Chocolate Nut Muffins

Chocolate Nut Muffins

Today is snow. Heavy snow. I’m kind of over snow to be honest. It’s very pretty but, you know, COLD. I learned a new word today (thanks Twitter!): the Icelandic term: GLUGGAVEÐUR  or “window weather.” Weather that looks lovely from inside your house but is horrible to be outside in. I think that sums it up quite nicely. Our household is the kind of household that is stocked with good coffee and organic food at all times, but lacks things like a working boiler or any kind of insulation. So I am sitting and shivering here at the laptop wearing an insane amount of clothes, but with a full and warm belly.

I wasn’t planning to blog anything today but I promised Sas from the awesome Courage & Spice podcast (have a listen – it’s just lovely) a recipe for these gluten and dairy free muffins so here we are! If you’ve got the ingredients in stock you could be warming your own belly with these in under forty minutes – are you ready? GO!

Preheat the oven to 180c while you combine 200g cashew butter (you can use peanut butter if that’s what you have in), two eggs, 75g soft dark sugar and 50g chopped dark chocolate. Then stir in 200ml of nut milk (yep – dairy milk works fine here too – I just had some almond milk to use up.)

Combine 280g self-raising gluten-free flour with a teaspoon of baking powder and then lightly stir it into the gloopy cashew nut butter mixture. Don’t over stir or you’ll end up with rubbery muffins. Eew!

Put generous dollops of mixture into 12 muffin cases or silicon moulds and bake for 25 minutes. By the time you’ve washed up, cleaned up and made a pot of coffee they’ll be all steamily warm and delicious. You might even get to remove just one of your jumpers. Maybe…


An Easy Curry Recipe

 Due to “technical difficulties” I can’t give you an excerpt from the Detox book this week, but I didn’t want to leave you with nothing at all. I’m nice like that. So, here’s what I made earlier – a hodge-podge of stuff I had kicking around in my tiny fridge. I hope you make some too…

I fried off chopped onion, garlic and minced ginger in a nice big wodge of butter. Chopped some courgettes (zucchini) and threw them in with plenty of minced lamb and browned that off. Pondered life for a while. Remembered I was supposed to be cooking dinner. Tipped in a ton of curry powder, a couple of chopped tomatoes and some tomato purée. Stuck a lid on and cooked some rice. Poured in some frozen peas. Tasted it, seasoned it, served it all up and took it all into the garden for my famished family to feast on! Fabulous!

Hot Vanilla Shake

I’m experimenting with using Dave Asprey’s fabulous Bulletproof Diet at the moment and am love, love, loving how it’s making me feel. Except for experiencing one very confusing emotion this week. I kinda did love it, but it was unnerving because it was new, and even good new things can be scary sometimes. If any of you can tell me what this emotion is called I’d be very grateful. Right now I’m going to have to name it total-inability-to-beat-myself-up-over-something-that-may-or-may-not-have-been-my-fault-and-may-not-even-matter-anyway.

There were a couple of (entirely unrelated) times this week when I said things that, if my brain had engaged quicker than my mouth or texting finger I probably would have chosen not to. Now normally I’d have then spent the next 24 hours replaying those sentences over and over, blaming myself, wondering if I’d messed up everyone’s lives and lost every last scrap of decency I’d previously clung onto. Adrenaline would have clouded my ability to focus or do anything reasonably useful towards myself, my family or my work. But instead I filed both slip-ups under L for lets-see-how-it-goes. And, that was as far as the shockwaves went. Because I didn’t agonise I didn’t make anything worse. In fact, it turns out that nothing I’d said was of any consequence to anyone at all. Nobody noticed let alone cared.

Both situations were ultimately humbling. Anxiety kind of over-inflates your every self-perceived dud action to something akin to world destruction. Not experiencing this jittery-brained, stomach-lurching , hand-trembling state was like waving off an old, but controlling close friend. And that, my lovelies, is one of the very best reasons for laying off the grains and sugar, while spooning butter and MCT oil into your mouth like your very life depends on it, I can possibly give you.

Hmm. That was a much longer introduction to a post than I meant it to be. Shall I shut up now and give you a recipe?

Ok, this is a nice, warming, calming and satiating drink for any time of day. I made it late one afternoon when I didn’t want a Bulletproof Coffee but I did want some fat and flavour to keep some carb cravings at bay.

Blend 50g unsalted butter (from grass-fed cows), a tablespoon of coconut butter, a tablespoon of MCT (or coconut) oil, 1.5 teaspoons of truvia, one teaspoon of vanilla powder and two teaspoons of gelatin with a mug of very hot water . You want it really frothy, and you want to serve it in a big, sturdy mug. And you want to enjoy that feeling of not-feeling-responsible-for-everyone-and-everything because the world will carry on regardless. I promise you!

Salted Caramel Doughnut Muffins

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Anybody on any kind of calorie controlled regime please look away right now. Or be prepared to work out for about a week extra to run these babies off. You could try exerting self control but if you manage to stop after just one of this crunchy, fluffy, gooey, sweet n salty muffins the weight of your superiority must weigh heavier than any weight you might put on so who wins now?

I’m rambling again aren’t I? It may be the sugar. I’ll give you my recipe (inspired by Susannah Blake’s in Muffin Magic) now before I pass out in a coma…

Preheat your oven to 200c. Melt 75g butter and mix it with 100g yoghurt, 150g milk or dairy-free substitute, 1 beaten egg and half a teaspoon of salted caramel food flavouring.

Combine 300g self raising flour, 1tsp baking powder and 125g sugar before pouring in the milk mixture and gently stirring (not too thoroughly or your muffins will be rubbery.)

Pop a spoon of mixture into 12 muffin cases or moulds, followed by 1/2 a teaspoon of caramel sauce (Bonne Maman do a fabulous one). Top with the remaining muffin mixture and bake for 20 mins. Then set the table nicely and make sure you have friends or family round to support you. These are to share. Got that? Share. I have faith in you. You can do this…


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.