Category Archives: Dairy Free

Vegan Surprise Inside Cake

This delicious cake with a “surprise inside” wasn’t actually meant to be vegan.  I was playing around with different ideas and it was only when I came to write down the recipe that I realised that it was actually vegan!  Which was another happy surprise!

I decided to go for a simple bone shape hidden inside this cake as Halloween is so nearly upon us.  I contemplated doing a bat but unfortunately the cutter was too wide for the loaf tin!  This cake has a lovely springy, dense texture and is a brilliant option for kids as the cake doesn’t crumble when subjected to rough toddler handling.  This cake is really robust and travels well, even through the post!

Vegan Surprise Inside Cake

Makes 1 large loaf (plus a whole bunch of chocolate offcuts!)

Chocolate Cake:
2 cups self raising flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup of soft brown sugar
1 large tablespoon of Trex (or another solid vegetable fat, coconut oil might work well here!) 
2 tablespoons of golden syrup (I just go for one hulking great dollop!)
1 cup of soya milk

Orange Cake:
2 cups self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup of golden caster sugar
1 large tablespoon of Trex (or another solid vegetable fat, coconut oil might work well here!) 
2 tablespoons of golden syrup (Again, one hulking great dollop!)
1 cup of soya milk
zest and juice of one orange

– Heat the oven to gas mark 3 / 170C. Line a large loaf tin with baking parchment or similar.
– Measure out the flour, cocoa, bicarb and sugar into a large mixing bowl.
– Place the soya milk, golden syrup and Trex in a small saucepan.
– Gently heat until the Trex and golden syrup are melted.
– Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mix well to combine completely.
– Scrape out the mixture into the loaf tin.
– Bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
– Remove the cake from the oven, lift out of the tin by the paper and allow to cool.
– Slice your cake into thick slices the depth of your chosen cutter.
– Cut out one shape from each slice and place to one side.
Now for the orange cake!
– Heat the oven to gas mark 3 / 170C. Line the same large loaf tin with baking parchment or similar.
– Measure out the flour, bicarb and sugar into a large mixing bowl.
– Place the soya milk, golden syrup and Trex in a small saucepan.
– Gently heat until the Trex and golden syrup are melted.
– Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, add the zest and juice of the orange and mix well to combine completely.
– Scrape 1/3 of the mixture into the loaf tin, level it out.
– Place your cut out shapes in a neat row along the centre loaf tin, pressing down gently into the cake mixture below.
– Carefully scrape the rest of the cake batter out on top of the chocolate cake shapes.
– Bake for 30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
– Remove the cake from the oven, lift out of the tin by the paper and allow to cool.
– Peel off the paper and serve!

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Filed under Cakes, Dairy Free, Low Fat, Moderately easy

Falafel

 

 

 

Falafel is something I have had a troubled relationship with.  For years I wanted to like it, I just couldn’t!  Everything was ether too bland or too spicy or too mushy or just not right!  However, with this recipe I really feel like I’ve cracked it.  And I feel that the key is to really amp up the spices.  Not too much chili, but spices, the cumin and coriander, and a good dash of salt and pepper, are what are going to make your falafel sing! 
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It helps if you think of your falafel as portable hummous.  Just as a bland humous is nobody’s friend, so too for falafel so even if you look at these quantities and think I’m crazy, remember, chickpeas are delicious but only with the proper accessories!

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The wonderful thing about this falafel recipe is that it healthy and simple.  You basically put everything in a food processor and blitz it up! Simple!  And to keep the calorie count down on these falafel I oven bake them rather than frying them.  Would frying them make them tastier… well, yeah, probably! But I can’t afford those calories so oven baking it is!  That’s why we amp up the spices, what you lose in fat you can make up in flavour!

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Makes ~15 falafel balls

2 x 400g tins of chick peas, drained and rinsed
2 LARGE cloves of garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp fresh coriander
2 tbsp plain flour
~ 2 tbsp water if necessary

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C.
– Put everything except the water in the food processor.
– Blitz, scrape down the bowl, blitz again.  You want to keep blitzing until you have about half coarse mix, half smooth paste in there.  You don’t want to keep going until you get hummous!
– If it’s just not coming together into a paste at all then you might just need a little extra moisture to bind it so gradually add a little water at a time until it just comes together.  You don’t want to add too much or you get a soft, sticky falafel!
– Using your hands (or if you’re weird about these things feel free to use spoons/a small ice cream scoop) grab a ping pong ball sized amount of mixture and gently shape it into a nice round ball.
– Place on a very lightly greased baking tray (a quick spray with olive oil will do) and repeat until your mixture is all gone.
– Give all of your falafel a light spritz with an olive oil spray.
– Place in the top of the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  The falafel should just be turning brown in places and should be crisp to the touch.
– Serve with salad, pita and haydari… or whatever else takes your fancy!

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Filed under Dairy Free, Easy, Low Fat, Mains

Thai Noodle Crab Cakes

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These were a bit of an experiment, hashed together from a few different ideas I’d seen about the place.  I may tweak the recipe further still but for now I like this one!  I love crab cakes but they tend to be rather calorific (I recently saw a crab cake starter clocking in at 789 calories!!!) The idea here was to cut down on the calorie count and embrace more “eat clean” ideas in my diet.  These are quick and simple to whip together and taste great!  I served them here with sticky rice, edamame and tsuyu dipping sauce but they’re equally good with a bit of sweet chilli sauce.  (And, yes, spot the deliberate mistake, I forgot to buy the spring onions when I cooked them in these pictures, it adds a nice aspect in both taste and colour but they work just fine without them!)  These also make a nice addition to a picnic or lunchbox as they don’t fall apart!  I’d even be tempted to make them into mini cakes for a picnic or party.

Makes 6

50g vermicelli rice noodles
1 Frozen Coley portion ~90g
1 tin crab meat, drained
2 egg whites
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp corn flour
3 tbsp tinned sweetcorn
3 spring onions, sliced

– Boil some water and pour over the noodles in a bowl, leave to stand.
– Put the frozen coley on a microwave safe dish and microwave for 1 1/2 minutes (Your microwave may vary, you want the fish to be defrosted and just cooked)
– Shred the coley in to a bowl, you can use fingers or forks to gently flake it apart into small shreds.
– Add the crab meat, the egg whites, the fish sauce and the sweet chilli sauce and give it a good stir.
– Add the corn flour and again, stir well to combine.  If the mixture is still very wet looking you can add more corn flour, you want to be able to take a scoop of it.
– Drain the noodles well and roughly chop them then add them to the mixture.
– Add the tinned sweetcorn and the spring onions and mix well.
– Heat some oil in a large flat bottomed frying pan.
– You should be able to make 6 patties out of this mixture, take a scoop, roughly shape it and place it in the pan where you can tidy up the edges a little if you like.
– Leave to cook on the first side for 3-5 minutes until the cake is cooked about halfway up, you should be able to see the difference in texture as it cooks.
– Carefully flip over the cake and leave to cook for another 3-5 minutes on this side without moving it.
– The cakes should be dry and firm to the touch when fully cooked.
– Serve with whatever sauce you prefer and may be some rice and veggies, they also go nicely with salad!

 

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Filed under Dairy Free, Easy, Fast Day Food, Gluten Free, Low Fat, Mains

Hungarian Goulash

When the weather is cold and wet there is nothing better than a dish you can bung in a casserole and simmer.  Not only do you get whatever deliciousness you’re conjuring but you also get the delicious aromas drifting about as it simmers, allowing you to anticipate and relax!  Hungarian Goulash is one of those recipes that has been a staple in my family forever.  In fact, prior to acquiring my mother my father had but one cook book and Hungarian Goulash was one of the only recipes he cooked.  (Chilli Con Carne and Spaghetti Bolognese also featured in his repetoir I belive!)

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Serves 4

250g diced pork
2 x 40g tins chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp paprika
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped*
100g mushrooms, quartered
salt and pepper to taste

– Heat a splash of oil in a large, heavy casserole.
– Add the pork and cook til browned.
– Add the tomatoes, puree, paprika, peppers and mushrooms.  Give it a good stir and season to taste.
– Swill out the tomato cans with a little water (about 1/4 of a can for each) add to the casserole.
– Bring it to a boil, put the lid on and turn down to low.
– Allow to simmer for 45 minutes until the sauce is reduced, glossy and thick.
– Serve with tagliatelle, rice or mashed potatoes, whatever you fancy.  A dollop of creme fraiche also goes very nicely!

*Optional, we all have Opinions about green peppers.

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Filed under Dairy Free, Easy, Gluten Free, Low Fat, Mains

Fast Day Stir Fry

I think that I’m rather beginning to get into the swing of Fast Day recipes now!  The temptation at the beginning was to just keep it simple and stick to basics.  You can’t really mess up a grilled chicken breast and a plate of steamed veg, can you? But that got boring, fast.  I like to look forward to my dinner, especially when I have to look forward to it all day without even the blip of lunch to see me through.  So I’ve been playing around with some fancier options recently.

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This dish is still simple, and it does essentially comprise a plate full of chicken and vegetables.  But presentation is everything!  You eat with your eyes first, after all.  By stir frying you get a different texture and the cauliflower ‘rice’ adds a visual appeal and a satisfaction that I just don’t feel you would get if you just added cauliflower into the stir fry.  The crunchiness of the baby corn and sugar snap peas is incredibly welcome after a day’s abstinence and the punch that you can pack into what boils down to the simplest of sauces gives you a lot of flavour for very little!  The other nice bonus is that this is a proper plate full of food.  You certainly can’t feel deprived looking at that!

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Serves 1 (~300cal)

100g cauliflower, coarsely grated
1/2 tsp five spice
~125g chicken breast, sliced
100g courgette, sliced
100g baby corn, halved
50g sugar snap peas, halved
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
a dash of boiling water

– Place the grated cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and add a pinch of five spice and a pinch of salt.
– Stir well and add 1 tbsp water.
– Microwave for 2 minutes on full power.
– Heat your non stick frying pan or wok.  (Now, as with any dry frying, non stick is your friend.  Do not try it with anything else or you will weld that chicken to the pan!)
– Add the chicken and cook until just browned.
– Add the remaning five spice and the courgette, corn and peas.
– Stir fry until the courgette is just starting to soften and is catching a little colour.
– Add the soy sace, oyster sauce and just a dash of boiling water.  Just enough to cover the base of the pan.  If you add too much, simply boil until the sauce is reduced.
– Make sure everything is coated in sauce by stiring well then serve with your cauliflower “rice”.

NB. If you want to make this gluten free make sure you have the right soy and oyster sauces!

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Filed under Dairy Free, Easy, Fast Day Food, Gluten Free, Mains

Red Lentil Daal

Over the last year surely everyone has heard of the 5:2 Fast Diet?  Well, I am one of the latest people to give it a try.  I haven’t been doing it for long enough to really pass judgement yet.  Suffice to say, it’s not hard, you just have to have some will power, and perhaps a little creativity too!   Whether or not you’re interested in fasting, this is a delicious, low fat, low calorie dish that can be enjoyed any day you like!

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Serves 2 (~170 calories each)

1 / 2 squirts olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp nigella seeds
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
75g red lentils
salt and pepper to taste
fresh coriander to serve

– Heat the oil in a medium saucepan.  You really want to be using as little as physically possible here, it really is to just stop the onion sticking.
– Add the onion and garlic and cook until just turning translucent.
– Add the herbs and spices and cook for another minute.
– Add the chopped tomatoes and about half a can of water.  (Swish it around to get the last tomato bits out.)
– Add the lentils and bring to the boil.
– Simmer for 30 minutes over a low heat.
– Season to taste and serve scattered with fresh coriander.
– A grilled chicken breast makes an excellent addition too!

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Filed under Dairy Free, Easy, Fast Day Food, Gluten Free, Low Fat, Mains, Sides

Spicy Asian Butternut Squash Soup

As a part of my recent transformation into a healthy eater I have become a huge soup convert! I have soup for lunch every day at work and most of the time it’s home made. I discovered that bread really doesn’t sit right with me day in, day out. Now it’s more of a weekend treat. But this meant that sandwiches were off the menu. I will never, ever, be a salad loving girl… Or at least, the kinda of salads I will eat will never be considered healthy! (Bacon, avocado, DRESSING!)

Soup was my salvation. It’s hot, a life saver for those of us with body temperature issues, filling, especially for a liquid, and most of all healthy! I like to eat my soup with 2 rice cakes for a little bit of crunch. (There’s another dieting secret, rice cakes are freakin’ delicious! No one ever told me that!) There really is no end to the tricks you can play with a basic combination of vegetables and stock.

This soup started life as a plain old Butternut Squash Soup. It was good but when I tasted it I thought “This could do with some zing!” So I added some lime juice. Then I thought “This needs a little punch” so the fish sauce came out. And then the coconut milk was just a natural progression and while I was at it why not add some chilli and spices and really give it some pep? And so, Spicy Asian Butternut Soup was born. Enjoy!

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Serves ~6

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chunked
Olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 chicken stock cube (vegetable if vegetarian soup is desired)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes or 1 fresh chilli, chopped
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp fish sauce
100ml coconut milk (or cream, or powder, whatever you have is fine!)
1/2 tsp dried ginger (2cm fresh grated ginger would be better but I didn’t have any)
1/2 tsp dried coriander

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/ 200C while you prep your butternut squash.
– Toss the chunks of butternut with the olive oil on a large baking dish or tray and scatter with a pinch of sea salt.
– Roast the squash for 30 minutes until just starting to colour and crisp up a little bit.
– Heat a splash of olive oil in a large heavy pan.
– Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until just turning translucent.
– Add the butternut squash, the stock cube the chilli and ~1.5l of boiling water.
– Bring to a boil then turn off the heat.
– Use a handheld stick blended to blend the soup until smooth. (Dependent upon your squash you may find you have quite a thick soup at this point. Just add more water if you prefer a runnier consistency.)
– Add the lime juice, fish sauce, coconut milk, ginger and coriander and give a good stir to circulate everything properly.
– Make sure you taste it as you go! If you feel it needs a little something extra, go for it! This is your soup, tailor it to your preferences!

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Filed under Dairy Free, Easy, Gluten Free, Low Fat, Starters