Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Healthy Dairy-free Blueberry Mocha


Healthy Dairy-free Blueberry Mocha

Another one of my beloved berry mochas!
Who doesn't like blueberries, and who doesn't know how healthy they are? No need to talk about antioxidants here.



Even though I'm all for using raw, fresh syrups, I didn't succeed in making a really good raw blueberry syrup for mocha. It's good for other purposes, but not the best for mocha.
So I cheated a bit and heated the blueberries just to a boil and then removed them from the heat, mashed them, added honey and pressed them through a sieve.
Of course you can mix them in a blender and then press the mush through a sieve, add syrup and go ahead. I just wasn't totally content with the consistency of that - not for mocha, which I don't make for health reasons in the first place. I just try to make something decadent healthier than your average store bought mocha.



Ingredients:
  • 4 tablespoons fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon (or more to taste) agave, maple or brown rice syrup or honey
  • 1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons + 1 teaspoon syrup or honey (or to taste)
  • Vanilla, to taste
  • 1-2 espresso shots or 1/8-1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/3 cup steamed or just hot non dairy milk

Preparation:
  • In a small pan, heat blueberries and water until just boiling. Immediately remove from heat, mash the berries, add 1 teaspoon syrup or honey (or to taste; you can also add some stevia, if you like).
  • Let cool.
  • In a mug, mix 1 teaspoon cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons syrup or honey (or to taste).
  • Add 3-4 tablespoons of the blueberry syrup, mix well, add vanilla to taste.
  • Mix remaining 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder with remaining teaspoon syrup or honey in a small vial.
  • Brew coffee and heat and/or steam milk.
  • Combine brewed coffee and syrups in the mug, mix well, add hot or steamed milk and top with remaining blueberry and chocolate syrup.
  • Enjoy!


What's your favourite way to have blueberries?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

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Minted Pea Smoothie


Minted Pea Smoothie

No coffeeshop without milk shake, right? I love milk shakes, as long as they are cow's milk free and not too sweet nor loaded with artificial flavours and colours.
So I create my own with sometimes odd ingredients - but they are much yummier and healthier than conventional store bought stuff.
I'm not always sure if they are smoothies or shakes, but who cares?!?

One of my favourite side dishes is Mint Peas Mashed Potatoes.
But there's so much more to peas than mashed potatoes...
I know, the shake looks like something kiwi because of the little black seeds. But the little black seeds are chia seeds, and the green colour only comes from peas.
Okay, maybe from the mint leaves, too, but mostly from the peas.
Peas are sweet, and they go well with mint - so why add salt instead of emphasizing their sweetness?
Besides some good protein you also get a lot of fibre and a fair amount of vitamins, minerals and the carotenoid lutein, which is important for the eyes.

This glass of thick, smooth green goodness is so refreshing that you could have it for dessert instead of peppermint ice cream on a hot day.

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup blanched peas
  • 1 cup light coconut milk or 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk + 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1-2 teaspoons agave syrup
  • stevia, to taste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or 1/2 teaspoon if using powdered vanilla)
  • 1 sprig fresh mint (if you don't have fresh mint, you can use peppermint extract, but fresh leaves are best)

Preparation:
  • Soak chia seeds with sweetener and vanilla in coconut milk for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent from clumping.
  • Add peas and mint leaves and blend until creamy smooth.
  • You can of course grind the chia seeds before using, if you don't want seeds to chew on.
  • Enjoy!

Do you prefer milk shakes or smoothies?


Friday, May 23, 2014

Healthy Dairy Free Strawberry Mocha


Healthy Dairy Free Strawberry Mocha

Every spring, I'm on a roll with fresh fruit, which means that I try to put fesh berries and every other fruit which I can get my hands on into everything I prepare.
I still wonder why anybody would want coffee to taste of anything else than coffee, and the only explanation I can find is that it is the combination of flavours which makes it desirable to add syrups or other stuff to your coffee.
As much as I love plain black, unsweetened coffee, I can't keep off of fancy lattes and mochas.
One of my favourites is fresh strawberry mocha.

Like raspberries, strawberries don't have to be boiled to get syrup from them.
They are soft enough to press them through a sieve.
Just make sure you have ripe, aromatic berries, and you'll be rewarded with a mocha that bursts with flavour.
I prefer making my syrups with runny honey, but of course you can use any syrup you like. If you want to save calories from sugar, you can use less syrup or honey with the fruit puree and add some stevia to taste.

Ingredients:
  • 3 medium strawberries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons honey or agave syrup or brown rice syrup (more or less, adjust to your taste and maybe add some stevia, if desired)
  • 2 Espresso shots or 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1/3 cup steamed milk of choice (or just hot milk, if using plant milk that cannot be steamed or frothed)
  • Vanilla

Preparation:
  • Chop the strawberries and press through a sieve.
  • Reserve about 1 teaspoon of the strawberry puree and put the rest of it into a mug.
  • Add 1 teaspoon cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons honey or syrup to the mug (or less, if using stevia to taste). Mix well until combined.
  • Combine reserved strawberry puree with 1/2 teaspoon honey or syrup (adjust sweetness to taste), and 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder with one teaspoon honey or syrup (or to taste).
  • Heat milk with vanilla to taste (I use to scrape out 1 inch of a vanilla bean).
  • Brew coffee and add to mug, stir to combine with the strawberry-chocolate syrup.
  • Add steamed milk and top with chocolate and strawberry syrup.


Enjoy!

What do you prefer, hot mocha or cold frappuccino?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Healthy Vegan Raspberry Mocha


Healthy Vegan Raspberry Mocha

If you are at least a little like me, you love fruit, coffee and chocolate. And you don't love artificial flavouring.
I know, I know, there are such things like syrups claiming to be naturally flavoured. But let's face it, if a product label says "natural flavour" this does not necessarily mean that the flavour comes from the product of which it tastes.
It just says it is made from some natural base, like, say, wood shavings. Natural raspberry flavour is natural because the wood from which it is made is a natural product.
Of course the labels don't say how exactly they make the wood give away raspberry flavour.
Maybe these "natural flavourings" do no harm at all. I don't know it, and most probably nobody really knows.
But I don't think our body is happy to be fooled with a flavour without getting the real thing.
Flavour is associated with the nutrients a fruit contains, and if we are fond of raspberry flavour, it's for good reason: Raspberries are low in sugar and starches but full of dietary fibre, vitamin C, manganese and lots of phytochemicals like anthocyanic pigments, ellagic acid, quercetin, gallic acid, cyanidins and other stuff that makes them extremely valuable for keeping us healthy. Preventing cancer and other nasty things.
So why not use the real thing to make a decadent treat?
Yeah, it's easier to just squeeze chocolate and raspberry syrup from a bottle into my cup, fill in some coffee and steamed milk and voilĂ .
But honestly, we do spend such a lot of time doing unimportant things, why not sacrifice a bit of our time to pamper ourselves with something decadent that actually is healthy? We only save all this time with ready made products for investing it later into illness. Bad deal.
You can actually have all the benefits of your raspberries without boiling them to death in order to get syrup.
Just make fresh raspberry-chocolate syrup my way:

  • 1/4 cup fresh or thawed frozen raspberries (makes about 1 1/2 tablespoons puree)
  • 1/2 tablespoon organic cocoa powder
  • agave syrup or brown rice syrup to taste

Pass the raspberries through a sieve into a small bowl. Add cocoa powder and syrup, until it suits your taste. VoilĂ . Raspberry-chocolate goodness. All natural.
If you like it really sweet but don't want all the sugar (natural syrups are still sugar), you can also add some powdered erythritol or stevia, if you like it.
It won't stay raw when you add hot coffee and steamed milk, but at least it's not boiled to death, and I'm quite sure that some of the nutrients will survive.

For topping:

  • 1/8 cup raspberries, passed through a sieve
  • 1 teaspoon agave or brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon agave or brown rice syrup

Combine raspberry mash and syrup and cocoa powder and syrup separately and reserve for topping.

Other ingredients for your mocha:
  • 1/3 cup brewed coffee or 2 espresso shots
  • 1/2 cup soy milk or other non-dairy milk that can be frothed (if it can't be frothed, don't mind; it doesn't look as pretty, but still tastes great!)

Fill your chocolate-raspberry syrup into a mug, add hot brewed coffee, stir well, add frothed or steamed or just hot milk and top with raspberry and chocolate syrup.
The little black sprinkles are vanilla which I added to the soy milk.
Messy, huh?

You will realize that my photos don't look as artistic as the usual pictures you see from flavoured mochas of famous coffee shops. Of course I could pipe whipped cream on top of my mocha. I could whip coconut cream, and it would look pretty and still be all natural and even vegan.
But in the first place, I don't want additional cream on top of my mocha, and secondly - I prefer to invest my time into making healthy syrup, not into styling my drink like a diva.
The mocha in the Love-mug has been made with rice milk which can't be frothed at all. Looks boring, but tastes great.
The mocha in the yellow mug has been made with soy milk which could be frothed moderately well. There are brands which can be frothed even better than cow's milk, but not this one. I don't mind. It tastes great.


What's you favourite mocha?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Gluten-free Vegan Strawberry Brownie Cake


Gluten-free Vegan Strawberry Brownie Cake

Spring time means strawberry time!!
As a teenager, I spent one afternoon with my best friend, stuffing ourselves with strawberries and whipped cream.
I didn't like whipped cream nor did it agree with me, but unluckily a teenage brain does not necessarily work the boring logical ways it does about twenty years later.
So I got incredibly sick from the cream, and for years after this event, I was unable to touch a strawberry without feeling nauseous.

At the ripe old age of 32, a beautiful lady introduced me to strawberries with parmesan cheese and *real* balsamic vinegar, i.e. aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena. The real thing. Traditional balsamic vinegar, made from a reduction of cooked Trebbiano grape juice. Thick, sweet-sour syrup with a hint of oak wood, aged 25 years and about 120,- € per bottle (which means 100 ml or 3.5 ounces).
The taste of this was sublime. Not because of the expensive vinegar (at that moment, I had no clue it was so expensive or I would have been petrified with shock) but because of the flavours melting together, and maybe the environment.
Sweet, sour and salty, with the flavour of aged grape juice, caramel, the fresh strawberries, the aftertaste of aged wood - and the atmosphere of antique furnishings and candle light around us.
Since that evening, I am in love with strawberries again.
I cheated and mixed simple organic balsamic vinegar with honey to dip the berries in, and I didn't miss the expensive stuff at all.

It still took me some more years to be able to enjoy strawberries with something sweet again, like ice cream, or in cake or smoothies or shakes.
Now I've completely recovered from my teenage experience and love strawberries in every context, except as flavouring for everything like chocolate, yoghurt, cranberries. Why the heck does anybody want cranberries to taste like strawberries?
Maybe because our tastebuds know more than we do - that strawberries are a true superfood.
No need to seek exotic fruits from distant Pacific islands. All we need to be healthy is right in front of our feet.
Strawberries are a bomb. If conventionally grown, a bomb of toxins as can be seen here.
If organically grown, a bomb of nutrients: They contain more vitamin C than lemons, are high in iron (good for women, particularly gluten intolerant or celiac women), contain ellagic acid which binds certain carcinogens, have a good ratio of calcium, magnesium and potassium and are low in calories. And delicious.
Now how about a melange of dark, gooey, yet healthy brownies and sweet, juicy strawberries?



Ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) non-hydrogenated margarine or coconut oil
  • 4.5 ounces (130 g) zucchini, shredded
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored, cooked and pureed (1/3 cup or 90 g unsweetened pear sauce; can be replaced by apple sauce, but pear is better!)
  • 3/4 cup (100 g) brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds or flax seeds or psyllium husks
  • 1/2 cup (120 g) erythritol or sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (or to taste)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk of choice
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1 ounce chopped dark chocolate (or more)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla or vanilla extract

Preparation:
  • Melt margarine or coconut oil over low heat, let cool while proceeding.
  • Preheat oven to 350 °F or 180 °C.
  • Combine shredded zucchini and pear sauce in a small bowl.
  • In a big bowl, combine flour, starch, baking powder, cocoa powder, ground seeds, erythritol or sugar and vanilla.
  • Add zucchini and pear mix into flour mixture, mix well.
  • Pour in melted margarine, combine well and add maple syrup and 1-2 tablespoons milk to get a smooth consistency, stickier than cookie dough but thicker than muffin batter.
  • Add chopped chocolate, mix well.
  • Gently fold in the chopped strawberries, mix well and pour into greased or paper lined 8x8 square dish or 8 inch pie dish (I used a round pie dish).
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes.
  • It should look dry but feel soft and springy to the touch. The consistency of the baked cake is dense, fudgy and gooey, not fluffy.
  • Let cool for about 20 minutes in the pie dish, then carefully remove onto wire rack and let cool completely before serving.


Serve with fresh strawberries and / or strawberry cream:



Ingredients for the strawberry cream:
  • 8.5 ounces (ca. 250 g) strawberries
  • 2/3 cup (ca. 100 g) raw cashews
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Vanilla, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon agave syrup or maple syrup or other sweetener, to taste (I don't add any sweetener at all because the cashews and berries are sweet enough for me)

Preparation:
  • Put everything in a blender or food processor and blend on high until smooth.
  • Let stand for 10 minutes, blend again.
  • Serve immediately or refrigerate (it will firm up a bit more in the fridge).

What's your favourite way to have strawberries?


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Dairy-free Honey Mocaccino


Honey-Mocaccino

Baby, it's cold outside.
Must be the Ice Saints.

Usually my morning follows the pattern "getting up, going for a run, doing some yoga, taking a shower, ingesting a protein shake".
Today I got up, went for a run, did some yoga, showered, shivered and decided that I totally didn't want a cold shake.
I didn't want hot oatmeal or miso soup either because I wasn't really hungry. I just wanted something hot, sweet and comforting. Something chocolate and coffee.
A girl needs her espresso shot, right?
Yeah, I know, protein and micronutrients and all, but sometimes you have to get back to some stupid excuse like hormones, throw your nutritional wisdom overboard and have something decadent.

Which does not necessarily mean unhealthy.
I won't say that any kind of mocaccino could be the healthiest thing in the world, but you always can limit the damage.

Being a lazy person who likes shortcuts, I hate standing at the stove and stirring a mixture of sugar, water and cocoa powder forever, only to get some chocolate syrup.
Wasting an hour to create something totally unhealthy?
Nope.

Okay, regular simple chocolate syrup is just ten minutes.
But why bother when you can have it more quickly and even healthier?
My secret to chocolate syrup is honey. Organic runny honey and organic cocoa powder.
Sure, honey has a flavour of its own, but the combination of honey and cocoa is special.
If you want some quick neutral chocolate syrup, stir together agave syrup and cocoa powder.
But do give honey a try, if you're not vegan.

I definitely made a mess this morning.



And I definitely had my chocolate fix for the day.



Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (or other milk that can be steamed or frothed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (I use real vanilla, but you can use vanilla essence, too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons clear honey
  • 2 espresso shots or 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • optional: 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder with 1 teaspoon honey
Preparation:
  • Combine milk, vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon honey in a small pot over gentle heat.
  • In a large cup or mug, stir together 1 teaspoon cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons honey; at first it will seem as if it wouldn't come together, but keep kneading and stirring with your spoon, until you have this:

  • If you want to make a mess, be decadent and indulge in more chocolate like I did, stir together the other 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon honey in a small vial.
  • Slightly increase heat for the milk so it gets from warm to hot.
  • Brew your coffee and pour over chocolate syrup.
  • Froth milk.
  • Pour milk over coffee.

  • Make a mess and top with more syrup. Remember, we're not talking art, but chocolate.




What's your favourite way to have cappuccino?


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Orange-Chocolate Cookies and Chocolate Tongues


Orange-Chocolate Cookies and Chocolate Tongues



One egg, two cookies.
This for those occasions when you have either one egg yolk or one egg white left over.
Of course you can just grab one whole egg and make both kinds of cookies in one setting.
That doesn't mean you have to eat them in one setting.
You could invite friends over and share your cookies.
Or maybe you don't ...

Orange-Chocolate Cookies
Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon soft non-hydrogenated margarine (or butter if eating dairy)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar or erythritol or xylotil
  • 1 egg yolk
  • grated peel of 1 orange
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/8 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil

Preparation:

  • Cream margarine, egg yolk, sugar and orange peel.
  • Sift together flour, starch, xanthan gum, salt and baking powder.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients, knead into soft dough and form into a cylindrical log of 1 1/4 inch (3 cm) diameter. Wrap into cling film and refrigerate for about 1/2 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C (or 325°F / 170°C for a convection oven).
  • With a sharp knife, slice into rounds of about 1/3 inch (1 cm) thickness (makes about 20 rounds)
  • Place on lightly greased or paper lined cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until just slightly brown.
  • Let cool completely on cookie sheet.
  • When cool, melt chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler and pipe over the cooled cookies.


Chocolate tongues:

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cocoa powder (unsweeteened)
  • 3.5 ounces sugar or erythritol or xylitol
  • 1 egg white
  • 8 blanched almonds
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate
Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and line cookie sheet with non stick paper.
  • With a sharp knife, slice the almonds lengthwise into halves.
  • In a bowl, combine ground almonds, sugar, cocoa powder.
  • Add egg white, mix into a tough dough.
  • Fill dough into pastry bag with flat and broad tip and pipe 15 2 inch stripes onto cookie sheet.
  • If you don't have a flat broad tip, just pipe 15 portions of dough onto sheet and carefully flatten with wet fingers (that's what I did because I couldn't for the life of me find my flat piping tip).
  • Press one almond half on each tongue.
  • Bake for about 5 minutes until cookies are dry.
  • Let cool on a wire rack, the melt chocolate in a double boiler and dip each end of the cookies into the chocolate.
  • Place back onto wire rack to cool and harden completely.


What other uses do you have for left over egg yolks or whites?