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Treats & Snacks

Breakfast, Lunchbox, Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw

Vegan Plant-Powered Waffles

Be good to your body. You’re the one who has to live in it. Convenience foods aren’t designed to keep you alive in the long term. We now know these products make you fat and ill. Erm, what’s convenient about that? As Bill Murray observed, whoever snuck the ‘s’ into fast food is a clever little bastard.

The month of January has a peculiar Pavlovian effect on us homo sapiens. Counting calories becomes an acceptable form of penance, like compulsively listening to Liveline. It’s pointless! Hear me out. Nine calories from fat will make you feel fuller for longer. It’s that tickety boo feeling you get from avocado on toast, that makes you feel like a supped-up Pokemon, right? But nine calories from sugar will be burned up much quicker, and have you snacking straight away like an Angry Bird on acid. Discovering the difference between feeling like a superhero, or a demented cartoon character, was a pretty special moment for my bod.

Choosing food on the basis of only calorie intake is about as useful as choosing your life partner on how quickly they can cycle. It might come in handy, on a very special occasion. But for day-to-day well being both physically and emotionally, it’s pretty much useless. Am I making much sense?

 

what-does-lucuma-look-like

 

I reckon a healthy diet is not about restriction – it’s about inclusion. When you start including loads of new flavours and wholefoods into your kitchen, your health will start to look after itself without the coercion of a draconian diet. Yes, you might lose a few pounds on a calorie-controlled diet – but most of that will be personality. So let’s start recruiting kickass ingredients to rock your kitchen in 2017.

 

Chestnut Waffles

1 cup chestnut flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of flaky sea salt
1 scoop protein powder or oat bran or wheatgerm (entirely optional)
2 & ¼ cups plant-powered milk such as oat’s milk
1/2 cup apple puree
4 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil or butter, melted
Good squeeze of lemon

 

Combine all the dry ingredients into one bowl. Whisk the wet ingredients into a separate bowl. Now add the first to the second, belting out any lumps from the mixture. Leave overnight in the fridge. Alternatively, you can fire ahead straight away but the flours do benefit from a little settling.

Pour ½ cup’s worth (around 125ml) in the centre of your preheated waffle maker. Cook according to your manufacturers guidelines, but preferably on the low side. This is usually 2 minutes on my Sage waffle maker, until the machine beeps.

These waffles are amazing with a poached egg, or sandwiched together with almond butter.

 

 

In other news…. I got to talk Michael Fassbender, Michelle Obama, tweezer fetishes and former fiancés to NYC’s Newswhistle. Very groovy! You can read the interview here.

demo the virtuous tart

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

Christmas Recipes

I love Christmas. No matter how many relatives I trap, or number of Brussels sprouts I fit into them, my family are always so patient and biddable. If I was a cynical person, I might think they’ve been sponsored by Grey Goose. Or Colombia.

No. I love Christmas. And Christmas loves me. I say pah! to the irresponsible naysayers, convinced that Christmas has been colonised by capitalism. Eh, hullo? Christmas is a hobby dudes, not an industry – like knitting, or running for presidency.

So don’t let the naysayers twerk your synapses with their windy sermons. My synapses are on Annual Leave during yuletide. It’s the only time of year I can justifiably hold a pair of cashmere socks and demand they be publically inaugurated on my feet. Or hold my local Odd Bin wine tasting to ransom, again, without inciting a criminal record. I love how unreasonable I can be – it’s like the mothership of PMT with national immunity.

 

apricots christmas morning breakfast

 

I am also acutely aware that this may be the only time my saffron apricots will ever make fully-grown homo sapiens weep. If my frolicking has taught me anything, other than the limits to my belt-expansion, it is that how food tastes qualifies as only one segment of its true appeal. When is just as crucial to our taste buds because of the memories it can set in motion. And who plays a decisive role in a food’s celebration. Nothing demonstrates this better than Christmas.

So here are my traditional Christmas family recipes I start pimping from as early as the mocks (Thanks Giving). Each dish is suffused with giddy memories and industrial amounts of Dean Martin. They are the purveyors of mirth and merriment.

Happy Christmas y’all! May endless mistletoe and sherry be upon you.

 

rosehip-cookies

 

Walnut & Rosehip Cookies 

 

You can store the cookie dough in the freezer, rolled up like a log. When the mood arrests you, unleash your inner cookie monster and high-five your genius.

130g (5oz) walnuts

1 teabag of rosehip tea

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

120g (5oz) brown rice flour or plain gluten free flour

80g (3oz) oat flakes

135ml (4.5floz) brown rice syrup

125ml (4floz) extra virgin coconut oil, melted

1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt

 

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, gas mark 4 or 350 Fahrenheit.

Briefly pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor until they resemble big breadcrumbs. These include the walnuts, the contents of one bag of rosehip tea, the baking powder, the ginger, the flour and your oats. Now add your melted coconut oil and the fabulous sticky brown rice syrup. Pulse again until a big dough ball forms in the basin of your food processor. Parachute some flaky sea salt on top.

Freeze half the mixture for another day (stonking good idea, no?) With the remaining dough, pull off an apricot-sized piece and roll into a ball between your palms. Press down on a lined baking tray, using two or three of your fingers to make a nice cookie indent. Mine work out at about 2-3mm thick.

Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on their size, but no longer, promise me! Don’t worry if they seem soft or undercooked – the cookies harden once cooled. Flipping fabulous.

 

ninjabread-men-susan-jane

 

No-Bake Ninjabread Men

 

A note for wily mums; you can replace some of the ground almonds with milled flaxseed or hemp powder, to inject some omega-3 artillery into your little ones.

4 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

3 tablespoons maple syrup

100g (4oz) ground almonds

1-2 teaspoons ground ginger

Pinch of unrefined salt

Gently melt your coconut oil in a small pan over a shy flame. Remove from heat and stir through the remaining ingredients. Scrape the mixture out over a sheet of baking parchment. Press it into a rough dough ball, then place another sheet of parchment over it and flatten with a pastry rolling pin. You’re looking for a couple of mm in depth.

Transfer to the freezer for 10 minutes, until barely set. Alternatively, you can freeze for up to 3 month and let thaw for 5 minutes before cutting into gingerbread men. Choose a cookie cutter, and off you go! No need to bake. We store ready-to-eat gingerbread men in a freezer bag, waiting for unexpected playdates and midnight munchies.

 

susan-jane-halo

 

Festive Florentines

Florentines are disproportionately difficult to make after a few sherries. So, my version will liberate you while still generating rapturous applause. Fa la la la lahhh …

75g (3oz) 70-85% chocolate

1 tablespoon shelled pistachios

1 tablespoon crystallised ginger

1 tablespoon goji berries

Pinch of sea salt flakes

Handful toasted pecans

Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie. This is basically a pot containing 1-inch (2.5cm) of gently simmering water, with a bowl sitting on top in place of a lid. The contents of the bowl will melt gradually by the steam of the water, without actually touching the water. This can be a bit boring, so switch on some Bing Crosby and resuscitate your Santa hat.

As soon as the chocolate has melted, use a tablespoon to make teeny puddles of chocolate across a large strip of non-stick parchment. On top of every puddle, add one of each remaining ingredient – a pistachio, a small chunk of crystallised ginger, a goji berry, pinch of salt flakes and 1 toasted pecan. Allow to cool (but not chill) and solidify before peeling them off and storing in your mouth.

 

fruitcake-amy-chaplin

 

Lapsang Souchung Christmas Cake

 

Amy Chaplin was the midwife of this genius. New York City (and my brain) is a better place because of it. Amy is The Snazzmaster of good vegan grub. Feel free to use Early Grey or green tea instead of smokey Lapsang. And parachute some goji berries in there too.

Olive oil for brushing parchment

200g (7oz) roasted hazelnuts

75g (2.5oz) unsulphured dark apricots

210g (7.5oz) regular pitted dates

375ml (13floz) hot, strong Lapsang Souchung tea

375g (13oz) seedless raisins

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

zest 1 unwaxed orange

180g (6.5oz) walnuts or salted pistachios

 

Fire up your oven to 150 Celsius, gas mark 2. Line a 12×12 inch springform cake tin with some oiled parchment paper.

Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor. Tip into a large mixing bowl and set aside. No need to clean the food processor – you’ll be using it later.

Now soak the apricots and dates in 1 cup of hot tea (250ml / 8floz) for 10 minutes. Drain well, and set aside.

With the remaining half-cup of hot tea (125ml/4floz), boil your raisins. Stir, cover pot, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove lid, and continue to cook for a few more minutes or until all the tea has cooked off and the raisins are bursting with plumpness. Juicy juicy.

Spin the cooked raisins in your food processor with all the spices and zest. Blend until smooth. Tumble this paste into the bowl of ground hazelnuts, along with the drained apricot mix. Fold really well. Now stir through your walnuts and/or pistachios.

Press the cake mix into your prepped tin, and smooth the top. If you have extra nuts, you can decorate the edges. Bake for 1 hour, or until set. Eject from the oven and allow to cool completely before removing from tin. This cake will store for 3-4 weeks in the fridge. Serve thinly, with brandy butter and a good boxset.

 

 

 

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

Probiotic Peppermint Creams

Cacao (pronounced ka-kow) sounds like something a superhero would do to a villain. Which isn’t far from the truth.

These Probiotic Peppermint Creams will help jumpstart your evening, once your little vandals are sound asleep. It’s miraculous I’m still breathing after an entire day minding a team of toddlers. If my freezer didn’t have these Peppermint Creams waiting patiently for me, I’d be hitting the gin with a soup ladle.

One tiny sliver will deliver a dose of omega-3 to your hormone’s HQ. Yep. Thank you walnuts.

We make the peppermint cream filling from avocados and maple syrup. No one will know, except of course for your cholesterol levels which should benefit nicely too. Avocados have a jolly fine fat called monounsaturated oleic fat. This is the one your doc wants you to date. Monounsaturated fat has shown to help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, while simultaneously raising your HDL “good” cholesterol. Fist. Bump.

 

The Virtuous Tart cookbook

The Virtuous Tart cookbook

 

Cacao is basically the untreated cocoa chocolate bean. We’re told cacao has much fancier antioxidants than regular cocoa, by virtue of being raw and unprocessed. More antioxidants means more ninja moves on pathogens and free radicals in our system. I do like the idea of boosting my immune defence with chocolate.

But let’s not stop there. Let’s add some probiotics to the mix, and give our pipes a party. My eldest son can’t stand natural yoghurt, so I like to sneak probiotic powder into this Peppermint Cream filling instead. MacGyver would be proud. This stuff should be nominated for a Nobel Prize in chemistry. It’s lordly.

We use Udo’s Probiotic Powder, because it’s available nationwide in pharmacies as well as health stores. (And because I’ve been chosen as their goodwill ambassador, hurrah! Udo’s products are The Snazz).

 

probiotic

 

 

Probiotic Peppermint Creams

Biscuit base:

2 cups walnuts
8 medjools, stones removed
3 tablespoons cocoa or raw cacao powder
Pinch of sea salt

 

Peppermint cream filling:

2 ripe avocados
50ml-80ml maple syrup (depends on your sweet tooth)
½ teaspoon real peppermint extract or 4 drops of culinary grade peppermint oil
80ml coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon probiotic powder

 

Raw chocolate frosting:

4 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons cacao or cocoa powder
½ teaspoon real vanilla or peppermint extract

 

In a food processor pulse the base ingredients together until it fraternises into a chocolatey lump. You might need a teaspoon of water to help it along. (A blender really won’t work here, as it’s too powerful). Scrape into a regular loaf tin, lined with cling or non-stick paper. Press and smooth down.

Using the same food processor bowl, now blitz the ingredients as listed for the peppermint cream filling. You’re looking for a sumptuous, glossy cream. Pour on top of the base, and freeze for at least 30 minutes before slicing little pieces of Narnia from it.

If you want a topping, gently melt the coconut oil with your maple syrup. Whisk in the cacao or cocoa, and a drop of peppermint extract. Pour across the peppermint cream layer. Return to freezer, and hide it behind the fish fingers.

 

probiotics-udos-infants

 

! Giveaway !

If you got this far down the post, then you deserve to win a couple of my cookbooks!

 

Savour Kilkenny food festival are giving away front row tickets and two copies of The Virtuous Tart this weekend. Deadline is Monday, to tag a pal on their Instagram post right here.

 

Good luck! And see you at my cookery demo in Kilkenny’s Savour foodie fest – I’d really love to meet you all. 

x SJ