We may have had to cancel our Veganuary Special Sunday at the cafe, but you can still try some vegan treats at home. There are plenty of recipes out there and we thought we would post our own, adapted by our friend at Simply Healthy Lifestyle. This is a raw sweet treat recipe that has the added benefit of no refined sugar and it’s gluten free! But regardless it is sweet enough and very satisfying.
SALTED CARAMEL SLICE
90g desiccated coconut
150g pitted medjool dates
1tbsp coconut oil
150g pitted medjool dates (9)
105g coconut oil, melted (1/2 cup)
100g maple syrup (1/3 cup)
1tsp himalayan rock salt
Hot water if needed
50g coconut oil
25g cacao powder
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
Blend the base ingredients in a food processor until combined. Press down into lined tin.
2. Combine the caramel ingredients in a blender on high speed. Add a little hot water as needed to make the mixture smooth, but not too runny. Spread the caramel over the base, and transfer to the freezer.
3. Gently warm the chocolate ingredients and stir until smooth. Pour on top of the caramel layer and return to the freezer until set.
So we started a new diet for Tomas this month. We (which is really me) decided that his eczema may be caused by gluten intolerance. Like with any other diets we tried this includes a long 6 weeks trial where we change our menu to avoid the ingredient in question. I found gluten is not that difficult to avoid. Unlike dairy gluten mostly can be found in carbs. So essentially I thought I need to start baking my own bread, but then I was putting that off as bread baking involves quite a lengthy process…. however without gluten it is not so lengthy. The trouble with gluten free bread is that is difficult to bake a nice bread, but it does not take that much time to make it since we don’t need to kneed the dough to get the gluten to stretch. So all and all no gluten means hello quick bread!
I have been recently inspired by fresh tomato toast recipes from Half Baked Harvest blog. Fresh tomatoes in summer are just amazing! I don’t have such a big harvest of tomatoes (yet) this year, but I thought it would be lovely to make fresh tomato pizza anyways. I made pizza with cucumber as well (I have started getting them in my green house too!!).GLUTEN FREE PIZZA TOPPED WITH FRESH INGREDIENTS
Makes two pizzas
(for the base)
600g gluten free flour mix (mine consisted of rice, tapioca and potato starch)
25g xanthan gum
1 tsp garlic salt
2tsp brown sugar
3 tsp baking powder
10g quick acting dry yeast
350ml warm water
(for the fresh tomato pizza)
125g mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
100g cheddar cheese, grated
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tbsp olive oil
3-5 tomatoes, sliced
(for the potato and cucumber pizza)
125g mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
1 potato, pealed and thinly sliced (I used a grater)
salt and pepper to taste
1tbsp olive oil
chives, finelly chopped
1-3 cucumbers, sliced
1. Mix together the flour, xanthan gum, garlic salt, sugar, baking powder and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle. Pour the water into the well and mix everything to form two balls. Roll out the dough onto the baking sheet until it is 5mm thick. 2. To make the cheese and fresh tomato pizza sprinkle the garlic, mozzarella and cheddar cheese over the base. Season it and drizzle some olive oil on top. Bake the pizza in the preheated 200C oven for 20-30min. Once baked top the pizza with sliced tomato and fresh basil. 3. For the potato and cucumber pizza sprinkle the base with mozzarella, potato and chives. Heavily season it (potato requires more salt) and drizzle some olive oil on top. Bake the pizza in the preheated 200C oven for 20-30min. 4. Once baked, top the pizza with cucumber and more chives (and maybe salt if needed). Enjoy!
My love for crepes have reached the next level while in France. I knew crepes can be savoury and sweet but it never crossed my mind that crepes can be served with salad inside it. Woaaaah!!! Sunny times like these require a lot of salad eating I think! I also decided to brave up this time and make crepes 100% buckwheat (we all know pancakes without gluten are just too complicated). But after many failures you eventually get it, buckwheat pancakes need a lot of practice and patience. If you are not up for challenge, regular crepes/pancakes taste just fine ;-).NICOISE SALAD IN A CREPE
(for the crepe)
200g buckwheat flour
pinch of salt
about 500ml water
knob of butter for frying
(for the salad)
3-4 potatoes, pealed and thinly sliced
200g canned tuna in brine
20 green olives, halved
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 handful of lettuce, chopped
1 handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 eggs, quatered
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard (we did not use it here, but I think it would taste good)
1 clove of garlic, crushed to paste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper
chives, finelly chopped
1. First prep the crepe batter by combining all the ingredients. Start with dry ingredients and then gradually add water into it till the batter reach double cream consistently (be careful not to overmix). Refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
2. Boil the eggs.
3. Fry the potatoes in the frying pan with the generous amount of oil.4. Make the salad. Arrange prepped ingredients ready for serving. Sprinkle with chives and seasoning.5. To make vinaigrette combine vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, garlic paste, lemon juice and sugar in the jug. Add salt and pepper to taste. 6. Melt the butter in well heated frying pan. Pour one spoonful of crepe batter and immediately start swirling round the pan to get nice even layer. Loosen around the edge with a spatula once the top “dries up”, then turn the crepe and cook for further 1 minute. As you can see its not easy as with lack of gluten these crepes are flaky and therefore easily collapse when flipping. However I am sure lovely crepes can be achieved once you have a bit of practice.7. To serve arrange Nicoise salad on the crepe and scatter more chives on the top.Bon Apetitte
So the soup season is continuing here and I am trying to explore more and more flavours to stock up with (for the freezer). I find these soup portions very handy for lunches (super kid friendly too!!).
Apple and butternut squash seemed like a great match, was very eager to go and try it out as soon as I saw it on Pinterest. Made few changes, because I needed dairy free option as well as keeping it rich in flavour (I am talking about butter here). Hope you like it too as much as I did. Scroll down for the recipe ;-). APPLE AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP adopted from Foodess
serves 6 adults (you are welcome to double it up!)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1 large cooking apple, cored and chopped
1tbsp fresh sage, or 1 tsp dried
olive oil for roasting and frying
1 onion, diced
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1l chicken stock
double cream (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Place butternut squash and apple into the baking tray, sprinkle with sage and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the veg for 25min.2. In large pot fry the onion for 5 min and add the mixed spice. 3. Add roasted veg (and fruit) together with chicken stock. Bring everything to boil and simmer for 20min.4. Puree soup using a blender. Stir in cream, if using, and return to a simmer (although it tastes totally wonderful without the cream as well). Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
So the chill is on and I thought to better start the soup season (well… I have started it a while ago actually). Joni cooked this soup last year for Lukas dedication and I have been revisiting it ever since. Its my favourite soup at this moment! Whats not to like, its flavoursome (sorry to say it is better than stilton and broccoli soup), kids love it, packed with all the green veg and its freezable (lunches sorted in advance). It’s found on Pinterest but it is not challenging at all ;-).
BROCCOLI CUMIN AND YOGURT SOUP adopted from Trois Fois Par Jour (thank goodness for Google Translator)
serves 12 adults or makes many many portions for kids lunches
2 large onions, chopped
2 large potatoes, sliced or cubed
1-2 tsp cumin
2 large handfulls spinach
2 large broccoli heads, chopped
5 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
2l vegetable stock
2 tbsp maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste
1. In the largest pot you can find, melt the butter and fry the onions for 3 to 4 minutes. Add potato and cumin, continue cooking for about 3 minutes.2. Add broccoli, spinach and garlic then mix well so that broccoli is soaked in spices and spinach has wilted. Cover everything with vegetable stock, then add maple syrup and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. 3. Blend the soup and stir in the yogurt. Season and serve it while still hot! Enjoy xx
After drowning my post pregnancy sorrows in sugar (as I often say) for past few months, I finally feel like ready to go sugar free again. Ok, maybe not totally cutting out sugar just yet, but definitely reducing it by at least removing added sugar. Here is what I have been having for most of my breakfasts past two weeks, which is a simple porridge that is sweetened with just dates and bananas. Chocolate for breakfast have not been more satisfying than this, yum!
CHOCOLATE OAT PORRIDGE WITH DATES AND BANANAS serves one
1 sachet of 27g oats porridge + milk according to package instructions
1 tsp coco powder
1 tsp coconut oil
3-4 dates, chopped
1 banana, sliced
1. Place all ingredients into microwavable bowl (except dates and banana) and mix briefly to combine.
2. Microwave for 2min or according to the oat porridge package instructions
3. Top the porridge with chopped dates and banana Sorry but not sorry that it is so simple. I thought I need to share this recipe anyways as it makes a very satisfying breakfast, without giving into sugar
I have been making this for quite a while and it has been our family favourite as it is full of flavour and very easy to make. It does not need added salt so its suitable for babies as well. Although we adults eat it with hollandaise sauce which does contain salt, but its completely fine eating it without. Ready to try? Recipe is bellow ;-).
PESTO SALMON POUCHES makes 4 servings
1. Steam spinach till it starts to wilt, about 2 min.
2. Split spinach into four and place it on separate foil squares (about 20cmX20cm), top it with salmon fillet, pesto and cherry tomatoes.
3. Wrap the salmon to close. Bake the pouches in 200C preheated oven for 25min. Enjoy!
Since my sugar free diet is officially over (thanks to evil cookies above), I thought I will give you some feedback. Some of you may know I removed sugar from my diet in March and April which was the longest I survived without eating something sweet. So I am really pleased with that at the least :-). In the beginning I avoided foods that have added sugar, but I soon realised there were sooo many alternatives available that are almost as good as a chocolate cake! I guess you don’t realise that because there are not many cakes like that available ready made. This is why I went mad over pinning hundreds of recipes on Pinterest that are raw and sugar free. I tried few of them myself ;-).
Here came the April and I decided to make it a bit strict. I chose to avoid all types of sugar which if you have any idea is very very hard to do. Sugar (even natural sugar) is everywhere. Fruits are the more obvious, but little did you know even milk contains small amounts of sugar. So I really had to restrain myself. I think what really helped is munching on nuts (which has small amounts of sugar as well in case you wondering). I think I ate so many that I was wondering is I am going to experience some sort of side effects. Thankfully nothing happened and I did not develop any nut allergies (feel sorry for all of those who suffers from it!).
Anyhow, so what are my overall feelings about sugar free diet? I I think it’s great if you can stick to it! Personally I think it is simple diet, no special meal planing, all you need to do is don’t add sugar to your food or check your food labels. After all if it taste sweet then probably it has high contents of sugar. Did I loose any weight? Yes, although not much. I lost about 5kg through two months period which is little to compare how much I usually loose on any other diet. I guess I can blame my very slow metabolism after having a baby! Did I feel more energetic? A lot of people shared with me that they feel so much more energetic after quitting sugar. Well, this did not work out for me. I felt the opposite, very very sluggish in fact. I wonder why? Maybe the hormones (after having the baby) or maybe that was a “cold turkey” I was experiencing. Am I less of sugar addict? I think yes! I find it much easer to survive a day without a cake. Although I don’t say no if the cake presents itself. I also realised that I don’t have to eat the cake if its not my type of cake. I remember I used to eat a cake just because I can and because it is sweet (bye bye boring sponge cakes!). I find myself asking, do I really want this cupcake with icing? The other day I learned to make icing rose decoration for a cupcake, I was super pleased I gave it to Joni instead as I realised I would not enjoy it that much other than sugar satisfaction. Hope you found my story inspiring 😉
So here is, the end of sugar free (almost) March! It was a great success even though I indulged in lots of sugar during Easter. Could anyone resist all that chocolate going around? I think it was a good learning curve and I am up for another month of trying out this “sugar-free” diet, detox, quitting or what ever else you want to call it!
So here how it went… In the very beginning I was expecting cold turkey sort of stage. But no such thing happened, instead I got little bit of cold. Not sure if it was how my body was coping or just coincidence :-D. I mean, don’t get me wrong it was very hard to fight the temptation, but eventually I found the other foods to sweeten my life! Grapes are good for example and bananas of course. I tried making banana 2 ingredient pancakes that you see all over Pinterest (the other ingredient is egg), but I found it not very pancakey, instead it felt like sweet soufflé. At the end I added third ingredient which is flour, which made everything soooo much better. It would of course work with any other type of flour or oatmeal if you prefer. Then I discovered I could make sweet treats that are sugar free! I even created a board on Pinterest dedicated to raw treats, that are of course sugar free. My favourite are these chocolate energy bars that I made in different variations. Yum! Although I did feel sick few times after consuming too many… Next, I realised I could introduce chocolate into my breakfast. This was getting suspiciously naughty! I was adding cocoa powder into my oats and sweeting it with dates. I felt like eating a cake for breakfast! Few weeks ago I mentioned that I was quitting sugar to my sister. It turned out she was quitting it too!! We must be synchronised ;-). She did questioned my sugar substitutions as I was sipping on wine. Turns out that fruit contain sugar! I mean it’s natural, but still sugar!
During Easter I fell back even further… I got tempted by chocolate :(. At least I wasn’t alone. Nicola said she was having sugar days as well. Once it was over I was actually glad to resume as it made me pretty sick. So I guess it’s good, I can see sugar free March was working for me 😉So what is my goal for April? Well, cut out all types of sugar. That includes fruits and wine! Eeeeek! Wish me luck! Will let you know next month how it went :-).
And where do I begin? My relationship with sugar is a life long! I don’t remember at what point I became addicted to it, but I blame my mum that, who often would have something sweet after each meal. Don’t get me wrong, in general I enjoy eating healthily, I always love side salads with my meals and I find healthy looking food quite appealing. However sugar is just getting in my way! I heard so many good testimonies about people who completely cut out sugar, but I never considered it was for me. Why? Well… I never believed I could survive without sugar! My passion is baking, how I would do that without tasting?
But something changed my mind last week. While chatting with other mums at one of the socials I go to I realised I was not alone! You see I always thought that it’s ok to eat sweet things once in a while and that it’s not effective to completely quit. In reality I found quite opposite. Because once I have a slice of cake I immediately want another slice! I find that moderation does not work for everybody. After hearing another success story of quitting sugar I realised that moderation is not for addicts. I decided to first quit and then see if I can enjoy that piece of cake once in the while. This is where you are coming in to help me. Because I am writing about my plans openly here, therefore I feel accountable to you and I am more likely to succeed. What is in it for you? Well.. I will tell you my story in the end which hopefully will be an inspiration to you.
So what exactly will I be quitting? There are many types of sugar out there and I decided to quit even the most innocent types such as honey and my beloved agave nectar that I drizzle onto my breakfast oats. I also decided to no longer fool myself over organic chocolate, because it still has sugar!!! The only sweet things I may eat in my moments of desperation are fruits and maybe sugar free chocolate (that does exist thankfully!). My plan is to last for at least a month hence sugar free March 😉Which me luck!