Vanilla Cashew Butter

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I have the biggest backlog of recipes waiting to go on the blog but this turned out so unbelievably amazing that I had to share it with you! I’m a nut butter fanatic at the best of times but this has now trumped peanut and almond butter. It is so creamy and sweet and wow – just delicious! We finished one jar of it within 2 days and this is the second jar. Requests are coming in from the family now to make more for everyone. You seriously have to make this and spread it on anything – or just eat it off the spoon, whatever, just make it! Oh, and it’s really high in protein so great for spreading on toast for the kids. I actually spread a bit of it on Braxton’s porridge bars for him.

So easy to make and only 2 ingredients – there’s just no need for store bought!

Ingredients

1.5 cups cashews
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla pod

Method

You will need a high-speed blender for this, a normal blender won’t break it down enough unfortunately. I love the Vitamix – you can literally make anything with it!

Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Put the cashews on a roasting tray and put in the oven for 10 minutes, until they go golden but not burnt – keep an eye on them.

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Once they’re out the oven, put them in the blender with either a tsp of vanilla bean paste or the insides of a vanilla pod scraped out and turn the blender up to the highest variable until it starts breaking it down into a thick butter – about 3 minutes.

Once it is a bulky consistency, get it all off the bottom with a spoon, then turn down the variable and the speed and start again on a low speed. Gently increase the speed keeping the variable on low. Over the course of about 3-4 minutes it will make it runny. You should wait until it goes really runny even though you think it might be tasty when it is thick. It’s worth the wait!

Vanilla cashew butter 1

Love and health,
Lauren

Apple Pear Blueberry Vanilla Baby Blend

Apple Pear Blueberry Vanilla

Braxton is 9 months now so he’s eating a lot more ‘solid’ food but he also loves these sort of things for breakfast so I still make them. You can give these purees from the beginning of weaning – although I am a strong believer in waiting until 6 months before introducing solids as it reduces chances of allergies or autoimmune diseases by giving the gut time to mature before introducing anything new.

This is super sweet and delicious and the vanilla gives it such a yummy flavour. It’s one of Braxton’s favourites! The blueberries are a great source of antioxidant so try giving them a few times a week when they are in season.

Ingredients

1 apple
1 pear
A handful of blueberries
1 vanilla pod or half tsp vanilla bean paste
3 tbsp almond / oat / rice / coconut milk (whichever is your preference)

Method

Peel, core and chop the apple and pear and wash the blueberries.

Put them in a saucepan with the almond milk and open up the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds, or add the vanilla bean paste.

Simmer on a medium heat until soft – around 8-10 minutes, then put in the blender and serve once it’s cool enough.

Love and health,
Lauren & Braxton

Grandma’s Healthy Chocolate Birthday Cake (and a new sugar substitute)

Chocolate Olive Oil Bday Cake 1

It was my husband’s grandma’s 89th birthday on Friday and I adore her so it was only right to spoil her with chocolate cake! But of course it had to be healthy so I got inspiration for this one from Nigella’s chocolate olive oil cake, I just changed the ingredients around to make it healthier and added a chocolate mousse topping. Suffice it to say, grandma (and everyone else) loved it!

I’ve started using Natvia natural sweetener instead of coconut palm sugar. It is a really excellent natural sweetener that is a great alternative to sugar. It’s very low GI which makes it great for diabetics but also generally everyone, as sugar makes our bodies a breeding ground for caner, it’s GMO free, 100% certified organic and tastes amazing. I bought it on Amazon but I am hearing that it is now available in Tesco so that’s great news! I’m going to double this up to make a double layer cake with the mousse in the middle and on top for Braxton’s 1st birthday.

Chocolate Olive Oil Bday Cake 2

Ingredients

150ml extra-virgin olive oil (and a little extra for greasing) – my favourite is Cinque Foglie by Danilo Manco in Puglia, Italy
50g raw cacao powder
125ml boiling water
2 tsp vanilla extract
150g ground almonds
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch Himalayan salt
150g Natvia or coconut palm sugar
3 free-range organic eggs

Chocolate mousse topping:
1 ripe avocado
2 ripe bananas
6 dates
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp cacao powder
Pinch Himalayan salt

Method

Preheat oven to 170° and grease a springform cake tin, line base with baking paper and grease with olive oil.

Sift the cacao into a bowl and whisk in the boiling water with a fork until you have a smooth, chocolatey, still runny paste. If you have a Kitchenaid or electric whisk with its own bowl, do it in this; it will make it extra creamy. Whisk in the vanilla, then set aside to cool.

In another bowl combine the ground almonds with bicarbonate of soda,  baking powder and salt.

Put the sugar and olive oil into a bowl and beat together with the electric whisk for about 3 minutes, then add the eggs one at a time, with a slow speed so it aerates. After the 3 minutes, add the ground almond mix, and mix until incorporated.

Finally, add the chocolate mix slowly until combined and pour into the prepared tin.

You can do all of this with a handheld whisk, a fork and spoon if you don’t have a Kitchenaid but using one will just make the mixture a bit creamier. I have done it with and without and was nice both times – just a bit fluffier with!

Bake for about 30 mins. The sides should be set but not burn tand the top centre should still look very slightly damp.

Remove the cake from the oven. Leave to cool for 30 mins before removing from the tin.

While in the oven make the mousse layer by mixing all the ingredients in the blender, put it in a bowl and leave in the fridge until later.

 

Once it is completely cool add the mousse layer on top and put in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.

Sprinkle with some raw cacao on top to serve.

Enjoy!

Love & health,
Lauren

Broad Bean, Sweet Potato & Cumin Plus Baby Led Weaning vs Blended

Broad bean, sweet pot, onion, cumin

How great are these Nuk by Annabel Karmel food cube trays? Perfect for batch cooking for your little ones.

So, let’s talk baby led weaning (BLW). I had intentions of doing only baby led with Braxton but when the time came (when he was 6 months), he wasn’t very good at picking food up and he started getting very frustrated. So I decided that ‘baby led’, for me anyway, means being led by your own baby. Why should I let him get frustrated just because I’d decided I wanted to do something a certain way? He was trying to communicate with me that it wasn’t working for him, and he needed some more time, but was certainly ready to eat the food, so I decided to do a mixture of blended foods and BLW.

He’s now nearly 9 months so feeds himself a lot, and he’s got so good at it! He’s even perfected his pincer grip and understands how to take a bite and keep the rest in his hand while he chews, then finish what’s in his hand when he’s ready, so I give him a lot of food that he can feed himself with, but I still spoon feed him some things as I want to make sure he gets heaps of nutrients so I’ll make a blend of veg like this one, and it’s too hard for him to feed himself with a spoon.

What I’m saying is that we do a mixture of the two. At the beginning I’d mainly feed him myself but always give him something he could hold himself with each meal; some avocado, a piece of cucumber, a piece of broccoli, some roast chicken cut in strips.

This has all worked really well for us and he most definitely has still developed when it comes to his fine motor skills and hand-mouth coordination, despite what the militant baby led weaners told me about doing a mixture!

When it comes down to it, you have to read your own baby, as they are all so different, and do what works best for YOUR baby and YOUR family. This has worked brilliantly for us and I love that we can be flexible.

I hadn’t planned to make this, but I was sent broad beans in my Abel & Cole box this week, so I decided to make this mixture and it worked really well.

Ingredients 

1 bag of broad beans (they should come in their pods, then you must take them out of the pods)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 tsp cumin
1 cube of homemade bone broth / veg stock or a low salt Kallo stock cube

Method

Shell your broad beans then put them, along with the other veg, into the steamer (this helps the veg retain more nutrients than boiling them).

If your stock cube is homemade and frozen, melt it in a saucepan over a low heat. If you are using a store-bought stock cube, mix it in a quarter cup boiling water.

When the veg are soft, put them in the blender with the stock and cumin and blend until smooth or leave lumps if you prefer.

I hope your baby likes this as much as mine did!

Love,
Lauren & Braxton

Double Decker Banana Cake

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It has taken a while, but I have definitely perfected my banana cake recipe (it’s slightly different to my banana bread) although I seriously underestimate my amazing new oven and every recipe seems to need 5 minutes less than in my old oven so the sides are very slightly overdone. I wanted to make this one a bit more exciting than plain banana cake as we were entertaining so I halved the mixture and added cacao to one half to create a double-decker effect. I hope you love it as much as we all did – it got eaten pretty quickly!

Ingredients

4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 heaped tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp chia or flax seeds
4 tbsp filtered water
1 cup buckwheat flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean syrup or vanilla extract
¼ cup almond milk
3 tbsp cacao powder
1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 180° and line a loaf tin with baking paper and grease with coconut oil.

Mix the chia or flax seeds in a small bowl with the water and set aside so it can set.

Mash the bananas in a large bowl and add the coconut oil and maple, then add the chia / flax mix and mix well.

Now add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

Move just under half the batter into another bowl and add the almond milk, cacao powder and vanilla, and, if using, mix in the chocolate chips.

Pour the plain batter into the loaf tin then add the chocolate batter on top. I made it a double-decker but if you want a marbled effect you can cut through the batter with a knife so that the top layer sinks down to the bottom layer in places.

Slice a banana length ways and add to the top of the cake and put it in the oven for 35 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

Leave on a wire rack to cool then turn out of the loaf tin onto a plate.

Delicious served with peanut or almond butter!

Enjoy!

Love and health,
Lauren

 

 

WEANING! Mini Fish Pies For Your Mini People

  • Mini fish pies

The most stressful and time consuming aspect of parenthood for most new mums seems to be food! I mean these tiny people need to eat 3 meals a day, EVERY DAY! Oh, and snacks! And we have to organise and prepare these meals, make sure they’re healthy, have all the right ingredients and none of the wrong ones, and make sure there is something available at all times. It’s bloody hard work!

Please don’t think that just because I run this site that it is any less stressful for me. I find that the only way to make it even slightly less stressful is to be very very organised. I sit down with my laptop on a Saturday morning and plan my meals for the week, then order the online shop from Abel & Cole. I then sit and work out at which times of which days I will cook these things. After all, it’s not always possible to be in the kitchen when you have a baby. Once I’ve written all this down, it feels a lot less overwhelming and I can get on with my weekend!

So following on from that, I thought I’d help you all out a little bit and start adding baby meals to the website. It will have its own category in the drop-down list also, to make it easier to find things.

Here are some mini fish pies – dairy free of course – with just great ingredients and no nasties.

Ingredients

A pack of fish pie mix (I use Abel & Cole, otherwise a mix of salmon, cod and haddock or your own choice of fish)
About 8-10 white potatoes
1/2 tsp coconut oil
Almond milk (the quantity will depend on the size of your saucepan)
1 bay leaf
1 cube pre-prepared homemade vegetable or chicken stock, or 1 Kallo low salt organic vegetable stock cube
Half a cup of frozen peas
Vegan margarine spread
Freshly ground pepper and Himalayan salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Peel and chop the potatoes and put them in a saucepan, cover with water and boil.

At the same time, rub the fish with the coconut oil then put it in a saucepan and cover with almond milk. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and add the stock cube, bay leaf, some pepper. You can add some pink Himalayan salt if you do want to add salt. The fish should all look cooked after about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander, holding back a very small amount of the liquid, just enough to keep it moist then put it back in the saucepan and set aside for a minute.

Put the peas in a saucepan, add water, bring to the boil and drain.

Go back to the fish, Remove the bay leaf and gently mash the bits of fish, breaking them up so they are not whole chunks but also not broken up too small. Add the peas then add this mix to the individual ramekin dishes or disposable mini silver dishes.

Once the potatoes are ready, drain the water and mash well. Add about a fifth of a cup of almond milk and a tbsp vegan margarine and mix until smooth. Add a small pinch of Himalayan salt and mix again.

Add this layer to the top of the fish layer, rub a little vegan margarine over the top of each one and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

Once cool you can freeze them and defrost as and when you need them.

I hope your babies enjoy this as much as my baby did!

Love,
Lauren (& Braxton!)

Orange, Cardamom & Fig Cake

 

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I have been making a gluten / dairy / refined sugar-free chocolate orange cake for years and it’s a favourite of my husband and his family. It’s the dessert they request from me most often. I’ve recently discovered my love for cardamom in cakes and I thought, what tastes go better together than orange and cardamom? So I amended my chocolate orange cake slightly to add cardamom and figs.

This cake is gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar-free but it is not vegan as it uses eggs.

It may seem like it would be a difficult cake to make but it’s actually really easy to throw together, the only bits that need a little bit more attention are the figs that will be on the top of the cake, and grinding the cardamom seeds but to honest, neither of these things are difficult, just a little more time consuming.

I made it this weekend for dessert for a BBQ we were hosting and it went down a treat.

Orange Cardamom Fig Cake 2

 

Ingredients

2 large oranges
6 free-range eggs
250g ground almonds
200g coconut palm sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of Himalayan salt
The seeds of 10 cardamom pods
5 or 6 fresh figs

To garnish:
A drizzle of honey or agave nectar
Flaked almonds

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Put the oranges in a saucepan big enough to be able to cover them with water. Boil for about an hour or until very soft and you can see the skin opening.

Cut into quarters and leave to cool on the chopping board for about 10 minutes. Remove seeds.

Put them in the food processor / blender and blitz until they become a pulp. Add the eggs while the food processor is still working (on a low speed until you put the lid back on) as this will aerate the eggs. Blend well and leave it to the side for the moment.

In a large bowl mix the ground almonds, palm sugar, baking powder and salt. Then open up all the cardamom pods, put them in a pestle and mortar or coffee / spice grinder and grind until they are no longer whole. Once ground, add to the flour mix.

Now spoon the orange mixture into the dry mix and mix really well. Make sure to get all the flour from the bottom and sides of the bowl. Set aside for a moment.

Cut a sheet of baking paper to fit a 23cm springform cake tin and place it at the bottom of the tin then grease generously with coconut oil on the paper and the sides of the tin.

Cut the figs into fine slices and layer them over the bottom of the tin. Once totally covered, add the cake mixture and put it into the oven for 40-45 minutes. Your fork should come out clean but wet – this cake has to be moist.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour – this is important. Once cool, slowly release the buckle of the cake tin and remove, then put a large plate on top of the cake and slowly turn it upside down to release the cake onto the plate. Remove the baking paper.

Sprinkle a handful of flaked almonds on top and drizzle with honey or agave and serve.

Enjoy!

Love,
Lauren

Cauliflower ‘Couscous’ with Sesame, Sweet Potato & Asparagus

Cauliflower Couscous

Who would have thought you could take a vegetable and turn it into a carb substitute? Sometimes we just fancy a bit of stodge for dinner, right?? Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable and by blitzing it in the Vitamix, we can turn it into a couscous-like consistency. You can pretty much add anything you like to it and, as usual, I’ve added whatever I already had in my fridge. This entire meal is plant-based and super healthy.

Ingredients

1 large cauliflower
2 sweet potatoes
Tsp coconut oil
A bunch of asparagus
About 8 chestnut mushrooms, chopped (or any mushrooms will do)
5th of a cup of water
Handful coriander
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Some sesame oil
1/2 tsp paprika
Handful sundried tomatoes
Himalayan salt & ground black pepper

Optional:
1/4 cucumber, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
Gluten free tacos
Halloumi – if not vegan

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Peel and dice the sweet potato then put them on a baking tray with a tsp coconut oil and some Himalayan salt. Once the oven heats up the coconut oil will be melted and you can pull out the tray and mix it around to make sure it covers all the pieces of the potato. Cook for around 20 minutes, or until soft.

Cut the cauliflower into florets and put them in the blender and blitz until a couscous-like consistency is formed. Leave to the side.

Heat some sesame oil in a pan and add the asparagus and mushrooms. Mix around then add about a 5th of a cup of water and add this so the steam will cook the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and once cooked, remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add a tiny bit more sesame oil then once hot, add the cauliflower couscous to the pan and turn the heat to medium. Mix around for 1-2 minutes then add the sesame seeds and let it all heat through. Add the coriander, paprika some salt and pepper and mix for another minute, then re add the asparagus and mushrooms and mix.

Once heated through, put it on a plate or bowl, remove the sweet potato from the oven and add it to the top.

At this point you can add all the optional extras to the top or put it all inside a gluten free taco or wrap and devour!

Enjoy!

Love,
Lauren

Summer Lunch Salad

Winter Lunch Salad

I’m going to give my mum the credit for this one as she came round and made it for me! So yummy and so full wonderful nutritious organic fruits and vegetables and it really filled me up.

Ingredients

Handful fresh spinach
5 radishes
Some asparagus (we only had tinned but best to use fresh, steam first)
Half an avocado
Half a pear
2 boiled eggs
Handful pomegranate
Tsp organic natural maple syrup
Tsp balsamic vinegar

Method

Chop all the veg and put it on a plate then pour the dressings over and add a bit of Himalayan salt if you like. That simple!

Enjoy!

Love,
Lauren

 

 

 

Mushroom & Spinach Frittata

Mushroom spinach frittata

Another easy dinner choice, a variation on my last frittata. You can pretty much add anything you want to it – whatever is in the fridge and needs to be used. It’s one of those ‘Thursday night meals’!

Ingredients

6 organic free-range eggs
1 tsp English mustard
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
Half a bag of spinach
A generous helping of button mushrooms
About 8 cherry tomatoes
Handful of parsley
Splash of almond milk
Salt & pepper (I used Oryx desert salt)
Coconut oil or spread of choice for the pan

Method

Boil your potatoes (already sliced) for no more than 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Cut up the tomatoes into quarters, chop the mushrooms, roughly chop the parsley and wash and drain the spinach.

Beat the eggs in a bowl, then add the almond milk, mustard, salt and pepper.

Melt the oil or vegan butter in a large frying pan. Once hot, add the egg mix, then add the potatoes, pushing them down so they are semi-covered by the eggs. Then add the rest of the veg and do the same thing.

Turn the heat to medium-high and let it cook for around 5 minutes. While it’s doing this, turn on your grill.

Once the frittata has cooked on the bottom, put the pan under the grill for a further few minutes, until you can see it has cooked through.

Serve with a crisp, fresh salad.

Enjoy!

Love,
Lauren