26 January 2015

Wheat-free carrot cake muffins

Carrot cake might just happen to be my all time favourite treat.
Luckily for me, its a bit of a craze over here at the minute and all my local cafes seem to be competing for  some kind of imaginary best carrot cake of the area award which I'm definitely not complaining about!
I have a classic recipe here that is my go to for a teatime cake but this time I wanted to make something a little healthier and a cross between a breakfast muffin and afternoon snack.


50g porridge oats
190g rice flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g walnuts
30g coconut oil (melted)
60ml olive oil
70g natural yoghurt
75ml almond milk (or other plant milk)
1 large banana (mashed)
2 large eggs
5tbsp honey
160g grated carrot
75g grated apple

Rolled oats
Ground cinnamon
Coconut oil
Demerara sugar

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (180 fan). 

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the porridge oats, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and roughly chopped walnuts. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, olive oil, natural yoghurt, almond milk and eggs. Add in the mashed banana and the honey and stir well. 
Add in the grated carrot and apple to the wet ingredients and then mix in the dry ingredients. Mix well with a large wooden spoon until everything is just incorporated. (Don't over-mix it.)
Then spoon large tablespoons of the batter into a pre-greased muffin tray. 

Add another few tablespoons of coconut oil to a small saucepan along with 2-3 tablespoons of honey. Melt them together over a low heat and then add in a large handful of porridge oats, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and a good spoonful of demerera sugar. Mix together until you have a crumble-like consistency. Sprinkle a little of this crumble mixture over each muffin. 
Then bake in the preheated oven for around 12-15 minutes until risen and golden brown.

23 January 2015

Beetroot, courgette and goats cheese salad

"Keep your face towards the sunshine & shadows will fall behind you." (Walt Whitman)

I absolutely love this weather in Madrid- it's my favourite. Freezing cold but fresh, bright and the days filled with beautiful sunshine.
It's amazing what difference a bit of sunshine can do for the soul.
Sunshine calls for colourful, drawn out lunch breaks. I've just started my training for a half marathon here in Madrid in April that I'm running with my flat mate and that means the start of a conscious effort to eat fresh, nutritious meals that help me recover from the gym!
Luckily, my flat is surrounded by fruterias, selling good quality cheap vegetables and so my fridge this week has become our own little greengrocers!
Each day I've tried to make something new, the first few nights inevitably ending up in Vietnamese noodle dishes and stir fries and today with this vibrant and totally delicious salad.

Super quick to make and very good for you!!

1 raw beetroot
1 courgette
Cold pre-roasted butternut squash and sweet potato (roast the peeled squash and sweet potato in small chunks in the oven with a little olive oil, salt and pepper for about 15-20 minutes at 170 degrees C.)
1 small avocado
Spring onion
Spinach leaves
Goats cheese
3 tbsp linseed
Large handful of walnuts
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Large handful fresh mint

Peel the beetroot and slice finely into thin rounds. Add to a large mixing bowl. Then either use a spiralizer to make the courgette into thin noodles or slice the courgette into long thin pieces.
Add to the bowl along with the small pieces of roasted squash and sweet potato.
Peel and de-stone the avocado and then slice lengthways.
Finely chop the spring onion and add both to the mixing bowl.
Put the walnuts in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat. Toast for about 4-5 minutes, shaking regularly until golden brown.
Remove from the heat and bash them up slightly with a spoon. Add the walnuts, linseed and a large handful of roughly chopped fresh mint to the bowl along with some crumbled goats cheese.
Pour in 2-3 tbsp of good quality olive oil and 2tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Season well with salt and pepper and then mix well.
Serve the salad on top of a bed of fresh spinach leaves and top with extra mint.

16 January 2015

Vietnamese Bun Cha

I seriously crave Vietnamese food.
Spicy, colourful, a little bit of everything street food.
I fell in love with it during my travels in Vietnam (you can catch up on them here) and ever since, I've been craving the country's fresh, spicy and salty cuisine.
One of my favourite street food meals which I came across for the first time in Hanoi, is Bun Cha.
Its a mix of a spicy and aromatic sauce/soup with pork patties usually charcoal grilled and accompanied with fresh rice noodles, lime and lots of herbs.
Its a delicious contrast of flavours and textures with sticky, caramelised pork and a tangy refreshing sauce.
And the best thing about it, is that it's one of those meals where you can get your hands stuck in and throw a bit of everything together - a great meal to serve with lots of friends around a big table.
With hopefully better chopstick skills than mine!
I also apologise for the low quality of these photos- I only decided to make this for supper last minute and so by the time I'd got round to photographing it, there was no natural light left and 4 very hungry people waiting to tuck in!

Ingredients: (serves 4)

2tbsp caster sugar
600g pork mince
1/2 large onion
2 cloves garlic
Black pepper
1tbsp Soya sauce (or fish sauce)

Small piece of fresh ginger
1 clove garlic
750ml chicken stock
2tbsp brown sugar
2tbsp soya sauce (or fish sauce)
Juice of 1 lime
Stir fry vegetables
Pak choi
1 pack of beansprouts

Cooked Rice noodles


Mix the caster sugar with 3tbsp of water in a small pan. Cook over a high heat for 5-8 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and a golden brown caramel begins to form. When you have a caramel, remove it from the heat and swirl in 2 more tablespoons of water. (Swirl the pan rather than stirring in the water with a spoon.)

Let this mixture cool slightly. Meanwhile combine the pork mince, soya sauce or fish sauce and finely diced onion and garlic in a large mixing bowl. Add a good seasoning of black pepper and salt and the caramel. Mix well with your hands until everything is fully combined. Then form the mixture into small patties (the size of meatballs) and leave to marinate on a plate in the fridge.

Meanwhile, finely chop the ginger and 1 clove of garlic and add it to a large pan with a little oil on a medium heat. Fry the ginger and garlic for a few minutes and then add in the brown sugar and chicken stock. Let it simmer for 5 minutes and then add in the soya sauce and lime juice. Leave the mixture to simmer whilst you fry the pork.

Put a large frying pan over a high heat and add in a good glug of oil. Fry the patties in batches for about 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown, cooked through and beginning to caramelise.
Then remove from the heat and cover with foil to keep warm.

At this stage, add your stir fry vegetables to the broth and cook for 3-4 minutes until tender. At the same time, steam the pak choi and beansprouts for 2-3 minutes.

Finely slice the cucumber and prepare some extra lime wedges. When you are ready to serve, add a big handful of roughly chopped mint and coriander to the broth.

Fill each bowl with a few pieces of pak choi, some beansprouts, 4-5 of the pork patties and a good serving of the broth and vegetables.
Then let everyone help themselves to noodles, fresh herbs, sliced cucumber and more lime.
I like mine with a lot of fresh mint leaves and a good squeeze of lime.

Influenced by: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Bun-Cha-Vietnamese-Pork-Meatball-Noodle-Salad

12 January 2015

Review: Green Kitchen Stories

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you will see that I've been just a little bit excited to get my hands on two new books recently. 
They are by the beautiful family over at Green Kitchen Stories, a vegetarian blog jam packed with really creative recipes, that has been one of my favourites for a while now! The writers, Luise Vindahl and David Frenkiel and their super cute children have been inspired by their travels and a passion for healthy and simple delicious vegetarian food. 
Their Instagram account is simply divine and I'm always enticed by their photos of really fresh, vibrant looking food. 
I bought their first book, The Green Kitchen a few months ago and then treated myself to their second, Green Kitchen Travels for Christmas. 
Now, I'm one of those people who reads cookbooks instead of normal books before I go to sleep. I constantly have one on my bedside table and my overall collection is reaching triple figures. So it's safe to say, I've read my fair share of them and got a good idea of what kind of food photography I like and inspires me. 
The first time I read a cookbook, I'll read it like a normal book and then go to town with bookmarks- picking the recipes I most want to make first. With these books- there just wasn't any point in marking the pages as every single recipe is divine. It's rare to find books so well presented, styled and with a really good balance of recipes. There is some sort of really healthy, energised vibe from these books that I just haven't found in many others. 
It's safe to say that Green Kitchen Travels is becoming my new cookery bible. It completely and utterly defies the stereotype of plain, boring vegetarian food and is full of really inventive recipes, influenced by all corners of the globe accompanied by beautiful photography. 
There's Vietnamese Pho, whole egg flower curry from India, Moroccan inspired salads and delicious gluten free Italian-inspired desserts, to name just a few!
Some of my favourites include their breakfast recipes- like me, they are a family that believe in a diverse, nutritious breakfast and have created recipes such as pumpkin and almond waffles and a whole array of overnight oat recipes with chia seed raspberry jam!
The recipes are also really simply laid out and easy to follow- I think this is the most important thing in a cookbook: beautiful photography and easy-to-follow recipes. 
Like Julie in Julie and Julia, where a budding cook tries every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," I'm going to make it my mission to get through every recipe in each book before the end of this year. At the rate I've been going so far, I don't think it's going to be hard!
Here's a few of my photos from some of the recipes I've tried out so far:

Masala Dosa (from Green Kitchen Travels)
Spicy sweet potato wrapped in chickpea pancakes and served with an Indian mint and coconut Raita

Baked Crunchy Blackberry Oatmeal (from The Green Kitchen)
A sort of breakfast crumble with blackberry baked oatmeal and a delicious maple syrup flavoured crunchy oat topping- like heaven in a bowl for breakfast!

Baked Herb and Pistachio Falafel (from The Green Kitchen)
A healthier baked version of the usual deep-fried falafel, made with lots of fresh herbs and a generous serving of pistachios!
I served mine with hummus and baked baby beets. 

I'd definitely recommend checking them out - even if just for the super drool-worthy photos! 
They have a real zing of happiness and health about their ideas and lifestyle that I think is very catchy and important to spread!
If you'd like to find out more about them, you can read their interview over with Ella from Deliciously Ella here. 
Have a beautiful day x