Date and Tahini Fudge Blondies 

You reckon you’ve officially gone woo woo when your idea of a sweet treat, an indulgent one at that, is a squidgy medjool date stuffed with some dark tahini and a sprinkle of cinnamon? I would believe so.

This my friends is me. I have become that lentil eating, hippie-dip person, who sprinkles turmeric in everything within reach and always has snacks in my bag for those often moments when nothing except crisps is available. You’d wish you were my friend when it comes to those desperate times!

Snacks! That is what we’re all here for.

Something high in protein, full of healthy fats, a hint of sweetness, nourishing and well and truly tasty. Come the 3/4pm afternoon slump the biscuit tin sure becomes appealing. A Digestive, Custard Cream, Chocolate Hobnob, ooh perhaps even a Fruit Shortcake (dead fly biscuit anyone?) or a Nice, always a good pairing to that brew. It’s true, but biscuits aren’t necessarily going to keep you powering on till the end of the work day or your commute home, and stopping at just one isn’t even an option.

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So, bring on the blondies.

I’m a fan of a homemade snack. Putting aside an hour at the weekends to mash, pour and mix up the ingredients, not only is it preparing you for the week ahead for those busy work days and long commutes, think of it as an act of self care. Doing something for yourself, with the knowledge that your emergency snack stash is nourishing and will prevent you prowling the kitchen come 8pm eating anything and everything you can lay your hands on.

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These blondies don’t contain the expected ingredients, a blondie is the blonde sister to the chocolate brownie. No chocolate or cocoa powder, think a brownie/cookie hybrid sometimes studded with addins like pecans, cranberries and white chocolate. Sounds pretty scrum right? Ok that is not what I have for you today, and there is one particular ingredient maybe you weren’t expecting?

The beauty that is the chickpea. The versatile legume made famous for its use in hummus, high in protein and low in fat, lending it’s qualities to create a dense and gooey blondie. I’ve been thinking recently about making a sweet hummus, a dip to eat with apple or carrots, spread on toast for breakfast or a snack. A change up from the regular peanut or almond butter, as there can be too much of a good thing (even peanut butter!). Tahini, dates and chickpeas along with some almond flour, coconut oil, and a flax egg in there too to help stick it all together. You can adjust the amount of dates depending on how sweet you would like, but there is no added sugars. That’s no maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar etc. just dates for some of that HELLA fibre action. And talk about the caramelly toffee flavour!

 

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They definitely won’t last long!

 

Tahini is, as you well know if you’ve read my blog before, one of my desert island foods. There’s something about its bitter depth that lends itself to all manner of foods and I honestly cannot get enough. However if you are averse to the stuff (seriously?how?) add any other nut butter you like. If you don’t have any dates available switch them out for other dried fruits, figs and cashew butter, apricots and almond butter or even raisins and peanut butter.

Date and tahini blondies

Makes 12 bars

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed/linseeds
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/3 cup dairy free milk (I used almond)
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup tahini (light or dark, my favourite is dark)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp of almond flour
  • 1/2-1 tsp cinnamon (depending how much you like it)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan.
  2. Mix the ground flax/linseeds in a small bowl with 3 tbsp. of water. Leave to gel for 10-15 mins. This makes a ‘flax egg’.
  3. Line a 20cm square tin with baking paper and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile add the chickpeas and the dates to a food processor and blend until smooth.
  5. Melt the coconut oil in a small pan, add to the food processor along with all the other ingredients including the ‘flax egg’.
  6. Blend well, scraping down the sides if necessary, until everything is combined. Tip into the tin and spread out until level.
  7. Bake in the oven 25-30 mins until firm. Leave until cool and store in the fridge in a Tupperware for up to 1 week.

 

Beans, not just for hummus!

Let me know what you think, and if you have any other sweet ways with lovely legumes I’d love to hear!

Love and hugs

X

 

Carrot and lentil patties

If you know me fairly well, then you will know of the huge pile of cookbooks I own. Let’s say two huge piles. It’s become a bit of an addiction of mine. I’m that person who reads cookbooks from front to back and whenever I have a spare moment will happily flick through. Each birthday and Christmas I will, rest assured, add one or two new additions to my collection and swiftly forget about the others. Brutal, I know. I do have my absolute favourites though, that I return to time and time again, the tried and tested which are guaranteed to please. But even those recipes are few and far between, saved for when we are feeding guests or want a dish that I know will be a knockout, no stressin’! The rest of the time is dictated by what I’ve seen on blogs, TV, Instagram and most importantly the contents of my fridge.

That’s where the magic is!

 

At lunch I always feel the need for a falafel or patty, whatever you name it, something to finish off my bowl of veggies and grains and that will sit nicely with that obligatory hummus dollop. I always have the intention of making some but then get too hungry so end up going without or I don’t have any beans or grains already cooked (the whole point of a recipe like this is for making something out of the leftovers). Often too, I’ve had the intention of making a big batch to freeze but they end up dry, only palatable if smothered in a TONNE of dressing (make it a tahini one and its not a bad thing). I suppose given that I don’t follow recipes and add a little bit of this, take out that as we don’t have any in the cupboard, it’s guaranteed that many of my attempts will end up in the bin. It’s all a process of learning, except for those times when you don’t remember your mistakes and make them numerous times. The EXACT SAME ONES. Been there.

 

 

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Pre-bake, with a dusting of polenta for that much needed CRUNCH

 

This occasion however was a day for success. Thank the food gods. 

These carrot and lentil patties, came out unscathed, crunchy on the outside, and just what my lunch bowl was needing. Here I used some french lentils that I had overcooked, but any other beans or lentils would suffice just make sure to give them a bit of a mash first. The grated carrot could be changed to courgette or beetroot, any fresh herbs, omit the cheese all together or use more or less (I would’ve added more but it was the end of the block) feta would be nice, as would cheddar or some Parmesan. I haven’t tried making something like this without egg, it’s a great binding agent, but I’d assume a flax egg would work in the same way. And if they don’t hold together, well it just won’t be a plate to photo for Instagram I suppose. Sandwich in between your favourite bread or in a wrap, these would also be brilliant bites for a savoury energy ball. I find snacks rely too heavily upon dates and nuts, so one or two of these would be a great alternative.

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Carrot and lentil patties

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of lentils
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup grated/crumbled cheese
  • Handful of fresh herbs, any mixture of basil, parsley, coriander, mint
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp oats
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • Polenta for coating
  • Oil

Method

  1. Put the lentils in a large bowl and mash slightly so half are crushed and half are still left whole.
  2. On a box grater grate the carrot and add to the bowl along with the cheese.
  3. Finely chop the herbs and add to the lentil mixture along with the spices, oats and some seasoning and mix well.
  4. Crack in the egg and mix again to form quite a wet mixture.
  5. Leave in the fridge for at least 30 mins to firm up slightly.
  6. Heat the oven to 200/180C fan and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper or a silicone sheet.
  7. With damp hands form the lentil mixture into 8 patties and place on the baking sheet.
  8. Brush with some oil and sprinkle over the polenta, this is what will give the crunch.
  9. Bake in the oven for 15 mins until firm and slightly golden.
  10. Will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for a few months.

Side note: if you plan on freezing the patties, bake for a little less time, around 10-12 mins then leave to cool before freezing. Place back in the oven when you want some from frozen until crispy and piping hot in the middle, this will ensure that they won’t dry out.

 

So here’s to happier lunchtimes and turning those droopy leftovers into something new.

Get rolling those patties!!

XX

Radicchio, courgette and goats cheese cauliflower pizza

So in the fridge you have a small chunk of cauliflower, a courgette, some radicchio and some stray basil. Not enough to make a mean veggie bowl filled with grains and a killer dressing, and we’d eaten pasta the night before so that was off the books. My mum isn’t the biggest fan of cauliflower unless I completely mask it with loads of spices, and no avocado is just real sad. You see come Friday it’s the end of the week and the day when I always like to cobble the leftover contents together, and miraculously make a veggie meal for my mum and I. Thank god it’s also the day when my dad goes out to the dirty beer shop (AKA the pub) so doesn’t eat with us, meaning less panic on my behalf due to the lack of meat.

(That’s not to say that I don’t eat meat, im not vegetarian or vegan I just prefer to eat plant based the majority of the time)

I kept wandering to the fridge that day, back and forth racking my brain for what to make for dinner that will use up the odds and ends, but obviously still taste really good. Peeking into the corners and behind the drawers in hope that something had fallen and become lost, no luck there, and if it had, probably would be from a few weeks back and starting to digest itself. Only one thing was on my mind, it had to be pizza. Cauliflower pizza that is. I’m not one to say that this is better than the real thing and you would never know it doesn’t contain gluten, as A. it’s not and B. you would. A proper pizza when done well, a slow risen dough to produce a thin crispy crust, puddles of mozzarella, fresh herbs and a smatter of a tomato sauce, if that’s what you’re expecting cauliflower pizza will never live up to that standard. It’s pretty shameful to even compare it to pizza, it shouldn’t be a substitute for when you’re on a ‘health kick’ or ‘detox’, both should be eaten with enjoyment because they both taste pretty fabulous. It’s same same, but different!

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I’ve made this pizza many times, for a Friday night, shared with my mum over a glass of wine. I make a thick tomato sauce spiked with a heavy helping of garlic and fiery chilli along with some oregano and a squirt of tomato purée for some depth. Sometimes I’ll whizz up a pesto with fresh herbs, masses  of lemon and a handful of nuts and some oil, lovely drizzled over before serving for that fresh and zingy hit. The toppings are completely adaptable. This time we had roasted courgettes, radicchio and tomatoes, but try a selection of peppers, mushrooms, roast aubergine, artichokes, capers, olives and sweetcorn (which caramelises and goes slightly crispy, we fight over those bits). Then a good scatter of cheese, feta is always a guaranteed pleaser, but some goats cheese is rather good too. Then just before serving a large handful of some vibrant greens like watercress or rocket, drizzle with oil and a squeeze of lemon. Simple, full of veggies, uses up odds and ends and most importantly tastes really very good.

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Radicchio, courgette and goats cheese cauliflower pizza

Adapted from Hemsley and Hemsley’s Flower Power pizza

Ingredients

Pizza base

  • 140g cauliflower
  • 1 egg white
  • 50g gram/chickpea flour
  • 40g buckwheat flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Tomato sauce

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1/2 tin plum tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Big pinch of chilli flakes
  • Salt and pepper

Toppings

  • 1 courgette
  • 1/2 radicchio
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Cheese, I used a hard goats cheese, but feta, soft goats cheese or mozzarella would also work nicely
  • Pine nuts, toasted
  • Fresh basil
  • Salad leaves, I had a mix of rocket, watercress and spinach
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan. Chop the courgette into rounds, drizzle with oil, place in a roasting tin in the oven for around 20-30 minutes until golden and caramelised
  2. Next make the base. Put the cauliflower in a food processor and blitz until it looks like couscous. Add the other ingredients and whizz until you form a damp dough.  If you don’t have a food processor you can grate the cauliflower on a box grater then mix with the other ingredients in a bowl, this will just take a little longer.
  3. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and grease lightly with oil. Spoon the dough on the sheet and spread out thinly, leaving a slightly raised edge. I like to keep it circular for aesthetic reasons (we do eat with our eyes) and around 25cm diameter is a good size to aim for.
  4. Bake in the oven for 15 mins, flip over and bake for 5 mins more.
  5. Meanwhile for the tomato sauce, add some oil to a saucepan and place on a low heat, finely chop the garlic and add to the pan and sizzle until it starts to turn slightly golden.
  6. Squeeze in the tomato purée and cook it for a few minutes, then tip in the tinned tomatoes mush them up with a fork, fill the tin halfway with water and add to the pan also. Add the oregano and chilli flakes and simmer until thick and spreadable, check for seasoning and set aside.
  7. Flip the pizza base so it’s the right way up and spread in the tomato sauce, leaving a rim around the edge.
  8. Slice the radicchio thinly and the cherry tomatoes in half, and place on the pizza along with the roast courgette and some chopped fresh basil if you have it.
  9. Grate the cheese (if it is a hard one) or crumble as much as you like over the pizza, then place back in the oven for 10 mins.
  10. When it’s cooked, serve on a board with a drizzle of oil and a handful of salad greens.

I’d love to hear what your favourite way with leftovers is, or your favourite pizza toppings. And it is true that leftovers make the best meals, always far better the second time round  (especially if paired with a nice glass of wine).

Happy munching my lovelies

X

Some fashion week sustenance

It’s come around again, yet another season, 1/2 a year has been and gone. Something which first started off as a biannual event, has now spawned into hundreds of millions of shows new ones popping up each season, mens collection, cruise, couture, anniversary shows, pre collections, the fashion ‘week’ never ends for some.

From afar it seems a wondrous thing to be a part of – which it is when we eventually reach the following Tuesday and look back and say, ‘finally it is over!’ The slog though, it sure is a long and arduous one.

So the Monday before it officially begins on Friday we begin castings. Always one of the castings is the Fashion Scout event, a hall full of at least 20 designers where we must strut up and down, up and down, up and down until out little feet can’t carry us any longer. Add on top of that a good 5 or 6 castings and then crash on the sofa come 9 o’clock in a state of delirium.

And that’s only the first day!

Wake up and more castings again for the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday (Yayy no more on Tuesday!!). The list each day gets longer, castings start earlier and finish later and later and then the fittings, which can go well into the early hours of the morning as the teams behind the designers are putting the final touches to their shows.

All this running around, tube to bus, west to east and casting to show to fitting, it leaves us all rather hungry – ravenous fits the bill a bit more suitably. No matter how much the majority of models love you, Propercorn and Coconut water, I think we need some proper sustenance in our tummies.

So snacks are where it is at. Along with our heels, models cards and books (reading and portfolios) there will usually be a good array of snackage action in model handbags. I want to give some more ideas that stray away from said popcorn and popchips, because maybe they do fill that little hole but there’s not much in them to keep you going for very long. Things you can pick up quickly in supermarkets, cafes or have in your pocket for when that much needed energy dips. If you’re reading this and you’re not a model, they’re most definitely brilliant snacks to have on hand at anytime – the wait between lunch and dinner is hard enough to get though!!

 

#1 Squirrel sister bars

Find them in a trusty Boots, these fruit and nut bars are a delight. Sweet, but still full of nobbly nutty pieces that make it feel a satisfying snack rather than just a hit of pure energy. They come in four flavours: Cacao brownie, Raspberry ripple, Coconut cashew and Cacao orange, and each is portioned into two little finger bars, one for now and one for later, give one to a friend (if you’re feeling really kind), but most probably both at once because they are OH SO GOOD! If you can find it, make sure to get your hands on the cacao orange, I’m always out of luck as it’s sold out and it is definitely the best of the flavours!!

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#2 Hippeas

The new crisp on the block. These chickpea puffs are perfect for when you can’t get that bag of skips off your mind. The come in four flavours; Pepper Power, In Herbs We Trust, Sweet and Smokin’ and Far Out Fajita. Nicely savoury with a good puffy crunch. Thanks to incredible marketing and advertising I’m sure you’ve already heard of Hippeas as they’re so easy to find in the majority of healthfood stores around London, but also Whsmiths and Waitrose. Listen to the guys and, ‘give peas a chance’!

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#3 Deliciously Ella energy balls

Brought to you from the famed Deliciously Ella, these balls which currently come in three flavours popular from the blog, can be found in Starbucks, Waitrose, Sainsburys, The Mae Delis and various health food stores. They are very sweet, from the dates so will be perfect for a quick pick me up alongside your mochachococcino. The three flavours are Hazelnut and Raisin, Cashew and Ginger and Cacao and Almond, each made from only a few ingredients but all wholefoods, just fruit and nuts and some spices.

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#4 The Giving Tree, Broccoli crisps

Now for another savoury snackaroo. Little green broccoli trees which are vacuum fried and just a little salt is added. They are super crispy and munchable, you’ll find your way to the bottom of the packet in no time. There are a few options in The Giving Tree crisps, a mixture of sweet and savoury, the sweet ones are freeze dried and the savoury ones are vacuum fried both ways retaining all their nutrients.

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#5 A piece of fruit

Couldn’t write a snacks list without some fruit. I tend to opt for oranges, pears and apples because bananas usually end up as a big mush over my heels. Full of natural sugars, fibre and loads of vitamins and minerals, which are much needed as our tired-out bodies are pushed to their limits, all in one portable package.

 

#6 Trail mix

Another oh so simple one. I like to make my own up as it’s cheaper and I get to choose what goes in the mix. Chuck in any of your favourite nuts, seeds, dried fruit and perhaps some coconut flakes for a quick energy boosting snack. The protein and fats in the nuts should keep you sustained for a good while (at least hopefully until you get some proper lunch or dinner). Try a variety of nuts, not just your typical almonds and cashews for some interest. Also, if chocolate goes in there, I won’t tell.  Fashion week is a devilish time and chocolate soothes everything.

 

#7 Emily’s Fruit/Veg Crisps

Another of the vacuum crisped crisps.  My favourites are the Root Veg crisps and the French beans, Sugarsnaps and Black Edamame. Munch on the bus or add as a lunch topper for some crunch. Also available are fruit crisps in flavours such as pineapple, apple and banana.

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#8 Rawsage

An unassuming snack bar I received once in a Lifebox. If you’re like me and crave something savoury to add to your snacking instead of all the sweet fruity based bars, this will be your new go to. A raw vegan version of the popular salami snack, Peperami, indeed a raw sausage! It tastes pretty fab, brazil nuts, sundried tomatoes, herbs and spices combine for a flavour full of umami and even a very similar texture to the original. Find it in Planet organic, and give it a try!

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#9 Rude Health ‘The Oaty’

A lot of the time I am sick and tired of fruit and nuts, and need a little biscuit, reminiscent of a Digestive but so much tastier and wholesome. The oatcakes from Rude Health are a great handbag snack and the best of the oatcake bunch. They come in a few variations, The Oaty, The Spelt Oaty, the Rye Oaty, the 4 Seed Oaty and the Ginger and Turmeric Oaty. In the box there’s portioned packets ready to take on the go. My favourite, the Ginger and Turmeric Oaty is lovely with a cup of milk, or perhaps a golden milk for a double turmeric hit, as a bedtime snack – the slow releasing carbs will help you with a restful sleep. In my humble opinion, the best oatcake out there, I’ve tried a few and these most definitely have no similarities to cardboard!!

 

So don’t let fashion week get you down, and don’t let boring snacking get you down either. There’s plenty of options out there, just pick something that you enjoy and that will help you keep on trudgin’. Also make sure it stands the handbag test, noone wants a mass of crumbs in the bottom or an explosion when you go to find your purse. Tupperware is the saviour in this scenario, oh and baby wipes!!!

Happy Fashion Week to you All, and GOOD LUCK!!

X

 

Cookie cravings

Let’s cut straight to the chase.

Cookies

Banana. Peanut butter. Chocolate.

That is all my friends, and it sure is a good’un

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I don’t know about you, when I come to baking a so called ‘healthier’ snack or treat it gives me serious anxiety and stress before I’ve even made anything. Then don’t get me started on whether it’s cooked when pulled out the oven or if it will taste any good or just end up in the bin. A tight chest, knot in my stomach and usually tears ensues, makes me wonder why I bother in the first place.

Well that’s my issues laid out on a plate. Back to the recipe at hand.

It is known by most that baking is a cheap hobby. White flour, butter, caster sugar and eggs are typically the main ingredients to feature in a homemade bake. All friendly on the purse, leave your tastebuds happy however there’s not much going on the nutritional side of things. So when it comes to everyday snacking I want to find something wholesome, full of fibre, healthy fats, a littlleeee bit of sweet (NOT TOO MUCH) and just tastes real good. I love hummus and crudités, some full fat yogurt or banana/apple drizzled with nut butter they’re all great. But sometimes you just need that satisfaction that comes in the form of a baked good.

And chocolate, always chocolate.

Finding a recipe for something along ^^those^^ lines seems pretty easy to begin with- a quick google – factor in that you want it free from refined sugar and LOADS of things pop up. Look more closely and the recipes tend to just replace normal sugar with equal measures of expensive ‘healthier’ sugars like maple syrup and coconut sugar. I will keep this short – and will do a post on where I stand in the big bad world of sugar soon – however we need to keep the amount of added sugar in our daily diets down to a minimum. I’m looking at you honey, agave and dates too!!

If you do find a recipe that has reduced sugar and isn’t drenched in syrups, from my experience they’re always dry, unpalatable and claim to be ‘better than the real thing’. Course they ain’t. There’s no butter for starters. Bird food comes to mind, basically loads of nuts and seeds, and millet that’s what birds like isn’t it?

I’ve had a bit of an obsession with the blog Oh Lady Cakes recently, when I stumbled across these cookies, let’s say trail bar. As rightly pointed out by my mum they’re yummy but if you’re expecting a cookie you would be severely disappointed. FAIR ENOUGH. So trail bars it is! I altered the original recipe slightly to omit the maple syrup, the added banana chips sound divine, but sourcing some which aren’t deep fried or coated in sugar is like finding the holy grail, so instead I used coconut flakes and cacao nibs instead of the peanuts. Walnuts chopped up would add nicely to the ‘Chunky Monkey’ vibe going on.

So a base of mashed bananas, peanut butter, oat flour and rolled oats leaves these trail mix bars moist with that chewy claggyness you expect from a peanut butter cookie (I’m selling these really well aren’t I). To sweeten slightly I used some medjool dates (they’re a great source of fibre however still very high in sugar so don’t go overboard) and whizzed them up with the nut milk to form a date paste. They’re subtlety sweet but not teeth achingly so, AND only sweetened by fruits which makes me even happier. You don’t want to over bake these otherwise they will be like sawdust.

We want some goo. Goo is good.

All in all, the stress came – they smelt good, and looked good but the idea of them not tasting good always kills me as I hate to throw expensive ingredients away – but alas it swiftly left, as on the first mouthful I knew I was onto a winner.

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Pre their short stint in the oven

 

So by all means bake these *ahem* cookies, they’ll last on the counter or in the fridge for a good week. If you’re like me and they live up to your cookie cravings and you’re not expecting it to be a proper COOKIE COOKIE (ya know what I mean), then by all means here’s a recipe for banana, peanut butter and chocolate cookies.

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However if you want a wholesome snack that doesn’t lure you into a false pretence of being a cookie, only to be severely disappointed afterwards as it contained oats not butter and sugar, then here is a recipe for a banana, peanut butter and chocolate trail bar. Most definitely NOT a cookie.

Same same, But different.

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Banana, peanut butter and chocolate trail bars/cookies (it’s your call)

Ingredients

  • 1 large very ripe banana
  • 140g peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 80g medjool dates
  • 55ml milk (I used oat milk)
  • 120g oat flour (weigh out the oats and whizz to a flour, I did this in my Nutribullet with the milling blade on)
  • big pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g rolled oats
  • handful of coconut flakes/desiccated coconut
  • two handfuls of chopped dark chocolate (at least 70%)
  • a handful of cacao nibs (can omit if you like, I like them for crunch and a deep bitter cacao flavour)

Method

  1. Mash the banana in a large bowl and whisk together with the peanut butter and melted butter.
  2. In a blender whizz up the dates with the milk to form a paste and mix this in with the banana mixture.
  3. Add in the oat flour, bicarb and salt and mix with a spoon to make a sticky batter.
  4. Fold through all the other ingredients until distributed evenly, then cover and pop in the fridge for around 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 160C, line two baking sheets with baking paper.
  6. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out the mixture, roll into a ball and flatten into a thick cookie shape. Repeat until all the mixture has been used up. (You can of course lick the spoon but don’t eat it all!!)
  7. Bake in the oven for around 12 minutes until lightly browned around the edges but still underdone in the middle, this is what makes them stay gooey.
  8. Leave to cool on wire racks then store in Tupperware either on the side or in the fridge. Or pop in the freezer wrapped well where they will keep for a few months, just leave to defrost before eating, or put back in the oven for a few minutes to crispen up the edges and leave the chocolate nice and melty.

I like these obviously with a cup of tea (I’m Brtish), sometimes a rooibos, a chai rooibos or even a green tea (JUST DON’T DUNK!!). Sometimes only milk and cookies will suffice, so those days I pour myself a small glass of chilled milk, usually plant based or raw cows milk if we have some, with one of these.

Lovely

Much love and *hopefully* less stress in your baking ploys

X

 

 

 

A pot of liquid gold

Hands up who likes nut butter.

Hello my fellow friends.

Hands up who spends a fortune on nut butters, seemingly weekly because you can’t just have the one variety in your cupboard and a teaspoon always is a permanent feature propped up in the jar.

Still there?

I was wandering round planet organic the other day killing some time and obviously ended up facing a row upon row of nuts and seeds in jars, swiftly followed by tea the other lover in my life (I seriously need to find myself a boyfriend). The varieties are endless, every nut or seed is on offer, some chocolatey –  a riff on Nutella – others spiced up, some raw, some roasted, the list goes on and on and on. People are becoming more innovative in their flavour creations, no longer sticking to just sea salt, trying to cater for their audience of evolving tastebuds. Beautiful packaging sure is a feast for the eyes, but turn your gaze to the price tag…  just walk away, swiftly.

However much I love a little splurge on new products to test out and try, when prices are rattling up to £12 for a piddly little jar, that’s one indulgence too far. So I tend to use my aisle perusing as a source of inspiration. Gather my thoughts and *mind journal* new tastes and flavours to have a play around with come the weekend.

One jar I’ve always been tempted by, but gawk at the price tag for, the royalty that is the macadamia butter. We’ve all picked up a packet in the supermarket, wondering why on earth they cost so much, a pack of almonds or cashews are so cheap in comparison, so I’m sure that they are quite often overlooked.

When living a more plantbased lifestyle it’s necessary to get enough protein and fibre throughout your day, usually in the form of nuts, legumes and grains. The majority of these are grown abroad in sunnier climes as the UK just isn’t suitable. I’m sure you all know about the recent concerns in places like California who grow almonds in abundance but due to recent droughts and the sudden clean eating craze they’re struggling to keep up with demand. They’re not the only country. Of course we can’t be self efficient by just relying on our own local produce, we have such worldwide varied tastes now that meat and two veg just won’t cut it. I feel by varying the type of nuts and grains you buy, is one way of helping and not putting as much pressure on the countries already struggling. Instead of almonds and quinoa next time try pecans and millet, or walnuts and amaranth, pumpkin seeds and spelt. There are so many options available for us now we should all be making the most of it.

So back to the macadamias, perhaps another reason why we aren’t stocking up on them is the queries of how high in fat they are. We still believe that fat is bad, low fat= good. Friends and family still comment saying, ‘no I don’t eat nuts they’re really high in fat’, ‘avocados they will make me fat’ and ‘I only drink skimmed milk because the fat is bad for me’. When introduced into a balanced diet, all these plantbased fats are incredible for our skin and health, we just need to keep in mind ‘in moderation’. Fats keep you satiated and tell that part in your brain that that food was good. Its so important too if you’re eating lots of vegetables, these fats unlock all the fat soluble vitamins and minerals, so you can reap all the benefits.

So let me break this down for you. Macadamias are high in monounsaturated fats (the GOOD ONES) found in abundance in avocados, olives, olive oil, nuts and whole milk. Research has proven that eating plenty of these fats helps to reduce cholesterol, prevent heart disease, and diabetes. As with all nuts, macadamias are high in fibre, both the soluble and insoluble kind, meaning happy digestion!! They also contain a whole host of valuable vitamins and minerals, manganese, thiamine, copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and vitamin B6, all which help the body to thrive.

That’s one good nut.

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Golden and toasted after a few minutes in the oven

 

Macadamia butter works well in both sweet and savoury food, it is also a great substitute for butter. Now I’m not sinning butter, it’s golden lusciousness never fails to make me happy when slicked on toast, but sometimes we need to change things up a bit. And I know there are some of you out there that don’t like butter (it’s a mystery to me) but this will sit nicely on your toast, swirled into your porridge or mixed with ginger, lime and soy to make a creamy Asian salad dressing.

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Sit the little pot of nut butter in the fridge where it will keep for a while, probably a few months, but seriously will it last that long? I highly doubt it, you will be finding every opportunity you can to crack open the jar. The other day I paired it with mango and date syrup on top of pancakes, we may be in the middle of winter here in the UK but for those few moments I was transported to a tropical paradise. I do like to keep as seasonal as possible with my produce but sometimes we just need that little bit of sunshine in our mornings.

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Almost there… this is the stage where it forms a big clump and you think the nut butter will never go thin and silky. Just hang on, macadamia butter is only moments away.

 

Macadamia butter

Ingredients

  • 1 packet macadamia nuts
  • Pinch of sea salt

Method

  1. Set the oven to 180C. Open the packet of macadamias and tip them all out onto a tray or in a roasting dish so they sit in a flat layer.
  2. Put in the oven, until they smell toasty and they have tinged brown on the edges. Don’t let them burn.
  3. Once out of the oven, put the nuts in a food processor and set to a high speed. Leave the food processor on until a smooth creamy paste has formed. It doesn’t take very long with macadamias due to the high fat content, but scrape the sides down as necessary.
  4. Add a big pinch of nice sea salt, and whizz for a few minutes more.
  5. Transfer into a clean jar and store in the fridge.

 

How do you use your nut butters? Are they just for breakfast and eating with a spoon or do you use them in savoury dishes too. Think satay, creamy salad dressings, dipping sauces, a substitute for tahini in hummus. Please do comment with your thoughts and ideas, I’d love some new inspiration as always!

Happy blending, you nutty lot!

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Butterbean, macadamia and rosemary hummus

I remember my first time seeing hummus, having never eaten it or it being featured in our fridge, my thoughts weren’t leaning the same way as they are now. I remember being at my friend’s house, much younger, and seeing a tub of something  besides a bag of carrots. Now dips weren’t a part of my life as they are now, that does indeed mean no guac, hummus, baba ganoush, muhammara, salsa, tahini (I know it’s scandalous) perhaps the odd sighting of a sour cream and chive or some tzatziki. So coming across hummus, when I first tried it there was no convincing me. For young tastebuds only just developing away from chips and bread and butter, the savoury, garlicky tang of hummus didn’t do it for me.

I tried again possibly in my early teens, we had just bought a new blender and I found a recipe for homemade hummus. I thought, what could possibly go wrong, had a go, and remember it tasted a bit rubbish. Bland, chalky and just a bit meh. I’m sure that happened a few times, determined as I was to make it like the one you buy in shops, as I kept being told: ‘homemade is ALWAYS better than shop bought’. In my case that wasn’t true. A couple years later again, after week on week buying shop bought hummus (I had bought into the hype), I gave it one last shot. A simple cupboard raid recipe to use up that tahini after thinking it would be nice on porridge (another thing which hadn’t yet found a place in my heart) so in it went with all other common ingredients. Chickpeas, garlic, lemon, salt (lots of that), tahini, olive oil, a pinch of cumin and water to thin it out. Easy.

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Since that day as few years back, I’ve been making it to the same recipe ever since. I’ve had friends comment having the same experience as me, ‘I had a go at making hummus and it just wasn’t that great, so I gave up and bought some’.  Completely understandable, and you’ll probably think, as I did, that buying one is so much more efficient. Guaranteed it will taste right and no fiddly washing up. However shop bought dips contain so much more salt and fat than when whizzed up in your own food processor. If hummus is a daily thing on your plate or for a snack, changing it up a bit will benefit your pocket, tastebuds and waistline.

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Just make sure to keep a form of beans and any nut or seed butter in your cupboards, then you’re just two minutes away from a satisfying lunch or dinner or a friend for the lonely carrot in the bottom of your veg drawer. Even on Christmas morning, I was providing the starters for our dinner, and had a mini panic that I hadn’t made enough. I had prepared a salmon rillettes with mini toasts and crudités, but with the addition of a vegetarian to our family, a big bowl of hummus was surely on the cards. It always goes down well with a crowd and they will be really impressed if you’ve made it yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, when I’m travelling or away from home I can’t make my own so I always buy a shop bought. The best that I can afford. Look for one made with extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil rather than sunflower oil, and fresh garlic (not the powdered version), make sure it contains tahini and opt for organic if it’s within your price margin. Even in India I managed to buy hummus, it had lumps of black olives in and on first encounter I thought it had gone off, and it wasn’t that great but we all need that fix. And when in Greece, don’t expect to find any because hummus is most definitely not Greek. Fava will be your hero item on the menu, and a very good one too.

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Every time I make a batch, it lasts easily for a week in the fridge, but is usually licked clean within a few days. I also tend to change the type of bean and added flavours each time to keep things a bit new and exciting. If you want a traditional hummus, swap the butter beans for chickpeas and omit the Rosemary adding around 1/2 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin instead.

I had just used the food processor to make some roasted macadamia nut butter, so instead of washing the bowl I left some around the sides, stuck all the hummus ingredients on top and added another dollop for good measure. It made it even creamier than usual with a nice toasty flavour from the nuts. Of course they are expensive ingredients so feel free to use tahini, light or dark to your preference.

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Butter bean, macadamia and rosemary hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 tin or carton of butterbeans
  • 2 small cloves of garlic
  • 3 heaped tbsp macadamia nut butter (or tahini)
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Drain the butterbeans and rinse well, tip into a food processor along with all the other ingredients.
  2. Add a BIG pinch of salt
  3. Whizz up until it forms a paste and is completely smooth. Taste for seasoning then drizzle in cold water to thin the hummus out. Transfer to a bowl or Tupperware and serve.

 

May your hummus problems be for forever resolved, when you get it right it really does taste better than shop bought. Next time try mixing up the flavours, a swirl of harissa there, some turmeric and curry powder here, lemon zest and finely chopped coriander, pureed beetroot and some finely chopped dill, or some roasted carrots and cumin seeds. Hummus is such a great source of fibre from the beans, healthy fats, calcium from the tahini and antibacterial properties from the raw garlic. A real deal SUPERFOOD.

(Disclaimer, superfoods is just a selling ploy used by brands and supermarkets, hummus isn’t scientifically proven to be a superfood, it’s not going to bring you back from the dead or anything. However it is a food and it tastes pretty super so…).

 

Much love and happy dipping

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