Friday, 26 December 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS! (VEGAN CHRISTMAS DINNER)

Merry Christmas! Wishing you all a happy, healthy holiday season! :)
What did you have for Christmas dinner?
Here's a glimpse at my vegan Christmas plate this year. (Individual recipes to come in the new year: stuffed peppers and plantain fried rice).




Friday, 12 December 2014

RAW VEGAN MINCE PIES

My raw vegan interpretation of mince pies is so healthy it's almost embarrassing. But want to hear the best part? They taste insanely delicious! This idea came to me late at night when I was already tucked up in bed and ready to take a trip to the land of zzz's. Filled with this sudden burst of curiosity and excitement, I pulled my coat on and made my way to the local grocery store (only a 5 minute walk away, thankfully) to source out all the ingredients I'd need to create these beauties the next day. Interesting how most of my spontaneous acts involve food in some way. 

Forget waiting 12 hours for an almond flour/cashew nut base to solidify in a dehydrator (only to disintegrate at the slightest touch), this method is quicker, easier and delivers on flavour. It's gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, junk-free, but - in anticipation of any snarky sceptics out there - definitely not taste-free. I honestly had no idea how this would turn out and I'm going to be real with you: I was blown away by how amazing they turned out. I ate my way through 3 of these in one sitting, with not an ounce of guilt. 

As you can already tell from the picture, I used hollowed out apples for the 'crust'. I've used green apples in this case as they are not as sweet as the red varieties and therefore provide a nice contrast to the naturally sweet mince filling.

Give this a try yourself this Christmas season and let me know what you think! Don't forget to share if you like it and leave a comment with your feedback!

Wishing you all a delicious Christmas in advance.

[More pictures below]
























Ingredients
(makes 8-10)
- 2 cups mixed dried fruits (raisins, sultanas, diced apricots, cranberries)
- 1/4 cup desiccated coconut (plus extra for garnish)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1.5 tsp mixed spice
- 1/4 cup fresh apple juice
- 4-5 small apples
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice

To make the mince pie filling, place the mixed dried fruit, desiccated coconut, mixed spice, juice of 1/2 a lemon, and apple juice in a food processor and blitz on high speed for a couple of minutes until you have a chunky paste that holds well together.

To make the apple 'crust', remove the stem, peel the apple completely and cut in half. [You can also slice off an extra thin layer off the top of each half to use as a pie cover later]. Using a small teaspoon, carefully scoop out the inside of each apple half. If you're 99.9% percent sure that you won't slice a finger off, then use a small knife to assist with the hollowing out process, otherwise I strongly recommend that you stick with a small spoon. Coat the apple 'crusts' in generous lashings of fresh lemon juice to prevent unnecessary discolouration.

Don't worry about having to throw all the scooped out apple away. Simply discard the seeds and add the rest of the pulp to your mince pie filling, blending again for a couple of seconds to combine.

Spoon generous amounts of the mince pie filling into your apple 'crust'. If you sliced off any extra thin layers to cover the mince pie then go ahead and place that on top, otherwise you can also decorate with little shapes cut out from the apple peel (can be a bit fiddly, so don't worry about perfection).

If you have any leftover mince filling, simply place into a container, refrigerate and use within 2 days.







Tuesday, 9 December 2014

FESTIVE BRUSSELS SPROUTS

I got my hands on some organic brussels sprouts recently. Almost around the same time that I noticed some healthy conversations going on over at Aloha, and I thought I would join in! Brussels sprouts is a fitting recipe to share because not only have we crossed the threshold into the festive season (yay Christmas...!) but brussels sprouts is often relegated to the far, dark corner of any Christmas spread - not truly enjoyed, but present for old time's sake - and hopefully this recipe will show that sprouts can and should take centre stage; that a side dish as mundane as brussels sprouts can put a smile on your face and the face of your guests...unless maybe they're little kids, in which case, good luck trying to convince them!

There's nothing dull or bland about the festive season - think of all the lights and tinsel and bright smiles from strangers who are in a good mood for no reason. So why not bring that same sort of energy to your healthy vegetable side dishes? There's nothing worse than chowing on tasteless, soggy brussel sprouts. Spruce it up a bit! Add a dash of imagination! Make it delicious!

And speaking of delicious, if you'd like some more inspiration on tasty recipes that are also just downright good for you, then head over to Aloha and you won't be disappointed! You can also follow them on Facebook!

























Ingredients
- brussel sprouts (all you can eat...or fit in the pot)
- olive oil
- crushed chilli flakes
- mixed herbs
- sea salt
- hemp seeds or crushed peanuts

Steam the brussel sprouts for about 5 - 10 minutes. Avoid overcooking to prevent a bitter, unpleasant taste.

Drizzle the sprouts with olive oil and season with chilli flakes, mixed herbs and sea salt. Throw in some hemp seeds or crushed peanuts (as much as you want) and toss it all together until the sprouts are well-coated. Serve hot or warm as a side dish. Also makes a great meal on its own if you're in a particularly brussel-sprouty mood :)








Thursday, 4 December 2014

HEMP CREPES - GOOD HEMP REVIEW

Hemp products first caught my attention when I attended a handful of vegan/vegetarian events over the summer. If you'd asked me back then to tell you what this superfood is all about, I'd have scratched my head and given a blank stare. In many ways, I'm grateful that the kind people at Good Hemp Nutrition sent me a selection of their products to review because it has allowed me to delve a little deeper and learn a lot about the nutritional benefits of hemp seeds and its variations. And no, these hemp products won't make you high as they don't contain THC (the substance found in Cannabis)...It's all good! ;)
  • Hemp seed is naturally rich in omega 3 and 6
  • It is a COMPLETE source of protein, which is music to any vegan's ears
  • It contains a high amount of protein that is more easily digestible than other protein sources
  • It does not require any pesticides or herbicides to grow so is totally natural
  • Great for healthy hair and skin
  • Improves cardiovascular circulation and helps lower blood pressure
  • It reduces the symptoms of PMS 


The three products I received were: Good Oil, Good Hemp Milk, and Good Seed (shelled hemp seed). My first instinct was to bake something using all three ingredients, bringing them together in one harmonious tray bake or tower of seeded muffins. Alas, I happened to start craving crepes and this presented the perfect opportunity to experiment! Before tossing all the ingredients into my mixing bowl, however, I had a taste of each product individually. I appreciated the light nutty taste of all three but was particularly impressed with the milk which has a silky, creamy consistency and sweet aroma - something I can imagine using regularly in my cup of tea or bowl of porridge. 
The shelled seeds are soft and chewy, and while I wouldn't necessarily snack on them on their own (the taste is too intense and overpowering for me!), it's great for sprinkling over a number dishes - both sweet and savoury. Think cereal and porridge and soups and salads and desserts and...you get the picture. The crepes in this recipe are also infused with the shelled hemp seeds and worked great as a garnish, adding extra texture and flavour. 

The hemp oil also has a strong smell and taste, so a little goes a long way. I see this 250 ml bottle lasting me a very long time as I probably won't use more than a tablespoon per recipe - it is that flavourful! Good Oil is cold pressed, making it a healthy oil to use for cooking and in salad dressings. What's more, I discovered that hemp oil has 40% less saturated fat than olive oil and is rich in omega 3. When I asked readers on my Facebook page for tips on what to do with the products, one suggested using some hemp oil in smoothies and I must admit, I'm eager to try it out! 

Overall, I've been won over by the highly nutritious aspect of these hemp products and I would recommend that you try them out for yourself. If you want to find out more about Good Hemp Nutrition, you can visit their website or connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Now, who's ready for some crepes!?

Ingredients
(serves 2-3)
- 1 cup plain flour (or gluten-free flour of your choice)
- 1.5 cups hemp milk
- 2 tbsp shelled hemp seeds (and extra for garnish)
- 1 tbsp hemp oil
- 1/2 banana (mashed)
- 1/2 banana (sliced, to garnish)
- pure maple syrup
- coconut cream






Mix the flour, hemp milk, hemp seeds, hemp oil and mashed banana in a large bowl until the batter is smooth and lump-free. 

These crepes are quite delicate so extra care and attention is needed to get them right. Make sure your frying/skillet pan is always lightly oiled to stop the crepes from sticking, or use a non-stick pan if possible. You will also need to keep an eye on the heat and make sure the pan never gets too hot. When this happens, take it off the heat for a couple of minutes between each crepe to cool down slightly. Don't worry if the first crepe turns out looking like its been run over by a truck and thrown against a concrete wall...this is normal...the first attempt is usually the worst one, and then it gets better!

Ladle some of the batter into the pan, swirling it round to coat the bottom and form a nice round shape (use the back of a spoon to spread it out more thinly, if necessary). Wait a few minutes for the top to start bubbling and until the crepe lifts easily around the edges. Flip it over and cook the other side until lightly browned.

Cook the rest of the crepes in this way until your batter runs out, remembering to keep an eye on the heat.

Serve with your favourite toppings. Here, I've sliced the other half of the banana and arranged that on top, with a generous sprinkling of hemp seeds, a dollop of cold coconut cream and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. Breakfast? Dessert? You decide!









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