THE BEST vegan superfood double chocolate brownie

Hi all!

The recipe I want to share with you today is insane. Like, full on mind blowing, I-can’t-believe-that’s-vegan, off the charts deliciousness. Seriously, not exaggerating here – have a look…..

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12837756_10207892947509331_1803316321_oYeah. It’s as ridiculous as it looks: rich, decadent and fudgey, with that perfect gooey centre and crisp, chocolate-drizzled top.  But the even crazier news?  That bad boy is completely dairy, gluten, refined sugar and flour free. AND….. it contains fruits & vegetables (apple, dates, black beans – hands up).  Whoodda thought: an everything-free brownie that taste better than the real deal, and is actually really really good for you.  I’ve taken to keeping a little square of it on me at all times – it’s the perfect partner to my mid afternoon Americano.

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This recipe was actually my mum’s brainchild so I can’t claim 100% ownership – but we collectively get so much joy out of it that I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing!  Here we go:

INGREDIENTS (makes quite a lot)
• 90g walnuts, toasted
• 90g almonds, toasted
• 230g cooked, drained black beans (no added sugar or salt)
• 60g coconut oil, melted
• 50g raw cacao powder
• 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
• 100g soft dates, pitted (Medjool are the best for sure)
• 2 scoops (60g) vegan chocolate protein powder  (the Arbonne one is my favorite by far)
• 1/2tsp sea salt
• 1tbsp vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS
1 Preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4.
2 Toast the nuts under the grill.
3 Line a square tin 20cm x 20cm with greaseproof paper.
4 In the food processor, add the nuts and blitz briefly to chop until
fine. Add the remaining ingredients and process again until it forms a thick soft batter.
5 Spoon the mixture into the tin and spread with a knife to smooth it out
6 Bake in the oven for about 40 mins or until thoroughly cooked
7 Leave in the tin to cool down. Use a hot knife and cut brownies in to squares.

Enjoy! I guarantee you will 🙂

4 vegan substitutes for your favourite sweet treats

Hey everyone!

I took on an exciting new role this term – I’m Food and Drink Editor of The Cambridge Student newspaper! I love food, I love writing…. it’s the dream job!

I’ve been working on putting a healthy, local and sustainable spin on the section this term, featuring plenty of independent cafes as well as lots of veggie/vegan friendly recipes and recommendations.  In line with that, here’s a link to an article I wrote on giving some classic desserts a vegan makeover… enjoy!

http://www.tcs.cam.ac.uk/fooddrink/0035033-four-vegan-substitutes-for-your-favourite-sweet-treats.html

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Chickpea and sweet potato stew on butternut squash noodles

I made a new discovery whilst doing a food shop today – Sainsbury’s now sells courgetti and boodles (butternut squash noodles)! I’m very impressed!

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Vegetable noodles are actually pretty simple to make if you have a Julienne peeler, but this takes convenience to the next level.  Feeling lazy, I decided to try them.

I went for a homemade tomato, sweet potato and chickpea stew to accompany the noodles.  This was so simple to make, and most of the ingredients came out cans – ideal for student budgets! Cooked tomatoes (rich in lycopene) and sweet potato  (rich in vitamin A) are so good for you, whilst the chickpeas are a great protein source for veggies.  I added a squeeze of ketchup (yep, you heard me) for a hint of sweetness to balance out the acid – try it! It’s great!

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If you’re using a grain as a base, prepare it ahead of time. The stew took about 25 mins to make but will serve you at least three meals so it’s well worth it! Here’s how

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced finely
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 carrots
  • herbs, salt, pepper
  • squeeze of ketchup
  • olive oil
  • something to serve it on: i went for veggie noodles, but rice, quinoa, couscous would all be great
  • optional: flaked almonds, hummus to top

Method

  1. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into bitesize chunks. Put them on to boil
  2. In a big frying pan, pan fry the garlic in a splash of olive oil until browned
  3. Add the chickpeas and a generous pinch of herbs (I like oregano or herbs de provence)
  4. After 5 mins or so, add the chopped tomatoes to the chickpeas.  Season to taste. Add the ketchup here if you think it’s a little sharp – I always do
  5. The carrots and potatoes should be done about now. Drain them and add to the tomato mixture, then leave to simmer for 5/10 mins
  6. Meanwhile, prepare your base.  For me, this was a case of chucking a pack of veggie noodles in the microwave for 3 mins!
  7. Ladle a big scoop of stew onto your base.  Top with extra chickpeas, smoked paprika, a teaspoon of hummus and toasted almonds for a real treat

IMG_1538Whilst I enjoyed the novelty of the noodles,  I didn’t find them entirely satisfying and had to be extra generous with the stew and hummus .  Though for 50 calories, it’s a bit unfair to expect any different I suppose! I’d recommend saving veggie noodles for creamy, avocado based sauces and go for a big bowl of good old quinoa with this one.  Enjoy!

 

 

What to eat when there’s nothing in the fridge

As a student, I’m constantly on the go and often am in need of a quick, nutritious way of refuelling after a long day out.   At home, with access to a fully stocked fridge, I could think of hundreds of meals that fit the bill, but in Cambridge, long life foods take centre stage (ain’t nobody got time for food shopping every day!).  With this in mind, here are some ideas for when there’s nothing in the fridge but you still want to eat well.  Stock up on the list below, and you’ll never go hungry again!

  • tinned soups
  • tinned beans, chickpeas etc
  • tinned sweetcorn
  • baked beans
  • hummus (tends to last at least 10 days before opening)
  • sweet potatoes
  • microwave brown rice

1) Sweet potato with hummus and sweetcorn
I eat this for dinner at least four times a week – it’s the best!  Hummus and sweetcorn is a healthy, vegan alternative to tuna mayo with sweetcorn, and is so tasty that I sometimes eat it sans sweet potato!  For the full meal: wash and dry the potato, then poke with a fork, drizzle with oil and microwave until soft (usually 10mins).  Mix one can of sweetcorn with a big dollop of hummus and use it to top the potato.  Sprinkle with smoked paprika and seeds for an extra kick.

2) Carrot balsamic salad
One problem with salads is lettuce: it goes soggy and nasty pretty damn quick.  Bring in the grated carrot salad! This actually tastes better with time, as the carrot gets the chance to absorb the dressing! Peel and grate two large carrots, dress with olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar and leave to sit for 10 mins or so.  Then add in half a can of chickpeas, whatever fresh veggies you have in, plus some nuts and dried fruit for an interesting texture and voila – a super cheap and healthy meal in under 5 minutes.IMG_1388

3) Sub 10 minute stir fry
If you keep a jar of good quality stir fry sauce in your fridge and onions in your cupboards, stir fries can be whipped up with almost any veggie in no time at all. Check my recipe here for inspiration.

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4) Soup and hummus on double toasted rye
Don’t turn your nose up at canned soups – they’re cheap, filling and surprisingly healthy! I’m a fan of Sainbury’s ‘Be Good to Yourself’ range (my fave is the Three Bean and Tomato one).  Rye bread is great too – it lasts longer than normal bread and is much better for you. But here’s my secret….double toast it! Seriously, toast it once, then toast again (keeping a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn) before spreading on your hummus.  The texture and aroma improves SO much! You must try it!

5) Egg pots with soldiers 
An upgrade on the student classic: beans on toast. Cut a couple of cherry tomatoes into small pieces, put in a mug and microwave for 30s.  Add half a can of baked beans, stir and heat through. Once hot, crack an egg on top and microwave until egg is cooked.  Place atop a piece of really great wholemeal toast for the perfect 5 minute comfort meal. Yum

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Leon egg pots: my inspiration  (minus the £4 price tag!)

 

Review: WooGo Juice – California Smoothies

Anyone who knows anything about me can tell you what a huge fan I am of a proper smoothie!  Sweet, thick, creamy – it’s all the joy of an ice cream but infinitely more refreshing and better for you!  For this reason, I was so excited to hear about the opening of WooGo Juice, a California style smoothie bar, just minutes from Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT.

IMG_8438Tucked away in an alley behind Ming Yao department store, the place was hard to miss with its big purple sign and distinctive surfboard menu.
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Inside, the space is small, clean, friendly and (mercifully!) strongly air conditioned.  There’s free wifi access and a few seating areas, so its a nice place to grab a refreshing afternoon pick me up and catch up with emails.

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The menu is available in Chinese and English and boasts a wide range of options.  They’re all blended with frozen fruit, nonfat froyo and fruit sorbet, which gives them a deliciously thick and creamy consistency – just how I like it! They’re very reasonably priced too, with 400ml (medium) costing around 75NTD and 600ml (x-large) around 105NTD.

I tried the Berry Puff Girl and Raspberry Mojito, both of which were delicious.  The first is your classic berry smoothie whilst the Mojito was zinger and sharper thanks to the addition of the fresh mint.

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They also serve a wide range of bagels and cream cheeses (the two together costing 65NTD) if you’re looking for a more substantial snack

I really like the WooGo cup – its biodegradable and just a lot of fun to read!  Also when I saw the following….IMG_8450

I knew I must be a true WooGo drinker.

Even better, I recently discovered that WooGo is less than one street from Taiwan’s coolest new fitness class, SpaceCycle.  (Asia’s answer to my love, SoulCycle).  If you’re in the Zhongxiao Dunhua area, be sure to head up to the 13th Floor of Ming Yao Department store (above Uniqlo) and try it out – first one for free! And of course, there’s only one place to go for a post-workout protein pick me up …..

WOOGO JUICE: No. 42, Lane 233, DunHua S. Road, Sec. 1, (02) 2778-0182

Raw vegan cookie dough protein truffles

Yes, you read that correctly.

vegan + cookie dough + chocolate chips + all natural, ultra healthy ingredients = a recipe for success.

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I am a huge of health bars/balls (Quest bars, Bounce balls, Larabars, Luna bars, Nakd bars, Kind bars – I’ve tried ’em all!) but I’m not such a fan of how expensive they can be!  My desire to indulge in my favourite yummy, healthy, snacky things without destroying my bank balance led me to come up with these super-simple protein truffles. They really do taste like cookie dough, but are packed with nutritious ingredients and  – due to the high protein content – really filling! They’re also really easy to make;  here’s how:

INGREDIENTS (makes a big tupperware full)

50g vegan protein powder

50g coconut flour (desiccated coconut blitzed in a food processor for 2 mins or so will get you there)

3tsp melted coconut oil

60g almond butter

a big splash of almond milk

2tsp vanilla extract

a handful of dark choc chips or cacao nibs

5 medjool dates

1tsp cinnamon  & a tiny pinch of salt

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METHOD

In a food processor, blend the dates with the almond milk until it forms a paste (it really doesn’t have to be smooth!).  Add the protein powder and the flour and blend again, giving the sides of the processor a scrape if necessary.  Add the melted coconut oil, vanilla, almond butter, salt and cinnamon and blend again until you have a big, sticky ball of cookie dough.  Finally, use your hands to mix in the chocolate/cacao nibs.  Roll the dough into little balls and store in the fridge for up to a week (if there’s any left before then!)

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Hope you enjoy 🙂

My day on a plate

Hello!

Sorry for the lack of posts recently – I’ve had a rather hectic two months at uni!  Here’s an overview of me & my foodie friends’ kitchen adventures from this term:

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I was recently asked on Instagram to do a ‘day on the plate’ style post, so here goes!

My diet varies depending on where I am.  At uni, it’s all about convenience; we don’t have the greatest cooking facilities, so I have to get creative with my blender (lifesaver!), a tiny hotplate and the college microwave. Here’s a general idea:

At uni….
Pre-rowing: a sachet of Oats-so-Simple made with almond milk, egg white and cinnamon.
Post-rowing: a smoothie.  My usual uni recipe is almond milk, 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, banana, steamed beetroot (pre-cooked from Sainsburys), cacao powder & flaxseeds. No freezers and student budgets mean that my beloved frozen berry extravaganza shakes have to wait until the holidays!

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Mid-morning snack: an Eat Natural or Nakd bar.
Lunch: usually a massive salad and hummus (my uni diet essential)!  I either make this myself or grab something from the uni canteen or a nearby cafe ( I love Pret, M&S and The Urban Shed).
Afternoon snack : Another bar (keeping Eat Natural in business here!) or a smoothie, if i didn’t have one for breakfast. Coffee!
Dinner: If I’m not eating at the uni canteen (which usually serves veggies/vegans some kind of vegetable stew and salad), I’ll make another salad, or my go-to microwavable feast sweet potato, poached eggs, grated carrot, steamed veggies and loads of seeds.
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uni canteen fare – not too bad for £2.11!
Desert: I always have desert, no exception! My favourites are hot chocolate & a Nakd bar, or some homemade protein balls, or banana and almond butter on rice cakes….. (the list goes on 🙂 )
My holiday/at home diet follows a pretty similar layout, but access to an oven/Vitamix/juicer/Magimix means I can get much more creative with meals – yay!
At home:
Pre-gym breakfast: 1/2 bowl bran flakes and almond milk.  Just enough to power me through 90mins cardio/weights without weighing me down.
Post gym: a HUGE smoothie (i’m talking half-a-Vitamix worth) . My favourite at the moment is the Red Velvet (cacao, berries, beetroot, almond milk), although you can never go wrong with the Classic Super Green combo 🙂
Mid morning snack : Coffee, and some kind of home baked treat which I made the might before. At the moment, it’s cacao chia cookies.
IMG_6402Lunch: Roast sweet potato chips (I can literally eat these at every meal) & salad or soup.
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Afternoon snack: a bar, or a few homemade protein balls
Dinner: I love dinner! I try and get creative with recipes here, which means I usually end up eating a lot (a lot of taste testing goes on when I’m cooking!). This was my most recent one  – quinoa crust pizza with roast veggies.
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Whilst I’m not 100% vegan myself, I mainly cook vegan recipes, particularly from Deliciously Ella and Oh She Glows.  They just tend to make me feel better than meat/dairy-laden meals, and they’re cheaper!

Pudding: Something from this lovely list here, or here 🙂

As you can see, I never go hungry! In my view, food is fuel and fuelling up with the right foods is essential for powering you through your workouts/days/life. I normaly eat between 1900 and 2200 calories day, although it’ll be more if i’m rowing or running intensely.  But calories aren’t my main focus – I’m much more concerned about the nutrients I’m getting through my food!  Focus on the good stuff – an analogy for eating, and for life !

🙂

Hello Fresh! recipe box review

Hello 🙂

I tried something new and rather exciting for dinner yesterday. My wonderful friend Ellie (also a veggie and a total health foodie) ordered a set of three recipe boxes from Hello Fresh!

Hello Fresh! is a UK company which sends you boxes containing 3 exciting recipes and the exact quantities of all the ingredients you need to create them at home. The recipes are always changing (there’s a seriously impressive archive here) meaning you’ll always get to try something new.

Our recipe cards were:
1) Smokey Ratatouille with Goats Cheese and Garlic Bruschetta
2) Zingy Fennel and Lemon Risotto
3) Crunchy Tofu Loaded Tortillas with Citrus Sour Cream
They all looked so delicious, it took us forever to decide what to make! After about 30 minutes of deliberation, we finally settled on the fennel risotto.
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The recipe itself was really easy to follow, thanks to clear instructions and some very useful pictures.
Another thing I liked about it was that it didn’t require loads of cooking equipment/ fancy knives, meaning you can still create all the fancy meals sans a well-equipped kitchen.  In fact, the service is particularly valuable for people with small kitchens/ limited facilities;  because Hello Fresh! sends the exact quantities you need, you don’t end up with hundreds of open spice jars and half used bags of Arborio rice taking up precious space in the back of your cupboards.
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Minimalist cooking facilities to the max….
I was also impressed with the nutritional content – the fennel risotto was only 406 cals per portion.  This can’t be said of all the recipes (the tofu tortillas are 700!) but everything in moderation I suppose….
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Cooking up a storm (with two hotplates, no oven and one tiny paring knife :P)
Now to the important part: the taste! Well, it gets a big thumbs up from me! The fennel/lemon combination was delicious and all the flavours were really well balanced. It probably would have been richer with the addition of the 1/4 cup white wine (recommended but not provided), but it was still really good – and healthier! – without.
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Unfortunately, these don’t exactly fit into my measly student budget (three 2-serving meals costs around £38) and so I won’t be able to order them on a regular basis.  Nevertheless, considering the quality and convenience the service provides, it’s actually pretty good value – you could easily spend the same amount on one meal and drinks at a restaurant.
All in all, I was really impressed with the service and (when budgeting allows) would definitely order it again.  Check it out for yourself over at www.hellofresh.co.uk

Sweet Potato, Coconut and Coriander soup

Hello!

Sorry for the long hiatus in posts – I’ve been on the road (or in the air?) again! I’m back in the UK for good now and headed to my new home in Cambridge this weekend 🙂

The recipe I’m sharing today is an adaptation of the Sweet potato, coconut & coriander soup from the wonderful ‘Cornucopia at Home’.

Cornucopia is a wonderful little vegetarian/wholefoods restaurant in Dublin which I was fortunate enough to visit back in July.  had this soup alongside my salad bowl and green juice whilst I was there, and loved it so much I bough the cookbook so I could recreate it at home.  It was super rich and creamy (without actually containing cream!) but never overpowering or heavy.

I made a couple of adaptations: I switched out the creamed coconut for light coconut milk (saving quite a few calories and grams of fat) and used canola oil instead of sunflower. Other than that, I kept this wonderfully simple, one-pot recipe in tact 🙂 Enjoy

INGREDIENTS
1 onion
1 carrot
2 sticks celery
1 leek
5 medium sweet potatoes (about 1kg)
[200g creamed coconut] 1 can light coconut milk
50g fresh coriander – basil works equally well
good quality [sunflower] canola oil
salt and pepper
2 litres water

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METHOD
Wash all the vegetables well.  Roughly chop the onion, carrot, celery and leek.   Coat the base of a large pot with the oil and place over a medium heat.  Add the veggies, cover the pot with a lid, turn down to a low heat and sweat for 15 mins, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes and chop into medium pieces.  After the 15 minutes, add the sweet potatoes and sweat for 10 minutes more.  Add the coconut milk and the water, then turn up the heat and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce to a low heat and simmer until the sweet potato is soft (about 30 mins).

Remove the pot from heat, add the fresh herbs (reserving a few sprigs for garnish) and blend until smooth.  If it seems a little thick, add a little water  to reach the desired consistency .  Season with salt and pepper and return to a simmer.  To serve, garnish with fine healthy sprig of coriander in each bowl.

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