Thursday 29 January 2015

Chocolate Banana Loaf Cake

Vegan Chocolate Banana Loaf Cake
Once again I found myself with some over ripe bananas that needed using up! I know what you're thinking, why doesn't she just buy less bananas?? Truthfully, I think on some unconscious level I buy extra just so they'll go black and I'll be forced to bake with them ;-)
Vegan Chocolate Banana Loaf Cake

This time I wanted to try something different than the plethora of baked banana goods I have on the blog and loved the idea of a simple chocolate banana loaf cake. I've based this one my Chocolate Zucchini Bread but have swapped the zucchini with banana and the homemade egg replacer with simple plain soy yogurt.

The end result was a deeply chocolate flavoured banana cake with a beautiful texture whilst still being wonderfully moist. It's really perfectly sweet as it is but if you want to take it to another level some vegan chocolate chips added to the mix would be fantastic!
Vegan Chocolate Banana Loaf Cake

Chocolate Banana Loaf Cake:

300-400g peeled weight very ripe bananas (about 5 small/med.)
140g / 1 cup plain flour
45g / ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
120ml vegetable oil
200g / ¾ cup + 2 Tbsp golden caster sugar (can use regular granulated)
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g / ½ cup plain soy yogurt
125g / ½ cup vegan chocolate chips - optional

Vegan Chocolate Banana Loaf Cake

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C and grease a 9x5x3" loaf pan then line the bottom with baking paper.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sifted cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In another bowl mash the bananas really well. Add the oil, vanilla and soy yogurt and whisk well.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and use a rubber spatula to fold it in until there is no more flour showing. Do not over mix and keep it gentle! If using, fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour and scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and pop it in the oven. Bake for about 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out fairly clean.

Transfer to a wire rack to fully cool in the tin then remove from the tin, slice and serve. 
Vegan Chocolate Banana Loaf Cake

Nutritional Information: per 100g

Calories: 325
Protein: 3.7g
Fat: 15g
Sat Fat: 1.6g
Carbs: 47.8g
Sugar: 28.3g
Fibre: 3.2g
Sodium: 242mg

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Saturday 24 January 2015

Cucumber Noodle Salad with Avocado and a Spicy Cashew Butter Dressing

Cucumber Noodle Salad with Avocado and a Spicy Cashew Butter Dressing - vegan and gluten-free recipe

Well, yes - I got a spiralizer for Christmas! I am loving it too - I've been "noodle-izing" everything and eating so healthy as a result. Now I don't know why noodle shaped veg taste better than any other shape but they do. Much in the same way diagonally sliced sandwiches taste better I suppose. I even prefer apples spiralized - I just noodle one up, toss it in a little lime juice to stop them browning and eat the apple noodles from a bowl. It's great!
~ spiralized apple with fresh lime juice ~

This is a variation on one of the first things I made with the spiralizer and have had many times since. As soon as I got it I kept thinking my Raw Summer Rolls with Spicy Cashew Butter Dip would be really nice as a salad using the dip as a dressing. So this usually has spiralized carrot, red cabbage and sliced red pepper in it as well, adding nice crunch and colour. But, I found myself without those ingredients one day so I just embraced the all-green theme and kept it simple with lettuce, cucumber, basil and avocado. Basically, I love both versions but I think this one has a slight edge. I just prefer the simplicity of just a few ingredients and they go wonderful together. Definitely a case of 'less is more'!
Spicy Cashew Butter Dressing - vegan and gluten-free recipe
Of course, what really makes this is the dressing, it's so packed with flavour with cashew butter, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, ginger a little sweetener and some cayenne to taste. It would go with a lot of different veg so really you can put what you like in this salad but this is my personal favourite :-)
Cucumber Noodle Salad with Avocado and a Spicy Cashew Butter Dressing - vegan and gluten-free recipe

Cucumber Noodle Salad with Avocado and a Spicy Cashew Butter Dressing:

Yields 2 servings

1 cucumber
1 avocado, sliced
several leaves of butterhead lettuce
2 spring onions, chopped
chopped fresh basil

2 Tbsp cashew nut butter (or other natural nut butter)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (use tamari for gluten-free option)
½ Tbsp fresh lime juice
½ Tbsp Sweet Freedom Syrup (or light agave)
1 clove garlic, finely grated
½ tsp finely grated ginger
scant 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste - note, I just add a dash or 2 when I am making a half serving of this for myself and find that just fine.

Make the dressing by simply whisking everything together really well until creamy. Add about ½ tablespoon of water to thin and whisk well. 

Wash the cucumber and slice off the top and bottom. Cut it in half then spiralize using the large noodle cutter, or blade 'C'. Repeat with the second half of the cucumber. 
Spiralizing Cucumber

Transfer the noodles to a clean dish cloth or lots of paper towels and pat dry to get all the excess water off - you don't want that watering down the dressing!

Take a large plate and tear some lettuce leaves on it. Pile the cucumber noodles on top of the leaves then place the avocado slices over top of the noodles. Sprinkle the chopped basil and spring onions all over then drizzle over the dressing. This salad is actually easier to eat with chopsticks.
Cucumber Noodle Salad with Avocado and a Spicy Cashew Butter Dressing - vegan and gluten-free recipe

Nutritional Information: (1 serving of dressing only - with salad figures in brackets)

Calories: 106 (220)
Protein: 3.3g (6.3g)
Fat: 7.4g (15.4g)
Sat Fat: 1.5g (2.6g)
Carbs: 8.5g (20g)
Sugar: 3g (6.6g)
Fibre: 0.4g (5.5g)
Sodium: 452mg (462mg)

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Tuesday 20 January 2015

Roasted Baby Vegetable Irish Stew with Pearl Barley

Roasted Baby Vegetable Irish Stew - vegan recipe

Well hello again! And a rather late Happy New Year to you all! I do apologise for the extended break, I found myself quite ill over the holidays and thanks to the lupus/immune suppression it's just taken me forever to get over it. I'm still not out of the woods yet but am getting better, thankfully.

So, back to the recipes :-) I wasn't really intending on posting yet another soup/stew like dish as there have a been a few of them lately but came up with this the other day and just loved it. I've been wanting to do an Irish stew inspired dish for years now anyway and really love this version with deeply roasted baby vegetables and pearl barley. I was considering replacing the meat in Irish stew with some sort of faux meat like seitan or some beans but opted in the end to add lots of baby mushrooms and just keep it simple with the veggies. The mushroom broth, roasting the veg and Worcester sauce all give a richness to the dish that you will not miss either the meat or faux meat here :-) 

You may notice that I have not added any stout here. I'm just not a huge fan of stout in my stews and would much prefer having a pint of it with the dish instead. Plus, as my Irish husband told me "We NEVER had Irish Stew with stout in it..." So there you go! Personally, I would prefer a bottle of my favourite dark ale with this dish instead. In my case, Chimay blue label - that stuff is gorgeous!

I also wanted to have some brown soda bread to go with it. I didn't have any soy yogurt to make my basic Brown Irish Soda bread so I tried my beer bread recipe, replacing the white flour with wholemeal (whole wheat flour) and used a bottle of the Chimay blue label instead of a lager. It turned out nice, the texture was wonderful - really light and fluffy which was surprising for a brown bread and it was really nice with the stew, but a little bit bitter on it's own. I think this is down to the fact that Chimay blue label is a 9% beer. Still, it's a nice bread option for this stew although I would recommend a less powerful beer ;-)
Roasted Baby Vegetable Irish Stew - vegan recipe

~Recipe Notes~

This recipe isn't overly 'brothy' - it is a stew after all - not a soup. So it's something you kind of eat with a knife and fork as well as a spoon.
If you can't buy mushroom stock cubes you could make your own mushroom stock or if you able to buy vegan 'beef style' stock cubes or bouillon I would recommend that here. (I swear I'm not being paid by Kallo, lol - I just use those cubes a lot in my cooking).
Leave the veggies whole if you are able to buy ones that are small enough. If not, slice them in half. I halved my shallots, new potatoes and carrots as I could only find fairly large 'baby' ones. I left my baby mushrooms whole as they shrink up so much.
The length of time roasting with depend on many things - the size of the veggies you've used, the heat of your oven, type of pan you have, even how much water is in the veg is a factor. So, use my times only as a guide and check yours regularly. Note that the shallots will fall apart - that is fine :-)
Initially I roasted the rosemary and thyme with the veggies but found they got a little burnt and added a bitter taste to the final dish so I now add them to the pearl barley while simmering.
The Worcestershire sauce adds a nice flavour dimension to the dish but if you can't buy it or don't like simply don't add it.
Roasted Baby Vegetable Irish Stew - vegan recipe

Roasted Baby Vegetable Irish Stew with Pearl Barley:

Recipe yields 4 small servings.

Roasted Vegetables:

150g shallots, peeled 
300g baby new potatoes, washed, scrubbed and dried. 
300g small or baby carrots, peeled 
300g baby button mushrooms
1 large clove of smoked garlic, left in skin (you can use regular garlic here)
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
½ Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
pinch of sea salt 
some freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 220°C

Whisk together the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. Place the carrots, shallots, mushrooms, clove of garlic and potatoes in a roasting tin and pour over the oil mixture. Toss well. Roast for 40 minutes tossing a few times. Test them with a fork to ensure the potatoes and carrots are soft. When done, remove the clove of garlic and squeeze out the filling into the pan.

Pearl Barley:

50g raw pearl barley
2 bay leaves
sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme (1 of each)
1½ Kallo mushroom stock cubes
750ml water

Wash the barley really well. In a small-medium saucepan bring the water to the boil and dissolve the cube in it. Add the barley, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves. Bring back to the boil then cover and reduce to low and simmer for 45 minutes or until tender. Stir now and again.

Finishing the dish:

Combine the pearl barley (with stock) and all the roasted veggies into a large saucepan. De-glaze the roasting tin with a little hot water, scraping the tin to get all the flavour off. Pour this into the pot as well. Note: if for some reason your roasting tin ends up really burnt don't deglaze, only do this to add some of the roasted flavour into the dish. Bring to a simmer then cook gently, covered, for 5 -10 minutes for the flavours to meld. Taste, season if need be and if you have to add a bit more water do. Keep in mind this shouldn't have a lot of broth. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary and thyme stalks (leave the leaves). Stir in most of the chives then divide among 4 bowls and sprinkle with more of the chives.

Beautiful served with some brown soda bread and a pint of vegan stout or dark ale.
Roasted Baby Vegetable Irish Stew - vegan recipe

Nutritional Information: based on 1 serving out of 4

Calories: 275
Protein: 6.5g
Fibre: 6.1g
Fat: 11.2g
Sat Fat: 1.6g
Carbs: 37.5g
Sugar: 6g
Sodium: 853mg

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