Spring has finally arrived in all her glory; it seems to have been a very long winter this year! Gorgeous Spring blossom and buds are everywhere, like this gorgeous magnolia coming into bloom near my house. Continue reading “Simnel cake”
I do love a vegetable that’s adaptable, something that can be used in all sorts of dishes both sweet and savoury. And sometimes in surprising ways. Pumpkins and squash definitely hit that criteria. In beautiful shades of orange, these lovely gourds maybe be harvested in autumn, but can last all through the long winter. Continue reading “Sweet pumpkin pie”
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
- 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
- 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!
I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the look out for a decent plant-based cheese alternative. I know they’re not the same as ‘normal’ cheese (which is just as well when you’re intolerant to it!), but it’s so good to find something that gives a little bit of cheesy satisfaction. Continue reading “Tofu ricotta”
I do love a flapjack! I used to be a bit addicted to them when I was at school – that delicious butter and sugar combo just hit the spot! My friends mum used to make the best ones. I’m not sure what the magic ingredient was but they were just too good! Continue reading “Apple and date flapjacks”
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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
- 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.
One of the delights of buying seasonal veg boxes is that it introduces me to ingredients I wouldn’t automatically buy (or sometimes even see) in the supermarket. And being presented with a new ingredient means I also have the opportunity to be creative. My most recent challenge has been turnips. Continue reading “Turnip gratin”
It’s turned proper cold this week – suddenly it feels like winter. And the good winter, with mornings decorated with frosty patterns, air so chilly it makes your nose tingle and clear blue skies with lots of sunshine. That’s something I think we’ve all been craving after the last few grey and rainy months! Continue reading “Sprout masala”
I hope you’ve found my Sensitive Foodie guide to Christmas helpful and you are all ready for the big day. There’s a huge range of recipes in it to help you enjoy your whole-food plant-based Christmas eating, but there is one key thing we make every year that’s not on that list yet. So as my present to you, here’s the recipe for my daughters favourite seasonal treat – yule log.
To be honest, this is one of my more complicated recipes, but if you are used to baking then hopefully you won’t find it too difficult. And if you’re not a free-from baking aficionado, then do still give this a go as to be honest, if I can do it, anyone can!
This yule log uses aquafaba, the brine left over from cooked chickpeas. Make sure you choose an unsalted version; for this recipes you will need two 400g tins. There’s lots of recipes you can make with chickpeas though so they won’t go to waste. When whisked, aquafaba reacts in the same way as egg white and so works well for the soft pliable sponge needed for yule log, perfect if you are vegan or intolerant to egg.
You can use gluten free flour for this recipe, but make sure it has xanthum gum in the mix. This helps to stop the cake from falling apart, although to be honest with you, it is extremely difficult to stop this sponge from breaking when made gluten free. But never fear, as it’s going to be covered in lovely frosting, and unless you’re entering it into a baking competition, no-one will be too worried if it doesn’t have a perfect curl inside (and if they do, they can go and find their own yule log to eat!).
My chocolate frosting is perfect for anyone following special programmes like Overcoming MS which omit saturated fats and dairy. Admittedly it’s not as sweet as most chocolate frostings, but still taste delicious and complements the super sweet sponge. And it allows yule log to be back on the menu, which in my book is a really good thing!
Finally, if you want to go all out with the Christmas flavours, add a layer of chestnut puree on the inside of your yule log along with a layer of the chocolate frosting. But if you don’t happen to have any to hand, then don’t worry as it tastes fabulous with or without.
I hope you get a chance to make this lovely yule log. If you do, don’t forget to let me know how you get on. I wish you a very Merry Christmas!
- 3 tablespoons soya milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 240 ml aquafaba (the brine from a tin of chickpeas)
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 150 grams coconut sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla essence
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 170 grams whole-wheat self-raising flour or gluten-free self-raising flour mix
- 2 teaspoons baking powder (ensure GF if needed)
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
Sweet potato or avocado chocolate frosting
- 1 medium sweet potato baked in its skin, cooled and peeled
- 1 medium ripe avocado peeled and destoned
- 2-4 tablespoons maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons cocoa or raw cacao powder
- 185 grams pack chestnut puree optional
- 2 tablespoons soya milk
- icing sugar to dust for decoration
- Lightly grease a swiss roll tin and cover with baking paper.
- Add a little lemon juice to the soya milk and leave to thicken and curdle
- Pour the aquafaba into a large bowl and whisk until thick and stiff. Add the cream of tartar and whisk again, then gradually pour in the coconut sugar whisking all the time. Finally add the vanilla essence and soured soya milk, whisk again to keep thick and light.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC.
- Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a separate bowl. Mix well to ensure everything is combined
- Carefully pour the flour mix into the aquafaba mix, quickly and lightly folding it in. Try to keep as much of the air present as possible. It will become thick.
- Quickly spoon out onto the prepared baking tray and lightly spread out to evenly cover – don’t press it down though. Tap on the work top a couple of times.
- Place the tray in the oven and bake for 8 minutes.
- Place a clean tea towel on the work top and cover it with a clean piece of baking paper. Sprinkle the caster sugar over the paper.
- Check the cake -if the sponge is firm but springy, it’s ready. If it’s still a little wet, return to the oven for another couple of minutes but do not overbake.
- Remove the tin from the oven. Carefully turn the cake out onto the prepared baking paper. Peel away the paper from the top, then roll up in the new baking paper lengthways. Transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool.
- Make the chocolate frosting by placing the prepared sweet potato or avocado, maple syrup and cocoa/cacao powder into the bowl of a small food processor. Whizz until the mix is well combined and smooth. Taste and add more maple syrup or cocoa as needed for taste and/or texture.
- Place the chestnut puree in a bowl and loosen slightly with the soya milk so it is spreadable.
- Once fully cool, unroll. It may crack and break a little, but don’t worry!
- Spread 1/3 of the sweet potato icing over the cake and the chestnut puree if using. Carefully roll up lengthways.
- Cover the outside with the remaining sweet potato cream, creating a wood effect with a fork.
- Transfer to a serving plate or board. Sprinkle icing sugar over the top if using and leave to set in the fridge before serving