Nettle & Wild Garlic Quiche

Nettle-&-Wild-Garlic-Vegan-Quiche

The weather might be all over the place but the budding leaves and green shoots aren’t fooled, Spring is most definitely here. I get pretty excited when everything starts bursting into life during Spring. The first leaves of Spring always seems extra green and vivid especially after the long grey months of winter. 

Nettle and wild garlic are an amazing Spring green combination. Last year I paired them together in these savoury Buckwheat Crepes which are just so delicious! This year I was inspired by a vegan flan I had whilst on holiday and decided to recreate something similar at home. I opted for creamy cashews and a wholewheat spelt flour topped with crunchy toasted seeds.

Nettles have to be one of the easiest wild foods to forage, they can be found pretty much everywhere and are easily recognised by most of us. Wild garlic is a little trickier to find but is also common. I always get wild garlic in my veg bag during Spring and you would probably find it at your local farmers market if you can’t find any near where you live.

Nettle-&-Cashew-QuicheVegan-Cashew-Quiche

Nettle & Wild Garlic Quiche

Nettle tips: Harvest the nettles when young and pick only the top few leaves. Wash throughly in a bowl of cold water and don’t forget to use rubber gloves when handling!

For the pastry:
175 g Wholemeal Spelt Flour
75 g Coconut Oil + Extra for Greasing
2-3 tbsp Cold Water
Pinch of Salt

For the filling:
350g Cashews 
3 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
250g Nettles
Small bunch of Wild Garlic
1 Small Onion
1 tsp Caraway Seeds
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
3 tbsp Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
3 tbsp Toasted Sunflower Seeds
3 tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds

  • Soak the cashews in water (preferably filtered) overnight.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease a flan dish with coconut oil. Measure the spelt flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. If your coconut oil is melted at room temperature, place it in the fridge for half an hour first. Add the coconut oil and use you finger tips to rub together the flour and coconut oil until you get a breadcrumb consistency. 
  • Add in a tablespoon of water at a time and use you hand to bring together the mixture until it forms into a ball.
  • Roll out on a floured surface and line the flan dish with the pastry. Press the pastry down, trim off the edges and prick a few holes in the pastry with a fork. If you have them, cover the pastry with baking paper and hold down with ceramic baking beans.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • Whilst the pastry is cooking fry the onion on a little coconut oil for 10 minutes until it starts to caramelise. Add the caraway and fennel seeds, fry for a few more minutes then add in the nettles and stir until they begin to wilt down. Roughly chop the wild garlic and add to the frying pan, stirring until both the nettles and wild garlic have wilted. Then remove form the heat and set aside to cool.
  • Drain and rinse the cashews and add to a food processor with the nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Blitz for a few minutes until you get a smooth and creamy consistency. 
  • Stir the cashew mixture together with the nettle and wild garlic and over the pastry and spread out evenly. Top with the toasted seeds and gently press them down into the cashew mix.
  • Place in the fridge to set for 2 hours. Serve chilled with salad.

Enjoy! Amy x

 

Apple & Parsnip Soup

Apple-&-Parsnip-Soup

I love this time of year – the lighter evenings and the sunnier days. Yes, spring has sprung and I for one am glad! Despite the sunnier days I still haven’t turned my back on some warming foods, after all there is still a chill in the air. In fact, I was on a run the other day and all the weather was thrown at me during those three and a half hours (Yep – that’s my longest run for the marathon done). I came home and was frozen, soup was the only thing that warmed me through.

We’re still in the hungry gap right now so whilst spring is bringing lots of fresh new greens, we’re still relying on the last of winter’s crops until new season produce is ready. But there are still some parsnips and apples knocking around and they happen to make the tastiest soup I’ve ever made. Yes, a bold claim indeed, but seriously this is a winning combination. And the coconut yoghurt makes this soooo good. You could always swap this with some canned coconut milk if you’ve not got any to hand. I bought it in our local health food shop.

Apple-and-Parsnip-Soup

Apple and Parsnip Soup
Serves 4-5 

1 onion
3 parsnips
2 apples
2 sticks of celery
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp coconut yoghurt
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

  • In a large pan heat the olive oil on a medium heat
  • Chop the onion and soften in the pan for 3-4 minutes
  • Peel and chop the apples and parsnips and add to the pan along with the chopped celery
  • Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil, simmer for 30 minutes
  • When the vegetables have softened add the cumin and cinnamon. Blend using a stick blender until all smooth
  • Stir through the coconut yoghurt and season with salt and pepper

V x

Citrus Carrot Loaf

Citrus-Carrot-Loaf-Vegan

It’s so nearly almost kind of Spring that it’s just mean! Tuesday was insanely warm and sunny, it was the kind of early Spring day that makes you remember how awesome warm weather and sunshine is! Remember those days of leaving the house without a coat and wearing sunglasses! 

So whilst we await the full bloom and warmth of Spring, here’s a yummy, sunny citrus carrot loaf to keep us going. Good old carrots are always in season and you really can’t beat a good carrot cake! There’s plenty of delicious citrus fruits to be found at the markets from sunny Spain and when combined with carrot cake, add a delicious zesty note. Be sure to hunt out organic oranges and lemons otherwise you’ll be zesting in nasty wax likely to be made from shellac, yuk!

Citrus-Carrot-Loaf Vegan-Citrus-Carrot-Loaf

Citrus Carrot Loaf

1 tbsp ground flax seed + 3 tbsp water
125g ground almonds
100g spelt flour
50g oats
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
40g coconut sugar
2 medium carrots, grated (approx. 110g)
60ml coconut oil, melted
Zest of 1 organic orange
Zest of 1/2 an unwaxed organic lemon

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease a loaf tin with coconut oil.
  • Whisk the ground flax and water together in a cup and set aside.
  • Place all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and stir together.
  • Place the grated carrot in a separate small bowl, add the melted coconut oil and the flax mixture which should have formed a gelatinous consistency. Mix together and add into the dry ingredients, stirring together until just combined.
  • Pour into the loaf tin and top with a few thin slices of lemon and orange.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer or knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Enjoy! Amy x

Green Smoothie Bowl

Green Smoothie Bowl

I’m right in the peak of training for the London Marathon. In fact, I don’t have too many more big runs before the BIG run itself. Eek! I’ve been pushing myself harder this year, I know I can reach the distance but I want to improve my time and get round in 4 hours and 30 minutes, and that means knocking off at least 30 seconds every mile if not more. It doesn’t sound a lot and it is doable, but have I got it in me to do it over 26.2 miles? I hope so.

I have been working on my post running nutrition, which I don’t think I’ve taken too seriously before and I’m feeling the effects. One thing I struggle with after a long run is fatigue. Not only do I feel physically exhausted but I am emotionally exhausted too. It is best to give me a wide birth because I probably will snap your head off! So, this protein packed seasonal smoothie bowl is the perfect post run or exercise smoothie to chow down on that will help your muscles to recover and also help with the crash of fatigue.

Smoothie bowl

green smoothie

Green Smoothie Bowl
(Makes 2 small bowls)

1 Pear
1 Apple
3 Stalks of kale
2 tspn Hemp protein powder
450 ml Almond milk
3 tspn Chia seeds
Handful of Almonds
4 tspn Hemp seeds
Handful of Pumpkin seeds

  • Slice the apple, pear and de-stalk the kale.
  • Add to your blender with the hemp powder and almond milk.
  • Blitz until smooth and creamy.
  • Pour into a bowl and top with the almonds, hemp seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds (or toppings of your choice).

Veronica x

Beetroot & Black Bean Burgers

Beetroot-burgers

We love eating by the seasons and seeing how the passing of the year brings a whole different array of food to our tables. Living in the heart of a city I particularly love the connection my local veg box gives me to the changing seasons, weather and produce. There’s nothing like a wet, muddy carrot to spark the connection between the weather we’re having to the food that’s growing, or maybe that’s just me… vegetable romantic?

At this time of year, when the winter veg starts running out and the new season crops haven’t quite kicked in, it can seem like there isn’t that much exciting produce around. For sure there are plenty of greens to be had but when it’s still decidedly wintery outside, it can be hard to get excited about salad and I actually LOVE salad. But I don’t see this as the down-side to eating by the seasons. I see it as the fun, challenging side. How can I make the most delicious, satisfying, yummy meal out of a cabbage…. uh hello Winter Veg Stir-fry!

In fact I’ve actually had people say to me, oh yeah it seemed good getting a local veg box at first but then we just ended up getting loads of beetroot and just didn’t really know what to do with it. Well it just so happens that we bloody love beetroot (is that some kind of beetroot joke there, blood… who knows) and we don’t want beetroot putting anyone off eating seasonally!

We really do love it, just check out these recipes…

Chocolate Beetroot Cake
Roasted Beetroot & Raw Green Salad
Roasted Beetroot Rissotto
Celeriac & Marinated Beetroot Salad
Vegetable Crisps

So I wanted to share a really exciting, super delicious, hearty recipe to inspire those who might think eating seasonally is boring and restrictive and show that it is exciting and most importantly delicious! 

Beetroot-and-black-bean-burgers Vegan-beetroot-burgers

Beetroot & Black Bean Burgers
Makes 8 burgers

3 large beetroot (approx. 650g)
1 cup uncooked black beans
150g oats
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dill

Serving options:
bread rolls
salad leaves
alfafa sprouts
fried onions
fried chestnut mushrooms 

  • Soak the black beans overnight in double their volume of water. (I often don’t plan ahead to do organised stuff like this so just cook them for double the amount of time).
  • Rinse and drain the beans and place them with fresh water in a saucepan. Cook on a medium heat, covered for 1 hour until tender and soft.
  • Once your beans have started cooking, pre-heat the oven to 180C before peeling and chopping the beetroot. Place in a baking tray, drizzle with a little oil, sprinkle with the dill and season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and cover with foil, roast for 45 minutes then set aside to cool slightly. 
  • When the beans are cooked drain them and run under cold water to cool. Add them to a food processor with the beetroot, oats and spices. Pulse for a couple of minutes, scraping down the sides regularly until you have a fairly smooth consistency.
  • Shape into burgers and place on a lightly oiled baking tray. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes which help gives them a firmer consistency. You can skip this step if you don’t mind them a little squishy, or are really hungry.
  • Bake in the oven for 25 minutes at 180C, flipping hallway through. Serve in bun with toppings of your choice and a large side salad. Or skip the gluten and serve with sweet potato wedges.

Amy x 

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake

Vegan Chocolate Cheesecake

I feel like I’m writing a similar post to one I wrote about this time last year. It goes along the lines of, I’m in training for the marathon…I’m knackered…work is busy….life is hectic…time is flying by. And there doesn’t seem to be any sign of the craziness letting up soon. I’ve taken the week off work to try and gain a little perspective. I’ve been resting, enjoying dog walks, catching up with friends, shopping, having my hair cut – you know fun things.

Training means I spend A LOT of the time eating and A LOT of the time tired. I try to make sure that I’m eating the right sort of foods that will ensure my body can endure what I’m putting it through (oh god why am I putting it through this again?!). You know, the usual stuff, slow releasing carbs (pasta party anyone?), and refuelling on protein (usually homemade beans on toast). After my long weekend run I’m literally hunting the cupboards to see what I can find. And I can’t wait to make another batch of these tasty treats that will get me through the post running slump.

These little beauties are made using avocado. If you’re like me and absolutely love them, it may feel a waste of a good avocado to make it into something completely different (even if it is chocolate based) after all there does seem to be too many occasions where I’ve opened one up to be greeted by gross brown inedible flesh (mega first world problems). Why not hold back you bad avocados for this recipe?! Problem solved.

Raw Cheesecake

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake
Makes 5 mini cheesecakes 

125g Almonds
100g Medjool dates (or soak dried dates)
40g Coconut oil (melted)

3 small Avocados
2-3 tbsp Raw cacao powder 
1 tbsp Coconut oil (melted)
2 tbsp Agave syrup (or maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional for decoration:
1 tbsp toasted Hazelnuts (chopped)
1 tbsp cacao nibs

  • In a food processor blitz the almonds until roughly chopped. Add the dates and melted coconut oil and it should come together.
  • Spoon the mixture into mini tart cases or ramekin dishes and refrigerate whilst you make the chocolate mixture.
  • Wash up your food processor (unless you have two)
  • Scoop out the avocados and blend until creamy.
  • Add the cacao powder, coconut oil and agave syrup and blend until smooth and thoroughly combined.
  • Remove the almond bases from the fridge and evenly distribute your avocado chocolate mixture. Place in the fridge to set the filling.

These are definitely ones to try.
Enjoy!

Veronica x

Oat Flour, Apple Pancakes

Apple-and-oat-flour-pancakes

Somehow January seems to have drifted into mid-February and it’s only just now, sitting down to write, that I’ve realised. Like the onset of that really fine rain that you don’t notice until you’ve been walking for twenty minutes and suddenly realise you’re soaked through.  

Pancake day has come and gone, along with Valentine’s Day. I feel like I’ve barely had time to even think about making pancakes or how a day of forced romance and red roses makes me queazy. 

The year has just jumped into full swing as if those quiet Christmas evenings sat around the tree never happened. I’m back at work, busy as ever, back commuting up to Manchester one day a week. Trying to keep on top of making packed lunches, daily stretches and exercises, mindfulness practice and getting to bed on time. Oh and I’ve missed out one thing, watching series two of Forbrydelsen aka The Killing. I’m managing (just about) although it always seems to be bedtime that slips. So now I blame myself for having a sore throat and a sniffily nose, after all there were only so many weeks elderberry tincture and echinacea tea could hold off a cold. Turns out its five. 

On the upside it gave me the chance to use a newly learned phrase from my Thursday visits up north. I explained to my Yorkshire boyfriend that “I’m full of cold” whilst feeling pleased but snotty. It got me out of the Saturday morning food shop and I stayed at home in the warm reading my new favourite book, Quiet

Truth be told, I did actually manage to whip up some pancakes on the appropriate day. However my lack of preparation and empty cupboards meant I had to make do without my favourite vegan pancake flour, buckwheat. Instead I made Oat Flour Griddle Cakes from Thug Kitchen. They make for a hefty, satisfying American pancake, not a crepe-type lemon and sugar number. So I thought I’d share my adapted recipe on the off chance your cupboard is also lacking in stoneground buckwheat flour : )

They’re the perfect answer to pancakes when the day springs itself upon you and all you have in the cupboard are oats.

Oat-flour-pancakes Vegan-gluten-free-pancakes

Oat Flour, Apple Pancakes

125g Porridge oats
2 tbsp Ground flax seeds + 6 tbsp water
40g Porridge oats
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
1 tbsp Coconut Sugar
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/4 cup Unsweetened apple sauce (or 2 small apples)
1 cup Non-dairy milk
Coconut oil for frying

For topping:
Maple syrup
Apple sauce
Ground cinnamon

  • If making the apple sauce from scratch, peel and finely dice 2 small apples and place in a small saucepan with 3-4 tbsp water. Cook on a medium heat for around 15 minutes and stir regularly, adding a little extra water if necessary until the apple has broken down and you have a good consistency. 
  • Whisk the ground flax seed and water together with a fork in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Grind 125g oats in a food processor for a few minutes until you have a fine flour.
  • Mix together the ground oats and remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Put a large frying pan on to a high heat so you’re ready to start frying straight away.
  • Make a well in the dry ingredients and add in the flax mixture, milk and 1/4 cup of apple sauce, leaving the remaining for topping. Mix together until just combined.
  • Add 1 tsp coconut oil to the pan, then spoon in just under 1/2 cup of the batter. You should be able to fit 3 pancakes the pan at a time. Fry for a few minutes until they start to brown and then flip using a spatula and fry for another couple of minutes until brown.
  • Keep warm under a grill whilst you fry the remaining pancakes.
  • Serve straight away with maple syrup, apple sauce and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

Homemade Baked Beans & Hash Browns with Wilted Chard

vegan brunch

I feel like I never get a chance to enjoy breakfast. I see all these pictures over on IG, mainly full of neatly stacked pancakes, perfectly positioned smoothie bowls and tasty looking porridge. I know this may sound slightly odd if you follow our account on Instagram, you’re likely to find images matching that description. Full disclosure, it is Amy who mainly takes the photos you see over on our feed, yep she lives an Instagrammable life, well she doesn’t really, I’ve seen her flat, do such lives actually exist? 

Let’s talk real. The reality of my breakfasts in the week are throwing some oats in a bowl with some water, (I don’t like my porridge with milk – non dairy obvs) chucking it in the microwave at work and hoping it will turn into some form of porridge that’s not too lumpy, and maybe I’ll chuck a banana on it or some granola, nothing worth taking a well lit photo of.

When it comes to the weekend that’s when the pancakes could be happening, but they don’t – I have to get out to walk the dog or I’ve got to get my porridge down me quickly so I can get out for my long training run so the whole day doesn’t disappear. But, this weekend I made time for breakfast. A proper breakfast. One to take my time over, to enjoy properly.

hash-browns-and-baked-beans
Homemade Baked Beans & Hash Browns with Wilted Chard 

For the hash browns:
2 potatoes
1 onion
1 tspn turmeric
1 tspn cumin seeds
Salt and pepper
Coconut oil

For the baked beans:
1 tin of haricot beans
1 tins of borlotti beans
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 onion
1 clover of garlic
1 tspn cumin
1 tspn paprika
A couple of dashes of tabasco
1 tspn chilli powder 
Salt and pepper

  • Grate the potatoes and squeeze all the water out of them.
  • Thinly slice the onion and mix together with the grated potato.
  • Stir through the turmeric, cumin seeds and season with salt and pepper.
  • In a frying pan, melt the coconut oil on quite a high heat and place heaped spoonfuls of the potato mix into the pan (you can probably cook about 3 or 4 at a time). Flatten them out into patties using a spatula.
  • Once they have cooked on one side turn the hash browns over, the cooked side should stick together. Once they are done, put them on a dish and keep them warm under the grill as you cook the rest of the mixture.
  • Thinly slice the onion, melt the coconut oil in a saucepan and slowly cook the onions. Add the beans and spices to the pan along with the tomatoes.
  • Slowly bring them to the boil and then simmer gently for 15-20 minutes. Add the tabasco and some chilli powder.
  • In another pan, add the chard and cover with boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes until wilted, then drain any excess water.

Weekends aren’t always those lazy, foodies filled ones we see. But, I’m definitely going to try and slow them down somewhat and make them more enjoyable.

Happy brunching!

Veronica x

Kohlrabi, Kale & Black Rice Salad

Raw kohlrabi salad

January is a funny old month. We’re trying to break old habits and exercise more, eat better, sleep longer… But it’s a cold, dark month and maybe sleeping more is really the best suited resolution for January!!!

Last week I wrote not about a new year’s resolution as such but about setting a positive intension for the year which included to nourish myself. Cue healthy salad recipe… ha! But I don’t just mean with food, obviously that’s part of it. But also to nourish my mind and body, maybe by spending less time on social media and more time meditating. More time strengthening and practising yoga. More time traveling and experiencing new things. Those kind of nourishing things.

We’re one month into the new year and it’s been going fairly well so far. I’ve been receiving treatment for an ongoing bad back and a niggling knee injury that brought any of last years cycling ambitions to a complete end. I’m doing daily strengthening exercise to rebalance and realign my posture which has been the cause of both injuries. I’ve practised mindfulness daily and I’m still struggling with the social media bit…. but I’m not going to be too hard on myself : )

Food-wise I’ve been eating pretty well for the last year or so. I’ve cut down heavily on refined sugar, wheat, alcohol and any processed foods. I eat a balanced diet, jam-packed with local, seasonal vegetables! What’s more I really feel the difference. The feeling after eating a fresh, flavour-packed, filling meal to a processed meal or snack laden with sugar of wheat is unbelievable. Light and energised or heavy and sluggish, this is what has helped me easily sustain a healthy balanced diet.

The great thing about having transitioned to a healthy, nourishing diet is that I don’t feel guilty about having the odd, not-so-nourishing meal or snack. I know that for 80-90% of the week my body is thanking me for eating well with energy and concentration levels to suit. So if time gets the best of my healthy, advanced food preparation or I’m in a situation where being vegan means my only option is chips, its ok and I don’t have to feel bad, I can just move on knowing the next thing I eat will probably be much more nourishing. 

We got there in the end… cue healthy salad recipe, for the 80-90% of the week when you want something fresh, flavour-packed and filling to leave you feeling light and energised. This salad will definitely not disappoint!
Kohlrabi kale and black rice saladvegan winter salad

Kohlrabi-and-kale-salad copy

Kohlrabi was one of those strange vegetables I have never encountered until I signed up for a weekly, local and organic veg bag. I was like, kohl-you-what-now!? So I did the usual thing I do with unknown vegetables, roast them and hope for the best… and it was ok. It wasn’t until I discovered this recipe using raw kohlrabi from Love and Lemons that I realised kohlrabi is totally amazing! 

I have made many a meal inspired by the spicy kohlrabi noodles from Love and Lemons, depending on what other vegetables are to hand. I wanted to share this version (my new favourite) before the kohlrabi season comes to an end. They should be back by around mid-late summer, so not too long to wait if you do miss this season.

Kohlrabi, Kale & Black Rice Salad
Serves 2-3

100g Black rice
1/2 Large kohlrabi
Large handful of cavolo nero or kale
1 Carrot
Handful of tender stem broccoli 
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1tbsp rapeseed oil
Red chilli to taste
Handful of fresh coriander 
2 tsp sesame seeds

For the kohlrabi marinade:
2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp rice mirin
Juice of 1 lime
A few slices of red chilli, to taste
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1cm piece of ginger, grated

  • Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together in a large mixing bowl. Peel and finely slice the kohlrabi into thin match sticks and add it to the marinade, and mix thoroughly. Place in the fridge whilst you prepare the rest of the dish.
  • Place the rice in a saucepan and pour over roughly double the amount of boiling water. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 40 minutes until tender. (Check the rice now and then to make sure it doesn’t boil dry, adding a little water when necessary.)
  • Wash the cavolo nero or kale and slice down wither side of the tough stem and discard. Roughly chop the remaining leaves and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the rice vinegar and rapeseed oil and massage into the leaves until they start to soften then set aside.
  • Wash the broccoli and steam over the rice or over a pan of boiling water for 10-15 minutes until just tender. Rinse immediately under cold water to stop it cooking any further.
  • Wash and peel the carrot then, peel into ribbons.
  • Once the rice is cooked, rinse through cold water to cool. 
  • Remove the kohlrabi from the fridge and add the kale, carrot, chopped coriander and rice, and mix together. Spoon into a large serving bowl. Arrange the broccoli pieces on top, pour over the remaining marinade, sprinkle with sesame seeds and sliced chilli and serve.

Amy x

Black Bean Chocolate Orange Mousse

Black-bean-chocolate-mousse

Today I want to share a delicious, nourishing dessert with you. I also want to share a little more of myself. We began blogging here over two years ago to share our story of how rescuing four little hens turned us from omnivores to vegans in a matter on months. As time has gone on, we’ve focused more and more on the food than ourselves. I guess we’re a little bit shy. But with a new year upon us we thought it would be nice to share more of ourselves with you; our struggles and challenges, our ambitions and dreams. So here it goes…

My new year has gotten off to a pretty good start and I know it’s down to setting a positive intension for the new year; to look after, nourish and heal myself.

Often, after the fun and time-off over Christmas, my new year starts with a sense of dread. Three more months of cold, dark, bleak days. Another year has passed by and I’m still thinking where am I going, what am I achieving. But not this year. This year, I’m excited for the year ahead. For the adventures I will take, the food each season will bring, the people I will meet, the friends I will visit, the recipes I will create, the sunrises I will see. I have a sense of anticipation about all of the things to come.

I’m thinking it myself… what has sparked this sense of optimism within my cynical, pessimistic self? The answer, self-care. It started when I was diagnosed with mild depression (although it didn’t and has never felt very mild to me) which was also around two years ago. It was then I realised I couldn’t take myself for granted. It was when I took a permaculture course last summer that someone first taught me that before we can do anything we must look after ourselves. It was when I was ill in the autumn that a film told me happiness was in my own hands. It was at the beginning of this winter that a podcast prodded me to take meditation and mindfulness more seriously. And it has been small self-care rituals I have practised everyday of this new year that has revived my outlook on life.

It’s not ground breaking, it’s not a miracle, it’s just little things, everyday. Gratitude, meditation, visualisation, exercise, mindfulness. Not all at once, not all everyday but at least one everyday. And then there’s slightly bigger things, things this year I hope to do, hope to be. To be brave, to be happy, to travel, to accept myself. These are just kinda out there, floating around in my consciousness. I hope that through my little things I’ll be able to tackle those bigger things. But all of these things are grounded in my intension for the year; to look after, nourish and heal myself. And obviously nourishing myself includes eating delicious, indulgent but always mildly healthy dessert. Oh and I’ve done it, we’re back to food. Wohoo!

Vegan-chocolate-orange-mousse

The new year has finally brought some cold winter weather to us (see, no sense of dread for cold days!). But not before some daffodils have bloomed and some trees have blossomed. The plants are confused and it could well mean a bad season ahead for our fruits.

For now, there are still plenty of apples knocking about at markets but we’ve shared a fair few apple recipes since autumn so I won’t share another one today. I eyed up some Spanish blood oranges at Borough Market this week and knew exactly what to make with them the moment I saw them… chocolate mousse!

Black-bean-chocolate-orange-mousse

Vegan-black-bean-mousse

Veronica made this heavenly mocha and black bean mousse cake from Green Kitchen Stories over Christmas. So I was inspired to ditch my tried and tested vegan mousse bases (cashews or avocados) and try out black beans. And it was a totally awesome decision! This mousse is mega rich and super delicious. No trace of a bean-y taste left, just a smooth and creamy texture and a filing, protein packed treat. It does have a fair amount of syrup in it to make it totally indulgent but you could easily leave a few tablespoons out and still have yourself a yummy treat!

Black Bean Chocolate Orange Mousse
Serves 5-6

1 tin black beans, drained and rinsed
50g pitted dates (soaked if using dried dates)
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
8 tbsp brown rice or maple syrup
5 tbsp raw cacao powder
4 tbsp plant milk
zest of 1 organic orange
1 tsp raw cacao nibs (optional)

  • Put the black beans and dates in a food processor and blend on high for a minute.
  • Add the coconut oil, brown rice syrup, cacao powder and milk, and blend again for another minute.
  • Finally stir in the orange zest.
  • Spoon the mixture into 5-6 espresso cups, sprinkle with cacao nibs and a little extra orange zest.
  • Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

So here’s to a truly, happy, new year.

Amy x