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Raw Caramel Slice, and an announcement

My new book is out – the first ever high protein vegan cookbook, titled ‘High Protein Vegan: Hearty Whole Food Meals, Raw Desserts and More’.  It’s available now from the places listed on this page and I’d like to share one of my favourite recipes from it.

To give you an idea of what it looks like in the book:

Raw Caramel Slice

Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nightshade-Free, Onion- and Garlic-Free, Under 45 minutes
Kitchen time 10-15 minutes, Setting time: 30-60 minutes

A raw vegan version of an old favourite with a chewy caramel filling and thin chocolate topping, this slice is delicious and tastes a little bit like caramel nougat chocolate bars, only better.  It can be made as a slice in a square pan, or as a torte in a round springform tin.  For best results use almonds for the base, although walnuts or pecans will also make a great slice.

I recommend using refined coconut oil for this recipe.


Ingredients

For the base:
1 1/2 cups almonds, walnuts or pecans
a pinch of salt
4 medjool dates, pitted
1/3 cup coconut oil, liquid

For the caramel filling:
18 medjool dates, pitted
2-3 pinches of salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, liquid
1/4 cup nut butter (hazelnut, almond, cashew or brazil nut)

For the chocolate topping:
1/4 cup coconut oil, liquid
a pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons raw agave syrup
1/2 cup cacao or cocoa powder

Method

To make the base, process the almonds and salt in a food processor until crumbly, but not too fine (some will resemble almond meal, and some will be more like the nut pieces that go into pesto).  Add the dates and process until no large pieces remain.  Process through the coconut oil until evenly mixed in.  Press the mixture into a greased or lined 20cm (8”) square or round baking tray.

To make the caramel layer, process the dates and salt in a food processor until it is finely ground and forms a ball.  Add the coconut oil and nut butter and continue to process until thoroughly mixed through (you may need to stop the processor and break up the ball with a fork a couple of times).  Press this mixture into an even layer on top of the base.

Prepare the chocolate topping by combining the coconut oil, salt and agave in a bowl.  Stir through the cacao and mix until evenly combined, adding more agave if you like.  Spread this on top of the caramel layer (you may need to use your hands to spread it) and allow to set at room temperature for at least half an hour before slicing, or until the chocolate topping has set.

What to expect from ‘High Protein Vegan’:

•Innovative ways to serve legumes and vegetables
•Better photos: since writing my first book I’ve learned more about working with natural light and put extra effort into composition and styling, along with upgrading my lens.  All the photos in this book are taken with natural lighting.
•Vegan sausages!  Bratwurst, Kransky, Frankfurter and more…
•Soy-free tofu, and recipes to use it in
•Raw desserts and raw meals, all without a dehydrator
•All the answers you’ll need for when people ask “where do you get your protein?”
•Recipes to impress anyone, for a variety of occasions

Similar to ‘Triumph of the Lentil’, this book also has:
•Minimal premade products – recipes totally from scratch including laksa and Thai green curry – make meals easily from fresh ingredients, with a taste that is superior to using shop-bought pastes.
•Soy-free options for all recipes.  While the book itself is not soy-free in that it doesn’t specify to use soy-free miso or soy-free vegan milks, the soy allergy of my main taste-tester means that all the recipes have been made using soy-free ingredients.
•Mostly gluten-free recipes
•Cook-friendly, frustration-free layout – I like to cook from cookbooks and designed this one with how I want a cookbook to be – easily readable recipes from a distance, with the ingredients and instructions on the same page.
•Colour photos with nearly every recipe
•Whole foods – no refined grains, margarines or ‘fake’ things in sight.
•Index by ingredient – make use of seasonal vegetables and whatever cooked legumes you have on hand
•Recipes suitable for small households – many recipes make 2 servings, while all other recipes make more servings that reheat well or can be stored uncooked in the fridge for cooking up later.
•Lots of everyday recipes – these were all tested with two young children to look after and mostly with ingredients that I can find locally though the whole year.  I don’t have the time to spend hours in the kitchen for every meal and have timed every recipe to show just how little hands-on kitchen time some of them take.
•Real meal recipes – This is the stuff I cook at home – not a bunch of appetisers, fancy breakfasts and complicated side dishes but mostly hearty recipes that are either meals on their own, or completed with a very simple side dish.

For more information about the book, see http://highproteinvegan.wordpress.com/

This post has been shared with Allergy-Free Wednesday, Wheat-Free Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesday, Pennywise Platter, Wellness Weekend, Raw Foods Thursdays and Healthy Vegan Fridays

Preparing for a Vegan Bake Sale, and a Recipe for Vanilla and Almond Crescents

This week there are bake sales happening all around the world as part of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale. My local vegan group didn’t have as many people baking as last year and it got me thinking about a stress-free way to make lots of delicious things.

It’s helpful to figure out what keeps for the longest, what can be made at the last minute, what is best made the day beforehand and work out a rough schedule from there.

•Cakes, muffins and cupcakes are best made the day before the sale, it gives them time to cool down, but not so much time that they will lose freshness.

•Many biscuits can be made a few days in advance. The best candidates for these are ones that use plenty of oil and a minimum of water. The Vanilla and Almond Crescents that I created for a baking book (to hopefully be published in 2013 or 2014) are great for this, the recipe is in this post.

•Raw truffles will keep for a while in the fridge, and can also be a good thing to make at the last minute as I did the morning of the bake sale by making a half batch of raw brownies from My New Roots and rolling them in cacao to serve as truffles.

•Dry ingredients can be mixed together hours, days or weeks before baking.  This is especially helpful if you’re baking a lot of cakes in one day.

More observations from vegan bake sales:

•There can never be enough chocolate. I found this out at my first stall that with a selection including some of Gunter’s delicious recipes, the chocolate caramel and almond torte pictured above (from Triumph of the Lentil), plain chocolate cake, carrot cake and date cake that the most popular cakes were the ones with chocolate.

•Vegan-friendly cafés and businesses are often happy to donate cakes or ingredients.

•Having ingredients lists on hand for everything is a good idea for people with allergies, and is asked for here when council permits are required.

•Covers for the food are often expected by the council as a condition of the permit. Transparent ones are the best and plastic wrap can serve this purpose if there is nothing else around.

•It’s easy enough to get a bake sale organised, even with a minimum of people. It’s a good fundraiser and an excellent way to expose people to vegan food. Not all places require council permits, and if they are difficult to deal with then it’s easy to get around that by giving food away for free with a donation box at the stall.

And for the vanilla and almond crescent recipe…

These are an incredibly delicious biscuit with just the right amount of sweetness and lots of rich flavours from the almonds and vanilla.  My choice of coconut oil for this (and most of my cooking) is the more refined kind, which is refined by filtering it through clay to remove the coconut taste and smell, this gives a ‘buttery’ flavour and texture to the baked good with all the goodness of coconut oil, but without being overwhelmed by coconut flavours.

Soy-Free, Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free Option, under 45 minutes

Kitchen time 15 minutes, baking time 12-15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds, ground
3/4 cup unrefined sugar
2  1/3 cups barley flour (or wholemeal spelt, wholewheat pastry or gluten free)
a pinch of salt
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted (or a mixture of melted coconut oil and olive oil)
1/4 cup water
2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract

optional powdered vegan sugar, for coating

Method:

Preheat the oven to 175c (350f).  Line or grease two baking sheets.

For best results, grind the almonds and sugar together in a food processor.  In a mixing bowl, combine the almonds, sugar, flour and salt.  Stir through the coconut oil, water and vanilla extract to form a thick dough.

Take tablespoons of the dough and shape into logs that have thinner ends and a thicker centre.  Curl into crescent moon shapes and place on the baking trays.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned.  Sprinkle with powdered vegan sugar if you want.

I suspect these will keep in a sealed container for longer than a week, although they never last that long in our house.

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On a side note, I’ve created a special Facebook page for this blog.  Click ‘like’ on this page if you’d like to be updated on new blog posts, recipes and more.

Raw Brownies

The raw brownie recipe is not one of my own, but can be found here.

Rawgust

‘Rawgust’ is an idea promoted by The Raw Food Institute.  It involves taking a pledge to go 100% raw for the entire month of August.

I’ve never been 100% raw and like cooked food way too much to consider it so I haven’t signed this pledge, but eating a lot of raw food is great for our health even if we don’t try to have any specific amount of raw food in our diet, so I try to find ways to add more raw food to our lives during the winter.

Raw snacks, like these mostly raw healthy chocolate truffles from Triumph of the Lentil: Soy-Free Vegan Wholefoods for all Appetites are a tasty way to eat more raw food.

Healthy Chocolate Truffles, from Triumph of the Lentil: Soy-Free Vegan Wholefoods for all Appetites

There are heaps of raw dessert recipes available online.  A lot of chocolate ones are based around a combination of dates, nuts and raw cacao.  You don’t really need a recipe to make stuff like this, you can just throw things into a food processor and adjust it to taste, but a good way to start is with 1 1/2 cups of walnuts (or other nut), 1/3 cup of raw cacao and 1 cup of dates (around 12 medjool ones).  Process the walnuts until very fine, then mix in the cacao.  Pit the dates, then add them to the nuts and cacao and process until evenly mixed.  You can roll this into balls, shape it into bars or a cake, or just eat it in spoonfuls out of the food processor.  Something I like a lot about raw desserts like this one is that they are often ready right away, so can replace shop-bought muesli bars in a healthier way.

Here are some links to delicious looking raw recipes:

The Raw Brownie

Raw Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes with Avocado Frosting

VegWeb Raw Desserts and Treats

There are plenty more around online if you look for them.  Some require hard-to-find ingredients and dehydrators, but a lot of them are really quick and easy to make.  Triumph of the Lentil: Soy-Free Vegan Wholefoods for all Appetites has easy recipes for a raw black forest slice, and a raw apricot slice, along with the healthy chocolate truffles in the above picture, which use barley malt syrup or maple syrup as a sweetener, but are otherwise raw.

What are your favourite raw recipes?

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