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.

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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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In the kitchen: Five essential reads

For some people, cookbooks can seem like a little bit of a hassle. You buy them with good intention and then you look at the lists of ingredients and hours of preparation time required, and things go downhill from there. Instead, they sit gathering dust on the shelf and those wonderful recipes you envisioned never get made (except that one time… remember?). My mum springs to mind here, because growing up she always had a treasure chest full of books and magazines that lay dormant for “next weekend”. She is a brilliant cook might I add, so I guess she had no immediate need for those books but she would whip them out now and again have a quick read then they would go back to their nest, untouched. I’d read them in my spare time and I think visually, I started to appreciate food and food photography from there.

Fast forward 15+ years and I’ll spend hours rummaging through book shops, charity shops and online looking for inspiration from my favourite chefs and influencers. Things have taken a huge shift since the 90s and earlier 00s in terms of what’s available out there on the market. Authors know people want speedy, fresh, flavourful food that can adapt to working family lifestyles and those on both a budget and timescale. More bloggers and influencers are creating recipes for their online following. More of us are opting for alternative diets; plant-based, vegetarianism, gluten-free, dairy-free. Recipe books are offering up recipes as diverse as those who buy into them and I personally am so excited by this.

So, I’ve taken my time and sifted through my collection and here’s five of the best. I champion the vegetarian diet, so there’s a mix of books aimed to keep our health and wellbeing in balance. I hope you’re inspired to go out and try some of these!

Amanda Brocket | The Raw Food Kitchen

My latest addition to the bookshelf is The Raw Food Kitchen which I picked up in one of my favourite homeware stores, Oliver Bonas. Amanda’s philosophy on food and health is really refreshing and she aims to make raw diets accessible and appealing. She manages to break down the meaning of eating ‘raw’ beyond fruits and vegetables and talks about the benefits to the body, changes you’ll expect, ingredient lists and shares personal stories about her struggle with Candida and gut health. I can relate to this so I have enjoyed learning as I’ve flicked through the many beautifully photographed pages.

She also goes into lengthy detail about variations on everyday foods we enjoy (as not to alienate readers) as well as adding a nifty little meal planner before delving into recipes. If you’re on a new raw food journey and need some realistic inspiration, give this a try. Expect colourful salads, juices, snacks, stir-frys, ice-cream, breakfast foods and more.

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Plenty More | Ottolenghi

Plenty More is the book I return to most often. It’s just one of a series of cookbooks by Yotam Ottolenghi and offers superb recipes and photography that focus on the humble vegetable with strong Mediterranean influence. In his introduction (so well written), he explains his journey to appreciating the vegetarian diet and his influences. Dishes are vibrant, daring and visually inviting, yet with minimal fuss. I think the pictures really speak for themselves! What’s nice is that every recipe introduction is a personal account referencing friends, colleagues and family.

If you get the chance, visit one of his restaurants and deli’s across London. Nopi is next on my hit list!

LEON – Ingredients & Recipes

An oldie but goodie. Londoners know the well-know chain that is LEON – offering naturally fast food and getting us through the hectic working week, but where did it all begin? This book focuses on the founders; Henry, John and Allegra who opened up the first branch in Carnaby Street mid 2004. This book is split into two halves essentially: the first touches on the A-Z of ingredients (this book includes meat and dairy) and the second is the recipe book. So for anyone wanting a thorough lesson in seasonality, sourcing, understanding ingredients, eating habits and local produce then this book will get you an A* grade.

As well as the retro visuals, smooth matte pages and colourful content, LEON does a wonderful job of sharing recipes from the LEON family and is not short on ideas or creative content. From hearty soups and stews, to superfood salads and puddings all in line with the LEON philosophy, there are recipes to see you through the seasons. Wholly worth the read.

Neal’s Yard Remedies – Healing Foods

I have a lot of love for this book. It is simply a fantastic curation of ingredients, recipes and knowledge on the power of foods to heal the body of ailments. It talks about dietary patterns, the western diet, seasonality and healthy supplements before going into an A-Z of ingredients and properties. Now, I thought I knew about food but this will educate even the most seasoned traveller and foodie out there!

Expect recipes from breakfast to dinner, snacks, condiments and a pretty clever recipe chooser which offers up a list of recipes from the book for specific problems like heart health or detoxing. All in all, a handy book that leaves no stone unturned. You’ll definitely reevaluate your next weekly shop!

Natasha Corrett | Honestly Healthy Cleanse

Alkaline, alkaline, alkaline. It’s the motto of this neat and tidy book from Natasha Corrett. It’s split into four sections: feel good, slim down, high energy and life changing – all designed to cleanse the body over a set amount of days – menu planner included. Natasha gently guides you though the rules of the cleanse, why our bodies should be more alkaline than acidic and answers common questions too. A quick ingredient list sets you up for the next few pages of simple, honest food that looks (and tastes) fab. I enjoy making recipes from this book and it’s one I pick up when I want a quick one week detox.

Zesty orange & almond cake with coconut frosting

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When I’m reading articles, magazines and watching cooking videos for inspiration and new techniques, I often come across this classic bake and I’ve been wanting to try it out for a while. The thing is, I’m not keen on orange within cooking so I was always put off making this myself – that was until I tried it at one of my favourite Lebanese restaurants in London – Comptoir Libanais. I was pleasantly surprised at how subtle the orange flavour actually was, so here is my variation on the delicious wheat and gluten free cake.

The thing I love about this cake is how simple it is to make and the moist, dense texture the ground almonds give once baked. If you want a healthy alternative to traditional sponge bases, then definitely give this zesty cake a try! The addition of coconut in the frosting takes the flavour to a new level, complimenting the fruity orange and nutty almonds.

I’m trying out a new 24mm lens here, so do let me know if you like the photo quality a little more!

Serves 8 | Prep: 15mins  Cooking: 40mins

For the cake:

• 200g demerera sugar
• 200g unsalted butter
• 150g ground almonds
• 150g fine polenta
• 3 eggs
• 1/2 baking powder
• Zest and juice of one whole orange

For the syrup:

• Juice from half an orange
• 1 tsp demerera sugar
• 2 tsp good quality runny honey
• 1/4 cup cold water
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting:

• 180g tub soft cream cheese
• 1 tsp creamed coconut
• 1 tsp good quality runny honey
• 2 tbsp unsweetened desicated coconut

Step one: Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees. Line and greese a 20cm round tin and set aside.

Step two: In a mixer, blend the sugar and butter for 5 minutes until creamy. Add the eggs one by one.

Step three: Add the polenta, ground almonds and baking soda and whisk until well combined. Grate the orange zest in and add the juice before giving a final mix by hand.

Step four: Pour the mix evenly into the tin and bake for 40 minutes until golden brown and firm to touch.

Step five: In a small saucepan heat the water, orange juice, sugar and honey on a medium heat until reduced and coats the back of a spoon. This should take 3-4 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and set aside until the cake is cooked.

Step six: Whilst the cake is still hot, prick several times with a fork then pour the syrup over the cake and leave to cool.

Step seven: In a small bowl, mix all of the frosting ingredients together until smooth.

Step eight: Smooth the frosting evenly over the cake with a knife and sprinkle with orange zest. Cut into slices and serve cold.

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Blueberry, lemon & coconut loaf cake

I’ll admit. I have holiday blues, big time. I’ve had a few weeks off from blogging and life in general with an amazing couple of weeks spent in Jamaica with the family. New Years saw me return to my home town of Birmingham to spend it in good tradition with my best girlfriends (which involved a lot of excited conversations, good food, relentless dancing and minimal sleep) and finally, quality time with my extended family. It was a much anticipated and relaxed Christmas and New Years for me, but now my working life in London is back in full swing. And so is Not Without Cake. I have missed my kitchen!

While I was away enjoying home comforts, I did the age old thing of trying to set myself some realistic resolutions for 2015, many of which were around the whole staying organised, using my (very sophisticated) diary type of thing and continuing to travel the globe. I also said I wanted to get over my dislike of certain foods. I’m all for trying new things in a bid to stay healthy and cultured, but there some things I’ve never enjoyed. This recipe involves blueberries; one of the dreaded fruits I disliked. I researched a few recipes for a light blueberry based cake because I wanted to try something for the blog and with a few adaptations, I made this loaf cake. I have to say, I have done a 360 degree turn around and will definitely make this again.

With the lightest of textures, it’s jam packed with fresh blueberries, coconut and lemon zest which is a dreamy combo. I also added soya yogurt for extra lightness to cut the rich fruitiness and it produced the most wonderful bake. If you don’t like blueberries on their own, try this recipe and you might just be converted too.

Serves 8 | Prep: 10 minutes | Cooking: 40 minutes

For the cake:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 150g softened butter
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 200g fresh blueberries
  • 50g sweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 whole lemon
  • 1 cup soya yogurt or plain Greek yogurt

Step one:  Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Greese and line a 20 cm loaf tin with baking paper.

Step two: In a mixer or bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until combined. Melt the butter for 60 seconds in the microwave or on the hob until there are no lumps. Add this to the eggs and sugar.

Step three: Gradually add the flour and baking powder to the batter until completely smooth.

Step four: Add the washed blueberries whole, along with the coconut and zest of one lemon. The juice is optional but I omit the juice because the yogurt will cut the sweetness.

Step five: Lastly, spoon in the yogurt and combine evenly, without crushing the blueberries. The batter should be smooth and thick enough to cover the back of the spoon.

Step six: Bake for approx 40 minutes or until the top is browned and a knife runs clean from the cake. Leave to cool for 15-20 minutes before eating.

Soft baked dark chocolate & pistachio cookies

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Pistachio nuts have grown on me over the years and are now a firm favourite with me. I think they’re an acquired taste – the same goes for dark chocolate. You’ll grow to love them more you’re exposed to them. I never used to like their flavours but now, well I’ve come to realise how good they are. Salted pistachios? Yes. Pistachio ice cream? YES. Bittersweet chocolate? Well, yes I’ll have that too. It was during my Summer in Berlin that I began to understand and appreciate quality chocolate. They’re both pricey but worth it, especially when it comes to cooking with them. Together they are the most amazing combination, and these guilt-free soft baked cookies do them justice.

Soft baked dark chocolate & pistachio cookies

You’ll want to use 60% or 70% (cocoa solids) dark chocolate for intensity, but the recipe can be adapted if you prefer a lower grade. It’s a simple recipe with only a handful of ingredients, but the key to this is probably the short length of time you cook them for – just 8 minutes – so I’d suggest not leaving the kitchen to save distractions!

Oh, and eat them warm out of the oven. But I warn you, one won’t be enough…

Makes 6 large/12 small cookies | Method: 5 mins | Cooking: 8 mins

For the cookie mix:

  • 180g plain flour
  • 60g rolled oats
  • 120g light brown soft sugar
  • 100g butter or sunflower spread, softened
  • 100g 60% or 70% dark chocolate
  • 100g shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Step one: Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Step two: In a heavy bowl or mixer, cream the butter, sugar and egg until well mixed. Add the salt, flour and oats.

Step three: Roughly chop the chocolate into semi-large chunks and also the pistachio nuts. Mix into the cookie dough until dispersed.

Step four: With your hands, take a golf ball sized amount of dough, and gently press down onto the tray. You should fit six perfectly on the tray, well spaced apart (they’ll spread when cooking and if making 12 then use two trays).

Step five: Bake for 8 minutes, then let cool for a few minutes on a wire rack. They should be firm on the outside, but soft melting goodness inside.

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