vegan chocolate brownie

vegan chocolate brownie cake with black cherries and ice cream

Makes 9 – 12  generous portions

Gooey and delicious

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This vegan chocolate brownie recipe has been inspired by Ms Cupcakes cookbook.  I have slightly reduced the chocolate and sugar content to make it a little bit healthier

1 tbsp ground flaxseed

3 tbsp lukewarm water

250g plain flour *

60g of cocoa or cacao powder

200g caster sugar

100g brown sugar

½ tsp baking powder

½ rsp salt

120ml water

100ml unsweetened non-dairy milk

280ml rapeseed or vegetable oil

1 tbsp vanilla extract or paste

100g dark chocolate – chopped in to small pieces

2 tbsp chopped nuts

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  • to make this gluten free substitute with a gluten free flour and add ¼ tsp xanthan gum

 

 

Grease and line (with greaseproof paper) a cake tin. I used a 20cm x 20cm tin to produce a thicker more ‘cake’ like brownie. Using a square cake tin, as opposed to a round one, also make it easier to portion out the cake

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Preheat the oven 180C/350F/gas4. In a small bowl or cup add the ground flaxseed and water and whisk together leave for 10 minutes

 

In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients ie flour, cocoa/cacao, sugars, baking powder and salt. The carefully add in all the wet ingredients i.e. milk, oil, water, vanilla extract and flaxseed mixture. Using a large spoon gently mix the ingredients until you get a smooth batter. Spoon the batter in to the greased and lined tin

 

Scatter the chopped chocolate over the top, pushing some pieces into the mixture. Then scatter over the chopped nuts.

 

Bake for 25 minutes until the edges start to crack but the middle is still slightly gooey. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin. If you’re not eating it all immediately (with friends and family of course!) then cover with Clingfilm in the tin (to preserve the moisture). They can be kept at room temperature for up to a week. Individual portions can also be wrapped and frozen

vegan brownie

This was made using gluten free flour

 

Here’s a short video showing how the finished cake should look

They can be eaten just as they are, but to zhuzh then up add some black cherries soaked in kirsch and serve it with some non-dairy ice cream

 

 

Bone up on calcium

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

Why should you care about the amount of calcium in your diet?

There is more calcium in the body than any other mineral and it has several important functions.images

These include:

  • helping build strong bones and teeth
  • regulating muscle contractions, including heartbeat
  • ensuring blood clots normally
  • helps in a the absorption of vitamin B12, needed for a healthy nervous system

logoTry this handy calcium calculator  to work out your weekly calcium intake.  If its low just incorporate more of the food below into your daily diet

This week the National Osteoporosis Society issued a press notice with this headline

 

dairyDoes it make you think, are you concerned about your child as they head off too university, move in to their first flat.  Are they confused about what makes a healthy balanced diet, are they concerned about their weight and have tried fad diets or cut out food groups like dairy?

If the answers yes then maybe read on

Good sources of calcium include:

  • IMG_2210milk, cheese and other dairy foods
  • green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage and okra
  • soya beans, tofu and chickpeas
  • soya or other non- dairy drinks and yoghurts with added calcium
  • nuts (especially almonds), tahini and sesame seeds
  • bread and food made with fortified flourmixed nuts
  • fish where you eat the bones, such as sardines and salmon
  • Fresh citrus fruits or calcium fortified orange juice
  • Dried figs – about 6

 

If you are concerned about your calcium (or vitamin D levels, for that matter) then maybe come and see me for a nutrition session.  Call me on 07946 301338

Cancer research UK has stated that dairy products (and non dairy alternatives) are high in calcium, and several studies show a lower risk of breast cancer for women with high calcium intakes or calcium blood levels.

calcium radio nottmBBC Radio Nottingham were also keen to explore this issue and asked me on to the Mark Dennison breakfast show.  Here’s a clip of the interview

 

It is important to make sure your children especially your daughters eat plenty of foods IMG_4234high in calcium so they have good bone density throughout their teens. It is thought that 1 in 10 teenage girls have very low intakes of calcium. By age 20, the amount of bone is at its greatest (called the peak bone mass), and then it slowly but steadily decreases. So, if not enough calcium is taken in during this critical period, less is available in the bones for the rest of life.  Encourage your children to drink and eat dairy and non- dairy alternatives; even low fat if its gets them to eat them!

Calcium friends

Vitamin D – Your body needs vitamin D to help it absorb calcium. It is found in oily fish, liver, fortified spreads and cereals, and egg yolks. Your body also makes its own vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunshine (without sunscreen).

Be active – doing weight bearing exercise like walking, running, dancing, lifting weights and skipping are all good activities to strengthen bones

Magnesium – calcium needs magnesium to aid absorption so eat plenty of green leafy veg, brown rice and nuts

Vitamin K2 – works in conjunction with calcium and vitamin D to keep your bones and heart healthy; found in offal, egg yolks and dairy products

Calcium foes

cola-drinksCoal drinks – Women who drink too many cola type fizzy drinks could have an increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures, because the phosphoric acid in these drinks has the potential to weaken bones. If the drinks also contain caffeine it could affect how much calcium is much absorbed in the body

Protein – Too much protein like read meat and poultry can drain the body of calcium

Salt – If you have a high salt diet, you will excrete a lot of sodium and with it a lot of calcium.  People who consume too much sodium  could face an increased risk of kidney stones.

Veg out restaurant review- Gusto, West Bridgford

Veg out restaurant review- Gusto, West Bridgford

I’d heard mixed reviews about the new Gusto restaurant in West Bridgford (the site of the former Monkey Tree pub), so it was an obvious place to visit to check out their veggie options.

GustoThese days all the info you need is online, a quick look at their menu and I was pleasantly surprised to see a note about vegetarian cheese. That’s something I don’t see every day. It makes life so must easier as a vegetarian to know which of the cheeses are suitable.

As I was making a booking for a large number we had to pre-book which gave me an opportunity to talk through the veggie options. The restaurant was really accommodating and helpful; their goat’s cheese is veggie friendly so that could be substituted for all the other cheeses. They also suggested an option that wasn’t on their regular menu

 

So on Saturday night 11 of us arrived and we were quickly taken to our table. It was a higher than average table with bigger chairs, and when you’re only small they are a bit tricky and heavy to manoeuvre; needles to say lots of shuffling took place!

gusto inside

To say the place was buzzing is an understatement. It was chocker, but that meant (as with many modern establishments) it was very noisy, making it hard to hear everyone.   The noise levels weren’t helped by the occasional clatter of plates and cutlery being dropped by the staff as they descend the stairs with large, full round trays.

NP Gusto

 

My review is also online at the Nottingham Post and will be in the hard copy tomorrow

http://www.nottinghampost.com/gusto-in-west-bridgford-was-really-accommodating-and-helpful-says-veggie-food-reviewer/story-30277092-detail/story.html

Our order was checked for any changes and after 20 minutes or so our starters arrived. My generously proportioned roasted butternut squash and chickpea salad was delicious and looked very healthy. It also happened to be vegan. The other winners were Caesar salad with chicken, mussels, hummus (with a huge flat bread!) and garlic mushrooms. The pate however didn’t pass muster as it was lacking flavour and would have benefited from more bread, but on the whole we were a happy bunch

 

On to the main course I plumped for a dish suggested by the restaurant that wasn’t on their menu ‘sweet and sour aubergine with polenta chips’. I’m not a big sweet and sour fan (it often tastes artificial) but when the plate arrived it smelt amazing, more Asian spices than saccharin sweetness. It was a whole roasted aubergine that had been cooked to the point of collapse; in my opinion the only way to eat aubergine. And the polenta chips were unbelievable; crispy on the outside soft and squidgy in the middle. A big hit with everyone that tried to steal one off my plate

gusto aubergi

My fellow dinners enjoyed their pizzas (lovely thin crispy bases), roast chicken and meatballs. A couple of friends said their tagliatelle and prawns and the cod and lentils were unexpectedly sweet.

 

We toyed with the idea of having the chocolate and hazelnut brownie, the sticky toffee pudding or the mini doughnuts with cream and chocolate sauce. But in the end we were just too full.

 

Overall the restaurant coped well with a large party on a very busy night and for the most part our food was very tasty. I really enjoyed my vegan meal and would be happy to order that again.

 

A few of things to note though; As a veggie/vegan it would be really helpful to have the ‘V’ or ‘VG’ symbol on the menu when making food choices. It looks like the on line menu has changed and my delicious salad is now longer listed, might be worth checking with the restaurant. And my main course wasn’t on the menu so if you are struggling to find veggie and vegan dishes its always worth ringing the restaurant and having a chat. Gusto in particular is very on the ball and helpful.

Veggie lasagne

Veggie or vegan lasagne

The ingredients list for this veggie lasagne may look long, but its very simple to make.  It can be frozen when it’s assembled but not cooked.  Or you can cook it, eat a portion and freeze the other half for another day.  It will also keep in the fridge for up to three days

The quantities can also be doubled or tripled if you want to batch cook or have a family to feed

Serves 2

lasagne8

The tomato sauce

One small onion (75g), finely chopped

1 garlic glove or 1 teaspoon garlic puree

1 tsp olive oil

1 medium sized carrot (75g) finely chopped

approx 75g of red lentils, thouroughly rinsed under cold water or

75g quorn or 37g of each

½ tsp vegetable Marigold vegetable bouillon powder or I stock cube

¼ tsp of chilli flakes or 1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp mixed herbs

½ tin of chopped tomatoes

a big squirt of tomato puree – about 1 tsp

 

The cheese sauce

15g marg/butter/non dairy spread,

15g plain flour and

200ml milk/non dairy.

40g grated strong cheddar/non dairy or 2 tbls of nutritional yeast

½ tsp mustard

 

Pasta – 3 sheets of dried wholemeal egg free lasagne

A foil takeaway container

To make the tomato sauce

Fry the chopped onion in olive oil.

When softened, add the garlic. Fry a little, then add all the remaining ingredients. Plus ½ tin of water. Stir well.

The mixture will be thin and wet, but it will thicken as the lentils cook

Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for about 25 – 30 minutes. Stirring every so often. The sauce should still be quite wet when cooked. Check the seasoning and add salt and black pepper if necessary

lasagne4

 

A recent cookery class client also made this dish.  It was her first time making a lasagne and it turned out great

 

 

 

To make the ‘cheese’ sauce

Melt the spread/butter in a saucepan, Add the flour and mix until it balls together, keep it moving and cook for a few minutes.

Add the mustard and slowly add the milk, and stir into a paste. Keep adding the milk gradually to avoid lumps. Keep stirring. Once all the milk is in, keep stirring until it begins to thicken.

Here are two short videos showing how the sauce will look and why you shouldn’t worry!

Add most of the grated cheese, vegan cheese or nutritional yeast. Leave about ¼ to scatter over the top.

 

Assembling.

Pre heat the oven to 180C

In a dish add a sheet or two of dried wholemeal pasta, then add a layer of tomato sauce. Repeat the pasta/sauce layers, top with some more pasta and add the cheese sauce.

Another short video to show how easy it is to pull it all together

 

Sprinkle the remaining cheese/nutritional yeast over the top.

At this point you can add the foil lid and freeze.  Or pop into the oven for 25 – 30 minutes until the top is bubbling and golden

lasagne1

 

Divide in to two and serve with a large mixed salad.  This is the vegan version made with vegan cheese, nutritional yeast and non dairy milk and butter

lasagne6

Superfoods

Superfoods  – myth or magic?

Are you buying the superfood hype; either literally or figuratively?  These foods have been in the press for the last few years but recently new magic morsels have been added including lentils, quinoa, chills and green tea.

Its worth remembering there is no official definition of a “superfood” and the EU has banned health claims on packaging unless supported by scientific evidence.

So do certain foods deserve that badge of honour?

What makes a food ‘Super'; they often contain higher than average amounts of antioxidants or compounds that can keep the body healthy and potentially help fight some diseases.  In that respect foods like blueberries, broccoli, oily fish, beetroot juice, dark chocolate and to a lesser extent red wine all deserve praise as they have high levels of compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids

homemade chocolate bar

But so do blackberries, carrots, apples, oats, nuts, red cabbage, raspberries, flaxseeds, and most fruits and vegetables.  And importantly they are often cheaper than their ‘superfood’ cousins

The superfood debate got the attention of BBC radio Leicester, so I joined them for a discussion along with Sangita the owner of a local Leicester deli.

Click here to listen to the interview (15 minutes)

https://soundcloud.com/user-95908886/radio-leics-superfood

 

fruit-and-vegTo eat a ‘superfood’ rich diet we agreed that it should contain more fruit and veg than we currently eat.  Incidentally, did you know that only about 30% of the UK adult population get their 5-a-day.

cakesTry and reduce your level of processed foods; anything from ready meals, cured meats to pastries and cakes

Go for variety and moderation; the occasional treat is fine

 

Drink within safe alcohol limits (max 14 units a week) a small glass (125ml) of red wine can be beneficial

Stay hydrated with the original ‘superfood'; Water

In other words adopt a more Mediterranean diet that includes plenty of wholegrain, pulses, vegetables, fruit and olive oil and you will feel “SUPER

 

 

 

Make your own raw chocolate mini Easter eggs

Make your own raw chocolate mini Easter eggs

Learn how to create your own bespoke raw chocolate mini Easter eggs for yourself or a loved one this April

Join Rebecca from vegan pop up Willow and Dove and me, Susan Hart nutrition coach to learn how make raw chocolate from 3 simple ingredients.

vegan chocolate egg

The Easter event will take place at my cookery school in West Bridgford, Nottingham on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 from 6:00 – 7:15 PM

  • How to create your own raw chocolate from scratch at home with minimal equipment and experience
  • The differences and benefits of raw chocolate over commercial chocolate
  • Customise your chocolate eggs with a variety of freeze dried fruits and nuts
  • Take home Easter Eggs in your own customised packaging PLUS mini starter kit to get you started creating your own chocolates at home

All this and lots of tasting too for £25.  click on our eventbrite link to book your place

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/make-your-own-raw-chocolate-mini-easter-eggs-tickets-33315663045

willow & dove chocWe welcome any questions you may have about the evening:

susan@nutrition-coach.co.uk  07946 301338

willowanddovecakes@gmail.com

and look forward to welcoming you this April.