It's time for a detox with raw food…

i.e. a Spark Wellness and Choosing Raw 10-day Detox!

Since it’s New Year’s Eve I’ve started thinking about what I want for the New Year.  Do I want to make more resolutions that I probably won’t keep?  I think not.  But after a christmas of baking and consuming lots of wine, sugary and salty treats I feel it’s time to welcome in the new year with a mini-detox and move on in my raw food journey.   And, because I have a rubbish track history when it comes to detoxing and cleansing (and more money than sense!), I am joining in a group detox with Spark Wellness and Choosing Raw.  Intrigued?  Click here for more info.  It has three different levels so the cleanse that you do is more suited to what your body’s used to consuming.  For example, if you usually consume meat, dairy and gluten then level 1 would suitable as it’s a more gentle detox.  Plus, it’s not some ridiculous detox where all you consume are liquids such as juices and smoothies, and feel like you’re going to faint every time you stand up let alone walk.  This is a realistic one that enables you to get on with everyday life with MORE energy rather than less.  So, what are you waiting for?  Join in with me on January 18th for a 10-day gentle cleanse.

As for other New Year’s resolutions I’m going to try to be kinder to myself by having more realistic expectations and goals.  I’m not sure exactly what this resolution will involve though…  There are, however, two things I want to master in the new year (aside from getting through 2nd year of my nursing degree):

1.  I want exercise to be a no compromise area of my life.  i.e. I want to up my yoga practice to twice a week (at the moment I go 1-2 times a week), and start running twice a week.  I’m a phase person when it comes to exercise.  I’ve never gone longer than a few months without some form of exercise but I never stick to a form.  This is usually because I have unrealistic expectations so end up feeling disappointed, and lose confidence.

2.  I want to become better at manouvering and parking my car.  As it stands, I hate driving but mostly because I dread parking or having to manouver.  So, if I can become better at these, my confidence should follow so I won’t be so nervous about driving.

What are your resolutions?

Hope you have a great time welcoming in the New Year whatever you’re doing and that 2010’s a good one!

P.S. Check out Chocolate-Covered Katie’s Giveaway- a whole case of Wild Bars!  Click here to enter.

Tahini is like marmite…

That’s what I’ve learned today.

I love marmite but tahini, even the smell of it, actually makes my stomach turn.  No word of a lie.  I tried baking almond bread this morning using tahini instead of almond butter, took a little lick of my finger that had a smidgen of tahini on and it turned my stomach.  I persevered with the recipe nonetheless, since I was already part way through the process, put the bread in the oven, and ten minutes later I had to remove all traces of tahini from our flat.  Honestly people, the smell of it and memory of it’s smell and taste made me want to hurl.  Lesson no. 1: never use or buy tahini and tahini related products.  But, as you know friends, there are always exceptions to the rule, and the exception to this rule is shop bought hummus.  Love it.  I don’t love it right now, because the memory of the tahini is too strong.  But I have loved it in the past, and am sure I will love it in the future.  In the meantime, I shall make tahini-free hummus.

On a happier note, I have a new winter-warming recipe for you, courtesy of the Sainsbury’s magazine:

Sweet Potato Chilli

Serves 4. Preparation time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 20 minutes

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon of cumin powder
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
450g sweet potato, diced into 1 cm cubes
2 tins of chopped tomatoes (400g per tin)
1 400g tin of black-eyed beans, drained and rinsed
1 400g tin of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon of castor sugar

Garlic bread (for the gluten, dairy eaters), salad, and flax fire crackers (my fave raw crackers from Funky Raw) to serve

1. Heat the oil in a large casserole over a medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, garlic and chilli for two minutes.
2. Add the spices, red pepper and sweet potato and cook for another two minutes.
3. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, sugar and 200ml of water. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sweet potato is tender. Season to taste.
4. Just before serving, stir in the coriander. Accompany with yoghurt and warm pitta bread.

Note: Can be frozen, and there’s always leftovers

Happy Times… always involve chocolate

The flat is tidy, chocolates are made, and I am now sitting with my glass of unfortunately average red wine. I’m enjoying it nonetheless whilst listening to Sunday in the Park with George, and waiting for my new favourite chocolates to harden in the fridge (dark chocolate peppermint cremes).  They are awesome and on the face of it look similar to the chocolates I blogged about earlier in the week.  And they are equally delicious.

Btw, have I told you how much I love musicals?  I’m not talking about the cheesey musicals of the nineties by Andrew Lloyd Webber et al.  I’m talking about the musically more complex ones such as Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George, both my Stephen Sondheim, and more recently Wicked.  They never tire.  They lift my spirits and transport me back to a time when I was fifteen years old, lying on my bed, listening to them and dreaming of singing in one of those musicals.  Fortunately it didn’t take too long for me discover that I didn’t have the vocal talent or skill for that career path!  Back to reality… here’s the recipe for the chocolates I’m hoping to serve after the New Year’s Eve dinner party/pot luck we’re having:

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cremes

130g (approx) 70% dark chocolate
100g icing sugar
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 -1 tbsp water

mini cupcases


Melt the chocolate in a bowl above a saucepan of hot water.  Take a teaspoon-ish of chocolate and drop it into the cupcases, make sure the side and the bottom of the case is covered with chocolate.  Repeat with all the cupcases (about 16).  Put in the fridge to harden.

In the meantime make the peppermint creme by sifting the icing sugar into a large bowl.  Add the water and peppermint extract.  Mix until a dough is formed.  If you prefer a runnier, for want of a better word, consistency then add more water.

Take the harden chocolate cases out of the fridge.  Fill up to two-thirds with the peppermint creme (should be about 1/2 tsp of creme per cup).  Put in the fridge for 20 mins to harden.

Remove from the fridge and use the rest of the melted chocolate to “put a lid on the cremes”.  Make sure none of the creme is exposed.  Return the cases to the fridge to set before they are ready for devouring :)

Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes

Ok people, you better believe these are healthy.  They are free from saturated fat, dairy and gluten.  Plus they are high in fibre and protein.  Did I mention that they contain a tin of black beans?  Yet, they actually taste good!  Loving it.

I stumbled upon these delights whilst looking for a cupcake recipe that used ingredients that were in the cupboard (read: did not require leaving the house to brave the freezing cold weather).  The original recipe, namely “Not Your Usual Chocolate Cupcakes!” can be found here at Madhuram’s Eggless Cooking.  I made a few changes- I used pureed dates instead of the prunes, and used rice flour instead of the usual wheat-based flour.  Be warned, these are filling.  Even Tom struggled to eat a whole cupcake (as a dessert).  I think these babies could be a good breakfast cupcake since they are high in fibre and protein (we’ll ignore the fact that they are also high in sugar; it is the holidays after all!).

Christmas Chocolates

Gosh, it’s been a busy day.  Fun busy, but busy nonetheless (do you get that I’ve been busy?!).  Now it’s relaxation time- I get to sit down with my mug of peppermint tea, write this post, and watch my favourite Christmas episodes of Ally McBeal.  Yup, that show never grows old; especially the episodes with Robert Downey Jnr…

And so it’s just a quick post today to share my discovery.

It’s a month of firsts in chez Collins, and these are my first attempt at making chocolates (hence them looking rather messy; tastey though).  I found this delicious recipe for Chocolate Coconut Cups on the blog, Hell Yeah It’s Vegan.  I was a bit apprehensive about making them as a steady hand, and preferrably a choclate mould or mini cupcake tray is needed neither of which I have.  They turned out great and I’ll happily give these as gifts.

Robert Downey Jnr calls, before I leave to sing carols at our church’s christmas extravaganza of a carol service.  Happy Sunday!

Gluten free vegan cupcakes to the rescue

Happy Holidays!

I’m finally on christmas holidays!  The temperature has dropped and there is snow on the horizon, which means this: a glowing log fire (in my drean home), a cosy sofa (also in my dream home), a sexy husband, a cup of (vegan) hot chocolate, and these babies…

…simple cupcakes with a vanilla frosting, and chocolate and coconut sprinklings.

These were my first ever attempt at not only gluten free cupcakes, but vegan cupcakes as well.  I’m relieved to report that they were surprisingly simple to make and turned out well; nice and moist.  So it seems my baking spree is continuing, and with pleasing results.  Although admittedly my artistic skills when it comes to decorating them needs quite a bit of practice!

Here’s the recipe (inspired my VWAV).

Simple Gluten-free Cupcakes

165g rice flour
170g golden caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
250ml rice milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 180C and line a twelve-hole cupcake tin with paper cases.

Sift the first four ingredients together.  In a separate bowl mix together the wet ingredients and the sugar.  Once mixed add the sifted dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.  Fill the paper cases until they are 2/3’s full and bake for 20-25 mins.  Once done remove the cup cakes from the tin and put on a cooling rack.  Once they have completely cooled you can liberate your eccentric artist and get decorating so they can turn from this…

to this…

with the help of…

Vanilla Frosting

3 tbsp pure dairy-free margarine
3 tbsp rice milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
160g icing sugar, sifted

Grated dark chocolate, I used Lindt 70% (optional)
Desiccated coconut (optional)

Whisk the margarine until light and fluffy.  Add the rice milk, vanilla and sugar.  Whisk until you have reached the desired consistency.  Decorate away!