Plant-based Fruit Cake

If you would like to make a dairy and egg free cake, this one is easy and turns out very well. I have made this several times and the results do differ, perhaps because I have used different fruit or different types of apple purée.

This weeks’ attempt has turned out super moist and delicious so I really felt the need to share. I have still got many apples that I collected from a local friend’s tree. The variety is unknown (possibly Monarch) but they have been excellent and have kept very well for the past 6 weeks or so – I am gradually trying to use them up! They are a cooking variety but not as sharp as a Bramley. The recipe uses unsweetened puréed apple in place of eggs, and these worked perfectly.

You can use any dried fruit that you have knocking about in the cupboard – I had 3 glacé cherries, some currants, sultanas, raisins and prunes. I have previously also used dates and apricots.

Ingredients

300ml puréed stewed apple
170g Plant Based Spread (I use Flora or Flora Light)
150g Unrefined sugar (you can add more but this was sweet enough)
340g Self-Raising Flour
340g Mixed Dried Fruit
4 tbsp Almond/Soya Milk

Method

  1. Stew approx 4 large cooking apples in about 5cm water, leave to cool then purée.
  2. Preheat oven to 160℃ Fan and line a 900g loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
  3. Melt the spread in a small bowl in the microwave on low heat.
  4. Add all other ingredients (except the milk) to a large bowl then pour on the melted spread. Mix together and add the milk until a fairly loose consistency is achieved.
  5. Pour mix into prepared tin and bake for approx 85 minutes or until a skewer/knife comes out clean.
  6. Leave to cool for a while and then turn out onto a wire rack until fully cooled.
  7. Eat.

Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter Bars

This recipe makes 20 snack sized bars. These can be stored in the freezer to keep them fresh – they don’t really freeze completely so you can remove one from the freezer and eat it within minutes! Perfect to go with mid-morning coffee.
There are recipes here for two varieties – one is made with puffed rice cereal and has a white chocolate topping and one is made with chocolate puffed rice cereal and has a milk or plain chocolate topping. They can actually be made with any combination of these ingredients.

I always try to use either homemade peanut butter or shop bought that is 100% peanut – no added oils or sugars. If you only have sweetened peanut butter I would suggest reducing the amount of honey.

Recipe 1 – White Chocolate

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Ingredients

150g oats
40g puffed rice cereal
80g salted peanuts
130g honey
240g unsweetened peanut butter (or half and half with another nut butter)

Topping

100g white chocolate
30g peanut butter

Recipe 2 – Milk/Dark Chocolate

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Ingredients 

150g oats
45g chocolate puffed rice cereal
80g salted peanuts
110g honey
120g chocolate peanut butter
120g plain peanut butter/other nut butter (unsweetened)

Topping

100g milk or dark chocolate
30g peanut butter

Method

  1. Combine the oats, puffed rice and peanuts in a bowl
  2. In a separate bowl microwave the peanut butter and the honey for 30 seconds
  3. Pour the peanut butter and honey mix over the oat mix. Combine well
  4. Press into a 20cm x 20cm parchment lined tin and freeze for 30 minutes
  5. Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl and microwave until melted
  6. Remove the tin from the freezer and spread the melted chocolate and peanut butter mix over the top – smooth down with a spatula
  7. Refrigerate for another hour, then remove from fridge and cut into 20 even slices.

The bars can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to eat – I usually separate layers with greaseproof paper.

Each bar (if you cut into 20) has approximately 195 calories and 15g carbs

 

 

Super Gooey Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Over the past few weeks I have made three different variations of these cookies. They are delicious and fantastic with a cuppa any time of the day. I have to admit they are also pretty calorific, but any weight gain will be shed hopefully in the late summer months when we are all allowed outside again.

I have been making this recipe for many, many years on and off, and if you like a gooey cookie then this will be perfect for you!

I am pleased to say that all three of my sons have also been baking these recently with varying degrees of success. Harry seems to have mastered the recipe and I think he is basically living on cookies. He also knows the recipe off by heart which indicates to me that he’s used it a lot 😉

Ingredients

85g unsalted butter/cooking marg/plant-based spread
(I have been using the plant-based spread and it works brilliantly)
85g caster sugar
85g soft light brown sugar
1 egg
170g self-raising flour
Dash of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
(not necessary unless you have used unsalted butter)
100g chunks of chocolate

Options – the chocolate can really be anything, I have made these with chopped up Cadbury Dairy Milk, Fudge, Twirl, plus basic range chocolate from the supermarkets. Try to have a mix of big chunks and smaller chunks. You can use more than 100g if you want more chunks in each cookie. If you don’t have both types of sugar this will also work with granulated sugar. Of course you can use chocolate chips if that’s what you have.

Method

  1. Cream the butter and the sugars with the vanilla until light and creamy
  2. Beat in the egg
  3. Fold in the flour and salt (if using)
  4. Add the chunks of chocolate and stir in well
  5. Prepare several baking trays with parchment paper
  6. Add overloaded teaspoon size blobs of mixture to the trays – space well (see picture) because the mixture will spread
  7. Bake at 170ºC (Fan) for 10 minutes – do to overbake. The cookies will still be soft. Gently pull the sheet of parchment onto a cooling rack without moving or touching the cookies
  8. Allow to cool before moving the cookies. Then make a cup of tea and enjoy!!

I’d love to know if you make these and how/if you have adapted the recipe. Please let me know in the comments.

 

Stewed apple and pear cake

I have made this cake with apples, apples and pears and you could probably make with just pears.

It is a very moist cake – even puddingy, which is delicious straight from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some custard.

Ingredients

260g Self-raising flour
180g Soft brown sugar
2tsp Baking powder
2tbsp Cinnamon
2 Eggs
150g Soft butter
500g (approx) stewed apple/pear

Method

Peal the fruit and stew until soft – stew for less time if you would like chunks of fruit intact in your cake. Allow to cool.

Add all ingredients to your bowl/mixer and blend until smooth, add the fruit and combine until smooth (unless you would like your cake with a few chunks of fruit intact – though this is not necessary and blending it completely makes a deliciously moist cake).

Add mixture to a lined spring-form tin and bake at 150C (fan) for approximately 40 minutes.

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Three Ingredient ‘Cookies’

There are lots of recipes around for these cookies, so I have just taken a ‘mean’ of them all and have come up with this one that seems to work. The three ingredients are always available in my house, and these can be thrown together and baked in 20 minutes. 

Really they are more like an oat cake than a cookie – but I suppose if you made them smaller and squashed them down they could be more cookie-like. I prefer the larger version. 

They are especially great for those of us who do a fair bit of exercise, oats and bananas having excellent variable energy releasing properties – to keep you going through a hard workout or for some instant energy pre-workout. The chocolate element just makes you happy throughout!!

Ingredients

160g Porridge Oats

90g Plain chocolate, chopped into small (or chunky) pieces or choc chips, or milk   chocolate or in fact any chocolate you have lying around!

200g (peeled weight) ripe bananas, mashed

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Method

Mash the bananas, add the oats and mix well, add the chocolate pieces and mix. 

Make 9 equal balls of mix and press onto a parchment lined baking sheet

Bake for 15 minutes at 180ºC. Cool on cooling rack. Eat immediately or at your leisure!

Each cookie – approximately 140 calories, 22g carbs and 2.6g protein. 

Enjoy

Black Bean Soup

There’s nothing like a warming bowl of soup for lunch on a cold, wet, drab winter’s day. With it’s mixture of spices and nourishing legumes, this soup will certainly take away the chill.

Black beans are very good for you with their high protein and fibre content – so not only does this taste delicious, it also has health benefits!

Ingredients

300g Dried (no-need-to-soak) Black Turtle Beans (700g when cooked)
2 Small red onions, chopped (approx 180g)
2 Carrots, diced (approx 230g)
2 Sticks celery, finely chopped (approx 60g)
1 Tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 Chicken stock cube**
1 Beef stock cube**
1 tin Chopped tomatoes
1tsp Ground Cumin
1tsp Ground Coriander
1tsp Mild Chilli powder
1tsp Crushed chillies
1tsp Garlic granules
1.5 litres of water for the black beans
1 litre of boiling water for the chicken stock
Salt and ground black pepper

Method

1. Add 1.5 litres of cold water to a large pan along with the beans and bring to the boil.
Boil rapidly for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat and simmer for 1 hour – making
sure to check that the pan does not boil dry. (Alternatively follow the instructions on
the pack or use 700g (drained) tinned beans).
2. In a large pan, heat the oil and sauté the vegetables until they start softening.
3. Add all the spices and cook through for a minute or two.
4. Add three quarters of the beans and the stock plus some salt and ground black pepper
and simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Use a hand held blender and whizz up the soup to the consistency that you prefer.
6. Sprinkle on the Oxo cube and mix thoroughly.
7. Add the remainder of the beans and simmer for a further 10 mins.
8. Adjust the consistency with water if you would like a thinner soup.
9. Serve with some crusty bread and butter.

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If you’re interested, a 300g bowl of this soup is approximately 150 calories! Enjoy!

**(This can be made vegan if the stock cubes are substituted)

Chocolate Date Bars

I have just found this recipe in an old book of Dave’s – it’s the 1989 ‘Good Housekeeping – Complete Book of Home Baking’,  which he bought when he was making a lovely loaf of bread every weekend. Back in the day when we only had one small baby to feed, and a loaf of homemade bread lasted longer than ten minutes!! I wish I had seen this recipe before as it is a perfect carb hit for the runner/cyclist.

This bar uses dates which are very sweet, so I am sure it could be made with less sugar. Also, the butter, hmm… well that’s why they are so delicious, however I’m sure you could substitute with coconut oil if you were so inclined.

This version makes 12 pretty large slices, which are approximately 310 calories per slice and 38g carbs.

Ingredients

175g stoned dates, chopped
10ml (2 level tsp) plain flour
100g plain chocolate
100g self-raising flour
150g rolled oats
100g light brown soft sugar
175g unsalted butter

Method

  1. Grease a shallow 18cm (7″) square tin (loose-bottomed is preferable) and line base with greaseproof paper.
  2. Put the dates, plain flour, chocolates and 150ml water in a small saucepan and cook gently for 5  minutes until the chocolate has melted and the mixture thickened slightly. Leave to cool
  3. Mix together the self-raising flour, oats and sugar and rub in the butter. Spread half of this mixture over the base of the prepared tin, pressing down well. Cover with the cooled date and chocolate mixture, then the remainder of the oat mixture. Press down slightly.
  4. Bake in the oven at 180ºC for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes then mark 12 fingers. Allow to cool completely in the tin before slicing.

Cinnamon cashew nut butter

I’ve just made a batch of cinnamon cashew nut butter. This was based on the ingredients list for the previous contents of this jar! Really easy to make (in my Vitamix) and very few ingredients.

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Ingredients

200g unsalted cashew nuts
20g honey
20g melted coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
0.5 teaspoon salt (optional)

Method

Add cashews to Vitamix (or other powerful food processor), blend until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, and mix to a butter-like consistency. You can add more or less coconut oil, depending on what consistency you prefer.

Perfect on porridge after a long Sunday run!!

Chocolate coconut energy bites

Why buy expensive over the counter ‘energy-balls’ when it is so easy to make your own. I made these for the first time this evening and they are absolutely delicious.

The recipe is one from Cycling Weekly magazine and adapted slightly (of course).

Ingredients
(makes 16 bite size balls)

150g oats
100g dates
75g coconut oil
60g honey
30g almond butter
25g desiccated coconut
20g cocoa powder
1 medium egg
1 tbsp peanut powder (optional)
pinch of salt

Method

1. Chop the dates into tiny pieces or whizz up in a food processor
2. In a saucepan melt together the honey, almond butter and coconut oil (you can also melt in a bowl in the microwave)
3. Stir in the cocoa powder and coconut
4. In the food processor/mixer or just a normal bowl, mix together the dates, the beaten egg, the saucepan contents and the oats (+pinch of salt) until thoroughly bound.
5. Shape into 1″ balls (approx 31g each) and place on a baking tray – on a sheet of baking parchment or greaseproof paper. 
6. Bake at 180ºC/170ºC fan for 15 minutes.
7. Allow to cool then taste one 🙂

Nutritional value per bite (approximate)
kcalories 102
Carbohydrates 18g
Protein 3g
Fat 8g

Enjoy!

High carb bars

My husband often uses thousands of calories on a training ride or run, so he needs high carb snacks. For a couple of years now I have been making these – we call them ‘high carb bars’.

The bars are based on certain brand of wholefood bar which conveniently has a list of its ingredients in percentages on the back of the wrapper. These bars are gluten, wheat and dairy free. My variation aren’t necessarily dairy free, as I add chocolate, but they could be.

Five ingredients
Just five ingredients

To make my bars I use a Vitamix. This is a high powered machine which is good at whizzing up stuff. You could also use a food processor. To make the bars without a machine you would just need to bash up the dried fruit, almonds and chocolate in a bowl, perhaps using the rounded end of a rolling pin.

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Vitamix

Once all the ingredients are combined, I squish the mixture up together in my hands and then pop it onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and form it into a square sausage.

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Square sausage

I weigh it at this stage and because I have already worked out the total number of calories in the recipe, I can work out how many calories per gram. I cut it into 9 or 10 pieces depending on how many calories I want in each piece. For this batch I have cut 52g pieces which are 208 calories and 26g of carbs per slice.

Slices high carb bar
Slices of high carb bar

The beauty of these bars is that they can be taken in the back pocket of a cycling jersey and eaten on the go. To make this easier I wrap them in rice paper.

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Wrapped in rice paper

Ingredients

Dried Dates – 180g
Almonds – 100g
Cranberries – 68g
Cocoa Powder – 24g
Dark chocolate – 50g

Using this recipe, the bars are approximately 4 calories and 0.5g carbs per g

(The original recipe used 110g Cashews, but I prefer almonds and I wanted to make it more chocolatey so I added the chocolate. I have used cranberries instead of the original raisins because they have a slightly higher carbohydrate content – the bar is also delicious using raisins).

Method

Mash the dates and cranberries, blitz the almonds and chocolate and add to the mix, along with the cocoa powder – mix with your hands until you have an even consistency. Alternatively add all ingredients to a food processor/Vitamix and whizz together until mixed.  Form into any shape/size bars you fancy.

Take on a cycle ride and boost your energy reserves!