Chocolate Chunk and Walnut Muffins
4 (heaped) tablespoons of Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising flour,
2 (heaped) tablespoons of cocoa,
2 tablespoons (not heaped) of caster sugar
100g bar of chocolate
handful of walnuts, broken into small pieces
3 tablespoons of sunflower oil
Soya milk to mix (start with about half a cupful)
Start with the fun part: bashing up the chocolate. While it’s still in its wrapper, hit the bar of chocolate repeatedly with a rolling pin. All over. Backwards and forwards. Up and down. Tip the fragmented contents into a mixing bowl along with the flour, cocoa, walnuts and sugar and mix well. Add the wet ingredients and stir.
With gluten free cakes that are going into paper cake cases, you don’t want the batter too wet or the cakes might stick in there quite badly. So, you’re going for a nice sturdy batter, not too much soya milk. Or you could use silicone cases.
Spoon into 12 cake cases and bake at 200C/400F for 10-15 minutes. Cool, then eat!
And now let’s look ahead a little into the chocolatey year… to Advent!
It’s a raw bramble (blackberry) cheesecake sweetened with red Chinese dates or Jujubes. It’s rich. It’s delicious. Everyone should try it! Read on for how…
Abakus Foods sent us three of their wonderful jujube products to try: the pitted dates, some powdered jujubes and some jujube crisps. The crisps are just like mini cookies, all crunchy and sweet and moreish.
Jujubes (loving that word) are less sweet and sticky than ordinary dates and are traditionally used in Chinese medicine to treat insomnia and anxiety.
Here’s how we made our cheesecakes:
For the base: food process 40g (about a cup) of dried jujube fruit with a cup of pecan nuts until they resemble biscuit crumbs. Line a 12 piece muffin tin with cling film, pressing it carefully into each recess. Press your jujube/pecan mixture into each base.
For the creamy cheesecake topping: blend together a cup of brambles, a cup of macadamia nuts, half a cup of cashews, a tablespoon of coconut oil and 50g (about two tablespoons) of jujube powder. Once smooth, spread this onto the bases. Cover with more clingfilm and press each little cheesecake down to make sure it’s well stuck together.
Freeze for about two hours. Remove from tin and peel away the clingfilm. Decorate with jujube crisps and melted chocolate of your choice (really dark goes well).
Sacred Elephant Incense is vegan and ethically produced and smells of peace and light and all the good stuff. The scent (in our case, Cedar) evokes Glastonbury and Findhorn and Iona, spiritual places, beautiful bookshops and clear skies.
Our dragon burner may not look so peaceful, but that’s just his way… The various scents: agar wood, cedar, cinnamon spice, gaura leela, Himalayan musk, myrrh, prema, rose, sandalwood, sayali jasmine, and vraja leela can be bought online here
To go with this we’ve dug back into the old archives of the Vegan Family House and found one of the first recipes to go online, back in 1998. It’s smokey too!
Smokey Seafood Rice
Don’t worry, the seafood here is Arame, a sea vegetable.
a little sunflower oil
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
1 block of smoked tofu
a good handful of dried arame
500g/18 oz/2 cups basmati rice (this makes a large potful to feed a family – reduce the amount of rice and water accordingly if you want)
a cupful of frozen peas
seasalt to taste
water to cover
Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes. Chop the tofu into small cuboids and add to the onion and garlic. Add the rice and mix well then add enough water to well cover the rice. Add the arame (you may need to add more water as seaweeds vary in how absorbent they are) and the seasalt. Bring to the boil then turn down to simmer. A few minutes before the end of cooking time add the peas. Nice served with a green salad. Enjoy!
That’s a raw vegan hemp chocolate shake from Purition, boasting 14.2g of protein and lots of healthy nuts and seeds. In fact that’s all it has; there’s no weird ingredients, no poly-whatsits or methyl-who-has, just hemp, sunflower kernels, chia and pumpkin seeds, nutritional yeast, linseeds: the good stuff.
The shakes are marketed as being suitable for breakfast, lunch or post workout. Replacing a meal with a drink? There were sceptical faces here, but these drinks are filling! Really filling. And delicious. The words ‘just like a chocolate milkshake’ were spoken.
Here’s a vanilla one with a chocolate topping to which we added a banana. In retrospect we could have layered it up all stripy from the bottom if we’d known how thick and substantial they were.
We also used them in our regular smoothies, replacing the usual avocado or nuts, which worked well.
The vegan sample box we had can be purchased from Purition or at Amazon.co.uk Shakes are also available singly in their 40g packs or in a large 500g size.
500ml soya milk
half teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
200g pudding rice
85g. dark chocolate (80% best), broken into small pieces
Bring milk, sugar and salt to the boil then add the rice. Stir occasionally while cooking for about 20 minutes – add more milk if too sticky. Stir in vanilla. Divide between 4 ramekins and insert the chocolate pieces into the middle and push down with a spoon. Leave at room temperature for a few minutes and the chocolate will go all melty like a rich sauce…
Yushoi sent us some of their healthy Snapea Rice Sticks to try. The four flavours: Lightly Salted; Soy and Balsamic Vinegar; Sweet Chilli and Lemon, and Smoked Salt and Szechaun Pepper are all delicious. Our favourite was the Szechaun Pepper with its rich and smoky barbecue taste.
All the Snapea Rice Sticks we were sent are suitable for vegans (edit: new Coconut and Chilli flavour contains milk) and also made in a nut free factory. While reminiscent of puffed corn or potato snacks, Yushoi actually make their products with green peas which are a better source of protein. The flavourings are all natural too. Baked, not fried, they come in a single serving size of 21g and a large re-sealable pack of 105g. So this Valentine’s Day: crisps not chocolate. Okay, maybe crisps and chocolate! And hummus… and tomatoes…
Snapea Rice Sticks are available at various shops: Tesco, Morrisons, The Co-op, Ocado, Wholefoods, WH Smith and even Amazon.
New Year: a time for brisk and breezy beach walks and fresh clean laundry! We used Planet Pure Organic Laundry Liquid throughout December and it proved a most effective product, I’ll be telling my Maids in a Minute about it since they are the ones who often do the cleaning at home. We had the lavender variety, which smelled lovely and was nostalgically reminiscent of another eco laundry liquid from the distant past (the nineties), Down to Earth, that was also scented with lavender. Planet Pure scores higher on the purity front though: it’s not dyed some chemical colour, instead being a natural brown and it settles a bit, needing a shake before use.
It washed everything really well, the ingredients including saponin rich soap nuts. The fresh scent of the finished laundry was certainly put to good test, given the deluge there’s been in the last two weeks. There were times when washing had to be brought in from the line and spun again, but it still smelled air dried and nice.
The accompanying stain remover worked well on some festive food stains and we also used it to remove a rusty water stain from a carpet, left by the Christmas tree holder!
This review has been organised by the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION. It has not been paid for and the products were sent free of charge. This is our genuine and unbiased review of the product.