Chocolate cake – vegan – really yum!

As part of my adventures into ethical food I experiment by cooking all dishes without using any animal products so I can offer alternative recipes for people trying to cut down, vegetarians and vegans.
I’ve been looking for cake recipes that don’t use butter or eggs. It is easy to make deserts without butter, but sponge cake didn’t prove so easy until I found this recipe. I enjoy a bit of baking and I love eating cake so I wasn’t going to compromise, but now I’ve tried it I can honestly say it is top of my list of cake recipes. The best news is that it is also low fat!
Image result for dark chocolate sponge cake recipes
INGREDIENTS:
  • 200 grams plain flour, sifted
  • 200 grams granulated sugar (reduce sugar to taste, I used 100 grams)
  • 75 grams pure cocoa or cacao powder, sifted
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 450 ml non dairy milk – (I used Oatly oat milk, other milk alternatives will work).
  • 2½ tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS:

  • I like to add fruit to cake, for this recipe soft fruit works well, e.g. 200 grams of raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries etc. Use either fresh or frozen. If frozen defrost first and drain off excessive liquid.
  • everyone loves chocolate chunks, reduce sugar by the amount of chocolate you add. If cooking as a vegan recipe check the chocolate doesn’t contain milk.
  • Chopped nuts, give added texture and interest. Use a nut that complements other ingredients used.
  • the recipe is suitable for vegans, but you can add eggs. Use two eggs to replace 100ml of milk.
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C (320 degrees F).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients, milk, vegetable oil, (eggs if using) and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
  5. (Optional – Add nuts or/and chocolate chunks if using).
  6. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 22 cm (8 inch) cake tin.
  7. (Optional – after cooking for 10 mins, add the fruit to the top of the batter, gently push in, this will help it from sinking to the bottom)
  8. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool the moist chocolate cake on a wire rack.
  10. Eat, enjoy, yum!

Creamy buckwheat curry

If you like creamy mild curry and want to try something a bit different this dish is absolutely delicious and easy to do. Quantity serves 2 people as a main course with veg.

You can make a plant based (vegan) or fish version.

  1. Toast approx 100g raw buckwheat groats and 50g raw cashew nuts. Spread on flat a baking tray in a 180C oven for around 8 mins, check and toss, until lightly tossed and golden. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan, add 1 finely chopped onion and 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger. Cover and cook for approx 6 mins, add 2 cloves chopped garlic cover and cook until the onions become soft.
  3. Add a splash of water to avoid it sticking or burning, add the buckwheat and cashew nuts to the pan.
  4. Add 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp smoked paprika and 1 tsp coconut or palm sugar stir well.
  5. Add a 400ml can of coconut milk* and 2 tbsp of soy sauce.
  6. Stir until combined, bring to simmer point, reduce heat, cover and cook for 20 mins. You can add water during cooking if you think it is too thick or it you want a soupy curry. If there is too much water, leave the lid off towards the end until it reduces.
  7. Veg version – chop and separately fry or bake 100g mushroom and a medium aubergine until cooked. Add at the very end to avoid them getting mushy.
  8. Fish version – separately cook prawns, a piece of white fish or salmon per person. I recommend wild alaskan salmon. Add on top or smash up and stir into the dish at the end.
  9. Serve with leafy green veg, kale, savoy cabbage, broccoli. I use around 150 g organic chopped kale. Add to a baking tray, toss in a small amount of oil and roast in a 180C oven for 6 mins, toss and cook for another 4 mins or until as crispy as you like it. Be careful it doesn’t burn.

* you could use cashew cream instead of coconut milk if you prefer. See recipe post.

Add the kale to the bowl and serve the curry over the top. Yummy-tastic.

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Tostadas

Tostadas meaning toasted in Spanish, a simple, adaptable dish that is yummy and fun. You can make a 100% plant based (vegan), veggie, fish or meat version to suit. The recipe below is just an idea, you can add whatever you like really. I use plenty of seasoning in all elements to give a really rich, indulgent flavours. We love Mexican inspired food and were introduced to this dish by my Aunt Caroline, who is an amazing chef and cook 🙂

When time allows I make my own flour tortilla as shop bought ones often contain palm oil and preservatives, but they work just as well, e.g Waitrose essential wholemeal tortillas. If you make your own you can make gluten free, using a non-wheat flour such as rice or gram flour. See a simple recipe at end of post.

Tostada recipe serves 4:

Prepare of the elements and then put them together at the end. You can make everything is advance if easier.

  • Beans
  • In a frying pan, add 1 large red onion finely sliced and very lightly fry, (oil or apple juice)
  • Add 250g pre cooked black turtle beans (approx 1 can drained. Or dried version but they take 1hr+ to cook).
  • Add splash of water, seasoning to taste (I use cumin, chilli power and smoked paprika)
  • Beans are precooked so just cook to heat them up and smash a bit as you go.
  • Prepare fresh veg / salad
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes diced, add a pinch of salt and mix well.
  • 2 medium avocado, chopped and smashed
  • Finely chop red cabbage or lettuce (something to give it freshness and crunch), add a large dash of lemon juice and toss.
  • Flat leaf parsley or coriander chopped if you have it
  • Creamy sauce
  • I use cashew cream, see https://wp.me/p7RDjy-8Y (prepared in advance) but you can also use organic creme fresh or sour cream
  • Mix in chipotles (dried, smoked Jalapeño, you can buy as flakes, sauce or a rub, I use Bart’s smokey chipotle rub, which has sweetness too), if using pure flakes also add a pinch of brown sugar and generous glug of lemon juice.  Sauce should be running, like single cream.
  • Choose – veg / meat / fish and cheese
  • Veg version – slice and fry 250/500g mushroom in seasoning, and / or roast around 250/500g cubed root veg, toss in little oil or apple juice 200c oven 40 mins, until cooked and soft, bash up a bit (not mashed) e.g golden beetroot, squash, sweet potato. (Total 500g veg)
  • Fish version- use 300g prawns or a white fish, pre cooked and flake
  • Meat version – 300g anything you fancy. Slow cooked meat cooked in stock or wine shredded works well e.g beef brisket. I used braised pheasant and venison so anything goes!
  • Useless you are making a vegan version, grate organic cheddar in a bowl
  • Tostadas
  • 4 large wholemeal tortilla. Brush either side of tortilla with a little oil, add to a hot frying pan and cook until toasty and cripy, repeat both sides. Set aside in warm oven.
  • Putting it all together (as rough as you like)
  • Put toasted tortilla on a plate, spread layer of beans, then veg, meat or fish layer, sprinkle with cheese if using, add to warm oven to melt
  • Add tomato, avocado, cabbage and herbs
  • Drizzle creamy sauce all over the top and serve as is or with fresh green salad on the side
  • It ends up a bit like a Mexican version of a stacked pizza. Then just tuck in, there is no right or wrong way to eat it. As the tortilla is crispy it is hard to pick up but you can try!

Bright colours, yummy flavours, filling and fun, what is not to like. Ask the man in the photo, he’s happy 🙂

Recipe for homemade tortilla (make 8):

  • 280g wholewheat flour, 170ml water, 3 tbsp olive oil, pinch salt.
  • Add flour and salt, stir in water and oil
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10-12 times, adding a little flour if too wet or water if too dry to give you a smooth dough
  • Leave 10 mins
  • Divide into 8 portions (more or less depending on size of tortillas)
  • On a floured surface roll into tortilla shape and thickness, thickness is more important than shape!
  • In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, cook tortillas over medium heat for 1 minute on each side or until lightly browned
  • Use straight away or cool, wrap and freeze. Use baking paper between them to separate if easier

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Spaghetti Puy-ognese

A delicious veg based alternative to beef Bolognese. All dishes that are traditionally made with meat mince can be made with pulses; shepherds or cottage pie (try https://wp.me/p7RDjy-52), chilli (try https://wp.me/p7RDjy-fk) . A very healthy dish, great to aid weight loss, by reducing fat and calories, whilst increasing nutrients and fibre. Pulses are super cheap so it is also a good way to improve you diet and watch your budget.

I prefer to make large batches of such dishes and freeze extra portions so this recipe makes around 6-8 servings. I used dried lentils, but you can also use the pre cooked canned or packet versions. Ingredients are marked as bold text:

  • Cook the lentils:
    • 500g dried Puy lentils – follow the instructions on the packet, e.g. soak in cold water for at least 20 mins, I leave mine longer and refresh the water a couple of times. Finally drain the water and rinse.
    • Cover with fresh water and bring to the boil, follow instructions on the packet, typically 40 mins.
    • Drain and rinse, set aside.
  • To make the sauce:
    • heat a pan, medium heat, add a splash of apple juice (use oil if you prefer).
    • Finely chop a large onion and add to the pan, sweat for 4-5 mins.
    • Crush and chop 4 cloves of garlic add them to the pan and sweat for a further 1-2 mins.
    • Finely chop 2 large carrots, 1 medium sweet potato (optional) and dice 3-4 large tomatoes add to the pan, with enough water to keep it wet (use a can of tinned tomatoes if easier).
    • Cover and cook on high heat for 5-10 mins.
    • Add cooked lentils.
    • Add a generous sprinkle (3-4 pinches or to taste) of italian style herbs – basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary bay. Use dried or fresh.
    • Add approx 400ml tomato passata.
    • Optional for extra flavour – add 100g finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes or 30g paste and or a glass of red wine.
    • Add salt and pepper to taste or leave for people to add themselves. Remember most stocks have salt so air on side of caution.
    • Add veg stock, just enough to cover the mixture, put the lid on and bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer.
    • Simmer for at least 30 mins. Check to make sure it doesn’t stick or dry out, add more stock if needed. Past the 30 mins continue to cook for as long as you want, depending on how soft you want the veg to be. The longer you cook the more the flavours will mature.
  • Serve: 
    • Serve with pasta and / or garlic bread.
    • If you are making the dish as a plant based dish or for vegans use dried pasta as fresh pasta often contains egg.
    • For healthy option serve as it is as a complete dish without pasta, or with a green salad or cooked greens such as broccoli, Swiss chard, kale.
    • Once cooked you can leave it and reheat later. It will keep for around 5 days in the fridge and freezes very well.

Cauliflower rice – amazing

Yes using chopped cauliflower in place of rice really does work. It is simple, tasty and a great way to reduce calories and starch whilst increasing nutrition. We ate it last night with 10 bean chilli. It smells a bit like socks when you chop it, but it was easy, healthy and delicious, hence this post.

You can buy ready chopped cauliflower rice in supermarkets, but it is so easy as well as cheaper and fresher to make your own. Start with a whole head of cauliflower, ideally organic, the fresher the better. Rinse it off, remove the green leaves, then choose one of three methods, we prefer the chunky version. Either process the whole head and freeze the left overs or use what you need and keep the rest whole:

  • Fine – use a cheese grater, chop whole cauliflower in half, hold the stalk and get grating, ideally contained in a large bowl to avoid it going everywhere.
  • Fine – chop into florets, add to a food processor, pulse until finely chopped.
  • Chunky – take whole head, with large carving knife start cutting thin slices of the flower, it will fall into pieces as you cut, keep trimming until you have what you want. I use the stalk and centre piece in other dishes.

Cook by lightly sautéing in a splash of water, add lid and cook until it is to you liking or add to a roasting tin with a splash of water and cook for 8-12 mins at 180c. Toss and check it as you go. You can eat cauliflower raw as you can most veg and the less cooking the more nutrients are retained, so cook it as little as you want, even serve it raw if you want!

Cauliflower is often considered one of the healthiest foods there is, part of cruciferous vegetable family, also known as the ‘Brassica oleracea’ family, along with broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts and some other less common varieties. It is packed full of health-promoting phytochemicals and high level of anti-inflammatory compounds.

Top 8 health benefits:

  1. Reduce cancer risk
  2. Reduce risk for heart disease and brain disorders
  3. Good source of vitamins and minerals (high in C and K)
  4. Improves digestion and detoxification
  5. Aids in weight loss
  6. Fights inflammation
  7. Helps balance hormones
  8. Preserves eye health

100g of raw cauliflower contains:

  • 25 calories,
  • 5.3% carbohydrates,
  • 2% protein
  • 0.1% fat
  • 2.5% fiber
  • 46.4 milligrams vitamin C (77 percent DV)
  • 16 micrograms vitamin K (20 percent DV)
  • 57 micrograms folate (14 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligram vitamin B6 (11 percent DV)
  • plus potassium, manganese, pantothenic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, magnesium, phosphorus

Parting thoughts – The more veg you can pack into you diet the better, cauliflower is so versatile, it is well worth putting on the shopping list and having a play, roast it, eat it raw with dip, add to curry, make rice, soup, chowder, flavour as you wish, it isn’t fussy 🙂

Cauliflower is really easy to grow too!

The Ethical omnivore

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