Vegan chocolate fudge

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Gluten free and vegan chocolate fudge recipe

I think I should rename this blog “Long Weekend Cooking and Recipes” as the only time I seem to be able to try new recipes and post them these days is on long weekends!

I was put onto this recipe by a friend of mine who is also dairy intolerant. She hasn’t tried it yet, so I happily played guinea pig. So did my unsuspecting friends who had some at a long weekend lunch. I did tell them that it was vegan, but what I neglected to tell them is that the core ingredient is… sweet potato.

Yup. Good ol’ sweet potato. I’ve actually read about it being a good base in a few vegan recipes, and while I was dubious, I think it works well! It’s very filling, holds together, and does tend to take on the flavours of what it is mixed with.

Don’t believe me? Try it yourself!

The original recipe is here, and a it’s very good post well worth a read.

Gluten-free and Vegan Chocolate Fudge

Ingredients:

  • 500g sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 8 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 200g dark chocolate (dairy and gluten free, I used Lindt 70% dark chocolate, and I only used 150g. No, I didn’t eat the rest of it!)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 4 tablespoons coconut milk
  • Pinch of salt

You can also add other slice and fudge-like things such as cranberries, chopped nuts, sultanas, coconut etc. I didn’t.

Method:

  1. Combine chia and coconut milk and set aside to soak.
  2. Steam sweet potato until very tender.
  3. Mash well.
  4. Add chocolate and stir until melted in.
  5. Add dates and stir.
  6. Blend all ingredients together until smooth, and stir in any extras.
  7. Pour and press into a lined slice tray, and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.

I’ll warn you, it is REALLY rich still. So keep your slices small.

Let me know what you think!

Gluten and dairy free Christmas balls!

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gluten-dairy-free-Christmas-balls

I love Christmas time, but it can be annoying for people with food allergies and intolerances. All of the extra eating and visiting and snacking can become stressful when you’re having to worry about what’s in the food on offer.

It can also be stressful for people who are hosting guests who have food intolerances and allergies.

That’s why these little gems are a blessing. They’re pretty easy to make, and taste (to me anyway) much like traditional rum balls, making them good for everyone! (unless you’ve got a nut or fructose allergy… can’t please everyone!)

Dairy and gluten free Christmas balls (and vegan!)

Makes 18 balls (about the size of the small ball you get with a petanque set, you know the one?)

About 15 minutes preparation time, but allow 1-2 hours refrigeration before serving

Ingredients:

This is one of those recipes that you can substitute ingredients, but it does help to have a guide for proportions to get the consistency for rolling right. This is the combination that works best for me…

  • 1 cup nuts (I used about half brazil, half walnuts and some pistachios thrown in for good measure)
  • 8 prunes or dates (if using dates, soak them in water for at least 4 hours before making, discard water)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey (or omit if wanting to reduce sugar, or to make the balls vegan. You may need an extra prune or two though for the consistency)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • desiccated coconut (for rolling the balls in)

Method:

  1. Blend nuts in blender of food processor to desired consistency. I like a medium consistency, not too fine.
  2. Add all other ingredients, except coconut, and blend until combined.
  3. Test the consistency of the mix by trying to roll a ball. If it is too crumbly, add another prune or some more honey to moisten, and blend again.
  4. Once you’re happy with the mixture, roll the mixture into balls with your hands. I like to use a teaspoon to help get a consistent and snack size ball.
  5. After rolling each ball with your hands, roll them in the coconut until coated.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours before serving, and enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

Pumpkin pie

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I don’t care about your back story, just take me to the recipe.

I had my first encounter with pumpkin pie when Mr S and I were in New York last year for the marathon. It wasn’t quite Thanksgiving, but there were pumpkins everywhere and pumpkin pie on most menus so we gave it a go. I only had a little scoop of the filling (as it had cream in it) but liked it and vowed to make my own gluten and dairy free version for the follow year’s “Thanksgiving”.

Above: Pumpkins for sale in New York City, November 2011.

Being an American event, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, but the last few years on Twitter have opened up my world to it (as it turns out that I follow a lot of Americans).

While I haven’t researched and understood its beginnings, I really like the tradition of taking time to be with loved ones and recognising what you are thankful for.

Clearly I’m thankful for the Internet, as it allows me to follow incredible people and learn interesting things and find recipes for gluten and dairy free pumpkin pie…

There are an abundance of recipes out there. I ended up selecting this one from the Gluten Free Goddess blog as:

  1. Her pie got the response: “This might be the best pumpkin pie I’ve ever eaten.”
  2. It’s crustless. Which is a huge plus for me as I find gluten and dairy free pastry crumbly, dry, difficult to work with and generally painful. Not things I like when cooking.

We shared the pumpkin pie with some friends who were over for dinner who gave it the thumbs up. I think we were still all a bit… “this is different” mainly because we had never had it before and had no point of reference or “history” for it.

Even our friend Adam appeared to like it, which I’ll take as a compliment as his wife warned me: “Adam doesn’t really like vegetables or desserts, so a dessert made from vegetables could be a push…”*

*That was the general gist of it, I cant’ remember exactly.

Gluten and dairy free crustless pumpkin pie

Ingredients:

For the pie

  • 450ml cooked and pureed pumpkin (I’m not sure how much this is in pumpkin weight… I roasted a whole heap then pureed what I needed and used the rest in a salad)
  • 1 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk (or you can substitute soy or almond milk)
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla (I used regular vanilla, but I want to find some of this “bourbon vanilla”!)
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten, or to make it vegan, substitute the eggs with 1 tablespoon egg replacer
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour, or other gluten free flour (best to have one with a bit of substance though)
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch/flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

For serving

  • Strawberries or berries
  • Yoghurt or thickened cream (depending on your lactardiness)

Method:

  1. Cut the pumpkin into pieces and roas. You could probably steam it, but I like the roasted flavour. I actually didn’t think about it going into a sweet dish and still seasoned it like I normally would, but it still worked! Cooking time will depend on your oven (ours is slooow) but maybe 45 minutes – 1 hour depending on how much pumpkin, 180˙C or until a skewer easily goes through the pumpkin pieces.
  2. Grease and line a pie tray or round cake tin with baking paper.
  3. And if you don’t still have the oven on from roasting the pumpkin, pre heat your oven to 180˙C.
  4. Puree the pumpkin in a food processor. I know I tend to go on about my “hand held blitzy thingy”, well this is what I’m actually talking about, it’s rad. The blending container also has measurements on it, so you can tell exactly how much pumpkin you have.
  5. Combine with all other ingredients until smooth, then fill the prepared pie tray or tin.
  6. Place in oven and bake for about 1 hour, or until the pie is firm but still has a little give in the centre.
  7. Cool (in tin) on wire rack for about 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from tin, place on place and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
  9. Serve with strawberries, yoghurt or other desired accompaniments.

Below: The pumpkin pie making process (and my first experiment with Diptic).

Raw cacao biscuit balls

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I mentioned before that I’m trying to cut down on sugar, and more specifically, dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate. It’s one of my weaknesses.

Thankfully, I’ve recently found a good substitute. This recipe was recommended to me by a colleague who knows I adore the various raw balls from Goodies & Grains in Adelaide’s Central Markets.

I’ve tried to make them myself before, but just haven’t gotten the specific ingredients, or proportions right. While this recipe isn’t a perfect substitue for the G&G balls, they certainly satisfy my cravings.

The original recipe is from the Running to the Kitchen blog, and it’s author, Gina, seems like a woman after my own heart, loving both running and food.

I’ve adapted the recipe slightly, and find it a good base to add your own “optional extras” to, depending on your own preferences, what you have at hand, and how you’re feeling.

Raw cacao biscuit balls

Makes approximately 10 bite-sized balls.

Ingredients:

  • 1-1 1/2 cups LSA (ground linseed, sunflower seeds and almond meal), or you can make your own by first blending your preferred nut/s
  • 6-12 prunes
  • 1/4 banana
  • 2 tablespoons cacao nibs
  • 1 tablespoon pure cocoa powder (either to add to the mixture, or roll them in afterwards)
  • Pinch salt

Optional extras:

  • Acai powder (e.g. 1-2 teaspoons)
  • Maca powder (e.g. 1-2 tablespoons)
  • Shredded or desiccated coconut
  • Flax seeds or other seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • etc

Method:

  1. Using a food processor or similar device, combine the LSA, banana, 6 prunes (to begin with), cacao nibs, cocoa powder (or reserve to roll them in after), salt, and your choice of extras.
  2. Blend until combined and it begins to form a soft dough (albeit somewhat crumbly). You may need to add extra prunes (1-2 at a time) to get to the desired consistency.
  3. Once you’re happy with your dough, roll into bite-sized balls.
  4. Place on a tray and put in freezer for 30 minutes to become firm.
  5. After 30 minutes, remove from freezer and roll in cocoa powder if desired.
  6. You can also press them into more biscuit-like shapes with a fork, or leave as balls.
  7. Store in fridge or freezer, and consume within 3-5 days (If they last that long that is…)

“Healthy” hot chocolate

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If you can’t tell already, I have a super-sweet tooth. It’s so sweet that once I start having sugar-y food, I have trouble stopping. So I’ve been trying to cut back and tame my “sugar beast”.

I’m also an after dinner snacker. Another habit I’m trying to curb. Sometimes a cup of dandelion tea will do the trick, but sometimes I need a little bit more…

That’s why this hot chocolate recipe from my friend Tina has been a godsend! (or a Tina-send…?)

I like to think that it’s “healthy” and it’s certainly better than having dark chocolate, however I still see it as a treat.

“Healthy” hot chocolate

Ingredients:

  • A cup or mug’s worth of unsweetened almond milk or rice milk (I tend to have rice milk always on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon pure unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
  • Dash cinnamon power
  • 1/2 teaspoon lavender tea (optional, but recommended)

Method:

  1. Combine milk, cocoa, coconut oil and cinnamon in a small pan.
  2. Stir over medium heat, until combined and warm.
  3. If using lavender tea, place the lavender flowers in a single tea ball, place in mug, and when the cocoa mixture is warmed to your liking, pour into the mug.

If using lavender tea, you may wish to remove it after a few minutes and it’s seeped to your liking.

Gorgeous green juice

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I got pretty excited when I finally found kale at the local sustainable market, and bought two massive bunches of it… So then I had to find other things to do with it.

My housemate’s got a juicer, so I decided to try juicing it. I searches for a few recipes and eventually came across this one which I like.

If you prefer sweet juices, this probably isn’t for you. It’s very veggie, and a bit tart, but sooo good for you. I also find it a great immune system boost, particularly in this wintery weather.

Gorgeous green juice

Ingredients:

Adjust the quantity as you prefer, or to make more. This is about how much I use for one large glass.

  • 1/3 continental cucumber, cut into pieces
  • 2 smallish apples (I used red delicious), cut into quarters, with the pips removed
  • 1 lemon, peel removed and cut into quarters
  • 1 handful-ish of continental parsley, chopped
  • Approximately 8-10 kale leaves, chopped

Method:

  1. Rinse all of the chopped/prepared ingredients and juice through a juicing machine.
  2. And drink!

If you need an extra immune boost, try stirring through a heaped teaspoon of spirulina.

If you can’t be bothered making your own juice, or want to take it to the next level and treat your body to a full juice detox, check out Juice Revolution.

They’ve got a range of delicious and uber-organic juice products and detox programs. You can order them online and make your body sing!

And while the lovely Juice Revolution ladies are friends of mine, this is not a sponsored post. Just sharing a great product and service.

Vanilla sweet potato and kale curry

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It seems that “kale” is the new black. Pretty much every second recipe I am attracted to these days uses kale, and for a while it was a “mythical” ingredient.

I eventually tracked some down at the fortnightly sustainable markets at my local primary school. I swiftly bought two bunches, and then figured I should dig up one of the aforementioned recipes to use it in.

I finally decided to make another recipe from the My New Roots Holiday Reader Recipe Challenge PDF download on the My New Roots food blog; Vanilla Sweet Potato and Kale curry, submitted by Janet (check out the photo of it on her blog, it’s much better than mine).

I was unsure what to expect of it, especially not having tried kale before. But it was divine… my goodness. So good. Here it is:

Vanilla Sweet Potato and Kale Curry

Ingredients:

  • Approximately 500g sweet potato and 500g pumpkin (I used butternut), cut into 2-3cm cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 415mL coconut milk (or 1 can)
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes (or to your preferred heat)
  • 4 packed cups of kale (washed and chopped or torn into pieces)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sultanas
  • 1/8 cup salted peanuts (for garnish)
  • shredded coconut (for garnish), I lightly toasted mine in a hot pan before garnishing, nom.

Method:

  1. Cook sweet potato and pumpkin in microwave on high for 6.5 minutes (or steam if you don’t like using evil microwaves).
  2. Heat a large pot on medium to high heat.
  3. Spray with cooking spray and add sweet potato and pumpkin, cooking until they begin to brown, then stir in the chopped garlic.
  4. Add the coconut milk, milk, spices, salt and chilli flakes.
  5. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Mash the mixture with a potato masher or puree with a hand held blender.
  7. Add the sultanas, kale and vanilla, and cover again.
  8. Cook for 8-10 more minutes, until the kale is bright in colour.
  9. Serve with brown rice, and garnish with the salted peanuts and toasted shredded coconut.

I hope you like it as much as I did. I found it also went really well with When Harry Met Sally.

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