of things such as porridge, overnight oats and granola. I’ll talk about snacks in a mo but first here’s my weekly list:

onions

spinach

sweet potato (they had none so I opted for butternut squash instead)

potatoes

cauliflower

carrots

mushrooms

cabbage

red pepper

cucumber

courgettes (zucchini)

avocado

black beans

soup

tofu

hummus

bananas

flat leaf parsley

hemp milk

organic jumbo oats

The total came to 27.50 so I came under budget but then went ever so slightly over with the purchase of four raw bars for Hubbie’s lunch, which took the official total to……31.50.  Not bad, not bad.

I also must stress that If I had stuck to my list (I tried!) I would have been well under budget but I couldn’t resist the locally grown strawberries that were calling my name. Nor could I not buy the ever so ripe satsumas and a pack of redwood ‘sausages’ that are great for chopping up into a multitude of dishes or eating straight out of the pack. Had I stuck to my guns that would have left the total at around 25 quid with the addition of the raw bars bringing it up to just under 30. Regardless I was pretty happy with the outcome – great food, great prices, job done.

I avoided the supermarket and instead opted for the the local farm shop. All the goods (apart from the satsumas, I think) were organically grown. They also sell non-organic produce, which is a little cheaper but I believe organic is best – not for taste but most certainly for the environment and your health. Pesticides are bad bad news people. Here are some reasons why you should be buying organic.

Oh yes, snacks! Examples are:

Hummus with either carrot or cucumber sticks

Ryvita or rice crackers smeared with nut butter (almond or cashew, sometimes peanut)

instant banana ice-cream (frozen banana blended until smooth)

raw bars or balls (shop bought or homemade)

Now you’re either going to be impressed with my efforts or thinking to yourself ‘Pffft, I can do better that that!’. Either way I’m sure you loved a virtual rummage through my cupboards – am I right, am I right? I love a mooch myself and am always drawn to posts like these. I’m endlessly fascinated by what foods people buy and eat and I hope there are some amongst you who are the same as me. Please tell me this is so – I don’t wanna be the only voyeuristic food freak in blogland.

Also, I thought I’d leave you with a review of last night’s dinner, it was beyond good. The tofu was literally tossed in a mix of polenta (cornmeal) and rice flour and fried for about five to seven minutes either side on a medium to high heat. OMG! Also, I mixed some broad beans and spinach through the dhal – you must must try this, it adds texture, bite and flavour.

One thing is for sure, being on a budget forces you to be creative. I’ve discovered some of my best recipes by having to be frugal and this week was no different. And I can’t deny, it was sorta fun.

14 comments so far. Want to leave yours ?

Cannellini Bean and Courgette Patties

Beans are more than just a feature in my diet. They are an integral (couldn’t, wouldn’t and refuse to live without them) part of my eating, not only out of necessity but out of sheer love – I worship at the feet of the legume. It’s quite apt they’re also called Pulses because if it weren’t for them I may not have one, so important are they to my health. A little grim but kinda true.

I eat some sort of pulse everyday, whether it be in the form of hummus, refried beans, baked beans on toast, as a side, in soups, part of a casserole or in a burger/pattie. You could say they are my meat. Packed full of protein, hearty in taste and texture and versatile as you like. In short, I could never get bored of beans, just isn’t possible, ain’t ever gonna happen. Eva!

And these little beany beauties were an absolute triumph. Crispy exterior, firm but creamy interior and oozing flavour – my kind of pattie. They’d work great in a bun but I decided to pair them with a wild rice risotto topped with a vegan garlic and wholegrain mustard mayo sauce type thingy (literally just 3 tbsp vegan garlic mayo mixed with a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard). Perfection.

Hubbie just kept saying “these are really good, aren’t they?”, so I think that means he thought they were really good.

cannellini bean and courgette patties

2 cups cooked cannellini/white beans

1 courgette

3 spring onions/scallions

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tbsp flour

1 tbsp polenta/corn meal

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds/pepitas

Olive oil

salt and pepper

Drain and rinse the beans, transfer to a large bowl and mash. Set aside.

Grate the courgette and chop the scallion. Heat the oil in a frying pan or skillet and add the courgette, scallion, oregano, thyme, season generously and allow to cook for several minutes until the courgette softens.

Finely chop the flat leaf parsley.

Add the courgette mixture to the mashed beans, season and combine using a spatula. Add the parsley, flour, polenta, pumpkin seeds and season further with lots of cracked black pepper. Mix until is comes together in a ball. If it is still quite sticky add a little more polenta.

Take a handful, roll it into a large ball and then flatten ensuring there are no cracks around the rim of the pattie. Repeat – you should get four or five decent sized patties out of this mix. Refrigerate for an hour turning over half way through – trust me!

Heat a small amount of oil in the pan – I brush it evenly over the entire pan using a pastry brush. When it is a fairly high heat (but not smoking) add the patties and cook for 10 minutes on each side. Their exterior should be golden and crunchy.

Serve in a bun or as an accompaniment to just about anything. A creamy or spicy sauce would work wonderfully too.

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Ten minute Broccoli Soup

Man oh man, where has this week gone? I almost forgot to go to my workout this morning because I didn’t realise it was Friday! Not that I’m complaining, it’s great to be this busy. It does mean less time to spend on lunch though – even less than the 20mins I normally enforce, which is how this ten minute broccoli soup came about. I’m pretty sure I could get it down to five if I didn’t bother sweating the onion, celery and broccoli stalk but for now it remains at ten.

Broccoli is one of those vegetables that you associate with childhood. Most kids hate it, turn their noses up and push it to the one side but not me. Generally I think I probably was a strange child – I was listening to Neil Sedaka, Elvis Costello and Sam Cooke when everyone else was into Take That and New Kids On The Block for pete’s sake. I also love, love, loved broccoli. It was my absolute favourite part of Sunday dinner. Truly. Loved it.

Now that I’m vegan my broccoli intake has quadrupled and that’s fine by me. Nothing is more satisfying than a bowl of stir fried brown rice topped with lightly steamed or blanched broccoli. That’s a total zen dish right there, let me tell you.

This soup is fast and easy (ooh er!), tastes go-od and best of all it’s homemade and therefore contains no nasties. I won’t lie, I do rely on canned soups for some lunches but I’ve managed to limit it to about once a week now. In all honesty though I don’t know why I bother because it really is just as quick to rustle up a fresh soup.

The one addition I might add to this already yum yum soup next time is a touch of freshly grated nutmeg – just a pinch. Aside from that I wouldn’t alter anything else. It was creamy, smooth, delicate yet tasty and I can tell you now I had two bowlfuls.

Ready, set, go make that broccoli soup!

ingredients

1 small broccoli (incl.stalk)

1 small yellow onion

1 celery stick

1 tsp vegan vegetable stock granules or 1/2 stock cube

1/4 cup soya milk

1 tbsp oil

salt and pepper

Heat a little oil in a pan. Finely chop the onion, celery and broccoli stalk (it will add so much flavour) and add to pan. Season and gently sweat for a few minutes ensuring it doesn’t colour.

Add the broccoli florets and cover with water. Sprinkle in the vegetable stock and stir to dissolve.

Cover pan and allow to simmer for a few minutes until the florets soften a little.

Transfer to a blender, add the soya milk, season and blitz until smooth.

Return to pan and gently heat. Check for seasoning – if you’re like me you’ll like it mega peppery.

Serve!

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Mint Choc Nibbles

Before you even say it, I am totally aware these ‘nibbles’ look like boobies. I was so very tempted to call them ‘raw boobs’ but I was worried it would encourage even more sexual spam and I have enough of that to deal with already – delete permanently, delete permanently, delete permanently…..

I must admit I  kinda like that they look a bit naughty and they made my Husband giggle – actually he was the one who exclaimed “they look like boobies” when I presented him with one after he arrived home from work. Part of me was tempted to cover them entirely with cacao nibs just to hide the fact they resemble a perfectly rounded breast but where would be the fun in that.

If they were life size I reckon they’d be a D cup, what do you think?

Getting back to the ‘nibbles’. I’m certain the addition of a dozen more cacao nibs would not have enhanced their taste or texture. The single cacao nib ‘nipple’ adds a nice crunch without interfering with the minty chocolatey chewiness. Just the right mesh of textures methinks.

Pecans, I’m told, are a contentious issue in the raw world – something to do with them having to be roasted to a certain temperature before being able to be extracted from their shells. I’m not raw so totally happy to use them in sweets and desserts. They also happen to be my absolute favourite nut – Dear God but they are divine! Raw, not raw, these nibbles are delicious and so unbelievably easy to make. I mean sim-ple. That is if you are in possession of a food processor or hand blender. Currently I am in possession of neither.

The Magic Bullet I ordered weeks ago has still not arrived (grrrrrr) and I’ve lost patience with the company now so I’ve asked for a full refund. What a palava!

All I had at my disposal was my Kenwood blender, which was not ideal but I made it work. Lots of hoking and poking with a spatula (take it off the motor when doing this – play safe kids!) to get the mixture unstuck from under the blade. Finally I achieved the rubble I desired and I was off. Making boobies.

Should you not wish to make boobies you can shape the mixture in balls (stop it!) or bars or anything else you desire – keep it clean(ish);) Clearly the boobs have distracted me from the actual recipe and the resulting taste factor.

These taste good. That is all.

Now go forth and make boobies.

mint choc nibbles

1/2 cup halved neglet or medjool dates

1/2 cup pecans

2 tbsp raw cacao powder (you can also use cocoa powder)

1 tsp peppermint essence

handful of cacao nibs

Place everything in a food processor or hand blender and blitz until it forms a rubble.

Line a dish with greaseproof paper.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and take a teaspoon amount in your hands. Press it together tightly until forms a squidgy ball. Press onto a chopping board and shape into a half moon/dome.

Place nibble on lined dish and repeat. You should get about 10/11 nibbles out of the mixture.

When you have finished shaping them, place a nib into the centre of each nibble and gently press until it is secure.

Eat immediately or refrigerate for a few hours/overnight for a firmer texture.

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Update!

Woah, I am stressed! In a good way though. I’ve been contributing articles and recipes to two online enterprises, as well as trying to keep up with my own blog and let me tell you it ain’t easy. I feel as if PeaSoupEats has unduly suffered over the past few weeks and that’s just not acceptable. So in order to rectify this dreadful state of affairs I have vowed to post at least three new recipes this week – on top of the four that will be published in BrewDrinkingThinkings and Marcus Samuelson.

To put you in the picture, I am the new vegan recipe contributor to fabulous new online magazine Brew Drinking Thinkings, which is incredibly exciting for me as I’ve always wanted to write for a magazine. In fact, I have previously applied to intern at several magazines and had very positive replies – unfortunately my good efforts were thwarted because we ended up moving Stateside. That was well over two years ago now and I’m back in Blighty so my ambitions to write for a living are officially back on track. Wahay!

Not only am I writing for the mag but I’ve also been asked to offer up some of my vegan delights for the readers of Marcus Samuelson. In case you didn’t know, Marcus Samuelson is a wonderfully talented chef based in New York. Of Swedish and Ethiopian background he is the equivalent to our dear old Jamie Oliver with his passion for food tipping over into national and global activism. Like Jamie, he wants to revolutionize how we view food and he ain’t messing. He’s cooked for the likes of President Obama and he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty showing kids how much fun (and tasty) healthy food can be. Marcus is on a mission and I have a funny feeling he just might succeed.

I was so flattered to be asked to contribute to this particular site because they already have some wonderful vegan and vegetarian writers/photographers on board. I am truly thrilled to be amongst such talented people. Quite honestly, it’s also a great way of keeping me on my toes.

Hopefully you now understand why my recipe posts have been less frequent. However, the adjustment period is officially over and I’m organising my time a little better now, which means PeaSoupEats will be back to normal as of tomorrow – yip yippety yay!

In the meantime though I can direct to my latest recipe on Brew Drinking Thinkings. Totally new, never been posted on here or anywhere else and furthermore, incredibly delicious. You can never go wrong with a bit of coconut. Paired with pineapple and strawberries? O.M.G.

I was delighted with how this bread turned out and between the two of us my Husband and I ate the lot. Pure greed.

http://www.brewdrinkingthinkings.com/9/post/2011/05/pineapple-coconut-and-strawberry-bread.html

For more vegan inspiration head over to Marcus Samuelson where you’ll not only find recipes by me but also some outrageous vegan offerings from Lindsay Hunt and Katie Cizewski to name a few.

My approach to the coming days, weeks and months? Bring it on baby. Bring. It. On!

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Vegan Oatjacks

Oats are my not so new obsession. I love ’em in smoothies, I swoon over overnight oats and granola just plain makes me happy. Could this most basic of ingredients get any better? I mean, what can’t they do? They also happen to taste pretty fantastic and they really do set you up for the day without making you feel sluggish or allowing the hunger monster to attack any sooner than lunch. Obviously this is all subjective but I’ve never had a bad oat experience – as you can tell from the many recipes on my blog!

Joy the Baker is one of my absolute favourite ( love every one of her recipes) bloggers. Most of the time I have to do a bit of tweaking in order to veganise her dishes but that ain’t no hardship and they always come out top notch. It was this lovely lady that turned me onto what I call porridge pancakes but what she calls The Single Lady Pancake. This might be the pancake to end all pancakes – so, so good! In case you’re wondering I just subbed the buttermilk for soy with a splash of cider vinegar and it was incredible.

Oomph! So I think we’ve gathered I like oats in all their many and varied forms. Let’s then add another recipe to that ever extending list and be done with it – what the heck, I’m feeling crazy.

I’ve named them oatjacks because they’re similar to but not quite of the flap variety and they comprise of oats – duh! Akin to my very own granola but in bar form and totally yummy yumsters. My Husband is stir mad about them and probably would’ve scoffed the lot in one sitting had I not prized the dish from his fingers. I too liked them tremendously. Enough to blog about them anyway.

Any other oat nutters out there? Tell me I’m not the only one!

vegan oatjacks

1 cup jumbo oats

1 cup plain porridge oats

handful of raisins

4 large chopped dates

1/4 cup of roughly chopped nuts (I used walnuts and pecans)

1/8 cup desiccated/shredded coconut

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup date syrup

1/8 cup sweet freedom or agave

1/8 cup maple syrup

Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees celsius/350 degrees fahrenheit.

Prepare a baking tin by lining it with baking parchment.

In a large bowl combine the oats, raisins, chopped dates, nuts and desiccated coconut.

Put the coconut oil, date syrup, sweet freedom and maple syrup in a small saucepan and slowly heat until the oil is melted. Let it gently simmer for a minute or two before pouring into the oats.

Thoroughly mix the syrup and oats together until everything is completely combined. It should all be wet – no dry bits, so keep stirring until this consistency is achieved.

Transfer to the baking dish/tin and pack in tightly using the back of a spatula.

Bake for 20 minutes, remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting into large squares.

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Lentil Salad

We’ve had a wonderful double Bank Holiday weekend lazing about and doing very little. This has been mostly due to the dreary state of the weather – very unusual for this part of the world at this time of year. We would’ve loved to have been out in the water getting to grips with our very primitive surfing skills but it was not to be. Never worry, we have a whole summer ahead of us to master this surfing melarkey (If anything, I’m an optimist!).

I must admit it’s been lovely to just potter about, do a bit of cooking, quite a bit of eating and a moderate amount of drinking. Pretty much bliss. In fact, the weather was so insane last night (thunderstorms galore) we hid in bed…. with cocktails. That was fun.

I’ve also just started to read The China Study and already I’m completely gripped. I was worried it was going to be very heavy going but I think it is brilliantly written, as well as being incredibly informative and positively inspirational from the get go. You know you’re reading a good book when your heart starts to beat faster and your eyes widen with excitement with every nugget. I have a feeling I’m going to race through it.

Like I said, there’s been plenty of eating over the last few days, some of it exceedingly healthy (like this salad) and some of it not so – we consumed a gargantuan vegan cooked breakfast on Friday and Saturday seemed to be a day of never ending bread; bagels, ciabatta, pizza, so this lentil salad was a welcome relief when it came.

Lentils are fabulous. Hot or cold they can be used in a multitude of dishes and their meaty texture and earthy flavour make them unlike any other pulse. I always keep at least two bags in my cupboard – red and green (pref. puy) – because they are almost a meal in themselves. Quite honestly I could sit down to a bowlful of lightly seasoned cooked lentils and be perfectly happy. My Husband on the other hand would not be so easily pleased so I’ve tarted them up with an array of added vegetables and herbs to create this wonderfully fresh and easy salad.

Almost pearlescent before cooking, pretty and delicate after, the humble lentil is definitely at the top of my favourite foods list. Because of my mild aversion to tvp or soya mince I would be lost without lentils – I particularly love them in shepherdess pie! However, as with most things, simpler is better and this salad is the perfect way to enjoy lentils because in this dish they are, without a doubt, the star of the show.

Bon appetit!

Lentil Salad

1 cup puy (french style) lentils

1/2 red onion

10 pomodorino (or cherry) tomatoes

1 celery stick

1 small courgette

1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

1 tbsp slice basil

1 large dried fig

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

1 tbsp sunflower seeds

zest of 1 lemon

juice 1/2 lemon

1 tbsp olive oil

sea salt and pepper

dressing

1 tsp wholegrain mustard

juice 1/2 lemon

1 tbsp red wine vinegar (vegan)

1 tsp sweet freedom or agave syrup

3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and pepper

Rinse and sort the lentils. Place them in a pan and top with two cups of water. Cover, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 15-20mins until tender. Not all the liquid will be absorbed so you’ll need to drain. They will be delicate at this stage so try not to handle them too much. Set aside and allow to cool.

Finely chop the red onion. Slice the tomatoes. Wash and grate the courgette. Finely chop the celery – as fine as possible. Chop the fig into small pieces and zest the lemon.

Put all the ingredients including the lentils into a large bowl and gently mix. Season generously and add the lemon juice and oil. Give a thorough stir.

Put all the dressing ingredients into a jam jar and shake vigorously until it emulsifies. Taste and adjust for seasoning if necessary.

Add the chopped flat leaf parsley, slice basil and seeds to the bowl, pour over the dressing and combine.

Serve alone, as a side dish or a starter. Would also work wonderfully with some crumbled cashew cheese sprinkled over the top.

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