Saturday, 13 September 2014

My Top 5 Healthy Desserts/Snacks

My top 5 this week, anyway!

When you like sweet food as much as I do, it's a good idea to have a few healthy desserts/snacks in rotation. To be honest, I never miss the refined flours and sugars when I'm eating stuff like this.

1. Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites

This dough was lucky to make it to ball form. A lot was eaten straight from the blender. 

2. Snack Pack Cheesecake

I love this idea of having ready made little raw sweet snack packs to take places. Even though I did eat them all at home. Standing at the fridge. 

3. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites

These have chickpeas in them. So it's acceptable that I ate them for dinner, right? As stated in the recipe, these are best eaten warm so if you don't eat them all in one sitting after they're baked (ahem), warm them up in the microwave for a few seconds.

4. Strawberry Cheesecake Bars

I had some strawberries to use up so I used them instead of blackberries in the original recipe. As you can see in the photo, pieces were either frantically hacked off or eaten with spoon straight from the tin.

5. Peanut Better Balls

These only have a few ingredients, but are very addictive - a bit salty and a bit crispy. They would make great Christmas gifts! 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Easy Pink Kid's Cupcakes (no artificial colouring!)

When did I realise the power of the cupcake?

It was before I was vegan and a time of my life when I didn't enter the kitchen for any reason other than to boil pasta or make coffee. I visited a friend of a friend's place and she was making cupcakes to take to a party from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess. They looked beautiful in a simple and honest way. It struck me that they are such heartfelt gift or contribution to a party.  

Over the years, I have made many cupcakes and I never tire of seeing people's faces light up when they taste and see them. I've made them for friend's and family gatherings, work events and weddings. I'm kind of known for them - not through any skill, but the sheer frequency! People, vegan or not, love them. 

And they are easy and fun to make, eat and decorate.

They are even more fun to make now that I have a daughter to help me! Sylvia and I made these for her friend's birthday party yesterday. 

Sylvia told me the specifications: vanilla cupcake, pink icing, with strawberries and sprinkles. One of her more reasonable and achievable requests!

I used this recipe for the vegan vanilla cupcakes from It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken. They were lovely and light. The recipe for the icing is below. I don't mind using food colouring occasionally, but I love it when there is an alternative. You could make them pinker by adding more raspberry purée and slightly increasing the amount of icing sugar. 

Naturally Pink Icing (enough icing to pipe onto 12 standard cupcakes or 24 mini cupcakes)

1/2 cup vegan margarine (I used Nuttelex)
2 cups icing sugar
dash of vanilla
2 tsp raspberry purée (see below)

To make the raspberry purée: Blend 1/4 cup of raspberries (I used frozen). Pass them through a sieve and there you have your purée!

I made my icing in my food processor. Process the margarine around for a second. Add in 1 cup of icing sugar, the vanilla and raspberry purée and blend for a few seconds. Add the remaining cup of icing sugar and blend until smooth.

Other cupcake posts:
Vegan Wedding Cupcakes
Bananas 'n' Cookies Cupcakes
Quinoa and cupcakes for meat eaters

Monday, 18 August 2014

Spaghetti Pie

Why have pasta on its own when you can have it encased in pastry?

One day, I inexplicably felt like making a pie with a spaghetti filling. This filling would have been a fine dinner on its own. I may have had too much time on my hands to think of putting it in a pie, not something that happens often! 

This was one of those weird ideas that worked out really well. Is spaghetti pie even a thing? I have seen it as a crust but not a filling. 

Sylvia thought this idea was hilarious and loved the end product. Peter thought I had gone completely around the bend, but also loved the end product. Lexie was too confused to even try it!

This pie is definitely comfort food, and fun to make and eat!

Vegan Spaghetti Pie

Pastry (slightly adapted from barley poppy seed crust from Vegan Lunch Box)

2 cups plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar


approx half a packet of angel hair pasta (about 250g I think)
2 tbsp olive oil 
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 zucchinis, grated
approx 2 cups passata/tomato cooking sauce
dried basil and oregano to taste
2 tsp sugar
salt to taste

White sauce 
2 tbsp vegan margarine
2 tbsp plain flour
approx 1 cup non-dairy milk
dash of garlic powder and salt to taste

Preheat oven to 190C.

Make the pastry: Combine flours, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the oil and mix with your fingers until the flour has formed small crumbs. Add the water and vinegar and stir with your fingers until the dough holds together. Knead the dough a few times and divide into two pieces. Roll out each piece on a floured surface to fit your pie dish and line your pie dish with one of them. Put the other crust aside and make your filling.

Filling: Cook the pasta - this only takes two minutes - and put aside. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the garlic, carrot and zucchini for about 10 minutes. Add the passata, herbs, sugar and salt and cook for a few more minutes. Add the pasta and combine. If you want it a bit more saucy add some more passata, but you don't want it too runny. 

Make the white sauce: Melt the margarine in a small saucepan. Add the flour and garlic powder and cook on low heat for a minute or two. Slowly whisk in the milk, only adding enough to reach desired consistency, until it thickens but is not too gluggy. Add salt to taste.

Fill the pie with the spaghetti mixture, spread the white sauce over the top and top with piecrust. Cut a small slit in the centre of the pie. 

Bake for about 35 minutes until lightly browned. 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Peanut Butter Choc Chunk Cookie Dough Balls

I have worked out that lot of the time, the major reason I want to make cookies is because I have a craving to eat the dough. 

I think it's because I have great memories of eating raw packaged cookie dough when I first moved out of home with my best friend (Nat, are you reading?!). It was heavenly. Until we made ourselves sick!

This time, I thought I'd skip the baking step and just eat the dough as a legitimate sweet. It is, right?

These are real cookie dough balls. Not imitation or healthy ones (although I love those too!). A great fast way to get your cookie dough hit. Better than packaged any day!

Peanut Butter Choc Chunk Cookie Dough Balls

1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup vegan margarine
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 cup roughly chopped dark vegan chocolate

Mix together the peanut butter, margarine and brown sugar in a bowl. Combine with the flour, vanilla and salt. I found using my hands to mix easiest! Then add the choc chunks and roll into balls. 

Friday, 8 August 2014

Vegan Snacks My Kids Will Actually Eat: Part 2

Picture me perched next my children and the most recently offered snack or meal, eyes wide in anticipation of their verdict (which they give so casually) - yum or yuck? Then quickly remembering to feign nonchalance (a must - they sense the desperation) and springing up like a cat!

OK, I'm not really that sad and my kids aren't really that fussy or spoilt, but it's not far from the truth!

Here are some snacks my kids have loved recently:

These samosas filled with potatoes and peas are from Vegan Lunch Box. They are a bit time consuming to make, but it was worth the effort because Sylvia ate them for two days straight!

"Cheesy" pasta is a staple for us. So quick and they always love it.

These maple syrup cupcakes were so delicious and light. I made a bit of icing with icing sugar, vanilla and rice milk to go on top. 

My kids didn't like these peaches so much, but loved the custard (I made it with soy milk). Such a nice dish for cold weather. 

I make these chocolate chip pikelets a lot. I love that they contain flaxseed. They are quick to make and great to take places. 

[This follows on from my last post on vegan snacks for kids.]

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Instant Raspberry Frozen Yoghurt

Frozen yoghurt shops seemed have popped up all over the place, but none that I've encountered offer vegan frozen yoghurt. I always feel a bit deprived as I walk past them.

Anyway, at least now I can make my own quick version at home!

This is a brilliant snack or dessert that can prepared in about two minutes. This photo (hurriedly taken - it had to be eaten!) doesn't do it justice. It really does have the same texture and taste as soft frozen yoghurt.  

And I'm sure other frozen fruit such as blueberries would work as well. 

PS: If anyone can point me in the direction of vegan frozen yoghurt in Sydney, please do!

Instant Raspberry Frozen Yoghurt (serves 1-2) (inspired by Vegie Head's Strawberry Mousse, which seems to have been removed from the website)

1/4 cup frozen raspberries (approx)
1/2 an avocado
1/2-1 tsp chia seeds
2 tsp coconut cream
2 tbsp maple syrup to taste (or other liquid sweetener)

Blend all ingredients and eat!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Bananas 'n' Cookies Cupcakes

This idea came to me when I was swimming laps. Sometimes I think the only reason I go swimming is to have uninterrupted time to think about food!

I made these mini cupcakes for a birthday party yesterday. I loved this flavour. It is a nice change from the standard chocolate or vanilla. The pieces of chocolate biscuit make these really fun and interesting.

I made these mini cupcakes using the banana split cupcake recipe (without the pineapple preserves) from the brilliant Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World with half a cup of roughly chopped chocolate biscuits (cookies) folded into the batter (about 5 Arnott's Choc Ripple Biscuits - they're vegan!), then piped on some vanilla buttercream icing, threw some chocolate ganache over the top and sprinkled on some crushed biscuit crumbs.

Then, of course, Sylvia added coloured sprinkles. 

These were so much fun to make and decorate!