Vegan, gluten free chocolate mug cake – So easy!

I’ve been meaning to give these mug cakes a go for ages now…what could be better? Cake in a mug in just a few minutes!

I decided I definitely wanted to use coconut flour as firstly, I love anything coconut and secondly I had a bag of it in the cupboard!

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So, firstly lets talk a bit about coconut flour…where does it come from and what are the benefits?

Coconut flour is a by product of coconut milk production!

When the milk is squeezed from the coconut meat, chunks of this dry meat are left, these chunks are then slowly dried at a very low temperature.

These dried pieces are then ground into a soft fine flour, this is coconut flour.

Coconut flour is suitable for anyone following a gluten free diet, it is high in protein, fibre and good fats and it also contains Manganese which can help your body to regulate sugar levels. So, all in all it is a fabulous alternative to wheat flours.

It doesn’t behave in the same way as wheat flour and you can’t just substitute the same amount in a recipe, that will not work (trust me I tried!) it also absorbs a lot of liquid, so you need to bear that in mind too!

Right, on with the recipe!

I have made this twice now, I varied the amount of coconut flour each time and I think just in the middle is perfect, you may find you need a touch more flour if the mix is really wet.

This mug cake is more of a brownie texture and taste, it’s definitely one for dark chocolate lovers as it is rich and some might say a touch bitter…you could add a teaspoon of Agave syrup if you wanted a sweeter taste.

Get together the following ingredients:

Chia seeds
Cacao powder (or very good quality cocoa)
Coconut flour
Vanilla extract
Coconut oil

Firstly, make a ‘Chia seed egg’ mix 1 tablespoon of chia seed with 3 tablespoons of water and set aside.
You can read about the benefits of Chia Seeds here

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Next lightly (very lightly, you only need a dab) grease the inside of a small mug or cup, yes, I’m using a Christmas mug! It’s the perfect size!

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Next, in a small bowl (you can do this directly in the mug if you prefer) add 1 1/2 tablespoons of coconut flour, a table spoon of cacao powder and a quarter of a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

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Add the chia seed egg (that you made earlier) and 3 tablespoons of water, mix. You want the batter to be more wet than dry, but not runny. It pays to let it stand for a minute as the flour will suck up more of the water, then decide if you need to make adjustments.

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Tip the mixture into your prepared mug and at this point you could sprinkle some chopped nut on top, if you like.

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At this point I set aside for a couple of minutes to let it settle and any extra liquid to be absorbed.

In the meantime, you can make a topping! Melted peanut butter is delicious, just warm through until pourable. I decided to go for berries this time, just pop some fresh or frozen berries in a pan and warm through until the juices are released.

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Now, you can cook your cake. Just place the mug in the microwave and cook for a minute at a time, taking it out and checking at the end of each minute. It usually takes 3-4 minutes, you want the ‘cake’ to be firm to the touch, be careful though it’s hot!!

Once cooked leave to sit for a minute before turning out on to a plate and adding your topping.

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So delicious!!! And here is the peanut butter topped version…

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Please let me know if you make this and what you think, also don’t forget you can find me on Instagram…quite a lot! I’m @tamzinsharma over there!

Watercress pesto and a new mung bean pasta to try out!

Sometimes a big bowl of pasta is what’s needed…I won’t go into details but suffice to say I’m not feeling tip top at the moment!

What’s the trouble with pasta though? Well, for me it’s the bloating…It always happens, even with wholemeal pasta, I often use Udon noodles as a pasta substitute but today I found these…

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Organic mung bean fettuccine! Vegan and gluten free, this is a perfect alternative and I will avoid the usual bloated, heavy feel I get with wheat pasta.
This fettuccine is also high in protein which is always a bonus!

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I needed a sauce to serve with the pasta and what’s better for that comfort feeling than pesto, did you know that the word Pesto derives from an Italian word that meant bruising? I can’t for the life of me remember the word though!!

Anyway, back to the pesto…I had a bag of watercress in the fridge that needed to be used up, don’t think you have to use basil for pesto, I’ve used parsley, coriander, rocket, in fact most green herbs and many salad leaves make a great pesto!

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Just whizz up the watercress, a cup of pine nuts, the juice from a fresh lemon and 3 cloves of garlic in a food processor until fairly smooth, add a couple of tablespoons of water if you think it’s too thick. Season with a pinch of sea salt. This is a vegan pesto so there is no Parmesan, I’ve never had any complaints or felt that something is missing! Give it a go!

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I could just eat this from the bowl, I also like it spread on a bagel!

Back to the fettuccine, it was very easy to cook…6-8 minutes in the pan and it didn’t fall apart like some gluten free pastas do! It has a dense texture which I really enjoyed, it was perfect with the fresh pesto!

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It was a hit with the whole family!

A bargain banana glut and delicious vegan ice cream

Sometimes the shopping gods are shining on me! I popped into Asda’s on Monday to pick up the ingredients for Evan’s 10th birthday cake and decided to check the reduced fruit and veg section, just on the off chance!

I was a lucky lady! The grocery guy was there putting out bags of bananas…lots of them!

Bananas are fantastic! They are the original fast food and they come in their own wrapper! They are really low in saturated fat, sodium and have virtually no cholesterol. Also, bananas are full of potassium…what do we need this for you ask? Well, potassium is a mineral that our body needs to maintain a natural water balance, it also helps reduce blood pressure, so eat up!

To my delight the bags were priced at 30p! I did want to take the lot, but I settled for two bags containing about 20 bananas in each! I love bananas and as soon as I got through the checkout I ate 3 of them, they were perfectly ripe.

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Once home, I realised that even I couldn’t eat all these bananas and if they were left too long they would be beyond the point of enjoyment. The boys had two each too but they were still coming out of our ears!

I could have made some yummy vegan banana bread but we have had our full of that recently, so I decided to freeze most of them.

Bananas freeze really well, my top tip is to peel them before you do, I only say this as I have left the skin on in the past…that’s a lot of wasted time and too much mess for anyone!

Once peeled, I like to cut them in half and freeze them in individual bags of three to four pieces. This way they are easy to use in smoothies and snacks. Also peanut butter mini stacks are great to freeze, see a later post for those!

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I’m not sure how long they will last as I’ve always used ours up very quickly, but at a guess I would say 3-4 weeks?

Tonight, we decided on vegan banana ice cream…this is so simple to make!

First of all take the bananas out of the freezer for 10 minutes before you are ready to make the ice cream.

I used…

6 bananas
Most of a punnet of strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup of hazelnut milk

Put your slightly softened Bananas in a food processor, blend on a low speed, scraping down the sides a couple of times. Add about half the hazelnut milk and blend again, then add your strawberries, blend, scrape, blend and add more hazelnut milk if needed.
You want your ice cream to be smooth and not too stiff.

That’s it! Serve with fresh fruit and enjoy!

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This delicious ‘ice cream’ is open to interpretation, you could use so many other fruits or berries, I think mango would be nice? And how about topping with toasted almond slivers? Yum!

Vegan ‘fudgey’ sesame balls!

I couldn’t think of a clever name for these little treats…so balls it is!

These little chocolatey balls are seriously addictive and I could not stop at one, or two!! They have a fudgey taste, hence the name!

They contain sesame seeds which are packed full of magnesium and calcium! These super little seeds are also a great source of good fats which help to keep skin supple and young looking!

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They are very simple to make…

Add the following ingredients to a food processor and blend, scraping down the sides a couple of times.

1 cup of sesame seeds
1/4 cup of organic cocoa or cacao powder
1/4 cup of desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons of agave or maple syrup.
A teaspoon of natural vanilla extract.

You may need to add a few drops of water but be careful as you don’t want it to be wet, at all. It still needs to look crumbly…

Test it a bit by squashing a ball together…if it holds it’s just right!

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So, now you can roll into small balls…I got about 9 or 10, there would have been more if I hadn’t of ‘tested’ so much, Whoops!

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They can be kept on the fridge, or as I like to do with everything…freeze them! The reason behind this is it takes me longer to eat!! Haha!!

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Shopping lists, what I buy regularly!

I’ve had a few requests to share what I buy on a regular basis…so here we go. It’s really not too exciting but I like to keep things simple.

I order the bulk of our food online with Asda. I’ve tried all of the supermarkets that deliver and I always come back to Asda.

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So, in the photo above you can see what I basically order each week (there is more shopping as I do have a husband and 3 children) but I’ve shown you what I tend to use each day. I make most of my meals with these ingredients and you can see a lot of them over on Instagram, I’m ‘tamzinsharma’ there too!

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As I’m vegan, I cook with tofu a lot as well as beans as these both offer a good source of plant protein.

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Some other additions not shown would be quinoa, almond milk, chia seeds and peanut butter. Also I buy lots of berries, both fresh and frozen.

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Another of my favourite foods are asparagus and avocado, which are packed full of healthy fats essential for good skin!

Breakfast tends to be a smoothie, oats or yummy chia seed pudding

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I hope that’s been a help! Let me know what your essentials are!

Coconut flour, banana and chia vegan pancake drops!

This is my first time cooking with coconut flour, I’ve read a lot of horror stories about baking disasters and how dry this flour is to work with…

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So, my first idea was to make sure I had plenty of ‘wet’ ingredients in the mix, I decided to use bananas and chia ‘eggs’ see here for all the info on these seeds.

Once the batter was mixed up I let it stand for a few minutes…the first pancake I made just fell apart when I tried to turn it, so I made them smaller, just a good tablespoon full dropped into the pan.

Here is the recipe…

3 bananas
1/2 cup of coconut flour
2 chia eggs (2 tablespoons of chia seed and 6 tablespoons of water)
1 1/2 cups of almond milk (you may need a little more)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

First thing to do is blend the bananas and chia egg together, I used my food processor for this as my stick blender jug isn’t big enough!

Then add your milk and blend again till smooth and set aside.

In al large bowl add the coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon and mix.

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Then add the banana mix to the dry ingredients and stir really well, make sure there are no lumps.

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At this point I let the mix stand for a few minutes, just to see if the coconut flour thickened the mix, it did a bit so I added a little more milk.

I heated my pan and added a teaspoon of coconut oil, then dropped in a tablespoon of the batter…

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Cook on both sides till golden brown and serve.

I heated some frozen raspberries and blueberries and also sprinkled desiccated coconut on top!

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They were a big hit with the boys!!

A yummy spiced tea smoothie!

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Oh this was delicious!! We had been out all day and I came home hungry…it was still a while till dinner so I thought a smoothie would tide me over.

I had a quick scan of the shelves and fridge and saw the box of Yogi Tea Aztec spice tea bags, these have a warming blend of spices and herbs, not unlike Chai Tea.

So, I warmed some coconut milk on the hob, then poured in to a jug, I let the tea bag infuse for about 20 mins in the fridge, which helped the milk cool down.

When the milk was cool, I added a few ice cubes, 2 small bananas, 4 dates to the jug and used a stick blender to mix.

I topped with cinnamon and enjoyed!!!

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A delicious blend which would be perfect for breakfast too!