Category Archives: Baking & Desserts

WIAW – I’ll bring the hemp burgers

Happy Wednesday everybody!

Yep, it’s Wednesday again, which means it’s time for the lovely Jenn’s virtual WIAW  party where the guests post and share their eats.  If you haven’t visited before, you must check out all the amazing pics!

Okay, so here’s what I ate this Wednesday:

Breakfast

Glass of warm water and a slice of lemon (this week I’ve really been enjoying this gentle start to the day, rather than the big cups of black coffee I had last week.  It’s reassuring to know that I’m no longer dependent on coffee to kickstart my day 😉 ) 

Big bowl of porridge into which I added some blueberry fruit spread, chopped walnuts, chopped pecans and sunflower seeds.  It was lush!  With the porridge, I drank a cup of nettle tea.

Lunch

I had to make a quick lunch before I dashed to school to teach my meditation classes, so I grabbed some Scottish oat cakes, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, black olives and cashew nut butter.  I bought a jar of Meridian cashew nut butter for the first time last week, and I’m LOVING it!  I’ll definitely be buying it again 🙂  

Snacks

After school, I enjoyed a 5-minute sitdown with a cup of coffee and a piece of date and zucchini chocolate brownie (which I made last week).  It was a bit of an experiment but it worked out really well (unlike a lot of my experiments 😉 ) 

I’ve never been a big fan of brownies, but I absolutely love this one.  The taste and texture is lush!  Plus, by using no refined sugar, very little oil, and with the addition of dates, zucchini and whole wheat flour, it’s actually a healthy brownie!  What more could we want eh??  Lil’ L has been taking it to school for his lunchtime snack.  I’ve just asked him what he thinks of the brownie and he said “really, really, really nice” 🙂

 

Dinner

I’m really into hemp seed at the moment, and have been using the Good Hemp milk, oil and shelled seeds as a way of adding omega-3 into our meals.  From what I’ve read, hemp is a ‘super food’ as it’s packed with nutrition.  Here’s a few facts I found out about hemp today:

  • It is a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids.  It also has a high protein content (see image below).
  • The globulin edestin in hemp seed closely resembles that found in human blood plasma and is completely compatible with the human digestive system, making it easily digested, absorbed and utilised. 
  • Hemp seed contains phytosterols, which have been shown to reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol.
  • Hemp seed has a high content of antioxidants (all part of the Vitamin E family).
  • Hemp seed has the perfect ratio of omega-3 to omega-6.

What an amazing amount of goodness packed into a little seed! 

I’ve been using the Good Hemp shelled hemp seed a lot lately, sprinkling it into breakfasts and on dinners.  For those interested, here’s the nutritional blurb found on the back of the pot:

Good Hemp also makes a hemp protein powder, which M has been trialling whilst mountain bike training.  I don’t think that I do enough exercise to warrant using protein powders, so I’ll leave it to him to review that one 😉

So, with my new love of all things hemp, on Monday I decided to create some hemp seed burgers.  I had very little time on Monday evening as we were going out trick ‘n’ treating, but as per usual with me, when I get the creative urge, I have to pursue it 😉  So, within 20 minutes I’d made the burgers, cooked them, served them, and we were out the door!  I made 8 burgers in total, so we had them for dinner tonight too. 

Lil’ L’s verdict on the hemp burger… deeeeelicious!!!  Yay another winner!   The burgers had a great texture and I thought they tasted a bit like the sausage meat that you find in veggie sausage rolls.  To make the burgers, I used tofu, hemp seeds, chopped onion, minced garlic, soy sauce, tomato puree, ground oats and a little stuffing mix.  (If anyone’s interested, I can post the recipe).  As accompaniments, we had sunflower and sesame seed rolls, roasted butternut squash, red pepper and crispy kale. Delish!

Dessert

For dessert tonight, I had some stewed apples with natural yoghurt, cinnamon and pecans, while Lil’ L finished up the banana cinnamon icecream that we made a couple of weeks ago.  It had gone before I had time to take a photograph, so here’s the pic from last time we had it.

 

So, that’s me done!  Time to head over to Jenn’s now and check out the lush foodie photos 😉 

Happy WIAW everyone!

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Breakfast and Elevenses, Dinners, Nutrition

Scrummy Vegan Chocolate Birthday Cake

For the past two birthdays, Lil L has asked whether we can make a home-made vegan chocolate cake as his birthday treat, rather than one of those fancy shop-bought birthday cakes.

Three reasons why I’ve considered this to be great news…

1. It means he actually likes the cakes I make 🙂
2. It’s saved me a small fortune 🙂
3. It means I get to spend some quality time with him in the kitchen 🙂

This year, he got heavily involved in all stages of the cake-making process, including the sieving, the mixing and, of course, the bowl licking. No guessing which bit he enjoyed the most 😉

Last year, he chose to have a plastic Frankenstein stuck in the top of the cake.  This year, we went for something slightly more sophisticated… berry and cherry spread in the middle, raw chocolate fudge frosting on top and 8 candles 🙂

The chocolate and fruity filling flavours went really well together.  For me, the cake also had the perfect consistency (moist, not crumbly, easy to cut).  In summary, this cake was totally delish! And, most importantly, Lil’  L loved it! 🙂

 

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The Big Budget Challenge – Week II

I’m  now in my second week of ‘The Big Budget Challenge’ hosted by the lovely Laura @ Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish.  I did okay in Week I, but Week 2 has been even better 🙂 

Here’s a run down of my top ‘money saves’ this week:

1. Avoid waste. No food thrown away this week!  

See these sad-looking bananas….

I turned them into this:

It’s banana cinnamon ‘ice cream’.  It’s so creamy that you would think it was proper ice cream!  To make it, I simply cut the bananas into slices, froze them, then whizzed them in the blender on the ice setting until they were all chopped up.  I then transferred them to a bowl, added a dash of nondairy milk, lashings of cinnamon and a tablespoon of ground linseed.  I then pulsed them using a hand blender until they went white and creamy.  The bananas were so ripe that I didn’t need to add any sweetener.  Lil’ L loves this dessert and it makes a nice change from apples 😉

2. Shop around for cheapest deals.  I finally got round to trying out www.mysupermarket.co.uk that a friend recommended way back in the summer.  I was really impressed with it.  It’s so simple to use.  At a click of a button, it allows you to import your online shopping basket from your usual provider (mine’s Tesco). You can then easily edit the basket, deleting items you no longer need and adding new items. 

Then, it does something really useful…

  • It shows you how you can save money by swapping to cheaper items. If you agree with their ‘Swap & Save’ suggestions, you just click to swap.  I saved £6.36 by swapping some items.
  • It then compares the cost of your basket at four supermarkets.  If your shop would be cheaper elsewhere, you just click to swap.  I did a big grocery shop (83 items) and the total was £139 at Tesco.  In Asda, the same shop would have cost me £155; Sainsbury’s £166; and Ocado (Waitrose) a wopping £177. I’ve always done my big grocery shops at Tesco, so it was great to discover that it is actually the cheapest supermarket for me. 🙂 
     
    It’s interesting because the cheapest supermarket very much depends on the types of groceries you buy.  For my friend, Sainsbury’s came out £30 cheaper than Tesco!  Lately, I’ve been disorganised with my grocery shopping and have ended up buying bits and pieces on a weekly basis from the Waitrose in Bath.  By getting more organised and ordering a fortnightly Tesco home delivery, I should save a small fortune! 🙂 

3. Make use of home grown foods.  We’re eating tons of apples and there’s still hundreds left!  After watching Monty Don’s episode on how to ‘over winter’ apples, I challenged M to make me a storage contraption using old scraps from the garage.  He rose to the challenge and made a great storage system…..

… but it took him the whole of Sunday.  He’s now banned me from watching Gardners’ World as he’s fed up with landing Monty Don’s ‘Jobs for the Weekend’. 😉

4. Go foraging!  No foraging this week as I’m still working out what to do with all the nuts we found last week

5. Make use of vouchers and deals. HUGE savings here! Last Friday, me and my good friend J went to London to meet up with our gorgeous friends N and H for lunch.  I converted my Tesco vouchers into tokens for redspottedhankie.com and managed to get both our travel tickets for FREE!  A total saving of £66!  This meant we had more cash to spend on gorgeous eats and drinks 🙂 

So, lots of savings this week.  Good thing too because next week is going to be v. v. expensive 😉 

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Being Frugal, Growing Fruit & Veggies

WIAW – I’ll bring the falafel and flapjack :)

Firstly, I’d like to begin by saying ‘hi’ to all the lovely new subscribers to my blog and to everyone that’s left me comments this week.  I’ve loved reading every single one of them… so please keep them coming! 

So, how has your Wednesday been?  Hope it’s been a good one for you!

My Wednesday has been a day of two halves… a morning of frustration sorry, read that as ‘challenges’ and ‘opportunities’ brought about by my attempts to embrace technology (unfortunately it just doesn’t want to embrace me back 😦 ), followed by a blissful afternoon spent with the children in my meditation classes.  Today they truly were my ‘little saviours’ 🙂

Since this post is dedicated to the WIAW party, I’ll post later about the other events that unfolded this Wednesday.

For those of you that are new to my blog, I’ll quickly explain what the WIAW party is.  Basically, it’s a virtual party hosted by the lovely Jenn over at Peas & Crayons, where we share what we eat each Wednesday.  This event not only helps us to keep track of our own eating habits, but it’s also greatly inspiring.  Last week I book-marked so many gorgeous veggie recipes, that I reckon I could try out new meals each night for the next year!

So, here we go… here’s what I ate this Wednesday:

Breakfast
Cup of black coffee (I would have chosen the hot water and lemon, but we’ve run out of lemon.  Great excuse eh 😉 )

After the school run, I made myself a huge bowl of porridge, made with Flahavan’s organic jumbo oats, Alpro fortified soya milk, with a sprinkling of  cinnamon, chopped brazil nuts, pecan nuts, ground linseed, goji berries, and a drizzle of Crazy Jack’s organic brown rice syrup.

Goji berries are a recent discovery for me, and I’m absolutely loving them!  I’ve also just found out that they’re one of those extremely nutrient-dense ‘super’ foods.  According to the write-up on Detox Your World, they contain all 8 essential amino acids (so they’re a great protein supplement); they’re a rich source of carotenoids (containing more beta-carotene than carrots); they contain vitamins B1, B2, B6, and vitamin E; and up to 21 trace minerals (the main ones being zinc, iron, copper, calcium, germanium, selenium, and phosphorus).  If you haven’t tried them, you must give them a go!  As well as adding them to porridge, I’ve also been putting them in my energy bars, flapjacks and raw chocolates.

For breakfast, I also had a large glass of Innocent smoothie.  This smoothie is seen as a luxury in our house, but it’s half price in Tesco at the moment so I bought two 🙂

Lunch
For lunch, I had a large bowl of lightly spiced parsnip soup, leftover from Sunday.  This is one of the family’s all-time favourite soups and Lil’ L loves it!   We lightly spice it with garam masala and a sprinkling of smoked paprika. It’s a great soup for Autumn!

Snacks
After school, we had a piece of cherry and coconut flapjack.  I first made this flapjack for the Macmillan Cancer fund-raiser event and it was a big hit!  It was the first goodie that sold out, and we received lots of great feedback and recipe requests.  I’ve finally got round to writing up the recipe and posting it.  Sorry it’s taken so long! 

People were surprised to hear that I don’t include any processed fat or oil in the flapjack.  It’s literally made with oats, dried cherries, coconut, a dash of vanilla extract and Sweet Freedom fruit syrup.  The fact that it’s low GI and low fat makes it a great snack as it helps sustain energy levels.  The dried cherries could be swapped for any dried fruits.  I often use goji berries (no surprise there) and dates.  If you try any other dried fruit combinations, please let me know as I’m always looking for inspiration.

Dinner
For dinner tonight we had falafel.  For the past year, I’ve been playing around with my falafel recipe and I finally think I’ve got it right…. not too spicy for Lil’ L, but still plenty of delicious flavour. 

I served the falafel with houmous, black olives, tzatziki (made with Alpro plain soy yoghurt), raw veggies, salad leaves, pieces of wholemeal pitta bread and wholegrain couscous (my boys eat so much!).  

By the time I served dinner, there was no natural light left, so here’s a shot of the same meal that I served last month.

Right, that’s me done!  Time to head over to Jenn’s party and get inspired 🙂

Happy WIAW everyone! 🙂

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WIAW – I’ll bring the Korma :)

Happy Wednesday everybody!  Hope it’s been a good one for you!

My Wednesday started much slower than I would have hoped.  It’s been so dark  in the mornings this week that I’m struggling to get out of bed.  While I’ve significantly reduced my coffee drinking in order to kick my caffeine addiction, this was definitely one of the those mornings where I needed to smell the coffee in order to even open my eyes. 😉

I was way too sleepy to take a photo of my coffee, so this one is courtesy of Savit Keawtavee

The coffee was quickly gulped down while I made Lil’ L’s breakfast, got dressed and literally sprinted to school.  This is the third morning on the trot that we’ve only just made it to school before the bell stops ringing.  I MUST do better tomorrow. 😦  

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that Wednesday is the day that I join the ‘What I Ate Wednesday’ party hosted by the lovely Jenn @ Peas and Crayons. Not only do I use this event as a way to take stock of my own eating habits, but it’s also a great way to draw inspiration from all the wonderful eats that are on display at the WIAW party. 

I’m really late joining the party today.  Tardiness has been the theme of my day (my mum would say it’s the theme of my life. 😉 ).  Sorry everyone, I promise I’ll try and do better! 

So, here’s what I ate today:

Breakfast
The dark, wet morning definitely called for a warm breakfast.  I opted for a huge bowl of porridge, with chopped goji berries, pecan nuts, and ground flaxseed sprinkled on top, and a drizzling of Sweet Freedom Natural Syrup.

Rather than my usual Flahavans oats, I thought I’d try some of Lil’ L’s Ready Brek.  When I was young I loved eating Ready Brek.  I SO wanted to be the kid on the advert that glows on the way to school.  🙂  On the box, it says it’s ‘Great for Kids’ and, for me, this holds true.  It was way too smooth and creamy for me.  Plus I didn’t feel anywhere near as good as I normally do after breakfast.  I guess some things are best left in your childhood. 😉 

Lunch
I had my lunch back to front today.  The bread hadn’t finished baking by the time I had to dash to school for my meditation class, so I ate my pudding first.  I started with an apple off the tiny tree that grows out of the rockery in our back garden… this apple right here:

This was followed by a piece of cocoa fudge that I made yesterday.  This fudge is SO filling that you only need one little piece to fill you up!

This is my first attempt at making fudge and I packed it with goodness (ground almonds, tahini, raw cocoa powder, hempseed oil, fruit sweetener, and a goji berry on top).  I made up the recipe, using Shazzie’s ‘Little Fudge Cakes’ from her ‘Naked Chocolate’ book and Dr Fuhrmann’s ‘Vanilla Carob Fudge’ for inspiration.  Lil’ L loved it and gave it 5 stars but, for me, the tahini flavour was too over powering.  I’ll try again and post the recipe when I’m 100% happy with it.

When I got back from school, I had a slice of warm home-made bread with Natex low-salt yeast extract slathered on top (for a B12 boost).  (It was delish but I’m afraid there’s no photo; I woofed it down at soon as I got home! 🙂 )

Dinner
Tonight’s dinner was the left-over veggie korma from Monday.  It’s the first time I’ve made korma for Lil’ L and he absolutely loved it!  I basically used a bunch of veggies that I found in the bottom of the fridge.  It turns out that the combination of veggies works really well (IMO), so I’ll definitely use the combo again. 

In the pan went: onions, garlic, korma paste, cumin, red pepper, green pepper, courgette (zucchini) (thanks Ellie!), green beans (thanks Mum!), spinach, carrot, sweet potato, long life extra firm tofu (quorn or TVP would work equally work fine, or even cashews and almonds), some vegetable stock and a sachet of Patak’s coconut cream

While the veggies gently simmered, I boiled some rice.  I’d normally use brown basmati, but I found some old white rice in the pantry that needed using up.  When the veggies were ready, I roughly whizzed them with the hand blender, so that they blended together and made the sauce creamier.  I didn’t blend them to a smooth paste as we like a bit of texture, but I guess a fully blended curry would be great for kids that aren’t keen on veggies.

The korma was totally lush!  I’ve eaten it 3 times this week (twice with rice and once in a tortilla wrap) and I’m still not sick of it!   This dinner is going to be a regular feature in our house from now on. 🙂

Dessert was an apple pudding with an oaty-almond topping.  To save time, I made two puddings and will freeze one for next week.  The apples are home-grown. 🙂  

Right, that’s my eats done.  I’m off to Jenn’s party to see what you’re all eating.  Happy WIAW everyone!

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The Wonders of Raw Chocolate… and a Yummy Scrummy giveaway!

It’s Chocolate Week here in the UK, so happy chocolate eating everybody!

Those of you who know me will be aware that I’ve become just a teensy weensy bit obsessed with raw chocolate. 😉  For most of my life, I’ve never been that bothered about chocolate… but all this changed when I experienced my first piece of raw chocolate.  As soon as I popped it into my mouth, I could feel its magical properties taking hold.  I was hooked!  I immediately went home and googled ‘raw chocolate’ to see what I could find out about the wonder food.  I also got myself a copy of David Wolfe & Shazzie’s ‘Naked Chocolate’.

Have you ever wondered where cacao beans comes from?  Well, they come from the beautiful Theobrama Cacao.

(c) Luis Ovalles

I love the cocoa pods.  Aren’t they beautiful!  Here’s a shot of them at various stages of ripening.

(c) Medicaster

 And here’s a peek at the cacao beans inside one of those beautiful pods:

(c) US Department of Agriculture

And what did I discover from my research? Well, listen carefully chocolate lovers…  raw chocolate is SUPER GOOD FOR YOU!  It’s absolutely brimming with nutrients, which explains why my body felt like it was ‘zinging’ after one small mouthful.  Here’s a list of some of the important nutrients found in raw chocolate:

  • Magnesium (important for a healthy heart, muscle relaxation, strong bones, growth and repair, brain function. Sadly it’s the most deficient mineral in the diet)
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Phosphorous
  • Thiamine
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Vitamins B and C
  • Antioxidant flavonols
  • Phenylethylamine (PEA) (dubbed the ‘love chemical’, PEA seems to help create feelings of attraction, excitement and euphoria.  PEA is noticeably abundant in the brains of happy people 🙂 )
  • Anandamide (known as the ‘bliss chemical’.  Anandamide is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘ananda’ meaning ‘bliss’)
  • Serotonin, Tryptophan and Dopamine (also powerful mood-enhancing nutrients)
  • Fibre

The above is just a fraction of the nutrients contained in raw chocolate.  It truly is a ‘super food’!

Raw Cacao Beans (c) David Monniaux

Cacao has been dubbed ‘Nature’s Prozac’ as it contains three neurotransmitters – serotonin, dopamine and phenylethylamine (PEA) – which help alleviate depression and are associated with feelings of well-being.

It has also been suggested that eating raw chocolate can help with weight control as it diminishes appetite.  I’ve experienced this for myself.  In the past, I could have easily guzzled a whole box of milk chocolates.  With raw chocolate, I literally feel full up after one or two small pieces. 

So why should we be eating raw chocolate rather than regular chocolate?  Well, most commercial chocolate is highly processed and heated to very high temperatures, which means that most of the nutrients are destroyed or altered.  Commercial chocolate is often loaded with refined sugar, causing energy spikes and slumps, as well as weight gain.  It can also contain processed fat, various synthetic chemicals, artificial preservatives, cheap emulsifiers and other fillers.  Adding dairy milk also blocks the absorption of the great antioxidants in chocolate.

I love making my own chocolates and giving them to friends & family. This is a shot of the Macmillan event where I sold raw chocolate to raise funds for the charity.

At the Love Food Festival in Bath yesterday, I bumped into Dan and Paula from Elements for Life, and I bought some bars of their award-winning Yummy Scrummy raw chocolate brownie

This delicious raw chocolate brownie is packed with goodness, and topped with lush goji berries.

To celebrate the fact it’s Chocolate Week (and recognising it would indeed be greedy to keep all the bars for myself 😉 ) I’m going to give you guys a chance to win a bar and experience the delights of Yummy Scrummy for themselves.  🙂

To enter the giveaway, simply leave me a comment and describe your  favourite chocolate flavour.  My current 3 favourite flavours are goji berry & nut; orange; and coffee.

The winner will be chosen at random at 7pm (GMT) on Monday 17th October.

Good luck everybody! 

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WIAW – Pancakes, Dhal, Pasta, Flapjack & Yoghurt Apple Surprise

Yesterday, after school, Lil’ L and I went apple picking down the orchard. Well ‘orchard’ is a bit of a grand name for one apple tree and one plum tree but, to us, it will always be known as our little orchard. 😉 Next year, I’m determined to plant some more fruit trees. (I’m quite fancying a greengage tree at the moment… I ate some of my sister’s greengages at the weekend and they were gorgeous!)

Last night, I made a large batch of apple sauce so I could surprise Lil’ L this morning by cooking one of his favourite breakfasts… apple cinnamon pancakes. They made the house smell wonderful! Lil’ L is a big pancake monster and he ate 3 large pancakes and I had a couple. The remaining batter is stored in the fridge and I’ll cook M a couple of pancakes for his supper tonight.

These pancakes are made with wholemeal flour, oats, baking powder, apple sauce, fortified soya milk, vanilla extract, and a little water. We love to serve them with a sprinkling of ground flaxseed and a drizzling of Sweet Freedom fruit sweetener or agave syrup.

For lunch, I ate the dhal with coconut and butternut squash left over from Monday’s nights’ dinner. This is one of our all-time favourite meals and costs only a few pence to make.  The recipe can be found here.

For a snack, we had a piece of home-made goji berry flapjack, which contains no fat and no refined sugar. Here’s the recipe.

On Wednesday’s, Lil’ L has his swimming lesson and I usually don’t start cooking dinner until we get back home. This means we eat dinner around 7.15pm then have very little time for a sit down and bed time stories.  THIS week, I’ve actually got myself organised and made dinner ahead of time. There’s a first time for everything! 😉

In the pantry, I came across a packet of long-life tofu, which I bought in France this summer. It’s made in Germany and I must see if we can buy it here in the UK. It’s got a very firm texture, which makes it suitable for pasta dishes as well as noodles.

For tonight’s dinner, I’ve chosen to make a simple 6-veg pasta. The tofu was chopped and drizzled in a little soy sauce for flavour. For veggies, I used a large carrot, a handful of mushrooms (both whizzed in the mini chopper), some courgette (zucchini), celery and red pepper (all finely chopped). (I would have used broccoli but we’ve run out. 😦 )  While the wholewheat penne was cooking, I added the veggies to a large saucepan, along with the tofu pieces, a squirt of tomato puree and a jar of Seeds of Change organic tomato and basil sauce.  When the pasta was ready, it was added to the veggie sauce mixture. After allowing it to cool slightly, a teaspoon of Good Hemp hempseed oil was mixed into each pasta portion (for an omega-3 boost) and garnished with a sprinkling of pine nuts and chopped basil. A super quick (15 minute), delicious and nutritious meal. I’m sure the boys will love it. 🙂

I’ve also made dessert ahead of time! Gosh I’m on fire today. 😉  I had this idea of layering Alpro Natural Soya Yoghurt, home-made apple sauce and sprinkling goji berries, dates, nuts and seeds on top (all whizzed together in the mini chopper). It looks quite cool.

If anyone can think of a good name for this dessert, please let me know! The best I can come up with is ‘yoghurt apple surprise’ which is a bit dull and predictable. Your suggestions would be greatly appreciated! 🙂

Right time to head over to Jen’s party and see what everyone else is bringing. Happy WIAW!

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