Raw Salted Caramel Slice.

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My new taste craze is Salted Caramel. Yesterday I was going to give you a disgustingly indulgent, high sugar recipe liable to give you hardened arteries just from looking at the picture. But we ate the sweet, gooey and crumbly items so fast that there wasn’t a chance to get a photo. If it’s any consolation we all burnt our tongues. I’ll make them again next week, just for you, and take some pics.

But in the meantime, those lovely raw vegan foodies on Instagram are posting a lot of caramel tasting goodies at the moment based on blended dates. Not wanting to be off-trend I thought I’d give it a go too. But, in my usual slap-dash fashion I didn’t think to write down any quantities. But you’ll figure it out. From desperation if nothing else. In the words of En Vogue (off-trend / En Vogue – see what I did there?) “and it goes a little something like this…

Soak dried dates in a bit of water (about 4/1) and set aside. Then blitz almonds, flax, coconut oil, agave and a few drops of vanilla (for approximate quantities click here.) and press down into a tin, flan dish or muffin pan. Blitz the dates with a bit of agave and a pinch or so of sea salt before spreading atop the almond mix. Then melt coconut oil, agave and cacao together before pouring over the dates. Freeze for an hour and you’re good to go. No tongue burning, no refined sugar and no guilt unless of course you’ve eaten more than your fair share. (Shame on you!)

OXO Good Grips Julienne Peeler

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I’ve got a new piece of kitchen kit! Cheap as chips, or at least as cheap as battered cod ‘n’ chips for two, and much healthier. A julienne peeler works like a potato peeler but makes lovely noodles out of your veg. Courgettes (zucchini) are visually and nearly texturally indistinguishable from egg noodles within minutes. I’ve tried carrots too (fantastic) but nothing else currently in my fridge presented themselves cheerfully for duty so I’ll have to put my thinking cap on. Any ideas gratefully accepted!

The salad pictured is julienned carrot and courgette; chopped cucumber, spring onion, celery and pepper. After I took the photo I stirred in a dressing of peanut butter, light olive oil, lime juice, sesame seeds, chilli and a pinch of brown sugar. Try it, it’s like a party for your mouth!

Juice Cleanse. Day Seven

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So I’m feeling pretty chuffed with myself! Seven days on fresh fruit and vegetable juices, some with blended fruit and/or live yoghurt; herbal teas and plenty of water. Nothing else. I’ve declined the plentiful chocolate biscuits at work, made a hot (and tortuously fragrant) meal for my family each night, made lattes (vanilla, with hand whisked frothy milk and cocoa sprinkled on top. Mmmmm….) and scrolled through mouth-wateringly beautiful food photos on my Instagram feed. And I didn’t even lick my fingers!*

In return for my uncharacteristic willpower I’ve been rewarded with noticeably improved skin, sparkly eyes, a clear head, the rare ability to wake up easily in the morning (!), a marked reduction in anxiety, a 7lb weight loss and that lovely confidence boost you get from having achieved what you set out to do. I’d previously done a three day and a five day juice cleanse but, being the natural glutton that I am, didn’t know if I had it in me to go for longer. And despite inventing a new dessert in my dream last night (battered rice pudding with custard anyone?!) I obviously do! Huzzah!

If you’d like to make the juices above (and you can find the others I made here ) they are as follows:

TL: pineapple, spinach and orange blended with banana, coconut water and spirulina.
TR: apple, pear, cucumber and mint.
BL: carrot, apple, whole lemon, cucumber and broccoli stem.
BR: apple and pear blended with yoghurt, banana and blueberries.

That last one was, quite simply, amazing. I’ll be having that one quite often in the future.

However today, quite soon, possibly even right now, I’m gonna have a salad, with crisp Ramiro peppers, thinly sliced cucumbers, exploding cherry tomatoes, crunchy alfalfa sprouts, EVOO, balsamic and maybe a teaspoon of creamy tahini. My mouth is watering already, I’m gone, see ya!

* I may have bitten my scrumptious daughters once or twice, but as I did it very gently I don’t think it counts…

Juice Cleanse. Day Three.

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On a roll with my resolution to Eat Better I woke up on Thursday morning with the realisation that I was ready for another juice cleanse (or fast, or detox, whatever you want to call it.) But, in order to make this one last a bit longer than the one I did back in October I’ve decided to be less strict so I’ve also used yoghurt and I’m blending in fresh fruits for texture and a bit more sustenance. I’m not sure how long I want to keep this up for. Probably a week. But I’ll see how it goes. So far, so good! Having avoided coffee, refined sugar and bread for a week or so beforehand has made a massive difference. No withdrawal symptoms, no cravings. Huzzah!! I’m making a litre of juice/smoothie in the morning, drinking half for breakfast and storing half in the fridge for lunch. Then doing the same mid afternoon. And lots of herbal teas because I’m missing the warmth of a hot meal a little bit.

The delicious smoothies pictured above contain the following:
TL: apple and carrot juice with yoghurt and raspberries.
TR: pineapple, apple and spinach with banana and spirulina.
BL: apple, broccoli stem, blood orange and beetroot with apple cyder vinegar.
BR: (I’ve made a variation of this every morning) apple, spinach, celery, cucumber, courgette (zucchini), broccoli stem and peeled lime with avocado, powdered wheatgrass and probiotic capsules.

If you would like a few more recipes (I’ll be using them again over the next few days) click here. Do you juice? Tell me your successes, whether recipes or results.

Raw chocolate with Macadamias and Toasted Almonds

I treated myself to a few books on eating raw recently and the cover of Jessica Fenton’s “Jessica’s Raw Chocolate Recipes” kind of sung to me, siren like. It’s a treasure trove of drinks, truffles and puddings all based on cacao powder, butter and nibs. Her Winter Warming Drinking Chocolate (OK, so I made that on the same day I bought the book) is beyond decadent and so it was only going to be a matter of time before I tried out another recipe. Unfortunately few of the ingredients required exist in my tiny food cupboard so while I knew a bit of experimentation was called for I needed a nice simple recipe to get going with. Luckily I had most of what I needed for her Raw Chocolate-covered Brazils and so today, as I wait in for a delivery, potter through the housework and listen to the rain hammering down outside, I’m indulging in these beauties.

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I toasted 200g almonds and blitzed half of them to a powder along with 50g macadamias. Melted 120g cacao butter and then whisked in 120g agave syrup, 5 heaped tbsp cacao powder, a pinch of sea salt and the ground nuts. Poured the mixture into a 15cm square silicon tray, mixed the rest of the almonds and about 100g macadamias. Froze the lot for half an hour and then cut into shards.

I’m impressed with just how easy these were to make. And also how successful and ridiculously tasty they are considering I didn’t have the required Brazil nuts, cayenne pepper or pink crystal salt. And while they are pretty pricy it’s true, you really don’t need that much for a chocolate hit. I’m going to try and make these last, but I’m not promising anything. Not. A. Thing.

Eating better

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Armed with my deliberately vague 2014 resolution but wanting a bit more structure for this week I thought I’d make some temporary tweaks to my dietary intake in order to offset the devil-may-care attitude I held over the holiday period. These tweets (yikes, nearly wrote twerks!) were as follows:
Cut out caffeine.
Avoid refined sugar
Eat predominantly raw vegan foodstuffs for breakfast, lunch and snacks.

Just for a bit, and subject to immediate change as and when the mood takes me. Well, so far it’s going ok. I am eating better and still thoroughly enjoying a hot, cooked meal with my family in the evening.

I don’t usually drink much coffee for good reason – I like it heavily sugared and with lots of milk, preferably cream. (Make that double cream. Shhhh…) As you can see, it makes sense to limit it at the best of times. But as I’ve also decided to avoid refined sugar (just for a while remember, let’s not go overboard) I might as well leave it out altogether. As for sugar itself I seem to be getting through my agave syrup pretty quickly this week, so maybe I shouldn’t be quite so free and easy with the raw cheesecakes and raw chocolate recipes either. But… Little steps. I am not, I repeat NOT touching any of the biscuits at work or helping myself to any of my daughters’ leftover Christmas chocolate.

I wanted to share with you my lovely lunch today. Well, not literally as I’ve finished it, but the details at any rate. Considering I could happily eat fried egg on hot, buttered toast for lunch every day of my life I’ve had to challenge myself to sort a suitably tasty, but fast to prepare alternative. The salad pictured above ticks both those boxes. Lots of texture, loads of taste, keeps-you-full until dinnertime, takes less than ten minutes to prepare.

Want some? Here’s how…

Chop / tear and arrange a basic salad of whatever is in your fridge. (Crisp lettuce, tasty cucumber, juicy baby tomatoes, zingy spring onions is a delicious base, but substitute whatever you fancy.)

Blitz 1 cup nuts, 1/2 cup ground flaxseed, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic and a pinch of salt. Shake some over your salad and save the rest in the fridge (you can shape into balls, burgers or sausages first if you like.)

Make this fabulous dressing (which I’ve tweaked a bit according to what I’ve got in stock) by Matthew Kenney by blitzing 1 cup cashews, 1 cup water, 2 tbsp tahini, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 2 tbsp ginger, chilli to taste and 1/4 cup agave. Spoon some over and store the rest in the fridge.

Eat. Enjoy. Feel refreshed and virtuous. Finish with a herbal tea.

Cinnamon and Almond Raw Cookies.

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If you’ve ever found yourself too stuffed to eat cookies warm, tempting and fresh from the oven because half the raw dough found its way into your mouth earlier (how does that happen?) then this is the recipe for you. And it’s really healthy so you don’t need to feel guilty. At all! Think of it as my Christmas present to you.

Throw one cup almonds, half a cup ground flaxseed, one and a half tablespoons coconut oil, one teaspoon cinnamon and one and a half tablespoons agave syrup in a food processor. Whizz into a nut butter consistency then press into six silicon muffin moulds. Decorate with an almond and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

I’ve been making a savoury version of these for ages (I’ll post it soon if you like) but only thought of this as a sweet recipe this morning. Amazing what you can come up when you discover there’s no biscuits in the house on your day off. I’m pretty sure they’ll stand up to experimentation too. Orange zest and dried cranberries? Toasted hazelnuts and cacao? Pecan and maple syrup? I think that coffee and walnut might be worth a try too. Right, I’m off to have another, they’re a bit sticky and I don’t like to smear my phone screen up too much… Have fun!