Christmas Cake!

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The sun is out here in Kaikōura and it is finally feeling like Christmas is on its way!!  So of course with Christmas comes the proverbial cake.  Last year we just missed out on having a cake as I didn’t think I had a recipe, then low and behold as I was sifting through the recipe book I came across this beauty.  I have actually had this recipe for a long time, since my sugar free time four years ago, without realising that it was actually vegan.  At the time it lost out to another recipe, as I was still eating eggs, only to be found the other month when I was searching for birthday cake recipes.

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Enjoying some pre Christmas sunshine …. homeschooling outside 🙂

Sadly, I can’t remember which book I got the recipe from all those years ago and I have altered it quite a bit over the couple of times I have baked it (both four years ago and now) so if you recognize it please let me know so I can credit the original correctly 🙂  I have halved the recipe so that it fitted into my bread loaf tin which also meant that it was consumed in a timely manner.  As with many GF vegan recipes the sooner the munching is completed the better … we stretched it to three days to see what it was like with success though day three wasn’t as yum as day one and two’s munching 🙂

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Decorated and ready to go in the oven

As you’ll know if you’ve been reading my blogs for a while I like simple and quick recipes. This one is a little out of the norm for me as it required cooking and mashing some kumara prior to mixing everything in one pot …. thankfully I survived the ordeal as it wasn’t quite as daunting as it seemed when I first read it 😉  I figure one extra dish for some yummy Christmas cake was worth the effort ….. at least once a year that is.  The almond essence and decoration definitely gave it that Christmassy look and taste while using the vanilla essence instead, and flagging the decoration, produced a good fruit cake for any occasion.

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 …. now for the munching to begin

So here is it for you to play around with and enjoy over this festive season and beyond ….

A Merry Vegan Christmas Cake

1 Tb maple syrup

250 gm of raisins or sultanas

1 Cup of water

1 small apple (peeled and grated)

62 gms chopped almonds – or in my case bashed almonds 😉

1/2 cup of mashed kumara (doesn’t matter if it is cold or warm)

1.5 Tb olive oil

1 tsp almond essence (vanilla also works fine if you just want a fruit cake)

3/4 Cup rice flour

3/4 Cup buckwheat flour

1.5 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp mixed spice

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp cinnamon

extra almonds to decorate – optional

  • Bring maple syrup, fruit and water to the boil in a large pot then remove from the heat.
  • Add apple, bashed almonds, kumara, essence along with oil and mix well.
  • Sift in the dry ingredients and mix well again.
  • Pour into a baking paper lined tin and gently press in extra almonds to decorate.
  • Bake at 160 C for 45 mins and then leave to cool in the oven for the next 15-20 mins before placing on a cooling rack.
  • Store in an airtight container and enjoy.
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Even got a thumbs up from the non-vegan among us!

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas/Holiday season enjoying the good things life has given you and remembering lots of special memories.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

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Late Easter treat

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Well I had intended posting this in time for you to try for Easter however then my youngest broke his wrist and we were out of coverage for three days as we travelled along the Forgotten Highway.  I figure that it is better late than never and since these are yum anytime it is worth sharing still 😉  In fact they have been made quite a few times since as an afternoon tea snack for the walking wounded among us.

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Driving from Taumarunui to The Republic of Whangamomona

With Good Friday comes Hot Cross buns of course however since this is the first Easter we have Vegans in the house (bus) we had to put a bit of thought into the whole process. Thankfully themselves had a simple, yet effective, solution of adding some spices and raisins to our damper recipe to create our own Hot Cross buns.  I have to say that the cross side of things didn’t work out so well though as I was trying to be tricky and do icing sugar crosses – on the recommendation of a lovely Canuk I know 😉 – rather than my usual flour ones which ended in a sticky bun soaked mess rather than looking like a cross …. so I guess it is a case of less of the cross buns and more hot spiced buns really 😉

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Good to go with a huge dollop of jam!

We have tried both Gluten and Gluten free versions, topped with jam and some vegan Dark Chocolate peanut butter we found, and both have been enjoyed. The GF version did need a flax egg (1 Tb ground linseed and 1.5 Tb cold water) along with bit of extra moisture, depending on which GF flour you use, to get the correct consistency however it is not too much more hassle.

Hot Spiced Buns – Vegan

1 3/4 Cup of plain flour ( or GF flour and see notes above)

1 tsp baking powder

1 Tb oil

3/4 cup of cold water

2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup raisins (or other dried fruit if you like)

  • Mix all ingredients until they form a dough, add more flour and/or liquid as required.
  • Split the dough into 8 pieces and roll into bun shapes
  • Flour a tin and place the bun shapes in so that they are touching.
  • Bake at 200 C for 20 mins.
  • Remove from the oven and enjoy with jam 😉

 

Hope this finds you all happy, healthy and all in one piece 😉

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

 

Quick and easy Scones

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With all that walking up and down the hill, from the road-schooling camp to the farm, to milk herself and a friend collected quite a stash of blackberries which were going wild along the roadside along with some rose-hips.  I think one of my favourite things about travelling around NZ is watching themselves ‘harvest’ all kinds of wild growing fruit.  Apples in Otago,  Plums in Canterbury, blackberries where ever we can find them, kawakawa fruit in Kāpiti, rose-hips in Hawke’s Bay and even the odd raiding of friend’s raspberry or strawberry patches 😉

Anyway …. what do you do with a big bowl of berries and a pocket full of rose-hips?  Make blackberry jam and rose-hip tea for afternoon tea for your siblings!  However that still leaves a gaping hole … what do you put the jam on and still cater for the vegans in your midst?  Vegan scones of course 😉

Road schooling camp

Preparing the tea party

This recipe is quick and easy  to whip up for an afternoon tea snack and super delicious.  I got it in my in-box a while ago courtesy of ‘Cook the Beans’ which is a blog I follow. She had called them Watercress Scones though I think she may have forgotten to add the said watercress into her recipe as I couldn’t find it mentioned anywhere.  Either way I made it, and modified it as I usually, with great results so there are no complaints here ….. no even from the meat, gluten and diary eaters on the bus 😉

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Ready to munch

Vegan Scones

  • 200 gm flour (GF or plain, white or wholemeal or a mixture of both as in original)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 30 gms coconut oil (cold from the container)
  • 1 flax-seed egg (1 TB ground linseed/flaxseed and 2.5 TB cold water)
  • 100 ml non-diary milk (I used rice milk)

– Put the flour and baking powder into a bowl and rub in the coconut oil so that it is fully blended with the flour.

– Add in the flaxseed egg and milk then ‘cut’ the liquid into the dry ingredients with a knife until a dough is formed.  You may need to help it with your hand near the end to form a ball

– Flour a baking tray and flatten dough into a fat rectangle shape.  Cut this into 12 or 16 pieces depending on the size of scone you desire.

– Separate the scones a little on the floured tray and then bake at 200 Celcius of 10 mins or until golden on top.

– Spread with jam (and butter for the non-vegan among you) and enjoy

Hope this finds you enjoying the fruits of life

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

 

 

Vegan Banana Bread

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Well hello again!! I know it has been a while since I’ve been on here and in that time I have really enjoyed the time off the computer and trying out a few new recipes. There is a lot to be said for down-time from the screen and sampling baking 😉

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Parked up at Cass

After being parked up in Kaikōura for nearly 9 months last year we are now back on the road in our bus enjoying life on the road. This summer has been an absolute scorcher and on the days when we have struggled for shade our little tin can has nearly baked us alive! Thank goodness for cool winds, big trees, clear rivers to splash in and the ability to get to them with our home.

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Swimming at Wai-iti Domain

We have made our way up to Kāpiti again for me to teach some Infant Massage which is always a highlight for me.  It also means that there is weekly baking to do in order to keep those parents sustained as well as extra baking for all the catching up with family and friends we are doing.  With himself still being Vegan I have been signing up to a few more cooking blogs in order to get a good range of things to offer, some with success and some which I’d rather not discuss 😉

I’m always on the look out for good Vegan recipes that can replace our old favourites … baking two cakes at a time is a bit too much of a mission for me.  This recipe I found in a free magazine which a local health shop issues and came up a treat even with my adaptions.  It comes from a book by Daisy Dagg and Amber Vito called Kai for Kids eBook and while the original recipe had honey in it we have just replaced this with Maple Syrup without much change to the flavour.  Likewise we have used GF flour instead of the regular wheat flour they had listed and as with so many of the recipes I enjoy enough to share it is pretty much a one pot wonder 😉

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Ready for morning tea.

Vegan Banana Bread

1 3/4 Cup GF self-raising flour

1/3 C melted coconut oil

1/2 C pure maple syrup

4 mashed bananas (large)

1/2 C shredded / desiccated coconut

2 Tb chia seeds

1/2 C rice milk

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla essence

sprinkle of salt

1/2 tsp mixed spice

  • Melt coconut oil in a pot and stir in the maple syrup, rice milk, vanilla essence and mashed banana
  • Add in the chia seeds and stir well
  • Add in all the other dry ingredients and mix until blended well
  • Pour into a baking paper lined tin and bake at 180 Celsius for around 35-40 mins or until a cake-tester (skewer) comes out clean.
  • Cool and Enjoy

Hope this finds you enjoying the new year, trusting in yourself and loving the life you’re in.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

 

Energy on the go

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This past weekend we have been tramping (hiking for those of you outside of NZ) up the mountain which looks down on us in our bus which requires a bit of forethought as far as food goes.  Food has to be plentiful enough to keep everyone satisfied and yet light enough that the walk up to the hut isn’t too arduous for those carrying it, namely the parents.  With a Vegan thrown into the mix it took even more forethought …. onto the internet I go!

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Almost at the hut, looking down at Kaikōura

It didn’t take that much searching to find a fantastic recipe for Vegan (and raw) muesli bars which was created by Isle of Flora … right here in NZ! These are especially great for us as there was not dairy, sugar or gluten in them either.  As usual though, due to my nature and the fact that we are living on a bus the recipe got a few adaptations.  There weren’t too many however and they didn’t alter the recipe that much.  The end result was a nutritious, energy packed, tasty muesli bar which stood the test of time travelling up to 1100m in a backpack on a very warm day.

Before I share my adaptations I will just put a few comments about the method as some of you may be in the same position of not having amazing whizzing appliances ready to blend things at the flick of a switch.  In the original recipe  (which I followed almost to the word on my first attempt apart from using millet instead of quinoa as I thought we had run out of it) it says to pop nuts and dates into a food processor until blended smooth  …. this was my first stumbling block.  However after a bit of thought it was nothing that a strong plastic bag filled with said nuts and a lot of bashing with a rolling pin couldn’t solve. As for the dates I soaked them in 1/4 Cup of water and then mashed them within an inch of their sweet little selves! Obviously if you have these whizzy wonders of modern society then feel free to click onto Isle of Flora’s original recipe and go for it!  Otherwise stay tuned 😉

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The nut version

The soaking of dates did add a bit more moisture into the recipe which is where my adaptations came in as I increased some of the amounts to take up the moisture and added some psyllium husks.  The original recipe also calls for quinoa however it didn’t say if it was cooked or not so I took it upon myself to cook it.  I first by put 1.5 TB of quinoa (or millet) into a pot along with 7.5 TB water (1 to 5 ratio), then boiled it until almost all the water had gone.  Next I turned off the heat and covered for a while until there is no liquid left.  This gave me 3 TB of cooked quinoa which, as you’ll see, is the amount I used as opposed to Isle of Flora’s 2 TB.

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Enjoying some muesli bar at the hut

In my second attempt at these yummy little bars I left out the nuts altogether … there is only so much bashing a girl wants to do in her life …. and replaced the cup of nuts with a mixture of sunflower and pumpkin.  Any combination would be great though which you can change to suit your taste.  When it comes to taste it has to be said that themselves preferred the seed version although that may have been down to the millet in the first recipe rather than the nuts 😉  Anyway … here is the recipe and you have the original so you can decide from here on in.

Vegan Museli Bars (DF, GF, SF)

1 Cup of chopped nuts (or seeds)

1 Cup of dried dates

1/4 Cup of hot water

3 TB psyllium husks

3 TB chia seeds

1 TB pumpkin seeds

1 TB sunflower seeds

1 TB linseed

4 TB coconut oil

3 TB cooked quinoa (or millet) – see above for cooking method

6 TB desiccated coconut

  • Soak the dates in the water for 10 -15 mins then add chia seeds and mash until they form a smooth paste.
  • Add in all the other ingredients and mix until they are well blended.
  • Tip into a baking paper lined tin (mine is 20 x 17 cm) then press down smooth and evenly with the back of a dessert spoon.
  • Pop in the fridge and leave for at least 20 mins before slicing into bars.

Well that is it for this week … I hope this finds you fighting fit and climbing any obstacles in your way.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Vegan Pizza

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Here I am … back again in NZ and in the bus blogging about food.  We have just spent a wonderful 2.5 weeks away in Thailand immersing ourselves the culture, food and heat.  It took us a while to get used to a new rhythm of eating out for each meal, not having to do dishes, seeing amazing sights, getting our chores done for us and relaxing however not really that hard to adjust to. 😉  Being able to see the food being cooked and going through the markets was a real eye-opener for themselves and one I’m sure they will remember for a while to come.

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One of our eating spots in Bangkok

With the heat there tends to be more liquids comsumed and the appetitie just doesn’t seem as big. Now that we are back though the body is definitely feeling different and the difference in diet ….. going from lots of rice and noodle soups to our usual (and a bit stodgy) fare has left it feeling more than a little ‘blah’.  In addition to this it was our boy’s birthday over the weekend so there appeared all the treats that he had requested and missed by him while in Thailand.

Aside from some Vegan baking there was also a request for vegan pizza which I have recently been making with a damper base.  This damper base super quick and easy to make and much more obliging to be stretched or rolled into shape than my usual pizza base.  So it is my number one go to base at the moment ;).  While himself didn’t want anything much on his … as the photo bears witness …. this is delicious with more veg (grated root vegies, sprouts, mushrooms and fresh herbs) or with some refined beans, avocado, cornchips and salsa for a different twist.  For those of you non-Vegan (to which I am assured are the majority, by himself) a bit of cheese and/or sour cream on top finishes it all off.

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A little sparse but just as requested by our boy.

Vegan Damper/Pizza base

makes one large pizza or 2 small (22x27cm)

  • 1.5 cups white flour
  • 1/4 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • Pinch/grid of salt
  • your selection of dried herbs (basil, sage and thyme are nice)

– Pre-heat the oven to around 180-200 Celsius

– Combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until they form a dough.  There is no need to knead however you may want to stick the dough together a bit with your hands.

– Divide into half if you are making two pizzas or leave in one lump then stretch and roll out the dough onto a baking paper lined tray.

– Apply topping as you wish and bake for around 10 mins or until cooked.  I gauged this by the base rising up a little in ‘bubbles’ or by the cheese melting on non vegan ones.

– Enjoy!

Until the next blog (whenever that may be) I hope this finds you happy, healthy and enjoying life to the full.

Arohanui

Y

www.becominghealthy.co.nz

Vegan goodness

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So our latest culinary challenge, sorry, adventure has been delving into the world of veganism as our youngest has decided that he is now Vegan.  He has always been a bit of a picky eater around meat and is constantly worried about animal welfare so it really didn’t come as a huge shock when he announced a month ago that he was vegetarian and then followed up a week later with ‘ I think I’ll give being a vegan a try.’

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The last few pieces of our vegan shortbread.

It actually hasn’t been that bad and if anything it has been awesome not having him tempted by all the rubbishy chocolate treats that abound in every shop.  There are 2 main stumbling blocks I have hit so far though; 1) Eating out and 2) Baking.  Eating out is a bit of a mine field as it seems every thing is out on the children’s menu … have you noticed how every kid’s menu is deep fried meat of some description … and most things suitable on the adult menu are either too spicy or so expensive it makes us think twice. Thankfully we don’t eat out that much, the thought it takes is beyond my mental powers at the moment, and when we do venture out at least he is having a fairly healthy meal unlike before.

Which brings us to the second point ….. soooo many recipes rely on eggs (well the ones I currently make anyway) and even though we are pretty good at replacing the dairy it is taking me a while to get my head around using egg replacements (chia seeds and water is the main one I’m using at the moment).  I have been doing the research though to ensure that we get all the good bits into him and thanks to some great Vegan recipe books from the local library  I have found some great savoury and sweet baking ideas to keep everyone (well half of us to be honest) happy.  The one recipe that has been made the most so far is courtesy of Jennifer Katzinger’s Flying Apron Gluten Free and Vegan Baking Book.  This delicious ‘Vegan Shortbread’ (my name for it as I have returned the book and forgot the name sorry) is so easy and so delicious that I’m sure you’ll be whipping it up numerous times too.

flying apron

What I’m putting below is a half recipe of what is printed in the book as I found that was more than enough.  I also cut it into more squares than the recipe in the book indicates as we found it very rich and a little square of it was enough.  If you enjoy this recipe though I would recommend checking out the whole recipe book as has so many more delicious things to make. 😉

Vegan shortbread

  • 2 & 1/4 cups Rice Flour
  • a grind of salt
  • 1 Cup of coconut oil
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

– Preheat the oven to 190C (375F)

– Melt the coconut oil and then add the maple syrup

– Blend all the ingredients together.

– Pour and flatten the mixture into a baking paper lined baking dish

– Bake for 15 min or until the edges are slightly brown

– Remove from the oven and cut into squares while it is still warm in the tin

– Slide onto a cooling rack and break into separate peices when it is fully cooled.

– Enjoy!

Well that is it from me on a cold and snow predicted evening. I hope this finds you all warm, healthy and enjoying life at whatever temperature you have it at. 😉

Arohanui

Y