Apple & Raisin Oaty Breakfast Cookies

Apple & Raisin Oaty Breakfast Cookies

I’m back, as promised, with a recipe!

Apple & Raisin Oaty Breakfast Cookies

I don’t talk much about breakfast around these parts. A little odd considering I’m a breakfast devotee. I understand that people are busy in the mornings and don’t have a lot of time to put something on the table, let alone eat, but for me breakfast is like lunch and dinner in that I don’t like to have the same thing day in, day out, even if it is easier to do so.

All the same, it tends to be variations on a theme- porridge, smoothies, muffins…pancakes, etc.

These “breakfast cookies” were borne out of my need for variety. They’re made from typical breakfast ingredients- all wholesome, sustaining, good-for-you things, just in a different form to the norm. I mean, who wouldn’t want to eat cookies for breakfast?!

Apple & Raisin Oaty Breakfast Cookies

I’ve seen quite a few recipes for breakfast cookies around but none of them were what I was looking for- either filled with sugar and definitely not something I’d want to start my day with, or just a bit too virtuous with no added sweetness or fat. My requirements were that they had to be healthy, satisfying AND tasty.

Apple & Raisin Oaty Breakfast Cookies

And so I set out on my mission…The batter looked and tasted good and fortunately the end result didn’t disappoint. After a 30-minute stint in the oven I was greeted with a tray of thick, chewy cookies, just sweet enough and with plenty of goodness to see me through a morning. These are ideal for days when my good intentions fall through and I find myself trying to choke down something whilst getting dressed and packing my bag…I can just grab a couple and run for the bus!

Apple & Raisin Oaty Breakfast Cookies

Apple & Raisin Oaty Breakfast Cookies:

1C Unsweetened Apple Purée
1/3C Almond Butter
3T Maple Syrup
1t Vanilla Extract
2C Rolled Oats (+ more to decorate)
1/2t Cinnamon
Large pinch of salt (Omit if your almond butter is salted)
1/2C Almond Meal (Scant 1C almonds ground in a food processor or spice grinder until a fine meal)
2/3C Raisins (OR substitute other dried fruit/nuts)

Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir apple purée, almond butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract until smooth. In a large bowl, combine oats, cinnamon, salt, almond meal and raisins.

Add wet to dry and stir well so everything is coated.

Using a cookie scoop or 1/4C measuring cup, scoop batter onto prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with moistened fingers and sprinkle with dry oats to decorate.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool before removing from baking sheet

Makes 12

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly link-party, Wellness Weekends

Apple & Raisin Oaty Breakfast Cookies

Are you a breakfast person? If so, are you happy to eat the same thing every day?

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Castagnaccio (Italian Chestnut Cake)


It’s Friday! Hurrah!

It’s been a pretty grey and dreary week here so I’m looking forward to what’s hopefully going to be a sunny weekend. Despite the lack of sunshine, a few things have made me feel more cheerful today- some lovely readers trying and enjoying my recipes (Do let me know if you make anything from Coconut and Berries. Both positive and negative feedback are always welcome); Getting some rather exciting news; and seeing Carlos Acosta in person last night. If you don’t know him then do yourself a favour and look him up- he’s an incredibly talented ballet dancer with probably the most amazing bottom known to mankind! I’ve also got Castagnaccio now, so more to be happy about!

Castagnaccio (Italian Chestnut Cake), Vegan & Gluten-Free

I imagine most of my readers aren’t familiar with Castagnaccio. I certainly wasn’t until a couple of years ago. It’s a traditional Italian dessert/snack, common in Liguria and Tuscany. It’s made from chestnut flour and olive oil and has no raising agents so is dense and rich, rather than fluffy like the cakes you’re probably used to. It’s also very subtly sweet with most of the sweetness coming from the nuts and dried fruit added to it.

Castagnaccio (Italian Chestnut Cake), Vegan & Gluten-Free

I was introduced to Castagnaccio by a lovely friend, Giovanni: a charming seventy-something year old Italian who lives very near our family home. As a retired psychologist he spends most of his time reading and cooking, and his great joy is feeding people delicious food! He started bringing us little food parcels- coffee-soaked dates and Italian chocolate cake, a divine Caponata along with a white bean dish (fagioli all’uccelletto), sesame snaps, crunchy cookies (whose name I’ve forgotten), and of course Castagnaccio. I fell in love with this naturally-vegan treat and wanted to learn to make it myself.

Castagnaccio (Italian Chestnut Cake), Vegan & Gluten-Free

With being rather busy studying for my finals earlier this year I didn’t have a lot of time for cooking (Giovanni provided me with snacks hand-delivered to my university pigeon hole!) but took a couple of welcome study breaks to spend some time with my friend and cook with him at his house. As a typical Italian his approach to cooking is rather laidback, sort of a “little of this, a little of that” kind of affair. I did make a mental note of everything though and now have the details perfected so I can pass the recipe on to you.

Castagnaccio (Italian Chestnut Cake), Vegan & Gluten-Free

I decided to make two small cakes this time- one the traditional way with rosemary, walnuts and raisins, and one my own way replacing the walnuts and raisins with hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

Castagnaccio (Italian Chestnut Cake):

1 1/2C Chestnut Flour
1T Coconut Sugar (or other granulated sweetener)
Pinch of Salt
1 1/2C Water
2T Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/4C Raisins OR Chocolate Chips
1/4C Walnuts OR Toasted, Peeled Hazelnuts (I made two small ones so used half the amounts of dried fruit and nuts in each)
1 Large sprig of Rosemary, leaves removed from stem

Preheat oven to 200C/400F, lightly oil the edges of a pie dish (or 2 small ones)

Whisk together chestnut flour, sugar, salt and water until smooth and runny.

Add the olive oil to the prepared dish/dishes and place in the oven to warm up for a minute. Remove from oven, pour in the castagnaccio batter, swirl the olive oil through the mixture and scatter with the dried fruit/choc chips, nuts and rosemary. Return to oven and cook for 15-25 minutes until the surface is dry and cracked. Cooking time will depend on the size of dish you used.

Enjoy warm or cold. I like it as is but it’s sometimes served with ricotta and a drizzle of honey, so for a vegan version you could try non-dairy yogurt or cashew cream, and a drizzle of agave nectar.

Serves 6-8

Castagnaccio (Italian Chestnut Cake), Vegan & Gluten-Free

Now, I know chestnut flour isn’t exactly something you see everywhere but it can sometimes by found in health food stores amongst the other gluten-free flours.

If you’re in the UK you can also order it online from, where I tend to buy a lot of my flours, grains, beans, nuts etc.
If you’re elsewhere you can buy it through Amazon.

I’ve used it in the crust of my Herby Courgette Galette for a pleasant nutty flavour and think it would make a batch of rather special cookies. I also have a very vivid memory of a delicious chocolate brownie I had in a restaurant in Paris, which I was told was made with chestnut flour too.  Lots of room for experimentation!

Have you had Castagnaccio before? Or other dishes made using chestnut flour?

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Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf


Hope everyone had fun at the Virtual Vegan Potluck at the weekend! I was happy to bring my dessert along to the party and enjoyed seeing what everyone else came up with.

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf

I’d been doing well so far this autumn in avoiding any lurgies but I finally succumbed to a cold over the weekend- I’m blaming my Mum who came to visit last week, and she’s apparently blaming her boyfriend (Thanks James!). It takes a lot to keep me out of the kitchen but admittedly my energy was pretty zapped and cooking wasn’t high on the list of things I felt like doing at the weekend.

All the same, a girl’s got to eat- “feed a cold” and all that. Not to mention I wanted to share a new dish with you today, so I pulled myself to my feet and into the kitchen, and this is what I came up with.

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like  roasted squash. It’s probably the highlight of the season’s vegetables for me. Roasted with spices and olive oil then combined with chewy barley, lentils, a few extra accents and a sweet and tangy dressing, this really hit the spot. I made a large batch too so if my energy levels are dragged down this week I’m good to go with a nutritious meal waiting for me in the fridge.

Since the blogosphere is abuzz with talk of Thanksgiving, not much more than a week away (!), I couldn’t help but think of my American readers when making this dish. It would be a good one to serve on the big day- colourful, vibrant, tasty: a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf:

(Adapted from BBC Good Food & The Kitchn)

1/2C Pearl Barley (For GF use Brown/Wild Rice or another hearty GF grain)
1/2C Puy Lentils
Small Butternut Squash (approx 680g/1 1/2lb), peeled and cubed
1T Olive Oil
1/2t Ground Cumin
1/2t Ground Coriander
1/4t Cinnamon
1/4t Garlic Powder
Large pinch of salt
1/3C Raisins
1/3C Pumpkin Seeds, toasted (Reserve 1-2T for topping)
1/3C Finely Chopped Red Onion
1/2C Roughly chopped Parsley

3T Orange Juice (fresh)
1T Red Wine Vinegar
1T Extra-virgin Olive Oil
Salt + Pepper (to taste)

Preheat oven to 200C/400F

Cook lentils & barley in two separate pots according to package instructions. Barley typically takes 40-45 minutes and puy lentils approx 25 minutes. When al dente, drain and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cubed squash with olive oil, spices and a large pinch of salt. Spread in a layer on a baking sheet and roast for approx 25 minutes, or until soft when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, whisk together the dressing ingredients and add to barley and lentils along with the raisins, pumpkin seeds and red onion. Toss well.

Finally, fold through the roasted butternut and the parsley, transfer to a serving dish and scatter the remaining pumpkin seeds on top.

Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as a side

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly blog-party, Wellness Weekends.

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf

Are my US readers ready with your menus for Thanksgiving yet? What will you be making?

P.S. This is your last call to enter to WIN a copy of the beautiful vegetarian cookbook “Tibits at home”. Winner will be announced Wednesday (UK readers only)

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Curried Chickpea, Mango & Quinoa Salad:

Curried Chickpea, Mango & Quinoa Salad:

Q is for…Quinoa!

Could it really be anything else?! Even if there were other ingredients that began with “Q” I’m almost certain quinoa would have beaten them all.

Curried Chickpea, Mango & Quinoa Salad

I’m pretty sure quinoa was something I’d never had before vegan days. It’s amazing how many foods I didn’t even know existed before I went vegan. People have no idea what they’re talking about if they think a vegan diet is limiting!

It’s become a staple in my kitchen and I eat it probably several times a week now.

It cooks and looks like a grain, and I generally treat it a bit like one, even though it’s actually a seed.

I’m happy eating it plain as a side-dish to a saucy curry or stew or the base of an all-in-one bowl meal. It can be ground into a gluten-free flour and used in baked goods. I used it as a binder in my Kidney Bean, Sweet Potato & Quinoa Patties. It’s also delicious cooked in nondairy milk and served as a porridge with your favourite toppings….the list is endless!

Curried Chickpea, Mango & Quinoa Salad

I thought about doing something more unusual today, but in the end fell back on an old favourite- the quinoa salad. I often make a large grain/bean salad and eat it over a few days as they tend to keep well in the fridge. Quinoa seems to absorb the flavours of the other ingredients and dressing you add, making your salad just get better over time.

I’m a big fan of adding fruit to salads but I know a few people aren’t into the sweet/savoury combination so sorry but today’s recipe isn’t for you :(

Starting with a base of quinoa, I added some chopped celery and green onions for crunch, chickpeas for more substance, a generous handful of raisins and large chunks of sweet mango. Coated it all in a mild curry dressing and finally stirred through some toasted almonds.

I was so happy to eat leftovers today!

Curried Chickpea, Mango & Quinoa Salad
Curried Chickpea, Mango & Quinoa Salad:

2C Cooked + cooled quinoa (approx 1/2C dry)
3/4C Chopped celery
1/2C Raisins
4 Green onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2C/1 Can Cooked chickpeas
1 Medium mango, cubed
1/3C Chopped, toasted almonds


2T Lemon juice
1t Maple syrup
1 1/2T Olive oil
1/2t Salt
1 1/2t Mild curry powder
1/2t Ground cumin
Several grinds of black pepper

Curried Chickpea, Mango & Quinoa Salad

Combine all salad ingredients, except for almonds in a large bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients in a jar. Add dressing to the bowl and toss well. Add almonds just before serving to retain crunch.

This salad is best if made a few hours (or a day) before serving to allow the flavours to mingle.

Serves 4


I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly blog hops, Wellness Weekends and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Curried Chickpea, Mango & Quinoa Salad

If I haven’t yet convinced you to add quinoa to your diet or eat it even more than you already are, maybe its amazing nutritional profile will!

What’s typically highlighted is that quinoa contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein, unlike any other plant food. It is a particularly concentrated source of calcium as well as having high levels of other minerals such as iron, magnesium, magnesium and copper. It’s rich in fibre and is of course gluten-free, so ideal for those with gluten sensitivities too.

Now tell me…can anyone name another ingredient beginning with “Q”?! As per my self-imposed rules this month, it has to be a pantry ingredient, so no fresh fruits and vegetables allowed.


Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts

It’s five years this summer since I left school. The 5 year anniversary had me musing on school life…especially the food. I boarded and so all meals were eaten in my boarding house- breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I suppose the food wasn’t terrible, but for the picky eater that I used to be, meals weren’t exactly to my taste… I did have my favourites though, especially some of the puddings, and me and friends would check the notice board with anticipation for the new weekly menu to be posted!

If there was one thing the kitchen did well though it was the lasagna. It was a fairly frequent Saturday lunch and one I actually looked forward to! It wasn’t the sloppy, cheesy mess you might expect from school food but packed with layers of roasted vegetables, spinach ricotta and pasta with crispy edges. I wasn’t vegan at the time but have found a fairly good replica in a variation on the Veganomicon “Lasagna Marinara with Spinach”. Despite loving that dish I wanted to try a new baked pasta-something lighter in flavour and more summery.

I found myself with a beautiful bunch of swiss chard in my fridge and browsed through my saved recipes to find these two: Swiss Chard with Currants and Pine Nuts from the NYTimes Recipes for Health, and this Swiss Chard Gratin with Vegan Bechamel from Chocolate & Zucchini,  which together provided the inspiration for my lasagna.

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts (Vegan)

Lemony tofu and cashew ricotta, earthy dark greens, little sweet bursts of raisins and crunchy pine nuts, topped with caramelized onions for good measure.

This isn’t an average 30 minute dinner (like any lasagna) but maybe, every now and again, like me you enjoy lingering in the kitchen that bit longer to produce something more special .

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts (Vegan)

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Raisins and Pine Nuts:

Tofu Cashew Ricotta:

1/4C Cashews, Soaked and drained
1/4C Lemon juice
1T Olive oil
1T Nutritional yeast
2 Garlic cloves
1 1/2t Salt
1 400g/1lb pkg Firm tofu
2T Brown rice flour (Optional- to help set up ricotta)


2C Vegetable broth
Juice of 1 lemon
2T Arrowroot/Cornstarch


Large Bunch (approx 400g/1lb) Swiss Chard, thick stems cut off and julienned
1/4C Golden Raisins
1/4 Pine Nuts + 2T for topping (toasted if desired)

Caramelized Onions:

1 Large onion, thinly sliced
1/2T Olive Oil
1/2t Sugar

4-6 Lasagna Sheets

Make the ricotta first- using a food processor or blender blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to assemble lasagna.

Boil a pan of water and add julienned swiss chard. When the water comes back to the boil, drain and rinse in cold water to retain bright green colour. Stir through raisins and pine nuts. Set aside.

Whisk sauce ingredients together in a pot and then warm over medium heat until sauce thickens slightly, approx 10 minutes.

Par-boil lasagna sheets- Lay sheets in a large dish and pour boiling water over, then leave for two minutes to soften. Remove and set aside.

Preheat oven to 180C/350F

Lightly oil or line a large oven-proof dish with foil. Start layering up your ingredients. Start with 1/3 of the chard mixture, then 1/3 of the sauce, then a layer of pasta sheets, then 1/3 ricotta. Repeat until mixture is used up. Cover the dish with foil and place in oven to cook for approx 40minutes.

While it is cooking, heat olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat and add onion and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low and cook gently, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. Sprinkle over sugar and continue to cook for another 10-15minutes until onion is soft and caramelized.

When lasagna has finished cooking remove from oven and leave to firm up for at least 10 minutes. When ready to serve remove foil and top lasagna with caramelized onions and remaining pine nuts.

Serves 4

Swiss Chard Lasagna with Golden Raisins + Pine Nuts (Vegan)

What was your school food like? Any dishes you remember fondly?!