Friday, 17 February 2012

Beetroot, celery, apple and ginger juice

I'd run out of fresh ginger :( but added 1 tsp of powdered for the flavour...

...The promise of a more energised you in just a couple of minutes!

I woke up this morning (15.2.12) feeling dreadful! Not only was I tired from a busy day yesterday, but I had strayed from my usual diet (I try to avoid yeasted bread, dairy and sugar) and I paid for it by feeling stiff, achey and slightly wheezy plus my nose was blocked. This might be the sort of thing that you could get used to in a busy middle-aged woman's body, but now that I have found the foods that suit me best and those that I need to avoid, I am not used to this sluggishness. I like to feel energised and nourished- I need to, with the hectic life I live. Fortunately, I do enjoy the taste and feel of healthy foods just as much as cheese baguettes or sugary cake and chocolate, so today I have set about redressing the balance with a breakfast of hot fruit salad topped with tahini and have drunk plenty of good old plain fresh water. My next fix is this amazing juice tonic. The ingredients never fail to make me feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Time to dust off that juicer...

1 small beetroot
1 apple
2 sticks of celery, leaves and all
1 lemon
1 piece of fresh ginger, about the size of the top part of your thumb

  • Chop the fruit and veg into pieces small enough for your juicer to cope with.
  • Juice
  • Drink as soon as possible to get the maximum health benefit. You may want to dilute the juice with water if you are not used to fresh juices, but I prefer it neat.
I just threw this combination of ingredients together several years ago going on instinct and what was in my fridge at the time; I looked up their properties later: the beetroot is a general tonic/ cleanser and great for stiff joints/ arthritis, lowering blood pressure and is high in iron. Celery juice is diuretic and a good kidney and liver cleanser, and ginger juice is good for the immune system plus it prevents nausea and stiff joints. The apple juice has antioxidants, vitamin C and is a good source of natural fruit sugar (fructose) for energy. Lemon juice is a tonic for the liver, aids digestion, and is of course also full of vitamin C. So quite a potent combo! -And I'm glad to say that it did the trick :)
For some more juicing ideas, try here.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Chocolate Pecan Cheesecake

While I am busy baking sugar-free and lower fat delights in an attempt to keep us all on the straight and narrow with our healthy eating, the kids have other ideas... one wanted to cook, one found this Nigella recipe, they all went shopping , two actually cooked, and this was the result. (Yes, I did try just a teeny weeny piece, and it was awesomely, wickedly wonderful!) Being the creative souls they are, they substituted the hazelnuts in the recipe for pecans, which worked beautifully. The velvety texture of this dessert is no doubt helped by the fact that the filling contains no less than 2 jars of Nutella! The base is crumbled Digestive biscuits (Graham crackers).

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Chocolate Heart Cake- vegan

Fresh raspberries... yum!

Ground raw cane sugar makes the icing almost caramel- flavoured

Just a couple of pics of the cake I made today... and no, it's not sugar -free this time! Having made the hazelnut cookies early so as to post them in time for readers to use the recipe for Valentine's Day I was then left with the dilemma of what to make on the day itself; luckily, a trip to the local Aldi resulted in me finding a great silicone heart mould.

The cake is made made using my usual cake recipe, but with peanut oil rather than melted butter, plus buttercream icing made from ground raw cane sugar rather than white icing sugar to give a caramelly sort of richness. -And no, it's not sugar free! (You may also have noticed that it's milk chocolate grated on the top, as I'd run out of dark.) The unseasonal but irresistible fresh raspberries, coupled with lashings of grated chocolate on top certainly tipped this cake over into the "special occasion" bracket.

This post is dedicated to my dear husband, who has to put up with all my culinary experiments and never complains. We have had a very intense year, for one reason or another, but through it all he has been a rock. All the cakes in the world couldn't express my gratitude and appreciation.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Hazelnut Valentine Cookies- vegan, wheat free, sugar free

Perfect healthier treat for your loved one...

I spoiled the no-sugar by half-dipping in dark chocolate, but you could always use xylitol chocolate, available from health food stores

If you really love someone, you'll want them to enjoy good health, right?  Srimati Radharani received a boon from Durvasa Muni that whatever She cooked would bestow a long and healthy life, which is why Yasoda Mayi would always ask Her to cook for Krsna. As I don't have any such blessing, it is to the most health-giving ingredients that I turn when cooking for my Beloved. These delectable cookies contain no sugar plus the nutritional benefits of nuts and chickpea flour rather than wheat flour, so they are just perfect to bake for a loved one. 
They are soft rather than crunchy- in fact, they just melt in the mouth. The protein in the nuts and chickpea flour (besan) makes them very satisfying- you won't want to eat more than one at a time. 
Next time I make these -and that may well  be quite soon, as they were very popular with my family- I'll replace the margarine with coconut oil, as this is the most stable oil for baking, and a healthier option. If you eat dairy products, then ghee is also a great option. I have to thank Sadhana of the awesome Sensible Veg blog for the inspiration for these, as she has some great cookie recipes using almond flour which gave me the idea to use nuts. If you want a main course to make a complete meal, try looking here for my last year's Valentine meal recipe.
I made about 22 cookies with the following quantities, but some of them were smaller.

400g ground hazelnuts (if you do it yourself, leave some slightly larger pieces)
250g unhydrogenated vegan margarine (or try coconut oil, and let me know how it turns out!)
200-250g xylitol, according to your taste
250g chickpea flour (besan)
1 tsp  natural vanilla essence
100-150g dark chocoolate/ xylitol chocolate (optional)

  • Combine the ground nuts and besan in a large bowl.
  • In another bowl, cream the margarine/ coconut oil and xylitol together.
  • Add these to the nut mixture, along with the vanilla essence.
  • Mix to a dough, pat into a roll and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for at least half an hour, or even overnight. This is essential, to avoid the dough going runny as it bakes.
  • Either slice into rounds or roll into balls and press into cookie shapes, put on oiled baking trays and cook in an oven preheated to 180C for 10-15 minutes, until just starting to brown. Pat down with a spatula halfway through.
  • When you take them out of the oven, they will be really delicate so don't even think about taking them off the tray until they have cooled a little. Then lift them carefully with a spatula to finish cooling on a fine-meshed wire rack.
  • When cold, carefully half -dip in chocolate, if desired. Leave to set on waxed paper or foil.
Happy Valentine's Day!