May 20 2017

Vegan Chocolate Bark with Cranberries and Almonds

vegan chocolate bark
Vegan chocolate bark is one of my favourite quick and easy recipes to make. This version with cranberries and almonds is delicious and bursting with goodness. My daughter likes to make chocolate bark too but I have to admit we don’t always opt for such wholesome additions. Chopped up chocolate bars and sweets such as jelly beans and vegan marshmallows often feature in our other vegan choacolate bark recipes. But hey, there’s no harm having tasty vegan friendly in sweet treats sometimes!

 

In recent times more and more people are opting for a vegan or more plant based diet. This is often based on health concerns or may be due to a changing views on animal rights and enviromental concerns. When it is well chosen and balanced, a diet containing no animalproducts can provide all the nutrition the body needs. Following a vegan diet can reduce the risks of many medical conditions including cancer, diabetes and heart disease and can be helpful if you wish to lose weight. Eliminating animal products from your diet also means that many unhealthy and highly processed foods are no longer suitable to eat and so can cut down significantly on the amount of sugar, refined flours and saturated fats you are consuming.

Despite eliminating many common foods a vegan diet does not need to be boring or limited. There are many, many foods that are naturally vegan and a huge range of vegan cookbooks and recipe websites for inspiration. Health food shops and some supermarkets stock delicious vegan treats such as cakes, chocolate and ice creams or you can opt for making your own. Many recipes are simple and quick to make and by making your own you can tailor the finished items to your own tastes and know exactly what went into making them.

This recipe for vegan chocolate bark is quick and simple, requiring only three ingredients. Any vegan chocolate can be used and a combination of vegan milk and dark chocolate is particually nice. This is a great recipe to make and give as gifts. Once the chocolate has completely set, the bark can be wrapped in tissue paper and placed in gift boxes or bags. The vegan chocolate bark can also be packaged in cellophane bags and sealed with ribbon.

 

Cranberries

vegan chcolate bark
Cranberries are a fruit that is often overlooked in favour of other varieties. These red berries are a delicious and health choice that can be eaten in a variety of ways.

Cranberries have a quite a tart taste and so are often used cooked as sauces, jams and jellies or in cakes. They can also be juiced and drunk alone or mixed with other fruits. Cranberries can be eaten fresh if you can tolerate their tartness. To help lessen this they can be mixed with sweet fruits in a fresh fruit salad or tossed with a little sugar shortly before eating. Raw cranberries retain more of their phytochemicals and antioxidant properties than when they have been cooked in any way.

Cranberries have long been known to be a very effective treatment for urinary tract infections. It can be a helpful treatment if you wish to avoid using or cut down on use of antibiotics . They may also be successful in cases where prescription medications have failed to clear uo the issue. Some research studies have also shown that cranberries may help protect against the arteries hardening and narrowing and so reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke. Cranberries are also believed to be able to inhibit the development of breast and colon cancers due to being a rich source of the flavonoid quercetin. Eating this tart fuit may also decrease the production of the bacteria responsible for cavities and plaque in your mouth.

 

Almonds

Almond vegan chocolate bark

Almonds are a very versatile nut that can be eaten as they are or used in cooking a range of recipes As well as being available as whole peeled or unpeeled nuts, almonds can be bought chopped, flaked, ground and as a flour. These nuts are believed to reduce the risk of heart attack and to lower blood cholesterol levels.

Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine which boost brain activity. According to Ayurveda principles they nourish the nervous system and help to increase intellect and longevity.

 

Dark Chocolate

vegan chocolate bark

Chocolate is an incredibly popular food that is enjoyed all over the world. Despite this many people do not know that by switching to eating dark chocolate they can also reap many health benefits. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids which act as antioxidants to protect the body from aging and damage cause by free radicals. This can help to protect against heart disease and help to lower blood pressure.

Dark chocolate also contains the vitamins and minerals potassium, copper, magnesium and iron. These help protect the body against strokes, cardiovascular ailments, anaemia and high blood pressure.

 

Recipe for Vegan Chocolate Bark with Cranberries and Almonds

 

Yields: An approximately A4 sized slab of chocolate bark

200g dark or vegan chocolate
50g dried cranberries
50g sliced almonds

 

  1. Line a baking tray with cling film or greaseproof paper.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place into a bowl. Melt the chocolate in short bursts in a microwave oven or over a pan of boiling water.
  3. Once the chocolate has melted stir in about one-third of the cranberries and almond slices.
  4. Spread the chocolate mixture thinly over the covered baking tray. It should be only a few millimetres thick. Sprinkle the remaining cranberries and almonds over the top.
  5. Leave the chocolate to cool and harden and then snap into pieces.

 

vegan chocolate bark

Photo Sources
Cranberries – Namiwoo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Almonds – Caduser2003 at ml.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
Dark chocolate – John Loo (Flickr: Chocolate) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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May 3 2017

Gluten Free Vegan Pear and Polenta Cake

Back before having to go wheat and dairy free I once made a delicious pear and polenta cake. Annoyingly when I thought to make it again I couldn’t find the recipe or remeber which book it was in. I having  feeling it may have been from a carribean recipe book I borrowed from our local library.

Fast forward a few years and three out of the five of us are having to avoid wheat, gluten and eggs. I had some fruit to use up including three pears and this cake came to mind. Gluten free vegan pear and polenta cake is born 😀 I can’t remember how it compares to the original cake but this version was light, soft and yummy.

 

gluten free vegan pear and polenta cake

 

Aquafaba

Aquafaba is a versatile ingredient that can be used as an egg replacer in many recipes, such as cakes, cookies, meringues and sweets. It can also be used as a binder for burger and is ideal for people who suffer with egg allergies or intolerances or anyone who is avoiding eating animal products. Although aquafaba sounds like a fancy, hard to find or expensive ingredient in fact nothing could be further from the truth. This unusual sounding liquid is in fact the liquid that is found in cans of chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) and other beans and something that is normally thrown away without a second thought. It is also possible to use the liquid that is left from cooking dried beans.

The name aquafaba has been created using the Latin words for water and beans, aqua (water) and faba (beans). It is believed that the proteins and starches in the liquid enable it to be used in this way due to the fact that they closely resemble those found in traditional egg whites. Generally 3 tbsp of aquafaba should be used to replace one egg. It can also be stored in the fridge for several days or frozen. Freezing in ice cube trays in tablespoon measures is an ideal way to do this, making the liquid easy to defrost and use at a later date.

 

Pears

Pears are a delicious and healthy fruit that are available in many varieties. They contain a range of vitamins and minerals including niacin, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc.

Some health benefits of eating pears include:

  • Pears are a good source of dietary fibre, containing approximately 8% of fibre per 100g.
  • They are a good source of nutrients such as beta-carotene and lutein which can help protect against harmful free radicals.
  • Pears help to boost the immune system due to the fact that they contain antioxidants such as vitamin C and copper which help to fight off disease.
  • The fibre content in pears helps to promote good colon health and reduce the chances of cancer.
  • They are one of the least likely foods to cause an allergic reaction.
  • The potassium in pears helps to keep your heart healthy and muscles working well.
  • Boiling the juice of Chinese pears with honey creates a warm tea that is very healing for the throat and vocal cords.

 

Polenta

Polenta is a cornmeal grain that has many uses in cooking. It is often cooking in water and then left to set solid before being sliced and baked grilled or fried. It can also be used in baking in place of other grain flours and adds a pleasant sweetness and texture.

Polenta is made from milled corn and is an excellent source of carotenoids and is a low carbohydrate food. It is a source of including vitamins A and E and as corn is gluten free it is ideal as a replacement for wheat flour in baking or for breading foods such as chicken or fish. This food also contains traces of the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and zinc.

 

Gluten Free Vegan Pear and Polenta Cake Recipe

 

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp liquid from canned beans or chickpeas (aquafaba)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 soft pears (tinned can be used), peeled, quartered and cored
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup gluten free flour blend such as Doves Farm
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup fine polenta
  • Sprinkle cinnamon
  • Sprinkle sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and grease or line a 7 inch cake tin.
  2. Whisk the aquafaba as you would eggs.
  3. Lay the pear quarters in the bottom of the cake pan. Sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over the pears.
  4. Mix together the aquafaba, vanilla extract and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the oil.
  5. Sift the flour, polenta and baking powder into the wet mixture and stir to mix well.
  6. Beat in water to create a smooth batter.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before turning over and serving.

 

 

Photo source – free photos, [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

 

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April 30 2017

‘Not So Great’ Vegan Tomato Soup

Compared to the recent weather, it’s been quite chilly today. I have quite a bit of salad stuff in the fridge but really didn’t feel like cold food when I was already cold.

What could I make that’s hot,  filling and quick to prepare?

Soup! Yes, a nice soup would be just right and I’m sure I can make something from bits and piece I’ve have in.

I tend to go for a more chunky veg soup – somewhere between a soup and stew really but quite fancied something tomato flavoured. Surely a vegan tomato soup recipe wouldn’t be that hard to find? Or at least I could find one I could easily adapt. So, I open up Pinterest and search for quick soup recipes. Scrolling down I spot a recipe for hot ‘n’ spicy roasted red pepper and tomato soup and figure it would be a good way to use up a jar of roasted cherry peppers I have. The recipe was also already vegan and would be ready in ten minutes. Vegan tomato soup in a flash, Perfect. I checked the ingredients and had them all in plus the method was as simple as can be – blitz everything in a blender, heat and serve. What could go wrong?

I rinsed the peppers as I thought they might taste too vinegary otherwise and subbed the cherry tomatoes for a tin of chopped tomatoes. Fetched the garlic, almonds, Marigold stock powder and opened the cupboard to get some oil. There I spotted a bottle of chilli infused olive oil which seemed a great partner for peppers and tomatoes and so I used that in place of plain olive oil. I blitzed the ingredients in my BlendTec and then poured some into a saucepan to heat. The soup had a beautiful rich red colour and smelt pretty good too, making me glad I have enough to freeze for another day.

 

vegan tomato soup

 

I grabbed a spoon sat down and tasted the soup… Well, it tasted as nice as it looked and smelt but… Oh my gosh was it spicy! I don’t mind spicy food but this was a whole other level spicy. Sadly I only managed a few spoonfuls before my mouth was burning painfully.

I am hoping I can cool down the remaining soup so it will still be useable. Failing that I will use it as a chilli sauce for my eldest as he likes it hot.

And after all that heat,  the salad sounded great after all!

 

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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]

October 7 2016

Allergy Friendly Potato Croquettes. Gluten, Dairy & Egg Free

Allergy Friendly Potato Croquettes

These potato croquettes are a great way to use up leftover mash potato and vegetables, even if you only have a small amount. They are allergy friendly as the recipe is gluten, dairy, egg and nut free as well as being vegan and vegetarian. I used a coconut spread to make the mash but any dairy free spread will work fine. If you need the recipe to also be soya free, substitute the soya milk for an alternative of your choice.

It is hard to give exact amounts of ingredients for these allergy friendly potato croquettes as it will be based on how much mash potato you have and how wet it is at the start. You can also make these using small frozen mixed veg. You can make your own breadcrumbs using a suitable bread or it is possible to buy them ready made.

Mashed potato
Finely chopped veg such as carrots, peas and sweetcorn
Fine corn meal
Nutritional yeast
Soya milk
Gluten, dairy and egg free breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper (optional)

1. Add the corn meal a tablespoon at a time to the mashed potato until it begins to come together into a ball.

2. Add 2 -3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (or more depending on your tastes) and knead into the potato ball. Add more corn meal as needed.

3.When you have a fairly solid ball of potato mixture you can begin to make the croquettes. Shape heaped tablespoons of the mixture using your hands.

4. Roll the croquettes in the soya milk and then in the breadcrumbs until they are coated.

5. Place on a plate and continue to create croquettes until all the potato mixture has been used.

6. Chill in the fridge until needed. This step isn’t essential but it helps the croquettes be less fragile. They can also be frozen.

7. Cook at 200C/390F/Gas Mark 6 for 12-15 minutes, until browned turning half way through. If frozen the croquettes make take longer to cook.

gluten, dairy and egg free potato croquettes

June 3 2015

Vegan Masala – Vegetable Gluten Free Curry.

This recipe is based on a vegetable masala recipe in Jack Monroe‘s cookbook, A Girl Called Jack. I have made and vegnised a few recipes from the book and am loving the simple and quick approach of the recipes. The recipes in the book are also very budget friendly while still being varied and full of fresh and healthy ingredients.

This vegan masala doesn’t require any complicated or expensive ingredients but still tastes great and is completely free of animal products. As the vegan masala is also gluten free it also ideal for anyone who is following a wheat or gluten free diet. The recipe can be made used fresh or tinned vegetables and I have also made it using potatoes and carrots leftover from another meal. If using leftovers keep an eye on the cooking time as these will be reduced. Using fresh vegetables to make this vegan masala style curry will require a longer cooking than is needed for tinned or leftover veg.

I have created the recipe to serve 4 and it also can be frozen as a whole dish or in portions for a later date. These can then be defrosted and reheated when needed and are great for quick meals or for families where only one member is vegan or vegetarian. The vegan masala can be served with rice or other accompaniments such us cous cous, millet, quinoa. Alternatively it can be eaten with breads such as naan, pitta, chapattis or flatbreads. If you decide to serve the curry with these then it will share between more than the specified four people.

Vegan Masala Curry Recipe

1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 small red chilli, finely chopped (remove the seeds to reduce the heat if desired)
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp ground cumin
500g (17.5oz) of tinned or fresh potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces
200g (7oz) tinned or fresh carrots, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp ground coriander
200ml (7 fl oz) vegetable stock (check for gluten ingredients if using bought, especially if from powder or cubes)
170g (6oz) frozen or fresh peas
1 400g (15oz) can chopped tomatoes
175ml (6fl oz) soya yoghurt

 

1. Gently fry the onion and chilli until softened. Add the garlic and cumin and stir well to combine.

2. Add the potatoes, carrots, coriander and parsley to the pan. Pour over the stock and tinned tomatoes and mix well.

3. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes (or longer if needed for fresh vegetables). If the stock starts to dry out add a little more or water can be used instead.

4. Stir in the peas and cook until tender.

5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the yoghurt.



Vegan Masala

May 5 2015

Munchy Mix – Dried Fruit and Nut Mix

Fruita nd nut mix

An unusual and enjoyable mix of dried fruits and nuts that can be made in advance ready for use. This mix is ideal as a healthy snack or trail mix when at home or on the move. It can also be used in cakes and cookies or added to granola and other cereals.

Store the fruit and nut mix in a sealed container or jar and it will last for several months at least.

 Munchy Mix

You do not have to have exact cup measures to make the mix. Any container is fine as long as you use the same one throughout.

1/2 cup of dried pineapple, torn into pieces if required
1/2 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of raisins
1/2 cup of dried papaya pieces
1/2 cup of dried apricot pieces
1/4 cup of whole almonds
1/4 cup of cashews

1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix well to combine.

2. Pour the mix into a suitable container and seal.

You can also label the container so you know what is inside and with an ingredients list if desired.