Saturday, 28 February 2015

Blueberry Banana Breakfast Pancakes or Rock Buns- gluten free, cane sugar free

This is one recipe that, with a little tweaking, can go 2 ways- either cute rock buns or luscious little pancakes. Either way, they are a very special breakfast for that gluten free vegan in your life- or for anyone, actually. Mothers' Day this year falls on Sunday March 15th in the UK, and Sunday May 10th in the USA; so you have plenty of time to perfect your pancake-flipping technique. What mother wouldn't want to be presented with a stack of these for breakfast, dripping in agave or maple syrup?


  • If gluten is a definite no-no, then make sure your oats are sourced from a company that does not mill them on the same line as wheat or other gluten-containing products; there again, supermarket "free from" sections can be useful for these if you can't get to a wholefood or health food shop.
  • The rock buns are best eaten warm from the oven; they lose their cakey-ness otherwise. Maybe you could try splitting and toasting them too.
Rock Buns

Makes about a dozen:
400g self-raising gluten free flour (I used Dove's Farm brand- it's organic too)
4 tsps baking powder
1 1/2 tsps xanthan gum
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tabs porridge oats
50g sultanas or raisins (or how about dried cranberries for extra Christmas credibility?)
200ml maple syrup
150ml melted coconut oil or sunflower oil
200-250ml soya milk
1 medium banana, finely chopped into sultana-sized chunks
120g washed fresh blueberries
  • Prepare the banana and blueberries, and set aside with the sultanas.
  • Get all the dry ingredients together in one bowl (ie: flour, baking powder, cinnamon and oats)
  • Whisk together the oil, maple syrup and soya milk in another container.
  • Beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly, then stir in the fruit, distributing it as evenly through the mixture as you can.
  • Spoon into prepared muffin moulds. You can fill them more than usual as they don't rise very much.
  • Bake for about 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 180C. 
(These are a little more fiddly, but we liked them best!)

Makes about 15 or so 8-10cm mini pancakes:
200g self-raising gluten free flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice
1 tab porridge oats
1 flax egg (1 tab ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tabs water)
100ml agave
75ml melted coconut oil
320ml soya (or other plant) milk
1 banana, mashed
120g washed fresh blueberries

  • Prepare the flax egg and mix thoroughly with the mashed banana.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum,spice and oats together in a large bowl.
  • Beat the agave and the oil into the banana- flax mixture and add to the large bowl.
  • Whisk in the soya milk gradually. The batter will be a little thicker than regular pancake batter; barely even pouring consistency.
  • Cook in a well-oiled pan on a gentle heat, using an ice cream scoopful of batter for each pancake. I used a mini "one-egg" pan to get the perfect shape and size. The batter is thick and sticky, and needs spreading evenly in the pan. Before it sets, dot with 5 or 6 blueberries. When the batter is set on top, carefully flip over with a spatula and cook the other side (careful: it doesn't need as long as the first side.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Recipes Revisited- Satay Sauce

Satay is a delicious, peanut-based sauce that's perfect for vegans; I've used it as a dip, to make seitan satay sticks and with stir fries. We published a recipe for a quick and easy satay sauce back in September 2012, but I knew I could improve on it, and here's the result:

Serves 4-6:
1 can coconut milk
2 heaped tabs peanut buttter (smooth; I used home made with no salt added)
1/2 tsp compound hing
3 1/2 tabs dark soy sauce/ tamari
1/2 tsp seasalt*
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
*If you are using salted peanut butter you may want to adjust this accordingly.
  • Stir/ whisk the peanut butter into the coconut milk until blended thoroughly.
  • Mix in the rest of the ingredients
  • Heat gently, and use as a dip or a stir-fry sauce, to coat tofu or seitan, or even as a salad dressing when cooled.
Add caption

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Chocolate Brownies for Fair Trade Fortnight

The feelgood factor in these brownies comes from the fact that they are made with fairly traded cocoa as much as from the chocolate itself.

This year Fair Trade Fortnight falls between 23rd Feb and 8th March. We always buy fair trade if possible, looking for foods with the fair trade logo or UTZ classification. Nowadays you can get fair trade, bananas, roses, coffee, tea, sugar, and chocolate in almost every supermarket, from Aldi to Waitrose. But you may not  know that you can now also get a lot more fairly traded products such as: gold, cotton and quinoa, plus products made with fair trade ingredients including footballs, beer and cola (Ubuntu Cola). So what's the benefit in buying fair trade? Simply put, it enables the people who actually produce the stuff, the farmers and workers, to get a fair price for their product, enabling better wages and a better life for them and their families. The consumer pays a little more to make this happen, but hey, it's worth it to help move towards a more just world. Never underestimate the power of the consumer to change things: to me, it makes sense that if I'm avoiding animal exploitation with my food choices, as far as possible, I should also try to avoid exploiting humans too.

My daughter Radha made some delicious chocolate brownies the other day, using fair trade chocolate- perfect for celebrating your implication in creating a fairer world for all! They are so good that this is likely to become my go-to brownie recipe from now on. Here it is, in her words...

Makes about 10 small brownies:
5 tabs sunflower oil (extra for greasing)
200g fair trade vegan dark chocolate
170g white self raising flour
3 heaped tabs Bournville cocoa (it's fair trade)
180g soft light brown sugar (can also be fair trade)
a pinch of seasalt
1 capful natural vanilla essence
1 capful natural almond essence
230ml unsweetened soya milk

  • Preheat oven to 180C (fan) or roughly 200C.
  • Grease tin with oil and line with greaseproof paper.
  • Melt dark chocolate. Allow to cool.
  • While it cools, sieve flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl, Stir in sugar and salt.
  • Stir in oil, soya milk, melted chocolate and essences until they are all combined.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
  • Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting.

Here are just some of the labels to look for when you're shopping:

Image result for fairtrade logo circle
Image result for fairtrade logo circle
Image result for fairtrade logo circle
Image result for utz logo

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Mild Thai Green Tofu

This fresh green sauce contains some of the classic Thai green curry ingredients, like coconut milk, galangal, coriander and lemon grass, but has no onions, garlic or chilli so that the delicate lime and lemon grass get a chance to shine. (Of course, you could add in some green chilli if you prefer it spicy.) If you have a blender, it's made in seconds; if not it's still a breeze with a balloon whisk, although you would have to chop everything very finely first.

Serves 6-8:
1 30g bunch fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 can coconut milk (400ml)
the juice of half a lime
a 2" stick of lemongrass, chopped
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp powdered coriander
1 tsp powdered cumin
1/2 tsp seasalt
1 tab soy sauce
1/4 tsp galangal powder

  • Whizz everything together in a blender until smooth.
  • Pour over chunks of tofu in an ovenproof dish and heat through in a moderate oven (150-180C). Take care not to overcook it, or the sauce will start to dry out and discolour.
  • Serve with noodles and stir-fried veg.