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 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 12 portions


  • 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.
Keyword easy recipe, gluten free, healthy kids, healthy lunch, OMS friendly, plant based, snack


Apple and oat muffins

Muffins were in the news earlier this year following a report that outed many shop-bought versions as being the less-than healthy option they might appear to be (click here for the link). Some blueberry ones tested didn’t have anything close to a real blueberry in them, just some synthetic sugar replacement. Plus lots of refined sugar and oils. That’s definitely not a healthy muffin! Continue reading “Apple and oat muffins”

Creamy baba ghanoush

During my time in India, I started a love affair – with the fabulously tasty aubergine! There was so much more to this vegetable than I had ever imagined, with an ancient history, multiple varieties and different guises, it was easy to be enticed into a whole new realm of culinary possibilities.

I was surprised to discover  that, botanically, aubergine is actually a fruit; a berry to be precise. Before my departure to sunny climes, I thought aubergines were only large, oval, deep purple and went bitter and mushy when cooked. I discovered that there are around 2000 different varieties of aubergine in India alone, ranging from tiny to giant (1kg in weight), oval, round, long, thin, bulbous, prickly and in many hues – deep purple, red-purple, green, yellow, white, striped and even orange.

Native to India, aubergines are known by the generic name of brinjal, although this varies from area to area depending on the local language. In Hindi, it’s ‘baingan’ which literally translated means “no exceptional qualities” which is rather sad!! In the US and Australia, aubergines are eggplants; some early 18th century versions were white and egg shaped, hence the name. Western Europe tends to use aubergine, apparently coming from Arabic (useful information for your next pub quiz!)

Aubergine is a key ingredient in many Indian dishes.  Highly nutritious, it’s known as both “poor man’s meat” and the “king of vegetables” possibly from a Tamil folk tale (it has a crown!).  So adaptable, it can be cooked in many ways – baked, roasted, bbq’ed, fried, pickled, used for dips and chutneys and even soufflé.  And of course, aubergine pops up in all sorts of cuisine from around the world – Middle Eastern, Arabic, Mediterranean and Asian. 

Aubergine have a high water content, and are excellent source of potassium and other key nutrients such as calcium, folic acid, vitamin C and other anti-oxidants.  Unfortunately, they absorb oil and so become high calorie if fried, but also highly delicious, delectably melting in the mouth.

Its a great vegetable for use in a plant based wholefood diet, as when cooked it produces a delicious creamy texture that can provide additional richness to a dairy free dish. One of my favourite is Baba ghanoush, aubergine dip, a rich and flavoursome dish – I made this the other day for some friends and it disappeared off the table in a flash!  Traditionally, olive oil is added, but I find that baking the aubergine in the oven first until cooked creates enough soft, rich flesh that oil just isn’t needed. Beware with the amount of garlic you use though – the flesh absorbs other flavours so well that it can be pretty strong without meaning to – maybe not one to prepare for a romantic date!!

I have a number of delicious, aubergine dishes to share, including a great brinjal curry my maid taught me and an Italian inspired stuffed aubergine roll, but for now, here’s healthy, low fat baba ghanoush. Enjoy with toasted flatbread, or my chickpea dippers http://foodiesensitive.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/no-dairy-no-calcium.html

Tantilisingly creamy baba ghanoush
1 large aubergine
1 tablespoon tahini
1 -2 cloves garlic, crushed
juice 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
To get a smoky flavour, first place your aubergine directly onto a gas flame (if you have a gas hob) and scorch the skin. Once slightly toasted, wrap in tin foil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes or so at 200 degrees C until soft to touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool – don’t open the tin foil yet. Once cool, carefully unwrap the aubergine, pouring the juices that will have collected in the foil into a blender. Cut open and scoop out the cooked flesh, leaving behind the tougher skin, and place in blender with the juice. Add the remaining ingredients and blitz until combined and really smooth. Check for seasoning, adding more salt and a little black pepper if required, and more lemon juice if it’s not quite tangy enough. Share with others if you dare, or indulge by yourself!


Sweet treat – raw and dairy free!

Last month, I disappear off with a friend for a few days to visit Auroville, an alternative community nestled in the countryside near to Pondicherry on the Tamil Nadu coast. Auroville is a fascinating experiment in human unity and focuses on sustainable living as well as the environmental, social and spiritual needs of mankind. We spent a lovely few days relaxing under immense banyan trees, participating in yoga, pottery and a lot of chatting! The food was amazing, much of it organic and locally grown, and of course they had a wide choice which included dairy-free and vegan options, so I, and my stomach, were happy!

One evening, we found ourselves at a farm house within the settlement, in a group gathered around a big bonfire singing ‘mindful’ songs – it was a truly hippy experience! We arrived a little late, and the vegan spread provided must have been delicious, as the only thing left were a few small dark balls scattered on a plate, covered in white flecks. Someone said they were pudding; unconvinced, I tried one as I was so hungry and discovered much to my surprise and delight that they were little balls of sweet heaven! Looks were very deceiving! The host told me they were raw date and nut balls – that was it!  How can that taste of chocolate though?

I know that many people believe that we should be eating mostly or all of our food raw. There is a great film called Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead about a guy juicing his way to health, which is really worth watching, if only for the people watching experience. Check out http://www.jointhereboot.com to find out more.

But I digress! So I do include lots of raw veggies in my diet, but I’m not a complete raw foodie, so hadn’t come across these raw date balls before.  Doing some research on the internet, I found a guideline recipe on Yummly.com, but then changed it a little to suit what we have available here in Bangalore. If you’re a committed calorie counter, then all these nuts and dried fruits might freak you out a little, but do note there is no added sugar. A handful of nuts is the same amount of fat as a teaspoon of refined oil, plus you get all the extra nutritious goodies such as vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and fibre, but that’s a whole posting in itself. My husband and son love these balls and they’re difficult to binge on; they are really filling!

Vegan choco-nutty-fruity balls
1 cup/120g of nuts, raw and unsalted – I used almonds, walnuts and cashews
1/2 cup/120g organic pitted dates, chopped
1/2 cup/ 120g dried cranberries or apricots
1/2 cup raisins
2 tbspns cocoa powder
1 tbspoon fresh orange juice
few drops almond essence
for coating:
1/2 tspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup/30g fresh or dessicated coconut
Place nuts, dates and rest of dried fruit in a food processor along with cocoa powder and almond essence. Blitz until everything is ground together – add orange juice a few drops at a time until the mixture binds together – you probably won’t need all of it. On a plate, combine the cinnamon and coconut. Roll small portions of the mix into balls, then roll them in the coconut mix until covered. Once all done, place in a container and refrigerate. Then enjoy over a relaxing cup of tea, after a workout or at any time you fancy a sweet nibble!


Humdinging hummus

Thank goodness for hummus! Not the usual thing to say, but for me it’s a lunch time saviour. Finding healthy, easy dairy free snacks can be a bit challenging at times, especially when all you want to eat is cheese, but hummus is just perfect. Back in the UK, it was easy to pick up a pot from the supermarket, but over here in India, it’s not available, so I had to learn how to make it myself. Finding tinned chickpeas is not so easy either and cooking them from scratch takes a long time. Then I discovered the joys of a pressure cooker!

There are many noises that I will always associate with India – horns, mopeds, random men shouting “hoy” and the ubiquitous pressure cooker. Early in the morning, and at odd times throughout the day, a symphony of pressure cooker whistles can be heard all around the compound I live in as various breakfast and lunch dishes are prepared. I soon realised that pressure cookers are used so much to save time – Indian cooking involves a lot of preparing from the basics. Boiling items not only takes time, but also energy, and when your gas supply comes from canisters which are rationed, you want to use as little as possible. Two hours of boiling beans until they are tender is out.

Soaking chickpeas overnight for pressure cooking the next morning has become a way of life. For hummus, not only is this so much cheaper, even for organic goods, but healthier as the tinned version soaks in fluid containing added sugar and salt. The carbohydrates in chickpeas are complex, and so take longer to digest by the body, releasing a smooth flow of energy that lasts some time. Added sugar is refined and is rapidly released, giving your body extra work to do and adding stress.  I use the cooking water in the hummus as it contains extra flavour and any vitamins and minerals that may have leeched out from the pulses during cooking, whereas the tinned version I throw it away and so that extra flavour.

If you’ve never used a pressure cooker before, it’s really easy but a bit scary!! Simply place your bean or pulse in the bottom of the pan, add water until their covered plus a little more. You don’t want too much excess fluid in the pan, but equally you need enough so it doesn’t burn dry. Attach the lid until it’s secure, and turn on the heat to a medium level. Once the pressure has built up, it it suddenly whistle and releases a load of steam – don’t stand too close when this happens. Apart from anything else, it’s really loud, but you could get burnt. I usually cook my chickpeas for 10 minutes after the first whistle, then turn off the heat and leave until it’s cooled down. It’s really important not to remove the lid until all the built up steam has dissipated otherwise you will get a nasty burn.

Once the chickpeas are ready, it’s time to whip up your hummus.  Packed with goodies, it combines the excellent protein source of chickpeas and the nutritional powerhouse of sesame seeds, the main ingredient of tahini. There’s so much to say about both of these and not room here but be sure to know that both will have their own feature on the blog soon!

The best thing about home made hummus is being able to customise it to how you like it. Shop bought versions can be quite high in fat and tend to contain preservatives and additives. The fat content can be controlled by using less olive oil and more cooking water, or home made tahini that has less added oil into it. The lemon not only added a beautiful sharp flavour but helps release the protein and B vitamins locked up in the pulse. There’s also variety, as mine seems to come out different every time I make it!! So have a play around – don’t be tied to measurements too much and experiment.

Homemade hummus
250 grams of dried chickpeas soaked over night or one tin, rinsed and drained
approx 1/4 cup cooking liquid or water
3-5 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
2 cloves of garlic crushed (or more if you like it strong)
salt to taste
2 tablespoons of olive oil – less or more depending on how much fat you want added
ground cumin to garnish
Put all the ingredients except the cumin and the liquid or water into a food processor. Add a little of the liquid and blitz until you get a smoothish paste. Add a little more liquid if the mix is too dry and blitz again. Stop and check, taste and add more of any of the ingredients (except chickpeas) to customise your flavour and texture. Once you’re happy, place in a serving dish and sprinkle ground cumin on the top. Enjoy with raw veggies, pita or in a wrap. Or just on the end of your finger if you can’t wait!