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Vegan &/or Raw

Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw

Vegan Chai Muffins

Chocolate has a calling like a ultrasonic dog whistle. Only audible to females, of course. Ignoring these soundwave emissions is, in my experience, damaging. The longer the ear-splitting sonar pulse, the sharper the fangs.

That’s why I came up with this vegan muffin recipe. They are criminally healthy, and taste lordly.

 

chocolate wrappers

 

Check out these ingredients for superhero points: chickpeas, brown rice, almond milk, psyllium seed husks, extra virgin olive oil, anti-inflammatory chai spices and resveratrol-rich dark choc. Healthy food should never feel penitential. It can and should be delivered with ingredients that taste sensational.

Think of it as alchemy. I’d never eat dark chocolate with a handful of chickpeas and almonds. These muffins exploit each ingredient for their best qualities and textures, then puts them through a time machine. (Eh, the oven). Result? The ingredients are locked into a symbiotic samba.

And because these muffins are vegan, you can swagger into the office on Monday morning and let your colleagues rub your halo.

Chickepa flour and brown rice flour will stuff your battery with much needed B vitamins to spark your ignition and your dimples without damaging blood sugar levels. Something a Yorkie can’t boast. Both flours contain vertiginous amounts of fibre to service your pipes too. Nice one.

 

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Oh and there’s no shame in wanting to straddle a tray of these chocolate chip chai muffins. You’ll soon see why.

You can order both flours, as well any other arcane ingredients on your wish list, online from a range of sources who deliver to Ireland. I like health-hunter.ie, downtoearth.ie and organicsupermarket.ie . Order today straight from your armchair, to your doorstep. Groovy, huh?

 

Chocolate Chip Chai Muffins

Makes 12 vegans very happy

 

125ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
375ml (1 & 1/2 cups) plant milk
2 tablespoons psyllium husks

130g  (3/4 cup) brown rice flour
120g (1 cup) chick pea / gram flour
3 caffeine-free, chai tea bags (we used Pukka)
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
40g dark chocolate chunks
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
¾ cup coconut sugar or muscavado sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder

 

Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F. Line a 12-mould cupcake tin with paper cases.

Let your plant milk, olive oil and psyllium party. Leave aside.

In a large bowl, let the remaining ingredients socialise.

Then combine both bowls and beat. Avoid tasting the batter – wet chickpea flour tastes and smells like cat’s pee. The cooked result is peerless though, so keep going!

Divide the batter between the 12 cupcake cases and bake for 28 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the muffins out of the tray and let them cool on a wire rack. Prostrate.

These are best within 2 days, but I doubt that’s going to be a burden.

 

 

 

 

Breakfast, Treats & Snacks, Vegan &/or Raw

Peaches & Rhubarb with buckwheat cream

This is good enough to straddle. Sweet, succulent spoonfuls of rhubarb happily collapsing from the heat of the oven, and cavorting with a sticky orange and star anise nectar.

We serve it with buckwheat cream which probably sounds like a wank too far, so just swap it out for cold clouds of Greek yoghurt. Criminally tasty.

There are not enough days in the year that I can fill with rhubarb. It’s one of the only fruits on Irish soil that remains seasonal – most fruits are imported all year round which significantly detracts from their excitement. But not rhubarb. It’s a May to August orgy, so get your fill.

We make a kickass cordial to go with gin for lazy summer evenings. We’ve found two exceptional new gins on the Irish market, both hand crafted with local botanicals: Bertha’s Revenge from Co. Cork, and Shortcross from Northern Ireland. I’ve convinced my liver that the botanicals are likely medicinal in nature. And so long as I sip it in the sun, I’ll be getting a healthy dose of vitamin D3 as well. Right? Score.

 

buckwheat cream with ginger and lemon

 

Rhubarb cordial goes so well with sparkling water and freshly grated ginger too. Roughly chop a kilo of fresh pink rhubarb and simmer with 300ml of water for 15 minutes. Strain through a sieve to catch the rhubarb juice, and refrigerate the cooked flesh from the sieve as we won’t need it for the cordial. Add 200g of coconut sugar or rapadura sugar to the collected juice and boil for 10 minutes until syrupy. (White sugar gives the purest rhubarb flavour, if the earthiness from rapadura ain’t your fancy). Add a squeeze of citrus to lift the cordial while it’s cooling down. Once chilled, this rhubarb cordial can be stored for up to 4 weeks provided nobody knows about it. (Or your stash of gin).

 

Peaches & rhubarb with buckwheat cream

Serves 6

 

For the buckwheat cream:

1 cup whole buckwheat groats

100ml preferred milk (I used oat’s milk)

1 vanilla pod, seeds only

1 tablespoon maple syrup or 1/2 banana

Pinch of sea salt

Squeeze of lemon

Up to 1 teaspoon, freshly grated ginger (optional)

 

The fruit:

4 sticks of rhubarb, chopped

3 peaches, sliced

4 tablespoons good honey or maple

Juice of 2 medium oranges

2 star anise, snapped (optional)

 

Start by soaking your buckwheat in hot water overnight. Soaked grouts can sometimes turn into something that a sneezing bulldog might produce. Don’t worry – you’re on the right track.

In the morning, drain and spin in a blender with the remaining ‘cream’ ingredients. Blitz until sumptuously creamy and not grainy. Taste, and decide if it needs a smidge more lemon or salt. Once you’re happy with your tasting session, chill in the fridge until required.

For the fruit, fire up the oven to 170C, gas mark 4.

In an oven dish, tumble the rhubarb and peaches with your choice of sweetness, orange juice and snapped pieces of star anise. Cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes until delicate and tender.

Serve hot with a clad of buckwheat cream and a good cuppa.

 

rhubarb susan jane

 

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

Paleo Flapjacks

Nuts are superheroes, with an arsenal of fancy ninja moves.

Some of the largest health studies in history – the Adventist Study, the Iowa Women’s Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study, and the Physicians’ Health Study – have consistently shown that snacking on raw nuts can lead to a 50% reduction in heart disease.

Research from the British Medical Journal goes further, identifying nuts as one of seven foods that can help reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 75%. You’ll be relieved to hear that dark chocolate and red wine qualify too. You’re welcome.

But don’t get too giddy my friend. You need to recruit the unprocessed, unsalted variety to make a difference to your ticker. Anything else is cheating.

Those flavoured packets in pubs? Bye-bye. We know that unsalted raw nuts contain special-agent unsaturated fats that help raise your protective cholesterol (HDL) while lowering that menacing cholesterol (LDL). Another special-agent fat, omega-3, may also help prevent blood clots much the same way as aspirin does. You’ll find omega 3s dancing in walnuts.

Many nuts are rich in arginine. Scientists, look away while I mutilate your language. Arginine is an amino acid necessary to make a molecule called nitric oxide that relaxes constricted blood vessels and eases blood flow. Think of it as the Bach of the blood. This might indeed help explain why nuts are applauded for their role in protecting arterial walls, making the walls more pliable and less susceptible to damage. Good news for health insurers.

 

 

paleo flapjacks

 

Paleo Flapjacks

1 cup walnuts
1 cup unsalted cashews
Generous pinch of sea salt
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup any nut butter you fancy
1/4 good honey (preferably local and raw)
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract

 

Pulse the nuts (almonds don’t work here) along with a good pinch of sea salt, the desiccated coconut and your honey in a food processor. A blender will turn it into baby food, which is not today’s vibe.

Add any nut butter you fancy (peanut, cashew, hazelnut or almond), a grating of fresh nutmeg and a whisper of vanilla. Pulse until it clumps together. Don’t be tempted to help the mixture along with water. You’ll regret it! I added a few goji berries for colour too, but they’re not essential.

Scrape and press the flapjack dough into a regular 8×8 brownie square tin. Set in the fridge, and lift out of its tin once firm. Cut into small squares and store in the fridge or freezer. Exactly like flapjacks (until you mizzle melted chocolate all over them of course).

Great with a tall glass of milk.

 

 

Will I see you next week at Avoca Kilmac, between Dublin and Wicklow?? I’ll be signing books from 11:30am on Saturday 28th May 2016, and baking treats for you and your loved ones. Free admission. 

Cover image EV softcopy