The Old Auction Room in Strichen, Aberdeenshire, has recently been all done up and its wonderful café always has gorgeous vegan cake! There seems to be a vegan and gluten-free main or soup each day too. Above is a raw chocolate brownie, below a slice of date and walnut loaf, both gluten-free.
They also have vintage clothes, old books and antiques for sale. Some hats:
There’s a florist and a barber on the premises too.
Bonobo Cafe, a 100% vegan café in Aberdeen, also a worker co-operative, has just launched a Kickstarter campaign.
They started as a Saturday pop-up, ploughing all the takings back into the business and saving in order to open up full time. It’s been 18 months since then and now they’re almost there, having agreed a lease on a premises. They’re hoping to raise the funds for the fit out through this campaign.
Their reward structure includes the option to provide a vulnerable person in Aberdeen with a hot drink every day for 1, 3, 6 or 12 months of the year as well as some other nice gifts.
It’s a new year, a good time to get fit and healthy, so let’s climb a mountain! Up we go into the mist…
Bennachie in Aberdeenshire has several peaks. We’re going to visit four. Firstly the Mither Tap, then Craig Shannoch then onto the Little Oxen Crag and the Oxen Crag. The Little one is somehow the toughest, you’ll be peching as we say up here, Fitbit lighting up with joy at the raised heart rate.
Keep going! Keep going! Think about the healthy chocolate protein shake you’re going to have when you get home!
Purition‘s Raw Vegan Chocolate Hemp Mix blended in soya milk with some added banana and avocado. Yum, yum, yum.
But we’re not there yet, we’re circling back to cover more of the hill.
And down we go.
And it snows.
So we’re inside.
Sweaty Betty Ballet Bootcamp Encore is a great cardio and core workout from the ladies at Sleek Technique (lots of nice DVDs available too), no dance training required.
And now, a smoothie made with frozen blackberries, bananas, orange juice and a sachet of Purition‘s Raw Vegan Hemp Mix.
And after all that, how about some fortified cake? Yes, cake. It’s doesn’t have to be (that) unhealthy. This one’s made with 3 large mashed bananas mixed into a cup of gluten free self raising flour, a packet of Purition‘s Vegan Vanilla Hemp mix, a little sunflower oil and enough soya milk to make a nice thick batter. Pour into a greased square cake tin and bake for about half an hour at 200c/400F.
Cut into pieces and cover with dark chocolate, chopped pecan nuts and fresh blueberries. Happy Eating!
The Purition mixes mentioned in this post are their three vegan products, all made with nuts and seeds, all natural, nothing nasty, and over 14g of protein per 40g serving! See them all on their site here.
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).
1 bulb of fennel per person
root veg such as carrots or parsnips, at least two per person
chopped leeks or onions
a handful of fresh herbs, here we used tarragon and thyme, sage is also very good
seasalt to taste (you don’t need much, this dish is flavoursome)
fresh ground black pepper
sunflower oil to rub
Chop/scrape/wash your veg and place in a roasting tray. Rub in the herbs, salt, pepper and oil so everything is well coated. Roast at 200C/400F for at least half an hour, giving a stir/turn with a spoon a couple of times during cooking. Great served with brown rice and steamed kale that has been seasoned with lemon juice and a little margarine.
Another good combination: chocolate muffins (use one of our cake recipes) and mandarin segments:
Porridge on a cold day with Sweet Freedom‘s Choc Shot and natural sweetness syrup.
These products are a great alternative to refined sugar, the sweetness being sourced from fruit and carob. And they’re delicious! The chocolate porridge is creamy and rich, perfect for a day that ended up like this:
The chocolate orange syrup makes a wonderfully warming hot chocolate; it’s slightly spicy, reminiscent of Maya Gold chocolate, and maybe needless to say, but they’re all good on ice cream…
We adjusted our Banana Muffin recipe and it worked out very well.
200g./7 oz/1 and a half cups of self raising flour
1 large tablespoon of Sweet Freedom syrup
3 fl oz/100ml of orange juice
3 fl.oz/100ml of sunflower oil
2 mashed bananas (over ripe is best)
some soya milk as required
dash of vinegar
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients – but not the vinegar – in a jug or bowl. Mix the two together and then stir in enough soya milk to make a smooth mixture and add the bananas, Finally add the dash of vinegar to get that lovely chemical reaction and mix well. This should make enough to fill 12 cake cases. It’s a good idea to put them in a muffin or patty tin to help them keep their shape but not totally essential. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes at 190 degrees and then cool.
Sweet Freedom and Choc Shots are available from many supermarkets such as Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Co-op and Ocado. Also from Amazon here.
Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes
4 tablespoons of self-raising gluten free flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 quarter teaspoon of hot chilli powder
4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
1 box of rice cream or something similar (we got this at Approved Food, always worth checking for vegan goodies), a vegan yoghurt or soya cream would do, even a chocolate pudding
Mix the dry. Add the wet. Stir thoroughly and divide between 12 cake cases. Bake at 200C/400F for up to 20 minutes or until risen and firm. Once they have cooled: ice them!
For the spicy icing:
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon of caster sugar (or icing sugar)
2 tablespoons of marg.
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a pinch of salt
Melt it all up in pan over a very low heat. Once well mixed, allow to cool and thicken a little before spreading on the cakes.
Perfect for Valentines Day, as is our little friend Egbert:
And books, they always make perfect gifts… Here’s two involving love that we’ve read and enjoyed in recent months:
Matt Haig’s ‘The Humans’ is compassionate and funny and deeply moving. When Professor Andrew Martin solves an important mathematical problem, he is replaced by an alien who is charged with eliminating all evidence of the discovery and Professor Martin’s wife and son. It’s one of those books that is so good you nag other people to read it…
Set in 17th century Amsterdam, Jessie Burton’s novel follows the lives of newly married Nella Oortman and her family. Intrigue surrounds the dolls house that Nella is given as a wedding gift and the mysterious miniaturist whose wares echo the lives of the people in the real house. Gripping and unputdownable.