Purple Sweet Potato Falafels

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Having read about their health benefits in connection with the Okinawa diet, purple sweet potatoes have been the object of my curiosity for many months now (for more on this scroll to the very bottom). Once I finally got my hands on these elusive tubers I knew I wanted to make something special. Inspired by the sweet potato falafels from the MaE deli and a sweet potato falafel wrap from Crussh, I set out to create my own, and thus, these purple patties of pure perfection (or so I claim) were born.

These sweet, starchy gems are so satisfying with their soft mushy texture and the lovely flavors of the coriander, garlic and hint of chili coming through. And – as all my recipes 😉 – they’re quick to make (especially if you cook the sweet potato beforehand). Perfect for when you want to try something a bit different, without spending ages at the stove.

So let’s get right to it!

Ingredients:

  • 200 g cooked purple sweet potato
  • 200-230 g chickpeas (drained, rinsed)*; my carton was 380g before draining
  • ca. 2 heaped tbsp flour (I used wholemeal spelt)/ as much as you need to bind mix
  • salt
  • chili powder
  • half a 30g bunch of fresh coriander, chopped (the rest you can sprinkle on top)
  • drizzle of garlic-infused oil**
  • coconut oil, for cooking

* I take the skin off the chickpeas as they’re easier to digest that way, but feel free to skip this step if that’s not something you’re concerned about. (Although, I have to say, there’s something strangely satisfying about popping out the chickpeas!)

**If you don’t have this you should be able to just use regular olive oil and some fresh, crushed garlic. I use it as an alternative because I sadly don’t tolerate garlic (or onion) very well, and infused oils seem to be less problematic, the critical components not being soluble in oil. (See here for more information if this affects you too.)

Method:

Mash the chickpeas in a large flat bowl with a fork (or use a food processor, but don’t over-process; they should still be crumbly and a bit chunky), add the sweet potato and mash as well (or again, if you’re looking for less manual labor just purée – I was lazy and wanted to avoid cleaning another piece of equipment, but it didn’t take very long at all). Add in your flour and season with salt and chili, before adding the chopped coriander and a drizzle of garlic-infused oil into the gloriously purple mess. Mix together with your hands (yes, they will get purple!)

Now, the fun part: roll the mix into evenly-sized balls. I made 11, but this will obviously depend on the size you prefer. I also flattened mine a bit at the end, as I didn’t want them perfectly round. Next, simply heat some coconut oil in a pan and cook the falafels on both sides for a few minutes. It’s basically just about warming them up and getting a bit of a crisp on the outside.

 

Serving suggestion:

While the falafels are sizzling away in a pan, cook some buckwheat noodles (the ones I use by King Soba only take 5 minutes) in salt water. A minute or two before they are done, add in some courgetti or other quick-cooking veg. Drain and serve with your lovely purple falafels. Drizzle with a nice oil, or create a quick little sauce by combining tahini, honey or maple syrup, lemon juice and water. (I used this lovely black tahini, by Sun and Seed, as it contrasts so nicely with the purple!). Finally, sprinkle with white sesame seeds and more coriander to finish off the dish.

Hope you enjoy!

xoxo

 

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Feel Good Fact: Like their orange cousins, the purple sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber and vitamins. Additionally they contain anti-inflammatory anthocyanins (notably also present in blueberries 😉 ), which are linked to heart health and improved eyesight, to pick out some of their benefits.

Interesting Fact: Purple sweet potatoes made up a large part of the traditional diet of the Okinawa Japanese, whose life expectancy was among the highest in the world, with a lower occurrence of heart disease and certain types of cancer (e.g. breast cancer and prostate cancer). For more on the traditional Okinawa diet check out this short, informative video.

 

Goody Bag Gems – Part 1

If you’ve had a look at the What I’m Up To section of my blog, you’ve seen that I love attending events centered around plant-based eating and/or fitness. And more often than not I leave them with not just great new memories, but also a little paper bag of exciting goodies. These goody bags are definitely always a nice little cherry on top. (Who doesn’t enjoy, at least momentarily, feeling like a carefree kid at a birthday party again?).

For the companies providing the contents of these bags it’s obviously a great advertising strategy. This way they are ensuring that their products are falling directly into the welcoming hands of the very people most likely to buy them again (as I have) and spread the word about them (as I am about to do here 😉 ).* For me it’s definitely been a fun way to discover and try out products that I probably wouldn’t otherwise have bought. The ones that I’ve been most impressed with I’d like to share with you here.

The goodies in this first part are all from a Christmas Yoga Supper Club that my friend Lauren invited me along to. Besides being a truly lovely event it probably had the most memorable goody bag, as I discovered the following great products:

 

Birch Water – Sibberi

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[Image from: http://www.sibberi.com]

Thoughts: I’ll be honest, when I first saw this I was more than a bit skeptical. Birch tree water? I’d never heard of it and was unsure why I should be drinking it. Probably just another expensive but overrated product out there clamoring for the attention of health-conscious consumers, or so I thought. While I was right about the first point (at £2 per 250 ml bottle it costs the same as a liter of Rude Health almond milk), I have to say I was genuinely and positively taken aback by this drink. The best way I can think to describe it is that it was like drinking the purest, clearest, cleanest most refreshing water you could imagine – with a slight hint of sweetness. If only regular water tasted this amazing!

While this definitely doesn’t go into my basket every supermarket trip, I like to treat myself to a bottle every now and again.

Ingredients: 100% birch tree sap.

Note: Also check out the sister products, Maple and Bamboo Water.

Tip: Try this at room temperature. The second time, I had it straight from the fridge and I felt like some of the flavor was lost. (Just a personal preference.)

 

Sweet Potato & Cacao bar – Rude Health

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[Image from: http://www.rudehealth.com]

Thoughts: How can one not be intrigued by a bar containing sweet potato and cacao??  I’ve tried many different brands of such fruit and nut based energy bars and this one is the only one I know of with this genius combo. Now, you wouldn’t know there’s sweet potato in there, if that’s what you’re wondering, but the addition of this tasty tuber creates a really moreish texture and also intensifies the cacao flavor, making the whole experience truly satisfying. Definitely getting these again!

Ingredients: dates, cashews, sunflower seeds, sweet potato (8%), cacao powder (7%), cacao butter (6%), vanilla.

Note: There is also a pumpkin version – not with pumpkin purée, as I originally thought, but with pumpkin seeds and apple and ginger – which is also highly recommended!

Tip: If you’re craving this combo but can’t get your hands on these bars, check out these sweet potato brownie recipes from Deliciously Ella (original – really delicious, but maybe not quite chocolatey enough, which is why there is now a “new and improved” version).

 

Wyldsson Promix

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[Image from http://www.wyldsson.com]

Thoughts: These little test tubes of goodness are an awesome way to treat yourself if you’re looking for something fun to eat on the go or sprinkle over your food for decoration. They’re little portions of trail mix intended for healthy snacking, but to be honest I mostly just use them for my smoothie bowls, as I find they add a really nice touch (not just aesthetically but also to the taste and texture). I had the Strawberry & Raspberry one in a goody bag and liked it so much that I ordered the sample tube package of 10, which comes with other exciting flavors like Organic Mulberry, Californian Pomegranate, Cherry & Dark Chocolate and even a savory one: Chilly Picante. I was also super happy with the service – the tubes arrived promptly and came with a short personalized message on the box and a free tube of the new Strawberries & Belgian Chocolate mix.

Ingredients (Strawberry & Raspberry mix): Argentinian peanuts, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, Californian almonds, Greek Zante currants, pumpkin seeds, strawberries (6.6%), raspberries (2.2%).

Tip: sprinkle these over your morning smoothies, porridge or add to your cereal for extra crunch, nutrition and color 😉

 

Chia Vanilla Protein Bar – Body Me

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[Image from: http://www.bodyme.co.uk – seems they’ve changed the packaging]

Thoughts: I love a chunky, generous protein bar with good ingredients and good flavor – and this one ticks all the boxes! I was seriously impressed, as not only was it absolutely delicious, but it also has the highest protein content I’ve yet had in a vegan protein bar: 16g. Not much else to say here except big thumbs up!

Ingredients: [all organic] plant protein blend (pea protein, sprouted brown rice protein, hemp seed protein), cashews, dates, coconut nectar, chia seeds, cacao, coconut oil, vanilla extract, water, sea salt, and – apparently – “a lot of love”! definitely felt it 😉

Tip: check out the other flavors too – cacao mint and cacao orange – as well as the vegan protein blends.

 

Stay tuned for more recommendations!

xoxo

 

* It’s almost too embarrassing to add the disclaimer that I haven’t been endorsed by any of these companies, as I should think it’s obvious 😀 but let me just clarify all the same: I have no personal interests tied up with these brands or products and I am recommending them purely because I enjoyed them and think they are worth sharing with people who may not be aware of them.

Turmeric & Ginger spiced Quinoa

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This is one of my absolute staple dishes that I make all the time. It’s so incredibly simple, yet I thought I’d share it since I just made some and it honestly makes me feel great every time I eat it. It takes literally 2 minutes to prepare, 10 to cook and all you’re left with is one pan to clean – almost faster than shoving a pizza in the oven 😉  It’s a very useful little dish to have on your radar for when you’re feeling lazy, uninspired or simply have no time but still want a warm and nourishing meal. I like making a big pot of this and taking some to uni throughout the week, having it as it is or adding whatever else might be in my fridge that needs eating. It would also make a great side dish as part of a larger spread for guests (I’m thinking with some falafel, hummus, salad and roasted aubergine for summer, or a warming chickpea stew in winter…mmm), and you can easily snazz it up by adding some pomegranate seeds, for example, like in the picture below.

Serves 2:

Ingredients

  • 200g quinoa, uncooked
  • ca 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ca 1/2 tsp ground ginger (or even better: grate some fresh ginger)
  • veg of choice (I’ll usually go for some combination of carrots, peas, bok choy, broccoli and flower sprouts)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Add the quinoa to a pan and cover with water (sorry for not being more helpful about the quantity here – I just eyeball it. But if you add too little you can always add more while it’s cooking and if you add too much you can drain it after, so you can’t really go wrong! You’ll get it juuust right 😉 ). Add salt and pepper and the spices (feel free to add whatever else your heart desires, like some chili, or coriander is also lovely in this) and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the quinoa is soft and fluffy and no longer has that grainy center. Depending on the veg you choose you’ll be adding it in the beginning (the carrots for example), or in the last few minutes (the peas, bok choy or flower sprouts). Once everything is cooked, stir in the coconut oil – this is so important as it makes the quinoa wonderfully silky and it really brings out the flavor. It also increases your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients from the lovely veggies.

Hope you enjoy!

xoxo

 

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Feel Good Fact #1: Both turmeric and ginger contain powerful anti-inflammatory compounds and are said to have anti-cancer properties.

Feel Good Fact #2: Quinoa is a great source of plant protein – 100g uncooked (as is the serving size here) containing around 13g – and dietary fiber. Both should help keep you full and provide you with slow releasing energy.

A Healthy Af-Fare

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Last Saturday morning I found myself cold, wet and hungry, standing in the rain in Brick Lane. Pretty gloomy? Oh no – I was queueing to get into the Old Truman Brewery for the first day of Fare Healthy (a “feel good festival of food, exercise and wellbeing”) and inwardly glowing, feeling super excited to be let loose in a fabulous foodie playground and, not least, at the prospect of a good breakfast!

Fare Healthy is an amazing gathering of brands, fans and inspiring people from the areas of health and wellbeing, all somehow involved or interested in what and how we EAT, MOVE and THINK. (Personally, my thinking was mainly geared towards the eating, as was my movement – going from one amazing looking food stand to the next!).

My first stop, after meeting up with my lovely friend and fellow foodie Catrina and getting some skin care samples from Kiehl’s, was: breakfast! I had an amazing coconut banana waffle from Spring Green London (I shamelessly helped myself to all the toppings: coconut yoghurt, blueberries, wild blueberry jam, goji berries, cacao nibs and bee pollen). To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of all things coconutty, but I absolutely loved this waffle and it was the best way to fuel myself for, well, a lot more eating. Because that’s basically what the rest of the day consisted of 😉

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Let me just briefly take you through some further personal highlights from the event:

  • the Pip&Nut energy ball workshop: Everyone received a little bag with some base ingredients, got to process them and choose a station with the desired add-ins. Catrina and I went for the cacao peanut butter version and ended up with insanely delicious spheres of nutty goodness! [If you’re interested in the recipe: 60g raw almonds processed together with 120g dates and 40g dried cherries, mixed with 1 tbsp peanut butter and 1/2 tbsp cacao powder.] Luckily our friend Leila arrived just in time to help us shape the mixture into balls, roll them in various toppings, and, of course, test them 😉 IMG_3997.jpgIMG_4006 (1).jpg

 

  • Food Stories: Ella Mills interviewed by Martin Morales – Yes, I’ve been to many Deliciously Ella events already, and, as I sat there waiting for the talk to begin, I did start to question my booking. [Having felt so entirely out of the whole “scene” back in Switzerland has, I guess, made me instinctively book anything and everything involving the people and brands I was following from afar]. Would I just be hearing the same things I’d heard from other events? Well, there were, of course, elements I recognized, but I found it a very inspiring talk that discussed things from a slightly different angle, which was probably due to the interviewer and his choice of questions. Being a chef and restaurant owner he was, perhaps naturally, very much interested in the business side of Deliciously Ella and asked great questions about both the origins and the future of the brand and the delis. This resulted in some amusing anecdotes. For example, three weeks into the opening of the Mae deli, her husband and business partner being sick in bed, Ella found herself in possibly one of the worst positions imaginable to an inexperienced deli owner with, at the time, no management, when the chef informed her that she quit and was off to Barcelona. As horrible as that must have been (!), I love stories like that as they reveal some of the less sparkly reality that is often behind successful businesses. We often just see the result of something and perhaps underestimate or are ignorant to the fact that a lot of hard work went into achieving that result and overcoming countless obstacles. I was also intrigued by Ella’s vision for a restaurant, inspired by one of her favorite food spots in LA, which she’d ideally like to open within the next three years.IMG_4012.jpg

 

  • Biccy Bom Tasting! Now, if you are a fan of Livia’s Kitchen and their wonderful treats, this needs no explaining to you. For those unfortunate souls who have not yet discovered this brand of divine fully plant-based, refined sugar and gluten free delights: Biccy Boms are little balls of biscuity, oaty goodness with a date-based center in three flavors covered in a milk-chocolate like coating (the milky-ness apparently comes from the addition of lucuma), that are due to be launched soon. I was lucky enough to try two flavors: ginger (very fiery!) and salted maca caramel (one word: wow). If you’re in the UK, definitely keep your eyes peeled for these, as they should be hitting shelves within the next few weeks – can’t wait!IMG_4038.jpgIMG_4032.jpg

 

  • The In the Blog House: with Niomi Smart, Saskia Gregson-Williams and Izy Hossack talk. This was a relaxed interview with three inspiring bloggers and I very much enjoyed hearing a bit more behind how and why they started blogging. IMG_4034.jpg

 

  • Sampling! I won’t list everything I tried, as I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell you, but the standouts were: Mani Life peanut butter (deep roast!), Pana Chocolate fig and wild orange raw vegan chocolate and The Giving Tree Broccoli crisps! (none of which I took pictures of annoyingly – was too wrapped up in enjoying the taste 😉 )

So, unsurprisingly, I conclude with the warmest praise for this wonderful, inspiring, fun and delicious festival. I strongly hope that it will take place again next year, and that I will still be here in London to enjoy it 🙂

Hope you enjoyed reading about it and maybe discovering some new brands or products!

xoxo

Maple Maca Oats

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I’d like to share  with you this super simple but decadently delicious recipe for a hot, nourishing and sweet bowl of oaty goodness (as what could be better on a cold winter’s day?).

The first time I made this I was actually planning on venturing into the wild world of savory oats, but ended up impulsively reaching for some of my favorite ingredients in an almost trance-like state, and, before I knew what hit me, I had devoured the bowl in a matter of seconds (it’s that good). The maca and maple syrup work so well together, giving this a really uplifting and satisfying sweetness, while the coconut oil adds a luxurious silkiness to the dish and really brings out the flavors. It’s just a very honest, happy bowl, if that makes sense 🙂

Usually I prepare this as a simple lunch or dinner for when I know I’ll want something warm and wholesome, but don’t have the time or energy for cooking and cleaning up, but this would obviously also make a great breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 50g whole oats, uncooked
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds*
  • brown rice milk (ca. 3/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 heaped tsp maca powder
  • maple syrup to taste

* These are for the sake of adding some extra nutrition, so if you don’t have any around, leaving them out won’t change the taste 😉

Topping ideas:

  • crushed walnuts
  • raisins
  • nut butter (especially peanut or almond butter)
  • berries
  • chia jam

Pour the oats, ground flaxseeds and maca into a bowl and add enough brown rice milk so that the oats are completely covered (you can adjust the amount of liquid depending on whether you prefer your oats more or less stodgy; I tend to just eyeball it), cover in clingfilm and leave in the fridge overnight, or for a few hours at least. The next day, simply heat up the oats (I do this in the microwave but you can of course also do this on the stove), stir in the coconut oil, drizzle with maple syrup and enjoy!

Feel Good Fact: Besides being rich in vitamin C, maca, a root native to Peru, provides iron and copper and is said to help alleviate mood swings. (Placebo or not, I personally find it puts me in a good mood – even just the smell of it makes me happy!)

A Fit and Fab Start to 2017

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Hey there!

Hope you all had a great New Year’s Eve and have started well into 2017! This year I went for something a bit different and decided to spend the last few hours of the old year sweating it out in a club with lots of other fitness fanatics. The Fitssi “Rave and Behave” party  was incredibly fun and involved four different workouts (lower body, HIIT, abs and a choreo-style one) led by various trainers and separated by intervals of dancing, and of course refueling: There were iced buckets of – no, not Champagne, although the winners of the plank challenge did win some bubbly (how can anyone hold the plank for 7 minutes??!!) – vegan protein shakes by Missfits and instead of salty bar food there were bananas with  Nut Blend spreads. (Sounds like my kind of party!)

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Besides the fact that it was so fun and incredibly refreshing seeing everyone in their sneakers and gym gear – not a high heel or false eyelash in sight! – it was great getting that added endorphin boost from not just being active and being part of something, but from trying something new and appreciating the increase in strength and fitness you’ve achieved over the past year.

I’m so glad my friend Gemma and I tried it and I definitely recommend keeping your eyes peeled for such events next year, as I’m sure there will be more exciting ways to have fun while also doing something good for yourself. (Muscle ache = the new hangover?) 😉

The next morning we treated ourselves to a lazy brunch at Granger & Co, where I started the year off in style with a delicious acai bowl and warming almond milk chai.

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And lastly, do I have any New Year’s Resolutions? Yes and no. I definitely have goals I want to achieve and things I want to work on, but they are not motivated by a changing digit. One of these goals is to continue working on Mindfulness – something that I’ve already found to be extremely beneficial to my wellbeing in the short time that I’ve been practicing it.

Hope you enjoyed reading about an alternative way to spend New Year’s Eve and I wish you a truly happy & healthy 2017!

xoxo

 

My First Plant-Based Christmas

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My last post was about my feelings in the run-up to Christmas and talked about what I would do to feel more included in the festive meals. Well, I implemented all the things I discussed and I can’t tell you how much of a difference it made!

These Deliciously Ella roasted maple sprouts with hazelnuts, chili and pomegranate seeds made a wonderful addition to our Christmas Eve dinner. It was such a simple yet satisfying dish to prepare, made the kitchen smell nice and brightened up our table. While my family had some along with their grilled octopus and french fries, I had mine with some hummus my dad bought for me. It was nice hearing appreciative comments and feeling like I’d contributed to what my mom said was the nicest Christmas Eve meal we’d ever had (the only difference to last year’s being the addition of my sprouts, I  naturally take some of the credit and fully agree 😉 ).

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For dessert my family had a chestnut mousse while I enjoyed some squishy medjool dates that I stuffed with dark chocolate and pecan nuts (so good!) and a mince pie.

Christmas brunch on the 25th was another great success. In previous years we always went to my grandfather’s for lunch, but this having been preponed to the week before, we decided to have a relaxed brunch instead. I made my Banana Almond Butter Pancakes, which were an unexpected hit with my sister. (I bribed her with some of my chocolate to try one, and, to my great joy, she ended up liking them and eating more). Along with those I had lots of lovely fresh fruit – papaya, persimmon, kiwi, pomegranate, berries – and one of the sweet saffron maize bread rolls I’d made the night before with coconut oil, almond butter and raspberry chia jam. I’m also glad I made some guacamole, as not only did it taste so good with the second half of my maize roll, but my mom ended up eating some too, along with her croissant, cheese and meat. And while my Dad and sister had Eggs Benedict, they ate them on the English muffins I made. So while we all essentially had different meals, the fact that we shared some components, along with the wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, brought it all together.

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This year’s Christmas has truly made me realize the importance of sharing food on special occasions. Cooking for others is a way of showing love and appreciation and eating a delicious meal together can also be a wonderful shared experience. For this reason I’m so glad I made the changes I did, so that I was able to feel more a part of our Christmas meals despite eating a fully plant-based diet. It really showed me the difference between merely leaving a component away and actively adding something that enriches the occasion for all.

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas!

xoxo

Thoughts on my first plant-based Christmas

As we’re almost at the end of our Christmas countdown I thought I’d share some thoughts about how I’ve been feeling in the run up to my first fully plant-based Christmas.

While I was dairy-free this time last year, I was still eating seafood and it was therefore much easier for my family and I to agree on a common meal. Lacking a traditional Christmas dish we decided to infuse the culinary part of our festive celebrations with the spirit of a Greek summer, making us potentially the only family to eat grilled octopus and french fries on Christmas Eve. We all took part in the preparations, my mother by making the vegetables, salad and fries, my usually cooking- and all things raw and glibbery-averse sister by preparing the two octopuses (did you know they have beaks??), which my dad then grilled, and I by making a crumble for dessert. We all agreed it was one of the best Christmas meals we’d ever had.

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This year we have opted for the same thing, the only difference being that I won’t be able to join in the hellenic inspired fare. I didn’t think I’d mind that much, being so used to doing my own thing back in London, but I’ve found myself starting to feel a bit glum about the idea of us not all enjoying a common dish. This even more so because we will be having a Christmas brunch on the 25th and I saw the same problem arising – my Dad and sister making some sort of eggy, cheesy concoctions, my mom probably having bread and salmon, maybe some yoghurt with fruit, leaving me to make something for myself that no one would be interested in trying.

I’m writing this post not to moan, however, but to share what I’ve suggested so that this years’ Christmas meals don’t leave me feeling excluded. To start, I’ve taken over the side dish to our Christmas Eve meal, replacing the (rather boring) spinach my mom would have made with these delicious looking maple roasted hazelnut sprouts from Deliciously Ella. And for the Christmas day brunch I asked my family which of my suggested dishes they’d be most likely to try – the winner being vanilla pancakes (chia pudding, oatmeal, homemade granola and even chocolate pancakes were sadly rejected). I’ve also suggested making some guacamole, which the others can have with their eggs or salmon while I can spread it on some toast. Finally, I’ll be making something my family always liked in the past: sweet saffron maize rolls (replacing the butter with coconut oil and the milk with rice milk, which shouldn’t change taste or texture too much).

These are all small things – switching a side dish, adapting flavors so that they are more likely to be to everyone’s taste, adding a versatile spread that everyone can add to their meal, and modifying an old favorite that everyone is sure to like – but they are definitely making me feel much more excited about Christmas meals with my family.

While it can be practical and easiest for everyone to just do their own thing, having some common things to share and enjoy together is definitely much more in the spirit of Christmas. And, as I realized today, it’s not too late to make some changes if you’re feeling unhappy at the prospect of Christmas dinner. You may not get everyone to agree to a kale salad, nut roast and a raw chocolate log (would have loved to make this!), there are always healthy and delicious options that everyone can enjoy.

Happy Christmas prepping!

xoxo

Chocolate Tahini Pancakes

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Now, you may be thinking this is an odd combination, but if you’re looking to step up your pancake game then look no further! While it’s no secret that cacao and any nut butter under the sun are a match made in heaven, using tahini instead is a great way to switch things up. It adds a slight hint of bitterness that contrasts wonderfully with the sweetness of the chocolatey pancake, giving it a slightly more sophisticated edge. Don’t worry, the tahini isn’t at all overpowering, though, and, while it maybe gives a bit more of a “grown up” flavor, this is still a chocolate pancake at heart and, essentially, a way to have dessert for breakfast and feel like a kid again.

The idea for the chocolate-tahini combo came about while on holiday in Greece with my boyfriend this past summer. Up until then, tahini to me had simply been something I had to make sure never to run out of, so I could make hummus at all times – or something to spoon out of the jar on occasion. But it was unquestionably a savory ingredient. That changed for good when, on our second morning in Greece, I discovered halva – a sweet, dense sesame confection with swirls of cacao running through it – at the buffet. I bought a tub back home with me, but soon sobered up to the fact that it was basically just sesame and (a lot of!) sugar, and that eating it too much just didn’t make me feel great. That’s when I started trying to recreate the taste in a more nourishing way, mixing tahini with raw cacao powder and maple syrup or honey and eating it by the spoonful or spreading it on dates (do try this at home), and I haven’t looked back since. When deciding to make a new pancake recipe there was therefore no doubt in my mind that this combo would be a winner.

Now that I’ve hopefully sold you on why this is a good idea, let’s get right to it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 2 tbsp brown rice milk (or water)
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 tbsp/ ca. 60 g finely ground oats (or oat flour)
  • 1 heaped tbsp raw cacao powder
  • pinch of salt

For the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1.5 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1.5 tbsp brown rice milk

 

Method:

First, combine the ground flaxseeds with the 2 tablespoons of liquid, stir and set aside while assembling the other ingredients.

Mix together the mashed banana, tahini, honey and vanilla extract till well combined. Next, stir in the flax mixture, oat flour, cacao and salt until a thick batter results. Don’t worry if it looks slightly dense and lumpy – that’s exactly how it should be to get a super satisfying texture!

Heat up some coconut oil in a non-stick pan and spoon in some of the mix, shaping it into circles. It should make 2 medium pancakes or 6 mini ones.

While they are cooking, make the sauce by simply combining all the ingredients (don’t bother melting the coconut oil if it already has a spreadable consistency – it doesn’t need to be completely liquid). When the pancakes are cooked (after about 1-2 minutes on each side), serve with the chocolate tahini sauce and whatever else you like. I like having them with berries, chia jam and a bit more honey or maple syrup if I’m really feeling indulgent 😉

Enjoy!

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Feel Good Fact #1: Tahini is rich in essential minerals such cooper, manganese, calcium, magnesium and iron, which the body needs to function at its best.

Feel Good Fact #2: Raw cacao is extremely high in antioxidants, which combat cell damage caused by free radicals and decrease inflammation. In this way it can help protect against cancer and other diseases.

Mince pies and feeling Christmassy

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Since moving away by myself I’ve been finding it hard to get into the Christmas spirit. On the one hand it’s (thankfully!) less cold in London than in Switzerland, so it just doesn’t feel wintery enough, and on the other, I’ve been spending my money on food rather than Christmas decorations! Also, due to the much lamented fact that my tiny student kitchen doesn’t have an oven, I hadn’t been able to do any festive baking.

Luckily for me, however, London has some amazing events for getting that Christmas fix and I recently went to two wonderful ones – both incidentally involving the quintessential British Christmas treat: mince pies 🙂

 

Livia’s Kitchen Baking Course

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On the morning of Sunday, December 4th I headed over to St. Lukes Community Center for four gloriously festive hours of baking, relaxed chatting, cheeky spoon-licking, and mince pie eating. It’s an event I booked back in September after having such a great time at the Livia’s Kitchen Cream-Free Cream Tea and meeting the lovely Jordan and Gemma, and it’s something I’d been looking forward to for a long time. In groups of two we went through four delicious, fully plant-based, gluten- and refined sugar-free recipes, starting with the Mince Pies (which, as a non-Brit, I was obviously most excited about!), moving on to Raw Christmas Cake with Cashew Frosting, Raw Chocolate Crispy Cake with Banana Caramel and finishing off with Christmas Granola Bars with Dark Chocolate Drizzle.

While we were eagerly working away in our aprons there was Christmas music playing, which, together with the wonderful smell of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg created the perfect festive feeling. It was also really nice getting to chat a bit more with Olivia and her lovely “elf” Lydia. And it was so great actually being in a kitchen with them (and even featuring in the Livia’s Kitchen Instagram story – spooning leftovers from a blender while leaving my competent baking partner Jordan to do the work – instead of watching it, wanting to be part of the action!).

At the end of this delicious and cozy event we all went home with the yummy treats we made, feeling decidedly more festive than before.

 

A Plant-Based Christmas with Deliciously Ella

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The next day, Monday December 5th, I found myself at the Whole Foods in Kensington for another great event with another inspiring food blogger, recipe book author and amazing healthy treat producer. It was an intimate Q&A, mainly focusing on celebrating Christmas while following a plant-based lifestyle.

It was great hearing how Christmas in Ella’s family has become a celebration where plant-based eating is embraced and easily incorporated by preparing lots of yummy veggie side dishes to fill most of the plate (- I’m hoping for a similar vibe back home, although somehow I’m not quite so optimistic…) And I couldn’t resist asking what she’ll have for dessert on Christmas day, as I’m still looking for inspiration. She confessed she and most of her family weren’t big fans of the traditional Christmas pudding and that they’ll be having a crumble instead. I actually made one for my family last Christmas and it was a wonderful way to end the meal, but I think I’ll be going for something chocolatey this year 😉

The cherry on top of the refined sugar-free cake was getting to sample a MaE Deli mince pie that I’ve been eagerly wanting to try! It was incredibly yummy and I’m now facing the serious dilemma of having to choose which ones to make for my friends and family – Livia’s or Ella’s? Stay tuned… 😉

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