Monthly Archives: June 2014

My Favourite Brownie Recipe – Healthified

Date Sweetened Brownies

I used to bake all the time. I would use bleached gluten free flour, hydrogenated vegetable margarine, and white refined sugar. And while I still indulge like that sometimes, I am much more wary about the ingredients that I use. After years of cutting out this and that, I have come to a point where I don’t deny myself anything. The allergens and bad things are an occasional treat now. I find it much easy to stick to a generally healthy diet if I don’t deny myself of the things that I want. My stomach troubles remind me when to stop anyway!

I bought some medjool dates, fresh not dried, as snacks for work, but I found them too sweet on their own. After sitting in my fridge for a day or two, I decided I would bake with them and had a craving for brownies.

Date & Coconut Oil Brownies

If you have read much of my blog, you will also know that I love coconut oil, so I used it in place of butter or margarine. It is these little swaps that can make a big difference without you noticing too much. That goes for the ingredients I have used here too. If you are low FODMAP and don’t want to use dates, try a suitable sugar or something like brown rice syrup. If you don’t have a food processor and like dates, try a date syrup or puree. You could even swap the flour for ground almonds or the eggs for egg replacement. Just give it a go!

Date and Coconut Oil Brownies

Recipe
5oz Pitted Medjool Dates
3oz Coconut Oil (weighed while solid)
3oz Brown Rice Flour
1tsp Gluten Free Baking Powder
1.5oz Cocoa Power (or Raw Cacao)
2 Eggs
2tbsp Almond Milk (Unsweetened)
1tsp Vanilla Extract
Optional: Chocolate Chips, Chopped Nuts, Dried Fruit

Note: If you want to use dried dates, soak them in hot water for about half an hour to help them blend easier.

Put the dates and cocoa power in a food processor and blend until you get a flour like consistency. Melt the coconut oil and add to the food processor. Blend until well combined. Empty the contents into a large bowl and mix in the eggs or egg replacement, along with the vanilla. Mix in the flour and baking powder, along with any optional extras. I just sprinkled a few dark chocolate chips on mine before baking as more of a decoration than anything. They held their shape pretty well.

Put the mix into a medium pyrex baking dish and flatten with a spatula. Bake in a preheated oven at 180c/160c fan for 10 to 15 minutes. I did mine for about 15 and missed out on the gooey centre so I would suggest 10 minutes if you like that. Allow to cool before cutting.

Healthy Brownies

I really hope you guys like this recipe as brownies are very close to my heart. My next challenge is to come up with a recipe using beans instead of flour so sorry to all the low FODMAP readers! I have been occasionally having FODMAPs and I am still feeling ok with just a little bit of discomfort, but I know it would get worse if I had more. It’s all about balance and listening to your body!

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Raw Cacao Maca Brownie Bites

Raw Cacao Maca Brownie Bites

Summer is finally here and it feels great. Us Brits spend the majority of our lives staring glumly at the grey, drizzly skies, dreaming of a bit of sun. I myself love to garden; a relatively new hobby. This is my third summer of having my own garden and I am growing more than ever. I have had new potatoes, a couple of strawberries and a few pods of peas so far, but my runner beans and tomatoes are in flower and I am looking forward to picking those too.

Homegrown Strawberry

This weather is great for photography too, compared to the grey skies and drizzle, but the harsh sunlight can be a pain. Below is my favourite photo of the day of my Hydrangea. I don’t really do flowers so much as I prefer to grow edible crops, but I love Hydrangeas and I want to buy a couple more for the flower bed.

Hydrangea

But back to food. I really enjoyed the raw peanut butter cookies I made recently and have been scouring blogs and pinterest for inspiration for my own raw recipe. I am a huge fan of brownies and saw so many delicious recipes that I had the try it for myself. A lot of them looked so sweet that I decided to scale mine down a bit. I love dates but they can be sickly and a lot of recipes had copious amounts of dates as well as added syrup. I wanted to give mine a healthy twist also by not only using raw cacao, but adding maca too as it works well with cacao. I decided to use half my nut quantity as hazelnuts for that nutella kind of taste.

I am pretty happy with this recipe. It’s not too sweet but hits that chocolate craving spot and you only really need one or two bites to feel satisfied. These kinds of brownies are supposed to keep for weeks in the fridge which is really handy too. I put a few in a mini Tupperware for work and snacked on them through the day instead of having processed, dairy filled chocolate which I too often have.

Medjool Dates

Recipe

1/2 cup Hazlenuts
1/2 cup Almonds
1 1/2 cup Medjool Dates (I got organic from Sainsburys)
5 tbsp Raw Cacao
2 tbsp Maca Powder
Pinch of sea salt

Nuts

Put all the nuts in a food processor and process into almond meal consistency. You don’t need to be too thorough here as having some chunks of nut in your brownies is no bad thing. Give your blades a rest while you take the pits out of the dates, and then throw them in with the powders and salt. All you need to do is process it again until it comes together. You can test a bit by picking out a little bit and pushing it together with your fingers. If you can mould it then it is ready.

Raw Brownie Dough

I lined a pyrex dish with baking paper and pushed the dough down until it was all smooth without and air pockets. I then folded extra paper over the top and set in the fridge for a couple of hours. You can weigh it down with something if you want. Then just slice it into small squares and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Raw brownies

Have you had raw brownies before? I would love to hear your thoughts on this recipe ūüôā

Roasted Veg Frittata with Balsamic Tomatoes

Roast Veg Frittata with Balsamic Tomatoes

I have recently reintroduced eggs. I probably only have about one a week, if that, but it is nice to have an extra protein source in my diet. I wanted to make a frittata or quiche like dish but with no cheese element. Frittata seemed like the easiest option, so after reading a LOT of recipes, I came up with this dish.

Now if you aren’t adding any meat or cheese, you need something flavourful in their place. And for this I always go for roasted vegetables sprinkled with herbs. You can really use any combination you like here. I used my tomatoes as a side dish to keep too much moisture out of the frittata, although sundried tomatoes would be a really good option here and they are packed with flavour. The greens on the plate are actually from my garden. I just filled a small trough with compost and sprinkled over organic mesclun seeds and let them grown in a warm, protected place. They are really herby and a delicious addition to summery dishes.

Recipe

4 eggs

1 punnet Cherry Tomatoes

Oil (I used Cold Pressed Rapeseed)

Balsamic Vinegar

1 cup Cubed Butternut Squash

1/2 Red Onion

1/2 large Red Bell Pepper

Dried Sage

Salt and Pepper

2 Cloves Garlic

Roasted veg

Dice or slice the onion and red pepper. Slice tomatoes in half. In one baking dish, lay the tomatoes cut side up and lightly drizzle with oil and then balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lightly bruise the garlic and put in a second baking dish. Add the squash, pepper and onion and drizzle with oil an sprinkle with sage and salt.

Bake the veggies (but leave the tomatoes for now) at 180c fan for 15 minutes until they are softened and beginning to colour. Set aside. Beat the eggs with a little pepper in a bowl. Pour over the veggies in the baking dish and put into the oven with the tomatoes. Turn the oven down to 160c fan and bake for 15-20 minutes.

You want the frittata to be golden brown on top with no wobble. Take the tomatoes as far as you like. I went for soft and gooey but nit burnt. If you burn the balsamic then it can turn a little bitter.

Frittata

This was way more delicious than I was expecting. I can be a little funny with eggs and generally don’t like scrambled eggs, but this was so nice. I even had some for my lunch at work the next day and it was just as nice cold.

This recipe serves 2 hungry people, or 3 for a light lunch. I cut mine into 6 for a light meal, a breakfast, and a light lunch.

Frittata

And if you read my recent post on homemade almond milk, I just wanted to share with you how I used my leftover pulp. On my post I told you how I baked it into almond meal. I kept it in a sealed container in the cupboard for about 5 days and then made these cookie dough balls from Oh She Glows cookbook. I kept them in the freezer and took one out whenever I needed something sweet but not too naughty. They were lovely and I will definitely be making them again. I love that cookbook!

Oh She Glows Cookie Dough

Homemade Coconut Butter

Coconut Butter

I have never actually had coconut butter before as I haven’t seen it anywhere at a reasonable price. Coconut oil is getting more affordable in England and I have been enjoying this for quite a while. But coconut butter? I wasn’t even really sure what the difference was until I looked it up online. The only difference I could find was that coconut oil is 100% coconut oil, and coconut butter contains coconut flesh. I also found that it was as easy as blending up dried coconut until it became the right consistency. As simple as that!

You don’t really need a fancy blender for this if you have a food processor. My food processor is not a really expensive one but made easy work of this. All I would suggest is doubling the quantity if you have a tired old food processor. Mine got to a certain point of working fine and then the mixture was so broken down that the blades kept spinning and not actually touching the mixture anymore because it has pushed it all up the sides. Luckily my food processor came with a mini chopper attachment so I finished it off in there and got it completely smooth.

Coconut Butter

Recipe

1 cup Organic Desiccated Coconut
1 tbsp Coconut Oil (Optional but helps if your processor isn’t that great)

Throw your ingredients into your food processor and turn on high until smooth. You might need to stop a few times and scrape down the sides but see how it goes. You also might need to give your processor a little break in the middle if it can’t handle it. Pour the mixture into a glass jar or Tupperware pot and set in the fridge. In the book I Quit Sugar, Sarah pours hers into ice cube moulds and freezes, allowing them to come to room temperature before use which is a good idea. I kept mine in the fridge and sat the pot in warm water before using.

Coconut Butter

My cat was all over this! She loves anything coconut and loves to lick the bowl after I have eaten my coconut oil porridge. She’s been mad at me this week as it has been too warm for porridge.

I used a corn crispbread to spread it on here which worked really well as the corn crispbread has a sweetness that made it taste more like a dessert.

Have you made coconut butter or bought it ready made? Have you ever flavoured it with anything else?

Coconut Butter

Freedomfoodjournal is now on Instagram! Just search freedomfoodjournal and follow me ūüôā I love looking at everyone’s healthy photos. It is such good inspiration and motivation to eat well!

Homemade Almond Milk

Homemade Almond Milk

It has been about four years since I stopped having cow’s milk. On and off I have had the occasional yogurt, scoop of ice cream, or bit of cheese, but I consider myself to be mostly dairy free these days. I used to always buy soy milk which didn’t taste so great; especially if like me, you go for the unsweetened. And then there is all the controversy about soy products. I mean, there is controversy about pretty much everything these days; for example I was reading about arsenic is rice?! You just have to do what is best for you though, and listen to your body.

I first tried almond milk over a year ago. Again unsweetened, it was a nice change from soy. It is much thinner and lighter than soy, and I found it perfect for my smoothies and porridge, yet it doesn’t really taste very almondy.

Something that always bothers me about packaged milk, juices and smoothies, is that they never separate. If I make a green juice or a smoothie and leave it to sit for a little while, the heavier particle sink to the bottom and the liquid sits on the top. And, it turns out, homemade almond milk is no different. But it is reassuring to see that separation as you can see that it has not been messed with. In shop bought products I believe it is a mixture of additives and pasteurisation, neither of which are particularly health giving.

Back to the almond milk. This tasted really almondy. You can add sweetener if you like, and I have seen people using dates to make it sweeter, but I liked it just fine as it was. I probably couldn’t drink a glass of it plain, but I made overnight oats with it, a¬†smoothie, and¬†porridge. I was a little¬†disappoint though as I had been told it lasts up to a week¬†in the fridge. Mine lasted¬†two to three days but the seal¬†on my glass bottle was not¬†very good, and on the label when I bought the bottle it said¬†not for preserving, so it is clearly more ornamental than anything.

Recipe

1 cup Almonds, soaked overnight if possible

3 cups Filtered Water

All you need to do is soak the almonds in a bowl of water, ideally overnight but a few hours should be ok. You might get away without soaking them but nuts are always better soaked. Get fresh water (not soaking water) and put it in your blender with the soaked and rinsed nuts. Blend up until as broken down as you can get it.

Next you will need a nut milk bag, or I used a preserve straining bag, designed for jams I think but much much cheaper as healthy foods and equipment tends to have a high premium added, annoyingly.

Pour the contents of the blender into the bag over a large bowl and allow the liquid to strain through. When the liquid slows, use your hands and squeeze out as much as you can, trying not the damage the bag as these are usually reusable. Once you have all you can get, pour the almond milk into a container. I poured mine into a jug so that I could get it all in the bottle without spilling any.

Homemade Almond Milk

This is a litre bottle so the recipe makes just over half a litre I would say. You can always add more liquid for a thinner milk, like the shop bought ones, however this recipe was lovely and creamy. I would love to hear how long your almond milk lasts and how you store it if you have tried it before.

But next up is what to do with the leftover pulp. I have read about people using it for all kinds of things, from cookies and hummus, to almond flour and meal. I decided to go for almond meal. Firstly because my blender left it quite chunky, and secondly because I already had too much food in the house to make anything else.

Almond pulp almond meal

All you have to do is spread out the almond pulp on a baking tray or dehydrator sheet as thinly as you can. I spread mine on baking parchment on a baking tray and baked at 160c Fan for about 10 minutes. I took my eye off it a little while too long so it went a bit darker than I would have liked.

Then just crumble by hand or put in a food processor and pulse until you get a crumb texture. If you have a better food processor you might get a flour texture which would be great as almond flour is really expensive. I stored mine in a little Tupperware pot to be used soon. I don’t know how long it will last but as long as all the moisture is baked or dehydrated out, you should get at least a week out of it.

Repurposed almond milk pulp

Raw Peanut Butter Cookies and a Green Smoothie

Raw Peanut Butter CookiesRaw food pops up all over the place now. The idea is that you are not using heat and therefore not killing all the vitamins and enzymes that are naturally present in the food. I was told to take an enzyme supplement a few years back by a holistic nutritionist and it really did help that heavy, bloated feeling after meals, so eating my enzymes sounds very interesting to me.

Raw desserts have intrigued me for a while. On one hand, they are high in fat from nuts and sugar from dried fruits, but this is all natural so what is the harm? This recipe uses dates which are high FODMAP but I don’t plan to ever eat mass amounts of these as they are filling. My current FODMAP consumption is based around how my stomach feels at the time. I prefer to listen to my body rather than strictly follow any diet. So a few dates here are ok as long as I try to avoid too many FODMAP items in my other meals.

I liked these cookies a lot more than I was expecting to. I almost felt like I should coat them in chocolate and call them a peanut butter cup. But I refrained. These are good enough as they are for me. I did however add about a tablespoon of light tahini to make the mix stickier because mine was too flour like. I put them in a Tupperware in the fridge for when I need a sweet treat and will take one or two to work tomorrow for a snack at my desk.

And so, just like that, I am a raw dessert convert. It took about five minutes to whip this recipe up, with no cooking and just my food processor to clean. I want to try a few other things and come up with a recipe of my own so stay tuned.

To see the recipe for this, click here.

 

Raw Peanut Butter Cookie

I had one of these for my evening meal which was a bit naughty of me, but I also had an amazing green smoothie which was coconut water, frozen melon, spinach, banana and chia seeds. Yum!

Green Smoothie