Orange Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Dairy Free. Vegan.

Orange Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Each month, I eagerly anticipate the delivery of The Vegan Kind subscription box. I love the diversity of products included in the boxes. There’s usually a sweet treat (this month we were spoilt with two high quality chocolate treats), a savoury snack, as well as a fab new vegan beauty, toiletry or cleaning product.

In addition to these goodies, I always get very excited when I see ingredients in a box. My brain immediately starts whizzing with new recipe ideas and I can’t wait to get in the kitchen and start creating.

TVK18

This month we received a package of Coconom ginger coconut sugar. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how much I love coconut sugar and though I use it all the time, I’d never tried this particular sugar before. It’s infused with real ginger and tastes amazing! My family are huge ginger fans so this product was spot on for us.

Coconom Coconut Sugar

As soon as I spied the sugar, a recipe sprung to mind that I knew it would be perfect for – Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. I often make these cookies as they’re a family favourite, but this week I decided to add an extra dimension of flavour by adding in some orange zest. Not only did they taste delicious, but they smelt wonderful too. As they baked, the kitchen was filled with the most beautiful orange aroma.

Orange Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

These cookies got a big thumbs up from the family and my Tuesday night study class. I’ve already baked four batches this week and I’ve still got plenty of ginger coconut sugar left for more recipe experimenting. Next up, I’ve got my eye on The Vegan Cookie Fairy’s Banana Ginger Butterscotch Muffin recipe (featured on the TVK recipe card). They sound really yummy!

Products used in this recipe
Tesco Organic Rapeseed Oil, Organic Oranges, Chapatti Flour
Coconom Coconut Sugar
Steenburgs Organic Fairtrade Vanilla Extract
Mornflake Superfast Oats
Crazy Jack Organic Raisins

Gluten-Free Trial
So far, I’ve had one attempt at a gluten-free version of this cookie. I subbed the wheat flour with oat flour and added 1/2 TBSP ground flaxseed to the wet ingredients. Sadly I found them a bit too dry and ‘claggy’, so I’ll need to try a different GF flour. Lil’ L and M didn’t mind them so much though. They scoffed the lot.

Orange Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Did you get this month’s TVK box? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of it. What was your favourite product? Impossible for me to choose a favourite this month as I loved it all!

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Pecan Topped Banana Bread (Dairy-free, Egg-free, Vegan)

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great Easter. I’ve finally plugged back in after my extended break. It did me the world of good to have some time out but I missed you guys! Thank you so much to everyone that’s emailed or left me feedback on the blog about recipes you’ve tried these past few weeks. You guys have made me smile so much!

To kickstart my return, I thought I’d share one of my all-time favourite baked treats…

Pecan Topped Banana Bread

For banana bread, you want to use very ripe bananas – the blacker the better. So, if you’ve got some bananas languishing in the fruit bowl, this recipe is a great way to use them up.

Since banana bread can be a bit plain looking, I like to dress up our loaves by adding toppings or extra ingredients into the batter. In this loaf, I’ve sprinkled a handful of pecans on top which impart a delicious flavour and crunchiness when baked.

Pecan Topped Banana Bread

In the centre, I’ve added some chopped dates for a touch of caramel-like sweetness. If you wish, you could sub some of the dates for chopped nuts in the batter. Pecans or walnuts work especially well.

Pecan Topped Banana Bread

Since Lil’ L is currently at primary school (where nuts are banned), I tend to leave the nuts out of the banana bread batter so that he can take a slice in his lunchbox. I simply slice off the pecan top and he eats it when he gets home from school :o)

 

Have a lovely weekend everyone

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Dairy-Free / Vegan Easter Eggs – Top Picks for 2015

With just over a week until Easter, our minds have been on all things egg and bunny shaped, and preferably made of chocolate. We’ve been scouting the shops and online stores, checking out what’s on offer for vegans and the dairy free. Every year, the selection gets bigger and bigger. I remember not so long ago that it was impossible to find a dairy-free egg (even the dark chocolate eggs contained dairy :/). This year, whether you’re a milk, white or dark chocolate lover, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our top picks for 2015.

Milk Chocolate Lovers text

 

 

Dairy Free Milk Chocolate Eggs 2015

1. Moo Free Organic Dairy-Free Milk Chocolate Bunnycomb Egg 100g (Vegan Town, Animal Aid, Viva!)

2. Moo Free Organic Dairy-Free Milk Chocolate Egg 100g (Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Holland & Barrett, Ocado)

3. Moo Free Organic Dairy-Free Milk Chocolate Cheeky Orange Egg 100g (Animal Aid, Viva!)

4. Plamil Organic Dairy-Free Milk Chocolate Egg 85g (Holland & Barrett, Vegan Town)

5. Choices Dairy-Free Easter Egg & 6 Choc Discs 125g (Holland & Barrett)

6. Choices Dairy-Free Caramel Flavoured Egg with 3 Caramel Chocolates 120g (Holland & Barrett)

7. Vantastic Large Vegan Milk Chocolate Easter Bunny 100g (Vegan Town)

Guaranteed dairy-free: Moo Free, Plamil

White Chocolate Lovers text

 

 

White Chocolate Easter Treats 2015

1. Vantastic Large White Chocolate Bunny 100g (Viva!)

2. Zotter Mi-Xing White Easter Egg 100g (Viva!)

3. Choices Dairy Free White Chocolate Egg & Buttons 65g (Holland & Barrett)

4. Choices Dairy Free White Chocolate Bunny Bar 40g (Holland & Barrett, Sainsbury’s)

Dark Chocolate Lovers text

 


Dark Chocolate Easter Treats 2015

1. Montezuma’s Dark Chocolate Chunky Button Egg 250g (Ocado)

2. Cocoa Loco Dark Chocolate & Ginger Easter Egg 225g (Cocoa Loco)

3. Divine Luxury Dark Chocolate Easter Egg with 100g Dark Chocolate Raspberry Bar (Waitrose, Ocado, Animal Aid)

4. Hotel Chocolat Dark Egglets 110g (Hotel Chocolat)

5. Hotel Chocolat Dark City Bunnies 90g (Hotel Chocolat)

6. Montezuma’s Dark Chocolate Mini Eggs with Almond Praline 150g (Montezuma’s, Ocado, Animal Aid)

Hotel Chocolat Milk-Free Milk Chocolate – NEW for 2015!
As soon as I heard that Hotel Chocolat had launched a range of milk-free milk chocolate, I headed straight to our store in Bath to check it out. It didn’t taste quite as I expected… it’s got that quality cocoa flavour that we know and love about Hotel Chocolat, but it didn’t have the creaminess (or sugary sweetness) that we associate with dairy chocolate. When Lil’ L tried it, he said that it was more like a dark chocolate than a dairy chocolate. If you’re a milk chocolate lover, I’d recommend trying a sample before you buy to make sure it suits your tastes. I like it… but then again I’m a dark chocolate lover ;)

Hotel Chocolat Milk-Free Milk Chocolate1.   Milk-Free Milk Scrambled Egg 210g

2. Milk-Free Goose Egg 130g

3. Milk-Free Milk City Bunnies 90g

 

What chocolatey treat would you love from the Easter Bunny this year?

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Cocoa Lime Energy Bites (Vegan / Gluten Free)

Cocoa Lime Energy Bites

As we head into Spring, I’ve started to crave lighter foods and fresh citrus flavours. For me, these Cocoa Lime Energy Bites are spot on for this time of year. They’re chocolatey but not too rich, they’re fresh and zesty thanks to the lime, and they’re lighter than the classic energy bite as I’ve cut down on nuts and substituted oats instead.

Lime Zest

I toyed between calling them ‘bliss balls’ and ‘energy bites’. They’re packed with mood-enhancing nutrients like magnesium, zinc, iron, B vitamins and omega 3, as well as cacao which triggers bliss-like chemicals in the brain. I always feel amazing after eating them. For these reasons, they definitely belong in the ‘bliss camp’.

Cocoa Lime Energy Bites

However, whenever I mention ‘bliss balls’ to M, he cringes. Maybe the name’s just too hippy or girly for him. ‘Energy bites’ got his approval though. It’s not very attractive or sexy, but if this name makes it a ‘man treat’ too, then that’s what we’ll go with. Men definitely deserve their share of these yummy snacks.

Energy bites is an accurate description anyhow, as they’re packed with fantastic ingredients like oats, nuts, seeds and dates that boost and sustain our energy levels.Cacao Nibs

I also like to add a handful of cacao nibs into these bites. They provide a lovely chocolatey ‘crunch’, as well as more of those amazing raw cocoa nutrients.

These energy bites make a great mid morning snack, afternoon ‘pick me up’ or post-school snack (Lil’ L loves them!) They’re very filling, so I find that one is usually enough for an energy boost and to stave off hunger pangs. They’re easy to transport too, so perfect for stashing in your bag for road trips and days out.

Cocoa Lime Energy Bites

Products used in this recipe (UK Stockists)
Mornflake Superfast Oats
Tesco Wholefoods cashewswalnuts  and soft pitted dates
Sevenhills Organics shelled hemp seeds, cacao powder, cacao nibs
Clarks original maple syrup
East End desiccated coconut
Suma coconut sugar (available in health food shops) or Biona coconut sugar from Amazon
Magimix 3200 Food Processor

Cocoa Lime Energy Bites

Do you crave different foods in Spring? As well as citrus, I’m loving fresh green flavours right now… mint, peas, asparagus, green beans. Two of my favourite Spring dishes are Mint Pea Soup and Risotto con Verdure. Hopefully I’ll get to share them with you very soon! xx 

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Vegan Life Issue 4

These past couple of weeks I’ve been savouring my copy of Vegan Life Issue 4. Usually I get through magazines in a flash, but there’s so much to read in this one.

Vegan Life Issue 4

As usual, the magazine gave me plenty to think about and invoked so many emotions… sadness and despair while reading about the plight of Moon bears and Angora rabbits in China…

Moon Bears

… to hope and optimism when reading about the plethora of vegan businesses popping up all over the globe.

The feature on vegan cosmetics was timely as my make-up bag is in desperate need of an overhaul. Most of its contents are years old (probably older than Lil’ L!) and from The Body Shop (which I mistakenly thought was natural / cruelty free). It was fantastic to hear there are so many vegan cosmetic brands available these days.

It was also useful to learn about the animal-derived ingredients to watch out for including beeswax and honey; lanolin (wool grease); squalene (shark liver oil); carmine (crushed beetles); tallow (animal fat); collagen (placenta-derived); allantoin (cow urine); and elastin (animal connective tissue).

Vegan Life Issue 4

This morning I did a little online research into vegan cosmetic brands and I was amazed at how many there are available here in the UK. I came across an online shop called Honesty Cosmetics which sells 100% vegan products. They stock Beauty without Cruelty, Lavera Trend Sensitiv and Benecos Natural Beauty (the vegan range). Their products really appeal to me as they’re natural and organic as well as vegan. I’m really looking forward to refreshing my make-up bag. It’s long overdue!

On the food front, I was so happy to see El Piano featured in this month’s issue. A vegan Spanish restaurant? Now that’s something I never dreamed I’d see in my lifetime! I’m heading to Spain soon, and my Spanish friends told me that it could be difficult to find vegan options there. From what I’ve heard, Spain sounds a bit like my experience of France, where pigs (ham/chorizo) seem to end up in most dishes, even the vegetable ones :/

El Piano

So you can imagine how delighted I was to discover that El Piano has branches in Malaga and Granada… two places that I’ll be visiting during my travels. It’s going to be so refreshing to be able to head into a Spanish restaurant and know that I can eat anything on the menu. Happy Days :D

This issue of Vegan Life is jam-packed with tasty recipes too. We’ve already tried Tara Stiles’ Portobello mushroom burger from the Make Your Own Rules Diet book (featured on the front cover). It was super easy to make, so perfect for a Saturday night movie dinner. My brain is already whizzing with ideas of variations on the Portobello Burger theme.

I’ve also tried Jane Easton’s Indian-Style Padma Pancakes (from the Viva! cookbook). Most weeks I make a big batch of curry and we serve it with rice one night, then the leftovers are stuffed into pitta breads for lunchboxes or flatbreads/pancakes for another evening dinner. I often make chickpea pancakes as they’re rich in protein and iron, but I usually flavour mine with paprika/chilli/oregano, rather than Indian spices. I was intrigued to find out how they would taste.

Vegan Life Issue 4 Recipe

Chickpea pancakes can sometimes be quite dry or heavy, but these came out just perfect. They were light, yet sturdy enough to flip and roll. The recipe suggested flavouring them with turmeric and ground fenugreek or asafoetida powder. I found a bottle of asafoetida powder at the back of my pantry which I’d not even opened. I thought this would be a good time to dust it off and give it a try.

Oh my word, I don’t think I’ve ever been so repelled by a flavour. Seriously, I nearly barfed! It’s hard to describe the flavour but, to me, it tasted like an intense ‘eggy’ flavour, maybe ‘eggs gone bad’. Argh even now I’m shuddering at the thought of it. Maybe I had a bad batch?

Second time round, I used ground cumin, a little turmeric, fresh red chilli pepper and fresh coriander (cilantro). This flavour combo worked much better for me. For the filling, I used our Sweet Potato, Red Lentil and Coconut Curry leftovers. This was my lunch today and it was so good! I’ll definitely be making it again.

Indian Chickpea Pancake

As you can tell, this latest Issue of Vegan Life has given me plenty of food for thought AND for my belly hehe ;)

Did you manage to get hold of a copy yourself? If so, have you tried any of the recipes yet?

If you use vegan cosmetics, I’d love to hear your recommendations. Do you know of any UK high street shops that sell vegan cosmetics we can try before we buy?

Vegan Life is UK-based magazine, available worldwide both in hard copy and digital formats. Check out this link to find out more.

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