I’m actually quite enjoying my quest to find the perfect homemade cheese(less) cake! I really don’t have much dairy in my diet now, and I try to avoid refined sugars as I get such horrible sugar slumps – and so, trying to find a good dessert to fit all my diet criteria can feel like a bit of a chore. And I love desserts. Chores, not so much. But I think I’m on to a winner with this recipe. It is a fridge set, raw, vegan cheese(less) cake – unlike many other vegan recipes that require setting in the freezer (and subsequently a frozen pudding or slop at room temperature), which is both smooth and creamy (not grainy like some cashew based ones) and basically just really, really good. This one is flavoured with tropical mango, coconut and lime – and I’m thinking that more cheeseless cake blogs using the basis of this recipe will be sure to follow.

 

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The Base

200g pitted dates

50g whole almonds

50g desiccated coconut

 

The Filling

1 ripe mango (peeled & flesh chopped)

250ml carton coconut cream

1 lime (juice)

4 tbsp cashew nut butter

100ml maple syrup

200g block creamed coconut

 

The Topping

1 lime (juice)

4 tbsp desiccated coconut

 

Place the dates, almonds and coconut in a food processor and pulse until crumby and will hold together when pressed between your fingers. If it seems a little dry, either add a couple more dates or a little coconut oil and blend again. Press this mixture into the bottom of a loaf tin (I use a loaf liner too as its so easy to remove when set). Pop in the fridge. For the filling, blend the mango flesh, coconut cream, lime juice and cashew nut butter in a blender or food processor, until completely smooth. In a bowl set over just boiling water, gently melt together the creamed coconut with the maple syrup. Leave to cool slightly, then add to the blender with the mango mixture and re-blend. Pour this mixture over the base and place back in the fridge to set. I left mine overnight. For the topping, mix together the lime zest and coconut and sprinkle over the cheesecake. Slice, serve, eat! It does freeze well too, so you and slice it up and store it away.

Actually, these posts should be renamed weekend cheeseLESS cake. We recently decided to go whole hog on the dairy free thing, as Orion has been continually ill with upper respiratory infections and colds. There’s mixed discussions over whether cutting out dairy products can actually help (our GP didn’t seem to think so!) but it wasn’t too hard to give it a miss for the time being. But – how to recreate a delicious creamy baked cheesecake for my weekend cheesecake cravings? The cheesecake in my last post was divine, but…it didn’t quite hit the spot. I needed to incorporate chocolate. And it had to be baked. So I came up with this one.

 

 

A crumby, nutty, crisp baked base. A creamy, smooth, gutsy filling. A sweet and decadent top layer. All covered in a crunchy, nutty, salty-sweet brittle.

 

 

And it’s dairy free, gluten free and refined sugar free. Can we call it guilt free then? OK.

 

 

The Base

(from minimal baker’s almond crust recipe)

75g rolled oats

80g whole almonds

a good pinch of sea salt

2 tbsp coconut sugar

4 tbsp coconut oil, melted

 

The Filling

300g silken tofu

3 large eggs

3 large egg yolks

125ml maple syrup

the cream taken from a can of separated coconut milk

250g natural smooth peanut butter

 

The Chocolate Ganache Top Layer

250ml oat cream or coconut cream

100g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)

2 tbsp coconut sugar

 

The Peanut Brittle Topping

(adapted from my new roots sunflower seeded brittle)

100g peanuts (i used whole red skinned ones)

50g desiccated coconut

50g sunflower seeds

25g sesame seeds

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp coconut oil

125ml brown rice syrup (or maple syrup)

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Blitz the dry crust ingredients in a food processor, until crumby. Add the melted coconut oil and pulse until it starts to stick slightly. Press this base mix into a spring form / loose bottomed cake tin and bake for 20 minutes until golden.

 

Blitz all the ingredients for the filling in a blender or food processor – and pour over the baked base. Pop it back in the oven and bake for around 50 minutes – 1 hour, until set. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Keep the oven on for the brittle!

 

Put the oat cream, chocolate and coconut sugar in a small saucepan and gently heat until the chocolate melts and it can be whisked together to form a ganache. Pour this over the cheesecake, whilst still in the tin and leave to cool completely.

 

Place all the dry ingredients for the brittle in a bowl. Melt the coconut oil and syrup together in a pan until it can be stirred to combine. Pour this over the brittle ingredients and stir well to coat. Pour the mixture on to a lined baked tray, and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden. Leave it to cool completely on the tray. When it is cool, crack it into pieces and use to top the cheesecake, whilst it’s still in the cake tin.

 

When you’re ready to eat, gently slide a sharp knife around the outside of the cheesecake in the tin, and push it out using a can or jar underneath.

 

 

A cheese-less cake, not for the faint hearted! Enjoy.

Lately I’ve become so in awe of all the gorgeous hand crafted ceramics that I keep seeing online. It’s such a beautiful skill to have mastered, to create pieces that are not only objet d’art, but functional items too. I’m looking for local pottery and ceramics classes as I’m keen to get some hands on creative time. But for now, check out these clever ceramicists.

 

 

Annemieke Boots Ceramics / Elin Lannsjö / Ivy Weinglass / Daisy Cooper / Kaye Blegvad.

It’s not like I don’t treat myself to nice food during the week (and I do eat a lot of sweet things) – but when it comes to the weekend, I’m in need of something special, you know – something weekendy. We rarely drink alcohol, order take-away or even dine out (how boring we have become since having children) – and back in the day, Friday night would mean wine, greasy food and shop bought chocolates (revels, obvs). We’re much more clean living these days, but I still crave that weekend hit of something sweet, rich and indulgent to wave off the Monday-Thursday grind. It’s always cheesecake. That’s exactly what I want every time. So last week, I got myself prepped. Weekend cheesecake was ready and waiting for me, and it was really good. And so begins, a mini series of weekend cheesecake recipes to share with you.

 

 

Frozen Raspberry & Chocolate Weekend Cheesecake

(based on my new root’s cashew dreamcake – and it’s raw, vegan, refined sugar free, dairy free and all that good stuff)

 

½ cup whole almonds

½ cup medjool dates

pinch of salt

1½ cups cashew nuts, soaked overnight

juice of 2 lemons

1 tsp good quality vanilla extract

13 cup coconut oil, melted together with 1cup raw honey

2 tbsp raw cacao powder

1 cup raspberries (fresh or well thawed frozen ones)

frozen raspberries, hazelnuts, shelled hemp seeds, cacao nibs for decoration

 

Process the almonds, dates and salt until they are finely chopped and will stick together to form your cheesecake base. Press this into a loose based cake tin, around 8 inches. Pop it in the fridge or freezer to set. Drain the cashews, and place them in the food processor (or even better is a high speed blender) with the melted oil and honey, lemon juice and vanilla – until completely smooth. Remove half of the mixture, and add the raspberries to the half left in the blender, and pulse again until smooth. Stir the cacao powder into the other half. Layer up the cheesecake with the chocolate mix first, then top with the raspberry mix. I threw on a load of decoration healthy stuff at this stage – and then pop it all into the freezer to set for at least two hours. This cheesecake is best served semi-frozen to help retain it’s shape (due to the lack of cheese I guess!) so take it out around 45 minutes before you want to eat it – and you can store any left overs back in the freezer.

I’ve given up trying to keep these retrospective travel photos down to 10 per post (sorry!). So, we’re nearly done. Here we are in Bali, February 2011. The last trip away from Cambodia, before we flew home to the UK. The Eat, Pray, Love film had not long been released, so Bali was full of Liz Gilbert / Julia Roberts soul seekers – and we joined in the hunt. After just about nailing South East Asian customs and traditions, we felt a little out of our depth getting to grips with Balinese culture in the short time we were there. But it was a beautiful place, and a time that will stay close to my heart as our last break before starting a family.

 

 

light bulb moment / offerings / swan boats / green / sweet shell message / free as a bird / water lilies / top notch decor / spoilt for choice on the scary masks / little monkey friend / forrest / mirrors / race.

The 11am hunger curbers, the 3pm get-me-through-the-afernoon snack and the 9pm end-of-the-day-i-deserve-something-sweet nibble. Collectively, these things have come to be know, in our house, simply as ‘mamma treats’. There isn’t a chance in hell that my week will run smoothly if there aren’t at least two varieties of mamma treat in my kitchen at one given time. I usually crave something cakey or biscuity, along side something chocolatey or fudge-like. It really has become a weekly necessity for me to invest some time into stock piling sweet treats, that have become the life-force to keep me upbeat and balanced (or as close to) during a busy week managing children, work and general family life. Luckily for me, the kids are not always temped by my healthy treats – and although Owen has the occasional dabble, he’d really just prefer to be eating crisps. So favourably for me, these mamma treats have become exclusively mine. The conditions upon my treats are simple – they must be refined sugar free, preferably refined wheat flour free, and quick to whip up. I’ve honed my weekly treat repertoire to a few simple recipes, so I thought I’d share them with you here as they are well-tested and really easy to incorporate into a busy world.

 

MY FULLY LOADED SUPER COOKIES

A friend naughtily passed on this ‘secret’ recipe to me, after being given it to from her health coach. I’ve adapted it over the years by loading them up to full cookie capacity with added superfoods, and they remain a firm staple in my kitchen. For a more indulgent treat, I omit most of the extra seedy healthy ingredients and stir in 100g of dark chocolate pieces.

 

1 cup of almond or peanut butter

3cup of coconut sugar

1 egg

1 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp chia seeds

handful of seeds (I use pumpkin & sunflower)

handful of dried fruit (I use cranberries, chopped apricots & sultanas)

shelled hemp, bee pollen, more seeds as topping

 

Blend together the nut butter, coconut sugar, egg and baking powder. Mix through the chia seeds, seeds and fruit. You can pretty much add anything to the nut butter, sugar, egg and baking powder part so just cram in as much as you can (dark chocolate is very good!). The mixture is very stiff and oily, so spoon tablespoons on to lined baking trays, and press down with the back of a fork. Top with more seeds and stuff. Bake at 150°C for 8-15 minutes, but no more than that if you want to keep them lovely and chewy.

 

 

THE MINIMALIST BAKER’S RAW (BRAZIL NUT) CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

I’ve already raved about these raw brownies. So quick and easy to make, super nutritious and the perfect indulgent after-dinner treat. I adapt Dana’s recipe to use brazil nuts instead of walnuts, for a creamy dreamy chocolate fix. I love the Minimalist Baker’s blog, you can find it here. Recipe here. (I swap walnuts for brazil nuts) (The ganache is insanely good but definitely not necessary if you want to keep it simple).

 

 

FOOD FIX UP’S CHAI SPICED WHITE CHOCOLATE BARS

I have also raved about Stef’s Food Fix Up recipe app several times on the blog – but really, I go back to it on a weekly basis for meal ideas and for my Mamma treat inspiration. Stef’s philosophy incorporates refined sugar, gluten and dairy free recipes, with physical health and compassionate wellbeing. Her recipes always inspire and remind me to enjoy the indulgence of eating good food, with good ingredients and amazing tastes. So let me tell you about this chai spiced white chocolate! I don’t share my treats very often and I am particularly cautious when it comes to parting with even a crumb of these goodies. However, the friends that have sampled these super chai treats have been blown away. They contain rich cacao butter, coconut, cashew butter, spices and salt – and you can find the full recipe and many many more by downloading the Food Fix Up App here. It’a the best couple of pounds you can spend, promise.

 

 

HEALTHY DIGESTIVE BISCUITS

Since I quit sugary shop bought treats, there has been a noted (by Owen) lack of biscuits in the (now non existant) biscuit barrel. During my Ayurvedic training, I was told that dry foods like crackers and biscuits are “no good for my airy vata body type” and I’ve kind of been put off ever since. However, when the craving for a crunchy sweet something does strike, I tend to make these healthy digestive biscuits and everyone in the house is happy. Plus the boys love decorating them (thanks to The Lunch Lady for the inspo!)

 

100g whole spelt flour

75g light spelt flour (or plain flour)

150g oat bran

pinch of salt

150g coconut oil (or butter)

4 tbsp coconut sugar

milk (whatever you usually use)

 

Mix the spelt flours, oat bran and salt in a bowl. Rub in the butter to form a breadcrumb like consistency. Stir in the sugar. Using your hands, add some milk a little at a time, until the dough comes together in a ball. Pop it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Roll the dough out (around 4mm thick) and press out circle shapes with a cutter. Add a face at this point if you wish!! Bake at 180°C for 12-15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and dip some dark chocolate hair / facial hair if desired.

 

 

SARAH BRITTON’S COZY BANANA BREAD

I think everyone needs a go-to banana bread recipe. I used to swear by an old weight watcher’s recipe that my Mum gave me years ago – and although it only added a little honey to sweeten it, it was full of refined flour and low fat margarine. I stumbled across Sarah’s recipe online, way before I fully developed my foodie crush on her and her blog, My New Roots. Everyone that has tasted this banana bread has asked me for the recipe. It is full of nuts, seeds and banana goodness – with the most moist texture – aaaaaand you can pretty much make the whole thing in a blender. Banana bread recipe here. My New Roots blog here. App here. Do it. Sarah I love you btw, just saying.

 

A WORD ON BUYING INGREDIENTS

I realise that baking or making healthier sweet treats, almost always involves switching up many of your usual store cupboard ingredients. This can be costly and confusing if you are not used to buying health and whole food staples. It has taken me years (and I still have lots to learn) to figure out how to economically cook better food. I think it comes down to making an investment. I will particularly invest money and time into my ‘treat’ foods as after all, putting something good in my body is what makes them a treat in the first place. I buy nearly all of my ingredients in bulk on Amazon by comparing prices and working out what works best per gram. I usually use the Sevenhills or Biona brands. If you have an Aldi near you, their raw nuts, pure maple syrup and coconut oil are some of the cheapest I’ve come across. And if you have a Costco card, you will find so much bulk goodness there too.

Some days, weeks or even months, I go through these explosive periods of inspiration, creativity and general buzzy headedness – considering all of the things that I love, that drive me, that influence me. It’s a great time, and I can’t wish it away – despite that it keeps me awake at night and tinges me with a slight sense of desperation to get going or to get something started. I tend to keep all of my ideas or current inspiration as notes on my phone, or as files on my laptop. Sometimes I print images or create a visual blog to act as a reminder for things that have come to the top level of my consciousness. Basically, there is always a lot in my head. So I’m going to start dumping it here, to share it with you! Because maybe, you might like some of it too.

 

1. After years of avoiding pizza and deeming it as a totally unhealthy food option, we’ve recently started putting it back on the menu at home. I’ve been using Sarah Britton’s spelt flour dough base, Oh Dear Drea’s easy no cook sauce, plenty of fresh basil and nutritional yeast. Pizza = healthy = fine by me.

2. Give me all the vegan freak shakes.

3. I’m listening to a lot of Laura Mvula at the moment. She recently hosted a brilliant programme exploring the musical roots of Nina Simone. Unfortunately it’s not available on iPlayer any longer – but you can watch her awesome radio one live lounge performance (and Tame Impala cover) here.

4. Owen has just finished his run of spoken-word theatre performances, with his show Wrong. You can watch some feedback and highlights here.

5. I’m noticing an increased amount of people taking instagram ‘breaks’ or confessing their lack of mojo for social media participation lately. I have felt similarly myself recently. I enjoyed reading Amanda Watter’s take on her more present path since quitting instagram.

6. My holiday reading.

7. Obsessed with Danish outerwear company, Rains. We just got Owen this jacket.

8. Loving Shantell Martin’s work.

9. Latest insta-crush. 

10. I may be running behind on this, but I have just discovered dirty chai masalas. This recipe though!

11. I’m looking for the perfect cool putty grey paint for our family room. Help!

12. I read that watching someone having a massage can release the same relaxing hormones as actually having a treatment yourself. I’ve been revising my pregnancy massage techniques by watching these videos – and have been feeling super chilled.

13. I found the perfect armchair.

14. I’d love to go to this Barbie exhibition.

15. My friend Rox is offering 20% of everything in store this bank holiday weekend, if you join Studio NL‘s mailing list.

16. I don’t know how I stumbled across these, but I found Warren Buffett’s quotes on investing and success really powerful!

17. BFGF are doing ceramics now. Right on.

18. Well done to our City Mayor for challenging Britain First’s unwelcome visit to Leicester.

19. The best of Airbnb in Britain.

20. I’m selling my car in the Summer and considering one of these.

I’m so excited to be going back to Spain again in June. I am more than ready for some sun, good food, adventure and a good stretch of uninterrupted family time. I am a rubbish packer, and I always take too much / everything in my suitcase. This year I’m hoping to keep it minimal (she says!) – but there are a few new bits on my summer holiday wishlist, that I hope will be coming along with me.

 

 

 

1/ Lunch Lady Magazine

2/ Uniqlo + Lemaire Collection

3/ Bobbi Brown Brow Shaper

4/ Topshop Dree Kick Flare Jeans

5/ Kleen Kanteen Bamboo Top Bottle

6/ Near & Far

7/ Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good (need to read this first before I get It’s All Easy)

8/ Nina Z Clogs

9/ Monokel Nelson Havana Sunglasses (available at Studio NL)

10/ Glossier Perfecting Face Tint