CCK’s Black Bean Brownies (Dairy Free / Wheat Free / Vegan)

I am a huge fan of Chocolate Covered Katie.  And who wouldn’t be?  This girl takes our favourite sugary, fat-laden treats and transforms them into healthy desserts.  Katie’s a vegan, so all her desserts are dairy and egg free, and most are gluten free and free of refined sugar.

What I find really amazing is that Katie’s healthy versions of classic treats often taste far better than the original.  And they definitely leave you feeling better inside.  No stomach aches, no sugar hangover, and no guilt!

One of my all-time favourite CCK recipes is her No Flour Black Bean Brownie.  I love the idea of adding healthful ingredients such as beans into desserts, but when you have children around, it’s important that said ingredients can’t be detected.  I can assure you that even the fussiest of kids will be unable to detect the goodness that lies in these brownies.  So let’s keep the beans a secret okay ūüėČ

CCK's Black Bean Brownie - Vegan & Wheat Free

I’ve been making and eating A LOT of these brownies in the past couple of weeks.  I’ve made them for coffee mornings with friends, lunch box treats for M and Lil’ L, and for my Tuesday night study group.  I’ve also made a batch for Valentine’s Day ‚ô• ūüėČ

Valentines Chocolate Black Bean Brownie with Almonds & Gojis

My current favourite way of serving these brownies is with a topping of dark chocolate, flaked almonds and gojis.  It adds another dimension to the texture and flavour, as well as adding even more goodness and nutrition.  They also look pretty, don’t you think?

Black Bean Brownie 3 - Vegan & Wheat Free - 500

Since I’ve eaten one of these brownies every day so far this week, it seems fitting to dedicate today’s WIAW post in their honour.  Thank you, as always, to the lovely Jenn over at Peas and Crayons for hosting this fabulous food fest.

Katie’s original Black Bean Brownie post and recipe can be found here.  Do check it out as her pictures of the brownies are stunning!  Katie gives a few ingredient options in her post.  Here’s how I make them …


Makes: 9-12 brownies
Hands-on time: 8 minutes    Cooking time: 18 minutes

1 x 400g / 14oz can black beans, rinsed and drained well (or 250g / 9oz / 1¬Ĺ cups cooked beans)
2 heaped TBSP cocoa powder
50g / 1¬ĺ oz / ¬Ĺ cup rolled oats
50ml / 1¬ĺ fl oz / ¬ľ cup organic rapeseed (canola) oil or other neutral tasting oil
100ml / 3¬Ĺ0z / 1/3 cup maple syrup or agave syrup (I use Clark’s Original Maple Syrup or organic agave syrup)
2 TBSP sugar (I use coconut sugar)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
¬Ĺ tsp baking powder
¬ľ tsp salt
100g / 3¬Ĺ oz / ¬Ĺ cup choc chips

Optional topping:
50g / 1¬ĺ oz / ¬Ĺ bar dark chocolate
flaked almonds
goji berries


  1. Preheat oven to 180C / 350 F (I have a fan oven and still keep it at 180C). Grease a 20cm / 8″ square pan and line the bottom with non stick baking paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients (except the choc chips) in a food processor and blend for a few minutes until completely smooth, stopping now and then to scrape down the bowl.
  3. Stir in the choc chips, then pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Gently spread the mixture using a spatula or knife until it reaches the edges.
  4. Bake for 18 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before cutting.  (When you remove the brownie from the oven it will feel soft, but it firms up as it cools).
  5. Optional topping: Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or microwave.  Cut the brownies into squares, or use a shaped cookie cutter (hearts are good!). Spread the chocolate on top and sprinkle with flaked almonds and gojis.  Lightly press down so they stick to the chocolate.
  6. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freezer for a few weeks.


Black Bean Brownie 2 - Vegan & Wheat Free - 500

Have you tried any of Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipes?  If so, which are your favourites? 
Next on my list to try is her Lil’ Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins.  Lil’ L loves this combo so this could be a great lunch box treat for him ūüôā

Sensible Snacking for Kids & Wise Yoda!

Hi everyone! I hope you’re having a great week so far ūüôā

I had lots of fun this afternoon with the kids at my ‘Wednesday Workshops’ (the little Buddhist meditation classes I teach at our¬†local primary school). After a beautiful meditation on ‘the kindness of others’, I thought it’d be fun to¬†watch one of my favourite Star Wars clips.


When it ended, I asked them if they’d learnt¬†anything¬†from watching it. Their hands shot up in the air and they started reeling off the lessons they’d learnt including…

  • Never¬†give up (even if you’re finding something difficult or have already failed in your first few attempts)
  • Don’t get distracted
  • Control your mind
  • Believe in yourself
  • Size doesn’t matter

All that wisdom from watching a¬†5 minute clip of Yoda! Just imagine how wise they’ll be after they’ve watched all¬†six Star Wars films ūüėČ

After watching the clip, we had great fun making paper fortune tellers and filling them with Yoda quotes and kind messages.

Think you the relationship between Master and Padawan is only to help them?
Oh, this is what we let them believe, yes! But when the day comes that even old Yoda does not learn something from his students – then truly, he shall be a teacher no more.


WIAW – Sensible Snacking …¬†Lil’ L Style!

¬†This month,¬†the lovely Jenn over at Peas and Crayons has set ‘Sensible Snacking’ as the theme for our weekly¬†‘What I Ate Wednesday’ foodie parties. I think this is a great theme as it’s all too easy to reach for the junk snacks when we’re feeling a bit peckish.¬†

For me, the¬†most important thing¬†is making sure that¬†Lil’ L has¬†snacks that are going to sustain his¬†energy levels.¬†On weekdays, he has a morning snack¬†at playtime and an after-school snack. I try to make sure that these snacks contain whole foods, complex carbs and minimal sugar so that his energy levels¬†don’t peak and slump. I also want encourage him to develop healthy snacking habits for the future.

Now that he’s older, I involve him in the decision making about¬†his¬†choice¬†of snacks. Here’s a run down of some of his current favourite snacks (all of¬†which¬†he’s eaten in the past week).

Morning Snacks


  • 2 seeded¬†flatbread crackers with bean pate or houmous filling (his¬†number 1 current favourite snack)
  • 2 wholegrain rice cakes with yeast extract (these taste like the Marmite rice cakes but they have the added bonus of being wholegrain)

  • 2 sesame wholegrain rice cakes with St Dalfour Strawberry spread or Manuka honey filling (the honey was a gift from his grandma!)

  • Packet of wholegrain mini biscuits with no added sugar or salt.

After School Snacks


  • Roasted pistachios nuts (salt free).¬†


  • Almonds and sunflower seeds roasted in a tiny amount of low-salt soy sauce (recipe here)


  • ¬†Apple cinnamon pancakes with chopped pecans, ground linseed and a drizzle of maple¬†syrup.¬†
    I make pancakes every Sunday and Lil’ L likes to have the leftover pancakes on a Wednesday before his swimming lesson (warmed in the microwave).

  • Wholemeal choc chip¬†or almond cookie.

We also¬†make a fruit smoothie after school. This week, he’s made smoothies with different combinations of pineapple,¬†blueberries , banana and strawberries, non dairy milks and yoghurt, and chia seeds for an omega-3 boost (the seeds are completely obliterated in a high speed blender, so you don’t even notice them).

We’re always on the look out for new snacks, so do let me know if you have any suggestions.
If you have kids, I’d love to hear what their favourite snacks are.
And equally importantly, what’s your¬†current favourite snack?

Enjoy the rest of your week everyone! ūüôā xx

 This time last year: Sugar Free Jam Tarts


Bluebells Galore! & Lil’ L’s Top Eats of the Week

Hi everyone!¬† I hope you’re having a great week so far ūüôā

We’re doing okay, although the weather is a bit of a drag.¬† It’s just rain, rain, rain here ūüôĀ¬† I mustn’t complain though as we’ve had beautiful weather for weeks and the country’s¬†got a water shortage.¬†¬†¬†

Although I¬†definitely don’t fancy¬†going out on my bike in this weather, I am¬†happy to walk about in the rain.¬†¬†In fact, it can be pretty refreshing.¬† I love the smell of¬†fresh rain and, providing you’ve got a big umbrella, it can be quite cosy and fun.

On Saturday, we decided to take a trip to West Woods¬†in Wiltshire to check out the beautiful bluebells.¬† It rained on and off, but that didn’t matter.¬†

If anything, it made the trip even more magical as we were pretty much the only ones there.  It was so peaceful!

The bluebells were truly stunning! 

We noticed that there were quite a few bridleways through the forest so, as soon as the tracks dry out, we’ll take our bikes¬†for a ride round.

The market town of Marlborough is not far from the woods so, after our walk, we popped there for a coffee.  It was market day so before we headed home, we managed to bag ourselves some great value fruit and veggies, including 10 bananas for £1!

WIAW – Lil’ L’s Favourite Eats of the Week

Since our return from Lanzarote a week and a half ago,¬†I’ve been enjoying cooking¬†some of the family’s favourite meals.¬†¬†Just for a change,¬†for this week’s WIAW party, I thought¬†I’d¬†ask Lil’ L to list¬†his favourite breakfast, lunch, dinner and¬†dessert¬†that he’s eaten since we’ve been home.¬†

Here’s a¬†rundown of his favourite eats:

Breakfast – Banana Pancakes
I made a batch of these on Saturday morning and Lil’ L had them for breakfast on both Saturday and Sunday.¬†These are his number one favourite pancakes.¬† I’ve recently¬†updated the recipe to bring it into line with my other pancake recipes.¬†They are so simple to make; you just throw all the ingredients into the blender and pulse it a few times.

At the weekend, we topped the pancakes with chopped pecans, walnuts, sliced almonds, ground linseed and a drizzle of agave syrup. 

Lunch – Scrambled Tofu Pitta Pocket
Since¬†returning from¬†our holidays, we’ve been on a mission to liven up¬†lunch boxes.¬† Lil’ L mentioned¬†that he would love to try scrambled tofu in a pitta bread for his school lunch.¬† On Sunday, we made¬†scrambled tofu on toast for¬†our¬†lunch and then¬†saved some for¬†packed lunches on Tuesday.¬†

This time round, in addition to the tofu and spices, we added a few veggies – finely chopped red onion, red pepper, sliced mushrooms and flat leaf parsley.

Lil’ L absolutely loved the scrambled tofu pitta pocket and¬†said it was one of the best packed lunches he’s ever had.¬† We’ll definitely be making this one again!

Dinner РHome-made Pizza, Mexican Fajitas & Vegetable Korma
Lil’ L had difficulty choosing one favourite dinner as we’ve had three of his favourites this week, so he asked whether I could feature all three.¬†

On Sunday we had¬†the home made ‘confetti’ pizza¬†(which we ate whilst watching the very bizarre film ‘Coraline’)

On Monday,¬†we had Mexican veggie fajitas.¬†¬†This dinner only takes 8 minutes to make!¬† It’s perfect for Monday nights when Lil’ L has to eat an early dinner before cubs.¬†

To make them, I stir fried¬†bell ¬†peppers, courgette (zucchini), mushrooms, baby corn,¬†avocado, julienned carrot sticks, roasted broccoli (a left over from the weekend)¬†and pumpkin seeds in a little oil and a sprinkling of¬†fajita spice mix. I also added half a packet of¬†Fry’s Vegetarian Chunky Strips (bought¬†from Holland and Barratt).¬†¬†We¬†served them in warmed tortillas, and¬†M and I chose to spice ours up with a¬†drizzle of Linghams Chilli Sauce.¬† Delicious!

Yesterday, my mum came to visit us for the night, so we decided to cook one of the family’s current favourite meals – Veggie Korma with home made chapattis.¬† This time round, we used 7 different vegetables in the curry –¬†red onion, garlic, celery, carrot, parsnip, savoy cabbage, and mushrooms, along with cashew nuts and sliced almonds. ¬†Lil’ L enjoyed it so much that he asked for seconds!

Dessert – Chocolate Banana Chia Pudding
This was our dessert from Monday night.¬†¬†Another really¬†simple¬†recipe which takes¬†about a minute to prepare, providing that you’ve remembered to pre-soak the chia seeds.

It’s been another week of great eats¬†ūüôā¬† We’ve had lots of old family favourites¬† and I’ve also been trialling some new recipes which I’m looking forward to sharing with you…. especially the home made veggie pasties, which are totally lush!¬†¬†

Right,¬†time¬†to head over to¬†the¬†WIAW party to¬†check out this week’s¬†delicious eats.¬†¬†¬†Thanks as always to the¬†lovely Jenn for hosting this great event.¬† I hope to see you there! ūüôā xx

Mothering Sunday, a Visit to Lacock and a delicious Veggie Korma!

Hi everyone!¬† Hope you’re having a great week so far!

For this week’s WIAW party,¬†I’d like to share our eats from last Sunday, which was¬†Mother’s Day here in the UK.¬†¬†According to the results of a nationwide¬†survey, what most mothers really want on Mothering Sunday is a lie-in and a home-made card.¬† Well, I can happily report that I got both, so I was one very happy mum indeed! ūüôā

Check out what Lil’ L wrote inside the card.¬† It’s really sweet (and¬†amusing)!¬† People that know me will laugh at pretty much all the qualities he listed,¬†especially the last one!¬† The only one I can relate to myself is no 3.¬† Isn’t it wonderful though that, at the age of 8, our kids still think of us as superstars!¬† I wonder how long that will last!

Last weekend, M’s parents came to stay, so Mother’s Day was doubly special.¬† After our lovely lie-ins with cups of tea and coffee, we all opted to have different breakfasts.¬† Cereals and home-made pecan & maple nut granola for M’s mum and dad, porridge for M, and pancakes for me & Lil’ L.¬† However, when M saw how nice the the pancakes¬†looked, he decided that he’d like some¬†as well.¬† Luckily, I’d made a huge batch so we had a couple spare ūüėČ

This Sunday, we had blueberry pancakes (recipe here) made with the new Alpro Almond Milk (delicious!),  topped with organic strawberries, pecan nuts, ground linseed and a drizzle of agave syrup.  Both Waitrose & Tesco are selling organic strawberries half price at the moment and they are super sweet and totally scrummy!

Lil’ L was¬†put out at first when he saw the strawberries on top, but he was willing to give them a try, with the response¬†“I’ll give anything a try if it’s on top of a pancake”.¬† I must remember this ūüėČ

He ended up eating the whole lot, which is fantastic for this former fruit dodger.¬† That’s another fruit to cross off the ‘won’t try/don’t like’ list ūüôā

After breakfast, we went to visit Lacock, a village in Wiltshire just a few miles from where we live.  This ancient village is a pretty special place, and has the most incredible old houses.

Lacock Village High Street (c) Ian Petticrew

It’s been used as the backdrop for a number of films and TV series, including Cranford and Pride & Prejudice.¬† Lacock Abbey is also the setting for a number of the interior shots in the¬†Harry Potter films.

Lacock Village (c) Pam Brophy

On Sunday, there were lots of little craft shops open for us to browse, as well as a craft fayre in the village hall.  For lunch, we stopped at the village bakery for a delicious veggie pastie.

Lacock Bakery (c) Jonathan Billinger

We had a lovely afternoon at the village¬†and are planning to return in¬†early summer with M’s parents to visit the Abbey and its grounds.¬† From the photos I’ve seen on the web, it looks absolutely stunning!

Lacock Abbey (c) Gary Brothwell

For dinner, we had leftovers from Saturday night’s meal, which had been so delicious that we didn’t mind¬†eating it on two consecutive nights.¬†¬†We had veggie korma, coconut dhal with butternut squash, brown rice, chapattis (made by M!), and mini poppadoms.

The veggie curry was really well received by M’s parents, which was a¬†relief¬†as I¬†often wonder whether M, L and I have¬†different taste buds to people that eat ‘typical’ Western diets.¬† I think¬†veggie curry is a great dish to serve when you have guests (whether they’re veggie or meat eaters)¬†for these reasons…

  • With the simple addition of chapattis, poppadoms, naan breads, the curry can turn into a delicious feast.
  • Pretty much everyone I know loves curry, and as long as you don’t make it too hot, then it’s fine for the children too.¬† When Lil’ L was younger, I simply used to roughly blend the veggies so that they were less chunky and blended into the korma sauce.
  • The dishes can be prepared in advance (big advantage in my book as I don’t want to be slaving in the kitchen when we have guests!)¬† The dishes can even be¬†prepared the day before and simply heated through on the stove.

The veggie korma we made on Saturday included my all-time favourite combination of veggies for curries.¬† It’s quick and incredibly simple to make.¬† Here’s the recipe:


Veggie Korma

Serves: 5-6
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

1-2 TBSP korma curry paste (I use Patak’s korma paste)
400 ml / 14 oz  can coconut milk
1 onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 medium parsnips, sliced
1 medium courgette (zucchini), sliced
4 white cabbage leaves, chopped
2 handfuls of spinach (or other leafy green), roughly chopped
240 ml / 8 fl oz / 1 cup vegetable stock
80g / 3 oz / ¬Ĺ cup cashew nuts (or sub with cooked chick peas if you wish)
35g / 1¬ľ oz / 1/3 cup flaked almonds

Get prepared:
Prepare some brown basmati rice.
Chop the veggies.
Prepare the vegetable stock.

Ready, set, go!
In a large, heavy bottomed pan, mix the curry paste and coconut milk together over a medium-low heat. Add the vegetables (except the spinach) and stock, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or so, until the vegetables are tender. Add the cashews and spinach, and continue cooking until the spinach has wilted. Season, to taste.

Meanwhile toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat, stirring continuously until lightly browned.

Serve in warm bowls on a bed of rice and a sprinkling of toasted flaked almonds, for garnish.

Any leftover curry can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or for weeks in the freezer.


For dessert, we had mango hedgehogs ūüôā

So that’s what we ate on Mothering Sunday.¬† We didn’t go out to a restaurant and pay the inflated Mother’s Day prices, but instead we stayed in and ate¬†one of the tastiest Indian meals I’ve ever had ūüôā

It’s now time for me to pop over to Jenn’s site and check out all the delicious WIAW entries.¬† A big thank you to Jenn for hosting this great foodie party and for all the inspiration for new eats.

I’d love some more ideas for¬†dishes¬†to serve for¬†a mix of veggie and non-veggie guests.¬† I often end up serving¬†veggie lasagna, Mexican burritos/ fajitas/ enchiladas, or¬†veggie curry.¬† What dishes would you recommend?¬† I’d love to hear your ideas and please do send links to recipes if you have them.

Happy Wednesday everyone! xx



A Birthday Surprise, Yummy Eats & Yak Yeti Yak

Happy Wednesday everyone!¬† Hope you all have a great day!¬† I’m posting early today as we’re off to London for part 2 of M’s birthday surprise ūüėČ

Thank you for all the kind birthday wishes left on my blog for M (or ‘Mr Bit of the Good Stuff’, as Candy calls him ūüėČ ).¬† On Monday, M turned the ripe old age of 40 and, to mark the occasion, I had 2 great surprises lined up for him (one for Monday and the other for today) ūüôā¬†

Both M and I have got a keen interest in art but¬†unlike me (who hasn’t got an artistic bone in her¬†body) M is a dab hand with a pen, pencil or paintbrush.¬† For a while now,¬†he’s been mentioning that he’d like to have¬†a try at stencil graffiti art so,¬†on his birthday,¬†I arranged for Stuart, a graffiti artist, to come to our house and give M a 1-2-1 tutorial.¬†

As well as being an artist in his own right, Stuart travels all over the UK and internationally to teach individuals and group workshops.  I was so grateful that he was able to stop by Monday to spend a few hours with M.

It rained non stop on Monday, so Stuart and M had to squeeze in our very messy garage.¬† Both Lil’ L and I were fascinated with Stuart’s suitcase full of spray cans.¬† Here’s one of many photos that¬†Lil’ L took of the suitcase ūüôā

Stuart was a great teacher, not only helping M with technique, but also in the development of his creative ideas for the two canvases that he was going to produce.¬† Here’s a shot of M in action (minus his head as he wants to remain anonymous ūüėČ )

The two pieces of work he produced are already hanging on our living room walls.¬† They’re not bad¬†for a first attempt are they?



He’s definitely got the spray painting bug now and can’t wait to have another go.¬†¬†Luckily, I’ve got another surprise lined up for him today¬† ūüėČ

While the boys were busy being creative in the garage, I decided to get creative in the kitchen and try out a new recipe.¬† Since I had some ready-made puff pastry sitting in the fridge, I decided to have a go at making Viva’s Chestnut Pate En Croute.¬† It was so simple to make, and ready in less than 30 mins.¬†

I cut it into four large slices, and gave a slice each to Stuart, M, Lil’ L and the last one for myself.¬† The feedback was very positive, and M suggested that this bake would be great for Boxing Day dinner.¬† While it was delicious as it was, next time round I may add some chopped chestnuts, pine nuts and porcini mushrooms to make it even more special ūüôā

Here’s how I made it:[print_this]Chestnut Pate en Croute (based on Viva’s recipe)

Serves: 4
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20-30 mins

2 onions, chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g / 3 1/2oz button mushrooms, sliced
Half a tin of unsweetened chestnut puree (a full tin is 435g, so you want 215g)
2 tbsp fresh soft breadcrumbs
1 tbsp brandy
salt and pepper
1 sheet of Jus Rol ready-rolled puff pastry (rectangular, not round)
soya milk to glaze


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / Gas 6
  2. Fry the onions and celery in the oil in a large saucepan, covered until the onions are transluscent.
  3. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and cook for 2-3 mins.
  4. Mix in the chestnut puree, breadcrumbs, brandy and seasoning until everything is well combined.
  5. Unroll the pastry and place carefully on a lightly-oiled baking sheet.  Pile the chestnut mixture lengthways down the middle third of the pastry.
  6. Make diagonal cuts 1cm / 1/2″ apart on the pastry on either side of the chestnut mixture.¬† Fold these up alternately to make a lattice covering it.¬† Brush the pastry with soya milk and bake for 20 mins or so, until browned.


Viva has produced a fantastic mini guide full of delicious vegan Christmas recipes.¬† The guide can be accessed online here.¬† I’m planning to try out a few more of their recipes over the next couple of weeks.

After we’d had lunch and said goodbye to Stuart, we headed into Bath as¬†Lil’ L wanted to take his dad¬†to the cinema¬†to see Arthur Christmas in 3D (another birthday treat).¬† All of us really enjoyed the film.¬† Arthur is a very sweet, kind hearted guy ūüôā

For dinner, we went to one of our all-time favourite restaurants in Bath… The Nepalese ‘Yak Yeti Yak’.¬†

So what do I love about this restaurant?¬† Basically everything!¬†… The delicious food, the¬†great ambiance, the gorgeous interior, and their¬†stunning dinnerware.¬† I must get me some of those brass platters and bowls ūüėČ

We¬†opted for the¬†veggie set menu ‘Dal Bhat Tarkari‘ (rice,¬†dal, aloo channa, popadum, fresh stone-ground chutney, dhai, and our¬†choice of¬†individual vegetable dishes – Chyauko Tarkari (stir fried mushrooms), and Aloo Tamar (fermented bamboo shoots stir-fried with new potatoes and black-eye peas).¬† Between the three of us, we’d¬†soon polished off the lot!

For dessert, I had Kir (coconut creamed rice lightly spiced (with cardamon, I believe),¬†sweetened, sprinkled with toasted shredded coconut¬†and¬†served chilled).¬† This dessert was totally scrumptious¬†and I can’t wait to have a try at making it myself.¬†¬†¬†

All in all, Monday was a great day of fun-filled activities and eats, and I hope M enjoyed it as much as I did ūüôā¬†

Time to head over now to Jenn’s WIAW party and see what my foodie friends are eating.¬† Hopefully I’ll get some inspiration for Christmas.¬†

I still have no idea what I’m going to be cooking over Christmas and as I’m hosting this year, I really need to get organised.¬† At the moment, I’ve a huge urge to go to the supermarket and buy lots of ready made food and be done with it.¬† I’d much rather be playing games with the family and watching movies than slaving away in the kitchen.¬† But, is that too much of a cop out?¬† What do you think?