Healthy Rice Crispy Buns

I made this recipe for my food demo at Cork Vegfest recently so here’s the recipe.  They’re our favourite treat at the moment, though the kids keep giving out to me because I keep eating too many.  But they’re so quick to make that I can just whip up another batch when I eat them all!  They’re really yummy but I can’t eat just one.

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Rice crispy buns were always my favourite thing to make for parties, because they’re so quick and easy to make.  These are a healthier version but taste just as good (or better) in my opinion.  I like to store them in the freezer so me and the kids have a quick snack any time we feel like it.  They’d be really handy to have in the freezer for if your kids have friends over or something.

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They’re made with wholegrain puffed rice, peanut butter (I use Meridian brand which is 100% peanuts), cacao powder and are naturally sweetened, so are really healthy.  They also have some extra healthy stuff added, so I know the kids are getting a lot of goodness from them.

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You could make different variations of them, use a different kind of nut butter if you don’t like peanut butter (hazelnut butter makes a nutella flavour rice crispy bun!), or sunflower seed butter if you’re allergic to nuts, you could leave out the cacao to just have a peanut buttery version, or add in different extra ingredients like chia seeds, chopped nuts, etc.  I think vegan mini marshmallows are delicious in this recipe!

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Ingredients:

Makes about 15 buns

1 cup of peanut butter (preferably no added sugar or salt)

1/4 cup of cacao powder

1/4 cup of agave syrup (or other vegan liquid sweetener)

3 cups of wholegrain puffed rice cereal

Optional extras: I used 2 tbsp ground flax seeds, a small handful of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and raisins

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How they’re made:

Add the peanut butter, cacao powder and agave syrup to a food processor or large bowl and mix thoroughly.  (If the peanut butter you use is a little dry then you might need to add some extra agave syrup to make the mixture easy enough to mix.  A food processor helps for this recipe but isn’t necessary.)

Stir in the wholegrain puffed rice cereal by hand, and the optional extras, until well combined with the chocolatey sauce.

Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases and put in the freezer for 30 minutes or more.  I like to eat these straight from the freezer, though you can store them in the fridge too (they’ll be more sticky if stored in the fridge).

Warning, these are quite messy for toddlers to eat!

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Vegan Lactation Cookies

The other day I had some oatmeal cookies (ok, lots of oatmeal cookies) and within a couple of hours my boobs were pretty engorged and leaking milk, and were engorged all night after that, until the baby had a huge feed in the morning and then got sick all over my bed!  I guess it’s safe to say that my milk supply is good at the moment, but I decided to try making my own lactation cookie recipe anyway.  Well maybe I just wanted to eat more cookies, but I had been meaning to try making lactation cookies and they might come in handy sometime when I feel like my milk supply needs a boost.

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Lactation cookies can be a yummy way to try to give your supply a bit of a boost for people who already have a good supply.  If you truly have low supply then it’s best to contact a lactation consultant or a group like La Leche League for advice as lactation cookies won’t help people who really have low supply.

While there is no scientific evidence of oats increasing milk supply, many people say it works for them.  Lactation cookies also commonly contain brewer’s yeast and fennel seeds, which are thought to possibly increase milk production.  I’ve added lots of nutritious ingredients that I thought would also be beneficial to breastfeeding parents.  Even if it doesn’t work for increasing milk production, it’s a yummy treat that provides goodness and can be eaten one handed while holding a baby!  So I thought it was a recipe worth trying anyway.

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In my recipe I added ground flax seed, walnuts and pumpkin seeds to provide protein and omega 3’s (important for breastfeeding parents), ground almond to provide more protein and calcium, raisins and dried cranberries to make it sweeter and chewy and yummier, and dark chocolate-chips because I definitely need lots of chocolate when I have a baby to feed!  And ground fennel seeds, which adds a subtle flavour that I think goes really well with the chocolate.  I used coconut oil and coconut sugar to make them a little healthier than most cookies, and I think it gives them a nice flavour and the coconut sugar gives them a lovely golden brown colour.

I want to note that you don’t need to eat super healthily to produce enough milk or good quality breast milk.  As long as you’re not malnourished then your milk will usually be perfect.  But it is good to have some healthy stuff too (and cookies are always good!).  My aim was to make these cookies a nice balance of being healthy and a sweet treat.

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Feel free to change it up a bit, you could replace the chocolate with more raisins, or the raisins with more chocolate, use all walnuts instead of walnuts and pumpkin seeds, add chopped almonds, chia seeds, cocoa powder, or anything you feel like really!  If you don’t have coconut sugar, use granulated sugar or brown sugar, and you can use any other fairly neutral flavoured oil or melted vegan butter instead of coconut oil, if you like.

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I made these cookies gluten-free because I have coeliac disease, so if you want to make them gluten-free, simply use a self-raising gluten-free flour mix (I like Dove’s Farm ones), certified gluten-free oats, and omit the brewer’s yeast (which I believe is not considered to be gluten-free).  They might not be as effective without the brewer’s yeast, but hopefully still are quite good with the oats, fennel and all the other healthy ingredients.

I’ve been eating these all day and really like them.  The kids also love them and Rian calls them “superhero cookies”!

So let me know if you try them and how they worked out for you.  I’m going to try making a batch of them whenever I feel like I need a bit of a boost, or just feel like some cookies.

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Ingredients:

2 tbsp. ground flax seeds

1 cup of porridge oats

1 cup of self-raising flour

1/2 cup of ground almonds

1/2 cup of coconut sugar

1 tbsp. brewer’s yeast

1 tsp. fennel seeds

1/2 tsp. salt

4 tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil

1 tsp. vanilla essence

45g raisins, dried cranberries or a mix

45g vegan chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate bar

30g chopped walnuts

30g pumpkin seeds

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How they’re made:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Mix the ground flaxseed with 6 tbsp of water and set aside.

Melt the coconut oil over a gentle heat.

Grind the fennel seeds with a pestle and mortar.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, flour, ground almonds, coconut sugar, brewer’s yeast, ground fennel seeds and salt.

Make a well in the centre and add the flaxseed mixture, the melted coconut oil, the vanilla essence and 1/4 of a cup of water.

Add the raisins/dried cranberries, chocolate-chips, chopped walnuts and pumpkin seeds and mix it all well with a wooden spoon.

Take 1 tbsp of the dough at a time and shape it into a cookie shape with your hands.  Place the cookies on a lined baking tray with a little space between them.

Bake for about 10 minutes until golden brown.

Leave to cool before serving.

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Blueberry Yoghurt Flapjacks

 

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I feel like this has been a really productive morning!  By 9am I had already made and photographed this recipe for a blog post.  Then I wasted about an hour and a half reading things online before actually getting around to writing the post…but here it is!

 

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I’ve made this before a few times and always meant to post it on the blog.  I made it before with coconut oil, but have changed a few things this time to make an oil-free recipe, with the addition of almond butter, which I think gives a really nice flavour and adds more nutrients than just using oil.

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These are really healthy, quick and easy to make, and make a lovely breakfast or snack.  They’re really handy for picnics or school lunches too.  They’re not too sweet, and my kids love them and so do I!  They provide lots of goodness from the oats, blueberries, almond butter and soya yoghurt.

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I made them with Alpro plain soya yoghurt, which has a little added sugar, but you could also make them with a plain soya yoghurt that has no added sugar.  You might want to add a little extra maple syrup if you do.  They’re definitely not as sweet as most flapjack recipes, but are much healthier!

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Ingredients:

2 cups of porridge oats

1/2 cup of plain soya yoghurt (plus extra to drizzle on top if you like)

2-3 tbsp. maple syrup

2 tbsp. almond butter

100g blueberries (fresh or frozen)

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How they’re made:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In a large bowl, whisk together the soya yoghurt, maple syrup and almond butter until well mixed.

With a spoon stir in the oats and blueberries even well mixed so that the blueberries are fairly evenly distributed.  If there are a lot of blueberries in one of the flapjacks, it might not hold together so well, but will still taste great!

Spread the mixture evenly into a lined baking tray or cake tin and press it down firmly.

Bake for about 30 minutes until light golden brown on top.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool a bit before slicing.

Serve with extra soya yoghurt if you like.

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Chocolate Orange Energy Bites

I used to always make these kind of energy bites or energy bars before until my food processor broke.  I used the food processor almost every day so was so sad!  I got by with just a small smoothie maker for some things, but it can’t blend up dates and nuts.  I kept meaning to replace the food processor and finally did recently, so I can make a lot more healthy treats like these!  (My food processor is a Kenwood Multipro Compact which I love, but I think you could make these in any kind of food processor.)

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Oran has been a bit sick for a few days, just a bit of a fever and cough.  He’s still eating plenty but I wanted to make something to give him plenty of energy, and a nice treat for him.  And something to distract me from eating the kids’ leftover Easter eggs!  (They got bored of chocolate when they finished their white chocolate eggs, so there’s still dark chocolate ones.)

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These are really easy and quick to make, but taste great.  It’s easy to make different variations, and you can use different nuts or oats.  People usually use 1 cup of pitted dates to 1 cup of nuts/oats, then add whatever else you want to flavour it or add more goodness.  So it’s easy to remember that, and as long as you don’t add too much liquid ingredients then you can’t go wrong.  This time I made chocolate orange flavour.

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I made these with a mixture of walnuts and oats, and the dates, with some cocoa powder, orange zest, orange juice and ground flaxseeds.  The walnuts and flaxseeds provide omega 3, and I’m trying to eat more walnuts because I never remember to include them in my diet.  I think I like making this with a mixture of nuts and oats best, it gives them a nice texture and provides plenty of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates.  So they’re very healthy and good to give you energy quickly, but also a nice sweet treat.  They’re also handy for kids’ lunch boxes (if the school is nut free, make them with just oats or try seeds like pumpkin and sunflower seeds).  They’re the perfect size for little toddler hands to hold, and are a good snack for baby led weaning too!

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Ingredients:

Makes about 10 energy bites

1 cup of pitted dates

1/2 cup of walnuts

1/2 cup of oats

2 tbsp cocoa powder

2 tbsp ground flaxseeds (optional)

Zest of half an orange

Juice of 1/4-1/2 an orange

How it’s made:

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend.  I used the juice of half an orange but start off with adding the juice of a quarter and add more until the mixtures comes together so that you can roll it into balls, but so that it’s not too wet.

Form the mixture into balls with your hands and store in the fridge.

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BBQ Cauliflower Wings with Follow Your Heart Ranch Dip

This is a really fun way to get kids to eat cauliflower and makes a good snack for kids’ parties that I think even non-vegans would love!  I’m not the biggest fan of cauliflower on its own, but it’s so versatile and is a good replacement for chicken in recipes, like in this Sweet and Sour Cauliflower or Roasted Cauliflower Fajitas.  In this recipe cauliflower is used instead of chicken wings, making it healthy (cauliflower is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6) and of course cruelty-free.  This is not a new idea but it’s my version making it as healthy as I can for my kids while still being as convenient as I can make it.

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I make them with a gram flour batter (also known as chick pea flour) to add more protein and it also makes it gluten free (if you’re coeliac make sure to use a certified gluten free gram flour).  I think it makes them extra delicious.

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I also bake them in the oven without any oil which makes them much healthier than if they were deep fried.  I use a store-bought BBQ sauce to make this a quicker and easier recipe, especially for busy parents.  It’s also usually not too spicy, which makes it good for kids.  It does contain some sugar, but if you want you could make a healthier homemade BBQ sauce.  I might try coming up with a recipe for a future blog post.

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These are delicious served with Follow Your Heart ranch dressing either drizzled over them or as a dip.  I love Follow Your Heart Vegenaise and salad dressings and can’t stop eating them lately.  They contain lots of omega 3 fatty acids, which are important for kids and breastfeeding people so I’m using that as a reason to eat lots of them!  Actually at first I assumed they’d be full of unhealthy and unrecognisable ingredients but when I actually looked at the labels I was pleasantly surprised!  Sure they are high in fat (and I don’t mind that as a treat), but it’s expeller-pressed rapeseed oil, and there are no trans fats or artificial ingredients.  Just pretty healthy ingredients, which is nice to see in a vegan product like this.  (This is not a paid ad, none of my posts are, I just like this product!)  If you can’t get this ranch dressing, you could make a homemade vegan ranch dip (there are lots of recipes online).

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So I hope you like this recipe.  Even if you don’t like cauliflower, give it a try and I bet you’ll love them.  I could eat a whole cauliflower this way!

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Ingredients:

1 large cauliflower

1.5 cups of gram flour

1 tsp salt (optional)

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 bottle of BBQ sauce (or use homemade sauce)

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How it’s made:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper, 2 trays might be needed.

Cut the cauliflower into florets.

Put the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 3-5 minutes until it has softened a bit (or steam or boil it if you like).  I do this first because I like my cauliflower well cooked, but if you like it more crunchy then you can skip this step.

Mix the gram flour, salt, spices and nutritional yeast in a large bowl.  Then add 1 cup of water and whisk until pretty smooth.

Add the cauliflower florets to the batter and mix well to coat the cauliflower.

Spread the cauliflower florets out on the baking trays so that they are not touching each other.  If there is a lot of batter on each one, let a little drain off before placing it on the baking tray.

Bake the cauliflower florets in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning them over half way through cooking.

Take the trays out of the oven and drizzle the cauliflower florets with the BBQ sauce.  Toss them to coat them in the sauce.

Cook in the oven for another 15 minutes or so, turning half way through cooking.

Serve with the vegan ranch dip.

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Coconut Oat Bread

This is a variation of the 3 Ingredient Oat & Yoghurt Bread that I love so much, with a coconutty twist.  I came up with the idea when I wanted to make the oat and yoghurt bread but Vegan Daddy had bought coconut yoghurt instead of plain soy yoghurt.  I’m so glad that that happened otherwise I might never have discovered how delicious this bread is!

I like to make it slightly sweet with the addition of coconut sugar, and with a hint of vanilla.  It’s really, really easy to make and makes a lovely and healthy treat.  I like it on its own but it’d be nice spread with nut butter or blueberry jam.

If you don’t have coconut sugar or don’t want to add sweetener then you can simply leave it out, or can replace it with regular sugar, or other sweeteners like agave syrup or maple syrup.

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Ingredients:

1 500 ml tub of vegan coconut yoghurt

Oats

Desiccated coconut/coconut flakes

1 heaped tbsp. coconut sugar

1 level tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla extract

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How it’s made:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Pour the tub of coconut yoghurt into a mixing bowl.

Rinse and dry the empty yoghurt tub.  Fill the tub with oats twice and pour them into the mixing bowl with the yoghurt.

Half-fill the tub with desiccated coconut and pour into the bowl.

Add the coconut sugar, baking soda and vanilla extract.

Mix it all up thoroughly with a spoon.

Use a non-stick loaf tin or line a loaf tin.  Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin and press it down firmly.

Bake in the oven on a lower shelf for 40 minutes.

When done, leave to cool and remove from the loaf tin.

 

Vegan Muffin Tray Tortilla Pizzas

I’ve seen loads of people making these so wanted to do my own version that’s vegan.  I use Violife pizza cheese in these, which is so delicious!  If you want to make it gluten-free, try BFree tortilla wraps (that’s what I used).  All of their products are free from all major allergens and suitable for vegans.  But you can use any kind of vegan wheat flour tortillas, wholegrain or white, or corn tortillas.

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These taste really good, are a handy size for kids, and would be really fun for picnics, packed lunches, or parties.  They’re quick and easy to prepare.  I made my own sauce, which is easy, but a shop bought sauce would make them even quicker to make.  I wanted it to be simple so just had tomato sauce, cheese and cherry tomatoes.  But you can add whatever veggies you want and it’d be a great way to sneak extra veg into kids.

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I was going to make my own dough for these originally but using tortillas makes it so much easier and still tastes great.  I always love having pizza but don’t want to go to the effort of making it so this is a great way to satisfy pizza cravings!

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Rian did some artwork for my backdrop!

 

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Ingredients:

Makes about 18 mini pizzas

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp. tomato purée

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 heaped tsp. dried oregano

Sea salt (optional for kids)

Black pepper

6 tortillas

A block of Violife pizza cheese or other vegan cheese

Cherry tomatoes

Fresh basil to serve

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How it’s made:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a low-medium heat.

Peel and crush or finely chop the garlic.  Lightly fry it for a few minutes in the saucepan, stirring every so often, but don’t let it brown.

Add the tomato purée and stir it, fry for another minute.

Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile cut circles out of the tortillas that are a bit bigger than the spaces in the muffin tray.  Use a non-stick muffin tray or lightly oil it.  Push the tortilla circles into the muffin tray spaces.

Quarter the cherry tomatoes and grate the cheese.

When the sauce is ready, divide it between the tortillas, about a tablespoon or two per pizza.  Top with a little grated cheese and some bits of cherry tomato.

Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the tortillas have gone brown and crispy at the edges, but not burnt.

Use a spoon to take the pizzas out of the muffin tray and serve topped with some fresh basil.  Be careful of the cheese being hot for young kids.

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