Mini Raw Cacao, Coconut + Raspberry Cupcakes

Mini Raw Cacao, Coconut & Raspberry Cupcakes

I hate wasting food. I’d love to say that my concern for the environment is what compels me to do my best not to waste, but in reality it’s probably mainly because I love food and hate the thought of throwing anything away! I’m also pretty tight-fisted and wasting food = wasting money.  I try to follow all the rules: I plan my meals weekly, make sure to store my produce correctly, keep my cupboards and freezer well-stocked with staples to make the most of leftovers, and don’t buy more than I can eat (most of the time at least… I’m pretty easily tempted by fruit and vegetables! all the more so when shopping at farmers’ markets)

I mentioned I’ve started making my own almond milk at home.  I was initially reluctant to try it given that nuts are so darn expensive, as well as thinking the process was somewhat wasteful since you’re left with quite a bit of nut pulp after squeezing out all the goodness from the whole nuts. Going through with it and doing a little calculation proved me wrong though- in fact, if you buy your nuts in bulk, as I do, you can make your own almond milk for less money than the bought stuff, and the nut pulp needn’t be wasted but is a bonus that you can use in other kitchen creations. I love how much tastier it is and that it contains no added anything…Oh, and there’s none of the packaging either! A winner all round.

A bit of scouting about online for how to use this precious pulp unearthed all sorts of exciting recipes: From raw nut pulp hummus and vanilla almond cookies to sweet + savoury crackers and these beautiful little cupcakes, the recipe I decided to start off with.

Mini Raw Cacao Coconut Raspberry Cupcakes

There are hundreds of recipes for raw nut + date balls out there and I’m definitely a fan of them, but these are a little different, the texture is much “cakier” and they’re not so intensely sweet. The mild chocolatey coconut base pairs well with the zingy raspberry topping and prevents them from being cloying at all.

Mini Raw Cacao Coconut Raspberry Cupcakes

I changed up the recipe just a little bit to suit the quantities of nut pulp I had, as well as boosting the chocolate flavour and zipping up the topping a touch.

Mini Raw Cacao, Coconut + Raspberry Cupcakes

(Minimally adapted from Sweetly Raw)

For the Cake Base:

3/4C Almond pulp (Leftover from making almond milk- it should be dry and crumbly)
1 C Walnuts
1/4 C Raw cacao powder OR Cocoa powder (if not concerned for raw status)
Pinch salt
1 Recipe date paste (see below)
1/2 t vanilla
2T Melted coconut oil

Pulse walnuts and almond pulp together in a food processor until you get a coarse meal. Be careful not to over-process as it will turn to nut butter!)

Add salt, cacao powder, date paste and vanilla and process to form a thick dough.

Finally drizzle in the coconut oil and pulse briefly. Scrape out mixture into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer to firm up before shaping.

Roll the mixture into little balls with your fingers and place into petits-fours cases or mini muffin cups.

Pop the cakes back into the fridge until ready for the topping.

For the Date Paste:

1/3C Pitted, chopped, packed dates
2T Warm water
2T Agave nectar

Soak dates in warm water for 15 minutes to soften them up.

In food processor or short cup blender combine dates and water with agave nectar and blend until smooth. Stop and scrape down sides a couple of times so everything is incorporated. Set aside.

Mini Raw Cacao Coconut Raspberry Cupcakes

I’m not a fan of traditional cake frostings with vegan butter and powdered sugar-they’re always too sickly sweet for me. This cashew and coconut oil based frosting, on the other hand, is wonderful. It’s much healthier, though still very rich, and doesn’t leave you with a stomach ache.

For the Raspberry Topping:

1/2 C Raspberries ( I used defrosted frozen berries)
1/4C Cashews, soaked for a couple of hours, rinsed and drained
1T Agave nectar
1T Water
1 1/2 T Lemon juice
2 T Melted coconut oil

Blend all ingredients, except for coconut oil, in a high-powered blender until smooth. Add coconut oil and blend again for 1 minute.

Pour topping into a bowl and leave to thicken up in the fridge for at least 2 hours, especially if you want to pipe it onto the cupcakes.

Pipe or spread onto cupcakes. Move quickly as in warm temperatures it melts quite fast! Top with fresh raspberries if so desired.

Store in a sealed container in the fridge or freezer.

Makes 18-20 mini cupcakes

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly blog party Raw Foods Thursdays

What are you making with your leftover nut pulp?

Do you have any tips for minimising food waste?

Wheat Berry Salad with Chickpeas + Za’atar, Tahini Beetroot

Wheatberry Salad with Chickpeas + Za'atar

I’ve already talked about my love for Middle-Eastern flavours on the blog and I’m featuring them again today in another couple of recipes.

Dried pulses, fresh produce, herbs and spices, olive oil, lemon, garlic and grains are all characteristic ingredients in dishes from that part of the world. You can probably see why I’m drawn to them, given how naturally vegan-friendly they are, not to mention packed with flavour.

Za’atar is a herb and spice blend widely-used in the Middle-East.  Its specifics vary according to region but it usually includes toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme and sumac. It’s used as a seasoning for grilled vegetables, salads, sprinkled on top of hummus and mixed with olive oil and spread on flatbread, known as manakeesh.

I brought a bag of freshly ground sumac home  from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul last year and am always on the lookout for new ways to use this tangy, lemony spice. So far I’ve especially enjoyed it rubbed onto roasted potatoes, a light sprinkle on fattoush (cucumber, tomato, herb + pita salad), and now in this spice blend.

Wheat Berry Salad with Chickpeas + Za’atar

I love all the different textures in this salad, with the chewy wheat berries, tender chickpeas, melt-in-the-mouth roast aubergine and juicy fresh tomatoes. The combination made it satisfying enough for a supper salad, alongside my delicious tahini beetroot.Grain and bean salads hold up well for a while in the fridge too so this salad would be perfect to keep on hand for quick lunches throughout the week.

Wheat Berry Salad with Chickpeas + Za’atar

Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories

1 1/2C Cooked chickpeas/ 1 Can chickpeas
1/2C Wheatberries OR Farro OR Spelt berries
1 Large aubergine, diced into 1” chunks
1 T Olive oil, 1/2 t cumin seeds, 1/2 t sumac
1 C Cherry tomatoes, halved
2T Lemon juice
1T Olive oil
Salt + Pepper
Large handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1-2T Za’atar spice blend

Za’atar *

1T Toasted sesame seeds (toast in dry pan over medium heat, tossing occasionally, approx 5 minutes or until fragrant)
1T Sumac
1/2 T Dried thyme
1/4 T Ground cumin

* I just made a small amount, enough for this recipe and to rub on a few flatbreads but I recommend doubling the recipe as it’s nice to have prepared for other dishes.

Cook your wheat berries according to the package instructions. I used semi-pearled so they only took 30 minutes but they can take up to an hour. Drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and leave to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Toss the aubergine chunks with 1T oil, sumac and cumin seeds, spread in an even layer on a baking tray and roast at 200C/400F for 20-30 minutes until brown and very soft.

In a bowl combine wheat berries, chickpeas, warm roasted aubergine and halved cherry tomatoes. Mix in remaining olive oil, lemon juice and plenty of salt and pepper. Sprinkle liberally with chopped parsley and za’atar seasoning to taste. Toss again and serve.

Serves 3-4

Wheat Berry Salad with Chickpeas + Za’atar, Tahini Beetroot

The tahini beetroot I made to go with the salad is a repeat recipe in my kitchen. Everyone who tries it loves the stuff and it’s a great accompaniment to all sorts of dishes, not just those with Middle Eastern flavours.

I cut the beetroot in a different way each time I make it but I think I’ve finally decided that julienned (as in the below picture) is the way to go-  greater surface area allowing for maximum sauce coverage.

I originally found the recipe at The Kitchn but now know it off the top of my head.

Tahini Beetroot:

3-4 Small to medium beetroot, roasted and peeled (Scrub beetroot, slice off greens, wrap loosely in foil, place on a baking sheet and roast at 350C for approx 1 hour, or until the beetroot fall off a knife easily when pierced. Leave to cool and skin should rub off easily)
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1/4 t Sea salt
2T Tahini
1 1/2T Lemon juice
2-4 T Water

Slice cooled beetroot into thick matchsticks (or your preferred shape)

Use pestle and mortar to grind garlic and salt into a smooth paste. Add tahini and lemon and stir until homogeneous. It will separate initially but keep stirring and it will smooth out. Thin with water to desired thickness.

Combine sauce with beetroot in a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. It’s best left an hour or 2 to sit so the sauce soaks in.

Serve with the above salad or with a selection of mezze.

Tempeh Pasta alla Carbonara

Tempeh Pasta alla Carbonara

Pasta alla carbonara, the classic Italian dish, typically combines spaghetti with fried pancetta or bacon and a sauce made with eggs, cheese and cream. Decidedly non-vegan fare, but here of course done vegan-style!

Nuts show their magic once again in this velvety, animal-product free sauce (with tahini and cashew butter), and salty, crispy tempeh stands in brilliantly for the pancetta.

Ricki Heller is to thank for this recipe. Ricki writes the blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs, home to a phenomenal number of fantastic vegan kitchen creations-“sugar-free, gluten-free, allergy-friendly”.

I’ve made a lot of her recipes:  Grain-free coconut flour biscuits, Edamame seaweed saladLemony baked cheesecake, Warm chickpea + artichoke salad, Chocolate almond mousse, Fruity cabbage salad, Almond + curry sauce, Quinoa chickpea olive + prune tagine, Carob + date pancakes….just to name a few, and I can’t name any failures!

Tempeh Pasta Carbonara, close-up

My Granny was eating with us the evening I made this pasta and knowing that she doesn’t usually eat a lot I just gave her a small amount, but she was nabbing bits of the tempeh bacon from the serving dish and said how much she enjoyed it. I’ll make a vegan out of her yet…!

Tempeh Pasta Carbonara

There are a few components to the recipe but it really doesn’t take that long to come together so don’t be put off by the ingredients list and instructions.

Tempeh Pasta Carbonara

(Minimally adapted from Diet, Dessert, and Dogs)

For the Tempeh Bacon:

1/2 8oz/225g pkg Tempeh, very thinly sliced and diced into bite-size pieces.
1 1/2 T Tamari
1T Lemon juice
1/8 t Liquid smoke OR 1/4t smoked paprika
1 Clove garlic, minced
1T Olive oil
3-4 Drops liquid stevia OR 2-3t Agave/Maple syrup
1/4C + 1 T Water

For the Sauce:

1T Cashew butter
1/2T White miso
1/2T Tahini
1/8t Dijon mustard
1/8t Turmeric
Salt + Pepper
1/2C Almond milk, unsweetened
1/2C Vegetable broth
1T Arrowroot + 2-3T Hot Water

1/2C Green peas (fresh or frozen)

Enough Pasta for 2-3, any variety (I did 150g/1 heaping cup Brown Rice Fusilli which was enough for 3 modest servings)

1-2T Chopped Parsley

Prepare the tempeh bacon: Slice tempeh up, mix remaining ingredients in a large frying pan over medium heat and add tempeh.

Let simmer gently for approx 5 minutes until sauce begins to evaporate. Flip pieces over carefully and leave to brown for another 5 minutes. Flip tempeh one more time and cook the other side until brown and crispy. Turn off heat and set pan aside.

Prepare the pasta according to package instructions, in last couple of minutes of cooking time add your peas so they cook through. Drain, reserving 1/4 C pasta water.

While pasta is cooking prepare sauce:

In a medium pan over low heat whisk together ingredients on list up to and including salt and pepper. Gradually add milk and broth, whisking all the while to avoid lumps and produce a smooth sauce.

In a small bowl dissolve the arrowroot in the hot water. Gradually add this mixture to the sauce pan, keep whisking as it will thicken up pretty quickly. Continue to cook for a further minute until thick and creamy.

Add pasta, peas and tempeh pieces to the sauce pot, stir sauce through, cover and warm through for approx 5 minutes. If it looks a little dry add the reserved pasta water and continue to heat until warm and everything is nicely coated in the sauce.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Serves 2-3

Have you veganized any seemingly very un-vegan recipes?

What are your favourite Ricki recipes? If you’re unfamiliar with Diet, Dessert, and Dogs get over there now!

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
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

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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