Apricot & Almond Smoothie (with a hint of cardamom)

Apricot & Almond Smoothie (with a hint of cardamom)

Apricot & Almond Smoothie (with a hint of cardamom)

I adore nuts of every kind, but it’s probably only since going vegan that I’ve actually really started eating them regularly, and certainly that I’ve discovered their versatility. In the past, my encounters with nuts were probably mainly limited to chocolate coated peanuts, salted + roasted peanuts, peanut butter (the kind with sugar and preservatives…), and that’s about it.

Wow was I missing out.

Dried Apricots and Almonds

They’re well and truly a staple in my kitchen now: A handful of nuts is a great snack- cashews, almonds and walnuts are my favourites; nut cheeses (see my courgette galette with cashew chèvre); an ingredient in salads and stir-fries; a key component of raw desserts; a lovely addition to baked goods,  and of course nut creams and milks, among many other uses.

I’ve been buying almond milk for a long time, but only very recently started making my own at home. If you haven’t tried it yet you really must. It’s far creamier and tastes so much more like the actual nut than any stuff you’ll find pre-packaged. It’s hardly any effort either.

Apricot & Almond Smoothie (with a hint of cardamom)

I’m not usually a big smoothie drinker but the warm weather has made me fancy a lighter start to the day. This cool, creamy smoothie is ideal for breakfast ( I enjoyed it alongside a little homemade chamomile muffin I found lurking in the freezer), or makes a perfect afternoon pick-me-up, or would even be a delicious dessert.

I’ve just got back from a week in Spain and enjoyed tonnes of gorgeous stone fruit- peaches, nectarines and apricots galore. What we get over here is mainly imported and of course nowhere near as good as the fresh stuff. I found a bag of the soft dried type, and although very different they worked really well in this smoothie, their concentrated sweetness making it feel rather decadent.

Dried Apricots come in two varieties: sulphured, and un-sulphured. Sulphur dioxide is often unnecessarily added to dried fruits as a preservative and is what retains the bright orange colour of the apricots. I prefer to use organic dried apricots with no added preservatives or other added ingredients. This means that they are not bright orange, but are naturally dark instead. In my opinion these are far more delicious and fruity-tasting than the artificially-preserved variety.

Apricot & Almond Smoothie (with a hint of cardamom)
Serves 1
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  1. 3/4 C Almond milk (preferably homemade)
  2. 1/2 Frozen banana ( I freeze peeled, halved bananas when they’re turning brown)
  3. 4 Soft dried apricots (organic, unsulphured)
  4. 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  5. 1/8 tsp Almond extract
  6. 1/8 tsp Ground cardamom (optional)
  1. Blend all ingredients together until thick and smooth. Serve immediately.
Coconut and Berries http://www.coconutandberries.com/
I’m submitting this to the Weekly Blog Hops: Raw Foods Thursdays, Healthy Vegan Fridays, and Wellness Weekends

Apricot & Almond Smoothie (with a hint of cardamom)

Do you make your own nut milk? What’s your favourite kind of nut?

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Rhubarb-Berry Compote, Yogurt & Granola Parfait

Rhubarb & Berry Compote, Yogurt + Granola Parfait

Eating out as a vegan can have it’s challenges. Nothing that can’t be overcome with a little forethought and planning though.

Despite best intentions I found myself caught out  when trying to get breakfast at a UK airport recently. My usual safe-bet is porridge since I know of at least a couple of mainstream coffee shop chains which will make it up with soy milk for you. Add a banana, and if you’ve been really prepared, a squeeze pack of nut butter or some trail mix and you’re good to go. But at this particular airport none of my usual porridge spots were to be found! I traipsed around surveying the options only to find porridge pre-made with dairy milk or oats mixed with dried milk ready for hot water to be added.

I’m being a little dramatic about my little adventure as after all I did have a snack bar and banana in my bag which I settled for instead. Not ideal but not exactly disastrous.

Rhubarb-Berry Compote, Yogurt & Granola Parfait

My airport wanderings weren’t entirely fruitless either, since on the way I picked up some inspiration for breakfasts to make-over at home, this parfait being one of them. Yogurt pots with fruit and granola seemed to be all the rage, again all unfortunately using dairy.

Still with more rhubarb to get through, I combined it with an assortment of berries from the freezer- blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, some coconut sugar to sweeten and a teeny dash of vanilla to make this beautiful compote. When warm it was divine over creamy oats, and the following day it had thickened it nicely and was turned into this parfait.

The compote was delicious layered up in a jar with soy yogurt and granola and eaten with a long spoon like an ice cream sundae! I took the easy option using store-bought granola and yogurt but have ambitions to make a variation of this with home-cultured almond yogurt and homemade granola. The choice is yours.

Rhubarb-Berry Compote, Yogurt & Granola Parfait

Rhubarb-Berry Compote, Yogurt & Granola Parfait
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Rhubarb-Berry Compote
  1. 2-1/2 C Chopped rhubarb, 1 inch pieces
  2. 1-1/2 C Mixed berries, frozen or fresh ( I used blackberries, raspberries + blueberries)
  3. 1/4 C Coconut sugar
  4. 1-2 Tbsp agave (optional)
  5. Dash of vanilla extract
  6. Non-dairy yogurt
  7. Nutty granola
  1. Combine chopped rhubarb and berries in a large pot and add coconut sugar and a couple of tablespoons water.
  2. Simmer gently over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes until rhubarb is very soft and berries collapsing.
  3. Stir through vanilla and taste for sweetness. Add agave if necessary.
  4. Leave to cool if making parfaits or serve immediately over hot porridge for breakfast or with vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Putting it together
  1. You will need (for 1 parfait): a mason jar or tall glass, 1C plain non-dairy yogurt, 1C rhubarb-berry compote, 1/3 C nutty granola.
  2. Carefully pour half of the compote in the bottom of the jar, then half of your yogurt on top. Sprinkle over half of the granola (It sort of gets lost in the pictures but it’s delightful delving into the jar and finding the little crunchy gems). Repeat layers, reserving a little compote for the top.
Coconut and Berries http://www.coconutandberries.com/

Rhubarb-Berry Compote, Yogurt & Granola Parfait

All gone!

Do you prepare food for when travelling? Or do you bank on there being good options available?

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Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus + Chickpea Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette | coconutandberries.com


I’ve been seeing tropical fruits like avocados and mangoes, as well as an array of exotic vegetables all over the blog world recently.  But, instead of bemoaning their non-existence over here I shall celebrate the beautiful local produce we do have in this part of the world! New potatoes, fresh peas, asparagus and herbs all do particularly well in the UK.

Potato salad is of course a classic summer dish but typically relegated to a side. As this meal was all about showcasing our lovely vegetables I opted to turn it into a main. Along with the vegetables, chickpeas add some protein power and a zippy lemon basil vinaigrette brings it all together.

Pre-Dressed Salad:

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette | coconutandberries

 New potatoes ready to roast- Steamed new potatoes are also delicious and would be a nice alternative to roasted, especially if you’re serving this as a cold salad.

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette


Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette

Yield: 4 Servings

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette


  • 650g New potatoes, halved
  • 1-2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • Coarse Sea salt (I like Maldon) + Pepper
  • 1-1/2 C Cooked chickpeas/ 1 Can, drained + rinsed
  • 1 Bundle (approx 350g/1lb) asparagus, tough ends snapped off
  • 2 Tbsp Water
  • 1 C Green peas (frozen are fine)
  • 2 Shallots, chopped finely
  • Vinaigrette:
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 C Fresh Basil, chopped coarsely or chiffonaded
  • salt + pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  2. On a large baking tray toss new potatoes with olive oil, and a good sprinkle of coarse sea salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 mins, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Edges should be crispy and golden (Alternatively steam new potatoes approx 15mins).
  3. Meanwhile, prepare dressing. Whisk together mustard and lemon juice and then slowly trickle in olive oil and keep whisking until emulsified. Stir through the basil and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Warm a large pan over medium heat with another drizzle of oil. Toss in asparagus along with 2T water, cover and cook for 4 minutes until bright green. Add peas, cover pan again and cook a further couple of minutes. If your peas are fresh add another couple of tablespoons of water to steam.
  5. When cooked, stir in chickpeas to warm through along with the minced shallots, just to take the sharp edge off them (you can also leave them raw if you like a bit of bite).
  6. Spread roasted new potatoes into a large serving dish in a layer then pour over the asparagus, chickpea & pea sauté.  Finish with black pepper and extra basil leaves.
  7. Either toss salad with dressing or serve on side for individuals to dress their own plates.

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly blog-hop Healthy Vegan Fridays

Roasted New Potato, Asparagus & Chickpea Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette | coconutandberries.com

What are your favourite local fruits and vegetables at this time of year?


Herby Courgette Galette with Cashew “Chèvre”

Herby Courgette Galette with Cashew Chevre

Readers are probably aware that the vegetable known in many countries as “zucchini”, here in the UK we call “courgette” . Besides being a Brit I had to keep the British (originally French) word for this recipe for the nice little ring to my recipe title!

Herby Courgette Galette with Cashew Goat's Cheese

It began with a bag of chestnut flour, a kind gift from an Italian friend who I cook with occasionally. He taught me to make castagnaccio, the traditional Tuscan (naturally vegan) cake made with chestnut flour, olive oil, rosemary, sultanas + walnuts or pine nuts. I love the stuff but I make my castagnaccio small and thin so my bag of flour has hardly been dented.

Looking for more chestnut flour recipes I stumbled across one which I’ve veganized here. The chestnut flour does have a wonderful taste, sweet and rich, but as it’s combined with other flours and ground toasted hazelnuts you could certainly sub another- I’d still recommend something equally flavourful, maybe spelt or buckwheat, or the original recipe suggests millet flour as another option.

The nutty crust encloses layers of sweet caramelized onions, tangy goat’s cheese and herby courgettes and there are even minced fresh herbs in the dough.

In place of the goat’s cheese I decided upon a cashew-based cheese. This recipe at C’est la Vegan had rave reviews and I’d made it before but unbaked, this time I went the whole hog and baked it so it would crumble nicely over the tart and in-between the layers.

Galette Dough- Olive Oil, Chestnut Flour, Hazelnut Meal

Mixing up my dough

Galette Dough Ball

Ready to go in the fridge for a little resting time

Sliced Courgettes and Fresh Mint

Sliced courgettes and fresh garden mint

Herby Courgette Galette with Cashew Chèvre:

Adapted from Frenchie and the Yankie


1/2C Whole hazelnuts (to give 3/4C ground)
1/2C Chestnut flour
1/2C Wheat flour
3/4 C Whole wheat flour
1/2t Salt
3 Sprigs Rosemary
1/2C Water
1/4C Olive oil

Lay hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast at 180C/350F for approx 10mins (careful they don’t burn!). Wrap in a kitchen towel and rub vigorously together to remove most of their skins.

Leave to cool while you measure out the other dry ingredients into a large bowl. Pulse the nuts in a food processor with the rosemary until coarsely ground (you still want a little texture).

Add ground nuts to the bowl with the other dry ingredients and mix well. Make a well in the middle, pour in oil and gradually add water bit by bit until you can form the mixture into a ball. You might not need all of the water.

Wrap up the ball of dough and refrigerate for at least an hour. N.b. Remove from fridge to come to room temperature 30 mins before rolling it.

Caramelized Onion:

1T Olive oil
1 Large onion, very thinly sliced
1t sugar
Good pinch of salt

Heat oil over medium-low heat in a large frying pan and add onions. Cook gently for approx 5 minutes until beginning to soften, then sprinkle over sugar and salt. Spread into a thin layer and continue to cook on low for a further 20 minutes, stirring frequently. The onions should be nice and caramelized and again may need more or less cooking time depending on your stove/pan etc.

Set aside in a bowl.

Herby Courgettes

2 Medium courgettes, thinly sliced (1/2 cm)
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1t Dried oregano (or 1T fresh if you can get it)
1T Finely chopped rosemary

Using onion pan cook garlic and herbs for a couple of minutes over medium heat.

Toss in courgettes and spread in a single layer. Cook for a few minutes before flipping and cooking on the other side. Remove from heat when beginning to soften but still crisp.

Set aside.

Putting Galette together

You will need your dough, caramelized onions, courgettes, 1/2 Recipe Cashew Chèvre ( I made the whole recipe and had some leftover, but use as much as you like), fresh mint.

Roll out dough to a circle approx 30cm in diameter on a large piece of parchment paper. Don’t worry if the edges are a little rough, it’s supposed to be rustic-looking!

Spread caramelized onions over, leaving a border of 1-2 inches. Next crumble over half your chèvre. Finally, arrange courgette slices working in overlapping circles, covering onions and chèvre. Fold edges over courgette, crimping as you go.

Lift up sides of parchment paper and place the whole thing on a large baking tray.

Put it back in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Cook galette for 30 minutes- edges should be golden and crunchy.

Leave to sit for a few minutes (if you have the patience…), sprinkle over remaining chèvre and mint leaves.

Serves 4-6

Herby Courgette Galette with Cashew Goat's Cheese

This turned out far better than I could have imagined, and although there are a few stages so it does takes some time, it was so worth it. I’m also sort of presuming that if you’re reading you probably like to spend time in the kitchen too!

So, who out there has used chestnut flour before? More ideas very welcome.

Digging into my bag has reminded me I need to get in touch with my Italian friend and organize another cooking session… Maybe I’ll pick up some traditional Italian recipes to share on the blog!


Sweet Potato, Spinach + Coconut Dahl

Sweet Potato, Spinach + Coconut Dahl

I tend to think of Indian dishes as pretty omnivore-friendly. Not usually any tofu, tempeh, seitan or any other ingredients less familiar to non-vegans. So, when I needed to whip up a casual dinner for a few family members, including one particularly unambitious eater…Indian it was!

This was very speedy to put together and didn’t even need a long simmer so it’s ideal for when you don’t have much time to devote to cooking the evening meal.

It might not look that filling, with just a 1/2 cup red lentils to thicken up the sauce, but the canned coconut milk gave the dish richness, as well as adding that silky smooth flavour I adore so much.

I kept it mild for she-who- will- not- be- named (!)…and actually found I didn’t really miss the heat, but you could add a little chili if you wanted a bit more kick.

Sweet Potato, Spinach + Coconut Dahl with Brown Rice

Sweet Potato, Spinach + Coconut Dahl:

1T Coconut oil
1 Onion, chopped
1/2T Minced ginger
2 Cloves garlic, minced
1 Chili, minced (optional)
1t Curry powder
1t Ground cumin
1t Turmeric
1/2t Salt
1 Large sweet potato, chopped into 1” cubes
1/2C Red lentils
1 Can (400ml) Coconut milk (I like Biona Organic)
1C Vegetable broth
Several handfuls spinach, torn or roughly chopped
Juice of half a lemon

Warm coconut oil in a pot over medium heat, add onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add ginger, garlic, optional chili, spices and salt and continue to cook another couple of minutes until smelling very fragrant. Don’t worry if it looks dry at this stage. Mix in sweet potato, lentils, coconut milk and broth, cover and simmer gently for 20-25 minutes. The sweet potato should be soft and very easily fall off a fork when pierced. Pack in your spinach and keep stirring so it wilts and makes room for more in the pot. Cook a further few minutes uncovered. Turn off the heat and add a good squeeze of lemon, stir again and serve.

I just served it with some plain brown basmati rice but if I’d had a little more time  I’d probably have jazzed it up a little with some fresh coriander and toasted slivered almonds.

This would also be great served in a bowl with some roti for dipping. If I were to go that route I’d probably use a full cup of lentils so the dahl is a bit thicker and more scoop-able.

Serves 4-6

Sweet Potato Spinach Coconut Dahl

Do you have an easy meal you like to serve to omnivores, or to more traditional eaters?