This raw cake is surprisingly easy to make, tastes amazing and is naturally gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. I kind of wish I could take credit for the recipe, but at least the pictures are all mine. Which of course means I had the pleasure of both cooking and eating it! Lucky me.
A while back I was contacted by two lovely ladies, who asked me if I (Straightforward Nutrition) would like to be part of their up coming giveaway competition, to win a fancy Ninja Blender, over on Instagram. I thought it sounded like lots of fun as well as a great opportunity to connect with other like-minded souls so I said, yes of course. Influxr is a website and an online community which is about connecting and inspiring each other to keep going on the journey to health, fitness and happiness. Inspiring, encouraging, motivating and empowering people to take control over their own health is very much part of what I do as a Nutritional Therapist, so being part of this competition was really a no-brainer. And the truth is we can not really achieve greatness all by ourselves. We need someone who got our back from time to time.
Who inspires you? Did you ever take some time and think about who YOUR everyday heroes are? There are so many things and people who inspires me every day to keep moving forward, to pick myself up when things are tough and who helps me grow and develop into an even better version of myself. I am blessed to have some amazing friends (you know who you are) but I have also found a lot of inspiration, particularly foodie and health related inspiration through various food blogs. You will find a selection of them here.
Having positive people in your life is another source of inspiration and something I am constantly consciously aspiring to be one of those. Why? Simply because positive people have more fun! It makes sense, doesn’t it? And the word to focus on here is consciously. You will at some point have to CONSCIOUSLY decide what it is you want (whatever that is). So go get it 🙂
Anyway, back to the recipe. If you have never tried a raw cake before, I urge you to give this one a try. They are incredible easy to make and taste great. No white sugar involved either. Or white flour for that matter, so this makes a perfect dessert for all your “free from” friends. Paleo friendly, coeliac approved and raw, vegan. Just don’t invite someone with a nut allergy though and you will be sorted.
This giveaway competition was run over on Instagram, over the course of a week. Each day the contestants where given one main ingredient to create a dish around. The winning recipe was based using lemons as the star of the show. The lovely @orsomethingsweet came up with this winning combination. It’s a super simple wholesome cake recipe, just as we like it here on Straightforward Nutrition. A perfect way to celebrate that Spring has finally sprung. I’ve made some slight alterations to the original recipe, but very modest ones.
When styling and shooting this blog post I really realised that I want a cake stand.It would make for a way better photo along with my vintage cake knife, which I currently have put in a safe place – Out of sight, out of mind kind of a place, it seams…
Raw Lemon ‘Cheese’ Cake with Summer Berries
Serves 6-8 comfortably
1 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup dessicated coconut
6 medajool dates, pitted
2 cups (200g) raw cashew nuts, soaked overnight
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract
juice of two medium sized lemons + zest of 1 lemon
4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
Make the crust first by placing walnuts, dessicated coconut and dates in your food processor. Blend until you have a sticky dough. To make this process a little easier, give the walnuts a whirl first on their own so they are crumbly before you add in dates and coconut. Line your cake tin with some cling film at the bottom. Take out the dough and press it firmly into your spring form. Set aside.
To make the cashew nut filling, simply place all the ingredients in your food processor. If you have a strong blender, like a Vitamix, then use that instead for a smoother finish. But it will work OK in your food processor too. Blend and keep scraping down the sides as you go along. Once you have a smooth creamy mixture, it’s done. Add the cream to your base and then place the whole thing in the freezer for a few hours to set.
Remove the cake from the freezer about 30 min before serving and decorate with berries of your choice. I went for some carmelised lemons, strawberries and raspberries, but you can use anything you have to hand really. Serve with more berries if you wish. Store any leftovers in the freezer. That is if you have any left…
N.B. I used an 8″ spring form here. If you use a larger form or want a thicker cake, increase the quantities of the ingredients.
What do you do when you feel like celebrating or treating yourself? Do you go shopping, buying a jumper, or a book or something else nice that you’ve been wanting for some time? Treating yourself with something as a way of celebrating a recent success, a break through or when achieving something you didn’t believe possible, is such a nice thing to do. Or perhaps you want to get something to cheer yourself up after a long week at work or after receiving sad news. You know, that feeling of “I deserve something nice”. Self-love and celebrations of any achievements are ever-so important. They help us recognize the work we do and gives us less dependance on others praise. I believe to be truly happy, it has to come from within.
Treating ourselves with food though, is usually not the smartest choice, since (most of the time) the food we tend to go for is not the nourishing kind. Treating yourself with sugar laden, heavily processed, calorie dense food is not what your body needs if you are feeling down. At those times it needs even more wholesome goodness, as it is drawing on every reserve it has, to keep going. Trust me. I’ve done my fair share of comfort eating… It doesn’t work. It usually makes you feel even worse.
And if you are going to celebrate a new personal milestone in your life, then why would you not choose the very best of the best? Top quality food stuff. So you can both nourish your body and feed your soul at the same time. I mean, if you are going to eat cake or chocolate (or what ever your favorite food is) then get the best quality you can find, so you are guaranteed to satisfy ALL your senses at the same time! And no need to feel guilty about it either.
When I finally gave up dieting, almost eight years ago, I also gave up food as a way of rewarding myself. Instead I made one single rule only. Well two actually. One: Eat only when hungry and stop when satisfied. Two: You can eat anything you like at any time with out feeling guilty about it, as long as you follow rule number one. I’m not pretending it was easy. But years down the line, it has been such a relief to no longer be on the “dieting treadmill”. OK so I am still rewarding my body, almost every day with food. But REAL food. Clean fuel. Stuff that will nourish it and make sure it will do the job it is suppose to. Day in. Day out. Because that’s what my body deserves. If I want to reward myself for any personal goals I have achieved or to give myself some much needed TLC, I pick something else, that’s not food. Like talking a walk, hanging out with friends, spending time with my dogs, or perhaps buying a new cookbook!
Last year I bought Green Kitchen Stories’ beautiful App. Little did I know then, how much that App would inspire me to take my cooking, photographing and blogging further. I was totally blown away by the stunning images and the simple, clean recipes that went with them. It felt almost like coming home. So many wholefoods put together in such a tasty way. The natural progression was to go from the App, to their blog and then I found out that they had a cookbook coming out. So, I treated myself to it. Sure enough, it did not disappoint.
This Baked Oatmeal (Porridge, to the rest of us) is a slight variation of the original recipe featured in the cookbook The Green Kitchen. You will find the book on Amazon, if you are keen on getting your own copy. The recipes are clean and fairly straightforward to make. The images are gorgeous.
They also have this amazing recipe on their blog. Who would have ever thought of putting carrots in to porridge and still have it tasting divine? This breakfast has all you need for a good start to the day, or your day off. Healthy fats, antioxidant rich berries and some slow releasing carbs, to keep you powered for the day. Weather this day is spent hiking in the mountains, at a GAA match, as a day out with your family or simply resting on the couch watching a good movie, this dish is worth getting up a little earlier as it such a treat.
Or if you are in need of some TLC and looking to indulge, while still nourishing your body AND satisfy ALL your senses (Yes, I do believe that is possible to do all of that.) Totally guilt free. Then do make this recipe. It is simply so good! I promise 🙂
Baked Oatmeal A´la Green Kitchen Stories
Serves 4 comfortably
2 cups porridge oats – Use gluten free if you are celiac
400g raspberries, fresh or frozen – You can easily substitute for any berries you have in your freezer
2 eggs – Preferably organic
150 ml coconut milk
250 ml plant milk of your choice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
A pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of almonds, roughly chopped
2 tbsp coconut oil, at room temperature
2 tbsp liquid honey or maple syrup
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Use an ovenproof 8 x 10 inch baking dish and place all your berries in it. In a bowl combine the oats, baking powder, spices and a pinch of salt. Mix and pour over the berries. Add eggs, coconut milk, plant milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined. If you end up with a few lumps of coconut cream, don’t worry, it does not have to be perfect. Pour the wet mix over the oats and berries.
To create the crunchy top layer, place almonds and seeds in a bowl. With your hands rub the coconut oil in. Then add the maple syrup or honey and stir with a spoon until evenly coated. Spread the nuts and seed layer on top of the oats. Bake for about 30-35 min or until the seeds are just golden on top. Let the bake cool down slightly before you tuck in.
Satisfaction on all levels guaranteed! Perfect breakfast for a lazy Sunday.
Don’t forget to take some time out to rest and recover. It can be a Dog’s Life after all. Buddy is taking Sunday resting very seriously…
I was really planning on posting a more “dinner” type of recipe this time, but with food blogging things sometimes just don’t work out as you intend. I try to eat what I cook and photograph. So anything I post may depend on what happens to be in the fridge. This time of the year it is also harder to use natural light for images, simply because it isn’t available for that much of the day. So timing is an essential part of the process. So instead of a nourishing bowl of warming food, I give you these lovely pancakes or crêpes. While planning, cooking and shooting a recipe for the lovely website Food&_ which I also contributed to back in the autumn, I also made these pancakes. They fit perfectly with the particular soup recipe, I have submitted to them.
Do you have food memories? Particular tastes, flavours and scents that triggers certain emotions? Pancakes for me is one of those loving comfort foods, holding some sweet childhood memories. I can remember almost always having pancakes when staying over at my grandmother’s. Her pancakes where so much nicer than my mother’s. (I hope I’m not going to upset my mammy too much now…)
There are two reasons for this, I think. One, my health conscious mother always used whole meal or added bran to the flour, whereas my gran did not. And then there was the flipping off course. My mother never cooked both sides of the pancake. I have no idea why not… I love mine turned and hate the sogginess you get if you don’t. If you use a good pan, flipping them isn’t really a big deal either. However I must admit that I have not yet mastered the art of turning pancakes / crêpes mid-air. Perhaps I need some more practice. What better excuse to eat more pancakes?
I have changed the ingredients here from your usual wheat flour and cow’s milk. Often when I do food intolerance tests with people, wheat and/or dairy shows up as reactive foods. Once you start looking out for these two foods, you will be surprised how much they feature in a “Western style” diet. And pancakes are a typical food.
But once you start looking a little further, the transition to a gluten and dairy free diet does not need to be that difficult and it certainly does not need to be of sacrifice in flavours by any means. I also find that by going gluten and/or dairy free naturally lends to a healthier diet as you simply will have to eat more wholefoods (i.e fruit and vegetables) as they are naturally gluten free.
Eggs are an integral part of this recipe as I believe you can’t get that crêpe style pancake without it. If eggs does not float your boat or if you are intolerant, fear not, I have another recipe up my sleeve. But you will have to wait until Pancake Tuesday 😉
I prefer using organic eggs, mostly because they taste better, but also because I know that they are free from antibiotics and the hens have a good life while producing the goods. I use buckwheat flour here. It is naturally gluten free as it is actually not a grain, but a seed. Buckwheat is closely related to the rhubarb plant. The seeds are small and triangular shaped. You can buy whole seeds too and use in cooked dishes. Both buckwheat flour and whole buckwheat is readily available in healthfood shops. Instead of cow’s milk I’ve used almond milk. You can make your own or these days it is available even in Supermarkets. Just keep an eye on the labels so your bought milk isn’t full of additives.
Makes about 10 crêpes
2 eggs – preferably organic
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla exctract
A pinch of sea salt
coconut oil, for frying
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and the milk together. Add the flour bit by bit while whisking. Keep whisking until you have a smooth batter. It will be pretty loose as this will makes thin crêpe style pancakes. Let the batter rest for at least 10 min. This will make your pancakes stay together a lot better. Heat your frying pan and add some coconut oil to it. Add a soup ladle of pancake batter and gently swirl it around, until you have a thin pancake. Once the batter has set on top, flip it over and fry until golden on the other side. Keeping the pan at the right temperature is the key to perfect pancakes. Personally I find somewhere between the mid and the highest temperature setting is just about right. Play around with it. It often takes two or three pancakes until you get it right.
I like eating my pancakes the classic Irish way with sugar and lemon, almost straight out of the pan (!). Since the white stuff is banned in my house I serve them with dark unrefined cane sugar. Simply delicious. You can off course serve them anyway you like.
A New Year, a New You. This seems to be the message every you look at the moment. It is all about new year’s resolutions, detoxing and diets. If you, like most people just enjoyed the holidays a little too much and feel like it is time to get back on track, then how about doing something a little different this year?
Instead of making a new year’s resolution that this year you will “get fit and healthy”. Why not instead set some specific goals that will put you firmly on the road to where you want to be. Having clear goals makes it so much easier than something fluid like “lose weight”. Have a good think about where you would like to be by Dec 2014 and set some clear and specific goals. Things like; I will walk for 1h three times a week, I will take up pilates one night a week and/or I am going to complete a 10k run, are all much more productive goals and visions to have if “getting fit” is one of your ambitions for this year.If getting healthy is another one of your resolutions then I suggest you pencil down goals like; I will have one meat free day a week, I will eat one different coloured vegetable every day and/or I will learn one new healthy recipe every week.
One quote I came across last year and which I will make my 2014 inspiration mantra is “Be positive, patience and persistent”. This is such great advice. Even when you don’t feel neither positive or patient you can still be persistent. Actions that are repeated over time will eventually become habits. This is so important to bear in mind as we work on changing and moving towards a healthy lifestyle.
The other thing about January, the first month of the year and the end of any overindulgence from the holidays, is that it is DETOX month. This is such a controversial subject. You will find as many ideas and opinions on how to detox as there is websites out there writing about the subject. I will keep it short and sweet.
Our body is constantly detoxing. The main detoxifying organ in the body is the liver. But our lungs and the skin is also heavily involved in detoxing. Basically what you want to do when you are detoxing is to give your liver a break and to support the work it does one a daily basis. Anyone on medication should not detox without professional support as a lot of medicines are metabolised by the liver and detoxing can alter the effect of certain medications. However, most people can do a gentle detox simply by reducing (or removing) processed meats, refined sugars and dairy. Alcohol and caffeine is other ones that are good to stay away from too.
A gentle detox will include eating lots of vegetables, both raw and cooked, drinking plenty of fluids (in this cold weather, warm fluids or at room temperature are best) and to get protein from plant based sources such as beans and lentils and seeds. This is all part of a healthy lifestyle anyway.
Some foods are better detox foods than other and I have created a detox salads with some of them to help you make a healthy start to 2014. Incorporating some raw foods every day into your diet will ensure that you get some live enzymes and they are loaded with vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy.
Grapefruit and beetroot are both king of the detox food list. Grapefruit works in a detoxifying manner by promoting an enzyme in the liver that helps make toxic compounds water soluble for safe excretion out of the body. Beetroot is on top of the list due to its liver supporting qualities. The natural compounds in the beetroot can increase the levels of glutathione peroxidase which is one of the most potent antioxidants in the body. It is also a great source of iron, potassium and magnesium, making it a great alkalising vegetable.
As I don’t personally like too much raw food when the weather is cold, I have included some cooked whole spelt grains, to serve warm, with this salad. They will, along with the walnuts give a lovely nutty flavour and chewy texture to this otherwise raw salad. They are a great source of protein and B-vitamins so will give you additional health benefits. If you don’t like grapefruit that much you can swap it for an orange. It will give the salad a sweeter flavour. Not quiet as detoxing but still very good for you.
A Colourful Detox Salad
1 small beetroot (raw), peeled
1 small chioggaia beetroot, peeled – if you can’t get it use more of your normal red beetroot
1 medium sized carrot
1 pink grapefruit – or use an orange instead
1 cup whole spelt grains, soaked for 3-4 h
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tbsp coldpessed rapeseed oil
1/2 tbsp grapefruit juice
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp honey – or maple syrup if vegan
1 heaped tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
Drain and rinse the soaked spelt grains. By soaking them, they will become easier to digest and you will shorten the cooking time. However if you are not great at forward planning, it is possible to omit this step. Just give them a quick rinse before adding to your saucepan and cook for 5-10 min longer. Place the grains in a saucepan with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil, then cover and reduce to a lively simmer. Cook for 40 min or until the grains are soft. They will have a chewy texture but should not be hard in the middle. Once cooked, drain and then return to the pan to keep warm until ready to serve.
Meanwhile prepare the raw salad. Use a julienne slicer to slice the carrot and beetroot into thin strips. If you don’t have one you can use your food processor and the grating blade. Alternatively grate on a hand grater. For the chioggia beet I used a mandolin. Mainly for its beautiful appearance. Segment the grapefruit. Here is a good video on how to do it. Cut the segments into smaller pieces.
Make the dressing by mixing the oil, grapefruit juice, apple cider vinegar and honey into a small bowl. When all the ingredient is well combined add in the mint. Gently toss the vegetables in the dressing. Then add the warm spelt grains. Serve in two bowls with the chopped walnuts scattered over the top. The salad is lovely on its own or you can use it as a side dish with white fish.
Kale is one of those super foods. Not as fancy as inca berries or maca or something else that we may get from the South American continent. The mighty kale may actually just travel as far as from your back garden to your plate. It is a perfect vegetable for winter salads a its peak season is from November until March. I have to admit that I had never really had kale until about this time last year… My local vegetable grower, from whom we get a weekly box of goodies, had some so I thought, well I it’s about time I try this famous leafy green.
To be honest, I can’t actually remember what I did with it… But what I do remember is the beautiful creation me and my mum came up with for Christmas. My mum wanted some green additions to the otherwise meaty Christmas table and even though I had already done some research for suggestions, when I spotted some lovely kale in the supermarket we got it. I also picked up a pomegranate. Together with a few pantry staples and a crispy winter apple we ended up with such a fresh, raw, colourful, yet green salad. Perfect accompaniment to the Christmas ham. It was just great to have something raw as balance to all the cooked (mostly meat) dishes.
Kale, in this case curly kale, can be used in a variety of dishes. It has a subtle flavour and is a nice leafy green to use in smoothies. It can be cooked, steamed or sautéed. For me it is the perfect green to use in salads during the winter months, when other raw leaves are not readily available.
Kale is considered a super foods due to its high nutritional content. Kale is part of the Brassica family, the same as brussel sprouts, cabbage and broccoli. The members of the Brassica family are all high in the cancer protective phytochemical indol-3-carbinol. Kale is also a rich source of Vitamin A, K and C. It is rich in calcium and iron making it a good vegetable to eat for anyone suffering with osteoporosis. And the best thing of all, you don’t have to get it flown across the world to get access to its super powers. Chances are you can easily grow it in your own garden patch.
The picture above is from the beautiful glass houses in Ballymaloe Cookery School. I believe Darina Allen is a big fan. I was visiting the school with two of my friends, Caroline and Mary, on a beautiful autumn Sunday back in September. It was still so warm and summery and winter yet so far away. But now winter is finally here and the “C-word” is being talked about everywhere. Actually, I just caved in the other day and bought most of my Christmas presents. Organised. Well at least in this area…
I was invited over to Caroline and Mary’s house for Sunday dinner the other week, quiet a regular occurrence. This is the salad I brought with me. It is light and fresh and full of flavour. I think the orange-tahini dressing adds to the wintry feel of this dish. This is the perfect way to eat your greens even during the winter months, so tuck in!
Kale Salad With Orange – Tahini Dressing
Four large leaves of curly kale
A handful of purple grapes
1/2 pomegranate – de-seeded
For the dressing:
2 tbsp of olive oil or cold pressed rapeseed oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1/2 orange
Zest of one orange
2 tbsp tahini – sesame paste
A pinch of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper – to season
Toasted seeds – as topping for extra crunch
Wash the kale thoroughly to remove any dirt on the leaves. Cut off the thick stems. Finely chop the kale once you have removed the stems. Cut it fairly fine to make it more digestible.
To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Taste and season accordingly with sea salt and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the chopped kale and mix it in well with your hands. The dressing will, as well as add flavour make the raw kale easier to digest and less chewy. Wash and halve the grapes. De-seed the pomegranate. The easiest way to do this it to halve it and then quarter it. Then proceed to peel the seeds out. If it is a particularly juicy one you can do it in a large bowl of water to prevent any splatter and little pink dots all over your favourite jumper… Add the grapes and pomegranate seeds to the dressed kale.
You can add some toasted seeds as topping for some extra crunch, just before serving. This salad will work well with white fish, as a side to a vegetarian meal with whole grains or as I did with a boiled egg and some smoked organic salmon, for a quick, easy lunch.
Your salad will stay fresh for up to three days if kept in an airtight container in the fridge.