Carrot Cake Oats | VEGANUARY

Happy Thursday, guys! If you’re still going strong with January’s vegan challenge – well done! I’m with you. This weeks recipe was inspired by my all-time favourite cake and it’s utterly delicious!

Jazz up your usual porridge oats with a little cinnamon, grated carrot, golden syrup, walnuts and juicy raisins and you’ve got yourself dessert for breakfast. Winning. It’s satisfying, healthy and can be adapted depending on what’s in your store cupboard. Sub the walnuts for cashews, or golden syrup for maple and you’ve got an equally delicious bowl of goodness. Give it a go!

Serves 1 | Cooking: 10 mins

  • 1 cup dairy-free milk (soya, almond or coconut work well)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • Pinch of sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 carrot
  • A handful of whole walnuts
  • A handful of soaked raisins
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • Dusting of desiccated coconut

Step one: Gently simmer the milk in a medium saucepan on a low heat for 2 minutes.

Step two: Add the oats and salt and stir often to avoid lumps forming. You’ll want to cook this for about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy.

Step three: Pour into a deep breakfast bowl. Grate the carrot in the centre, then add the broken walnut halves, raisins and cinnamon. Drizzle with golden syrup and sprinkle with coconut before serving. Enjoy!

 

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Ackee, Callaloo and Pumpkin | VEGANUARY

Can you believe it’s 2018?! It’s currently 6 pm on 6th Jan, and I’m wondering how we got here already. One good thing to come out of this month though, is Veganuary, and I’ve dedicated myself to it this time round. I’m not into resolutions these days, but I do love a good challenge. If you’re not familiar with Veganuary, it’s essentially an initiative to encourage people to eat and live more consciously for just 31 days – and with that comes a vegan diet. You can get support, recipe ideas, starter kits and regular news online, so that’s half the work done for you.

As you guys know, this blog usually documents vegetarian (and the occasional plant-based) recipes, so I’m excited to take full advantage of the opportunity to blog 100% vegan! I want to show you how easy it can be; not at all restrictive, expensive or time consuming. Also, I plan to share more savoury recipes because I actually bake less often than I cook! Taking only 15 minutes to rustle up, this ackee, callaloo and pumpkin dish reflects my Jamaican heritage with a little bit of a twist and is probably one of my favourite things to eat. Usually eaten with dumplings, rice or bread, I enjoy this best with seasoned bulgar wheat (a little bit healthier, amazing texture!). This is a great one for breakfast, lunch or dinner, plus ackee is high in fibre so your digestive system will thank you for it.

Serves 2-4 | Prep: 5 mins | Cooking: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 540g tin of Jamaican ackee (in salted water)
  • 280g tin of Jamaican callaloo (in salted water)
  • 150g ripe pumpkin
  • 6 small plum tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1 large spring onion
  • 1 small yellow sweet pepper
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • Half a veggie stock cube
  • 1 cup water
  • A thumb-sized piece of scotch bonnet pepper (or chilli flakes)
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder (hot or mild)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • Olive oil

Step one: Heat a large, deep saucepan with two tablespoon of olive oil. Chop the pumpkin into small chunks leaving the skin on. Sautée on a medium heat for five minutes until softed, adding the water little by little.

Step two: While the pumpkin cooks, prep your veggies. Finely chop the onions, tomatoes, peppers and garlic. Set aside.

Step three: Add the seasonings, crumbled stock cube, bay leaves and thyme to the pumpkin and mix well. There should be little water left by now. Add the raw veggies and simmer down for five minutes with a lid on. They will release natural juices and add a tone of flavour!

Step four: Taste test the sauce at this point for thickness, then add the ackee and callaloo. Combine gently as these are both very delicate, before simmering on a low heat for five minutes more. Turn off the heat. To serve, garnish with spring onions.

Vegan banana bread & cashew cream frosting

Another Sunday, another recipe! Lately, I’ve really been enjoying plant-based eating more so than my usual vegetarian diet, and so I’ve filtered this into this week’s bake. I absolutely adore banana bread, so I figured a vegan-friendly version would be a quick and easy go-to for anyone wanting to experiment with baking with substitues.

A note on the ingredients – I’ve left out the eggs and butter, instead opting for the classic ‘flaxseed egg’ and dairy-free butter which both work a treat. The cake itself is quite close textured and dense because of the wholemeal flour, and the addition of soft, chewy dates gives a subtle caramel sweetness. The finishing touch is the fluffy cashew cream frosting which is super simple to make and the perfect substitue for mascarpone, traditional butter icing or cream cheese.

Serves 8-10 | Prep: 15 mins | Cooking: 1 hour

For the cake batter: 

  • 100g (organic) self-raising flour
  • 100g (organic) wholemeal flour
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 200g dairy-free butter (Pure, Flora or Vital are good brands)
  • 2 over ripe bananas, mashed
  • 10 soft pitted dates, chopped
  • 2 grated carrots
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or rapeseed oil
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1/4 cup water

For the frosting:

  • 50g dairy-free butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 100g soaked cashew nuts
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk (soy, almond or oat)
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Step one: Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease and line a 20cm loaf tin. Set aside.

Step two: In a large mixing bowl, add the flours, baking powder, salt and spices and mix well. In a smaller bowl, add flaxseeds and water and leave for 5 minutes to thicken.

Step three: In a seperate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until creamy or use an electric mixer. Add the ‘flaxseed egg’, oil, grated carrot and chopped dates, then mix well.

Step four: Blend the bananas for 1 minute or mash well by hand. Add to the wet ingredient mixture.

Step five: Add the dry ingredients to the wet bit by bit, ensuring you continue to mix well for an even finish. You should have a thick consistency that coats the back of a spoon. Pour into your lined tine and bake for approx 1 hour. You can adjust the temperature if the cake browns too much on top. The knife test will check the centre is cooked through.

Step six: Blend the softened cashews and milk until a thick yet smooth texture is achieved. Set aside.

Step seven: In a bowl, cream the butter and icing sugar until whipped and smooth. Add the cashew mixture and set aside in the fridge to keep cool.

Step eight: Once the cake has cooled, finish with the frosting and grated lemon zest to serve. Et voila!

Love Lisbon: Solo travel guide

For the last few years Lisbon has been on my radar. I feel as though there was a period when everyone was heading there, and I kind of missed that bandwagon (thankfully). I figured a trip this summer was well overdue, so I booked a few days in early July. I can tell you with certainty that ever since returning, I’ve had major holiday blues. Let me explain…

If you’ve seen photos of the Portuguese capital, or even heard stories, then you’ll know just how pretty it is. Every inch is covered in intricate detail; colourful buildings laced in patterned tiles, sun-kissed balconies and cobbled streets that make a city hike up rolling hills oh so worth it. Typically, I found myself in an airbnb staying with with an artist in Principe Real (yes, holiday goals indeed). She was amazing, and so was her home. I won’t share detailed photos here, but when a host leaves you cheese, a bottle of red and fresh fruit as a welcome gift you know you’ve found a good’un.

Here’s a quick and honest rundown of some of the best places I visited, and where I recommend you go too.

Getting around

The simple answer is by foot. Not only will you see more of the city this way, but you’ll want to walk around just to get a feel for the place. There’s always something to take a photo of or a side street to meander down, but those legs WILL be tired come evening. On a few ocassions I got the bus up to LX Factory and Belém, which is kind of essential being a fair distance away. Also, a tram ride from Baixa-Chiado is a fun way to do some hop-on hop-off sightseeing around the inner city.

Shopping

Possibly half the reason I came here. Lisbon is so cheap compared to other european cities, and you will not be disappointed with it’s array of designer and vintage boutiques, speciality food shops, independent stores and high street chains. One of my favourites was Embaixada, the Portuguese concept department store in Principe Real. Outdoor creative island LX Factory is home to agencies and professionals, plus a trendy mix of food outlets, fine art, fashion designers, world-famous chocolate cake-makers Landeau, and the rather special bookstore Livraria Ler Devagar. Head to Baixa-Chiado for the main shopping district, that will eventually lead you down to Lisbon Square where you can quite literally dip your toes in the river Tagus.

Eating + drinking

If brunch is your jam, make your first morning stop at Copenhagen Coffee Lab. Founded in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2013, these guys are onto a winner and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Staff are well-versed, and the vibe is very east London coffee-house. All white interior, communal seating, fresh-baked goods (cinnamon rolls are insane), and a neo-soul playlist to rival my own. The breakfast deal here is a winner for around 6 euro, and the speciality coffee is good and strong. Similarly, The Mill is perfect for avo on toast, eggs your way, great service and an eclectic crowd – but it gets busy. Just opposite here is a tiny little juice bar called YAO Pressed Juicery and it’s WONDERFUL.

Lunch on the go is the perfect excuse to head to the Time Out Market – an old fishing market near Cais do Sodre. It’s a buzing food hall, with around 35 vendors plus a couple of bars and a gift store. The made-to-order pad thai at Asian Lab and traditional pastéis de nata at Manteigaria (sister to the Chiado branch) were worth the trip alone. If you fancy a quiter spot for food or cocktails, Lost In blends Bohemian decor and nature with uninterupted rooftop views.

If like me you eat a vegetarian or plant-based diet, Lisbon won’t fail you for dinner. There’s plenty of seafood and meat floating arond the city’s restaurant scene, but look hard enough and you’ll find some amazing vegetarian gems suitable for attending alone, too. Jardim dos Sentidos is in a beautiful garden setting where you can eat a full three-course meal for under 20 euro, and you’ll find the BEST stonebaked organic pizza at In Bocca al Lupo – a cosy and friendly joint along the most unassuming side street. On my second visit they knew my order!

And to relax?

I found myself lazing around Jardín del Príncipe Real in the evening warmth – a neighbourhood garden filled with beautiful flowers and a conservatory-style restaurant. You’ll find these gardens dotted around Lisbon districts. If you enjoy being by the river, when in Cais do Sodre take a walk along the seafront; there’s a nice buzz around there. Equally, when in Belém, a walk along the prominade of this slow-paced town is a nice way to wind down with great views of 25 de Abril Bridge. For sunrise and sunset views, head to the infamous Portas do Sol (The Gates of the Sun) for panoramic views over the rainbow-coloured houses of Alfama.

 

 

 

Vegan banana oat pancakes & spiced maple

 

Over-ripe bananas mean one of two things for me: banana bread or pancakes. The latter is one of my absolute favourite breakfast or brunch items, especially when made fluffy and thick with just enough chewiness. One of my go-to places for American pancakes is The Breakfast Club (faultless 99.9% of the time!) but they’re not the healthiest, admittedly. So in those moments when I fancy something similar, these homemade vegan-friendly pancakes are a winner and the perfect way to use up those extra sweet fruit.

For this recipe, the main flavours are bananas and oats, with a few spices and nuts thrown in making them more nutritious. Big win! While I can’t imagine anyone subbing maple syrup from this recipe, warm runny honey or agave syrup will work just as well drizzled at the end. Likewise, fresh blueberries and peaches, or a spoonful of coconut yoghurt elevate these even more. The most important meal of the day is about get tastier!

Serves 2-4. Makes 6-8 pancakes | Prep: 5 mins  Cooking: 12-16 mins

For the pancakes: 

  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk: soya, almond or oat work well
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or fresh vanilla bean paste
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp Linwoods flaxseed, almond, brazil nut and walnut mix (ground almonds will also work)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • Vegetable or sunflower oil

To serve:

  • Good quality maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice

Step one: In a blender, nutribullet or by hand, mix the chopped bananas, milk and vanilla until completely smooth in texture.

Step two: In a large dry bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, oats, nut mix, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the liquid banana puree and mix well. Set aside in the fridge for 10 minutes to activate the raising agent.

Step three: Heat up a non-stick pan with a little vegetable or sunflower oil. 3 tablespoons of mixture should be enough for each pancake. Cook for a minute on each side or until well coloured, adding more oil when needed.

Step four: Heat up the maple syrup in small saucepan (as much as desired) with the mixed spice until warm. Drizzle over the pancakes and serve.

Coconut, almond & honey granola

Autumnal Sundays… bliss! Like most people, the weekends are my excuse for a bit of a treat come breakfast time, and this nifty recipe gets things started on a high. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love a good granola. Whilst trying to stay mindful and start the day off on a positive note, I always reach for granola, yogurt, and fruit/seeds. It’s a satisfying combo and if you’re on the go, you can always take it with you. I’ll have those lazy days where a Pret granola or bircher pot is a damn good substitute, though, but there’s nothing better than making your own. I feel like granola has joined the health craze just like green smoothies, matcha tea and almond milk, but before this breakfast item became all the rave, I’d always experiment with ways make my own. There’s only pot involved and one oven tray, meaning minimal fuss and washing up. On an evening or weekend, you can whip a batch up in under 30 minutes and store the remainder in an airtight kilner jar for the next few days. Winner for those who like to meal prep!

You’d be surprised how many variations of this recipe you can make, from adding dried fruits and raw nuts, to things like nutmeg, flax seeds and even dark chocolate! I’ve gone for a classic combo here with dried coconut, flaked almonds and runny honey. I like a good chunky texture, which is the only main difference between this and a shop bought version as I find those way too crumbly, plus there’s a hint of vanilla extract which makes the whole thing smell incredible. Why not switch up your weekend routine and try this super quick granola? I best enjoy mine with chopped apple, cinnamon, and my favourite greek yogurt, but a natural or soya yogurt will work just as well.

Makes 1 large kilner jar | Method: 10 mins | Cooking: 20 mins

For the granola mix:

  • 100g softened unsalted butter
  • 250g rolled oats
  • 60g flaked almonds
  • 75g unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 25g raisins or sultanas
  • 25g demerara sugar
  • 3 tbsp runny honey
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or essence
  • Pinch of salt

To serve:

  • 1 small apple (preferred variety)
  • 1 small pot or three tbsp thick Greek yogurt (preferred variety)

Step one: Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees for 10 minutes while you prepare the granola mix.

Step two: Add the butter, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon to a large pot. Melt on a medium heat until evenly mixed.

Step three: Add the almonds, coconut and saltanas then slowly add the oats and finish with the salt. Mix until everything is well coated with the butter mixture.

Step four: You’ll want to turn off the heat at this stage and add the honey. Adding it at the end will stop it from melting too much and will allow the mixture to become sticky and pliable.

Step five: Whilst the mixture is still warm, take handfuls and begin to mould with your fingers. The idea is to take small chunks and scatter onto the baking tray. The bigger the chunks, the more texture you’ll have once baked.

Step six: Bake for 20 minutes in the centre of the oven. Once baked, cool for 10 minutes before eating and decanting into a jar. This will keep for 3 days.

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Stockholm travel diary: A city of food & culture

I couldn’t go abroad and not document my foodie adventures. Of course for this here blog, but also because I genuinely love food/lifestyle photography. It’s a great way to savour memories and it’s an instant conversation starter, too. There’s something more exciting about eating out on holiday that differs from here in London and the UK generally; the curiosity of not knowing what you’ll find and I suppose the freedom to chose whatever you want, whenever you want without any preconceptions. The choice to plan and dress up for a special dinner, or have an impromtu pit stop as you explore. It’s also things like the hospitality and service, the menu, social surrounding and the satisfaction (hopefully) of giving that new discovery a thumbs up afterwards.

Over the course of our four days in Stockholm, we actually tried quite a few different cuisines. From traditional Swedish/European breakfast food, to authentic Italian lunches and flavour-packed Indian dinners. Amongst all of that, we discovered bakeries, fruit and veg markets, quaint coffee and dessert cafes and some of the best pistachio ice-cream I’ve ever indulged in. I’d done my research before heading out, so there were a few places I just had to tick off my to-do list. Here’s a few of my favourite spots across the city that’ll take you from dusk til dawn.

Broms – Karlaplan

Chokladkoppen – Gamla Stan (Old Town)

Hötorget (Haymarket Square) – Norrmalm

Vapiano – Sturegatan, Östermalm

Fabrique – Drottninggatan

Sweet potato pancakes with honey Greek yoghurt

Ahh, pancakes. You can’t beat a perfectly thin crepe doused in lemon and sugar, or a stack of fluffy American style pancakes soaked in maple syrup. It’s one of those foods that bring instant joy before they’re even served. There’s even a guilt-free day dedicated to them, I mean what more of an excuse do we need? And it’s not just kids who get excited at the prospect of flipping pancakes and piling on as many toppings as possible – strawberries, chocolate sauce, caramel, whipped cream – they’ve all been done. In the UK we usually make thin crepes on days like Shrove Tuesday, but in my opinion you can’t beat good homemade American pancakes. They bring reminders of home and happy times. Maybe it’s the nostalgic element of childhood excitement, or the fun and competitiveness making pancakes usually brings to the kitchen that make them such a winner. But let’s be honest, they’re not the healthiest of things.

With all the ‘American diner’ inspired restaurants popping up all over the UK, and especially in my home city of London, it’s not hard to find foodie inspiration or be tempted to eat your way through all the wrong kinds of foods. These sweet potato pancakes are inspired by one of my favourite diners, but with a few adaptations not only to make them healthier, but also taste damn good. I use homemade sweet potato puree that I flavour with browned butter and honey. This alone is divine. I generally avoid dairy milk, so I use sweetened soya milk (almond milk will work too) in the batter and spice things up with cinnamon, vanilla extract and nutmeg. The result? Fluffy, subtly sweet and melt in the mouth pancakes for a sweet or savory meal. The thick honey Greek yoghurt adds a lightness to the dish perfect for a healthy breakfast, perhaps with fresh or stewed fruits, but substitute this for some guacamole (recipe coming soon) and poached eggs and it’s perfect Sunday brunch/lunch deliciousness.

Makes 4 large pancakes | Method: 20 mins | Cooking: 8 – 12 mins

For the sweet potato purée: 

  • 4 small sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp honey or agave syrup
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • A pinch of sea salt

Step one: Peel and chop the sweet potatoes, then boil for 10 minutes in salted water on a medium heat.

Step two: Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small non stick pan for 3 minutes. As the butter cooks it will become brown and nutty in smell and taste. Be careful not to have the heat too high as it will easily burn!

Step three: Once the potatoes are soft, drain and mash with a fork. And the browned butter and honey. Use a wooden spoon and mix well for 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. That’s it!

For the pancake batter:

  • 260g self raising flour
  • 1 cup soya milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract or fresh vanilla bean paste
  • Sweet potato purée (above)
  • 4 tbsp flavourless oil for frying (sunflower or vegetable)
  • 1 tbsp honey or agave syrup
  • 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt

Step one: Heat up a small non stick pan with 1 tbsp of oil. In a heavy bowl or mixer, combine all the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and spices – for a minute until well mixed. Make a well in the centre.

Step two: Add both eggs and the milk. Mix well to form a semi-thin batter.

Step three: Add the purée and mix well until a smooth thick batter is formed.

Step four: Take enough batter to make a large sized pancake and fry one at a time for 2-3 minutes, turning mid-way. Add more oil as you cook the rest.

Step five: To serve, swirl the honey into some Greek yoghurt and pile on top of your pancakes. It’s almost too good to eat.