I’ve been making these energy balls/energy bites/bliss balls/whatever you want to call them for a few years now, so I don’t know why I’m only blogging them now. Still, here we are. Or, rather, here they are.
I’ve been attempting to up my exercise lately, which is all well and good but, with exercise comes appetite and if I burn off 300 calories, it makes me want to eat 1,000, so some healthy snacks were needed to stop me munching on crisps and chocolate.
When you’ve got bananas going black in your fruit bowl, there’s only one thing to do with them – yep, make banana bread. Or, in my case, make vegan banana and cashew muffins.
These muffins are quick and easy to make and I used cashews because that’s what I had in but you can add any nuts or fruit you like instead, such as raisins or walnuts.
I had a bit of a baking urge at the weekend because as well as these muffins, I also made vegan brownies containing flax seed and cacao nibs, which I’ll blog about tomorrow.
- 225g plain flour
- 3 heaped tsp baking powder
- 100g brown sugar
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 3 ripe bananas
- 75g vegetable oil
- 50g cashews
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C
- Mash the bananas and mix well with the oil and sugar
- Add the flour, baking powder and mixed spice and stir well, mixing everything together
- Stir in the cashews
- Spoon the batter into muffin cases in a muffin tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes
At the end of last year, I took part in a wonderful free food photography course – 30 Days to Better Food Photos. When it ended, I didn’t want to lose motivation, so I created the Beginner’s Food Photography Critique Group on Facebook so those of us who wanted to, could keep sharing our photos and get feedback on them (it’s not just for people who took the course – anyone can join). Each month we set a challenge to photograph something on a theme and this month’s theme was regional/local.
I googled for traditional Kent recipes and fancied making a gypsy tart but decided that with evaporated milk being the key ingredient, it wouldn’t easily be veganised. Then I came across a recipe for oast cakes, which are named after the round pointy-topped hop-drying houses you can see all over the Kent countryside and the oast cakes were eaten after the crop had been gathered. I’d never heard of oast cakes but, as I’m from London, not Kent, maybe that wasn’t too surprising, so I asked The Meat Eater if he’d heard of them but he hadn’t either.
As you can see from the photo, they’re similar to Welsh Cakes and taste like them too, although oast cakes don’t contain spices or egg. What oast cakes do traditionally contain is lard but that’s easily veganised by using vegetable shortening instead. I’ve got to admit, I didn’t know what shortening was but a quick investigation told me that I could use suet or Trex. I thought Trex was something from the 70s but you can still buy it in Tesco, which is what I did as Trex is pure fat, while suet is a mixture of fat and flour.
These vegan oast cakes are fried, but I can’t see any reason why they couldn’t be baked instead.
- 225g plain flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 50g vegetable shortening (e.g. Trex), diced
- 40g caster sugar
- 75g sultanas or currants
- 45ml vegetable oil
- 25g dairy-free spread (I used Vitalite)
- Put the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl, then rub the vegetable shortening in thoroughly
- Stir in the sugar and the sultanas or currants, then mix with 3-4 tsbp water to make a soft dough
- Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 1cm thick. Cut out 12 rounds using a 5cm cutter
- Heat the oil and dairy-free spread in a frying pan and fry each oast cake for about 3 minutes on each side until golden, then drain on kitchen roll
Here are some more traditional dishes from my fellow food bloggers:
If you’ve been following my journey through Veganuary so far, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’ve turned into a junk food vegan. And I’d have to forgive you for thinking that because, apart from my Nutriblasts/smoothies, my Veganuary diet has been – to be blunt – shit.
Even if my main meals haven’t been that bad, my snacks have been – I’ve been munching Oat Flips, Oreos (not all Oreos are vegan so check the packet for milk), crisps and chocolate on a daily basis and vegan junk food is still junk.
Yes, I could have made my own; it’s not like I’ve never made healthy snacks before, for example, my Oat, Date & Sultana Energy Balls, Raw Vegan Banana Bread Biscuits, or my Raw Vegan Strawberry and Coconut Macaroons but I haven’t quite shaken off that post-Christmas slump yet.
The snacks below were sent to me at the end of last year for a ‘healthy new year’ type post but fortuitously enough, they just so happen to be vegan, too. So, if you’re still in the post-Christmas slump and haven’t quite worked up the energy to make yourself some healthy snacks yet, have a look at these.
The Snack Organisation – Lightly Salted Rice Crackers
Don’t confuse these Lightly Salted Rice Crackers from The Snack Organisation with those round polystyrene ceiling tiles you can get (although I do like those); those are rice cakes, not crackers and a completely different thing. For one thing, you couldn’t shove a load of those in your mouth at once like you can these, if you’re that unladylike (or ungentlemantly like), that is. If you are that unladylike and want to shove a handful in your mouth at once, that handful will only contain about 100 calories, and they’re low in fat, too.
Say yay to the rice cracker.
There are two other flavours in the range – teriyaki, and sweet chilli – but as they contain milk, they’re only suitable for vegetarians, not vegans. These lightly salted ones are suitable for vegetarians and vegans though.
The Snack Organisation’s Rice Crackers are available from Tesco, priced at £1.
Perkier Quinoa Bars
In case you aren’t annoying your friends enough with your healthy lifestyle, you can annoy them even further by acting like a smartarse by correcting them when they see your new snack bar and ask you what ‘quee-noah’ is.
I first saw Perkier’s quinoa bars in Asda (which, to be honest, isn’t the first place I’d go to to look for quinoa-based noms) and picked one up out of interest/because it was on special offer and only cost about 10p. I enjoyed it and so when Perkier emailed me and asked if I’d like some to review on my blog I wasn’t going to say no.
These quinoa bars come in four varieties:
- Cashew, Chia & Pumpkin Seed
- Goji & Cranberry
- Cacao & Cashew
- Cranberry & Cashew Oat bar enhanced with sprouted buckwheat
and all have ‘vegan’ printed on the label, so you don’t even have to take my doing-veganuary-and-now-you-think-you’re-a-flipping-expert-on-veganism-don’t-you word for it.
For more information and stockists, visit the Perkier website.
Tribe Snacks are a bit different as they’re not something you can buy in the shops – it’s a box subscription service which means you subscribe to Tribe and they send you a box of snacks on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis.
Although they’re geared mostly towards runners and triathletes, they’re suitable for anyone who has an active life and is looking to eat healthily.
For more information, visit the Tribe website.
Thanks to the Snack Organisation, Perkier and Tribe for sending me their products to try. That should keep me off the junk food for a while.
I’d been coveting the Scotch eggs in the fridge. Obviously, I wasn’t going to eat them, because they contain meat but, I’d coveted them, nonetheless. But the good thing about being a vegetarian who likes to cook is that I don’t need to covet meaty things in the fridge – I can just make my own vegetarian or vegan version. Yay.
I first thought I’d have to make them by defrosting some Linda McCartney sausages (other vegetarian sausages are available, but I like the Linda McCartney ones), mashing them up, then squidging them around an egg. I wasn’t sure how this would turn out; after all, the sausages are already made into sausage shapes and are meant to be cooked from frozen. Would they like being defrosted, mashed and squidged?
My mind drifted into the direction of Sosmix. I haven’t had Sosmix since the 90s – as you’ll know if you read my article about being a vegetarian back then – but I knew Holland & Barrett still sold it, or something similar, but I didn’t want to go into town to get some. Then I remembered hearing about a meat-free sausage mix from Asda and, after asking on the Little Vegan Kitchen After Dinner Chat Facebook page whereabouts in Asda I could find it (near the tinned tomatoes, in case you’re wondering), cycled to my local Asda to buy some.
Be warned – although I loved these vegetarian Scotch eggs, the Asda meat-free sausage mix has a very strong taste of sage, which lingers for a long time afterwards. It’s also a bit soft but it firmed up after a couple of days in the fridge.
I deep-fried these but a friend on Facebook said she also makes vegetarian Scotch eggs, but bakes hers in the oven.
My next attempt at vegetarian Scotch eggs will be vegan ones, made with tofu.
- 2 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 packet meat-free sausage mix
- Golden breadcrumbs
- Oil for deep-frying
- Heat the oil
- Make up the meat-free sausage mix according to the instructions on the packet
- Mould the made-up sausage mix around the eggs and coat in breadcrumbs
- Test the oil is hot enough by dropping a bit of made up sausage mix into the oil. If it sizzles, it's hot enough
- Deep fry the vegetarian Scotch eggs for about 10 minutes
Everyone likes toasted sandwiches but no one likes cleaning the toasted sandwich maker afterwards, so Aerolatte Ltd invented the Diablo toasted snack maker. Unlike a traditional sandwich maker, you heat the Diablo on the hob so, as it says on the box – no plugs, no mess, no problem.
When I first opened the box, I thought, ‘blimey, that’s small’ and it is small but, as you can see in the photos, it holds a lot of filling. I had planned to make a baked bean and cheese toastie using normal bread but there was none in the freezer, so I used a tortilla wrap instead. I placed the tortilla wrap on one of the Diablo plates (after heating it up first for a couple of minutes), piled my filling on top, then folded the wrap over to make an envelope. I clipped the handle of the Diablo, trimmed off the edges of the wrap and heated it on the hob for a few minutes, turning it over frequently. Because I’m a der-brain, I scorched the chopping board by placing the hot Diablo on it after pre-heating it. Which isn’t a big deal to me but if you like to keep your chopping board pristine and un-branded, you should probably put the hot Diablo on a trivet or something.
A crispy pie-like sandwich, with sealed edges, slipped out of the Diablo easily, leaving only a tiny amount behind and no mess on the hob. You can unclip the two parts of the Diablo for easier cleaning – either by hand or in the dishwasher.
A Diablo makes a great little snack and the filling combinations are endless (you just know I’m going to make a pizza one, don’t you?) You’re not even confined to using it on the hob, as it’d be great for camping or used on a woodburner (which I’m going to be doing).
Aerolatte Ltd sent me the Diablo toasted snack maker to review but all opinions (and toasted sandwiches) are my own.
A variety of healthy snacks were sent to me to try recently, and I’m going to share them with you below. That’s ‘share’ as in let you know about them – not share them literally. They’re my snacks, go away.
Urban Fruit – Pure Fruit Snacks
You all know what dried fruit is and these pure fruit snacks from Urban Fruit are just that – pure fruit. They’re gently baked and have nothing added to them; no sugar, no sulphites, no oils, no nothing. As well as being available in a variety of flavours, they also come in handy snack packs and big sharing bags, but if you think a big sharing bag will last you a long time, you’d be wrong – I ate a whole big bag of pineapple in one go, which is saying something for someone who’s not a huge fan of dried fruit.
Find Urban Fruit in Asda, Tesco, Co-op, Waitrose, Ocado, Wilkinsons, in the
meal deal at Boots, on Amazon, and in loads of independents.
For more information, visit www.urbanfruit.co.uk
I love adding plain seeds to salads and smoothies but these Munchy Seeds are fab for snacking on, with flavours such as Choccy Apricot, and Chilli Bites. The pumpkin seeds contain essential fatty acids which help to lower cholesterol and maintain healthy blood vessels, while the sunflower seeds work to rid you of free radicals.
Gluten-free and free from empty calories, these seeds will give you the energy to keep going without any sugar crashes which other snacks can cause.
Munchy Seeds have an RRP of 69p-£2.35 (depending on size of pack) and are available in Sainsbury’s, Ocado, Waitrose, Tesco and Co-op.
For more information, visit www.munchyseeds.co.uk
Fossil Fuel Primal/Paleo Raw Bars
These Fossil Fuel bars are right up my street. Although I don’t follow a paleo diet and don’t know much about it other than it seems to have something to do with cavemen, I do love a raw energy bar.
As you’d expect from this kind of raw snack, Fossil Fuel bars only contain natural ingredients that you’d find in your own cupboard (they’re currently in my cupboard, anyway – I haven’t been peeking in your cupboards, honest). For example, the macadamia & cacao variety only lists dates, cashews, macadamias, raw cacao and coconut oil.
Perfect as a snack anytime or to fuel you on long bike rides, etc.
For more information and to buy online, visit www.wearefossilfuel.co.uk
Chirps Egg White Bites
I’ve got to admit, when two chicks (that’s the name of the company, honest – look, you can see it on the packets in the photo above) asked me if I wanted to try their Chirps egg white bites, my first thought was ‘ugh, they sound revolting’. But they intrigued me, so I said yes. And, do you know what? They’re nice and nothing like you’d expect. They don’t taste like egg whites – they taste just like crisps and have a texture of something that’s in between popcorn and a chunky crunchy crisp like, say, a Kettle Chip (other premium crisps are available).
Although the egg bit does put me off, I really like these. They’re high in protein, low in carbohydrates, low in fat, low in sugar and have fewer calories than other crisps, so give them a try.
For more information and to find stockists in your area, visit www.twochicks.co.uk/chirps-snack
I love these energy balls. They’re healthy, use only a few ingredients, are made in minutes and don’t require any baking. As an added bonus, you’ve probably already got the ingredients in your cupboard, so there’s not even any need to go out shopping.
I originally got the idea from Ani Phyo’s book, Raw Food Desserts (although her recipe uses raisins, while I used sultanas), but the mixture was too dry to form into balls, so I added the coconut oil which made it stick together while giving it an extra dimension with the coconut taste.
- 1 cup oats
- ½ cup dates
- ½ cup sultanas
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Put all ingredients into a food processor and blitz until combined
- Roll into balls
- Can be eaten immediately but will firm up if left in the fridge
I tried some of Inspiral’s Crispy Baobab & Onion Kale Chips the other day and loved them so much, I wanted to recreate my own, but without the baobab bit, as I have no idea what baobab is. According to the list of ingredients on the back of the packet, the chips seemed to mostly involve kale, cashew nuts and onion powder, and so I thought, ‘I can do that’ and I also thought, ‘I can do that for a lot cheaper than £2.19 for 30g’.
So I did. What I also did is make them cheesy, so they’re kind of like cheese and onion flavour crisps, kale-stylee. Oh yeah.
If you have a high-powered blender, such as a Vitamix (and if you do have a Vitamix, I am green-eyed with jealousy), you might not need to add as much olive oil. I needed to add it though because my cashews refused to blend without some liquid added (this is because I only have a £20 blender and not a Vitamix, sniff).
I ended up dehydrating these kale chips for about 24 hours. Depending on how big your kale pieces are and also on how efficient your dehydrator is, you may need less time. Just keep checking until they’re crispy enough for you.
- 3 large handfuls kale, thick stalks removed
- 2 heaped tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 cup cashews, soaked for a few hours
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Chilli flakes
- Blend the cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, chilli flakes and olive oil until smooth-ish.
- Mix well with the kale, spread evenly on the dehydrator trays and dehydrate on 45C for 15 hours or until crispy.