Savoury scones

Working out what to have for a picnic or in lunchboxes can be a bit challenging at times, especially when you are eating with food intolerances or starting to follow a whole-food plant-based diet. For me, sandwiches tend to be off the menu so I’m always looking for something that’s satisfying, super tasty and not going to make me feel bleurgh at the end of the meal.

I am a big fan of scones – there’s already two recipes on my blog, these sweet dairy-free scones (one of my earlier recipes and so not quite as healthy as nowadays!) and these lovely savoury pumpkin scones. So why the need for another one? Surely two is enough?

Firstly, I don’t think you can ever have enough scone recipes! But apart from that, these savoury scones push the flavour boundaries further than the pumpkin ones, and contain a cheap, easy and super-nutritious vegetable – carrot.

I’ve already talked about how healthy carrots can be with my post earlier this week here. They can also be a useful agent in low-fat whole-food baking, acting as an egg and butter replacement whilst adding in some nutritional goodies at the same time. Carrots are complimented by a number of other flavours including mixed herbs, nutritional yeast (for that slight cheesy flavour) and a little mustard, all of which feature in this recipe.

If you suffer from food intolerances that mean yeast or mustard are off the menu, then you can just up the other flavours and not miss out on the lovely savoriness of these scones. And if you can’t have either, then just top up on the herbs, add a little extra salt and make them anyway for they will still taste wonderful.

Rather than going for whole-meal flour, I’ve started to use spelt for much of my baking. This older strain of wheat seems to be less of a challenge to many people’s digestion compared to modern fast grown wheat. It has a slightly nutty flavour and produces slightly lighter, fluffier scones than whole-wheat flour. Of course if you have an allergy or an intolerance to gluten, spelt is not for you. Fortunately, these scones work well with a good gluten-free flour mix like Dove’s Farm so you don’t have to miss out.

I like to make these scones in two round batches and then cut then into triangles. It saves time as you don’t have bother rolling out the dough and cutting them into shapes (and risk losing the air bubbles that make them light and fluffy) and you don’t end up with leftover dough that ends up getting thrown away. They do well in the oven too, producing a more even bake. Finally, if you make too many to eat in one or two sittings, then these freeze really well, perfect to grab for a quick lunch or snack.

So why not give these yummy savoury scones a try over the weekend? They are so worth the effort. And if you do, don’t forget to let me know how you get on.

Savoury scones

A delicous alternative to sweet scones, perfect for picnics, lunch boxes and tea time snacks. So full of flavour with a secret healthy ingredient too!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 18 mins
Making carrot pureé 15 mins
Total Time 43 mins
Course Snack
Servings 12 scones

Ingredients
  

  • 400 grams spelt flour or gluten-free alternative
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 teaspoons mixed herbs
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 150 grams carrot pureé (see note below)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons soya milk (or other dairy-free milk as tolerated)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

To finish

  • 1 tablespoon soya milk to brush over the top
  • 2 tablespoons mixed seeds (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC. Place a silicon mat or non-stick baking paper onto a large tray.
  • Place the flour, baking powder, salt, herbs and nutritional yeast in a bowl and mix together to combine well.
  • In a separate, large bowl, mix together the carrot pureé, olive oil (if using), ground flaxseed, water, soya milk and mustard. Whisk together well to combine and rest for a couple of minutes to let the flaxseed thicken the mix slightly.
  • Tip the dry mix into the wet (the opposite to how you normally do it when making cakes) and bring together with a large spoon and then your hands to form a soft dough.
  • Split the mix into two equal halves. Carefully mold each half into a round and place on the prepared tray. Gently mark out 6 sections on each round with a knife, but don't cut all the way through. Brush the top with soya milk and sprinkle mixed seeds on the top (if using).
  • Place the tray in the oven and bake for 16-18 minutes until the top is lightly golden and firm and the underneath sounds slighly hollow when you tap it. Transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Once cooled, cut each round into 6 triangular portions. Serve whilst slightly warm or keep in an air-tight container for up to 3 days. If you want to freeze the scones, lay them out onto a non-stick baking tray and place in the freezer so each one freezes individually. Once hard, transfer to a freezer-safe container and return to the freezer. Remove and defrost scones as required.

Notes

To make the carrot pureé, weigh 2-3 carrots so they are approx. 180g. Peel, top and tail then cut into small chunks. Place in a steamer for 10 minutes until cooked. Leave to cool slightly, then place the carrot in a small blender pot with 2-3 teaspoons of the steaming water and blend to a soft pureé. Leave to cool until you are ready to make the scones (it still works ok if the pureé is still warm).
Keyword gluten free, lunch-box, picnic food, plant based, savoury scone, scone,, tea-time, vegan, wholefood

Carrot and ginger – grey day soup

I’ve realised that I write about soup more than another type of dish, but then that’s not surprising really, as soup is truly awesome! For a start, it’s hard to go wrong (although I have tasted some really bad ones in my time, so it is possible!), it’s pretty quick and easy, and nutritionally it’s the best way to retain all the gorgeous vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. And what’s best is that you really don’t need to add gallons of cream or butter to make it taste good (even though some chefs will tell you otherwise).

For me, it’s the vegetable that’s the star in a good soup. Oh, and if your carrot or lettuce is looking rather limp and pathetic at the back of the fridge, unsuitable for being seen on a plate by itself, using it up in a soup not only means you have ingredients to hand, but reduces food waste too.

I always thought I was pretty good with minimising waste in our house, but having watched “Hugh’s War on Waste’, I felt rather guilty as I realised we still do throw out more than we should. I was so shocked to see all those gorgeous parsnips going to waste (just think how much spicy parsnip soup you could have got out of those!!!) and when he took items directly out of people’s trolleys at the supermarket that usually get thrown away, it really sunk in. I decided there an then that there would be no more veg wastage in our house. So we’ve had some interesting, sometimes rather green soups since then!

We had a pre-Christmas gathering at the weekend, and my lovely husband ended up over purchasing on the vegetables. Today is grey and chilly, so soup just had to be made, and as the fridge is rather overstocked with carrots, ginger and fresh coriander, the soup flavour was easy to decide!

Carrots are an amazing vegetable, underrated by many in my opinion as they’re so mainstream and reliable. Their vibrant orange colour tells us they’re packed full of betacarotene, the precursor to vitamin A which is essential for healthy skin, eyes and helps support our immune system. They also have lots of vitamin C and other anti-oxidants, and their sweet flavour means there’s not many people who won’t eat a few.

Ginger is also amazing and compliments the carrots rather beautifully. It’s fabulous for easing digestive problems and it’s phytonutrients can help reduce inflammation and support our immune system, so again great for this time of year when there are so many coughs and colds around. Plus the heat from the ginger just makes you feel warm and cosy from the inside!

So why not try this delicious soup and bring a warm, orange glow to an otherwise chilly and grey day?

Carrot, ginger and coriander soup
1 large onion diced
splash of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 cm long piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1kg carrots, peeled and chopped
2 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bunch coriander, stems chopped
1.2 litres vegetable stock
salt and pepper
almond or soya cream to garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion for a few minutes until it starts to soften. Add the garlic and ginger, stir well then add the carrot and potato. Sauté for a couple of minutes but don’t let it burn – add a little stock if necessary. Add the coriander stems and stock, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes or until the carrots are soft. Cool for a few minutes, then blend with a stick blender, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve into bowls and garnish with coriander leaves and a dribble of dairy free cream as required. Enjoy!

Quinoa – being celebrated all year!

Did you know that quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-waa’ although I still think ‘quin-noah’ in my head!) is such a superfood that it even has it’s own year? The United Nations has decided that 2013 is the International Year of Quinoa, a celebration of the Andean people who have preserved traditional ways of cultivating this nutritious grain as well as it’s potential for alleviating poverty and food insecurity – not bad for such a tiny grain!

Quinoa has been the ‘in’ grain with the dieting fashionista for some time now, often used for gourmet markets only. But as more becomes known about the great nutritional properties of this unusual grain, it’s popularity is increasing and becoming more mainstream.

Although I’m calling it a grain, Quinoa is not actually a true cereal but more related to beets and spinach; the ‘grain’ is the plants seed. The leaves can also be eaten as a green, although these are not readily available on the international market. Nutritionally, quinoa really is a powerhouse of goodies, with fantastic levels of manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium. It’s high in fibre and low in fat and cholesterol. But what makes quinoa even better is that is the protein content; it is one of the few plant-based sources of complete amino acids as well as being gluten free.

As well as eating as a whole seed, quinoa can be ground into a flour and used to make bread, cakes, pasta, dumplings – the list continues. It’s great as a salad base, added to stews and soups and apparently can be used to brew beer!

Being suitable for practically any type of diet (it’s even considered kosher) or allergy, demand has been increasing, and therefore so has the price. This means that indigenous populations are finding it hard to buy (the price has tripled since 2006!), but equally farmers are able to make livable income which has a knock on effect, expanding the economy as a whole. Trials are underway elsewhere in the world to see if quinoa can be grown in different climates; after all, potatoes were once the staple of the Andean population, maybe quinoa can be too.

In my opinion, quinoa definitely has a place in a plant based wholefood diet. There are of course ecological aspects to take into consideration – air miles, farmer welfare etc – but when compared to the environmental impact of the meat and dairy industry, they just don’t equate.
I love quinoa as a salad base; this one is called Sarah’s salad, after my lovely friend who first introduced it to me. It’s simple to make and packed with nutritional goodies. This recipe makes a big bowl – it stays fresh in the fridge for a few days but it’s easy to half if you don’t want to eat it every night. Enjoy!

Sarah’s Quinoa Salad
200g quinoa
4 grated carrots
couple of handfuls of chopped fresh herbs – parsley, mint or coriander
2 tbspns mixed seeds
2 tbspns flaked almonds
2 tbspns raisins or sultanas, soaked in boiling water
50mls of fresh orange juice
good glug of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
First, cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions – I tend to do 3x weight of quinoa i.e.: 600mls in this case. Simmer for 15 minutes or so until the water has been absorbed and the grain soft but with a little ‘bite’. Drain any remaining cooking liquid and leave in the pan with the lid on to steam for a few minutes. Empty out into your serving bowl to cool off.
Meanwhile, grate the carrots, lightly toast the seeds, and soak the raisins or sultana for a few minutes so they plump up all fat and juicy. Once the seeds and quinoa are cool, drain the raisins and mix all the ingredients together, adding olive oil and seasoning to taste.