Almond protein bars

I’m always on the look out for high protein snacks for big work out days. I came across this recipe from Lifestyle inc and thought I’d give it a go. I subsituted the eggs out of the recipe and added some dried fruit as I like the tartness it adds. The original recipe calls them muffins but they’re pretty solid and dense so I think they’re more of a bar, though they’re not bar-shaped so I guess they’re more like protein lumps ?! 🙂

170g Almond Butter

1 cup Flaked Almonds

1 cup Coconut milk / Almond milk

2 cups Dessicated Coconut

1/4 tsp Vanilla extract

2 tsp Agave Nectar or Sweet Freedom

3/4 cup Soya milk with 3 tbsp Lemon Juice/ Cider Vinegar added (to curdle it)

6 tbsp Cornflour or Arrowroot powder

1/4 cup Unrefined Raw Sugar / Coconut Palm Sugar

A handful of Dried apricots, blueberries etc

Preheat oven to 190 C. Line a muffin tin with muffin cases or grease a set of small loaf tins (this should make 9 – 12 depending muffins on the size). Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Have a little taste and adjust the sweetner if you need it sweeter. Then pour into the tin and bake for at least 30 mins, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Enjoy! 🙂

The Great Custard Taste Challenge

My challenge this weekend from my lovely taster friends was to whip up some dairy-free, vegan friendly custard..How?! I hear you cry! Is that even possible?

Well first off, did you know that Bird’s custard powder is completely dairy free? I bet you didn’t – the only vegan I know didn’t either! Bird’s custard powder does not and has never contained egg, or milk powder! All it contains is starch, salt, colouring (Annatto) and flavouring. When you make it you add the milk and sweetner, so you can make it dairy free if you like but using an alternative milk. So that’s all good I guess but frankly I don’t want to be eating articifical colourings and flavourings so I still thought I’d have a go at recreating that custardy yumminess myself and to make it just a little more fun I asked my two official tasters, Colette and Mel, and some special guest star tasters, Rod, Ben, Debs and Sue, to try all the recipes out to see which they liked best.

Top row from left – custard 5, custard 2, custard 4. Bottom Row from left – custard 3, custard 1

So my 5 recipes were:

1. Bird’s custard powder, made following the instructions using Soya milk and unrefined raw sugar.

2. 1 pint soya milk, 3 tbsp unrefined raw sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tbsp cornflour and a little water. The soya milk needs to be heated in a pan with the sugar to just below boiling point, stirring all the time to dissolve the sugar. meanwhile mix the cornflour with a very small amount of cold water to form a paste. Add that to the soya milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir all the time. Heat until you get the consistency you want. If you want it thicker add more cornflour.

3. 1 pint soya milk, agar flakes (follow the instructions on the packet for the amount of liquid used, I used 2 tbsps), agave nectar or sweet freedom to taste (about 2 – 3 tbsp but taste as you add!), half the seeds from a vanilla pod.  Heat the soya milk in a pan with the agar flakes stir until the flakes dissolve and bring to a very gentle boil then continue to heat for as long as it takes to dissolve them! Add the agave and vanilla at any time. It won’t set in the pan so it will still appear very runny, but as it cools it will start to get thicker so once the agar is dissolved you can take it off the heat and allow to cool.

4.1 carton of silken tofu (approx 350g or so), 1/3 cup of agave nectar or sweet freedom, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, pinch of salt. Blend all the ingredients together using a wand blender or normal blender. Chill to set.

5. 1 pint almond milk, agave nectar or sweet freedom (to taste – probably about 2 – 3 tbsp), seeds from 1/2 pod of vanilla, 1 tbsp cornflour and a little water. As for number one, heat the milk in a pan with the sugar to just below boiling point and add the agave or sweet freedom – stir to dissolve. Meanwhile mix the cornflour with a very small amount of cold water to form a paste. Add that to the soya milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir all the time. Heat until you get the consistency you want. If you want it thicker add more cornflour.

If any of them have lumps (which depending how good your stirring is then then may!) then just pass them through a sieve. They can be served chilled or warm!

Right so what was the verdict?

Debs and Sue braving the taste challenge...

  • Number 1 came in top from all my tasters – Debs said it was perfect and Sue agreed. This was Colette, Rod’s and Ben’s favourite.
  • Number 2  Joint top! Mel said it looked funny but it tasted lovely, Debs would be very happy to have over crumble and Sue said it was fab. Rod and Ben liked this and Colette thought it could be as good as number 1 with a bit more sweetner
  • Number 3  Mel wasn’t keen on this one, Debs said not much taste and Sue didn’t like the texture. Rod liked this one.
  • Number 4  – Everyone thought it was too cinnamony – and generally would be a nice accompaniment to things but wasn’t really a custard (and I agree).
  • Number 5 –  they all said it was ok but not great

So unsurprisingly everyone liked number 1! I think a big part of this is the fact that it “looks” like custard (i.e. fake yellow!) and of course it’s the taste we’re all conditioned to! But I’m pretty chuffed that number 2 came in joint top as it was my attempt to replicate it. In fact it’s not surprising as it’s basically the same ingredients, just without the articifical flavourings and colourings.

Number 5 was probably a bit too almondy but if you like almond milk it’s worth a try. The tofu one is a pretty nice accompaniment for a warm dessert but it’s not a custard really. The agar one was the least successful and I’m not surprised  – it sets too hard and becomes more of a pudding, it’s also hard to work with.

So the winner is soya milk (or whatever milk of your choice), cornflour, unrefined sugar and vanilla!

Top tip – if you hanker for a dairy free crème brûlée you can use this recipe with just a bit more cornflour. Pour into ramekins and leave in the fridge to set! 🙂 Pop a few raspberries or blueberries in before it sets if you want a fruity version, then when you’re ready to eat just remove from the fridge, sprinkly with coconut palm sugar (or unrefined raw sugar) and melt with a blowtorch or under the grill until you get a cripsy topping! 🙂 ta da!


Ah pancake day is here again! I was going to try to resist jumping on the pancake posting bandwagon but I just can’t help myself!

There are loads of awesome recipes out there but this year I’m going for this gluten-free  recipe from Pure Form Fitness. I’ve used homemade puree’d apple as the egg subsitute and they’re light, fluffy and frankly delicious! I’m having my first batch (of many!) with fruit and maple syrup! Then I’m cracking out the lemon and sugar I think…..

Another fab recipe for vegan pancakes is from the Toxic Vegan. I tried these yesterday and they’re yummy!

And this popped in to my inbox this morning  from Paperbagblog which is FULL of lovely sounding recipes so give them a go!

Hope you all have a lovely pancake day! I’m off to troff some more .. nom nom nom 🙂

Pear and Almond Frangipane – Gluten and Dairy Free

I absolutely LOVE almond and whenever there’s a frangipane or almond tart on offer somewhere you can bet that that will be the cake I choose. So when I came across this awesome recipe I just had to try it! It’s from Isa’s website but I’ve modified it to make it gluten free and substituted the margarine for coconut oil which is much healthier and less processed. My tasters almost didn’t get any of this as I pretty much inhaled it as soon as it came out the oven!

For the pastry:

2/3 cup Ground Almonds
1 cup Rice Flour / Gluten Free Plain Flour Mix / Spelt Flour (for low gluten not gluten free option)
2 tbsp Coconut Palm Sugar / Unrefined Raw Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt (ideally Himalayan Rock Salt)
6 tbsp Olive Oil
3 – 4 tbsp Cold Almond Milk

For the frangipane:

6 tbsp Coconut Oil (don’t melt it)
2/3 cup Coconut Palm Sugar / Unrefined Raw Sugar
1 and 1/4 cup Ground Almonds
2 tbsp Cornflour
pinch salt
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
2/3 cup Almond Milk
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Almond Extract
4 Pears (I used conference pears as it’s what I had in my fridge!), peeled, cored and sliced

Preheat the oven to 175 C.

Start with the pastry. Put the ground almonds into a food processor with the flour and salt and pulse to combine. Keep pulsing and add in the olive oil gradually. Add 2 tablespoons of almond milk and keep pulsing. The mixture should hold together when pressed, if it doesn’t then add some more almond milk, pulsing all the time, until it does. At this point have a taste. If you want a sweeter pastry then add some more sugar until you get the desired flavour. Press it into a pie dish. This amount should do a 9 inch pan. Using a fork prick the base of the pastry shell and place in the oven for 15 minutes to blind bake.

Now for the frangipane (my favourite bit! 🙂 ).Put the coconut oil, sugar, ground almonds, cornflour, cinnamon and salt in a food processor and pulse until well combined and all crumbly. Slowly add the almond milk, vanilla extract and almond extract whilst still pulsing the food processor until it forms a thick batter. Pour the batter into the pre-baked pastry shell. Peel and core the pears, slice them in half and then into thin slices (about a 1/4 of an inch thick). Lay the pear slices in the batter – overlap them and push them in so about 2/3 is under the batter and the top is sticking out (so you need to put them in at an angle if that makes sense!). Bake the tart for 40 – 45  minutes or until the top is golden brown, then move the tart onto a cooling rack and cool for 20 minutes.

warning - this is seriously addictive

Because I used coconut oil, not margarine, for the frangipane this came out as rather like a treacle tart in texture. Now I quite liked that but if you want something a little more cakey then you might want to use vegetable shortening instead. I’ve not tried it yet (though I will be!) but a more solid fat should help with that. Personally I love the flavour the coconut oil gives and I can cope with a nice sticky tart! 🙂

Almond, Pear and Tahini Cake – gluten and dairy free!

This is a recipe that a friend very kindly sent me from a newspaper clipping. I was a little dubious how this would turn out but I actually really like it. It’s got a lovely mix of richness and sweetness from the pear, some crunch from the almonds and then a fab very slightly savoury note from the tahini. I think you could probably reduce the amount of tahini and up the amount of date syrup if you prefer things sweeter. I tried this out on a couple of people without telling them what was in it and they all loved it so I think it’s a winner! 🙂

240g Tahini

260g Date Syrup

220g Rice flour/ gluten -free plain flour mix / spelt flour (if you want low gluten not gluten free)

100g Whole Almonds, chopped roughly (or pulversised in a pestel and mortar for a bit!)

150g Pears, peeled, cored and diced

250ml Pressed Apple Juice (the best you can get)

1tsp Gound Cinnamon

1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

Preheat the oven to 170 C and grease a 23 cm cake tin (a smaller one will also work, you’ll just have a deeper cake!)

Make sure the tahini is well stirred as the oil tends to separate out in the jar. Add to a bowl with the date syrup and mix until well combined.  In a separate bowl add the flour, cinnamon, almonds and pear and mix together. Add the bicarbonate of soda to the tahini mix and stir well. Then add a third of the flour mix and mix well. Add half the apple juice and mix again. Add another third of the flour mix and the final half of the apple juice and mix. Then finally add the rest of the flour mix.  Stir well until combined then pour into a the tin.

Place in oven and bake for 45 mins. Then turn the oven down to 160 C and bake for a further 30 mins. For the final 10 mins loosely cover with foil. Keep an eye on this cake – because it’s dark it’s hard to see when it’s starting to be a bit too well done (aka burnt!), if it starts to look too done just pop the foil on sooner, otherwise it will look like mine! I like burnt edges on my cakes though so I was happy! 🙂 Once done remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin for 10 mins before transferring to a wire rack.

fresh out the oven!

As I said before, the people I tried it on who didn’t know what was in it loved it! My loyal tasters also liked this cake, though some thought it needed a bit of something to sweeten it up. You could add more date syrup and remove some tahini, or some chopped dates or prunes would liven it up a bit too. I’d say adding a good handful of dates would do the trick! I’ll be trying that next time 🙂

Raw chocolate truffles! :)

As it’s valentine’s day I just had to give this recipe for raw chocolate truffles a try. I modified the recipe a bit – I subsituted the honey in the original recipe with Agave and because they tasted a bit sweet to me I added in a tablespoon of carob powder too. They’re not half bad for a healthy truffle and very easy to make!

a perfect post dinner treat

This will make loads! I cut the ingredients down by a third and it made 10 decent sized truffles, but I’ve put the original amounts here so you can decide for yourselves how many to make! 🙂

3/4 cup Raw Cacao Powder

2 cups of Ground Almonds

1/2 cup Agave Syrup

3 tbsp Carob Powder

1 tbsp Coconut oil

Dessicated coconut for rolling

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. If the coconut oil is too solid you may need to soften it first in the microwave. Once combined roll into truffles and roll in dessicated coconut. They can be eaten immediately but are best if chilled first – either in the freezer or fridge for as long as you can wait! 🙂