Culinary Alchemy

Fruity nutty flapjack - vegan and gluten free and naturally sweetened

This is my favourite festival and camping adventure food.  Packed with protein and energy and satisfyingly dense!  They keep well for a few days so perfect for a journey, especially when healthy breakfast options are likely to be sparse.  Also a perfect teatime treat after a day of yoga or a long walk!

 

Makes about 24 squares

  • 500g plums/damsons/greengages/apples (stoned/cored and chopped, apples peeled)
  • half a cup of honey
  • 1 banana mashed
  • oats (if you are totally gluten intolerant it's best to buy gluten free oats as normal oats may have been contaminated during processing)
  • half a cup of mixed chopped nuts
  • 2 teaspoons of mixed spice
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup of nuts roughly chopped (brazils, walnuts, cashews...)
  • half a cup of sultanas, or other chopped dried fruit like dates, apricots or figs.

Method:

1. Prepare a large baking dish, I use my big lasagna dish, lined with greaseproof paper or brushed with sunflower or coconut oil.  Preheat oven to 160 degrees centigrade.

2. Put the fresh fruit in a saucepan with the honey and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Cool a little then pour into a mixing bowl.

3. Add banana. 

4. Stir in oats until a squidgey 'dropping' consistency is achieved.

5. Add all the other ingredients and stir well.  If it's too dry, add more mashed banana, if too wet, add more oats.  Feel free to add more yummy ingredients like pumpkin or sunflower seeds, extra nuts and dried fruit if you like. 

6. Spread the mixture into the prepared baking dish so it is about 2 cm thick.  Smooth the top over so the ingredients are nicely pressed down.

7. Cook in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes, until going brown on top.

8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting into squares.

 

This is a great recipe to experiment with, try using different fruits, nuts, seeds, ground almonds, buckwheat flour, maybe even add some raw cocoa powder for chocolatey oaty deliciousness.  No need to ever settle for a bread roll for breakfast on your long journeys again!

 

 


Chocolate Balls - Vegan and gluten free and naturally sweetened

What's the first thing you do when the silence is lifted at the end of a 10 day silent retreat?  Swap recipes of course! 

Last winter I shared a room, for over a week, with five women I had never spoken to.  We were on a Vipassana meditation retreat.  On the last day we could speak and our lives unfolded in words.  I had been living with a Dutch Crump dancer, a nomadic American mother, a Russian seamstress, a lively Australian and an acupuncturist from London.  This is one of the many recipes shared in the chatter that flowed into the night of our last day.

Ingredients:

  • A handful each of prunes, dates and dried figs chopped
  • Water or fruit juice or almond milk
  • Big teaspoon of coconut oil
  • Raw cocoa powder
  • Cinnamon
  • Half a handful of roughly chopped nuts, walnuts or flaked almonds are perfect.
  • Dessicated coconut
  • Ground almonds

Method:

1. Put the dried fruit in a saucepan and cover with water, juice or almond milk, simmer until the liquid is gone and fruit is soft and mushy  2. Add coconut oil, melt and stir in

3. Remove from heat and add cocoa powder, however much you want until it tastes chocolatey enough!

4. Add a sprinkling of Cinnamon and the chopped nuts (sometimes I add toasted sesame seeds too)

5. Stir in desiccated coconut and ground almonds until the mixture makes a dough that can be rolled into balls between your palms.

6. Make into balls whatever size you like and put in the fridge.  If you can wait for about an hour they are best then, and the next day too!

Chocolate and damson cake - Vegan and gluten free and naturally sweetened

So one day the chocolate ball mix evolved into a cake as I searched for ways to maximize the damson glut!  It's easy to make this fat free too, just leave out the nuts and coconut oil and use extra buckwheat flour instead of the desiccated coconut and ground almonds.  This cake is rich and dense with a fruity tang. 

Ingredients:

  • 500g of damsons and/or plums
  • A handful of dates, roughly chopped
  • 4 dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • Agave syrup, a bit, depending how sweet you would like your cake. (honey could be used for a non-vegan version)
  • One dessertspoon of coconut oil
  • Raw cocoa powder
  • Cinnamon
  • A handful each of ground almonds and desiccated coconut
  • Buckwheat flour (some)
  • Optional...chopped nuts
  • Optional topping...seasonal berries and/or nuts

Method:

1. Stone and chop damson/plums and put in a saucepan with the dates, figs and agave syrup or honey, cook until soft and mushy.  Mush with a potato masher until there are no big lumps.

2. Add coconut oil, melt and stir in.

3. Remove from heat and add banana

4. Stir in cocoa powder until it tastes chocolatey enough, and add more agave syrup or honey if you would like it sweeter.

5. Add Cinnamon, dessicated coconut, ground almonds and chopped nuts if using.

6. Stir in buckwheat flour until it resembles cake mix, so it should be spoonable but not pourable.

7. Put in a cake tin greased with coconut oil and top with berries and nuts if using (I like to press them into the top) and bake on 180 degrees centigrade for about 20-25 minutes, until a knife comes out cleanish.