Saturday, 30 March 2013

Healthy Vegan Parfaits

My three year old, Sylvia, makes a lot of amusing food requests. I am always happy when she asks for a particular food because, in addition to it being entertaining, it means that she will most likely try and enjoy eating it.

In the past she has asked for rice paper rolls and a guacamole face from Play School. A few days ago she asked if we could make apple turnovers, then proceeded to tell me the joke: How do you make an apple turnover? Tickle it while it's sleeping! (Also courtesy of Play School!)

Sylvia's latest request was for parfaits, or ice cream sundaes, from the book Fancy Nancy. Fancy Nancy has fancy parfaits with ice cream, chocolate sauce and sprinkles. Who wouldn't want that?

To make a healthier vanilla ice cream, I decided to use cashews. Really, is there anything cashews can't do? Sour cream, cheesecake, cream - I love it all!

Sylvia loved making her parfait. She spooned melted choc chips over her ice cream and topped it with hundreds and thousands. She had three bowls of the stuff! 

This ice cream turned out surprisingly well given that I just threw a few random things into the blender! I'm sure that Google would reveal many more polished recipes for this kind of ice cream, but this was perfect for us. It has a lovely creamy texture, is so easy to make and is a great alternative to soy ice creams containing a lot of additives. 

Healthy Vegan Parfaits (child approved)

Vanilla ice cream
1 cup cashews*
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup

Possible toppings
Melted choc chips**
Chopped nuts
Hundreds and thousands/sprinkles
Vegan cream

To make the ice cream, blend all ingredients until completely smooth. 

Put it in the freezer, stirring every hour or two until it reaches desired consistency.*** 

* I use a high speed blender so I didn't soak the cashews. If your blender isn't too powerful, it may be best to soak them for at least an hour.

** For a healthier alternative, you can combine cocoa/cacao, coconut oil and maple syrup. Whichever you use, it hardens when you pour it over the cold ice cream. 

*** For me this was about 4-5 hours. The real reason I stirred it so often was because we happened to be home, I was excited to see how it would turn out and was too impatient to leave it alone! I think the ice cream would still be fine if you don't have time to stir it, but it would be a bit more icy and you would need to let it defrost a bit before eating it. I don't have an ice cream maker, so not sure how it would work in one!


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Vegan delights

Here are a few vegan delights from my kitchen these days:

Raw desserts

I am pretty attached to my regular baked vegan desserts, but lately I'm loving refreshing raw desserts. They are a delicious sweet fix as well as highly nutritious. I am always amazed at how simple raw ingredients such as nuts, coconut oil and dates create such luscious desserts with beautiful textures.

This 'cheezecake' from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen is absolutely divine (this seems to be the recipe here). I make it regularly. It is creamy, with that cheesecake tang, and the macadamia base is delicious. Other great raw cheesecake recipes are this chocolate cheesecake and this chocolate-strawberry truffle pie.

This is based on the mango fruit cobbler recipe from Ani's Raw Food Kitchen, but I used peaches and nectarines instead. Just take some fresh fruit, add the pecan crumble mix and the syrup made with dates, coconut oil, vanilla and water on top. Very moreish. 

Co Yo Coconut Milk Yoghurt

Co Yo yoghurt is by far the best vegan yoghurt I've ever had. It reminds me of Greek style dairy yoghurt. It is on the pricey side, but well worth it. It is so rich that you only really need one dollop at a time. Having said that, I demolished nearly a whole carton of this in one sitting the other day. I'll blame breastfeeding for my big appetite!

Easy weekend pancakes

I love this recipe because you just throw everything into the blender and the pancake mix is ready! Just perfect for weekends when you feel like something different for breakfast but are short on time. I also love that it uses spelt flour.

Heavenly tomato tart

Sylvia loves this tart and it's a quick, tasty mid-week meal. I make a few tiny changes to this recipe - I usually take the opportunity to sneak in kale or spinach into the cream filling tofu mixture, I use fresh garlic and I use puff pastry instead of phyllo. 

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Pumpkin pizza with cashew cream

With a baby and a three year old, we have been cooking pretty simple meals lately. This pizza is probably the most fancy thing I've cooked for a while. 

Sylvia asked me to make pizza and I needed to use up some pumpkin, so this pizza was born. In a flash of creativity, I decided to top it with cashew cream.

It was so delicious, I thought I'd share it.

It's so simple that this is hardly a recipe, more like a list of steps:
  1. I made this pizza base
  2. I roasted some chopped pumpkin in the oven with olive oil, salt and garlic
  3. I made a batch of classic cashew cream
  4. I rolled out the pizza dough (recipe makes two pizzas), spread on some homemade tomato sauce (or you could use bought pasta/pizza sauce) and put the pumpkin on. I baked them at around 220C for around 20-30 minutes until crust was light brown
  5. I drizzled the cashew cream over the cooked pizzas 
Admire (and eat) your gourmet pizza!