Seedy crackers

Crackers are great! Crisp and crunchy texture that carries off all sorts of flavours, they’re perfect to have in the cupboard for lunch or snacking. What’s not to love? Well, for many people, the ingredients in shop-bought crackers are not ideal, particularly if you have food intolerances, follow a specific way of eating for health or want nourishing whole foods that don’t include ingredients that have a negative effect on the environment. Continue reading “Seedy crackers”

Chickpea sandwich spread

One of the things discussed on my Eat Well Live Well course is how to successfully transition to eating a whole-food plant-based diet with minimal pain and maximum pleasure. Change can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be an austere process. One of the most frequent difficulties I hear is “but what do I eat for lunch?”.

If you’re used to making a cheese or ham salad sandwich, or going to your local sandwich shop or deli for chicken or tuna mayo baps, thinking of new and tasty fillings can seem a bit daunting. Of course there’s always hummus – and who doesn’t love hummus? – but not every day!

You could go for the vegan alternative and have fake meats or vegan cheese. But these ultra processed, factory-made products are often full of damaged fats, concentrated proteins and few nourishing nutrients. Maybe ok every now and then, but certainly not a staple and not if you are eating a whole-food plant-based diet to transform a health condition. For that, you need real food that’s had limited processing.

This chickpea sandwich spread is a mix between a tuna mayo alternative and the acidic sandwich spread filling I used to get as a child (did you ever have that? I’m not sure if I ever liked it, but I do have fond memories of it – weird!).

Chickpeas are an awesome source of plant-based protein, fibre, potassium, iron and magnesium (to name a few). They share the fabulousness of all pulses (this blog post tells you more). They also take on other flavours well so can be used for all sorts of recipes. Which is handy as they are also super cheap so good if you are feeding a family on a budget or relying on a student loan to keep you fed and watered.

This filling can be used for sandwiches, baps or wraps. If you are gluten free or avoid bread, then pop it on a baked potato or use as the star of a simple salad. Vary the fresh herbs to whatever you have to hand or the season. Parsley and chives work well as standard flavour. If you use coriander, swap the lemon for lime juice and add a little ginger for an Eastern flavour. Basil or oregano create a more Mediterranean vibe, so swap the spring onion for a little red onion if you have it. Or, if you can’t tolerate onion, just leave it out and try adding a few capers for a more sour taste.

As you can see, this base recipe is so flexible you can create a different combination for every day, or for the season. And as eating and socialising outside are going to be more popular if you want to meet up with friends (due to the pandemic), you might find this recipe features a lot over the next few month. Just adapt it to what you have available and what you like to eat. And enjoy!

Chickpea sandwich spread

A quick and tasty filling for sandwiches, wraps and more that's easy to adapt to taste and fridge contents.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course lunch, picnics
Servings 2 portions

Ingredients
  

  • 4 heaped tbsp cooked chickpeas
  • 1 lemon, juice only grated rind optional
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • water if needed
  • 1 medium spring onion finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley and chives chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon capers, rinsed and chopped optional

Instructions
 

  • Place the chickpeas in a bowl with the lemon juice and Dijon. Mash with a fork, adding a little water if it's too dry. You want soft, mushed chickpeas with a little texture and a thick sauce.
  • Stir in the spring onion, herbs and seasoning (plus capers if using). Mix together well and taste for flavour - add more seasoning, lemon or Dijon as required.
  • Use to filling your bread of choice or as suggested above. Keeps in the fridge for 2 days.
Keyword gluten free, lunch, picnic food, plant-based diet, sandwich

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

 

Vegetable and butter bean soup or stew

This winter seems to have been very long! The wet, grey days are beginning to take their toll, although any time the sun does manage to make an appearance is a wonderful moment to behold! March is the beginning of spring; the crocuses and daffodils have bravely popped their colourful heads up, but I definitely don’t feel it’s time to move from comforting soups and stews to lighter, more spring-like meals. Continue reading “Vegetable and butter bean soup or stew”