April 15 2017

Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Fridge Cake (Dairy Free No Bake Cake)

No bake cakes are quick and easy to make and this vegan and gluten free chocolate fridge cake is no exception. These are good activity for young children as they do not require an oven to be used. Fridge cakes can be varied in many ways to suit your individual or family’s taste. Other items such as dried fruits, vegan marshmallows, chopped or whole nuts and flavourings such as mint or orange essence could be added to the mixture.

The finished vegan and gluten free chocolate fridge cake can also be decorated in a variety of ways: for example with fresh or dried fruits, nuts, piped icing (made using icing sugar and water), grated vegan chocolate, vegan chocolate buttons or with any commercially available cake decorations that are vegan and gluten free such as sprinkles or edible glitter.

 

Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Fridge Cake

 

Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Fridge Cake

  • 200g (7oz) vegan and gluten free biscuits
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 tbsp vegan margarine
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup or agave nectar
  • pinch salt
  • 100g (3.5oz) vegan dark chocolate, (or vegan milk chocolate if preferred)
  • Strawberries, halved, to decorate

 

  1. Line a container with foil or cling film.
  2. Put the biscuits into a mixing bowl and break into small pieces using the end of a rolling pin.
  3. Melt the margarine, syrup or agave and chocolate over a low heat, stirring.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the biscuits pieces and mix well so that they are all coated.
  5. Pour the mixture into the lined container and press down firmly. Place the halved strawberries on top.
  6. Cover and place in the fridge for 3 hours (or overnight is fine).
  7. When you are ready to serve, remove the container and foil/cling film and cut the cake into squares with a sharp knife.

If you have made my vegan and gluten free chocolate fridge cake it would be great to hear what you think or what variations you have given a try. I really like the cake made using mint dark chocolate as I am a big mint fan. My son loves marshmallows so is always happy when we have some to add. Honeycomb is also a really nice addition and makes the cake extra crunchy!

 

Ingredients Profiles For Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Fridge Cake

Cocoa

Cocoa is the substance that is left after cocoa butter is extracted from cacao beans and is also known as cocoa powder, cacao or cocoa solids. This brown powder contains several minerals including calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc as well as being rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are believed to be helpful in preventing illness such as heart disease and stroke. Cocoa contains phenethylamine which acts as a mood lifer and natural anti-depressant. Cocoa may also have the ability to boost endorphin and serotonin levels which both increase feelings of happiness.

The flavonoids in cocoa are part of a group of antioxidants called polyphenols. These are particularly high in minimally processed and raw cocoa powder as they have bitter taste and so are removed in some products. An article in Science Daily stated that drinking cocoa can help to fight cancer and heart disease. Cocoa may also be useful in lowering LDL cholesterol, reducing the risk of blood clots, lower high blood pressure and in boosting cognitive performance.

In contrast to all its potential health benefits cocoa does contain caffeine which can have a negative effect on the health of many people. Caffeine can cause insomnia, increase heart rate and blood sugar levels and can result in a physical dependence if used regularly, especially in sensitive individuals.

 

Dark Chocolate

When eaten in moderation dark chocolate has a number of health benefits. Studies have shown that eating a small amount of dark chocolate 2-3 times a week can help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow and help to prevent the formation of blood clots. It may also help to protect against hardening of the arteries. The phenethylamine content of dark chocolate encourages your brain to release endorphins which increase feelings of happiness.

Dark chocolate has been shown to improve blood flow to the brain and so may aid cognitive functions. It does contain caffeine; however it is much less than is found in coffee. 1.5oz of dark chocolate contains approximately 27mg of caffeine compared to the 200mg of caffeine contained in an 8oz cup of coffee.

The mild stimulant, theobromine is found in dark chocolate and has been shown to lower the risk of dental cavities (as long as good dental hygiene is followed) as it hardens tooth enamel.

Dark chocolate contains several vitamins and minerals that are needed for good health. These include potassium, copper, magnesium and iron. Iron helps to prevent anaemia, magnesium helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease and copper and potassium are known to protect against stroke and heart ailments.

 

Strawberries

Strawberries are a commonly used and loved fruit, popular with children and adults alike. They are rich in vitamins and minerals including folate, potassium, manganese, fibre, magnesium and vitamin C as well as antioxidants.

Strawberries contain flavonoids, phenolic phytochemicals and elagic acid, all of which help to ensure good eye health and help prevent eye damage and problems caused by harmful oxidants. The potassium found in these berries can also help to correct any issues relating to the pressure within the eyes.

The vitamin C in strawberries is a great boost to the immune system and is a well-known cure for common coughs and colds as well as having a role in the healing of infections. Vitamin C helps the body to neutralise free radicals and prevent healthy cells from becoming diseased or cancerous. The flavonoids present in strawberries have excellent antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties.

Strawberries are a rich source of potassium and magnesium which are both good at lowering high blood pressure. Potassium eases the flow of blood around the body by relaxing the arteries and so helps to keep cells oxygenated and working to their full potential.

 

vegan and gluten free chocolate fridge cake
Photo source – AgelessVisionsPhoto, [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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April 3 2017

Millet and Bean Gluten Free Vegan Falafel

gluten free vegan falafel

I created this gluten free vegan falafel recipe as I really like falafel and find them a versitile food. They can be served in pitta bread with salad, with chips and veg, with salad or even in a sauce as you would meatballs. Unfortunatly I have a mild allergy to chickpeas and so rarely eat them. They also often contain wheat flour, especially when bought. I started out making this gluten free vegan falafel and then decided I could boost these delicious balls some more with the addition of millet. I chose the healthier option of baking rather than frying the falafel and squished them flat a little but you can leave them the more traditional ball shape if prefered.

 

Health and Nutritional Benefits

Millet

Millets are a group of grasses that are grown as cereal crops for animal and human foods. Millet can be eaten as a grain and is also available as flour. Millet is rich is iron, copper, manganese and phosphorus and has a similar protein content to wheat. However it does not contain gluten so is a useful choice for anyone who wishes or needs to avoid gluten.

Millet has a good level of B vitamins, especially niacin, B6 and folic acid. Millet can be used in a similar way as rice and can be eaten hot or cold (cooked and then cooled). Millet is easy to digest and can help prevent constipation.

Haricot Beans

These beans are also known as navy or Boston beans and are generally very easy to find in the United Kingdom and USA. Haricots are a small, oval white bean and contain a high percentage of protein as well as other nutrients including carbohydrates, fibre, calcium, zinc, potassium and iron. They are low in fat and 1 half cup of cooked beans contains approximately 100 calories.

Onions

Onions have a great range of nutritional and health benefits. They are high in chromium which can help to maintain good hormone levels and be effective in treating pre-menstrual tension symptoms. Studies on diabetes have also shown that chromium can also be helpful in decreasing fasting blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels and decrease triglyceride levels. Eating raw onions also encourages the production of good cholesterol (HDL) which can help to keep your heart health.

There are also many natural remedies that use onions. One of these is too apply onion juice to bee stings in order to reduce pain and the sensation of burning. Rubbing a raw onion on mosquito bites is also said to help relieve the itching and any allergic reaction. This is due to the anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties contain in the onion.

gluten free vegan falafel
Knoblauch 2995, [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Garlic

Garlic has been long valued for its culinary use and health benefits. Sanskrit records show that garlic was used it remedies as far back as 5000 years ago and stories suggest that a daily garlic ration was given to the pyramid builders in Ancient Egypt in order to help keep them fit and strong. Garlic contains many vitamins and minerals including manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, selenium, phosphorus and calcium.Garlic is useful for fighting bacterial and fungal infections as well as viruses. Allergies and adverse reactions to garlic are rare though some people may experience indigestion, intestinal gas and diarrhea when eating or using large doses of garlic in remedies.

 

Gluten Free Vegan Falafel Recipe

  • 1 400g (15oz) can haricot beans, drained
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup millet, cooked
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp millet flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/360F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Pulse the beans in a food processor until there are no more whole beans.
  3. Fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until they are soft and cooked through.
  4. Combine the pulsed beans with the onion, garlic, millet, millet flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  5. Shape heaped tablespoons of the mixture into balls and flatten slightly.
  6. Place the falafel onto a greased or lined baking tray and cook for 10 minutes at 180C/360F/Gas Mark 4.
  7. Once thoroughly cooked serve the falafel with salad and gluten free pitta bread or wraps.

 

Recipe Notes

Other gluten free flours can be used to replace the millet flour if you wish.

The water content of the beans and other ingredients can vary so if you find that the falafel mixture is too wet to shape stir in more flour a little at a time. If the mixture is too dry add more water a teaspoon at a time.

Beans other than haricot can also be used in this recipe but may change the final taste. Dried beans can also be used but will need to be soaked overnight and then cooked first.

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March 29 2017

Sweet Potato, Bean and Spinach Vegan and Gluten Free Curry

My favourite plant based curry is sweet potato, chickpea and spinach. A restaurant we sometimes go to has a delicious one on their menu so although they don’t have many vegan and gluten-free options I don’t mind so much. However, a few years ago I discovered that I have a mild allergy to chickpeas and although it’s not serious and medication does help, I prefer not to eat them very often. Sometimes I make this vegan and gluten free curry and just leave out the chickpeas, but it’s never quite the same. In several other recipes I have successfully swapped chickpeas for beans so I decided to give that a try here. It’s not exactly the same, of course but the beans help to keep the look and texture very similar and it’s still super yummy.

 

vegan and gluten free curry

 

The recipe makes two good sized portions and would most likely stretch to three if served with rice, nann bread, chapatis or poppadoms.

The baby broad beans can be swapped for any type of beans you like. I have used tinned haricot beans in the past or you could cook your own from dried. I had these frozen baby broad beans in the freezer left from another recipe and so thought this was a good opportunity to finish them off. This vegan and gluten free curry could also be cooked in a slow cooker so is great for busy days. So nice to come home to the smell of home cooked food and know you can eat a tasty nourishing meal. If cooking this way you can skip the frying if you wish. Add all of the ingredients except the spinach to the slow cooker and cook on high for approximately 3 hours or low for 5 hours. Add the spinach 20 minutes before the end of cooking.

The finished curry can be frozen and used at a later date.

 

Sweet potato, bean and spinach curry

 

Sweet potato, Bean and Spinach Vegan and Gluten Free Curry

150g (5.3oz) sweet potato, cubed (approximately 1cm cubes)
50g (1.8oz) red onion, diced
400g (14.1oz) tin of chopped tomatoes
200ml (7fl oz) tinned coconut milk
60g (2.1oz) spinach
150g (5.3oz) frozen baby broad beans
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 cloves garlic
Oil for frying

1) Fry the onion, sweet potato and spices in a little oil for three minutes, stirring.

2) Add all of the remaining ingredients except the spinach and simmer, covered for 30 minutes or until the sweet potato is cooked.

3) Add the spinach and stir into stew. Cook for 2 minutes.

 

vegan and gluten free curry

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November 16 2016

Download Gluten Free Vegan on a Budget eBook

Often when people hear gluten free and vegan together their first thoughts are either, it must be very expensive or must be a very restricted and boring diet to have. The good news is that neither of these are true and even when coupled with the need to be gluten free, vegan food can be delicious, healthy and varied. In June 2016 I finished and published my Kindle book Gluten Free and Vegan on a Budget, which is packed full of tasty recipes with are free from gluten and all animal products.

gluten free and vegan ebook

The 56 page ebook contains twenty one of my own gluten free vegan recipes. For each recipe I have avoided using expensive or difficult to obtain ingredients and have instead used foods that are easily available and naturally gluten free and vegan. A few of the recipes do include vegan cheese and gluten free pasta but these are now stock by many supermarkets and health food shops. The recipes also do not require any specialist equipment, although a food processor or blender of some kind is useful.

Most of the recipes serve two people but can easily be made for more by increasing the ingredients. From various groups and talking to others I have found it is common that only one person in a family or household will be vegan and/or gluten free, so it felt more practical to have recipes that could be made in smaller amounts with no adaptations.

Each recipe is accompanied by a full colour photograph of the dish and this book also contains a list of ideas for jacket potato fillings and seven delicious healthy smoothie recipes.

vegan fudge

Recipes featured in the ebook include:

Rice Patties with Stir Fry Veg

Pea Curry

Creamy Mushroom and Leek Pasta

Spicy Lentil Pakoras

Pear and Polenta Cake

and many more.

 

Gluten Free Vegan on a Budget was originally only available for Kindle devices and apps and from the Elderberry Tutorials Etsy shop but can now be bought and downloaded directly from this page. To purchase your copy simply click on the link below. Payments are handled securely by PayPal so you can be sure that your details and privacy are fully protected.

[powr-digital-download id=f345eed6_1479827994156]

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November 3 2016

Healing Herbal Smoothies, Teas and Cordials

Today I thought I would share one of my herbal hubs, Healing Herbal Smoothies, Teas and Cordials. I have been writing articles on HubPages for nearly five years now and enjoy writing about herbs, crystals, healing and many spiritual subjects. HubPages is a great site for writers to share knowledge and for anyone to learn about pretty much anything you can imagine.

I originally wrote this hub in May 2016 and it is packed full of information of healing healthy drinks. The featured drinks include smoothies, teas and cordials that can all be made at home. These healing herbal drinks also do not need any expensive or complex ingredients or equipment to prepare. The full article contains recipes for healing herbal smoothies, teas and cordials including elderberry syrup, minty cacaco smoothie and peppermint and calendula tea.

healing herbal tea
Source: Ruta Kucinskaite, [CC BY-ND 2.0], via Flickr

All of the needed ingredients can be bought easily and many can be collected growing wild, even in towns and cities. These include elderberries and rosehips. Although it is very important to be certain of what you are picking before you consume any items. Do not take more than you require and take care so not to damage the plants or harm any wildlife or habitats. Many herbs can be grown at home in your garden or in pots on a balcony or driveway. Some are even happy to grow on an indoor windowsill. Alternatively, some supermarkets and other shops stock living herb plants that can be used. Dried herbs can also be used and if you grow your own, these can be dried and saved for later use.

Healing Herbal Smoothies, Teas and Cordials

As well as being a delicious addition to meals and other edibles, herbs have a powerful ability to ease, soothe and heal a huge range of illness and other difficulties.

One excellent way to take advantage of the powerful natural powers of herbs is to use them to make various types of hot and cold beverages.

Herbal Teas

There are many herbal teas that can be bought easily and so maybe familiar. Examples of this include peppermint, nettle, chamomile and fennel teas which can be bought from supermarkets, health food shops and other retailers in tea bags much like regular tea. These can be drunk purely for their tastes but do also possess health benefits that can be utilised. Peppermint tea is known to an useful in soothing stomach upsets and any digestive upset. Fennel tea can help with trapped wind and can be an excellent and natural way to ease wind and colic in babies. If mum is breastfeeding, she can drink the tea and it’s benefits will pass to her baby through her milk.

healing herbal peppermint tea
Source: Anthony Cramp. [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr
To continue reading the full article, please visit Healing Herbal Smoothies, Teas and Cordials on HubPages.

 

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June 15 2016

Gluten Free Vegan on a Budget eBoook

My latest recipe book is now available to buy for Kindle. This book contains twenty one of my own gluten free vegan recipes. For each recipe I have avoided using expensive or difficult to obtain ingredients and have instead used foods that are easily available and naturally gluten free and vegan. A few of the recipes do include vegan cheese and gluten free pasta but these are now stock by many supermarkets and health food shops. The recipes also do not require any specialist equipment, although a food processor or blender of some kind is useful.

Most of the recipes serve two people but can easily be made for more by increasing the ingredients. From various groups and talking to others I have found it is common that only one person in a family or household will be vegan and/or gluten free, so it felt more practical to have recipes that could be made in smaller amounts with no adaptations.

Each recipe is accompanied by a full colour photograph of the dish and this book also contains a list of ideas for jacket potato fillings and seven delicious healthy smoothie recipes.

Gluten Free Vegan on a Budget can be downloaded here for Kindle readers or for use with apps for PCs and Android and Apple devices.

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February 29 2016

Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup (vegan and Gluten Free)

This recipe is perfect for the cooler autumn days and is not only a healthy choice full of fresh ingredients but is also gluten, wheat, milk, egg, nut and soya free. The recipes is also suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

The finished soup can be successfully frozen as a whole or in portion sizes, which is particularly useful if you are the only person following a gluten free, dairy free, vegan or vegetarian diet in your household as it means you can have a nutritious meal or snack ready in a short time. The soup can be served on its own or with croutons, bread or toast for a more substantial meal. The consistency can be adjusted to suit your tastes simply by adding more or less of the vegetable stock at the blending stage. If you are unsure how much to add it is always best to add a small amount, blend and test. You can always add more if the soup is too thick but cannot take it back out easily if you add too much and end up with a thin watery finished soup.

This healthy butternut squash and tomato soup would also be delicious made a little thinner and served in mugs as a cup a soup on chilli autumn nights or around a bonfire.

Serves 6
Large butternut squash
10 ripe tomatoes
2 red onions
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 red chilli (remove the seeds for less heat)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 litre (2 pints) vegetable stock (check for gluten and milk ingredients if needed)
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5. Peel the butternut squash and cut it in half, remove the seeds and chop into 2cm cubes.

2. Halve the tomatoes, and peel and thickly slice the onions.

3. Place the butternut squash, tomatoes, onions, chilli and garlic into a roasting tray, pour over the oil and mix well to coat the veg. Cover the tray with foil and bake for 30 minutes, checking after 20 minutes.

4. Once the vegetables are tender place everything into a food processor or blender with half of the vegetable stock. Blend until smooth. Check the soup for thickness and add the rest of the stock or part of it as required to achieve the desired consistency.

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