Recipe: Nut Butter Cookies

Oh my goodness I love simple recipes. This one is SO simple … and you end up with a crunchy yummy little biscuit. These little biscuits have no flour, no sugar, no dairy, and no tricky substitutes for those items. They are not super sweet, but just sweet enough and if you want them sweeter maybe add the whole banana rather than the half (and if you use the whole banana, then try leaving out the egg – which would make them vegan too)

They are just perfect for afternoon tea with a glass of milk or a cup of tea.

Nut Butter Cookies

NUT BUTTER COOKIES

INGREDIENTS

200g nut butter of your choice

1oog coconut – I used desiccated but I think it would work with shredded coconut too

1/2 banana

1 egg (or try it without)

METHOD

Mix all ingredients together in your food processor or mash all ingredients together with a fork. Roll into balls and cook at 160C until browned on top. Because of the high oil content in the nut butter, and depending upon how long you blend it for in the food processor, a bit of oil might bubble around the edges while they cook. Mine practically fried themselves in the oven.

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Recipe: Coconut Cream Jelly

Vegan Fruit and Coconut Jelly

Ooh here is a lovely treat!

I’ve been having fun with jelly again, making little fruity gummy treats for the children with gelatin. I was so excited about how easy, fun and yummy these are that I wanted to share them with playgroup, however at playgroup we eat vegan … so switch gelatin for agar and  honey for maple syrup. Remember the Rainbow Fruit Jelly Cake? These are just as easy to make, and just as lovely to look at.

Coconut Jellies 1

These little vegan jellies are a softer, lighter, more refreshing experience than the fruity gummies I made with gelatin. They are so pretty and so delicate, they’d be perfect for a light, refreshing, sweet treat after lunch. Today I served it with the fruit at playgroup morning tea, and we followed it up with raw pumpkin pie. Except for my really chewy sour dough bread rolls (win some, lose some!)  it was a pretty delicious morning at playgroup today.

I think these jellies are magic. The coconut cream floats to the top as the jelly sets so you get this lovely separation of colour, with the clear jelly underneath. The light pink ones pictured were made with rosella fruit, cooked until the colour faded on the fruit, and then strained out at the end. The beautiful purple ones are made with blueberries and the white ones have a splash of vanilla essence instead of fruit.

Blueberry Coconut Jellies

COCONUT CREAM JELLY

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of fresh fruit (blueberries, raspberries, rosellas, etc)

1 1/2 cups water

3/4 cup coconut cream

1/3 cup maple syrup/honey

1 1/2 teaspoons agar agar powder

METHOD

In a saucepan, pour in water, coconut cream and maple syrup. Whisk in the agar agar powder and let sit for 5 minutes, then add fruit and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Turn down the heat and simmer, whisking gently all the while, for about 15 minutes. Gently press the fruit while stirring to release the colour, essence and juice.

Pour through a sieve into a flat container with a lid and place in the fridge until it sets firm. The coconut cream should rise to the top, leaving a translucent layer underneath. The colour of the fruit juice will be more intense in the bottom layer. The rosellas made a pretty pink jelly, blueberries made a vivid purple and to make white jelly leave the fruit out altogether and just add a little vanilla essence.

Recipe: Raw Pumpkin Pie and Cashew Cream

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Autumn food is always full of pumpkin. Pumpkin scones, pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, pumpkin curries … and I love it! I’m sure the markets anticipate the demands for pumpkin-based treats and stock up on cinnamon and nutmeg. I know I’ve already run out of nutmeg … I love my fresh grated nutmeg. 20130327_151022

My daughter (one of the two masked creatures above) celebrated her Autumn Festival at school yesterday and all the families brought in seasonal food to share. Yes there was a lot of pumpkin there, and apples. Oh my goodness, my mouth was very happy! I brought in a raw pumpkin pie. I made one last year in the seasonal spirit at playgroup and couldn’t quite remember how I did it. So I suspect this year’s pumpkin pie is a completely new recipe – plus there was the added challenge of making it nut-free so that it could be shared in a school environment.

20130327_102930I’m pretty happy with it – but let it thaw a bit before you serve it. It is definitely yummier when you can taste the smooth pie mixture. Also, the pie was still a bit frozen when I put it out and the base stuck to the dish! Everyone just ended up scooping the raw pie off the top because the base had ended up moulding itself pretty well to the dish. Nothing wrong with a bit of scooping. I think at one point someone was just standing in front of it with a spoon. I take that as a compliment, but its a shame no one could taste the base, because that is yummy too. Coconut and pumpkin are good friends in the kitchen.

If I were to make a change to it I think I would add some coconut cream to the recipe to make it smoother and creamier. Only I didn’t have any at the time. Try it and let me know if that works. I think next time I would also add a layer of cashew cream on top before it was frozen. Or you could even layer the pumpkin and cashew cream a few times for a pretty stripey pie …IMG_3370

Raw Pumpkin Pie and Cashew Cream

INGREDIENTS

RAW COCONUT CRUST

200g raw coconut flakes (not shredded or desiccated)

1 cup dates

pinch of salt

1 tbs coconut oil

RAW PUMPKIN PIE FILLING

500 chopped pumpkin, skin and seeds removed

2 cm peeled raw ginger

1/4 cup ground chia seeds, soaked in water

3/4 cup coconut oil

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp grated nutmeg

swoosh of raw honey/maple syrup

 a little water/nut milk

METHOD

Blend the crust ingredients together until they begin to stick together. Press into a pie dish that has been lightly oiled with coconut oil. Press down well so the crust will be firm. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes to set. Meanwhile make the filling.

Put chunks of pumpkin into the food processor and blend until finely ground, or as smooth as possible. Add remaining ingredients and blend again until the mixture is very smooth and thick. Add a little water or nut milk to thin it out and help it along in the blender – not too much!

Pour into the crust, decorate with pumpkin seeds, a little more grated nutmeg and set in the freezer.

Let the pie thaw half an hour before serving, and serve with a dollop of cashew cream.

Recipe: Sweet Hearts

IMG_3276Ok … they are jam drops … for my sweet hearts!

But they are also vegan, grain-free and sugar-free (except in this case, for the jam) and they went to school in my kids lunch boxes as a Valentines treat. And there is a few left over for me.

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There’s not really that much I want to say about them, except that sugar is not required for sweetness …and I love how simple they are.

IMG_3269I also love how we mark them with our thumbs to make a little place to spoon the sweetness into. From my heart, to the fruits of my heart …

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Grain-Free Sweet Heart Jam Drops

INGREDIENTS

150g almond meal

50 g honey / maple syrup

50 g coconut flour

100g coconut oil / butter

2 tsp vanilla essence

your favourite jam: sugar-free if possible.

METHOD

Whizz everything except the jam together in the food processor until it is just combined.

Press mixture down on a non-stick surface and use a cookie cutter to make shapes. Before you lift the cutter, squish your thumb into the middle to make a shallow hole. Use a spatula to lift the shape on to your baking tray.

Spoon a little jam into each hole and bake at 150C until golden on top.

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Recipe: Vegan Bean Burgers

IMG_2864What to do for dinner when all you have is left over salad from lunch, a handful of lonely vegetables and a tin of kidney beans? Bean salad or bean burgers is about your only option! As it happens it was just the right dinner for a hot summer evening, easy to make, quick to eat and very tasty. With a glass of home-made lemonade with mint and blueberries, and followed by a night swim in the pool = perfect.

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Bean burgers served cold with slices of mango, yogurt, hommus, fruit salad and toasted nuts makes an amazing breakfast too. Sounds crazy to put a curried burger and hommus with fruit salad but it works a treat.

VEGAN BEAN BURGERS

1 tbs coconut oil

1 onion

1 large clove garlic

2 celery stalks

1 carrot

1 400g  tin kidney beans

1 tsp mild curry powder

salt and pepper

a little coconut flour to thicken and bind

METHOD

Finely chop onion, garlic and celery. Soften in coconut oil. Grate carrot and add to mix with the curry powder. Stir until the carrot is soft.

Add mixture to a food processor with drained kidney beans, seasoning and a little coconut flour (about 1 tbs). Blend until the mixture is smooth. Add a little more coconut flour if the mixture is too soft.

With wet hands, roll into burgers and put in the fridge for half an hour to firm up, then shallow fry in a little more coconut oil. The burgers are very soft and difficult to cook at room temperature (at east when room temperature is over 30 degrees!) so keep them in the fridge until just before you are ready to cook them. Serve hot or cold with hommus, yogurt, fresh salad topped with toasted nuts … and eat any leftovers for breakfast or lunch the next day. Better still, make a double batch and freeze some for later.

Recipe: Home Made Lemonade with Mint and Blueberries.

IMG_2853I’ve become a recluse. It is too hot to go outside and too hot to do much of anything, really – except go for a swim. This week we’ve gone to three different waterholes for a splash, a good long soak in the Brunswick River, and of course in the pool every day, which is like a warm bath with 30 degrees water temperature. There is little point getting dressed, my toddler is naked all day and the other two just keep their swimmers on. Our poor chooks are seeking refuge under our deck. I wouldn’t want to be wearing feathers right now.

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In the meantime I’ve been laying on the couch reading my book, eating salads and drinking a variety of cool drinks: iced coffee, iced chocolate, smoothies, fresh juices and lots of water. Today’s sweet cooling drink was home-made lemonade with mint and blueberries. No sugar.

It is tangy and sweet, fresh and revitalising. Lemon and honey are a great combination hot or cold, but with blueberries and mint it is delicious. I recommend teaching your children to make it, then you don’t need to leave the couch.IMG_2852

Home Made Lemonade with Mint and Blueberries

INGREDIENTS

1.5 litres cold water

1/4 cup hot water

2 heaped tablespoons of honey

juice from 2 lemons

a few mint leaves

fresh blueberries

ice

METHOD

Mix the honey with the hot water in a cup and stir until the honey melts into the water. Pour into the cold water with the lemon juice and stir well. Add mint leaves and sit in the fridge for a while to chill and let the mint leaves mingle flavours with the lemon. To serve pour into a cup with ice cubes and a few blueberries. Find a hammock and a good book and enjoy.

Recipe: Neapolitan Banana Ice Creams

Aren’t these pretty? Banana ice-cream isn’t new but it sure is yummy and easy. We’ve made these ones with three different flavours: vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. They take me right back to my childhood – those idyllic days before dairy-free, sugar-free and additive-free became my norm, and the delight in scooping ice-cream out of a tub that has three different choices of flavours all at once – although I would always go for vanilla. Still do. I love chocolate but chocolate ice cream has always made me feel like I am eating cold mud (I think I must be quite alone in the world with that particular visualisation!) and strawberry ice-cream was sweet and lovely until that artificial strawberry flavouring kicked in and the coughing would start. I can’t believe I didn’t discover banana ice cream until adulthood!

NEAPOLITAN BANANA ICE CREAMS

INGREDIENTS

4 ripe bananas

1 cup coconut milk

2 tbs maple syrup

2 tsp vanilla essence

250g fresh strawberries

2 tbs cacao powder

METHOD

Blend up the peeled bananas with the vanilla, maple syrup and coconut milk. Whizz it all together until it is lovely as smooth. This is the base mixture for the ice-creams. No need to remove it from the blender, just spoon it out and into the moulds as you go.

Spoon 2 teaspoons of this mixture into the bottom of your ice cream moulds.

Add the washed and hulled strawberries to the base mixture left in your blender and blend again until it is all smooth and pink. Add more strawberries if you like it pinker.

Spoon 2 teaspoons of the strawberry mixture on top of the base mixture in the ice-cream moulds.

Add the cacao to the pink mixture left in the blender now. Depending on how much of the mixture you’ve used already, you may need to add another banana or some more coconut milk to make it go a bit further. Blend until smooth. The cacao will turn the mixture quite brown and chocolately. Smells delicious even now!

Top up the rest of the ice-cream moulds with the chocolate mixture, place the handles and tops on the moulds and put them in the freezer overnight. It should be enough to make 12 ice creams. If you make these in the morning they might be ready by the time school is finished. It’s pretty fun to eat even if you get them out of the freezer too soon. Ice-cream on a spoon is just as tasty as ice-cream on a stick! If you do have some mixture left over, add some ice and coconut milk to the blender and drink it as a smoothie 🙂

Recipe: Allergy-friendly Birthday Cupcakes

Sharing a birthday treat at kindy or school is becoming a bit of a tricky issue. Most schools and kindergartens have a nutrition policy and ask for no chocolate and sugary treats. Then there are the children with food sensitivities, allergies and other special diets who always miss out on special treats at birthday celebrations. Being one of those people myself I always feel sad to see those children resigned to the fact that they’ll be missing out on the fun food 😦

Here is a recipe that should meet almost all the needs of your child’s friends at a birthday celebration! It has no eggs, dairy, refined sugar, nuts or gluten. It isn’t grain-free but grain-free usually means using nuts instead and nuts are often excluded from schools as part of an allergy management policy. The frosting I have used is made of fruit, dates, maple syrup and coconut oil, so no naughty ingredients there either, although if nuts are not an issue then adding some soaked cashews to the blender will thicken the frosting up and make it creamier too. The only naughty bit was the silver cashous on top 🙂

These cupcakes turned out quite moist and fluffy inside – for gluten-free cooking (or more specifically MY gluten-free cooking!) that’s a plus because I find gluten-free baked goods are often quite dry. The flax seeds are mixed throughout but don’t change the texture of the cupcake at all.

ALLERGY-FRIENDLY BIRTHDAY CUPCAKES

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS

1 cup coconut milk

1/4 cup maple syurp

1/3 cup coconut oil

2 tbs ground flax seeds

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp apple cider vinegar (I used home-made fruit scrap vinegar)

2 cups your favourite gluten-free SR flour (I use one without any soy or dairy)

FRUIT FROSTING INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup dried dates, soaked in hot water 10 minutes

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 cup frozen fruit defrosted to room temperature (I used cherries to make a dark purple icing)

METHOD

Mix all the wet ingredients plus the flax seeds. Allow the flax seeds to soak for 10 minutes or so. The flax seeds are acting as a binder and are replacing the egg in the recipe. You may need to add a little extra liquid after this stage, depending on the thickness of your mixture after the flaxseeds have gelled up.

Add the flour and mix well.

Spoon level to the top in muffin tins greased lightly with coconut oil and cook for 10 minutes in an oven preheated to 180C. They don’t go very brown on top/ When the skewer comes out clean they are cooked.  If the skewer still has mixture stuck to it, cook for another minute at a time until they are done. If overcooked they tend to dry out.

Allow to cool in the trays before turning out. This stops them from drying out.

While cupcakes are cooling, blend the frosting ingredients together and pipe on top of the completely cooled cupcakes. All ingredients should be at room temperature for the frosting otherwise the coconut oil will cool and clump instead of blending smooth. If it is a cool day and the coconut oil is solid to begin with, then cook all ingredients together for a little bit before you blend them. Decorate as you like then a bit of chilling in the fridge will set the icing. I’ve used dried rose petals and silver cashous.

Recipe: Vegan Rainbow Fruit Jelly Cake

This jelly cake is pretty and delicious – simple to make and easy to eat, leaving a really fresh taste in your mouth afterwards. What I like best about it is that it can be a really delightful addition to the menu for a child’s birthday party. Jelly that everyone can eat! No artificial colours, no chemical flavours, no animal products, no sugar.

It’s a dream come true for me, and with a five-year-old’s birthday party to plan in a few weeks I know I’ll be making this again. Today was a tester for my daughter’s actual birthday. Success! It’s just real fruit, juice and water with a swoosh of maple syrup. It is set with agar agar powder, which I found in a health food store. It is a bit expensive but definitely worth it for such a special treat. The powder keeps too, but mine is quickly getting used up as I experiment with lots of fun jellies!

 

Vegan Fruit Jelly Cake

INGREDIENTS

2 cups apple juice

3 cups water

4 heaped tsp agar agar powder

swoosh of maple syrup

LOTS of chopped fresh fruit

METHOD

Chop up your fruit first and arrange it in your dish. I used two glass Pyrex dishes and filled the bottom of each with chopped fruit to about an inch and a half depth. Consider how best to slice your fruit: for example strawberries are prettiest when sliced lengthways where as a cross-section of a kiwi displays a beautiful mandala on the inside. Plop smaller fruits like blueberries and raspberries in whole. Slice grapes in half (they tend to fall out when cut!)

Use one colour fruit or random fruit salad or to make a rainbow jelly cake then try this combination:

red: strawberries/ raspberries

orange: mango/pawpaw

Yellow: pineapple/banana

green: kiwi fruit/grapes

blue: blueberries

purple: mulberries/blackberries/dark grapes

 

Next, put 4 heaped tsp of agar agar powder into a jar and mix with some water. Allow this to soak while you start to bring your apple juice and water to a boil. Stir constantly and when it is boiling then reduce the heat, add the soaked agar powder and a swoosh of maple syrup then continue to cook, stirring, for another 10 minutes. I think this cooking process is what makes or breaks the agar jelly – if it isn’t cooked long enough it doesn’t set firm.

Take juice/water/agar mixture away from the heat and allow to cool then pour over the arranged fruit. Cover the containers lightly and allow to cool. The mixture should set to a firm jelly at room temperature. It can also be chilled in the fridge. When set, run a knife around the edge of the dish and gently ease the jelly away. Turn the dish upside down and turn the jelly out. You can then slice it into bars. I stacked mine up like a cake and displayed it with flowers and mint from my garden. For individual serves you could set it into glasses, or little plastic containers. I set some into a plastic container with a lid for a school morning tea treat.

Variations: I have made this jelly without the juice but with a bit of rosewater essence – it smelled so pretty! I put edible flowers from my garden inside and it was so delightful. Two out of three children were suspicious of eating flowers so this one wasn’t popular. Will have to start adding flowers to our salads again so that I can make fruit and flower jelly again! I’d also like to try it with coconut milk …white jelly and red fruit – wouldn’t that make a lovely valentines day treat?

Recipe:Raw Banana Cookies


I presented this recipe to playgroup this week but with dried pineapple instead of the chocolate chips that are pictured (don’t worry! You get to have the chocolate chips later on!) This recipe made 12 delicious cookies but of course I had doubled it for playgroup (and made the cookies a little smaller). They were so yum that I didn’t get a picture of them before they disappeared, but these are the ones that will appear next week 🙂

For the chocolate chip recipe I didn’t mix the chips in with the batter – just placed on top – enough for a bit of yum, in a pretty flower. The cookies themselves are pretty sweet so the chips are just for a bit of bling. These are vegan chocolate chips, which I am sure contain cane sugar so technically speaking these cookies are not sugar-free.

To make this recipe raw the cookies are ‘cooked’ in the dehydrator. They were done after one day and one night, at 70 degrees C, turning them halfway. They can also be baked in the oven for more immediate consumption! The benefits to dehydrating them means they preserve more nutrients and are more evenly dried out, whereas when you bake them they are still a little squishy in the middle, but equally yummy. Without the chocolate chips they’d be a good addition for a lunch-box treat (that is, if your child’s school doesn’t have a no-nut policy). They are a great after school snack.

RAW BANANA COOKIES

INGREDIENTS

2 cups almond flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 small mashed banana

1/4 cup maple syrup (or a little less)

2 1/2 tbs water

1 tbs vanilla essence

chopped dried fruit of your choice / chocolate chips

METHOD

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Divide mixture into twelve parts and form into flattened cookies.

To dehydrate cookies: place cookies on a baking paper on the trays and dehydrate for 24 hours, turning the cookies and removing the sheet after 12 hours.

To bake the cookies: place cookies on a baking sheet into a preheated oven set at 160C for 20 minutes.