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Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw, x For Freezer x

Unicorn Bonbons

Unicorn toast sounds like something a softly spoken, vegan nanny makes for children after completing their origami homework and positive affirmation chanting. Right?

Wrong. It’s for spoiled brats living in L.A. and bonked-up adults like me. Unicorn toast is scorching hashtags all over the world, and accessing the deepest of crazy childhood recesses. Our synapses are trip wiring on the stuff, and our eyes are beating like voodoo drums. We. Can’t. Get. Enough.

Unicorn toast is set to be the biggest food trend of 2017. All you need is a thick slice from a square-shaped loaf, such as Irish brown bread. Some cream cheese (DIY recipe in my Sunday Independent column this weekend my friends). And food colouring. Breathe – I haven’t completely lost my mind. Wholefood junkies have thankfully hijacked the movement with Mother Nature’s library of colours; yellow turmeric, red raspberry, pink strawbs and green matcha powder. And guess who won the dance off? Let’s hear it for the plant-powered hippies!

 

 

Unicorn lattes have even started making guest appearances on Starbucks menus all over NYC, turning suited stock brokers into a gaggle of giddy girls on their coffee break. And now, the unicorn bonbon is exploding across the Irish countryside from Cobh to Cong.

You don’t need to stock up on 12 different plant colours. Stress gives you inflammation. Even I’m not that unreasonable. Just start by choosing two unicorn shades from the following …

pink raspberry powder
purple beetroot powder
blueberry powder
orange gojiberry powder
green barleygrass or wheatgrass powder
red strawberry
cherry powder
yellow turmeric*
pastel green Matcha green tea powder*

(*You’ll only need half a teaspoon for these final two colours, in the recipe below).

 

 

 

Unicorn Bonbons

Makes 26

1 teaspoon of plant-powered colouring (see options above)

120g desiccated coconut

45ml coconut oil

60ml honey (or rice malt syrup for vegans)

2 tablespoons coconut flour

Squeeze of lemon

Pinch of sea salt

 

 

1 Using a food processor, blitz the ingredients into a soft snowball. My food processor usually takes 20 seconds to do this.

2 Pinch a piece of dough and roll into a smooth bonbon. Repeat until all the dough is gone. Chill until set.

3 Repeat the recipe, with lots of different colours. These unicorn bonbons freeze really well if you run out of refrigerator storage or stomach space.

 

 

 

Taking the hell out of healthy.

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Out next week, the paperback version of The Virtuous Tart, in all good Irish bookstores. New price too. Twit-twoooo!

Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw, x For Freezer x

Mint Chocolate ice-cream pops

What do you get when you blend up a popular nut, a green vegetable and Lisa Hannigan’s new album? A Nobel prize in chemistry.

Please don’t’ ask me to explain what happens at an atomic level – I haven’t got the foggiest. The end result feels inexplicably gifted, like Allan Rickman and Sharleen Spiteri dirty dancing at the petrol pump.

Music can heighten the enjoyment of a recipe. Watch what happens to your appetite when you play Bob Dylan on repeat – your synapses will feel like a potted geranium dropped from six stories high. Don’t get me wrong. I have all his albums. But just not in the kitchen. Crank up the volume on Lisa Hannigan when you’re at the stove, and her groove will magically transfer to your fingertips and dimples. Food just tastes better. She gives me wings.

 

 

When cashew nuts are soaked for six hours, they blend up like thick cream. Cashews are the David Blaine of vegan ice cream. Magic.

Add to this sumptuously whipped avocado and sticky honey, and you’ve got yourself a blueprint for any dairy-free ice pop.

Cashews have a neat supply of copper, a rather important trace mineral for our bods. Copper is a Big Wig for a whole suite of essential enzymes, such as superoxide dismutase. SOD (geek speak for superoxide dismutase y’all) buoys up our mojo and energy production. And you know what? A good handful of cashew nuts rings in at over 100% of your recommended daily intake of copper. Score.

 

 

 

Dark Chocolate & Mint Ice Cream

I’ve added matcha green tea powder for its groovy glow (and to give my frontal lobe a good rave). Then great big chunks of 70% dark chocolate, because St Patrick is all about chocolate. I. Think.

Drop the coconut milk, if you prefer less ice in your popsicle.

 

100g unsalted cashews

2 avocados

1 tin full-fat coconut milk

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

5-8 tablespoons rice malt syrup (for IQS fans) or raw honey (stronger tasting) 

Pinch of sea salt

1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder

½ teaspoon real peppermint extract

40g your favourite dark chocolate

 

Soak your cashews in filtered water for anything between 6 and 12 hours (overnight is perfect). Drain and discard and soak liquid. Tip the softened nuts into a high-powered blender and add the remaining ingredients, all except for your chocolate of course. Blitz the bejaysus out of it. When it’s silky and creamy, stir through your chunks of chocolate.

Spoon into lolly molds and freeze for 6 hours before annihilating in one glorious binge. Just kidding! Keep a lid on that lust!

 

 

Salads & Suppers, Vegan &/or Raw, x For Freezer x

Mushroom & Merlot Stew

 

I am lovebombing mushrooms before they are swallowed up by Spring. Mushrooms have to be one of the most sophisticated and understated veggies we’re not eating. They are the Woody Allen of the grocers  – hardly overburdened by good looks, but scrumptious and uniquely nourishing all the same.

Mushrooms bring great depth to dishes as well as inimitable flavour profiles. Often ‘shrooms can make a stealthy replacement for meat, like in this recipe. Apart from their meaty, lip-dancing taste, mushrooms of all sorts like to fangirl our immune system. Especially shiitake.

For hundreds of years, Chinese doctors have prescribed shiitake mushrooms to boost white blood cell activity. A unique polysaccharide found in shiitake – the beta glucan – has shown to tickle the immune system by activating cytokines and killer T-cells. Oooh argh. Kind of like a fascinating immune system defibrillator. More clinical trials are under way to understand the medicinal effect polysaccharides can offer our bodies.

 

 

This mushroom and merlot stew uses bone broth to help it sing. But this ain’t no singsong. Think opera. We serve it with mash, and a dot of horse radish yoghurt. My BAE. (Okay, so this teenspeak is normally a reference point for Justin Bieber’s abs, or bare-chested members of One Direction. Grand so. Except when you get to my age, food will excite you more).

 

Mushroom and merlot stew

Serves 12, freezes well

 

6 tablespoons ghee, butter or olive oil

2 large onions, peeled and diced

4 fat cloves of garlic

4 beetroots, peeled and chopped

3 bay leaves

5 sprigs of thyme

3 cups (750ml) merlot or other dry red wine

8 cups (2 litres) really good vegetable stock or bone broth

1 tin of anchovies, chopped (leave out for vegetarians)

8 big handfuls of wild mushrooms

4 tablespoon grated ginger (optional)

2 tablespoons kuzu or arrowroot

 

For the horseradish yoghurt:

4-6 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish

1 large tub natural or Greek yoghurt

Handful of fresh parsley

 

Heat 2 tablespoons of your preferred fat in your largest, heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté until glassy.

Tumble in the chopped beets, bay leaves, thyme and let them socialise for 5 minutes on a low flame while you get going on the shrooms (method below). Then pour the merlot, stock and anchovies into the pot. Let the pot gurgle for 60 minutes until the beets are tender. Leave the lid off and let the alcohol escape. This might sound counter-intuituve if you’re Irish, but trust me. You don’t want alcohol in this.

To prep the shrooms, slice into bite-sized chunks or leave whole if small. Heat the rest of your chosen fat in a large frying pan, lower the heat and cook the mushrooms until tender and caramelised. I do this in batches while the stew bubbles. Season the mushrooms, and parachute them into the pot. Simmer until tender.

Dissolve the kuzu or arrowroot with 2 tablespoons of cold water and add to the pot 10 minutes towards the end of cooking to thicken the broth. At this point, you can also grate some ginger into the pot and let it gently simmer until the beets are tender.

Serve with fabulously spicy horseradish yoghurt, creamed potatoes, or chickpea mash.

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Elle Magazine in Canada for originally publishing this recipe over Yuletide. Yez are The Snazz, Elle Canada!