27 February, 2013

Vegan Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

I have become a cookie monster. I am not entirely sure what has caused it. I guess it's got something to do with winter where something more substantial than a piece of fruit is needed as a snack. I keep telling myself that I bake them for my kids. A little nut-free treat for the lunch box, now that even my little one is going to school. But I am afraid that's only half the truth.

Perhaps cookie baking (and eating) has become my substitute for marathon training?  After spending three months on the actual training, then run the race and as soon as it's over get ready to smash the current PB of my half marathon, I am sitting here and suddenly have a lot of time on my hands.

Time to eat, much, snack... In a way, I still feel my body needs to recover from the races of the past month. That shows by inexplicable hunger attacks that seem to fall from the sky onto me. I give in, naturally. But try and keep it as clean, healthy and homemade as possible.

Today's cookies are were in fact developed to be vegan and nut-free. It didn't take many trials until successful cookies came out of the oven. I have made several batches of those in the past couple of weeks that I shared almost equally between me and my daughter. This oatmeal cookie has so many good ingredients that I can oversee the fact that it's not grain free. Enjoy! 
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VEGAN COCONUT OATMEAL COOKIES

(Print Recipe)

1/2 cup raw sugar/coconut sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fine oat flakes
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of sea salt

1/2 cup dried coconut flakes

Yields 15-20 (depending on size)
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Preheat oven to 180C/375F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

With an electric mixer or in a food processor, blend sugar, coconut oil, coconut milk and vanilla extract until creamy. Stir in oat flakes cinnamon, baking powder, salt and coconut flakes.

Take a tablespoon of the dough, form a disc and place it on the prepared cookie sheet. Repeat until all dough is being used up. You can flatten the cookies even more with the back of a spoon.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown at the bottom. Switch off the oven. Flip the cookies upside down and put them back in the warm oven for another few minutes to achieve extra crispness.
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20 February, 2013

Herbed Cauliflower Carrot Falafels


Dinner is most likely the meal in our house that changes the least often. We have our two or three soups, two or three meat/seafood or pasta dishes. More often than not, we'll just have a salad or an omelette. Between those listed we rotate on a weekly to bi-weekly basis.

All these dishes are actually really nice. But every now and then comes a point when none of these tickle my fancy. I don't have any problems coming up with a new cookie or cake recipe. But dinner? It's costing me gray hairs.

Lunchtime is my chance to try out new recipes, as I am home alone and only have to feed myself. Seldomly, my lunchtime creations make it to the family dinner. It would often be too veggie, too raw, too green, too many nuts and seeds..... for the other diners around the table.

These vegan falafels are most of the above: full of fresh veggies, herbs and seeds, held together by flax eggs and almond meal. I t cannot get more nutritious: vitamin and mineral bursting carrots, cauliflower and parsley combined with omega-3 rich flax meal, almonds and seeds. I love their soft crunch coming from the seeds and the cauliflower.

What I like even more is the fact that all sorts of lonely vegetables from the back of the fridge can be used: I can imagine parsnips, sweet potato, zucchini, bell peppers, kohlrabi or broccoli in this. The parsley can be replaced by spinach, cilantro or chives. The spices can be substituted by anything that tickles your fancy: The Healthy Foodie has cinnamon and paprika in her fritters. An awesome combination that I had never tried before. Highly recommendable.

I like these falafels with a thinned and seasoned tahini sauce and a fresh salad on the side. Enjoy!
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HERBED CAULIFLOWER CARROT FALAFELS
inspired by The Healthy Foodie and Comfy Belly

(Print Recipe

2 tablespoons flax meal
6 tablespoons boiling water

1 cup cauliflower florets
1 cup carrots, chopped into chunks
1 small red onion
1 garlic clove
1 cup fresh parsley leaves

1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)

1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup almond meal

olive oil for frying

Serves 2-3
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In am small bowl, combine flax seed with boiling water and stir until well combined. Let stand for a few minutes to thicken.

In a food processor, combine cauliflower, carrots, onion, garlic and parsley. Pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Add lemon juice, cumin, salt and cayenne and pulse again to blend. The mixture should be very finely chopped now.

Transfer mixture to a bowl. Add flax seed mixture and almond meal and knead until mixture holds together. Add more almond meal if the mixture seems to wet. Add sesame and pumpkin seeds.

Form patties of the size of the palm of your hand. You should get about 6 patties out of the batter.

Coat a frying pan with olive oil and cook patties over medium heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned.

Serve immediately with a fresh salad and tahini or yogurt dip.
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12 February, 2013

Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

It's almost Valentine's Day. To be honest, we chose to ignore this day completely in our house a few years ago. No flowers, gifts, expensive dine-outs or comprehensive dine-ins that has us standing in the kitchen for hours. None of this.

In fact, this year I am running a half marathon at 7am the next day, and need to get up at 4.30am in the morning. For that, I need Valentine's day to be as unexciting and smooth as possible. Kids need to be in bed by 8pm, I try and be in bed by 10pm. And surely no fancy foods.

However, I take it as an excuse, to serve you some of my ultimate chocolate cake. It's one of those recipes that have been tweaked and changed numerous times until it reached perfection. The perfect balance between maximum chocolate flavor, the right amount of sweetness and moist texture.

The cake is so good, that it took several attempts to get it photographed as my kids always wait in front of the oven like vultures for the cake to come out, whenever they smelled chocolate scents filling the house. Happy Valentine!
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CHOCOLATE OLIVE OIL CAKE

(Print Recipe)

150g or 1 1/3 cups almond meal
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

50g or 1/3 cup cocoa powder
125ml or 1/3 cup boiling water

2 eggs
150g or 2/3 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Serves 9
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Preheat oven to 180C/375F. Line 8-inch square tin with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, pour the boiling water over cocoa powder and stir until cocoa has dissolved. Set aside to let cool.

In a bowl, mix together almond meal and baking soda. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Blend in olive oil and vanilla extract. Add the cooled cocoa mixture to the egg mixture and stir until well combined.
Now add wet micture to almond meal mixture and stir until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin. Bake for about 35 minutes. Let cool on wire rack before cutting.

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05 February, 2013

Spiced Lentil Spinach Walnut Loaf

The Dubai marathon is done and dusted. For three months, everything in my life was designed and scheduled around the training and the actual race. Now that it's over, I need something else to do. I was on cloud 9 for about a week after the race. By now, I have slowly descended back down to planet earth. I am suffering a little from marathon blues (e.g. feeling lost in the sudden absence of a goal of such magnitude).

Hopefully, I can redirect my energy and creativity to this blog which admittedly got sidelined during the past few months. I want to explore more exciting dinner recipes, preferably vegan ones. I have already dug out a few vegan recipes from the past that I reposted on my FB page. For those of you who have missed them, here they are again. Tried, tested, and highly recommended:
While I have no intention yet to become a complete vegan, I have several reasons for an increase of vegan foods in my diet. I am currently reading a lot about the relation of animal fats and animal proteins and the occurrence of cancer, diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases. Someone in my close family has just lost the battle against cancer at an far too early age.
And on a lighter note, I experience far too many incidents of light to medium food poisoning when I eat out or order in foods that contain animal products. For some reason, this only happens to me here in Dubai, and is not limited to dodgy take-away places around the corner. I got sick once after eating out in a 5-star hotel restaurant. Understandably, it has spoiled my appetite for restaurant foods. As a result, I need to cook more at home. Not a bad thing, actually. I would be in control of what goes into my food and what I eat. I could try out lots of new recipes. And I could post the good ones here on my blog.

Lentil loaves have been on my to-do list for a long time. However, the regular recipes didn't seem to contain many spices. Instead, they would have a ketchup-based or BBQ sauce smeared on top that didn't really tickle my fancy. My version of a lentil loaf brings together the earthy flavors of lentils, the crunch of walnuts, the goodness of the spinach and a whole range of Indian spices that bring strong flavor and anti-inflammatory properties. Serve with a fresh salad or some strained yogurt for freshness. A thorough winner. Enjoy.
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SPICED LENTIL SPINACH WALNUT LOAF

(Print Recipe)

1 cup green lentils, uncooked (or 2 1/2 cups cooked green lentils)
1 cup walnuts

2 tablespoons ground flax seed
6 tablespoons boiling water

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

2 red onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
2 cups spinach leaves, tough stems removed and chopped

1/4 cup quinoa flakes

Yields 1 loaf/Serves 8
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Cook the green lentils with 4 cups of slightly salted water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a dry pan over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Shake the pan regularly to avoid burning. Let cool before chopping finely. Set aside.
Combine flax seed and boiling water and stir until well combined. Let stand for at least 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. When hot, add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and cook until they start popping. Add onions and garlic and cook until onion are softened. Stir in grated carrots and all other spices and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add spinach leaves and cook until wilted.

In a food processor, blend half the cooked lentils and the flax seed mixture until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. With a spoon, stir in the other lentils, the carrot spinach mixture, chopped walnuts and quinoa flakes.

Preheat oven to 180C/375F. Grease or line loaf tin.
Transfer mixture to prepared loaf tin. Bake for 40 minutes. Let cool a little on wire rack before serving. Serve with a fresh salad and/or a yogurt dip (find recipe here).
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