Well HEY there! I’m writing this post from ‘Crystal Mountain’ in Northern Michigan. Don’t be deceived, the mountains around here are really just large hills… not that I am complaining! The snow is perfect, the Sun is shining, and I have a large mug of strong black coffee in hand.
The alpiney vibe here has got my craving a little comfort food, so I thought it would be a good time to share this lovely recipe for soda bread. I like to zhush mine up with a spot of brown butter, and a generous sprinkling of rosemary. Like all my baked goods I prefer to use a whole grain flour, in this case wholewheat.
This bread has a wonderful dunkability factor, just perfect for the Irish stew I will be posting in a couple of days. It’s also fab warm from the oven with a little butter spread on top.
Alright, I better dash! I have a date with a fat bike and a trail… enjoy!
Brown Butter & Rosemary Wholewheat Soda Bread
- 4 tbsp butter
- 2 cups (300g) wholewheat flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup low fat buttermilk
- 1½ tsp honey
- 1 tbsp rosemary, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 375F/190c
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking occasionally. When you smell a nutty aroma and see brown flecks forming at the bottom of the plan, remove from the heat and set aside and allow to cool (if you have never browned butter, I find the set by step in the notes section helpful).
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, soda and salt in a bowl
- In a second bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk, honey, rosemary and cooled butter
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until a dough forms
- Knead for a couple of minutes in the bowl
- Shape the dough into a rounded loaf shape, and put onto a greased baking sheet
- Cut a cross into the top of the loaf
- Bake for about 35 minutes until a knife comes out clean
- Cool on a wire rack before slicing and gobbling
This is an adaption and combination of three different recipes- this recipe for 100% Whole Wheat Irish Soda bread, this recipe for Rosemary Irish Soda Bread from A Passionate Plate, and this recipe for Brown Butter Soda Bread from The Curvy Carrot.
A good tutorial for browning butter here.
PS. I think Dexter was angling for a slice… look at this face…
The topic of pancakes is much debated in my household. Kirk is a purist, and prefers plain or buttermilk pancakes. I, on the other hand, like to experiment. Many a Sunday morning is spent sipping coffee and quibbling about plain vs pumpkin, plain vs wholewheat, plain vs chocolate chip. I think I have finally won him over with these ones though…
With Shrove Tuesday (or in the UK, Pancake Day!) just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to share my current favourite- Banana Oat Pancakes with a Peanut-Maple Sauce. We already know that bananas and peanut butter are thick as thieves in my kitchen, so it seemed perfectly normal to put them together in pancake form. The pancake itself is pretty healthy, the ‘flour’ is made from oats, and there is a sneaky banana in the batter. The banana provides just a hint of sweetness, but nothing overwhelming. I used to top these with a spoonful of peanut butter and a generous drizzle of maple syrup, then I thought that combining the two together might be a much better way to go, I think I was right.
What’s your favourite pancake? Are you a purist or an experimenter?!
Banana Oat Pancakes with Peanut-Maple Sauce
Recipe type: Breakfast
- 1 banana
- ¾ cup almond milk
- 1 cup oats
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup smooth peanut butter
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Blend the banana and milk until smooth.
- Add the oats, baking powder and salt, blend again until smooth
- Finally, add the egg and pulse until its all mixed in
- Warm a nonstick frying pan over medium heat, add a little oil if necessary to stop any sticking
- When the pan is warmed through, drop a small amount of batter onto the pan (about half a ladle does the trick!)
- Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side until the edges have set, and little bubbles appear, when this happens, flip the pancake over and cook on the other side for a minute until its a nice golden colour
- While this is happening, you can prepare your sauce
- Gently heat the peanut butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract in a pan, stirring the whole time until all the ingredients are combined
- Keep the heat on the lowest setting until the pancakes are ready to be served
Adapted and un-veganized from Ambitious Kitchen.
These freeze very well, just warm them in the microwave when you are ready to eat them.
Are you ready for a holiday?! Ugh me too. Yes I know I just returned from a trip home to England, but that really doesn’t count. I’m talking about the unapologetic beach-bum kind of holiday. The kind that requires nothing but a sun lounger, a margarita, and a stack of books to binge read. The kind that involves warm white sand, crystal blue ocean, and gorgeous romantic sunsets.
Well, since none of that is not going to be happening in MY life any time soon, I decided I would bring the Caribbean to me, in cake form. I know that cake isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Caribbean cuisine, but this cake has all of those fundamental island ingredients. Sweet, juicy mangos, warming cinnamon, and a little ginger for zing! This cake is truly delicious, it also happens to be vegan and it is made with whole wheat flour… win-win-win!
With the Polar Vortex Part Deux about to descend upon me any minute, I can’t think of a better way to spend my evening than gobbling a slab of this delicious and warming dessert. I hope you enjoy it too!
Mango & Spice Cake
Recipe type: Cake
- 2 cups (275g) wholewheat pastry flour
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 large mango, divided
- ¾ cup (165g) + 2 tbsp raw turbinado sugar, divided
- ½ cup vegetable oil (or any flavourless oil)
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup (60ml) water
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C
- In a large bowl, whisk flour, spices, baking soda and salt, set aside
- Peel and roughly chop two mangoes, puree until smooth and transfer to a bowl
- Add ¾ cup sugar, oil and vinegar to the pureed mangoes
- Add the flour mix to the mango mix, and stir until fully combined
- Pour mixture into a greased 8×8 inch baking pan
- Cook on top shelf for 35-40 minutes until a knife comes out clean and cool on a wire rack
- Take the remaining two mangoes, and peel and dice them
- Put into a medium saucepan with the remaining 2 tbsp sugar and ¼ cup (60ml) of water
- Simmer with the lid on for 30 minutes until the fruit has softened and started to break down
- When the cake is cooled, cut into slices and drizzle a little compote over each slice
This cake was adapted from the Vegetarian Times Magazine Jan/Feb 2014. I simply reduced the sugar, and made it wholewheat!
I have posted this in dessert, but it makes a fabulous breakfast cake (it tastes AMAZING with coffee).
I recommend serving this cake a little warm, if possible.
I love to run. It’s how I counteract my desk job, it’s how I clear my head, and it always gives me an amazing sense of achievement! I have been running regularly for about four years now, and in that time I have completed four half marathons and one full marathon. I am running my next event in April, a local half marathon called Gazelle Girl, and my mileage is increasing steadily week by week.
After I had a couple of races under my belt, I realised the importance of fueling my workouts correctly with good food. Yes, you can certainly “run off” a donut or a cream cake, (and indeed my friends, family and coworkers are sometimes impressed at my calorie intake!), but running on donut fuel is going to make for a pretty miserable run, for me anyway.
My little running habit requires a supply of healthy snacks on hand at all times, and these little bites are one of my faves. The ingredients are simple and clean, the final result is delicious, and you can make them in just a few minutes. Of course it goes without saying that you don’t have to be a runner to enjoy these! They are perfect for hiking, long bike rides, skiing, any activity that necessitates a healthy dose of energy along the way.
What is your favourite way to refuel after a sweaty workout?!
Cherry Almond Bites
Recipe type: Snack
- 1½ cups slivered almonds
- 16 medjool dates, pitted
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- Blend the nuts in the food processor until they resemble crumbs
- Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until everything is sticky and combined
- Take a small amount of the mixture and roll into a ping pong sized ball
- Repeat until you have rolled all of the mixture into balls and laid them flat on a plate
- Pop them all in the freezer for 10-20 minutes so that they hold their shape
- Remove and store in the fridge for up to a week
Inspired by Cookie and Kate’s homemade Larabar recipe
I encourage you to experiment with different dried fruit and nut combinations, let me know if you stumble upon something magical!
Well I finally got around to posting a salad recipe! I think you will fall in love with this one. Beautiful purple, orange and green strands, crunchy cashews, and a sweet gingery dressing to top it all off! This salad makes me happy.
I am fairly new to the world of slaw. For years I associated slaw with the shop bought coleslaw that seems to wheedle its way in to every family gathering or summer barbecue. You know the kind, unloved carrots and cabbage, limp under the weight of gloopy mayonnaise. It wasn’t until adulthood that I realised that slaw could be crisp, light and flavorful.
I recommend a food processor for this one. It can be done by hand, but it will take a lot longer (sorry!), I promise it will be worth it though. As a side note, if you do not currently own a food processor, it is a great tool to consider for your next splashy kitchen purchase. I bought a pretty inexpensive one because I wasn’t sure how often I would use it, I use it all the the time.
Rainbow Slaw with Sweet Ginger Lime Dressing and Cashews
Recipe type: Salad
- ½ small head of red cabbage
- ½ bunch of kale
- 3 large carrots, peeled
- 1 cup (155g/5oz) raw, unsalted cashews
- 1-2 inch piece ginger, peeled
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 tbsp of agave or honey
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp any flavourless oil
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- If you are luck enough to own a food processor, shred the cabbage and kale, and then grate in the carrot.
- If you are doing this by hand, use a good sharp knife to cut the cabbage and kale into thin strips, then grate the carrot with a grater.
- Assemble prepared vegetables in a bowl with the cashew nuts, and set aside.
- Now make the dressing- grate the ginger, and whisk in the lime, agave or honey, oils, vinegar and cayenne pepper until fully combined
- Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss until everything is nicely mixed.
- The dressing is adapted from this recipe from The First Mess blog (it is gorgeous, check it out).
Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Mine was busy! On Friday, which was of course Valentine’s Day, I was involved in a top secret marriage proposal mission. Saturday was spent celebrating the birthday of my friend Lori, we ate too much at the Hibachi Grill and then went dancing. Then on Sunday, my dear friend Emma cooked me a vegan feast! Walnut burgers with slaw, and a vegan cheesecake made with avocados- so divine.
This post was actually supposed to be a spiced mango cake, but I couldn’t find mangos at the shop yesterday. So instead, I am sharing a really low key vegetable dish. It makes a good side dish, but usually I eat it with rice to make a complete meal. I love it because the prep is so simple, but the final result is brimming with flavour! Peel, chop and then roast the veg, while the veg roasts, the coconut and curry sauce just simmers away in a saucepan. Easy, straightforward, and perfect for a Monday!
Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Leeks in a Curry Coconut Sauce
Recipe type: Side Dish, Main
- 4 medium leeks
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tin of full fat coconut milk (13.5oz/400ml)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp good quality hot curry powder
- Fresh coriander for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400F/200C
- Trim and rinse the leeks, cut into 1 inch rounds
- Peel sweet potatoes, and cut into 1 inch small chunks
- Toss with olive oil, and roast in the oven until tender and starting to brown, about 25 minutes
- While the veg is roasting, pour the coconut milk into a saucepan, and gently heat to a simmer
- Grate in the garlic and curry powder, reduce the heat and let it quietly bubble until the veg is done
- Remove the sweet potatoes and leeks from the oven, and spoon into the coconut mixture
- Serve immediately!
It’s been a rough week getting used to Michigan again. After the familiar, temperate climes of England, I was ill-prepared for the gargantuan snow piles and biting wind of the Midwest. I thought I should share my cure with you, solace in a bowl if you will.
This is the perfect stew for retreating indoors and curling up with a blanket. It comes together very quickly and with minimum fuss, not much peeling chopping or grating. I like to serve garlicky parmesan toasts alongside the stew, they are perfect for dunking. Yum yum yum!
A few things to note with this recipe- please use a low sodium stock or broth otherwise the cooked-down stock could result in a very salty dish (we made this mistake once!). You could also adapt this to be vegan by simply cutting out the parmesan and making garlic toasts instead. Lastly, you could play around with the beans and greens if you are up for an experiment, just sub in whatever you have to hand.
Cannellini & Escarole Stew with Parmesan Garlic Toast
Recipe type: Soup & Stew
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 3 cups good quality, low sodium vegetable stock
- 1 cup of white wine
- 1 tin cannellini beans (14oz/400g)
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried chili flakes
- 1 head of escarole, chopped into ½ inch ribbons
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 slices of good quality whole grain bread
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan
- olive oil to drizzle
- Slowly heat olive oil in a large pot, add garlic cloves and fry very gently until the edges become slightly golden (this will happen quickly, so be careful, nothing is more displeasing than burned garlic!)
- At this point, add the stock and wine, bring to a boil and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes to reduce to stock and concentrate all of that flavor
- Reduce the heat and stir in the beans and seasoning, cook for a couple of minutes
- Fold in the escarole ribbons until they begin to wilt
- Cover, and reduce the heat to the lowest setting
- Allow the escarole to cook very gently and all the flavors to combine while you make the toast
- Arrange bread slices on a baking tray and toast under the grill or broiler for a minute until barely toasted
- Remove the slices of bread, flip them over and put them back in the oven until the second side is just barely toasted
- Remove from the oven and rub the garlic clove liberally over the surface of each slice, you should have very little clove left after this step
- Sprinkle a small handful of parmesan on each slice
- Drizzle the whole lot with a little olive oil
- Return to the oven for a couple of minutes until the cheese has melted
- Serve the soup into wide, shallow bowls and garnish with fresh parsley and salt and pepper to taste
- Add the toast to the side
- Slurp and dunk to your hearts content
I was first inspired to combine escarole with white beans after making this risotto from Smitten Kitchen. In developing this recipe I also consulted this creation by Chef John at Food Wishes .
Hello! Apologies for the hiatus, I have been back home in England for a visit! I had some much needed catchup time with family and friends, and the last two weeks have been a blur of cosy pubs, riverside runs with my mum, negotiating the tube, and a lot of food. Back to Michigan now, and I wanted to tell you all about my favourite smoothie recipe- Dexter’s Breakfast Smoothie.
Dexters Breakfast Smoothie? Yes, this is a smoothie named after my dog. We discovered some time ago that Dexter LOVES bananas, possibly more than he would a juicy steak or sausage (although we have never tested that theory). One lazy Sunday morning I combined a couple of bananas with another favorite of his, peanut butter, and the result was this creamy vegan smoothie. It’s absolutely yummy, my trusty Golden Retriever has impeccable taste.
This is very adaptable too, use almond butter, use regular milk, soy milk, rice milk… pick your poison! Although I agree with Dex, bananas and peanut butter are like a marriage, a perfect union.
Thanks for the inspiration Dexter!
Dexters Breakfast Smoothie
Recipe type: Breakfast, Drinks
- 1½ cups Unsweetened Almond Milk
- 2 Medium Ripe Bananas
- ¼ Smooth Peanut Butter
- Simply throw everything into a blender and blend until smooth!
The components of this smoothie are very interchangeable, almond butter would also work well here. I used unsweetened almond milk but regular milk, soy milk or rice milk would all do the trick.
I feel like I have been on a mission to make tofu taste good for almost as long as I have been a vegetarian. Why does tofu have such a bad reputation? I think like many other vegetarian or vegan menu items, it is thrown together as an afterthought (see also: vegetable lasagne and mushroom risotto). If I eat at non-vegetarian establishments, tofu usually arrives at my table either a raw, wobbly bland brick, or greasy, deep-fried and tough. Not good!
Through extensive trial and error, I have discovered that pressing and marinating usual yields the tastiest results, however, I lack the time management skills for this to be feasible option most of the time.
This recipe is my little trick. It does take a little time to cook, but I can potter about the kitchen preparing the rest of my meal as it hangs out in the pan getting tasty. Kirk has also given it the carnivore stamp of approval, so everybody wins!
Honey Glazed Tofu
- 1 package of extra firm tofu (14oz/397g)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil or other flavourless oil
- 3 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Mix honey, soy sauce, vinegar and red pepper flakes in a bowl, set aside
- Cut tofu- for this recipe I cut it town the middle to make 2 1 inch thick rectangles, then I cut each rectangle in half, and then cut those 4 halves on the diagonal as shown in the pictures
- Warm oil in a large frying pan
- Add cut tofu and fry for about 5 minutes on medium heat until golden
- Flip over and fry the second side until golden
- Add the honey and soy mix to the pan, and turn the heat down to low
- Cook for another 15 minutes and then flip back to the first side
- Cook for about 15 minutes more until most of the liquid had evaporated and the tofu is coated in a golden glaze
For someone who loves food and relishes in cooking all meals painstakingly from scratch, my weekday breakfasts are often a very low key affair.
I often just throw some dry oats in a bowl with yoghurt and whatever fruit, nuts and seeds I have to hand. However, I wanted to do something a bit more special for the dry oat naysayers in my life, and I started experimenting with granola.
This is my favorite “result” so far. It is so luxurious I don’t know wether to eat or breakfast or dessert (I did both). I love it with yoghurt and a little sliced banana, dried cherries or my strawberry chia compote. It also holds up well in a simple bowl of milk. Enjoy!
Chocolate Coconut Granola
Recipe type: Breakfast
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ½ cup almond butter
- ½ cup honey (or agave if vegan)
- ¼ cup + 2tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 cups oats
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- generous pinch of sea salt
- ⅔ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- Preheat oven to 250 F
- Melt oil, almond butter and honey in a small saucepan
- When melted, add cocoa powder and stir until combined
- In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds and salt
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly so all of the dry ingredients have a lovely chocolatey coating
- Pour mix onto a nonstick baking tray (I gave mine a good coat of cooking spray as insurance)
- Bake for 15 minutes, then take out of the oven
- Stir in the coconut until well combined, then put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes
- Take out of the oven and allow to cool in the pan, once cool transfer to an air tight container breaking up the larger chunks as you go