Professional baker-to-be

Professional baker-to-be

Last week I read a post on Facebook from Vicky Leigh asking for volunteers to taste and critique her vegan cake.  Well, it would have been rude not too.  So the following day two generous portions of cake were delivered.

vegan cake

Vicky had already warned me that it was the first time she’d made this banana biscoff cake, based on the ‘Bosh’ boys recipe (with some tweaks) and said the presentation wasn’t right; having run out of icing, it wasn’t looking as good as it could.

Well, I disagree, don’t you?  I think it looks professional and appetising

If you’d like to check out the original Bosh recipe follow a link to their tv channel https://www.bosh.tv/recipes/biscoff-coffee-cake

What did it taste like I hear you ask!

First of all it looked like any other sponge cake.  Now that’s a good thing in my book because some vegan cakes are very solid but Vicky’s cake was light and airy.

vegan cake

 

I bet if you waved that under anybody’s nose they would not assume it was vegan.  The taste was very caramel (thanks to the biscoff biscuits) and the banana didn’t overpower but made it nice and moist.  The butter cream, made with vegan spread was really creamy and not too sweet.

How many of you didn’t know those individually wrapped caramel biscuits you often get at coffee shops with your Americano were ‘accidentally vegan’!

vegan cake

All it all it was a winner and I’d happily pay for a slice with my oaty cappuccino, if it were served in a local coffee shop.

Which might be a possibility because if Vicky’s cakes prove tasty and popular it may become her new line of business.

Being creative is a constant learning exercise and after watching a few more ‘how to’ videos Vicky seems to have mastered the art of presentation.  This is another of her creations this time a simple (anything but!) chocolate cake

vegan cake

Isabel (another taster) had this to say “I tried the chocolate one and it was absolutely delicious, one of the best vegan chocolate cakes I’ve tried. Heaven.”

So here’s to many more vegan cake tasting experiences.   It’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it!

Vicky, the soon to be professional baker has done it again.  This time it’s a simple Victoria sponge, that’s been pimped up with some gorgeous pink frosting

vegan cake 3

 

The inside was as good as the outside

But how did it taste….. wow amazing.  If I served this with a pop of tea no one would think it was vegan.  The cake was moist and light with the right amount of sweet jam and ‘butter’ cream.  The frosting was very light and almost mousse like in its consistency.

vegan cake 4

I asked Vicky about the sugar she had used to make her frosting, and she admitted her usual make of sugar wasn’t available and the alternative just didn’t come top to scratch as it left a felt slightly graining feel.

It just proves every day is a ‘school day’ and there is always something new to lean and an experiment to me conducted.  But if the results are as good as this….Wow!

vegan cake

 

Another slice of Vicky’s vegan cakes made its way to me this week.  It was a variation on the biscoff cake.  It was very moreish, moist and very tasty.  Im not a massive cake eater so I found it a bit too sweet and the icing was a bit grainy.  Vicky explained that crushed biscoff biscuits were used in the icing hence the texture.

vegan cake

But a breakthrough came when we discussed how Vicky could have the caramel intensity without the grainy texture.  This is all part of perfecting the best cake ever, and sadly it may mean more taste testing for me.  Oh well somebodies got to do it!

vegan cake

Japanese Style broth with baked tofu

Japanese Style broth with baked tofu and courgette noodles

tofu

This recipe uses one of my favourite gadgets – the spiralizer (you can also buy a smaller hand held version).  It turns fruit and vegetables into great shapes that will hopefully encourage the whole family to eat more veg and eat less pasta, bread, rice and potatoes.

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If you haven’t got one a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler will work just as well.

 

 

 

This recipe is really tasty and anyone watching their weight or eating as part of the 5:2 fast diet will enjoy the tastes and textures without the excessive calories.

Japanese Style broth with courgette ‘noodles’ – serves 2, 210 calories per serving

1 ltr of boiling water

1 tsp chopped fresh ginger or ginger paste or ½ tsp ground ginger

1 chilli, 2 cloves of garlic chopped

1 tbls miso paste (suitable for vegetarians and vegans)

IMG_13831 tsp each of soy sauce, agave and lemon juice

large pinch of black pepper

1 carrot (100g)  – finely sliced

150g of each – leek (or onion), red pepper, both finely sliced

50g mushrooms or broccoli florets, 2 spring onions – finely sliced

140g courgette turned into ‘noodles’ with a spirialiser

handful of fresh parsley or coriander chopped

tofu

pressed tofu

Baked tofu: ½ block extra-firm tofu (drained and pressed), small drizzle of  olive oil,  3 tsp light soy sauce, 1 – 1½ tsp gochugaru or sriracha sauce

 

 

 

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140g courgette turned into ‘noodles’ with a spirialiser

 

 

 

 

  • Preheat oven to 220C/ gas 7/425F.
  • Cut the tofu into slices. Place it in a mixing bowl and add the olive oil, chilli sauce/paste and soy sauce. You may need to add a splash of water if it’s too thick. Gently mix to combine. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, remove your baking sheet from the oven and flip each piece of tofu. Drizzle any remaining marinade over the tofu and bake for another 10-12 minutes.
  • IMG_9330In a large pan add ginger, chilli, soy sauce, lemon juice, agave, black pepper, garlic and miso paste to the boiling water. Continue to boil for a minute.  Turn down the heat and add the carrots and leek and cook for 2 minutes, add the pepper and mushrooms or broccoli .
broth

prepared by my cooking guest

  • Cook for 3 minutes then add the ‘noodles’ until the vegetables are cooked.
  • Check the seasoning and adjust.

This is now a popular dish for my vegan cooking guests to make

Serve in two large bowls, top with the baked tofu and scatter over the chopped herbs and sliced spring onions

broth

 

Additions

Small handful of unsalted cashew nuts  (28g)- 160 calories

1 tbls sesame seeds – 52 calories

 

Vegan Fruity Flapjacks

Vegan Fruity Flapjacks

What makes these vegan fruity flapjacks more nutritious and healthy than the shop bought varieties is they contain far less sugar, more fruit and no saturated fat.  The texture is less dense and you can really taste al the ingredients rather than an homogenised golden syrup compacted bar. I hope you enjoy them and remember it is a very adaptable recipe, so if you prefer sultanas, nuts, dried fruits or fresh fruits that are in season then add them!

The oats are a great source of soluble fibre, meaning they keep you feeling fuller for longer.  Oats are also great for heart health

Makes 12 pieces 

flapjack

100-150g banana (small- medium) – the really ripe ones that you might otherwise throw away *

50g cooking apples

25g fresh or frozen blueberries

25g  golden syrup or light brown Muscovado cane sugar

150g porridge oats

3tbsp rapeseed, vegetable or melted coconut oil

large pinch cinnamon and nutmeg

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* If you have a few blackened and over ripe bananas, simply peel and chop, put in a bag and freeze until you need them.

Preheat the oven to 1800c (3500f or gas mark 4) and use a greased or lined 17cm square baking tin

Wash, core and chop the apple (don’t peel them), add to a pan with a splash of water and a large pinch of sugar/golden syrup. Cook for 5-8 minutes until soft but not mushy.  When cool you can use a hand blender to make a puree

flapjack

Place the banana in a mixing bowl and mash up with a fork. Add the syrup/sugar and the oil and stir well. Add in the porridge oats, cooled cooked apple, blueberries and spices and mix well.

Place the mixture in the tin ensuring it is evenly spread. Place in the oven for approx 15 – 20 mins until nice and golden

flapjack

Once cooked, cool in the tin slightly for approx 5-10 mins and then cut into squares and place on a cooling rack

flapjack

Leave to cool and enjoy or if you can’t wait enjoy whilst warm with some vegan yoghurt or ice-cream :0)

These were a big hit with the children at Bingham’s Sunday Funday.  They iced them in Tour of Britain yellow

 

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Butternut squash and Chickpea tagine

Butternut squash and Chickpea tagine – serves 4,  approx 350 calories per serving

This is a great meat free Monday recipe – a campaign to encourage people to go meat free at least one day a week.  It is also very versatile and is great with either butternut squash or pumpkin.

moroccan tagine

600 ml (1 pint) boiling water

1 vegetable stock cube, crumbled, or 2 tsp vegetable bouillon powder or paste

1 tsp vegetable oil

1 tsp tomato puree

½ tsp turmeric, ground coriander and cumin

½ tsp of chilli flakes

200g  leeks or onions , washed and thinly sliced

225g sweet potatoes, cut into 1 cm (½ in) cubes

600g of butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 cm (½ in) cubes

 

1 red or green pepper, deseeded and chopped

100g ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped

1 x 400g can chickpeas, drained (keep the liquid)

Salt and pepper

To garnish

30g  pine nuts, 

Chopped parsley and mint or fresh coriander and mint

Optional: pomegranate seeds and hummus

 

 

pumpkins squash

Make the stock in a jug or saucepan with the boiling water and the stock cube, powder or paste.

 

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In a large pan add the oil and fry the butternut squash (or pumpkin), leeks and sweet potatoes for 10 minutes.  Before adding the turmeric, ground coriander, chilli and cumin, cook for 5 minutes.

moroccan tagine

 

Add the tomato puree and red pepper cook for 5 more minutes. Stir to stop it sticking and burning. Add some of the chickpea water if it does stick

 

Add the stock stir in the apricots and chickpeas and simmer for 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.

moroccan tagine

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry non-stick frying pan over a moderate heat, stirring constantly, until just beginning to brown.

pinenuts

Taste the casserole and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.  Ladle it into deep bowls. Sprinkle with the chopped pine nuts and parsley/mint or fresh coriander/mint and serve.

You can also add some brightly coloured pomegranate seeds and a couple of dollops of hummus. And if you’re very hungry add some wholegrain couscous, quinoa or rice

moroccan tagine

 

 

This is one of my cooking guests proudly showing her finished tagine dish

Spicy parsnip and coconut curry

Spicy parsnip and coconut curry

Serves 2

This is a great recipe for using up parsnips and even if they are not your favourite veg I’m sure you will absolutely love this dish

The dish was inspired by a Nigel Slater recipe in the Observer food monthly

1 onion – chopped

1 tsp vegetable or coconut oil

450g parsnips, washed and chopped into chunky batons

1 red chilli or ½ tsp dried chilli flakes

8 fresh/dried curry leave or 2-3 tsp of curry powder/paste

½ tsp mustard seeds and ground turmeric (or fresh turmeric grated)

1 tsp each of ground coriander and cumin

½ tin of chopped tomatoes

2 handfuls of fresh spinach

½ tin of coconut milk

salt and pepper

handful of coriander or mint leaves

parsnip veg

Chop all the veg in to appropriate sizes. In a large pan add the oil and chopped onions. Cook on a medium heat until the onions are golden brown. Grind down the mustard seeds in a pestle and mortar or blender.  Add the finely chopped chilli, curry leaves/powder and spices to the pan, cook for a few minutes until they are fragrant

Add the chunky chopped parsnips and cook for 3-5 minutes. Use a large spoon to move the veggies to stop them burning. Add the tinned tomatoes, then 5 minutes later add the coconut milk and a little salt and pepper.

parsnip veg

Turn up the heat until it bubbles then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes until the parsnips are soft, add the spinach and cover with the hot sauce until the leaves wilt

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Pour in to two bowls, scatter with the coriander and serve with flatbreads or wholegrain rice

parsnip vegIf you would like to learn how to make this dish and other tasty vegan dishes, then why not some to my vegan cooking classes

vegan cookery classes

 

Miso soup

Miso soup – 1 serving 80 calories 1.7g fat

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

In this cold and chilly weather what better way to stay warm than having plenty of miso soup, its simple quick and very satisfying.  And if you are watching your weight this is the perfect low calorie lunch option for all you 5:2 fasters

 

miso soup

the basic miso

2 tsp miso paste (make sure it is suitable for veggies and vegans i.e. no bonito flakes)

1 mug of boiling water

25g soft tofu – cubed

1 spring onion – finely sliced

¼ red pepper, chopped

few flakes of dried chilli

 

20 (large handful) spinach leaves or 1 Nori leaf, shredded

few fresh coriander leaves

  • Mix the miso paste with the hot water in the serving bowl or mug
  • Add in the cubed tofu, chilli flakes, spinach leaves or nori seaweed and sliced spring onion
  • Stir until the leaves are wilted and soft
  • scatter over some chopped fresh coriander (optional)
miso soup

The full works

 

 

IMG_2893Optional extras –  100g cooked sweet potato slices (90 calories), ½ tsp toasted sesame seeds (40 calories), few drops sesame oil (10 calories), 28g/small handful unsalted cashew nuts (150 calories), 2 sliced mushrooms (24 calories), soba noodles (28g will add 90 calories)

Winter vegetable and lentil soup

Winter vegetable and lentil soup

veg soupWhat better way to keep out those chills than have a bowl of warming and nutritious homemade soup. Feel free to adjust the vegetables and add in whatever is to hand.  But always use the lentils as it adds protein and fibre, therefore making the soup really hearty and filling.

 

Makes 4 x 300g servings = which can be frozen

230 calories per portion

250g parnsips

150g swede

200g potatoes

100g leek

150g dried red lentils

1 tsp olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

½  vegetable stock cube or 1 tsp bouillon powder

½ litre of hot water

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

1 chilli or 1 tsp dried chilli

1 bay leave (optional)

Salt and pepper

Dash of lemon juice and a handful of chopped fresh herbs

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Wash all the vegetables but only peel the swede.  Both the parsnips and the potatoes can keep their peel (to retain more fibre and nutrients).  Chop in to bite sized pieces

IMG_2099I use a pressure cooker for this soup as it reduces the cooking time,  But if you don’t have one then use a large pan.  Add the oil to the pan and warm before adding the leeks.  Cook on their own for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally to stop them colouring too much.  Add the rest of the vegetables and stir.  After a few minutes add the chilli, spices, bay leaves, garlic, stock cube dissolved in the hot water and tinned tomatoes.

Give the whole lot a big stir and then add in the dried lentils.  With another big stir

If you are using a pressure cooker at this point add the lid and wait for a steady stream of steam to be produced add the weight, turn down the gas to a simmer and set the timer for 10 minutes.

If you are just using a large pan, cover with a lid, turn down to a simmer and cook for about 30-40 minutes (storing regularly), or until all the veg are nice and soft and the lentils have broken down

Have a taste and then season with salt and pepper and a dash of lemon and some chopped herbs, such as parsley, mint, coriander

IMG_2100You can leave the soup nice and chunky or use a stick blender to make it smooth.  This will thicken the soup so add some more hot water, until you reached the desired consistency.

It may mean that you then get an extra portion so the recipe will have 5 not 4 servings in which case the calorie per portion will reduce to 200

The soup can be kept covered in the fridge for 3 days.  Any uneaten portions can be frozen and defrosted and reheated before eating

As a chunky soup it can quickly be turned in to a versatile casserole by adding cooked veggie/vegan sausages or Quorn

soupAs a smooth soup it can be used as a protein rich topping for jacket potatoes or a filling for a veggie shepherds pie

Please share if you have other creative ways of using this versatile recipe

Speedy stir-fry

Speedy stir-fry – serves 2 or 3

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

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To celebrate the Chinese New year why not cook yourself this vegan speedy stir-fry.

This recipe makes a really quick and tasty light lunch or a more substantial supper dish.  The peanuts and sesame seeds add protein and some useful minerals like iron and magnesium and all the veggies are bursting with vitamins, fibre and antioxidants.  The wholegrain rice also adds some useful protein and fibre.

 

 

 

IMG_36311 packet microwavable wholegrain rice

½ (100g) large onion – sliced

2 (130g) carrots – cut into matchsticks

1 (130g) red pepper – sliced

80g spring greens or spinach or kale- shredded

20g fresh ginger – thin strips

¼ – ½ tsp dried chilli flakes

30g unsalted peanuts or cashews

1 spring onion – sliced

½ tsp soy sauce

1 tsp *toasted sesame seeds

 

 

Heat a wok (or non stick frying pan) until it is really hot and add 1 tsp of vegetable oil. Quickly add the sliced onion and keep them moving in the pan (with a large spoon or chopsticks). After 2 minutes add the carrots. Again move them about to stop them burning. If it looks too dry add a splash of water

 

After another 2 minutes add the pepper, greens, ginger and chili flakes. Cook for 5-8 minutes until the veg soften slightly

 

In the meantime microwave the rice according to the instructions on the packet (usually 2 minutes).  This step can be missed out, just tip the rice straight into the wok and cook for an extra 2 minutes with a splash of hot water

 

IMG_3639Add the steaming rice to the wok and mix in. Add the peanuts, soy sauce and spring onion and again stir to mix

 

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Divide into 2 bowls for a generous evening meal serving (358 calories) or into 3 bowls for a lighter lunch or 5:2 fast diet meal (238 calories). And sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds

 

Now you know how simple it is what are you waiting for?! 

* To toast sesame seeds. Heat a nonstick frying pan – don’t add any oil. Add the sesame seeds and keep moving the pan to stop the seeds burning. They will start to colour and go golden brown after 2-3 minutes. Switch off the heat and allow to cool before tipping into a container with a lid. The toasted seeds will keep for 2-3 months

Vegan sweet pancakes

Vegan sweet pancakes – Makes 8 small pancakes 118 calories each

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

IMG_2659As its Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) tomorrow I thought I would make a ‘free from’ recipe because a number of my clients have intolerances and they miss out on some great meals.  But not this time!

As well as being vegan the pancakes are also gluten free.

They make a great protein packed breakfast as well as a delicious dessert or afternoon snack, with low GI quinoa flour*.  The flaxseeds also add omega 3 fatty acids.  Any leftovers can be reheated for the following day or frozen for another time

When the pancakes cook they are much more delicate than other pancakes so be careful when you turn to flip them over!  Dont worry if they break up they can just be pressed together and they will firm up

 

  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (linseeds)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 250 ml unsweetened soya milk, coconut or almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 125 g quinoa*/coconut/wholemeal flour
  • 1 teaspoon golden caster sugar
  • 1 IMG_2642teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 50 g blueberries or 1 grated apple or pear, plus extra to serve
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • soya yoghurt, maple syrup or agave and sesame seeds, to serve

 

IMG_2643 IMG_2641Whisk together the ground flaxseed and 2½ tablespoons of cold water, then set aside to thicken.

 

Melt the coconut oil in a small pan over a medium heat or microwave on high for one minute, then leave to cool slightly.

IMG_2647Combine the soya, coconut or almond milk and vinegar or lemon juice. Leave to for 5 minutes then add the melted coconut oil and whisk in the flaxseed mixture.

 

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, then make a well in the middle. Gradually pour in the wet mixture, stirring continuously until combined – don’t worry if there are still a few lumps. Fold in the fruit, then set aside, until needed but at least 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature.

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Heat about ½ a teaspoon of coconut oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Turn the heat down to low and place a ladleful of the batter in the pan (one ladleful is enough for one pancake).

Add more ladlefuls of the batter, ensuring they’re nicely spaced out – you’ll need to do this in batches.

 

Cook for around 3 minutes, or until golden underneath and little bubbles start to appear on the surface, Use a palette knife or spatula to carefully flip them over. Cook for a further 2 minutes, or until golden. REMEMBER, these pancakes are much softer than others so flip carefully!

 

IMG_2656Place in the oven to keep warm while you make the remaining pancakes.

 Serve with a dollop of soya yoghurt, a IMG_2684drizzle of maple syrup or agave and extra fruit.  Oranges, banana, kiwi and tinned prunes all work well.

 

 

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* Quinoa flour can be bought from most health food shops but it is easy to make your own for a fraction of the cost. Measure out 125g of uncooked quinoa place in a grinder (I used my ever versatile Nutribullet) and blend until it looks like a fine powder.  And hey presto you have quinoa flour!  You could also make wholemeal rice, millet, oat or barley flour the same way

If you would like to learn more about vegan cooking then why not come to one or more of my vegan cooking classes held in West Bridgford?

vegan cookery classes