Gingerbread Cookies

Hello and happy Tuesday!

I’m back with another recipe – just in time for Christmas, if you still have some festive baking to do 😉

Gingerbread cookies are probably my favorite festive bake, as they’re just so much fun to make and decorate (especially while singing along to Christmas music)! Last year I was too busy trying to keep up with the demand for mince pies to make any other bakes. This year, however, I went straight in for my first ever plant-based gingerbread men. I made a batch yesterday and another today – slightly sweeter in taste and thinner and crispier in texture – which I am very happy with (as evidenced by the undisclosed amount I have already eaten).

As I didn’t want to make a traditional icing with powdered sugar, I experimented with a tahini-based one (sweetened with maple syrup and lucuma) which I absolutely love.

I hope you enjoy these cookies too if you give them a go!

 

IMG_0308.jpg

Ingredients

Makes: ca. 12-16 cookies (medium sized gingerbread men/similar shapes)

  • 130 g wholemeal spelt flour (ca. 1 cup)
  • 80 g buckwheat flour (ca. 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of cloves
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 130 g soft dates (I used these Sukari dates from Palmyra – ca. 9 – but medjool would be perfect as well)
  • 2 tbsp rice milk

Icing

  • 6 tsp tahini*
  • 6 tsp maple syrup
  • 3 tsp lucuma**
  • liquid food coloring
  • rice milk, to make it more liquid if needed

* If you don’t have tahini or simply prefer a more neutral icing, almond or cashew butter will probably work just as well (I haven’t tried this though).

**The lucuma adds some sweetness but also acts to thicken the icing. If you don’t have any, cornflour may be a possible alternative or otherwise skip the rice milk (I haven’t tried this variation though, so just experiment until you get the desired consistency).

Method:

  1. Combine the dry ingredients (flours, ground flaxseeds and spices) in a mixing bowl, before adding the molasses and melted coconut oil.
  2. Blend together the dates and the maple syrup to form a sweet paste, before adding to the mixing bowl. Combine the ingredients with your hands, adding 2 tbsp of rice milk so that it all comes together nicely. Form the dough into a disk, cover with clingfilm and leave somewhere cool (the fridge – or outside if it’s also cold where you are!) for around 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the tahini icing by combining the tahini, maple syrup, lucuma and food coloring in a cup or small container. You can easily make more or less by adjusting the ingredients accordingly. If by the time you are ready to ice your cookies you find the icing too thick, add a dash of rice milk. (Rather add too little than too much, as it’s easier to add more liquid than to thicken the icing up again).
  4. Roll out the dough and cut out the desired shapes. The amount you get will depend on the shapes you use as well as the thickness of the dough. I like the dough rolled out quite thin so the cookies become nice and crisp in the oven – a thicker dough will make doughier cookies.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 175 °C for ca. 8-12 minutes (depending on the thickness).
  6. Leave to cool completely (on the tray for a few minutes, then on a cooling rack/ or outside) before icing your lovely cookies. (Note: the icing does harden a bit, but do be gentle with your iced cookies/ i.e. I wouldn’t recommend stacking them on top of each other).

Happy festive baking!

xoxo

 

 

Vegan Advent Calendars

Hello and happy Monday!

Yes, we’re almost half-way through November, and before we know it we’ll be exclaiming how we can’t believe it’s already December and that the Christmas countdown has begun.

I’m definitely not one of those people who has their Christmas shopping completed weeks ahead of time, but this year I’ve already taken care of one important thing: my advent calendar!

Last year, while still living in London, I scoured the shops in eager anticipation, sure I’d find an amazing vegan chocolate advent calendar – in vain. I did find a dark chocolate one at Whole Foods, but it contained the exact same chocolate for every day, which – for someone who eats plain dark chocolate on a daily basis, all year round – is not very exciting.

I mentioned this plight to my wonderful friend Jordan – founder of the vegan treat business Leitchy Creates – and I’m ecstatic to say that she has created the most amazing looking advent calendar, with 24 completely different Christmas-themed, plant-based artisan pralines. They are currently available for pre-order in the UK – till Friday, November 17 – for ÂŁ16.50 right here. This would definitely also be a wonderful gift for someone.

Version 2

 

In the meantime, I’ve also discovered some options here in Switzerland (some of which are also available in other countries, like Germany, Austria and the UK). I definitely would have gotten one if I didn’t already have my Leitchy Creates one to look forward to 😉

 

Zotter Adventskalender (Chocolate)

IMG_3193.jpg

This one has several different chocolate flavors – from white to dark to coconut to a fantastic sounding Superfood chocolate (with acai, chlorella, green tea, reishi and maca)!

Price: CHF 24.90

Found in: Migros Alnatura (Löwenstrasse, Zurich); also available online to order from Switzerland for CHF 24.68 (here). The same brand has other chocolate advent calendars, including this one, with wilder flavors, also available to order online from several countries, including Germany and the UK.

 

Govinda 24 Adventstage (Energy Balls)

IMG_3105.jpg

IMG_3106.jpg

This calendar contains eight different flavors of mainly date-based energy balls.

Price: CHF 26.90

Found in: Egli Bio (ShopVille, Zurich main station); also available online to order from several countries, including Switzerland, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Belgium and Spain, for EUR 18.80).

 

And, for all the tea-lovers:

Sirocco Tea Advent Calendar

IMG_3214.jpg

IMG_3216.jpg

This calendar contains 24 certified organic tea bags, with flavors such as Green Jasmine, Winter Moments, Pina Moringa, Japanese Sencha and White Christmas, and you can use the case long after Christmas has passed.

Price: CHF 45

Found in: Globus (Zurich)

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these calendars, and please let me know about any other exciting options you come across!

xoxo

 

 

My First Plant-Based Christmas

IMG_2450.jpg

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 😉 ).

IMG_2484.jpg

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.

IMG_2486.jpg

IMG_2488.jpg

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.

IMG_2385.jpg

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

Mince pies and feeling Christmassy

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

IMG_1516.jpg

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

IMG_1553.jpg

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… 😉

IMG_1549.jpg