For this month’s entry to the Suma Blogger’s Network, I’m sharing a recipe for one of my all-time favourite snacks – Chocolate Rose Energy Balls ♥ They taste more like a decadent treat than a snack, yet they’re packed with nutrient-rich energy-fuelling ingredients.
Filled with wholegrain oats, nuts, dates and cacao, each ball provides a healthy does of protein, heart-healthy fats, slow release carbs, as well as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are really satiating, so I find that just one is enough to fill me whenever I need an energy boost or afternoon snack.
When it comes to weekend treat breakfasts, waffles are a firm family favourite. They are so easy to make and take very little time to prepare. We love experimenting with different ingredients and flavour combinations. I’ve already posted recipes for our Easy Vegan Waffles and Gingerbread Waffles and today, we’re sharing the recipe for our quick and easy Chocolate Waffles.
This week we’re celebrating British Sandwich Week. Do you know how the sandwich got its name? I remember as a kid thinking it was a strange name for a food. It clearly didn’t contain sand. Maybe it was what witches ate? Incredibly, I only learnt the meaning of the name this month (thanks to the May issue of Vegan Life).
John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, was fond of ordering meat tucked between two slices of bread, avoiding both the inconvenience of a fork and messy meat-covered hands, so he could easily eat while playing cards. His fellow gamblers saw the appeal and started ordering “the same as Sandwich”. The 18th century aristocrat’s clean and convenient way of eating is why we came to call any variation of filling between bread ‘a sandwich’
Sadly, here in the UK, the availability of ready-prepared vegan sandwiches is extremely limited. The supermarket aisles are filled with row upon row of chicken, cheese, ham, egg mayo and tuna. If you’re lucky, you might find a falafel sandwich, but then you’re likely to find they’ve added milk or egg into the dressing. I’m sure that one day the sandwich shops will catch up with the growing plant-based trend but, until then, we’ll just have to whip up some of our own.
This month’s Vegan Life magazine has a fantastic selection of sandwich recipes, including the Reuben, Buffalo Tofu Hoagie, Triple BLT, Spicy Wiener and The Peter Pan. There’s also a fun Sandwich Roulette on their Interactive App.
You spin the scroll bar and whatever recipe you land on has to be your next sandwich creation. I landed on Coronation Chickpea which is perfect for me as I love chickpea spreads (as you’ll see below).
In honour of British Sandwich Week, I thought I’d share a selection of my family’s current favourite creations. All of them are 100% plant-based and come together in a matter of minutes. I don’t know about you but, if I need a sandwich, I need it pretty instantly. I’m usually making sandwiches first thing in the morning for lunchboxes or I need to grab a quick bite at lunchtime between jobs, so I can’t be spending ages cooking or prepping the filling.
So, in no particular order, here are our current 7 top picks. Between us, we’ve eaten all of these already this week and we’re only on day 3 of British Sandwich Week!
1. Falafel, Caramelised Onion Hummus, Beetroot Salad and Sweet Pickle. I always keep a stash of Cauldron Falafels in the fridge for quick sandwich making. At home, I love this filling in freshly baked or lightly toasted granary bread. For lunchboxes, we stuff it into wholemeal pitta breads so, no matter how much the school bag gets shaken, the filling stays neatly inside.
2. Cheese, Tomato and Basil. This is a pretty classic combination, except that we use vegan ‘cheese’. In our dairy-eating days, none of us actually liked cheese slices, but we really like the Violife version. They’re made with coconut oil instead of cow’s milk and are surprisingly tasty. The slices come in a range of flavours. Cheddar, olive oil, herbs, pizza and smoked are our favourites. In the UK, Violife is currently available in health food shops, Tesco and Asda.
3. Sweet Chilli Chickpea Smash Chickpea smashes are really versatile. You can flavour them in different ways and change the texture, making them coarse or creamy. One of my all-time favourite smashes is Sweet Chilli Chickpea, made with a can of drained chickpeas, glug of sweet chilli sauce, splash of fresh lime juice and salt whizzed in a blender or food processor until coarse. In this sandwich, I’ve served it with organic sprouts and freshly ground black pepper.
4. Mediterranean Veggie Ciabatta This is one of our favourite ‘easy’ Saturday night teas. It’s also one of Lil’ L’s favourite school lunches (though we use pittas to keep the veggies intact). A selection of colourful veggies (red onion, courgette/zucchini, bell pepper, mushrooms) and seeds (sunflower & pumpkin) are pan-fried, then served on crispy, warm ciabatta slathered in sun-dried tomato paste. The veggies are either fried in a drizzle of olive oil with plenty of seasoning or a splash of tamari.
5. Smoked Tofu, Avocado, Tomato Salad I was so pleased to find smoked tofu in the Spanish Hipercor so we could make one of our favourite sandwiches whilst in Marbella last month – organic smoked tofu, sliced tomato and avocado, beetroot salad and hummus, topped with a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper. For our return flight, we stuffed this filling into seeded wholewheat mini baguettes. It tasted so good and far, far better than any option available on the plane. Back home, I use the Cauldron organic smoked tofu, which is currently available from Waitrose, Ocado and health food shops.
6. The Sunday Dinner Sandwich We used to call this The Boxing Day Sandwich as it was filled with our Christmas Dinner leftovers. However, I love this sandwich so much that I couldn’t relegate it to a ‘once a year’ thing. Now we use the leftovers from the Sunday roast dinner, or I even just make this sandwich instead of a Sunday roast, hence why Lil’ L calls it the ‘Sunday Dinner sandwich’. My favourite components for this sandwich are red lentil & cashew nut loafor sage & chestnut stuffing, balsamic red onion and brussel sprout hash, served on soft granary bread slathered in cranberry sauce. Tastes. So. Good.
7. Home-made ‘Nutella’ and Banana Panini And here’s one of our favourite ‘Elevenses’ or mid-afternoon snacks, perfect for when a sweet craving strikes. Slather one side of toasted panini in home-made ‘nutella’ (hazelnut butter, maple syrup, cocoa powder, a little coconut oil and pinch of salt whizzed together) and the other side in mashed ripe banana and a sprinkling of ground cinnamon, then slam together and devour.
The recipes I most often share are firm family favourites that I’ve been refining over a number of years. So when I get inspired to create a new recipe that I want to blog now rather than in 5 years time, I end up obsessively testing it again and again over the course of a week or so to play catch up with the tweaks and refinements.
This week, the obsession has been these little guys…
When Amy mentioned gingerbread under my waffles post, it reminded me that I hadn’t made gingerbread men in years. I decided it was high time I dusted off my old recipe notes and gave them another whirl.
So far this week, I’ve made 72 gingerbread men! Family and friends have kindly been helping me out with the testing. Lil’ L’s taken them to school, Mark’s taken them to work, and I’ve shared them with friends over coffee (not the classiest of cookies but hey it made them smile).
All the batches got great feedback, but Mark thought they could be a bit ‘gingerier’ so the next batch had an extra ½ tsp of ginger. I’ve tested different thicknesses (the thicker men were the winners), different sugars and different oils/butters. All worked fine, so I’m guessing the recipe is pretty adaptable. I also tested different cooking times and I personally preferred the longer time as it made them firmer and crunchier round the edges.
Readers have also had great success using gluten-free flour to make these gingerbread men. Check out the Comments section below to see their feedback.
Even though I’ve eaten a ridiculous amount of gingerbread men this week, I’m still totally in love them and will be happily munching my way through more this weekend. Fortunately, as cookies go, these are pretty healthy as they’re wholegrain, plus they’ve got an extra boost of iron from the molasses. As well as coffee, they’re delicious with a cup of ginger tea. This has got to be the ultimate winter warmer. I can literally feel myself warming up from the inside out as I sip a cup ♥
Makes about 18 cookies (depending on cutter size)
Hands on time: 20 minutes Chilling time: 1 hour (can be left up to 2 days)
Cooking time: 10-12 minutes Ready in: 1 hour 35 minutes
Place the oil/spread/butter in a pan with the sugar, molasses and milk. Gently heat over a low heat. As it warms, whisk to combine.
Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl. Give it a mix to make sure it is combined. Pour in the contents of the pan and stir until it comes together to form a dough. This will take some elbow grease as it’s a stiff dough. (If you’re using coconut butter, you may need to add 1-2 TBSP more milk to form a smooth non crumbly dough).
Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm (plastic wrap) and chill for 1 hour. The dough can be chilled for up to 2 days but, if left for more than 1 hour, remove from the refrigerator 10 minutes before rolling.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) / 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
Place the dough on a silicone mat or lightly floured work surface. Place a sheet of non stick baking paper on top and roll to a thickness of ½ cm (just under ¼ inch). Press out the dough using a metal cookie cutter and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Combine the dough scraps into a ball and roll out again. Repeat until all the dough is used.
Place in the oven and bake for 10-14 minutes. (I check mine after 10 minutes and then bake for another 2-4 minutes as I like mine firmer and crunchier). Leave to cool and firm up for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to completely cool. The cookies will last about a week in an airtight container, or for weeks in the freezer. If freezing, place in a single layer in a freezer bag. Press out all the air before tying or zip locking.
Freshly baked, these gingerbread men are crispy round the edges with a soft centre. Over time, they become softer and chewier, but delicious nonetheless.
If you try the recipe and make any adjustments, do let me know. I always love to hear your feedback!
I have always loved waffles. There’s something about those cute indented squares that makes them such a pleasure to eat. I especially love them this time of year, warm straight from the waffle maker or toaster. They make such a yummy breakfast or mid-afternoon snack.
Lil’ L shares my love of waffles and can easily get through a dozen a week. He says there are two Autumn/Winter foods that he’ll never get sick of and that’s apple crumble and waffles!
These vegan waffles are so easy to make! It’s simply a case of blending up the ingredients (I use my Froothie for this job), scooping the batter into the waffle maker and waiting 3-4 minutes. And then they’re ready to eat!
We use a slightly thicker version of our breakfast pancake batter for these waffles. To replace the egg, we use a banana or two small-medium organic apples. On balance, I prefer the texture of the waffles made with banana as it’s slightly firmer and more robust. The riper the banana, the stronger the flavour will be in the waffles. For the mildest flavour, use ripe yellow bananas rather than brown ones.
The batter also includes wholegrain flour and oats for protein and slow release energy. The waffles happen to be fat free and cane sugar free too. This means they’re scrumptious and healthy, so perfect for treating the kids (and yourself!) Lots of Lil’ L’s friends have tried these waffles and they’ve all given them a big thumbs up.
While his friends tend to prefer them with a simple drizzle of maple syrup, Lil’ L loves to fill his squares with little pieces of chopped walnuts or pecans, for some crunch…
… while I love to top mine with raspberries and chopped almonds ♥
The waffles in the photo below were made using GF flour. I was so delighted to find that the recipe works gluten-free too as it means all our GF friends can tuck in too 😀
We make the waffles small enough so that they’re easy to pick up, fit in the toaster, and so you can scoff two or three at a time (‘cause one waffle is never enough 😉 ). We often make them as an afterschool snack, then leftovers get stored in the fridge for breakfast the next day. A quick warm through in the toaster and they’re ready to be served.
Here’s how we make our basic vegan waffle…
Makes around 10 waffles
Hands on time: 20 minutes Ready in: 20 minutes
1 ripe banana, sliced
180ml / 6 fl oz / ¾ cup soya milk
140g / 5 oz / 1 cup wholemeal (wholewheat) flour (or use a GF flour mix if needed e.g. Doves GF Brown Bread Flour)
50g / 1¾ oz / ½ cup rolled oats (use certified GF, if needed)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
2 TBSP maple syrup
1 tsp oil or coconut butter, for greasing
Chopped walnuts, pecans or almonds
Fresh or frozen berries
Place the milk and banana in a high speed blender and blend until smooth (alternatively you can use a bowl and hand blender). Add all the remaining batter ingredients and blend to combine. The batter should be thick, but pourable. Add a touch more milk if needed, to attain the desired consistency. (If you’re using GF flour, you will need around 4 tablespoons of extra liquid). Pour the batter into a bowl and leave to rest for a few minutes (this can happen while the waffle maker heats up).
When the waffle maker is hot, brush with oil or coconut butter using a silicone brush. Drop two tablespoons of batter into each of the four waffle quads. Close the lid and leave to cook for 3-4 minutes before checking (with the VonShef Waffle Maker, I leave the waffles until the green light goes out). If the waffles are golden brown, they are ready. Transfer them to a wire cooling rack while you prepare the remaining waffles.
While the waffles are cooking, prepare your toppings.
Serve warm with a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkling of your favourite nuts and berries.
Any leftover waffles can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Heat them through in the toaster before serving.
We purchased our waffle maker last October while it was on sale, and we’ve been really happy with it. It’s easy to use and, even with all our batter experimenting, we’ve yet to have a single waffle fail (which is pretty incredible!) The machine’s simple to clean too… while it’s still warm (but not scorching hot) I just wipe it over with a piece of kitchen towel.
While I’ve seen the waffle maker selling at a range of prices these past couple of months (the RRP is £64.99) you can get some amazing offers if you keep a watch out. It’s currently selling for £24.99 on Amazon and, at this price, you can’t really go wrong. We use ours 3-4 times a week and have made hundreds of waffles, so we’ve definitely had our money’s worth.
I’m not sure how many of my readers have waffle makers, and it seemed a bit unfair to share a waffle recipe without giving you the opportunity to make some yourself, so I contacted Designer Habitat and they have kindly offered to give away a VonShef Quad Waffle Maker to one of my lovely readers ♥
To be in with a chance of winning, simply leave me a comment under this blog post answering the question featured in the Rafflecopter below. Do make sure you tick the box in the Rafflecopter to register that you have done so. There are a number of additional ways you can enter in order to increase your chances of winning. You will find these listed in the Rafflecopter. All entries will be verified prior to the winner being selected.
This giveaway is open to UK residents aged 18 and over (sorry international readers)
The closing date is Friday 16th January 2014 at midnight GMT. The winner will be selected at random and notified by email. The winner will have 7 days to respond. If they fail to do so, another winner will be selected at random.
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