Chocolate Date Mousse

More sugar-free desserts. Yes, please. My kids grab their spoons and dig in!

This chocolate mousse (made with dates) is very rich and will really satisfy your sweet tooth.

As with other sugar-free desserts, it should still be treated as a treat. No, there is no refined white sugar, but it still is not like eating carrots or lentils!

But how delicious! Yes, you can give it to the kids, but this is also a grownup-kind-of-dessert that you could serve without shame after a dinner party.

Ingredients

200g pitted fresh dates

400ml thick coconut milk or coconut cream

50g unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 T melted coconut oil

60g fresh raspberries, plus extra to serve

Method

Blend the dates to a paste in a food processor. Add all of the remaining ingredients, except the extra raspberries and blend until smooth.

Pour into six ramekins and chill for at least three hours. Serve topped with extra raspberries.

You can also add whipped cream on top, or substitute cashew cream or whipped coconut cream to keep it dairy-free.

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Raw Chocolate Fudge

Serve this to your kids (or friends or anyone) and they might say, “H’mmm tastes a bit different, but I’m not sure why. May I have another piece please?”

You can keep the secret if you like, but I’ll just come out with it: tahini. Nearly a full jar of tahini. Believe it or not, it actually works.

Yes, you can eat chocolate fudge — maybe not guilt-free, but knowing you are getting a hefty helping of sesame seeds. No butter or sugar in sight.

Plus, it has only seven ingredients and will only take a couple of minutes to make. What is not to love?

The amazing Barbara of Mission Wellness shared this with me, and I think that My Darling Lemon Thyme was her inspiration.

Ingredients

1/2 cup pure maple syrup (or date syrup or honey)

3 T virgin coconut oil

340g tahini

3 T of raw cacao nibs, plus extra to sprinkle

2 T good quality cocoa powder or cacao powder

2 tsp vanilla extract

Sea salt flakes

Method

Line a tin (about 20cm square) with baking paper.

Gently heat the maple syrup and coconut oil in a pan until just melted. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients except for the sea salt, quickly mixing to form a smooth and runny paste.

Transfer to the tin, scatter the top with extra cacao nibs and a good sprinkling of sea salt.

Freeze for at least four hours or overnight. Cut into squares and serve immediately, as it melts fast. Squares can be stored in a sealed container.

 

 

Apple Banana Zucchini Muffins

I can’t resist muffins. I am always in search of the perfect healthy treat for the lunchbox, and I think this one ticks the boxes. These muffins are sweetened only with maple syrup and fruit. They taste moist and delicious, and all my kids tucked in when these came out of the oven.  The recipe is adapted from Cookie & Kate, where you can find a wealth of delicious muffin recipes.

Ingredients

1 ¾ cups spelt flour (or fine whole wheat flour)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp salt

⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil

½ cup maple syrup

2 eggs

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

1 mashed banana

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups grated apple (Granny Smith or another tart apple works best)

½ cup grated zucchini (squeeze out the liquid after grating)

 

Method

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oil and maple syrup and mix well. Add the eggs, then the yogurt and banana and vanilla.

Add the grated apple and zucchini to the dry ingredients and stir to coat them. Add the wet ingredients to the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix to combine everything.

Pour the batter into 12 large muffin cups, or into mini muffin cups. (I like to use silicon liners.) You can sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar, if you like. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Soba Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu

Easy, delicious dinner for everyone. (Maybe not all the kids will eat all the different parts, but you don’t have to mix it all together until the end, so you can personalize each bowl, and everyone will at least eat some of it!) I’ve served this to lots of guests, and haven’t found anyone yet who doesn’t like it. The sauce is so very yummy. It might seem a little bit complicated the first time you make it — and there are a few steps — but it actually comes together really easily. And the roasted broccoli — I could eat it every single day.

If you haven’t eaten buckwheat soba noodles, they are a worth looking for. You can make this with any noodles, really, but buckwheat soba noodles take it to another level. Ditto with the other ingredients that you may not have in your pantry. I think you will find the little extra effort it takes to source them will be worth it, and you’ll end up making this dish enough times that you will end up using them all.

This recipe is just slightly adapted from the wonderful book Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte.

Ingredients:

Sauce:

3 T toasted sesame oil

2 T tahini

2 T agave nectar

Grated zest and juice of one lime

3 T soy sauce

Small piece of fresh ginger, finely grated

Other ingredients:

1 bunch broccoli

Extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

Pinch of sea salt

1 package of firm tofu

300 gram/10.5 oz package of buckwheat soba noodles

3 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

2 T sesame seeds

Method:

Preheat the oven to 425 F/215 C.

In a small bowl or jar, mix together the sauce ingredients until smooth.

Cut the tofu into cubes, gently mix with a few spoonfuls of olive oil, spread onto a lined baking tray, sprinkle with salt, and place into the oven. Turn the cubes over every 8 minutes or so, until all sides are browned — about 20 minutes.

Cut the broccoli into florets. Don’t be afraid to include the stems. Pour a few spoonfuls of olive oil over the broccoli and stir, then spread the broccoli onto a baking tray. Sprinkle the sea salt and garlic over it. Place the tray into the hot oven and roast for exactly 15 minutes. When you take it out, roughly rough with a large knife into smaller pieces.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of salted water, then add the buckwheat soba noodles and cook according to the package instructions.

Chop the spring onions and cilantro.

In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients together: the noodles, tofu, broccoli, sauce, green onions and half the coriander. Divide into bowls, sprinkle the remainder of the coriander and the sesame seeds on top, and serve.

Or, toss together whichever ingredients people will eat and personalize each bowl. In my house, two kids will just eat noodles with sauce and tofu, one kid will eat the broccoli as well, and their dad will eat the noodles, sauce and broccoli, but not the tofu! I think the mixture of everything together is heaven. Bon appetit!

 

Lentil and Quinoa Burgers

img_3785I always think veggie burgers are a good way to get some healthy stuff into the kids. I often just throw together whatever leftover cooked vegetables and grains are in the fridge, mix with some spices, binders (like oats, breadcrumbs or cereal), seeds and beans, and fry. It can be hard to make the same things twice. This version I created this week, with lots of protein-rich lentils and quinoa, was exceptionally popular among the little people — I think Zach may have eaten eight small burgers at dinner. I’m definitely planning to make this one again.

You can skip some of the steps to make the process quicker, but toasting and sautéing first improves the overall finished flavor.

But once you get the feel for the necessary texture, you can mix and match ingredients and create your own favorite burger. It’s hard to go wrong.

This recipe is especially for Angela!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa (or about 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa)

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans

1 shallot or small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

few sprigs of fresh thyme

2 cups cooked green or brown lentils

1 T tomato paste

1 T olive oil

2 T soy sauce

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 small courgette, finely grated, with liquid squeezed out

1 cup oats

1 1/2 cups crushed cornflakes or breadcrumbs

Method:

First, toast the quinoa in a dry cast iron pan until it begins to pop. Then pour into a pot and cook in 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock, or salted water. It’s done when the liquid has been absorbed — about 20 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, toast the sunflower seeds and nuts in the dry cast iron pan until they are just slightly browned. Then remove and grind in a food processor until they are crumbs.

Now add some olive oil to the cast iron pan and sauté the shallot (or onion) and garlic. When soft, add them to the food processor. Add the fresh thyme and blend.

Add the cooked lentils to the food processor and pulse for just a few seconds more so the lentils are just partly blended.

Remove the mixture from the food processor and place in a large bowl. Add the tomato paste, olive oil, soy sauce, cumin, grated courgette, oats and cornflakes (or breadcrumbs) to the bowl. Mix well.

(If you would like to add a beaten egg at this point to aid in binding, you can, but I found that they held together well even without the egg, helped by the oats.)

Form into patties (I like to use a small ice cream scoop with a lever) and drop onto the hot cast iron pan, in a little oil. Press down with a spatula turner and flip over when browned.

Serve warm. You can eat them like burgers, in bread, or I like them just plain, next to a baked potato. The kids like to pick them up and eat them with their fingers.

Freeze any leftovers.

Cornbread Muffins

 

img_3782

I have tried so many cornbread recipes and variations, and I think this ticks the most important boxes: easy, relatively healthy and delicious. The kids ate them all for dinner tonight, and clamoured for more. So yummy right out of the oven, spread with a little butter, next to a hot bowl of potato soup.

Ingredients:

1 cup milk (I use almond milk)

1 T apple cider vinegar

1 egg

1 cup fine or medium cornmeal

1 cup plain flour

1 T sugar

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 F/200 C.

In a small bowl or measuring jug, mix the apple cider vinegar into the milk. Wait a few minutes until the milk looks soured. Add the egg and mix well.

In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir only until incorporated (not too much).

Pour the batter into 12 large muffin cups. Alternatively, pour into an oiled cast iron frying pan.

Put into the oven and bake 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Best served warm.

 

Anytime Granola

IMG_2939My mom and dad both always made granola, and later Ansley kept me supplied with delicious granola based on her grandmother’s recipe. When she left, I was forced to finally make my own. And I discovered how easy it is.

I love granola on my oatmeal in the morning, by the handful when I am just passing the kitchen, and on top of Greek yogurt with honey and blueberries in the evening.

I must admit that the boys prefer their granola without whole seeds, without nuts that are too chunky and without dried fruit. But I really love the dried fruit, especially. So I have included it in the recipe here, even though to strictly fit within the parameters I have given myself for this blog, I should have left it out!

Anyway, here is my current recipe, inspired by Ansley and based loosely on Oh She Glows‘ granola clusters recipe.

Ingredients

1 cup almonds, divided

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds, divided

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

1 T flax seeds

1 cup other nuts (pecans, walnuts, cashews)

3 1/2 cups oats

2/3 cup dried fruit (this is optional. My preference is cranberries and papaya chunks – some others, like raisins, tend to burn)

1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup water

Method

Turn the oven on very low heat, 75 degrees C, 160 degrees F.

Put 1/2 cup of the almonds, 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds and 1 T flax seeds into a food processor and blend until they become a fine meal. Transfer into a large bowl.

(Alternatively, blend all of the pumpkin seeds, so no whole ones are left for little people to find and complain about.)

In the food processor, blend the remaining 1/2 cup almonds with the other 1 cup of nuts, but only for about 5 seconds, so that there are some larger pieces left. Transfer into the bowl.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, oats, dried fruit, coconut, cinnamon and salt and mix well.

Add the maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and water and mix very well. The longer you mix, the more the oats break down and become sticky, which will help your granola bake into clusters.

Spread the mixture in a thin layer onto two rimmed baking sheets, and press it down with the back of a wooden spoon.

Place in the warm oven and let it dry and bake for about 6 hours. (I usually put it in the oven before I go to bed, and then wake up to a lovely nutty smell in the morning.)

Turn the oven up to 150 C/300 F and let the granola bake and brown for another 15 minutes. Make sure you take it out before it gets too brown. (It’s easy to leave it in too long at the higher temperature, but it can burn easily, so be careful.)

Leave on the pan until it cools, then store in a sealed container or in the freezer. (I can’t help eating lots while I am putting it away!)