With the kids back at school and more people at their place of work rather than at home, packed lunches are back in focus. It can be hard to know what to put in that’s healthy, unprocessed and, of course, tasty. It’s even more challenging if you are creating packed lunches for a nut free environment, particularly schools. Continue reading “Savoury carrot 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.
My next post for Global Sharing Week is a simple way to make a lovely dairy-free cheese alternative. Labneh is a Middle-Eastern soft cheese made from strained yoghurt – here I show you how to make it with soya yoghurt instead. It always goes down well when I make it for people on my Eat Well Live Well course – and now you can see how easy it is to make yourself at home. Continue reading “Dairy-free labneh”
I love aubergine. Unfortunately my husband can’t stand them. He’s very tolerant of my plant-based experiments, but sadly aubergine is his red line that can’t be crossed! Which is not too much of a problem as there are so many other delicious plant-based foods to play with. Plus he’s often away, so aubergine becomes my indulgence when he’s on his travels.
He’s not the only one who can’t or won’t tolerate aubergine. Some people find it too bitter (although this is much less of a problem now than in the past as cross-breeding has removed much of the bitterness) whilst others can’t stand the texture, particularly when it’s over-soft and mushy. Then there are those who are sensitive to produce from the night-shade family which includes aubergines. Continue reading “Sticky ginger-garlic aubergine”