Summer Squash, Sweet Potato & Turmeric Baby Blend

Sweet potato summer squash turmeric

And another use for those summer squashes my mum brought back from Suffolk! This time in batch cooking for Braxton. He’s old enough to be eating proper solid food now but I still make the odd bit of mush to mix in with it as he likes it, and also it’s a great way to get things like turmeric into him for anti-inflammatory goodness.

Ingredients
2 summer squashes
2 sweet potatoes
1 tsp (if powder) or 4 tbsp (if liquid) homemade or organic, low salt vegetable stock
1 tsp turmeric

Method

Steam the vegetables for about 10 minutes or until soft then put them in the blender with the stock and turmeric and blend until you reach desired consistency.

Love & health,
Lauren & Braxton

Veggie Steady Cook

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Hare Krishna!

I was asked by a dear friend if I’d like to be involved in Veggie Steady Cook, a fun vegetarian cooking demonstration in one of the tents for the Janmashtami festival (Krishna’s birthday) at the Hare Krishna Manor in Watford.

I spend a lot of time at the manor, and over the past 4 years have been learning about the culture, taking yoga there and making some amazing friends who have taught me how to be a better person through learning about Krishna Consciousness.

When Braxton was born, the wonderful president of the manor, Srutidharma Das, kindly offered to do a ceremony for the baby, and it was wonderful. Braxton seemed very happy and content there – probably because he was so used to hearing the chanting from all the chanting I did during pregnancy and labour. I grew up in a Jewish home, so at first it seemed a little counter-intuitive, but I do believe that we all come from the same God, regardless of the title we give this God, and chanting just makes one feel that little bit closer to God, to Love, to the enlightenment we all crave. It is a form of meditation that almost transcends you to somewhere else, and I have never taken part in a kirtan where I didn’t leave feeling better than I did when I started. Titles don’t really matter to me; what matters is that I continue to grow, to evolve, to learn, to become a better human being. The friends I have met through the Hare Krishna Movement have taught me about this and I continue to embrace anything that makes me a better person. Even my husband embraced it and it has become a big part of our lives. I highly recommend reading Radhanath Swami’s book – The Journey Home – a story about how a young Jewish boy growing up during the counterculture in 1960s Chicago, became the head of the Hare Krishna movement and one of the most respected spiritual figures in the world.

So, when I was asked to help out at Janmashtami I was really excited. We honestly had the best day creating some incredible vegetarian dishes and we had a little cookbook made out of all our 37 recipes. There are still some available if you are interested!

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Please join the Veggie Steady Cook Facebook page for more info and to hear about all our recipes.

Here is a video of me doing one of the shows

Here are some pictures from the day…

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Love & health,
Lauren

 

Apple & Redcurrant Crumble

Apple & Redcurrant Crumble 1

Following on from the post about my mum going to the farmer’s market when she was in Suffolk, other than the summer squashes, she also bought me some lovely redcurrants. I have to say it’s not something I usually buy but they are so pretty and I had loads of apples (and was entertaining, as usual!) so I thought, why not make a crumble. It’s a real British dessert and redcurrants are typical of the ‘English country garden’ so it worked really well.

Just like the Natvia natural sugar substitute I use in this (and many other) recipe, redcurrants have a lower glycemic index value than many other fruits. They are also really good for the hair and skin and, just like its cousin the blueberry, the redcurrant is a great antioxidant. All in all I’d say this crumble is essential for your general wellbeing!

Ingredients

For the fruit layer:
A large handful of redcurrants, picked off the stalks
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
Juice of 2 oranges, reserve the zest of 1 orange
1 tsp Natvia
2 tbsp honey

For the crumble:
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup almonds, soaked for 6 hours
60ml coconut oil
40ml raw honey

Method

Firstly, remember to pre-soak the almonds. Drain, rinse & pat them dry.

Preheat the oven to 180 C.

In a saucepan combine all the fruit layer ingredients. Simmer for around 10-15 minutes until tender. Once softened, pour into an oven-proof dish.

For the crumble, put the oats, ground flaxseed, salt, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest and almonds into a food processor. Process until a crumb-like texture forms. Add the coconut oil and honey and combine well. Spread over the rhubarb mixture.

Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until the crumble is golden and the sauce is bubbling up around the edges. Best served warm, but also delicious served at room temperature for breakfast the next day, with some coconut yoghurt. This was Braxton’s breakfast for 2 days in a row!

Apple & Redcurrant Crumble 2

Love & health,
Lauren

Vegan Lemon & Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I love muffins and cupcakes, but I try to stay away from the ones packed with refined sugar, gluten and dairy these days. My favourite was always lemon and poppy seed so I thought I’d try to make my own today. I’m loving using my Natvia natural sugar substitute and wanted to try it in muffins and they turned out beautifully – a real indulgent afternoon snack with a cup of herbal tea!

Ingredients

2 flax eggs (mix 2 tbsp ground flax seed with 5 tbsp water and leave aside in a bowl)
¼ cup vegan margarine / non-dairy butter/spread (room temperature, soft)
¼ cup Natvia
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp almond milk
2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp maple syrup (optional, omit for diabetics or low GI)

Frosting:
2 tbsp non-dairy butter / marge at room temperature
2 tbsp Natvia
2 tbsp lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a cupcake / muffin baking tin with cupcake cases.

Prepare your flax eggs by mixing the flax seeds and water in a bowl and setting aside.

Put the margarine in a bowl and whip with a fork or a handheld whip.

Add the Natvia and mix, then add the flax eggs and mix until totally combined.

Add the vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest and combine.

Now add the buckwheat flour, slowly, and mix as you go until you have added it all, then add the baking powder, then the almond milk and poppy seeds and mix until incorporated.

Spoon the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake for around 12 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean but they are still fairly moist.

Love & health,
Lauren

 

 

Summer Berry Smoothie Bowl

Summer berry smoothie bowl

The never-ending battle of making breakfasts interesting and fun yet healthy and nutritious for our little ones! Braxton loves smoothies and that is his breakfast most morning but in the summer we can cool it down even more with a delicious, creamy smoothie bowl. There are so many amazing berries available at the moment and berries are excellent anti-oxidants so these were thrown right into our smoothie bowl!

You can really pack these with superfoods to ensure you are getting the best possible amount of nutrients into your kids at the start of the day. I always put acai berry powder in my smoothies as it’s such an incredible anti-oxidant so is great for the immune system, and chia seeds as they are pure protein and the best time of the day to have protein is the morning. Then I decide which out of the following I want to include also: flax seeds, lucuma powder, maca powder, bee pollen, baobab powder, hemp seeds. If you have all these superfoods stocked in your pantry, you will be ensuring your family a great start to each day.

By the way, smoothie bowls are more like ice cream and smoothies are just smoothies.

Ingredients

2 frozen bananas (cut them in slices and set them on a plate to freeze, at least the night before)
Handful frozen blueberries
5 frozen strawberries
Handful redcurrants
Handful damsons or elderberries
Dash of almond milk (or oat, rice or coconut milk)
3 dates
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tsp acai berry powder
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp maca powder
1 tsp hemp seeds

Optional toppings:
Strawberries
Blueberries
Redcurrants
Damsons
Desiccated coconut
Chai seeds
Cherries – stones removed

Method

Put all the ingredients into the blender and blend until an ice cream-like consistency forms and finish with your choice of toppings.

Brax eating smoothie bowl This is how much Brax loved his smoothie bowl!

Love & health,
Lauren & Braxton

Gioia – An Amazing Plant-Based Restaurant in Marbella

IMG_8375Braxton trying to steal my juice!

We spent two weeks in Spain recently. We are fortunate enough that Daniel’s parents have a place in Estepona so it makes it really easy when travelling with a baby as we already have everything we need there.

When we arrive the first thing we usually do is take ourselves to the natural health shop down the road to stock up on superfoods, smoothie ingredients (Braxton loves his breakfast smoothie!) and other foods and bits, so that we can eat at home some of the time. But we also love eating out; after all, what is a holiday if you have to cook all the time? And I love Spanish food. I do relax with my diet a little bit on holiday but I still don’t have dairy or sugar and still don’t give Braxton dairy or sugar; for me, they are the worst ‘foods’ and once you’re used to it, it’s not hard to stay away from them. I could be a little more lax now I’m back in remission but it’s just not worth it, for my remission, my stomach and Braxton’s all-round health. I do enjoy the odd glass of wine or a gin and tonic though!

So anyway, when we were in the health shop, the guy in there told us about a new vegan restaurant that had opened up in Marbella, only 20 minutes from where we stay. My husband, who used to be the world’s biggest meat eater and couldn’t fathom the idea of a vegan diet, got so excited and made sure it was our first meal out. It still amazes me how he’s embraced this lifestyle so openly.

We arrived at the place and although it was small and discreet, it was perfectly shabby chic; English country garden-style wrought iron chairs outside underneath a tree, reclaimed-wood chairs and small wooden tables indoors within a bright, minimalistic yet warm atmosphere with a dessert bar and a book stand. The only drawback was that they don’t yet have any high-chairs for babies as they have just recently opened, but they promised us they’d be getting some soon. When Braxton eats these days the surrounding area ends up looking like a school food fight so we prefer to have him not in the buggy or on our laps. But he sat on Daniel’s lap and we all just got a bit dirty which is also fine every so often!

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The menu was mouth-watering. I just love going to places where I know I can order anything for Brax and not worry about it. All organic, plant-based produce with nothing processed and not a fish finger or a chicken nugget in sight.

We ordered 2 green juices and 4 dishes for us all to share:

  • ravioli that used cashew cream instead of ricotta and a dairy-free pesto
  • Mexican salad
  • buckwheat spaghetti with Sicilian sauce
  • and the bean burger

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avocado-tomato-tartar

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three-truffles-espresso

I honestly can’t pick which one was the nicest – they were all seriously delicious. The ravioli was so creamy you’d think it was dairy; the spaghetti was just so indulgent and the bean burger – Daniel’s favourite – was out of this world.

We finished with dessert – of course, would be rude not to! – of an after-eight slice which was a mint cacao brownie type thing, a blueberry cheesecake and a mini white chocolate ball.

We’ve never seen Braxton eat so much before – he just loved it all – and it was a nice feeling knowing that it was all healthy and nutritious for him.

We left feeling so full but my god was it worth it. So good in fact that we went back the following week for another lunch even though we usually make a rule on holiday not to go to the same restaurant twice.

The chef, Carlo, was so inviting and the guy that helps him, Carlos, was so friendly and talkative. We spoke to them about the restaurant and their hopes for it. Carlo hopes to hold some plant-based cooking classes there over the winter so if you live in the Costa-del-Sol or are visiting over the winter, please get in touch with them.

carloThis is Carlo

We need more places like this all over the world so I’m posting this in the hope that if you’re in Marbella, you’ll go. Even if you’re not vegan and never plan on even being vegetarian, it’s an eating experience – I promise you’ll enjoy it. If we can help restaurants like this survive it means I get to go back and have more cashew cream ravioli next year! J

Here are the details, ask for Carlo:   Address: Avenida Bulevard Principe Alfonso De Hohenlohe, S/N | Junto Al Hotel Guadalpin, 29602, Marbella, Spain 

Tel: 0034630441834

IMG_8377Excuse the bruise on his head. No, I’m not beating him! he’s just started crawling so that should explain it 🙂

Love & health,
Lauren

Creamy Cauliflower Sweetcorn Baby Blend (& Some Info On Nutritional Yeast)

Cauliflower Corn Nutritional Yeast

(Sorry for the bad picture on this one – busy mama alert!)

Just because Braxton is dairy-free, doesn’t mean he misses out. The combination of cauliflower and sweetcorn is great, it goes really creamy. Add to that some nutritional yeast and it literally could not get any creamier if you were to add butter!

The term ‘nutritional yeast’ isn’t particularly appealing, but it is not the same as brewers yeast. It is deactivated so doesn’t froth or grow. It’s essentially a single-cell organism which is grown on molasses then harvested, washed then dried, and this deactivates it. It is very high in Vitamin B12 which is essential in our diets and is used by vegans as a cheese substitute. I know it sounds weird but give it a go!

This doesn’t even need any herbs as the cauliflower and corn are both so flavoursome.

Ingredients

1 cauliflower
1 small tin organic sweetcorn
2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Method

Break the cauliflower into florets then steam.

After about 7  minutes add the corn to the steamer and keep steaming for a further 5 minutes.

Add to the blender with the nutritional yeast and blend.

Spoon into smaller containers or food cube trays if you are batch cooking (this makes quite a large batch).

Love & health,
Lauren & Braxton

Non-Boring Runner Beans!

A&C Green Beans

I just love when Abel & Cole send me a sweet little recipe idea in my weekly box. This week they sent over a bunch of runner beans (which I found really boring growing up!) with a bit of inspiration for them and they turned out beautifully and are no longer boring! A perfect accompaniment to any meal.

Ingredients

A bunch of runner beans
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp tahini paste
2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Pinch Himalayan pink salt
Pinch garlic salt
Chilli flakes (optional but gives it a kick!)

Method

Cut the ends off the beans and wash them.

Heat the olive oil in a griddle pan (you can use a normal frying pan but this charred them really nicely) then add the beans once hot.

While they are cooking away, mix all the other ingredients in a bowl.

Once the beans start to char, add the sauce and mix well and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Healthy & happiness,
Lauren

Carrot, Sweet Potato, Squash & Turmeric for Babies

Carrot Sweet Pot Squash Turmeric

Another simple but delicious meal for you little ones. Braxton is now really enjoying feeding himself so I usually give him some fish, chicken, buckwheat crackers or steamed or raw vegetables (or all of the above!) alongside these blends as he is 10 months now, but this can be made for babies as young as 6 months.

Ingredients

1 sweet potato
1 summer squash
3 carrots
1/2 tsp turmeric

Method

Steam all the veg in a steamer then add to the blender with the turmeric and blend. You can add some almond or oat milk to make it creamier if you like.

Health & happiness

Love,
Lauren & Braxton

Flapjacks For Breastfeeding Mamas (& everyone else!)

Sticky Oaty Flapjacks

My friend just had a baby and was really determined to make breastfeeding work. I always found that the best gift anyone could bring me after having the baby was food. And healthy food. You don’t have time to cook so you just have to take whatever anyone gives you or whatever is convenient which usually means you eat really badly for the first few months. Not only is this not good for our bodies but of course whatever you eat goes through to your milk so it affects the baby too. One of my biggest struggles after having Braxton was trying to maintain my healthy diet when I was just too exhausted to cook and of course when he slept, I didn’t want to be in the kitchen, I wanted to sleep!

I also really struggled with breastfeeding – it didn’t come easily to me at all – but I got there eventually. I was told to eat lots of oats to increase my supply so I eventually got into the kitchen to make some flapjacks as the store-bought ones are just so full of sugar. They were so yummy and such an easy snack to have next to me during those early days of being absolutely ravenous every time he even approached my boobs! So I made these for my friend also and thought I’d share the recipe.

These are also fab for baby led weaning, I’d suggest just omitting the sunflower seeds.

Ingredients

250g organic rolled oats
15 dates (if they’re big, 20 if they’re smaller)
Quarter cup ground flaxseeds
3 tbsp sunflower seeds
5 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp peanut butter
5 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 8 tbsp water

Method

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

Soak your dates for about half an hour in purified water so they soften and once they’re soaking, mix the chia seeds with the water and leave aside to set.

Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the peanut butter and maple. Once combined add the dates and mix, then put it all in a food processor.

Blend until smooth, then add the oats and chia mix and blitz a little bit but you still want the oats to be in solid pieces.

Tip into a bowl and add the sunflower seeds an mix around until they are evenly spread throughout the mixture.

Now spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin and bake for 12-15 minutes. Check it at 12 minutes and see if the top is starting to go golden, if it is, take them out. They need to be moist and not overcooked.

Leave on a cooling rack until completely cool – if you cut them while they are hot they won’t stick together.

Once cool cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

Love & health,
Lauren