Just a few things you can do with a pumpkin at this time of year, other than just carving a spooky face into it.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C (350F).
- Cut the pumpkin into halves and scoop the seeds and stringy bits out.
- Keep the seeds! They will become tasty pepitas.
- Cut pumpkin into large wedges
- Put the wedges onto a baking tray and cook until soft, which will take about 45 minutes.
- Allow to cool then peel the skin off.
- Put the pumpkin flesh into a food processor and process until smooth.
- If I’m not using it there and then, I freeze it in one cup portions, flattened into a freezer bag. It can then be easily defrosted to make excellent cakes like this Chocolate and Orange Pumpkin Bread.
- Rinse the pumpkin seeds to remove the stringy pumpkin bits and set onto a baking tray or mesh to dry. I sit them on my dehydrator tray. Don’t use kitchen paper or foil as they’re really sticky and will only stick to whatever you use.
- Once dry, mix in a bowl with a little oil and whatever seasoning you like. Smoked paprika is delicious with these. You could also use salt and pepper, curry powder, chilli powder or anything else savoury that takes your fancy.
- Pop into a pre-heated oven at 120C (250F) for about 1 hour until light golden brown.
- Tasty and healthy munchy snacks!
This makes a lovely tea-bread style loaf, and is also quite versatile in that you can use different spices and flavours with it. I’ve tried it with cinnamon, ginger and cloves, and also with cinnamon, ginger and chai spices, but my favourite so far is chocolate and orange. And the fact that it’s grain free, gluten-free and vegan, makes it all the more pleasing for me.
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 6 tablespoons of maple syrup. I reckon agave and honey would also work just the same if that’s your preference but haven’t tried it yet.
- 1 tablespoon of cacao or pure cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 teaspoon orange essence
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C (350F) and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
- Mix the dry ingredients together first – the buckwheat, cacao, and bicarb.
- Stir in the wet ingredients – pumpkin puree, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla essence, orange essence and water. Everything except the apple cider vinegar.
- Mix everything together well.
- Add the apple cider vinegar and quickly stir through, then pour into the baking tin.
- Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Allow to cool on a rack.
If you fancy making the spiced version, you need to use a LOT of spices to make it tasty – which I often find with recipes that use buckwheat and bicarbonate soda. I’d suggest 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 1/2 teaspoon of chai spices. Or 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves.
My gosh this is FANTASTIC for a hearty weekend meal. Think Sunday Lunch, vegan style. With its rich, tasty gravy, it goes really well with mashed potatoes and all the trimmings you would normally have with a roast.
- Light olive oil for frying
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 250g mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
- 250 g of carrots, sliced into half crescents (this is about 3 -4 medium sized carrots)
- 2 cans of cannellini beans (or kidney beans), rinsed well and drained.
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 250ml stout beer (if you don’t have alcohol, you can use more vegetable stock instead. The gravy will not taste quite as rich, but it’s still lovely.)
- 1/3 cup buckwheat flour
- 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoons of freshly ground sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Gently saute the onions until soft and translucent, about 7 mins.
- Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.
- Add the mushrooms, celery, and herbs, and saute until the mushrooms release moisture and brown slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Add carrots, stout, tomato paste, plenty of black pepper and salt, and bring to the boil.
- Reduce liquid a little, then add vegetable stock and boil for five minutes, to soften the veg.
- Add the buckwheat flour to 1 cup of cold water and whisk with a fork until the mixture is smooth.
- Slowly add this buckwheat mixture to the pan, stirring welll as you go. Allow to thicken for about 5 minutes.
- Add the beans, and cook gently for a few more minutes, to heat the beans through.
Healthy and highly energy packed flapjacky type squares. I took a pack of these hillwalking in the summer – we climbed Glyder Fawr and Mount Snowdon straight after each other, and these little beauties kept me powering through the whole day. Other folks with their jelly sweets were struggling to cope with the blood sugar highs and lows, but these kept me on a lovely even keel.
Sorry I don’t have any photos of these ones yet – I keep eating them all first, but you can imagine – they look like oaty squares
- 340g oats
- 2 – 3 bananas, roughly mashed
- 140g of oil – I use either coconut oil, or a mild and light olive oil
- 85g coconut sugar
- 3 tablespoons of maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons of hulled hemp seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Pre-heat your oven to 180C (Gas mark 4).
- Mix the oil and coconut sugar together.
- Add the rest of the ingredients (I mix the spices and baking powder through the dry oats first to ensure an even distribution of the spices).
- Mix together well.
- Line a square baking pan with baking paper and spoon the mixture in, pressing down with the back of a spoon.
- Cook for 25 minutes until golden brown on top.
- When done, leave for 10 mins to cool a little, then turn onto a baking rack to cool completely. Slice into squares.
You can be really flexible with this recipe – add some raisins or other dried fruit, or maybe even some chocolate chips. Change the spices about – mixed spice or chai spices are lovely too. Or you can even wait until they are completely cool, then melt a bar of dark chocolate, pour over the top and allow to set.
I don’t normally post other people’s recipes here, but occasionally I come across a recipe that is such a piece of genius that I want to share it with as many people as possible. And, as with the Black Bean Brownies recipe, this one is exactly that. Sheer genius.
This one is from Ambitious Kitchen – a great blog with some fantastic, healthy baking creations.
There’s quite a few chickpea cookie recipes flying about online at the moment, but I hadn’t found one I really liked until this one. I just wasn’t happy with the texture of the cookies made from the other recipes – they seemed to fall apart far too easily. On one recent day out, my cookie snack pack turned into a big bag of crumbs. I still ate them, with a spoon, but I do like to have food that transports well as I generally always have food on me.
Because these have a brownie texture, they are much more robust, as long as you package them carefully. So, Blondies made with no flour and no butter, and they’re delicious – pretty amazing really. I reckon that if you replace the chocolate chips with some chopped nuts, these are easily a justifiable healthy breakfast replacement if you’re on the go and need something you can take with you.
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed well and drained
- 1/2 cup all natural peanut butter (or almond butter). Make sure it’s just nuts! No oils or salt.
- 1/3 cup agave or maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips, plus 2 additional tablespoons to sprinkle on top. Or chopped nuts if you prefer.
- Sea salt, for sprinkling
- Pre-heat oven to 180C (350F).
- Lightly great a small square baking tin.
- Add all the ingredients (except the chocolate chips) into a food processor and process until smooth.
- Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Spread the mix evenly into the baking tin, smoothing off with a spoon.
- Sprinkle the additional chocolate chips on top.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until a knife comes out clean and the edges look a little bit brown. They might look underdone when you compare them to a standard brownie, but you don’t want them to dry out.
- Cool in the pan for 20 mins. Sprinkle with sea salt then cut into squares. The original recipe said it made 16 Blondies. I made 9! You also don’t need the additional salt – they are just as delicious without it.
Store in an airtight container or in the fridge.
You’re not going to believe how incredible these brownies are. They are rich, squidgy and totally delicious. And all the while they are doing you good too because they are made from beans! I KNOW!!!
I can’t take credit for the utter geniousness of this creation as I have taken the recipe from the Minimalist Baker website, and just changed it ever so slightly. There are some amazing recipes there, I’d recommend you check it out.
- 1 can of black beans, rinsed well and drained
- 2 tablespoons of ground chia seeds (you can just use whole chia seeds without grinding them first, but the texture of the finished brownie will be much smoother if you use the ground meal. I just whizzed them up in my Vitamix dry jug, or you could use a coffee grinder.)
- 3 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
- 3/4 cup raw cacao (or you could use a high quality cocoa powder)
- 1/2 cup of coconut sugar, ground up to a fine powder (you could use normal sugar but I tend not to)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
- Optional fillings or toppings. I used a handful of chopped hazelnuts as a filling.
- Pre-heat oven to 180C (350F)
- Mix the ground chia seeds with 6 tablespoons of water and allow to sit for 15 mins until it becomes gelatinous.
- Lightly grease a muffin tray. The original recipe calls for a standard size 12 muffin tin, but I only have a large size muffin tin with 6 slots – that works fine too.
- Add all the ingredients to a food processer, including the chia seed mix, and process until the mixture is really smooth.
- If it’s too thick, add a little extra water and mix again. It should be less thick that chocolate frosting, but thinner also works – your brownies will just be a bit fudgier.
- At this point, I added the chopped hazelnuts and just stirred them through to evenly distribute them throughout the mixture.
- Spoon into the muffin moulds and smooth the tops with your finger or a spoon.
- Put into the oven and bake for about 20 – 25 minutes. They are ready when the tops are dry and the edges are starting to pull away from the sides of the mould. They won’t have risen much and the tops will have collapsed – don’t worry, this is meant to happen. Think taste over glamour with this one!
- Remove from oven and let cool for 30 mins before removing from the pan. They are fragile at this point so use a fork to gently slide them out.
- Allow to cool completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container for a few days, or you can put in the fridge too.
The insides should be gooey and fudgy. I am seriously considering making these a staple part of my diet. Best of all, wrapped carefully, they are robust enough to carry about with you as a fabulous snack – another great edible food for you while you’re on the go.
Can it really get any better?
Ah, this dish has all the wonderfully rich and smokey Spanish flavour of chorizo, but without the chorizo. It’s delicious! Step away from the spicy sausage…
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
- About 1/2 a red chilli, very finely chopped
- 2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed well
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
- oil for frying – I used a mild olive oil
- Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil to a moderate temperature, add the onions, celery, carrots and chilli, and fry gently until they are starting to colour and soften. You want them a golden colour – probably about 10 mins.
- Add the chickpeas and cook for a few minutes, stirring often.
- Add the tomatoes, and bring to simmering point.
- Cook gently over a low heat for 40 minutes.
- Season to taste
I served this very simply with some rice.
Ok, admittedly, this spread or ‘cheeze’ is a bit of a niche product. But it is delicious and totally worth trying! Being fermented, and packed full of probiotics, it is super good for you. And if you’re dairy free or vegan and missing the taste of cheese, this could really hit the mark nicely. It’s certainly healthier than all those weird cheese substitute products that you can buy – folks, that’s not real food!
- 2 cups macadamia nuts
- 1 teaspoon of probiotic powder. I use Solgar ABC Dophilus powder, because it’s 100% dairy free and suitable for vegans.
- 3 tablespoons of sun-dried tomato puree. I used Gia brand as there’s no weird crap in it and it tastes delicious.
- A good handful of freshly chopped basil. Once you’ve chopped it all down, this is probably about 3 – 4 tablespoons.
- Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste.
If you’re not used to fermenting foods, trust me, it’s a whole world of fun. This spread takes 2 days to make but it is worth it, I promise! And learning how to ferment foods will enrich your life and bring happy living joy to your kitchen
- Soak the macadamias in water for a couple of hours. Drain and rinse well.
- Put in a high-speed blender with 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of pro-biotic powder, and blend until you get a smooth mousse like texture with no lumps.
- You now need to drain it of liquid and allow it to ferment. There’s probably fancy ways to do this, but mine is very basic. Pour the mixture into a muslin cloth or nut mylk bag (or a pair of thin nylon tights or something similar). You’ll probably want to place the cloth in a sieve (plastic please) or some sort of other holding receptacle. Tie the muslin so the mixture is fully contained within it. You can press a weight on top to squeeze some of the liquid out – I use a big bottle of water. Another method is to tie the muslin round chopsticks or the handle of a wooden spoon and leave it to drain like that.
- Leave it to drain and ferment for 24 hours or longer. The longer you leave it, the tangier it gets.
- Once it’s drained, unwrap it from the muslin and place into a bowl. It might smell quite strong – hard to describe what of – I guess like a strong cheese. This is OK!
- Add the other ingredients and mix well. If you’re not using the sun-dried tomato paste, you could use sun-dried tomatoes – soak them first to soften them, then blend or chop into tiny bits.
- Spoon the mixture into a cheese mould, or a glass ramekin will do if you don’t have one.
- You could eat it like this. But, to increase the solidity and cheese-like texture of it, I now dehydrate mine for 24 hours or longer. This also ferments it a bit further and really allows the tomato and basil flavours to concentrate. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can sometimes use your oven on the lowest possible temperature and with the door open – but I’d do some research on this first if I were you! If you’re using a glass ramekin, or something else that doesn’t have holes in it like a cheese mould, once it’s firm enough, tip it out the container so that it can dehydrate a bit faster and more evenly.
It looks like this when it’s done.
This sun-dried tomato recipe is my current favourite, but you can add any flavours that you like. In terms of flavours, the Gia puree that I use contains olive oil, vinegar, salt, chillies, oregano, garlic and capers.
Another scrummy one is roasted garlic and black pepper. Or any sort of fresh green herb that you like eg chives.
Ooh! The lovely people at Real Foods in Edinburgh wondered if I might like to review some goodies for them. ‘Why yes of course’ I said! And when I received this jar of Coconutty goodness through the post I was a very happy wee me indeed.
I love Biona as a brand – their products are generally top-notch. And the Coconut Oil is probably my favourite of their products. Unlike some other coconut oils on the market, Biona is organic, unrefined, unbleached, non-deodorised and non-hydrogenated. It’s also free from cholesterol, trans-fats and GM ingredients. Amazing!
It’s also delicious and incredible versatile.
Coconut oil is not just for cooking you see. I’ve also used this as a make up remover (it even works with mascara), a face cleanser, face and body moisturiser, nourishing hair oil, as well as in a myriad of edible dishes. I always have a jar or two in various locations around the house.
And when I’m making food, I use coconut oil more than any other oil – it’s stable at high temperatures, and it’s a really light and nutritious oil. And it doesn’t make everything taste of coconut, the flavour is very mild.
Now, I’m sure you can all use Google just as well as I can to find out the amazing nutritional benefits to coconut oil, but the one I like best is that coconut oil is high in a fatty acid called Lauric Acid, and when it’s digested it forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin. Both lauric acid and monolaurin can kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi, including Candida Alibicans, which can cause yeast infections. For those of us who have had digestive Candida, Coconut Oil is therefore a very good friend. Delicious and a yeast defeater – I love this stuff!
Here’s a couple of coconutty recipes, in which I’ve used Biona Coconut oil.
So it’s not just for soups and curries, although I’d recommend you always use it in curries! I use it in baking, raw cakes and chocolates, and you could even put a wee dod into a smoothie or a chocolate nut mylk now and then. Coconut joy!
This soup is a lovely fresh summer soup, but the butter beans means it’s still a filling dish.
- I red onion, roughly chopped
- 500g tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 1 can butter beans, rinsed well and drained
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- freshly ground black pepper to garnish
- 1 tbsp oil for frying
- Gently heat the onion until it’s softening.
- Add the garlic and heat for 1 – 2 more minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and gently cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add the stock and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Allow to cool, then blend in a blender.
- Return to the pot, add the butter beans and basil and gently cook until heated through.
- Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste