Vegan Mud Cake with Cashew Icing

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Everyone loves a good chocolate cake recipe so I thought I would experiment and make a chocolate cake that is vegan, therefore free of egg and dairy.  This cake is so beautifully moist, gooey and decadent.

I have used the cashew icing recipe in a few of my previous desserts but I wanted to make a vibrant pink icing for Valentines Day. I initially tried using raspberries but the icing was lumpy and didn’t have a good consistency, I tried again using beetroot and it blended so well and the colour came out so beautiful.

This delectable mud cake is the perfect dessert and it is unbelievably easy to make. I made this for Valentines Day but it would be a hit for any celebration.

Cake Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups of unbleached all-purpose gluten free flour
1 cup of coconut oil, melted.
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil.
1.5 tsp of baking powder
2.5 tsp of baking soda
1 1/4 cup of raw cacao or cocoa powder
1/3 cup of melted dark chocolate. (I used Whittakers 70% Dark Ghana)
2 tsp of vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups of coconut sugar
1/4 tsp of salt
2 tsp of cinnamon

Icing Ingredients:

1 small beetroot – slice into small cubes (skin off)
1.5 cups of raw cashews
2 Tbsp of melted coconut oil
1.5 Tbsp of vanilla essence

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C and lightly grease 2x 8 inch baking trays.
2. Mix the coconut oil, olive oil, dark chocolate and vanilla essence in a bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cacao, coconut sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and stir well.  The mixture should be think and creamy with no lumps. If the mixture is too thick, add more melted coconut oil and if the mixture is too wet add more flour or cocoa.
4. Divide the batter and add evenly to the 2 baking trays. Place the trays in the oven.
5. Bake for around 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool before icing.
6. To prepare the icing, blend the cashews, coconut oil and vanilla essence in a blender or food processor.  Slowly add the beetroot until the mixture turns into a vibrant pink colour. If the mixture is too thick, add a small amount of water so it turns into a smooth and fluffy consistency.
7. Once the cake has cooled down, frost the first layer of cake with pink icing. Add the top layer and ice generously. I sprinkled desiccated coconut over mine, alternatively dust with icing sugar or cocoa.

I served mine with a dollop of coconut yogurt but it would also be delicious with dairy free ice-cream. Store in an airtight container in the pantry. Cake should keep for 4-5 days.

Enjoy! L x

 

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Apple and Elderflower Iced Tea

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Apple and Elderflower Iced Tea

Iced tea has proven to be one of the healthiest drinks available. Not only does it revive you on a hot day, but also adds nutrients to keep you healthy.

Improving health is a multifaceted process. Many of us are already aware of the steps which one needs to take to maintain a healthy life like quit smoking, keeping a check on the level of alcohol consumed, avoiding fried food, and including a lot of fruits and veggies in our everyday diet.

But most of us did not know the fact that drinking a glass of iced tea during the day can take care of most of our problems. Iced tea is rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that keep a check on calories consumed during the day. Not only does it refresh your mind but also improves your health, especially if you are addicted to soda then it is time to change to a healthy cup of iced tea.

If you are into caffeine consumption, a glass of iced tea can balance that out. Not only will it cut down on the consumption of caffeine but will help you get rid of the habit of drinking coffee.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to talk at Red Seal’s launch of their new tea range. At the launch I spoke about the benefits of tea and also created two delicious iced tea recipes. Red Seal is a New Zealand owned and operated company, well known for their natural products including supplements, toothpastes and teas.

As a herbal tea addict I was so excited to try the new tea flavours which use ingredients such as hibiscus, rose hips, blackberry leaves, elderflowers and orange peel. The teas contain no artificial sweeteners, gluten or caffeine.

A great idea is to make a big jug of iced tea and to keep it in your fridge. Also filling your drink bottle up with iced tea and sipping on it throughout the day is going to provide you with many nutrients.  This recipe is so delicious and great to have if you are wanting to cut down on caffeine, alcohol and soda drink consumption.

Ingredients:
5 Red Seal Apple & Elderflower tea bags
4 cups of sparkling water
1 cup of boiling water
1 teaspoon of grated ginger
3 tablespoons of agave nectar
The juice of one large granny smith apple
Ice cubes for serving
Optional garnish: Mint sprigs and lemon slices

Brewing directions:
1. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over the tea bags, into a 2 litre container
2. Steep for 5 minutes and then fill the container with 4 cups of sparkling water. Steep for another 5 minutes and then remove the tea bags.
3. Place the grated ginger, agave nectar and apple juice into the container and stir well.
4. Pour the tea into glasses and add ice before serving.

L x

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The Importance of Gut Health

Probiotics are the naturally occurring good bacteria that are found in our gut. These bacteria play a considerable important role in our health. The human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is one of the most complex ecosystems known, there are over 100 trillion friendly bacteria found in the gut, this is over 10 times the amount of cells found in the human body. Around 60-80% of our immune system is actually found in our gut and 90% of our neurotransmitters are produced there! This really puts things into perspective when it comes to the importance of gut health.

When there is an imbalance with our friendly gut bacteria, also known as dysbiosis, there are going to be problems within our gastrointestinal and immune system. When someone has an imbalance in their gut bacteria they may be more likely to suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, depression, eczema, rosacea, chronic fatigue, bloating, stomach pain, hormonal imbalances and auto immune conditions. Common causes of dysbiosis are anti biotic use, food intolerances, caffeine, sugar, alcohol, stress and pesticides.

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There is a lot of exciting research coming out showing the relationship between our feelings, general health and how our bodies are influenced by the balance of healthy and unhealthy levels of gut bacteria.

By regularly consuming probiotic rich food you are keeping your friendly bacteria population at optimal levels so it can function at its best. When it is functioning at its best the bacteria can lower the pH levels in the colon so that unwanted bacteria and yeasts cannot thrive. The beneficial bacteria will aid in digestion and be able to break down and digest the foods you are eating. They are also going to make a lot of the vitamins we need such as vitamin K and B vitamins.

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Apart from the obvious, taking a probiotic, my favorite way to consume friendly gut bacteria is through regular consumption of yogurt. One brand I recommend and that is easily available is Symbio Yogurt. Symbio™ Probalance is the only yoghurt in New Zealand with the unique probiotic culture called Bifidobacterium lactis DR10™. This is a natural probiotic culture scientifically proven to help restore digestive balance and reduce digestive discomfort. By simply consuming one 150g serving of Symbio Probalance Yogurt once a day for 14 days in a row you will begin to notice a difference with any digestive discomfort such as bloating, sluggishness and fatigue. This is easy as adding yogurt to your muesli in the morning or having a 150g serving of yogurt as a snack.

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Click on this link to sign up to the 14 day challenge. Symbio will stay in touch over the 14 days with helpful tips and different ways you can enjoy your daily consumption of Symbio.

Look out over the next few days on our website as we will have a delicious yoghurt cake recipe for you to use as part of the 14 day challenge.

L

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Coconut Ice

 

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With the silly season just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to share a recipe that is delicious, easy to make, and can be taken to upcoming summer BBQ’s and parties.  I wanted to make a healthier version of the classic coconut ice recipe by replacing the original recipes refined sugar with coconut sugar and red food colouring with beetroot juice. The beetroot juice gives the slice a beautiful, vibrant pink colour.
This is a chewy treat that is quick to make and super moreish. It is perfect for a sweet afternoon treat served with a herbal tea or wrapped up as a Christmas gift.

* Vegan
* Raw
* Gluten Free
* Dairy Free

Ingredients

4 cups of desiccated coconut
1/2 cup of coconut sugar
1 small beetroot or 1 tsp of beetroot powder
400 grams of coconut milk
3/4 cup of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of vanilla essence

Method

1. In a sauce pan, mix the coconut oil, coconut milk, vanilla and coconut sugar on a low heat. Combine ingredients until the coconut oil has melted. Take off heat and mix in the desiccated coconut.

2. Line a shallow baking tray or baking tin with baking paper. Halve the mixture, and press half of it into the baking tray. Place in freezer.

3. Prepare your juicer and juice the beetroot. Add 2 tablespoons of the juice to the remainder of the mixture, combine well.

Note: If you do not have a juicer, slice up the beetroot and boil in a pot for 5 minutes.  Add 3 tablespoons of the water to the remainder of the mixture.  The water would have turned red from the beetroot, making the mixture a pink colour.

4. Add the pink mixture to the base and press it in well. Place the coconut ice into the freezer for at least 2 hours before serving.

5. Cut the coconut ice into squares and store in the fridge. It will melt if it is kept in room temperature for too long.

Enjoy! L x


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Organic Protein Powder

Organic Protein Powder by 180 Nutrition

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Finding a high quality protein powder can be hard.  The market is saturated with powders that are full of artificial flavourings and preservatives, processed sugars, artificial sweeteners, soy, gluten and not to mention fillers.  It is surprising to see how many people choose to eat optimally but use a poor quality protein powder that contradicts their healthy diet.

Beginning the day off with a breakfast rich in protein improves appetite control, regulates blood sugar levels and reduces unhealthy snacking throughout the day.  I usually begin my day off with a smoothie and I love adding protein powder to it.  A friend recommended 180 Nutrition, an Australian based brand that is new to the NZ market.
Guy Lawrence and Stuart Cooke are the founders of 180 Nutrition.  Guy, a fitness trainer created this brand after researching protein powders on the market that his chronically ill patients could use.  He was shocked to discover the amount of chemicals and fillers were in the protein powders that were on the market so he decided to create a formula using organic, raw and natural ingredients.

180 Nutrition make a pea protein and also organic whey (NZ sourced whey).  I have been using their products for the last few weeks and what I love about 180 Nutrition that makes it different from the rest is their ingredient formula.

The ingredients include:

Flaxseed
Almond Meal
Sunflowers kernels
Coconut flour
Shredded coconut
Cocoa
Peptia (Pumpkin seeds)
Sesame seeds
Chia seeds
Psyllium husks
Inactive brewers yeast
Stevia

In the morning, after a workout or if I want a snack I’ll blend up a smoothie using 180 Coconut flavored Pea protein powder (my favorite flavor), berries, coconut milk and a dollop of Greek yogurt.  There is no need to add any other ingredients as this protein powder already contains a super food blend.  There is also a chocolate flavored protein available.

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What I also love about this product is that it is vegan friendly, tastes great, mixes well and can be used in baking.  I always add a scoop when making my dairy free, yonana ice cream or protein muffins.

For more information on this product check out the 180 Nutrition website for recipes using this protein, including dairy free coconut ice-cream, paleo friendly raw cheesecake, quinoa chocolate loaf and carrot cake and cream cheese muffins. YUM! You can also read some of the testimonials, some of the athletes that use this protein, and browse the online store.  There are also superfood bars and kids snacks that are tasty and made with real ingredients.

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We have a discount code for anyone wanting to purchase 180 protein when you buy online.  Enter ‘JULLIB’ for 10% off all purchases at primal-life.co.nz.  Check out our Facebook page for a giveaway we are running for your chance to win a sample of this protein.

L x

 

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Mini Eggplant Pizzas

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This is an easy recipe to make for dinner served alongside a salad or it can be served as an appetiser for a party.  You can add extra vegetables to the pizzas or leave out the cheese for a vegan option.

Recipe makes approximately 12 mini pizzas.

Ingredients

1 eggplant
1 chili, diced finely (optional)
1/4 cup of pesto
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
2 tomatoes
1 bunch of fresh basil
Salt & pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil to drizzle over pizzas.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to Fan Bake 180C. Line an oven tray with baking paper.
2. Slice the eggplant into 1cm thick slices and place onto the baking tray.
3. Spread pesto on each eggplant slice and sprinkle with parmesan.
4. Chop up the tomato into small cubes and dice the chili finely.  Place ingredients evenly onto the eggplants slices.
5. Top each slice with a basil leaf and season with salt and pepper.
6. Drizzle slices with some olive oil and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy. L x

 

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Apple and Carrot Cake

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This is a recipe for a quick and easy apple and carrot cake that will melt in your mouth.  The cake is gluten free, grain free and refined sugar free. It uses cinnamon, coconut sugar and honey to naturally sweeten it, and the apple makes the cake moist and light.

This cake tastes delicious on its own, or you can add the cream cheese icing on top which complements the carrot nicely. I made this cake for a dinner party and it went down a treat!

Ingredients:

Base

2 carrots, grated
2 apples
2 cups of  gluten free flour
2 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted
3 large organic eggs
3/4 cup of raw honey, melted
2 tablespoons of coconut sugar
3 teaspoons of vanilla essence
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Pinch of himalayan salt
1 cup of walnuts (to decorate)

Topping (optional)

180 grams of cream cheese
50 grams of organic butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence

 

Method:

 

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Peel, core and chop the apples and cut into small cubes. Place them in a pot and add 2 cups of water and leave them on medium/low heat for 15 minutes. Drain the water and leave the apples to cool down.
3. In a large bowl mix the grated carrot, flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4. In a separate bowl beat the eggs for 1 minute. Add the melted honey, melted coconut oil and vanilla, mix well.
5. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together, making sure it is well combined. Add the apple to the mixture.
6.  I used two cake pans to make a double layered cake but this recipe also works well using one cake pan. Using oil or butter, lightly grease the cake pan/s. Slowly pour the mixture into the cake pan/s.
7. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Check the cake with a toothpick before removing from the oven, the toothpick should come out clean once cooked.  Some ovens are stronger than others so check the cake once it has been in the oven for 25 minutes to ensure it doesn’t overcook.  Allow cake to cool completely before icing.
8. Make the icing: In a glass bowl add the cream cheese and butter and beat together for 2 minutes or until well combined.  Add the vanilla and beat for another minute. The mixture needs to be thick and creamy so it can be applied to the cake easily.
9. Place the cake onto a cake tray and top with the frosting.  If you baked two cakes then ice the middle layer first and then place the second cake on top and then ice the sides.  I used a knife to apply the icing.
10. Once the cake is iced sprinkle the walnuts over the top.  Store the cake in the fridge to ensure the icing doesn’t melt.

L x Enjoy

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Banoffee Pie

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Calling all Banoffee Pie fans out there, this recipe is truly divine. The combination of dried nuts, dates, banana, avocado, cacao and peanut butter make a beautiful guilt free dessert. The traditional banoffee pie is full of refined sugar and contains dairy, this recipe is refined sugar free, gluten free and vegan.
This banoffee pie is creamy and chocolatey and has a hint of peanut butter.

This indulgent recipe is perfect for a dinner party.

Make this pie using a 20cm pie dish or alternatively you can use mini cake trays.

Ingredients

Base

1 cup of  walnuts or raw cashew nuts
1 cup of raw almonds
1.5 cups of pitted dates
1/4 cup of cacao nibs (optional)

Filling

2 bananas
1 avocado
1/4 cup of raw cacao powder
1/2 cup of cacao nibs (optional)
1/4 cup of raw maple syrup or 1/4 cup of coconut sugar
1 cup of peanut butter

Topping

2x 400g cans of coconut milk. (These need to be kept in the fridge overnight, a layer of cream will form on top. This is used for the top layer of the pie.)
1 banana

Method

1. In a food processor blend the base ingredients until they are blended finely. Press into a pie dish and make sure the crust is 0.5 cm’s thick so it doesn’t crack when taken out of the dish. Place in the freezer.
2. Blend all the filling ingredients together until smooth. Place onto the base of the pie and then set in freezer for 10 minutes.
3. To make the topping, spread coconut milk over the pie (the coconut milk fat should have formed at the top of the can overnight). Slice up one banana and place on top of pie. Sprinkle with cacao powder and place in the freezer for an hour before serving.

L x

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Peanut Butter and Cacao Brownie

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Chocolate and peanut butter are two foods that taste incredible when combined.  These decadent, chewy peanut butter and cacao brownies are the perfect guilt free comfort food. The peanut butter makes the brownie creamy and rich and the cacao nibs gives it a crunchy texture. This is such a simple recipe to follow and can be easily adapted by adding nuts, shredded coconut, dried fruit and white chocolate bits.
I served my brownies with plain yogurt and they also taste great eaten on their own, they are moist so do not worry if you do not have yoghurt.

*Gluten Free

Ingredients

2 eggs
3/4 cup of peanut butter. I used 100% NUTZ Crunchy Peanut Butter
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup of coconut sugar
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup of cacao nibs or dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup of raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla essence

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 9 by 9 inch pan with baking paper and grease with coconut oil or butter.
2. Combine the eggs, yogurt, coconut sugar, oats, almond milk, cacao nibs, cacao powder, vanilla essence and mix well.
3. Pour the mixture into the pan and spread evenly.
4. Heat the peanut butter in the microwave for 1 minute, until it is slightly melted. Pour the melted peanut butter over the mixture. Using a fork mix the peanut butter through the mixture creating a marbled effect.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  I melted some dark chocolate chips and swirled them over the brownie before placing in the fridge.
6. Place the brownie in the fridge for 1 hour before serving, although it does taste amazing fresh out of the oven.

L x Enjoy

 

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Cauliflower Pizza Base

 

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A few months ago I posted a recipe for a gluten free pizza base which is a staple in my household. After making this pizza almost every week I thought it was time to try a new recipe.

I have been experimenting with this cauliflower pizza base, which needed to be altered a few times before sharing but I have finally perfected it.
If you are like me and love the taste of pizza but struggle to enjoy it due to the additives, gluten and heavy dough causing havoc in your body then this healthy twist will go down a treat.

The sesame seeds give it a crunchy and chewy texture and the garlic and pesto add a flavorsome kick.  The cauliflower is hard to taste in this pizza base which makes it a great option for fussy children who do not like the taste of vegetables.

Get creative with your pizza toppings. I used pesto, sun dried tomato’s, fresh basil leaves, mozzarella and seaweed flakes.

This base is:
* Gluten Free
* Dairy Free
* Vegetarian

Base ingredients:

1 medium sized cauliflower
2 organic eggs
¼ cup of sesame seeds or linseeds
2 tablespoons of gluten free flour
¼ cup of pesto (I used another ¼ cup for the topping)
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
Salt + Pepper

Method:

1. Pre heat the oven to 180C.
2. Wash the cauliflower and cut into cubes. Place into a food processor and blend the cauliflower until it is pureed.
3. Place the cauliflower into a tea towel or milk bag and over the sink squeeze all the water out, put aside.
4. In a bowl add the remainder of the ingredients and combine well.
5. Re squeeze the cauliflower to get any more excess water out and then add to the mixture making sure it is well combined.
6. On a piece of baking paper spread the dough out into an even circle. Try to keep the dough around 1.5 cm’s thick to avoid it from cracking once cooked.
7. Bake the base for 15 minutes and then add the topping of your choice. Place back into the oven for another 15 minutes or until topping is done.
8. Let the pizza cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy! L x

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