English summer…where are you? Today I’ve had my heating on in the morning and sun cream on in the afternoon. It’s so mixed. But I guess if you’re British like me, you’re probably more than used to this season blending stuff. Despite the shifts from hot to cold, and back to cold again – it is June (yay) and we’ve been busy making ice cream. The children have already had their fair share of Mr Whippie’s from the ice cream vans, and although I do enjoy a lick of theirs, I’d still rather enjoy something a little less dairy, sugar (and guilt) laden. We’ve enjoyed a couple of great homemade healthy ice creams this week, and  I wanted to share them with you.

 

The first is a beautifully easy rhubarb and vanilla ice cream. Made in the blender and frozen without the need for churning.

 

You will need to soak 300g cashew nuts in water, overnight. You can also prepare in advance by gently stewing 1lb of fresh rhubarb in a heavy based pan, along with half a cup of water, 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste & 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Cook gently until the rhubarb is soft, but not mushy – and leave to cool. Rinse the soaked cashews with fresh water and place them in a blender or food processor with half a cup of water, 150ml of maple syrup, 4 ripe bananas and a pinch of salt. Blend until completely smooth. Then fold the cashew mixture into the stewed rhuabrb. Check for sweetness (and add more maple syrup if you prefer) then pop the mixture into a tupperware and place into the freezer to set. We’ve been eating ours with pecan nuts and extra maple syrup. Just remember to take it out of the freezer well over an hour before you need it.

 

If you follow me on instagram you’ll know I’ve been raving about Sarah Britton‘s new cookery book (and her blog), ‘my new roots’. I couldn’t resist making these mint choc chip ice cream sandwiches – they look so pretty – and taste like peppermint perfection.

 

You’ll have to buy my new roots to get the full recipe for this yummy ice cream (and many more things). Or you could try Detoxinista’s recipe for avocado mint ice cream, which is very similar (and online). For the chocolates – I made cashew nut chocolate raw cookies, which I often make for the boys to go with ice cream or yoghurt. They are so simple to make. Place 50ml maple syrup, 4 tablespoons of coconut oil, 4 tablespoons of cacao powder and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and melt together over a low heat. Once melted and combined, whisk in 2 tablespoons of cashew nut (or peanut butter). Spoons blobs (about one tablespoon) onto baking paper and spread using the back of a spoon, to make thin discs. Set in the fridge and use to construct your raw ice cream sandwiches (with cacao nib sprinkles if you so desire). So good, and worth the effort I promise. You can always make up the sandwiches and pop them back in the freezer for a quick ready made treat. [eating one as I type]

 

Sweet treats are a must for me, I have to say. I’ve missed out on enjoying ice cream since I cut back on dairy and sugar – so it’s been a bit of a revelation for me to find and create recipes that are not only delicious, but good for you too. If you’re craving more  ideas for guilt-free frozens, you might like to try my trio of summer popsicles from last year, this recipe for the easiest mango & banana ice cream or to check out this vegan chunky monkey ice cream (and brilliant health food blog).

I love everything about fresh bread. You just can’t beat it. I’ve mentioned several times on here that I’m literally scared of using yeast in baking! It’s really just a fear of putting my effort and time into making traditional bread and it going wrong (I’ve heard so many stories of bread failure) (and so many great ones too). But being pushed for time, and trying to keep options at home more healthy – I’m always on the look out for a quick mix-and-bake bread recipe that can be bunged in the oven in the morning, ready just in time for the 11am munchies. So, I was thrilled to hear from Carly Trigg – a blogger over at my well being journal – who wanted to share some of her healthy recipes with me. Carly suffers from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and since being diagnosed, has begun a well-being journal in the form of her blog, where she shares recipes, tips and ideas for fellow IBS sufferers. Digestive problems are actually very common, but can be managed well with the right diet. I’ve always found that the best way for me to beat a bloated belly, and raise my energy levels is to cut back on (or cut out) gluten. Carly sent me a gorgeous recipe for an easy gluten-free bread loaf to try – so me and the boys put it to the test. And I have to say, it was amazing! It was quickly renamed “oats & milk bread” by Omi (the ingredients he could remember) and it was all demolished before the day was done. I seriously recommend trying. So I’ll hand you over to Carly with the details. *[ori’s proud bread face!]*

 

 

Struggle with gluten? Love bread? I’ve got you sorted.

 

Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread and, if you’ve missed it due to your wheat intolerance, then look no further than this useful gluten-free bread recipe – which uses no yeast, and just wholesome ingredients.

 

  • 200g gluten-free bread flour
  • 3 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 300ml buttermilk (or whole milk with a squeeze of lemon juice)
  • 80g gluten-free oats

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C
  2. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, oats, salt, baking powder) in a mixing bowl
  3. Separately combine the wet ingredients (buttermilk, eggs, oil)
  4. Now you can fold the wet ingredients into the dry
  5. Grease a loaf tin and pour in your mixture
  6. Bake for around 1 hour or until its fully risen and looks about to split on top
  7. Leave to cool fully until the top is crunchy and you’re ready to serve it up!

 

For more tasty healthy-eating recipes and IBS nutritional advice, visit www.mywellbeingjournal.com

I came across this recipe on pinterest a while ago, and I knew that I had to give it a go. Or something like it anyway. Donuts conjour up childhood memories of trips into town at the weekends – wearily following my parents around the shops until we stopped for a treat. Fresh mini donuts, cooked and served from a tiny vendor amidst the open market place – hot and greasy and covered in sugar!  I really haven’t indulged in donuts much in my adult life. That was until I discovered that you could bake them! We bought this donut tin – and as soon as it arrived, Omi (and me) were desperate to give it a whirl.

 

 

These home made donuts were so good. Still a big treat, yes. But this recipe is much lower in refined sugars than your average donut – and it can be easily made gluten and dairy free too. Oh and they’re baked, not fried. After receiving a glut of butternut squash from a friend’s allotment, I wanted to find a way of using them up. Donuts seemed like a good idea.

 

 

150g of plain flour (I used a gluten-free flour blend)

50g spelt flour

1.5 teaspoons of baking powder

½ teaspoon of fine sea salt

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

½ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg

½ teaspoon of all spice

80ml rapeseed oil or light olive oil

100g coconut sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

120ml milk (full fat or a dairy free alternative)

200g of cooked butternut squash (well mashed or pureed)

 

2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil, 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar (or caster sugar) & 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, for dusting

2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup & 1 tablespoon of cacao powder, for dipping

 

Preheat your oven to 180°C and grease your donut pan. Then place all the dry ingredients (plain flour, spelt flour, baking powder, salt and spices) in a bowl. In a larger bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, egg, vanilla extract, milk and butternut squash, until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing well to combine. Use a spoon to fill your donut pan evenly, and as close to the top as you can get them without overspilling. Bake the mixture in the oven for around 15 minutes, or until springy and cooked through. Leave them to cool in the pan for a few minutes, before turning them out on to a wire rack.’

 

If you want to coat your donuts, you can either brush them in a little melted coconut oil and roll them in sugar and cinnamon – or you can dip them in a mixture of melted coconut oil, maple syrup and cacao powder (see quantities above). Then leave on your wire rack to set again. The donuts are best enjoyed warm.

 

I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

I wanted to share a few recipes for some great homemade raw chocolate we have been making at home lately. I’m really loving Nutrition Stripped‘s website as well as the Food Fix Up app, for clean and nutritious recipes – and I recommend them highly if you are looking for fresh alternatives and healthy eating tips. The best thing of all – they both do desserts – and chocolate! I’ve been making my own chocolate for a while now, and it is so easy because it’s based around three simple ingredients; cacao powder, cacao butter & maple syrup – melted and blended, and set in the freezer. By sharing some fantastic raw chocolate recipes, both Nutrition Stripped & Food Fix Up have inspired my raw chocolatier-ing to the next level. Making chocolate yourself is great because it contains no refined sugars (and the level of natural sweetness can be controlled by you), it is dairy free and it contains all natural, raw ingredients. For me, this redefines the guilt-laden idea of eating chocolate and turns it into a healthy treat, full of natural antioxidants. I keep my raw chocolates in the freezer, broken into small chunks, ready to be nibbled at any time I need a little pick-me-up. These recipes are so easy, even the boys love mixing the ingredients and spooning the chocolate into the moulds (we made eggs at Easter too). If you are interested in giving it a go, I would suggest buying some key ingredients in larger quantities. Health food items are often expensive, but the overall quality of the end product is so much better, that you consume much less at one time. After years of shopping around, I now always use Amazon to bulk buy my cacao butter, cacao powder, coconut oil, coconut butter, maple syrup (and many more items on my shopping list). I either make my raw chocolate with cacao butter or coconut butter as a base – both recipes are equally simple and can be found below.

 

 

FOR THE COCONUT BUTTER BASE * for recipes 1, 5, 6 & 7 – melt together 400g of coconut butter  and 50g of coconut oil (in a bowl over a simmering pan of water). when melted, remove from the heat and stir in 4 tablespoons of pure maple syrup and a pinch of fine sea salt. divide the mixture into four bowls and add your flavours from below. if you want to make a full batch of one particular flavour, just add four times the quantity of your chosen flavour.*

 

FOR THE CACAO BUTTER BASE *for recipes 3 & 4 – melt 200g cacao butter (in a bowl over a simmering pan of water) and add 4 tablespoons of pure maple syrup and a pinch of fine sea salt. divide the mixture into two bowls and add your flavours from below. if you want to make a full batch of one particular flavour, just add double the quantity of your chosen flavour.*

 

1. KEY LIME RAW CHOCOLATE

Add the juice of 1 lime and half a lemon.

 

2. MANGO & CHILLI RAW CHOCOLATE

I’m still perfecting this recipe, so I won’t share it with you now. Unfortunately these bars had to go in the bin, but they were so pretty – I couldn’t resist photographing them.

 

3. TAHINI CARAMEL RAW CHOCOLATE

Add 50g of tahini, 10 dates (diced finely) and 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds.

 

4. CHAI SPICE RAW CHOCOLATE (my favourite)

Add 100g cashew butter, half a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon and quarter of a teaspoon of mixed spice.

 

5. RASPBERRY & COCONUT RAW CHOCOLATE

Add a handfull of raspberries (pureed) and 1 tablespoon of desiccated coconut.

 

6. ESPRESSO RAW CHOCOLATE

Add 2 tablespoons of cacao powder and 1 teaspoon of powdered espresso (mixed with enough hot water to make a thick liquid).

 

7. BASIC CACAO RAW CHOCOLATE (not pictured)

Add 4 tablespoons of cacao powder.

 

Once your chocolate flavours are combined (and you’ve used every bowl in the house!), spoon the mixture into lightly oiled silicone moulds (I use a spray coconut oil & and I buy my chocolate moulds from ebay). A tip here, is to place the moulds on a tray or a board that will fit in to your fridge, as lifting silicone moulds full of melted chocolate is very messy (and near impossible). You can set and store your chocolate in the fridge or freezer – though if you are using fresh ingredients like fruits, they will perish quicker if kept in the fridge.

 

Enjoy! x

 

It feels like ages since my last ‘what ori ate’ post. Don’t worry, I have been feeding him! I’d say his weaning process is pretty much complete now and he is eating all the same foods as the rest of the family. Still, I like the title of this series and Ori deserves to have it named after him as he is, by far, the best eater in our household. He has such a great appetite and a willingness to try (and eat) any food that you pass his way. It really is so rewarding and I’m very thankful to have such a loyal taste tester for all my kitchen experiments. I’m always looking for new food inspiration, so please please email me or comment below with any of your favourite recipes or blogs that you like to follow. Here are some of our recently enjoyed meals.

 

 

giant cous cous with roasted carrots, rocket, feta & sweet chilli sauce / nutty nutty goji bars / mango & sticky coconut rice / peanut butter, dark chocolate & hemp seed cookies / easy chicken miso & noodles / cauliflower crust pizza / sweetcorn & red onion fritters / super-porridge bowl with blueberries, goji berries, banana & avocado / ori tucking in to his favourite ‘green goblin’ wholewheat pasta with blitzed brocooli & stilton sauce.

Forever on my quest for healthier sweet treats for myself and the boys, I have begun to collect quite a number of recipes to try. We’ve experimented with wheat-free, gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free and sugar-free baking (sometimes all in the same recipe!) and we’ve eaten our way through a whole lot of cake. Not all of my free-from experiments have gone as hoped, but it’s been lots of fun trying new things and learning what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to blending baking with special dietary requirements. The main thing my friends with children ask me for, is a good kiddie friendly birthday cake recipe, that isn’t laden with sugar. So, I found five different recipes to make, all taste tested by Omi and Orion – with brutally honest feedback (there’s no other way with kids is there?!). All these cakes are refined sugar free, meaning that they don’t contain processed white sugar, but are sweetened with fruit or natural sweeteners such as pure maple syrup. Yes, these are still a form of sugar and although these recipes are healthier, these cakes and sweet recipes are still very much a celebratory treat.

 

 

1/ Banana & Blueberry Cake

Thank you to homemade baby food recipes blog for this recipe. There are plenty of great looking recipes on this website, and a whole selection of sugar free baby birthday cake ideas too. Scroll down the page here to find the recipe for this banana and blueberry cake. I substituted the wholewheat flour for spelt flour, the butter for dairy-free sunflower spread and the apple juice concentrate for good quality pure pressed apple juice. My frosting was made from cream cheese beaten with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. I made this for my friend Amy’s little boy’s 1st birthday party, and it was given to all the children in their party bags. The cake turned out really nicely. It was a good height, lovely and moist and full of flavour, without an intense sweetness. The kids really loved this one, they ate all of theirs and asked for more. A thumbs up from Omi.

 

2/ First Birthday Apple Sauce Cake

Thank you to Megan at Detoxnista blog for this one. I adapted her first birthday apple sauce cupcake recipe – only by placing all of the mixture into a savarin cake mould. This recipe is very very easy, especially if you make up some apple sauce in advance (I made mine with 2 cooking apples, peeled and chopped and stewed with a little water for half an hour). I cheated a little here and iced the cake with two tablespoons of icing sugar mixed with a little lemon juice. However, there are lots of dairy and sugar-free cake frosting recipes to try – for example you could try this vegan cream cheese frosting, this avocado frosting or this cashew nut frosting. The cake itself was really tasty, and sliced easily. If you’ve baked with coconut flour before, you will know what I mean when I say it brings a certain density to a cake, as it’s fine texture absorbs more liquid than average grain flours. Because of that, I’d say this is more of a Sunday cake than a wow-factor first birthday cake – though it didn’t stop my kid’s from tucking in.

 

3/ No-Bake Peanut Butter Bar Jungle Cake

When me and my brother were younger, my Mum would always bake us a fantastic birthday cake each year. We had giant 3D care bares, trains, scaled-down edible zoos, desert islands, ship-wrecks, sports cars, sylvanian family houses (and so on). Birthday cakes really are a Mum’s time to shine aren’t they? But without bowls of coloured butter icing, an endless supply of chocolate smarties and two boxes of matchmakers, what are the options for a creative sugar-free birthday cake? I’d been meaning to try these peanut butter bars for ages, and when I finally gave them a go, they were so good that they seemed perfect for creating a no-bake celebration cake from. So, the bars became rocks for an edible jungle, with desiccated coconut mixed with a little green food colouring for grass, a selection of plastic jungle animals (from amazon) and some paper palm trees (from ebay). The boys absolutely loved playing with their jungle and were ecstatic when they realised they could eat the rocks and the grass. If not a headliner birthday cake – an idea definitely worth making for the party table.

 

4/ Beetroot & Chocolate Cake with Beetroot Frosting

Thank you to Erica at Coffee & Quinoa for this lovely recipe. She use turbinado, which is a raw cane sugar – though you can find lots of other raw sugar alternatives on the market now. You could try coconut palm sugar, or do what I did, which was to use 100g of medjool dates (pitted and blended with 4 tablespoons of water). This made the cake really sticky and fudgy. Just be sure to bake it a little longer than the recipe suggests, and test that the cake is completely cooked before taking it out of the oven. I think I took mine out a little too early, as it was still quite wet and had stuck to the tin, even after cooling (hence we named our slightly wonky version ‘the boob cake’ – see photos!). You can also use vacuum packed beets, which save lots of time, but do compromise flavour a little. I would have loved to have made Erica’s dairy-free avocado frosting, though I fancied a pretty pink cake, so I mixed cream cheese with one finely grated beet (all juiced squeezed out) and one tablespoon of melted coconut oil for a quick icing. We shared this cake with some visiting friends who absolutely loved it. The boys did too. Omi named it “the happy cake” and it even got divvied up to my dairy-free friends (icing removed!) as they were keen to taste it. Great flavour, dense, rich and moist. I’m looking forward to making (and eating) this cake again. A definite contender for a chocolatey birthday cake.

 

5/ Sweet Potato Chocolate Brownies

This is a recipe from the lovely Ella over at Pure Ella. I use Ella’s free-from recipes all the time and they are always great and taste amazing – without the guilt. These brownies were no exception. Sweet, fudgy and rich – just perfect cut into squares, piled high and topped with candles for a special birthday treat. We all loved making and eat these brownies, and have made them again several times since our first go. Ori adores them, as you can see!

 

*if it’s a classic looking round refined sugar-free chocolate birthday cake that you are after, I can highly recommend a couple of cakes that we have baked a few times lately – that were amazing. This flourless chocolate cake is incredible and so rich, you only really need one layer. You could try topping with a sugar-free frosting (this one’s my favourite) or even doubling the recipe and icing between the layers for a more traditional looking birthday cake. If you fancied a denser flourless chocolate cake, try this one – it is so good and made with ground almonds.*

We did a little cooking post for the Ma Books, which is now online if you’d like to take a look. I’d been wanting to try out baking monkey bread for so long (especially after seeing recipes here, here and here) – but had been put off by the amount of refined sugar needed and also the amount of time (and patience) we would need to make our own bread dough from scratch. So I came up with the idea to use a smaller amount of coconut palm sugar, as well as some home-bake shop-bought refrigerated bread dough. Okay, so I certainly would have preferred to have made the bread myself (and I promise I’m going to try soon!), and I’m sure the recipe would taste a million times better with fresh dough – but, for time-skinny, health conscious parents, this recipe might just do the trick (as good as using one of the Village Bakery machines to make the process even faster). It was tasty, we nibbled for days and you can find the full recipe here.

 

 

Do take a peep at the Ma Books – it’s a beautiful online collection of stories, poems, photographs, recipes, ideas and memoirs from mother to mother, curated by one of my favourite women, Jess.

Have you checked out The Ma Books yet? It is a beautiful online collection of stories, memoirs, photographs, thoughts, feelings and ideas . It is the ultimate camaraderie blog for any mother or parent, looking for a supportive and compassionate internet-space to dive in to, when you have a few precious minutes to yourself. The Ma Books is curated and hosted by Jessica Kraus, super mamma of 4 boys – who also blogs over at House in Habit as well as selling her gorgeous hand crafted teepees via her Etsy site. I really don’t know how she does it all. We just had a little cookery blog post shared on The Ma Books this week – which you can look at here. Omi made some very tasty (and easy) mini blueberry bakes. The photos – ah man, i love that little guy.

 

 

Don’t tell Omi…but we just ordered him a play tent from Jess’ House in Habit store. We’ve been saying that we’d get him one for ages now. Every time the door bell rings, he asks if it is the postman with his teepee. We’d planned to give it to him for Christmas, but I just don’t know if we can hold out that long.  I can’t wait for it to arrive. Teepee Time!

It’s such a beautiful vegetable! But it’s such a faff right?! Scrubbing, peeling, your kitchen, children and best t-shirt splattered with pink juice – it can really put you off buying fresh beetroot. I do love it though – and now and again, I buy a few bunches, and things get a bit beet crazy. We tend to just roast fresh beets, with a splash of olive oil, balsamic and fresh thyme – but I’ve been looking out for some new and adventurous things to do with this glorious veggie. I got the kids to eat everything below, except the beetroot tart – I felt that 3 out of 4 wasn’t bad when it came to introducing (sneaking) new foods on to their plates. Freshly roasted beets (peel whole beets, place in a covered baking dish with  1 teaspoon of coconut oil & 3 tablespoons of water on 180°C for about 1 hour) are best used in these recipes, but vacuum packed cooked beets also work really well (and are a lot less hassle and keep in the fridge for ages). Here are my four favourite beetroot recipes at the moment.

 

 

BEETROOT & STRAWBERRY ICE LOLLIES

Pretty much the same recipe as my strawberry and goat’s yoghurt lollies. Just blend 200g of ripe strawberries, with 100ml goat’s yoghurt (or natural yoghurt) with 2 tablespoons of agave nectar and one cooked beet. Blend until smooth and divide between lolly moulds before freezing over night. The kids will be so taken with their lovely pinkness.

 

BEETROOT & FETA TART

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a pie dish with shortcrust pastry (homemade or shop bought is up to you!), and bake blind for around 15 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and grate two large raw beetroot. Fry these in a pan with one tablespoon of olive oil and one red onion, thinly sliced. Cook gently for 10 minutes until softened, before adding 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 2 springs of fresh thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and one cup of water. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes, stirring often. Once this mixture is cooked and cooled, spread it on the bottom of your pie crust. Crumble 150g of feta cheese over the top. In a jug, beat together 2 eggs with 150ml of double cream. Pour this mixture over the tart. Bake for 35 minutes, until set. Best served warm.

 

BEET GLAZED SHORTBREADS

Thank you to the lovely Bri over at Design Love Fest blog for this great recipe. You can find it in full here. When I saw it, I just had to try. They are so pretty – you won’t be disappointed.

 

BEETROOT & SPELT PANCAKES

I came across a great recipe for beet and quinoa pancakes in Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain cookbook.  I changed it up slightly, to incorporate my current cupboard ingredients (I’ve yet to come across quinoa flour) and they were possibly the best pancakes I have ever eaten. And we eat a lot of pancakes. You need about 3 medium roasted beets, cooled and puréed. Sift 1 cup of spelt flour, 1 cup of plain flour, 3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of baking powder and half a teaspoon of salt, in to a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 cup of whole milk with one cup of plain yoghurt, 3 tablespoons of melted butter and 1 egg. Mix the wet ingredients in to the dry ingredients and blend well. The pancakes need about 2 minutes on each side, in a hot oiled pan. The mixture is best used straight away, but you can pop it in the fridge for a couple of days too. We made a huge batch in one go, and ate the leftovers cold. So good!

 

ps) THIS T-SHIRT!

Just recently, Orion’s sleep has improved (ever so) slightly, meaning that more often, he will sleep through the evening, from around 7pm, without waking (until 11pm onwards!) So….it has been lovely to finally feel like I can have an evening to myself, to make plans, have friends over and even go out! (whoah chill out – it only happened once!). The last couple of Mondays, my friend Louis has come over after work, and we have made a late dinner and sat down to eat without interruption from the little ones. As much as I love sharing meals with the children, I also appreciate taking opportunities to enjoy a meal with just adults. I really enjoyed my space to eat slowly, chat about our current happenings, our hopes and aspirations for the future – and above all – to plan what to eat the following week on our Monday night cook-in. Louis and I have both been drawn towards a more pure food approach to ‘treating’ ourselves to a good home cooked meal. Websites such as Pure Ella, Detoxinista and (of course) Pinterest, offer a massive e-load of healthy eating inspiration and I’m getting quite over excited about trying out lots of new recipes. The riveting life of a SAHM with two kids – what can  say?! Good food is high on my agenda, as always.

 

 

On the recipe want-list this week; cauliflower crust pizza, vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, raw caramel slice and vegan energy bites. (images courtesy of Pure Ella and also via Pinterest)