Friday, March 31, 2017

Coconut rough chocolates

Easter is on the horizon and with my love of chocolate, that provides a good excuse to indulge in chocolate making. I got in early with sharing my vegan creme bunnies / creme eggs and today's recipe provides an alternative Easter treat that would also go down well at other times of the year.

These chocolates were inspired by my recent discovery of the Waitrose dairy free Indian Ocean Dark Chocolate with Coconut. I mentioned in my March In My Kitchen post that the chocolate reminds me of a Golden Rough, but without the crunchy texture. (For non-Australians, a Golden Rough is a round milk chocolate disk studded with desiccated coconut.) Today's chocolates blend the crunchy texture of a Golden Rough with the dark chocolate tones I favour as an adult. The use of coconut oil adds an extra coconut tone and means that these are very easy to make.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Banana chia coconut bread

I will say upfront that I didn't expect to share this recipe. I made it on a whim, to use up bananas and some of my recent fig paste. Even by my standards it is very minimally sweetened. I hoped it would be suitable for Mini Bite and edible, but not necessarily exciting, for me. In the end, I loved the bread so much that I hastily scribbled down the recipe so I could post it here.

The star of this bread is not the banana or coconut, and in fact neither are a strong presence in the loaf. Instead, it is the chia seeds that make this wonderful, giving the loaf a fantastic texture and reminding me of poppy seed cakes. I will definitely be baking more chia loaded breads now!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Lentil potato cakes (version 2)

I have shared a recipe for lentil potato cakes before. This one makes a few tweaks to the original and offers much better photos! I am pleased to update my Recipe index with this new version.

My previous recipe involved cooking the cakes on the stove top in a frying pan. This version bakes them in the oven instead, which frees you up to do other things while the patties are cooking. I also used dried green lentils for these, although if you prefer the tinned variety it would be easy to swap back to using a tin. Dried red lentils would be nice too.

The potato cakes are seasoned with nutritional yeast, paprika, coriander, parsley, lemon and tahini. Most of these are regular seasonings in my kitchen and they come together beautifully here. The patties work well on top of salad but could be included in a burger for an even heartier meal. They are complemented nicely by chutney or tomato sauce, but will stand up on their own if you are condiment averse.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Satay chickpea stew with grains

This recipe is really an adaptation of Angela's Oh She Glows 'Soul Soothing African Peanut Stew'. I mentioned last November that I had tried and enjoyed that dish, and realised on making this that I was channeling Angela's flavours. My version is a little simpler than the hers though, and is designed to be served with grains rather than as a stand alone meal. I liked it a lot and am documenting it for my own future reference as well as to share with you!

To me, meals like this are the ultimate comfort food. As is obvious from this site, I love chocolate and desserts and they are comforting too in their own ways. However, there is something warming and comforting about a big bowl of full-flavoured vegetables and grains. It's like a wholesome hug.

I used tinned chickpeas for this, in part from laziness and in part because I wanted to use chickpea water to thicken the stew. If you cook yours from scratch, just reserve a little of the cooking water to add to the mix.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Life with a 7-month-old, baby led weaning, and four adult and baby friendly recipes

I have noted before that I have no intention of moving Bite-Sized Thoughts to a baby or family-focused site. However, it has been 4 months since my last baby-related post and much has changed since then. I thought I would share some updated reflections, as well as experiences to date with baby led weaning. For those of you who aren't interested in either topic, I also share four recipes that would suit adults and babies equally well - porridge fingers, carrot-chickpea mini pancakes, chickpea scramble with turmeric and paprika, and a simple avocado salsa. Simply scroll to the end if you want to skip ahead to those!

Chickpea scramble

In November, I spoke of the enormous adjustment that pregnancy and parenthood had required. My expectations of both were completely off and I will readily admit that the first three months of motherhood were, for me, hard going at times.

Fast forward to March and things look very different. It is probably obvious that life with a 3-month-old (as Mini Bite was in November) is different to life with a 7-month-old, but I didn't understand what those differences would look like until I navigated through them. These days, Mini Bite is a mini person as much as a baby. She is interactive, knows what she does and doesn't like, will smile and giggle, and shows great interest in her surroundings. I find the days infinitely more enjoyable now that this is the case - we are no longer in a loop of feeding, changing and settling with little feedback from her except basic cries. I take genuine delight in her laughs and smiles. We have a structure to our week, with most mornings featuring an activity (baby swimming lessons, parent/baby groups, parent/baby fitness classes...) and this makes a difference too.

Courgette noodles with avocado salsa 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Figgy banana soft serve parfaits

Today is one of England's glorious spring days. The sunshine is warm (but not too warm!), spring flowers are out, the sky is blue, and I am consciously and joyously grateful that we live where we live. It is a good day to be outside, and consequently, a good day to be on maternity leave and not in an office.

I can't share our weather with you, but I can share this easy ice cream recipe that will help you herald in your own spring sunshine. If you are in the southern hemisphere, it can help you cling on to summer instead!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Scenes from Somerset

We have just returned from a week in Somerset. It's a part of the country I hadn't visited before, but it proved to be a delightful one. Tucked into a south-west corner of England with the Bristol Channel to the north and Devon and Cornwall to the south, the county has gorgeous scenery and plenty to see and do. We were fortunate to have (mostly) spring-like weather, which facilitated lots of walking and outdoor exploring. I share some photo highlights below...

Typical Somerset scenery

The Tarr Steps clapper bridge

Walking near the Tarr Steps

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Vegan Life Magazine - issues 23 and 24 (February and March 2017)

I receive complimentary digital copies of Vegan Life, which allows me to post reviews with screenshots included. My reflections on the magazine are entirely my own.

I always enjoy downloading the latest copy of Vegan Life and am pleased to share highlights from the last two editions. Back in February, I was inspired by a mushroom twist on Vietnamese Banh Mi... well as this recipe for apple bircher muesli with spelt and rye flakes as well as oats.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Sweet potato overnight oats

Some of you may have seen recent findings that link 10 serves of fruit and vegetables a day to reduced rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as overall mortality. The current UK guidelines advocate 5 serves a day and that level offers protection too - but 10 gives significantly greater benefits.

There have been predictable responses to these results, including comments about it being too hard to achieve a 10 per day intake, and I enjoyed this lighthearted Guardian commentary on the topic. I grew up with the Australian recommendation of 5 vegetable and 2 fruit serves a day, so 10 of both food groups isn't such a shift for me, especially as plant-based eating naturally gives a higher intake than meat-based diets. However, it can be tough to get enough serves in when you're busy and/or if buying food on the go. Thus, getting off to a good start at breakfast can make a big difference.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In my kitchen - March 2017

I am linking this in to the monthly In My Kitchen round up, currently hosted by Lizzy of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things.

Spring flowers - visible from my kitchen

Happy autumn to my Australian readers. We have a few weeks until spring officially starts in the UK, but it is starting to feel spring-like as the days grow longer and spring flowers start to appear. Indeed, some are visible from my kitchen, thanks to the bulbs I planted last year starting to sprout.