These probably aren’t going to be the prettiest muffins you will see in the run up to Christmas. If you want pretty – and I’m sure extremely tasty – festive baking, have a look at the world of wonder and fantasy that is Pinterest. I’m crushing on this page in particular. I practically weep at the skill and creativity contained within those rolling pixels of perfection. Maybe I have even wailed and gnashed my teeth over your dainty treats. To restore sanity and a sense of perspective I have recently adopted a habit of going over to Damn You Autocorrect. I find it is just the thing to cheer myself up after going on my increasingly regular Pinterest benders. True. Continue reading
The first weekend of December is suddenly here. Unless you are one of those manically organised and gung-ho people whose festooned and twinkling house is visible on Google Earth, this is the time that many of us are just getting our festive act together: fashioning together door wreaths, attempting to string up tangled-together lights, writing and sending cards. All good fun, and great for getting us in the holiday mood. Continue reading
I hope you don’t mind me butting in here, but I know that many of you (and me) are going to festive parties, and I thought I would share my 15 healthy holiday eating tips with you. These are probably common sense, and you know them already, but if you are like me it is always good to have them written down and reiterated. At this time of year my healthy weight management workshops always drift onto how we can merrily eat and drink all of the holiday goodies but keep a handle (not lovehandle) on the old kilograms. These little tips may help. Some are for the cook, some are for partyers, some are for dining out; a whole paragraph is devoted to negotiating that desk that always seems to have a plate of Christmas sugar cookies on it. Something for everyone, in other words. Continue reading
Lemony Kale, Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with Vegan Parmesan Cheese: mouthful of a title, mouthful of a meal. Continue reading
It is not very often that I go a bit crazy with my own cooking. Like most cooks and food bloggers I will make stuff, serve it, write about it, but gosh don’t I get embarrassed when people like it. Do you do that too?
It is not that we aren’t grateful for adulation – not at all, please don’t stop – but we can be a bit awkward and weirdly shy. My schtick is that I hem and haw and say something like “oh, it doesn’t have enough salt in it,” or “it was in the oven about five minutes too long” (that was yesterday’s rebuttal to the lemon polenta cake I brought to a class). To some this may smack of false modesty, but I am sure that the majority of the time most of us praise-rebuffers are not fishing for compliments: we genuinely don’t think our offering is worthy of special mention. We’ve made it, we hope it is edible. End of.
But for today and today only, I will retract my inner self-critic and say that I really quite like this frosting AND I will smile politely and say “thank you very much” to anyone who likes it too. I’m quite chuffed with it because, to my knowledge, it is original and, crucially, tastes pretty much like chocolate frosting should taste – creamy, chocolatey, lickable. And the whole food twist? Black beans. Yup, black beans.
Some of you will have made avocado frosting – and that’s really tasty stuff – but recently while cooking some black beans up for a savoury dish I just thought, why not? Why not indeed. They are awesome in black bean brownies (I’ll post my own version soon), so why wouldn’t they be good in something else in the chocolate-cocoa canon?
I knew it would need a wee help with the texture – a bit ‘floury’ on its own – so I added a little peanut butter (although cashew would be even better as it is milder). Melted good quality chocolate in place of the nut butter would be divine, but I wanted to see how ‘pure’ I could get it. I was totally shocked that I didn’t have to immediately stick it in the bin (we have no dog). None of it made it into the bin. My very truthful family helped out with the ‘cleaning up’. If they hadn’t given their thumbs up – or rather fingers in – I would’ve gone no further with this cranky idea.
If you dare to make this up do have more patience than have I: blend the heck out of the frosting. I blended as best as my tiny attention span would allow, but dark flecks are visible. The bold among you could pass them off as chocolate chips (?). Maybe pushing the beans through a sieve or food mill would be even better. You would also be more patient with the spreading and decorating.
It IS a bit nutty, and I wouldn’t recommend whacking it on anything too healthy (date-sweetened oat & chia cookies need not apply), but I think it would be a fun frosting on homemade chocolate cake, fairy cakes, anything with a nut or coffee flavour in need of frosting, even a dip for fresh fruit (it was nice with banana slices). I frosted up chocolate and beetroot muffins for a few nutrition groups and no one guessed the surprise healthy ingredient. The closest anyone got was avocado. Good guess. My next go with this will be to add malt syrup for a Horlick’s/Ovaltine vibe. That might be pushing it…
What weird stuff have you concocted lately?
Last year: Spinach and Walnut Dip (Spinach Pkhali)
Two years ago: Kale-Berry Smoothie
Unusual? Yes. A pretty good doppelganger for the real thing? I think so. If you have had black bean brownies (my recipe soon) you will know that somehow this ingredient works with chocolate and cocoa. I’ve just taken it in a slightly different direction: on top.
This black bean frosting was taste-tested on over 30 people: all thought it was chocolate frosting. With ingredients mainly of the store cupboard variety I hope you try it and give your verdict. Spread it on a decadent cake for a kind of calorie and fat balancing act, or do what we do and use it on my beetroot chocolate cake/muffins.
The following is just a guide – start with these amounts, blend, taste and adjust as you like. Makes enough to spread on one small cake or 9 muffins.
60g (slightly heaped 1/3 cup) cooked and rinsed black beans or adzuki beans
1 ½ tbsp cocoa or cacao powder
1 very heaped tbsp smooth nut butter (cashew would be mildest but I used peanut butter with good results)
2 tbsp (+) runny acacia honey or maple syrup
Pinch of fine salt
¼ tsp vanilla powder or paste (extract is to strong here – you taste the alcohol)
Enough warm water to get a smooth frosting (I used about 1 teaspoon)
METHOD: Pop everything into a blender and blend like mad. Keeps for four days, refrigerated in a covered container.
I’ve given the recipe sharing a break for a couple of weeks but this week I would like to include this unusual sweet over at Mark of Javelin Warrior’s Cookin’ W/ Luv Made With Love Mondays, and to Heather for her Sweet Wednesday Link Party. Please go and visit their great sites for ideas and more.
After the excesses of last week’s ingredient-fest that is gado-gado, we are down to earth. Quite literally. You can’t more down to earth than beetroot, can you? Continue reading
Yes, I have looked at the calendar. Yes I do realise that it is November. I even suspect that some of you will have had to plough your driveway to get to work, or at least switch from shorts to long trousers. In fact today here in Edinburgh we awoke to our first bright and frosty morning – all sparkly sidewalks and retina-searing but ineffective sun. And, here I am blogging about salad. Not a little – possibly acceptable – side salad, but a proper, in your face, entire meal kind of salad. With protein, fat, carbohydrates – the lot. Continue reading
Botanically identical to tender-skinned summer squashes, winter squashes are my unsung hero of autumn-winter eating. Not only do they keep well – you can forget about them for over a month and they will still love you – they are just about the most useful and delicious of the cold weather crops. Butternut squash, acorn, Delicata, kabocha, Hubbard, sugar pie, red kuri, spaghetti, Hokkaido – and loads more – their tough unyielding armour holds rich, sweet, nutritious flesh. Continue reading
Obviously as you are reading this blog on some kind of device through the modern voodoo that is the Internet, you don’t need to be convinced of the value of New Media. Blogs, websites, Twitter, Facebook (still a hold out on the latter), Reddit, Google+ etc are the way many of us get current, useable information. No more waiting for the 6 pm TV bulletins or morning newspapers to find out what is happening/has happened.
We also get to ‘meet’ some fantastically inspiring kindred spirits who, without the Internet, we would never know. Continue reading
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, lived a girl. She was an ordinary girl. Not a wallflower, but not a high-flyer either. She was loved by her family, got on well(-ish) at school, had the requisite number of boyfriends and breakups, and battled the occasional outbreak of pimples with spot cream and floor gazing. In short, ordinary. But one day, empty of wallet and loathe to keep tapping a generous-to-a-fault father for yet more money, she decided to get a Saturday job. So, armed with a short resume consisting of kid’s movie reviewer for the town newspaper, church choir member, and zero retail experience, this girl left the house. More in hope than expectation. Continue reading