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Treats & Snacks

Treats & Snacks

Zero Waste orange, cardamom & Ginger Cake

Here’s a zero-waste cake with financial, nutritional and earth-friendly benefits. (Was that a backflip?)

It’s basically the lovechild of Claudia Roden’s legendary orange cake, and Tom Hunt’s vegan twist. By adding the skin of the orange, we’re mainlining bags of antioxidants, vitamin C and fancy polyphenols for our body to enjoy. Besides, adding the whole orange makes it taste like a badass marmalade cake. It’s a win-win situation.

But instead of eggs, we’re using aqua faba to keep our vegan friends happy and for extra sustainability points. Aqua faba is the soak liquid from a tin of chickpeas that we usually pour down the sink (you can check out more aqua faba recipes from my Sunday Independent column right here).

And when you spot your ginger going gnarly, simply peel the skin with a potato peeler and freeze it whole. This way, you have fresh ginger to grate on demand. Zero waste baby! You can also use whatever citrus you have that may be turning in your fruit bowl. Citrus only keeps at room temperature for 3-4 days before it starts to deteriorate. Try storing them in your fridge for longevity and highfives.

I love this recipe. Hope you do too. Go ahead and use an 8-inch brownie tin instead if you can’t get your mitts on a circular spring form tin. A generous drizzle of dark chocolate will give a healthy Jaffa vibe.

I’ll be cooking my absolute favourite vegetarian midweek meals, live on Zoom next week. See here for more details and how to bag your ticket before Tuesday!

For more zero waste recipes and kitchen tips, you might like my weekly Sunday Independent recipe column focusing on sustainability in 2022 (back catalogue here).

Zero Waste Orange, Cardamom & Ginger Cake

2 organic or unwaxed oranges

2 teaspoons freshly grated (or freezer) ginger

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

6 cardamom pods, seeds coaxed out and papery shells removed

5 teaspoons psyllium husks (find in pharmacies, health food stores, online, and in bulk refill stores)

160ml aqua faba from a tin of chickpeas (anytime you’re making a chickpea curry, go ahead and freeze the aqua faba to make this recipe later, or my aqua faba brownies)

230g golden caster sugar

300g ground almonds

1 level teaspoon fine sea salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

Melted dark chocolate, to drizzle (optional)

1. Cover your whole oranges with water in a small saucepan, and boil for 90mins. When cooked and soft, transfer carefully to a food processor without scalding yourself, and open carefully with a super sharp knife to remove any pips. Once the pips are gone, let the grated (or frozen) ginger join the oranges alongside your turmeric, cardamom seeds and splendid psyllium husks (these are for our vegan and gluten free pals!) Pulse briefly in the blender to a chunky marmalade consistency – not a puree. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Line a square 20cm x 20cm brownie tin or an 18cm springform circular tin with non-stick parchment paper. Then fire up your oven to 170C (150C fan-assisted).

3. Whisk the aqua faba on high speed until shiny peaks form as if you were making a meringue from egg whites. (This might require the company of a podcast, as you’ll be whipping for 5-10 mins). Now whisk in the sugar, a third at a time, until fully incorporated. This part only takes 1 minute.

4. Fold in your ground almonds, sea salt and baking powder. Transfer the marmalade mix to the party, and as best you can, fold gently but firmly.

5. Spoon into your prelined tin, and bake for 60-70 mins until a toothpick comes out clean from the centre. Allow to cool down in the tin, before drizzling with optional dark chocolate. We love it served alongside a blob of sourcream or thick Greek yoghurt.

Originally appeared in the Sunday Independent January 2022 as part of a series on zero-waste recipes and tips. Click here for more.

Treats & Snacks

Home Made CHai SPice

Chai is an orgy of healthy spices that has become a sensation across certain postcodes of Cork and Dublin. Here’s why. There is ginger to warm your tonsils; cinnamon to ignite your toes; nutmeg and clove to heat your insides; and cardamom to excite your synapses.

Chai coffee is my winter battery. I just add a pinch to my French press, and let the spices perform acts that only a defibrillator could rival. A teaspoon of chai will also dazzle crumbles, cakes and bakes. We love it sprinkled on top of foamy hot chocolates with some crunchy cacao nibs and woolly socks by the fire. Or packed into dinky jars as little gifts for friends feeling under the weather during these crazy viral times.

However, packets of spices can be dastardly expensive and wasteful. Most recipes only call for small amounts, so what’s the point in buying big supermarket packets? I recommend ordering the exact quantity you need, from as little as 10g, at specialist refill stores. Check out for example where you can buy this recipe in its entirety, no excess, no waste, no plastic. Other nation-wide delivery options include and . (See here for a map of Ireland with refill / bulk stores nearest to you).

3 tablespoons green cardamom pods
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 whole star anise (optional)
Fresh crack of the black pepper mill
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice (optional)

Coax the cardamom seeds out of their papery pods. You can compost the pods, and then transfer the seeds into a coffee grinder or Nutribullet.

Add the remaining ingredients, and grind into a fine powder. That’s it!

Store in a screw-topped jar and use within 5 months. A pinch is all you need on top of hot chocolate, or 2 teaspoons in cakes and bakes.

Originally appeared in the Sunday Independent December 2021

Lunchbox, Treats & Snacks

Lunchbox Brack

Some get theirs following Wim Hof into iced water. Others rely on several espressos. The sensible among us find it hiking in nature. But I get my high from sneaking vegetables into family favourites. And brack is no exception.

My boys eat thick slices of brack at a speed that would rival a half-price sale at JD Sports. This made brack very vulnerable to a make-over, and a sly introduction to my Veggie Dance.

The result? Beetroot bombed. Parsnip wheezed. And courgette flopped like an exhausted backing dancer. Finally I figured we needed a sweet and spicy groove, the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of baking. We found it in carrot and, yes, ginger. Feel free to add some crystalised ginger to raise the temperature like Fred would have wanted. We leave it out, to avoid screaming children.

320ml cooled rooibos tea

350g raisins

100g plain flour

100g wholemeal flour (or more plain flour, but GF flour won’t work sorry)

55g coarsely grated carrot

140g light muscovado or coconut sugar  

1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground allspice or mixed spice

1 egg

1 Soak your raisins in cooled tea overnight (or for 6-8 hours). Hot tea may sound preferable, but you’ll end up with no soaking liquid and a drier loaf.

2 The next morning, fire up your oven to 180°C. Line a 1lb loaf tin with non-stick parchment.

3 Beat the egg and stir through your puddle of soaked raisins.

4 Tumble in your flours, the grated carrot, your preferred sugar, some baking powder and a delicious smattering of spice. Rake through carefully. Spoon into your lined loaf tin and bake the brack for 75-80 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Soggy centres are a common problem for brack beginners, so leave it in an extra 5 minutes if you’re unsure.)

5 Remove from the oven once cooked, leave to settle in the tin for 5-10 minutes, and turn out onto a wire rack. Let your nostrils twerk and boil the kettle! We love it toasted with a scrape of butter and a hot cuppa. If you want it to look really shiny on top, professional bakers brush it with a simple sugar syrup, which you can too.



In other news, I’m holding a special vegetarian cookery demo on November 16 . Want to learn how to make some swift midweek vegetarian meals? That don’t break the bank or your tastebuds?! For more details, or to book your spot, click here. Come join me in my Zoom kitchen!