Guilt-Free Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

If you’re British, there is probably nothing more satisfying and comforting to you than a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive of an afternoon (had to say ‘of an afternoon’ instead of ‘in the afternoon’ because that’s how my nanny would have said it in that endearing East End way when talking about tea and biccies). 🍪 ☕️ So of course I wanted to make the healthy version so I can indulge my ultimate guilty pleasure. these are gluten, dairy, sugar and egg free.

I actually got this recipe from my lovely friend @mrshollingsworths. Her picture looks way better than mine because she’s more of an artist than I am with food but I’m happy to say they taste just as good! 😃 i also bake them for less time than she does – just a difference in ovens i guess.

I know food blogs and Instagram are all about the styling and the perfect pictures but guys, I have an 18 month old, a husband, a dog, arthritis to keep at bay with heaps of hard work, deadlines, and a novel to write! I can only spend so long re-arranging biscuits in the right light surrounded by random ribbons and hessian fabric before I have to give up and hope they’re good enough! So there you have it, my excuse for not having Instagram’s best pictures.

The truth is, I love making the food and feeding those I love. I love writing the recipes and the captions, but photography is not my passion so (in the voice of the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding) there you go! Hope you all enjoy this recipe anyway Happy baking, lovers!

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup oats
3/4 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup cashew butter (or any other nut or seed butter)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt

Chocolate topping:
1/2 cup cacao butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp cashew butter

Method

Preheat the oven to 180c and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

Put all the ingredients for the biscuits In a bowl and mix really well.

Shape them into biscuits and flatten down on the trays and bake for 8-10 minutes. If they look a little soft it’s ok, they’ll continue to harden once they come out the oven so don’t leave them in for too long.

Take them out the oven and leave to cool.

Make the chocolate by melting all the ingredients in a saucepan over a low light.

Once the biscuits are cool, spoon the chocolate over the top of each one and put on a plate in the fridge to cool.

Love & health,
Lauren 💜

Unicorn Donuts

Well here’s something different! I’ve been obsessed with unicorns since I was a little girl. They were the stuff of fairytales with fairies and pixies and dragons and other such mystical creatures which may have been inspired by a different sort of reality, perhaps other realms? Or perhaps were thought up by wonderful people with extraordinary imaginations. Either way they seem to be all the rage at the moment so here I am jumping on the bandwagon with my healthy version of donuts, unicorn themed!

Ingredients

1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 1.5 tbsp water
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 cup buckwheat flour
½ cup ground almonds
¼ cup almond milk
1 tbsp almond butter
6 tbsp maple syrup

Frosting:
Cream from the top of a can of coconut milk

Food colouring options: beetroot powder, matcha powder, blueberry powder, blackcurrent powder. You can use conventional food colourings if you want but make sure they are natural ones!

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease a donut tin with coconut oil.

First make the flax egg by mixing the ground flaxseed with water and leave to set for 15 minutes.

Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over a gentle heat then add it to a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients and mix until incorporated. If too thick add some more almond milk, if too runny add some more ground almonds.

Spoon into the donut tin and smooth down with your fingers.

Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven but check at around 8 minutes. These don’t take long to bake and you don’t want them dry!

While they are cooling make the frosting by adding a spoonful of the coconut cream to a plate, then adding one of the food colourings and mixing lightly, leaving some white showing, then do the same on another plate with another spoon of the cream and another one of the colours, etc, until you have used all 4 colours.

When the donuts are completely cool, remove from the tin and add each of the colours to 1 quarter of the donut and serve immediately.

Love & health,
Lauren

Cacao & Cashew Oaty Bites

cashew-cacao-oaty-bites

I may even go as far as to say that these are the tastiest things I’ve ever made…

I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure if it would even work but oh dear lord they do! So simple; literally took 5 minutes, 1 spoon, 1 saucepan and a cup, and to make it even more exciting, there is no refined sugar, dairy or gluten and totally vegan. It makes giving sweet treats to kids easier. Braxton is 13 months and has never had refined sugar and I want to keep it like that. If he always has treats that taste this good, hopefully he’ll never feel the need to binge on the rubbish stuff 🙂

Cacao is also a great plant-based protein which is essential for babies, as well as the essential fatty acids in the coconut oil.

Basically, MAKE THESE!

I used Biona coconut oil, coconut palm sugar and cashew butter as I prefer their ingredients so use them wherever I can ❤

Ingredients

3 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp coconut palm sugar
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp almond milk
1.5 tbsp cacao powder
4 tbsp cashew butter
1 cup organic rolled oats

cashew-cacao-oaty-bites-2

Method

Heat all the ingredients except the cashew butter and oats in a pan, on a low heat, very gently until combined.

Once melted, turn off the heat and stir in the cashew butter and keep stirring until fully incorporated.

Now add the oats and stir until totally mixed into the mixture.

Wait until it’s cooler, then spoon a tbsp. full onto a plate that has baking paper on and press into cookie shapes.

Leave to cool then once cool put in the fridge for an hour until set.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Love and health,
Lauren

 

Roasted Vegetable Pasta (Gluten Free) with RawSpiceBar Chipotle Spice Mix

roasted-veg-pasta

I was recently sent this month’s spice collection by RawSpiceBar. I’d never tried their spice mixes before so thought I’d give this one a go and added their Chipotle Salt spice mix to a roasted vegetable pasta, to make a normal everyday meal a bit more exciting.

It tasted amazing and what I love about it is that all the spices are organic, ethically sourced, sugar-free, gluten-free, paleo and vegan.

If you like flavour but are not too sure how to incorporate it into every day cooking, head over to RawSpiceBar and sign up to their monthly spice box and receive 3 freshly ground, recipe-ready flavour kits, direct to your door each month.

Ingredients

Brown rice pasta (enough for however many people you’re cooking for)
1 courgette
1 red pepper
2 red onions
Extra virgin olive oil
Half a tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 sachet RawSpiceBar Chipotle Salt mix
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Half tsp paprika
Half tsp cumin
Himalayan salt & black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Chop the vegetables and add them to a large bowl and drizzle the olive oil over, then pour the RawSpiceBar mix over and mix well.

Put onto a baking tray and bake for around half an hour.

In a small saucepan add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and cumin and leave on a low light, stirring quite often. Season more as needed. You’ll want to leave this on the heat for about the same amount of time that the vegetables are in the over, around half an hour, so don’t cook the pasta until the end.

When the sauce has thickened and looks ready, boil the pasta as per the packet instructions.

Once ready, drain the pasta in a colander, preserving a smidgen of water back.

Add the tomato sauce to the saucepan and mix well, then add the vegetables and mix.

Serve immediately.

Love & health,
Lauren

 

 

Sweet Potato & Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Cashew Sauce

cashew-cream-sweet-potato-zucchini-noodles

This is a recipe from the Veggie Steady Cook cookbook we had made from all our recipes from the day, so I can’t take credit for it as it’s not my recipe – but I made it the other day and swapped some of the ingredients to make it dairy free and it was so yummy. Check out the post I wrote about VSC if you haven’t already. This dish is such an awesome vegan recipe. I think I drowned the ‘noodles’ in the sauce a bit too much but the sauce was too delicious! I had it for dinner with a vegan, organic schnitzel.

Ingredients

1 sweet potato
2 zucchini
1 cup spinach
1 tsp Himalayan salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp chopped basil
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp ground ginger
1 cup cashews
2/3 cup buckwheat or farali flour
125g vegan margarine
2-3 cups almond milk
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp mixed herbs

Method

Cashew sauce:
Soak the cashews in hot water for 30 mins.

Blend in the food processor and add ½ cup of almond milk

White sauce:
In a pan, heat the margarine and add the flour.

Add milk and stir gradually until it becomes thick and the lumps disappear.

Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and dried herbs.

Noodles:
Spiralize the sweet potatoes and zucchini and blanch in hot water for about 4-5 minutes then drain.

In a pan mix the cashew sauce into the white sauce, add spinach, basil, paprika, pepper and ground ginger and mix well.

Add the sweet potato and zucchini noodles into the sauce and mix,

Love & health,
Lauren

Quinoa with Lentils, Butterbeans and Vegetables – Vegan dinner

quinoa-and-lentils

I can’t take credit for this one; my husband made it. He has really got into this way of life over the past year or so, especially since having Braxton. It used to be something he was happy for me to do and would eat what I cooked because, well, it was yummy so he couldn’t really complain! But now he’s actually into it himself and loves being in the kitchen coming up with new and interesting recipes. He doesn’t bake, but he loves to cook savoury food and cooks for us a lot these days.

My kitchen is closed on the weekends – I just don’t have the energy to cook much during the weekends except to make food for Brax, so Daniel often makes us a Sunday night dinner and this was this week’s creation. You can literally add anything you want but we just used what we had at home.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa
Half cup lentils
2 sweet potatoes
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 tin organic butter beans
1 tin organic sweetcorn
1 cup frozen peas
1 red pepper
1 tsp bouillon
Coconut oil
Olive oil
Himalayan salt & black pepper

Method

Peel and dice the sweet potato, put it on an oven tray, drizzle some coconut oil, salt and paprika and put it in the oven for 20 mins.

Take another oven tray, cut the red pepper into smallish pieces, drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and put that in the oven alongside the sweet potato for 20 minutes.

While they’re in the oven, put the quinoa and lentils into a saucepan, cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, add the bouillon, turn down the heat and put the lid on. It will take around 20 minutes to make but keep checking and mixing, adding more water if needed.

Steam the broccoli for around 6-7 minutes

Boil the peas in some hot water – this should only take around 5 minutes then put them in a bowl with the sweetcorn, broccoli and butterbeans.

Once the sweet potatoes and peppers are ready add them to the bowl, then once the lentils and quinoa are ready, you can add this too.

Give it a good mix and add salt and pepper, and any other herbs you may like.

Love & health,
Lauren & Daniel

 

 

Maple, Fig & Ginger Granola

maple-ginger-fig-granola

I know it’s not to everyone’s taste but I’m a big lover of ginger. It’s such a great anti-inflammatory so great to put in food or drink.

When I make granola I usually just do my simple maple and pecan but I fancied a change this time and had so many figs at home also so thought this combination would work really well and it did. I used 2 pieces of stem ginger but if you don’t like it so strong, just use one.

Ingredients

Organic rolled jumbo oats – enough to cover one oven tray (or 2 oven trays if you want a big batch, then just double the ingredients)
Quarter cup pure maple syrup
Pinch Himalayan salt
1 piece stem ginger, cut into very small pieces
4 dried figs, cut in small pieces

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees then line a baking tray with baking paper.

Measure out the oats by covering the tray with them to see how much you need, then transfer them to a large bowl.

Add the maple and salt and mix really well.

Spoon it all onto the baking tray and even it out then put in the oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes mix it around as the outside pieces will be browner than the rest and bake for another 10 minutes but don’t let it burn – it should be golden not dark brown.

Remove from the oven and turn the oven off. Now add the ginger and figs, mix really well and put the tray back into the oven (turned off) and leave for 5 minutes

Remove from the oven once again, leave to cool on the tray then transfer to a glass jar or airtight container.

Love & health,
Lauren

Coconut Curried Chicken & The Importance of Introducing Flavours From Early On

Coconut Curried Chicken & Veg

I met some friends for a walk in the park after we’d given the kids dinner a few days ago as it was such a lovely day and it’s always nice to have something to fill the time between dinner and bath time. One of them asked me what Braxton had for dinner. ‘Coconut curried chicken,’ I replied. ‘Curry?!’ one of the girls asked, almost dismayed. ‘At his age? Did he like it? Does he like the flavour?’ YES YES YES!!! And the reason he is OK with flavoursome food is because I give it to him!

I think it is so important to introduce different flavours into a baby’s diet from the early stages of weaning. Not only will this make life easier for us as it means our babies will be less fussy as they grow up, it also makes life better for them! We all have a friend whose staple diet is chicken nuggets, chips and pasta because they don’t like anything else. I’d hazard a guess that their parents probably didn’t give them much else as kids which is why. There are also so many nutrients in spices and herbs. Turmeric, for example, is a hugely important anti-inflammatory and I make sure Braxton has it at least 3 times a week. Dried herbs have heaps of calcium so at least I know that this dairy-free baby is getting more bioavailable calcium than most babies who have cow’s milk!

With this particular meal I had some chicken out that day as I hadn’t given him any meat all week and I stood in the kitchen wondering what I could do with it, then realised that the easiest thing to do with chicken breast is always a curry. I had mild curry powder and coconut milk and some vegetables so I got cooking!

Ingredients

1 organic, free-range chicken breast, chopped into smallish pieces
Half an onion, chopped
1 can full-fat organic coconut milk (I like Biona)
1/2 tsp milk curry powder
1/4 tsp turmeric (optional)
1 cube pre-frozen homemade bone broth/ veg stock or a low salt chicken stock cube in half cup water (optional for added taste)
Handful shiitake mushrooms
Handful chestnut mushrooms
A few broccoli florets
Some coconut oil

Method

Heat a tsp of coconut oil in a pan then add the onion and cook for a minute or so before adding the chicken.

Brown the chicken all over and once cooked, add all the veg. Give it a good stir to coat it in the oil and cook for about 2 minutes.

Now add the coconut milk but don’t add the whole can. Spoon out the delicious creamy stuff from the top and put that all in, followed by about half of the water but no more as it will make it too watery. (You can save this for another dish or add it to a smoothie.)

Mix it all around, then add the stock, curry powder and turmeric. Mix well and turn the heat down to low and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.

When it’s finished simmering, put it in the blender and blend to the desired consistency.

It may look like mush but you have meat-based protein, plant-based protein, vegetables and spices in there all containing nutrients so this meal really needs nothing else although you could add some brown rice pasta if you want. I froze this in small containers and it made about 5-6 meals.

Health & happiness,
Lauren & Braxton

Sauteed Suffolk Summer Squash (and some childhood memories of Suffolk)

Sauteed Summer Squash

My wonderful mummy went to visit her best friend in Suffolk last weekend. We used to spend our summers there with them. They called us The Tarmac Kids as we came from London and they lived in this amazing little village with about 10 houses, a post office that sold old fashioned penny sweets and a sweet old fashioned phone box. As kids we’d spend our days climbing over haystacks, finding little streams, collecting tadpoles and writing children’s stories about all the animals, all the while Mum sitting at the kitchen table talking to Aunty Vicky while she made jam. We’d go there at Christmas and enjoy sitting around the huge Christmas tree drinking hot chocolate and playing games. Aunty Vicky would throw a big party the week before Christmas for the whole family. We’d eat, play games, wear PJs and have the best time. They are some of the best memories of my life and I still enjoy going there to visit. It’s strange because as kids we all played together and now we all have kids of our own and I hope to take Braxton there soon and give him some of the amazing memories that I had.

Anyway, Mum went to one of their lovely farmers markets when she was there and brought me back some beautifully vibrant summer squashes and some redcurrants and said, ‘here, do something with these’! So I did! And this turned out really yummy.

Ingredients

2/3 summer squashes (depending on how much you want)
1 red pepper
2 spring onions
Generous handful parsley
1 tsp coconut oil
Himalayan salt & black pepper

Method

Peel and chop the squash, removing the soft seedy bit from the middle and put it in a bowl. Chop the red pepper into medium sized pieces and add this to the bowl with the squash.

Chop the spring onions and parsley and set them aside in another bowl.

Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan and add the squash and red pepper. Give it a good mix then turn down to a low heat and cook until the squash has softened, around 10 minutes.

Once soft, add the spring onion and parsley, salt and pepper, mix, and give it another 2 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Love & health,
Lauren

Tamari Roasted Almonds & Why Fats Are So Important

Tamari Roasted Almonds

The never-ending battle: trying to find healthy snacks to fill in those gaps between meals. I’ve always liked a snack, especially late afternoon, but since having a baby it’s almost a necessity! Not only does the constant running around and never sitting down mean that I need more energy, but breastfeeding also leaves me needing more calories. But I don’t want unhealthy calories, (I also want to lose the last of this dreaded baby weight!) I want to eat things that my body will appreciate, foods that give me the right sort of energy. If I am eating fatty foods, they should be the right sort of fats, which is where nuts, avocados and coconut oil come in.

This leads me to my next point: the importance of fats in our diet: the recent ‘fat-free’ craze may be causing more issues to our health than we realise. Please stay away from the diets and plans that tell you to stay away from fat, buy fat-free ‘foods’ and that fat is the devil. Of course, an excess of fat is dangerous and will make you put on weight, but anything in excess is not good. Just like animals and plants, we need fat for growth and our babies need it even more. What babies need mostly is fat, protein, vegetables (for other vitamins such as calcium), in that order, and anything else isn’t as essential.

Our bodies cannot make fat, it needs to come from our diet and we rely on it for energy and we can get this through essential fatty acids. Unlike carbohydrates, fat is stored as a ‘reserve’ type of energy. If you eat too much, it will appear as ‘fat’ but in the right amounts your body will thrive from it.

Fats give us myelin, a fatty material which wraps around our nerve cells so that they can send electrical messages. Our brains contain large amounts of essential fats and when we don’t get enough fats through our diets it can cause brain problems. We have seen a huge increase in early-onset dementia in the last ten years and in my humble opinion, part of this is down to our obsession with fat-free diets. People aren’t getting enough fat so their brains aren’t getting what they need and are therefore not developing properly; this lack of fat makes room for brain malfunctions such as dementia and other issues.

I used to think that certain illnesses could certainly be prevented but things like dementia were totally out of our control. WRONG. Diet and lifestyle can basically determine the rest of your life. Then we’ve got the need for omega-3 and omega-6 fats and these control insulin levels so again, even diabetes can be controlled and prevented.

So throw out the ‘fat-free’ and ‘low fat’ foods and, as I always advocate, buy only real, whole, natural foods that are not man-made. Of course it’s easier to buy a whole bunch of fat free, processed foods so that you can lose weight but how much will that benefit us in the long run?

Great foods you can eat to increase your healthy fat intake are avocados, coconut oil and nuts and great foods to increase your omega-3 intake are flaxseeds, walnuts, oily fish and tofu.

I hope this helps explain the need for fats… now onto the recipe…

Ingredients

1.5 cups raw organic almonds, soaked overnight
1 tsp coconut oil
2 tbsp tamari

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and place some baking paper on a baking tray.

Once the almonds have soaked, drain them and pat them dry with a bit of kitchen roll then pop them on the oven tray.

Dollop the coconut oil on top. It will be solid (unless it’s a particularly hot day) so just put it in the oven like this for a minute or 2 until it melts. Once it’s melted, take the tray out and mix it over the almonds then add the tamari and mix it all around.

Leave in the oven for 20 minutes. They should be hard but not burnt. Check on them after 10 minutes.

Keep in an airtight container or ziplock bag (once cooled) for up to 2 weeks.

Love & health,
Lauren