Easy vegan corn chowder

Autumn has arrived, blown in on a cold wind that’s a bit of a shock after the warm weather of the last month. Chilly weather always makes me want comforting soup, something that will gives a big hug and warm me up right down to my toes.

This sweet corn chowder is perfect for that. Most corn has been harvested by now, but you might still find some fresh cobs in the shop, sweet and deliciously golden. If not, then frozen sweet corn is a close second best as, like peas, the kernels are harvested and frozen in super quick time to preserve both flavour and nutrient benefits.

I grew my first sweet corn this year in my new veggie patch. It was fascinating to see how quickly they grew, and how they developed. They also seemed very popular with the local ants, but they didn’t damage it. The biggest challenge was knowing when to harvest it. As you can see, not all the kernels had ripened at one end, although they were super ripe at the other. But it tasted absolutely awesome when freshly harvested.

There’s a surprising amount of nutritional goodies in sweet corn. Yes there is sugar (which of course makes it so tasty) but this is all bound up in fibre, so it’s released more slowly, meaning you get a more stable blood sugar. There’s also a lot of insoluble fibre in sweet corn kernels, the type the friendly bacteria in your gut just love to dine on – a tasty treat for you and your microbiome!

Eating yellow foods means you are consuming flavonoids, powerful phytonutrients that support your skin, mucous membranes and eyes. They also have strong antioxidant properties, as has ferulic acid, another phytonutrient that has anti-inflammatory properties thought to help with preventing cancer and slow the ageing process (something I think we’re all interested in 😉 )

Traditional sweet corn chowder recipes tend to include a load of cream, butter and even bacon – you’ll find none of those in my dairy-free vegan version! The creaminess comes from the sweetcorn and potato plus whatever dairy-free milk you choose to use. If you want a little kick to warm your toes, then add some chilli flakes both when cooking and as a garnish if you like. My ‘secret’ ingredient is celery salt. This is a fantastic ingredient to keep in the cupboard as it provides a lovely savoury flavour to dishes. It almost tastes like chicken soup. And so nourishing, it’s perfect if you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

I hope you enjoy this recipe – it’s very easy and so tasty! If you give it a go, don’t forget to let me know.

Easy vegan corn chowder

A simple and delicious filling corn chowder that can be made with fresh corn in season or frozen kernels all year round
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Servings 4 portions

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes cut into small chunks
  • 2 fat cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 400 ml vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes optional
  • pinch celery salt
  • 400 ml dairy free milk of choice
  • 2 cobs sweetcorn, kernals removed or 300g frozen sweetcorn
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the base of a large pan. Add the onion and potato with a pinch of salt. Sauté on a low heat with the lid on for 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute before pouring in the stock. Sprinkle in the chilli flakes and celery salt and stir well. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on until the potato is soft.
  • Add the sweetcorn and dairy free milk. Bring back to the boil then simmer for another 5 minutes until the sweetcorn is cooked. Keep an eye on the pan though as the dairy-free milk might boil over.
  • Turn off the heat. Using a stick blender, whizz the soup until half is pureéd but leave a little texture. Season with salt and pepper then serve with a little extra chilli on top if you like it spicy!
Keyword dairy free, gluten free, healthy soup, OMS friendly, vegan

Chocolate cupcakes with sweet potato frosting

Easter is associated with many things – the life of Jesus and the religious festival, Spring, chicks and, of course, chocolate! Chocolate eggs became a thing in the early 19th century, first made in France and Germany and then by Cadbury’s in the UK.

Eggs have been part of a spring festival way before Christianity used them to symbolise the resurrection. Used to represent rebirth or awakening, eggs appeared in pagan, Egyptian and Hindu mythology and have long been given as spring gifts, often beautifully decorated.

So chocolate and eggs are synonymous with this time of year. But what if you can’t or don’t eat either of these? Dairy-free and vegan chocolate is widely available so that’s not an issue for many people. However, if you follow a particular dietary programme for health like Overcoming MS then chocolate in its hard form is out due to the high level of saturated fat. So what to do (apart from sulk?) – make cake!

These chocolate cupcakes contain lots of cocoa or cacao powder which doesn’t have the added cocoa butter (which is where the fat is). It does contain all the lovely phytonutrients though, especially if you used raw cacao rather than cocoa. The frosting is a tasty and healthy alternative to heavy butter icing, and as it includes sweet potato you also get all those extra phytonutrients too. Which makes these cupcakes even better and so you can eat loads……well maybe not, but you get the super tasty chocolate hit as well as goodness, so that can’t be a bad thing!

I made these cakes and frosting on my live Facebook cooking session this week; here is the recording in case you missed it and fancied a watch. Plus the full recipe is below with all the ingredients and method. I hope you enjoy them – please let me know how you get on.

Wishing you a very Happy Easter.

Chocolate cupcakes with sweet potato chocolate frosting

Super tasty, easy to bake cakes with a low fat but delicious frosting alternative.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Cooking sweet potato 20 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 12 cakes

Ingredients
  

  • 1 medium sweet potato baked in its skin or steamed
  • 225 grams self-raising four wholemeal or gluten free
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 75 grams cocoa or cacao powder
  • pinch salt
  • 370 ml soya milk or other dairy-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice or cider vinegar
  • 80 ml olive oil
  • 120 grams coconut sugar or very dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

for the frosting

  • sweet potato prepped as above
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup or other liquid sweetener
  • 3-4 tablespoons cacao or cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • fresh or freeze-dried raspberries to decorate optional

Instructions
 

  • Before you make the cake, bake the sweet potato in its skin or steam. This can be done the day before and kept in the fridge.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas4. Line a muffin tin with wrappers.
  • Add the lemon juice to the soya milk and leave to curdle for a few minutes.
  • Place the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt together in a large bowl and mix well to combine.
  • In a separate bowl add the coconut sugar, oil and vanilla essence. Pour in the curdled soya milk and mix well to combine.
  • Pour the wet mix into the dry and quickly stir to combine - do not overmix and try to be ilght-handed but thorough. This should only take 10-12 seconds. Time is of the essence to get the raising agents to work iin the oven.
  • Quickly distribute the mix out into the prepared tin. Once the mix has all gone, tap the tin on the worktop and place in the oven. Bake for 18-20 minutes - the cakes are ready when risen and firm but bouncy on top. Test with a tooth pick - if it comes out clean they're ready.
  • Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack. Once cooled, they can be frozen for another time or decorated with the frosting.

To make the frosting

  • Place the cooked sweet potato, maply syrup, cocoa powder and vanilla essence into a small blender and whizz for a few seconds to combine. Test the flavour and add more syrup or cocoa as needed and blend again
  • Spread the mix over the top of the cakes and decorate with raspberries if desired. Keep in the fridge and eat within 3-4 days
Keyword chocolate cake,, Easter,, low fat, plant-based diet, vegan cake

Easy baked veggie cakes

Yesterday was a busy one in The Sensitive Foodie Kitchen – not that we went anywhere of course, well not physically anyway. For yesterday I beamed live into other peoples homes via my first live cooking demo via Facebook.

I had no idea if it would work, but it did! And rather wonderfully there were people popping by from all sorts of countries. The internet really is an incredible asset for these current times, helping us all keep in touch in times of physical isolation.

I started off with one of the most popular hands-on cooking experiences on my workshops – easy baked veggie cakes. These super tasty bites are great because:

  • they are really easy to make
  • they are super adaptable and work for most veggies hanging around in your fridge
  • if you include a range of veggies they’re packed full of amazing phytonutrients
  • they get you in contact with your food
  • kids can have fun making them – and hopefully eating them too

Popping these in the oven means there’s no added oil; the caramelisation of the sugars in the veggies makes them go brown and crispy all by themselves. And that way you lovely natural flavours too.

These make great snacks and lunches; make a bigger batch and keep some in the freezer for those days when you’re out and about and don’t have time to cook (which will happen again at some point in the future…….).

I know not everyone is on Facebook, so here is the video from yesterday in case you wanted to see it. And I’ve added the full recipe below so you don’t have to sit through it if you have better things to do!

I hope you enjoy making these tasty little bites – do let me know how you get on. And stay safe and well.

Easy baked veggie cakes

These super easy but delicious veggie cakes are a great lunch or snack. Kids love making them - and eating them too.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Servings 12 portions

Ingredients
  

  • 500 grams grated vegetables eg a mix of carrot and/or parsnip and/or courgette and/or celeriac and/or sweet potato and/or turnip
  • 1 medium red or white onion, sliced or 4 spring onions or 1 shredded leek
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 cm piece fresh ginger grated
  • 50 grams chickpea (gram) flour or whatever flour you have
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 handful fresh herbs, chopped

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4
  • Place the grated veggies into a bowl with the finely sliced onion, garlic and ginger. Mix together well with your hands then add a teaspoon of salt and the fresh herbs and mix together well again.
  • Add the chickpea flour, mix well, then leave to stand for 10 minutes. The salt will draw the water out of the veggies and help bind it together.
  • Take a spoonful of mix and squeeze it together in the palm of your hand. If it binds well, it's ready to use. If it doesn't stick, add more flour as needed until it does. The exact amount depends on how watery your veggies are (ie: courgette will need more than parsnip)
  • Press a big spoonful of the mix into a round patty in the palms of your hand and place on the baking tray. Repeat until all the mix is used up.
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Once the top of the veggie cakes are firm, carefully turn them over and bake for another 5 minutes or so until browned and crispy.
  • Serve hot or leave to cool and eat when you're ready.
Keyword easy recipe, gluten free, healthy kids, healthy lunch, OMS friendly, plant based, snack

 

Vanilla Oat Ice Cream

Today (23rd July) may be the day that the UK holds its collective breath as we wait to find out the name of the new Prime Minister, but in the US, it's National Vanilla Ice Cream Day. So to raise your spirits and focus on something much more tasty, I thought I'd share this delicious vanilla oat ice cream recipe. Because ice cream always makes things better!

Ice cream is the perfect combination of sugar and fat that pings dopamine receptors in the brain and sets us off on a full pleasure experience. It's the balanced combination of fat and sugar that does it - the bliss point. Eating sugar by itself is not so good - it's all claggy and gums up your mouth. And cream is ok in small amounts but is pretty bland. Blend them together, change the temperature, add a little extra flavouring (in this case vanilla) and voilá - a taste sensation that we love to eat in large amounts. The 'need' for ice cream is an on-going narrative in the media - I discuss this more in my book Eat Well Live Well with The Sensitive Foodie.

When I first changed to a dairy-free diet there was only one ice cream option available to buy - Swedish Glace. It was also very lovely; sadly it's since been bought by Walls and it's changed - I find it quite bland and the tub is nearly impossible to open without damaging your hand! Nowadays there are numerous dairy-free and vegan ice creams available to buy, most of which contain highly refined fats and sugars, or coconut, which is off the menu for those of us following the Overcoming MS programme or using a whole-food plant-based diet for reversing health conditions.

So what's a girl to do? This vanilla oat ice cream is a great alternative. It's thick, creamy and subtly sweet. It's also packed with fibre so even if your pleasure centre is screaming "more, give me more" your stomach will be saying "no way, I'm stuffed"!

If you've never made your own ice cream before, don't fret as it's super easy - as long as you have an ice cream maker. I've had one this Andrew James one for a few years now. It's not expensive and is easy to use - you just have to remember to freeze the bowl. I keep mine in a plastic bag in the freezer so it's ready for all ice cream emergencies. If you don't have a big freezer, you might not want to do that so be prepared to think ahead and freeze it as needed.

If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can make it by pouring the mix into a plastic container then freezing for hour, stirring, then freezing again. Do this 4 or 5 times and you should get a similar result - it's just time consuming and you have to remember to do it every hour!

Because this ice cream contains whole oats and dates it also contains a lot of fibre. So apart from filling you up as mentioned above, it also releases the natural sugars more slowly, which is better for blood sugar control. On top of that, the fibre in oats is good for gut health as well as heart health. And oats also contain healthy fats, as does almonds and cashews (if you are using it as cream). So this ice cream is good for the body as well as the taste buds - that really is something to celebrate!

If you think I've finally lost the plot with my whole-food plant-based ideas, don't dismiss this until you've tried it. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. And if you do make it, I'd love to hear what you think - and what flavour you would like to discover next.

Vanilla Oat Ice Cream

A super creamy ice cream low in fat, high in fibre with a delicously subtle vanilla flavour. A great alternative to shop-bought ice creams, especially if you are avoiding refined oils, coconut or soya.

  • 150 grams oats (gluten free if needed)
  • 100 grams dates (de-stoned)
  • 250 ml water
  • 400 ml dairy-free cream (almond, cashew or oat all work well)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • pinch Himalayan salt
  1. Before you start, make sure the bowl for your ice cream maker is frozen as per machine instructions. I keep mine in the freezer all the time in a plastic bag, ready for those ice cream moments!
  2. Place the oats, dates and water in a large bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to soak for one hour.
  3. Tip the soaked oat mix into a blender jug along with the dairy-free cream, vanilla extract and salt. Blend on high for 1 1/2 minutes until everything is well combined, thick and creamy.
  4. Prepare your ice cream maker and turn it on to churn. Give the oat cream mix one more whizz to pick up any fibre that may have settled on the bottom of the jug and pour it steadily into the ice cream maker (I always make a mess doing this!)
  5. Leave the ice cream maker to do it's magic. Once the ice cream is thick and the paddle stops churning, transfer the ice cream to a freezer-proof container and leave in the freezer for one hour, or until you're ready to serve.
  6. If the ice cream has been in the freezer for more than an hour, take it out 15 minutes before you want to serve it to soften slightly.