Vegan Anzac Cheesecake

How the heck did I come up with this one?

Easy, really. While searching for a traditional Anzac biscuit recipe earlier in the week, I came across a recipe for an Anzac Cheesecake… a traditional, cheesy cheesecake. Since I love the raw cheesecake phenomenon, I instantly mulled over what ingredients I would use, to get the flavour of an Anzac biccie.

And what better tribute on this, the 100th Anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli? (For anyone outside of Australia or New Zealand who may not know what this means to us, take a look at this postFood Fervour

So where to start? Well, the traditional biscuits are primarily comprised of oats, flour, sugar, desiccated coconut, golden syrup (‘treacle’), butter and the result is a wonderful ‘caramel’ flavour. I could envisage the oats & desiccated coconut in the cheesecake base (sorry, this isn’t gluten free people: but you could easily substitute almonds or buckwheat instead) but what about the cheesy filling?

Well, raw foodies know that nuts can make great dairy substitutes, and almost every raw cheesecake recipe you find will use cashews for the filling. I like to buck trends sometimes. And this HAD to be an Aussie recipe. There was no better option than our native nut, the macadamia. Coconut cream and/or oil would work because coconut figures in the original biscuit recipe. The ideas flowed from there…

There are three stages to the cheesecake’s creation, and since one does involve cooking, I can no longer claim this as ‘raw’. Firstly, I made a salted caramel sauce (recipe sourced from Quirky Cooking – see here) then created the base, and finally the macadamia/coconut cream/salted caramel filling. And I was blown away by the result!food fervour

Please note: using a standard springform cake tin, I found that my cheesecake was rather flat which indicates I my quantities were too few. Having said this, I’ve decided to supply my original amounts anyway but I highly recommend you used a smaller dish… or double all the ingredients! (If you do that, can you let me know how it works out please?)

For the caramel sauce I used 50gm coconut sugar, 50gm coconut cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract & a good pinch of Himalayan Salt.

I put all of these in the Thermomix for 3mins @ 100º, speed 2. For those without this piece of equipment, I apologise but I can only guess that you would add all the ingredients into a small saucepan and stir continuously (probably for more than 3 minutes I imagine) until the mixture thickens. (Be careful you don’t let it go too long, it will burn quickly. But then, burnt caramel is another flavour in itself, and maybe it could work?!) Empty into a jug or cup and set aside.

For the cheesecake base I blended 1 cup of dates, ½ cup oats and ½ cup of desiccated coconut until fully granulated (Thermies up to 15 seconds, speed 9-10). Grease your dish with coconut oil, tip the base mixture in and using a spatula (or clean hands?) press firmly and evenly across the base. Place it in the refrigerator.

For the filling I played around a fair bit! But in the end I used: ¼ cup of the prepared salted caramel sauce (that’ll be almost the whole lot), 1 heaped cup of (approx. 250gm) macadamia nuts, ½ cup coconut cream, ¼ cup coconut oil.

Firstly, I milled the macadamias (Thermies 10sec, speed 9-10) then added the sauce, blending for about 10secs, from speed 5 increasing to 9) Next add the coconut cream and Thermomix or not, you’ll need to blend a few times, stopping to scrape down the sides. My thought was, the more you blend, the better the aeration of the coconut cream, as well as further milling the macadamia particles. Finally add the (liquified) coconut oil, and I let this one go at speed 9 for almost 40 seconds.

Pour the thick filling into your prepared base dish, then simply freeze. I left mine overnight so I would highly recommend you leave it for at least one hour. It may stick fast to the base of the dish so gently warm the base (melting the coconut oil you greased the dish with) and it should come out with a little more ease.

food fervourI garnished the finished product with a crumbled Anzac biscuit (I also make vegan versions of those) but leftover salted caramel sauce drizzled over the top is divine!

 

 

Cacao Blueberry ‘Ice Cream’

food fervourIn case you haven’t gathered by now, I’m a bit of an ice cream fan. I used to be crazy for it and, while I can still ‘slide’ back into the habit of buying commercial stuff (whether it be a small tub from the supermarket, or a few scoops from a gelati shop) on the odd occasion, I’ve become pretty well disciplined to experiment at home when the desire arises.

It’s actually quite surprising how easy it can be. If you have nuts (& a range of spices) in the pantry, a heap of ‘stuff’ in the freezer and a very powerful blender (mine’s a Thermomix) you can have ice cream in minutes; ice cream will be way better for you than any mass-produced product out there and that should easily satisfy a ‘craving’.

I’ve come across a wide variety of recipes for ‘alternative’ ice creams with the help of Google, so if you want to experiment further do a little research on the net. The most astonishing recipes I came across were for vegan ice creams made entirely from nuts… which really did work! Fat is the key to ice cream however, having said that, some fruits (particularly banana and mango) when frozen thicken beautifully in the blending process.

Drawing on these ideas, along with some others I’ve gained through the Thermomix community, I created this no-added-sugar “ice cream” with a handful of all-natural – mostly frozen – foodstuffs. I have an almost permanent store of frozen fruit and yoghurt cubes in my freezer, which means I’m well prepared to make ice cream at the drop of a hat. Now, if you don’t like yoghurt you can try freezing cubes of coconut milk (vegan option) or perhaps even ordinary cow’s milk (I’ve never tried this), but creams (dairy especially) tend to split when frozen so they’ll affect the texture of your finished product.

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ready-to-freeze yoghurt

Forewarning: don’t expect the smoothest ice cream texture (because of the extra, natural, ‘great-for-your-gut’ fibre in it) and it definitely isn’t as sweet as your commercial counterparts…

Armed with 20gm hazelnuts, 4 dates, 1 frozen banana (cut into chunks), ½ cup frozen blueberries, 100gm frozen yoghurt cubes (approx 8) 1 heaped tablespoon of cacao powder and 1 teaspoon vanilla paste (optional) I created a taste sensation that could have served 2 people… but I ate the whole lot!

Place the hazelnuts and dates (try more than 4 if you are a real sweet tooth) in a high powered blender and blast until the nuts become ‘meal’ (Thermies: 10 seconds, speed 9-10)

Scrape down the sides of the jug/bowl then add the rest of the ingredients: banana, blueberries, yoghurt/milk cubes, cacao & (optional) vanilla. Blend until smooth. This may take 2-3 rounds: repeat blending, stopping, scraping down and mixing a little by hand. (Thermies: I started around Speed 5 and worked my way up to Speed 9 over a 30 second period, stopped, scraped down & mixed then hit it again at Speed 9 for another 30 seconds)

It should be solid enough to dish out in balls that look like huge scoops of ice cream. I topped mine with cacao nibs (coz I love chocolate chip ice cream) and devoured it in a matter of minutes.

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Believe it or not, this is a ‘kale’ (& mango) ice cream, I made from a green smoothie base. 10/10 for imagination?

Let me know how you go, and please feel free to share your variations or own personal experiments 🙂

Raw Carrot Cake with Lime Cashew Icing

I’ve had this recipe earmarked to try for quite some time now… but it was only this week I found the (time &) motivation. Included in a handout from a raw food demonstration I attended years ago, I’d filed it away in a cooking folder, to sit idly waiting for me to visit it.

food fervourWell, this week, it was Time. And I was impressed with the result. As usual, I made a few alterations to the original recipe (including halving all the amounts) and I believe there is yet more room for improvement!

Apart from a powerful blender (I used my Thermomix and later, to fine tune the icing, the Magic Bullet) you will need:

1 cup brazil nuts, 5 medium carrots, ¼ cup dates, ¼ cup maple syrup (I actually used ‘date water’ which isn’t as sweet as the syrup so you may find you could reduce this amount) ½-1 teaspoon grated ginger, 1½ cups desiccated coconut, ¼ sultanas, 1½ tblspns psyllium husk

Mill the brazil nuts first (TM: 10secs, speed 9) and set aside, then grate the carrots (TM: 10-15secs, speed 5-6). Next, blend the dates, liquid sweetener & ginger (TM: up to 30secs, speed 7-9). Finally, add in the nut meal, carrots and remaining ingredients and mix well (TM: approx 1min, speed intermittent (knead) scraping down then mixing 30secs, reverse speed 4). Empty the mixture into into a greased (coconut oil) lined dish (the mixture perfectly filled a 15 x 20cm stoneware baking dish I have) pressing it in and smoothing it over. Refrigerate, or freeze if you prefer.

For the icing, mill ½ cup raw cashews (TM: 10 secs, speed 9) then add approximately 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup (again, I used date water instead) the flesh & rind of half a lime and a dash of coconut oil. Blend well (TM: 30-60secs, up to speed 8. You will need to scrape down a few times. This is where I transferred the mixture to my Magic Bullet short cup for a smoother consistency). Simply spread over the top of the ‘cake’ and refrigerate (or freeze) until ready to devour!

 

 

Raw Passionfruit Avocado Cheesecake

I’ve been admiring (& occasionally enjoying) the variety of raw cheesecakes that are slowly becoming more readily available at cafes and eateries, but had not bothered trying to make one even though I’ve been told many times that it’s ‘piece of cake’ (excuse the pun).

food fervourMy love of avocado has extended beyond its nutritional value because I’m now aware of its other ‘superpowers’! My first experience came with a green smoothie recipe. My how stuff ‘thickens up’ when you add this little dude to the mix! I noticed raw mousse recipes relied heavily upon avocado as well. That got me thinking about the texture and consistency of cheesecake.

Now I’m certainly by no means a pioneer in the avocado cheesecake world, but I can say it’s hard to find many raw cheesecake recipes on the net that employ ‘avos’ as the primary ingredient, which would indicate there’s heaps of room for experimentation. The vast majority use blended cashews as the ‘cream cheese’ base. I thought avocado would work because it’s naturally bland on the palate, but the PERFECT creamy texture.

Passionfruit isn’t necessarily a real favourite of mine, but they have been in season and moreover, they have a strong flavour …and a ‘tanginess’… which is what you find in an ordinary cheesecake. So I grabbed me some of ’em and got crackin’.

All 3 attempts were well received by a variety of tasters, but the last version was the best and it’s simply because I upped the amount of passionfruit. The stronger the fruit flavour, the better. But if you are going to play around here, I’ll just remind you that the more fruit, the more ‘wet’ the mixture = the less well the final product will set or hold together. (Think of fruit with maximum flavour, minimal moisture…)

I used macadamia nuts for the base (borrowing from a recipe from Jo Whitton’s Quirky Cooking blog) because I always associate them with the tropics (and passionfruit’s definitely tropical) but almonds worked fine in my initial experiment so be creative if you like!food fervour

For the Base you will need: 130gm macadamias, 70gm desiccated/shredded coconut, 8 dates & a pinch of Himalayan salt

Simply blend everything thoroughly in a high powered blender (Thermomixers 20 seconds @ Speed 9) then press the mix over the base of a well-oiled (coconut oil is best) springform cake tin. Note: this will make a thin base – if you like thick cheesecake bases I recommend you double the ingredients. Set aside (or refrigerate in warmer climates).

For the Filling, you will need: 2 large (or 3 small) avocados, 4-5 passionfruit (depending upon how strong you’d like the flavour) 4 tablespoons maple syrup or coconut sugar, 4 tablespoons (approx 60 gm) coconut oil (melted), 2-3 teaspoons vanilla paste, optional 1 banana &/or ½-1 teaspoon grated ginger

Again, this is simply a blending exercise. (Even with a Thermomix I found myself stopping and starting, to check consistency & taste and scrape down the mixture) Start with the avocados, sugar/syrup, vanilla & if using, the banana/ginger. Blend well (Thermies approximately 20 seconds, Speed 5) Add the passionfruit pulp, blending until smooth (Thermies 20 seconds, Speed 5 & you may use Reverse speed so the passionfruit seeds aren’t pulverised initially). Finally add the coconut oil blending well again (Thermies 20 seconds, Speed 9 gradually)

Empty the filling over the base, smoothing off as evenly as possible, then allow to set in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (or the freezer if you can’t wait that long!) Then serve and enjoy 🙂

 

The Decadent Porridge

It’s my birthday. And I’m starting the day’s celebrations (after putting on a washload & cleaning some windows!) with a dish I usually reserve for ‘pudding’. It’s a simple quinoa porridge, which literally takes MINUTES to make. It’s the addition of the cacao powder that makes it feel more like a dessert, although there’s absolutely NO reason cacao needs to be associated only with sweets. Unlike your processed chocolates or cocoa powder, its nutrient content is much greater – notably its mineral density, in particular potassium & magnesium. Well, that’s what I always tell myself when I add it to anything!food fervour

All you need to do for a single serve, is throw ¼ cup of quinoa flakes into a saucepan over a low heat, with approximately ⅔ cup of your choice of milk (I usually use rice milk, but opted for almond today. Cow’s milk just takes a fraction longer to heat up) and be ready to stir vigorously as the milk approaches boiling because it will bubble and splatter! It really doesn’t need too long at all, perhaps 1-2 minutes; it will thicken quickly.

Remove from the heat, fold through 2-3 teaspoons cacao powder (to your taste) and your choice of sweetener (I use maple syrup or coconut sugar, and only 1-2 teaspoons at that) and serve.

You might want to add extra milk if it ends up thicker than you’d prefer. This morning I added strawberries & a little dollop of Greek yoghurt (which I don’t think worked so well :/ ) but for normally, for ‘dessert’, I’d eat it straight out of the saucepan!!!

 

Mum’s Kifflitzers Re-Invented

I have an admission to make: until I got my Thermomix, I’d never made real custard. I’d either bought it ready-made or, worse, cooked up the powdered stuff. Yes, shocking I know. But, I learnt from my mum….monkey see, monkey do…

So when cleaning out my pantry one Sunday recently, I found a container of custard powder hiding at the back, and pulled it out to throw away. But then I had a ‘Moment’.

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I love my Mum’s handwriting…

I recalled some biscuits mum used to make that I loved: “Kifflitzers”. Custard powder was a ‘key’ ingredient. She’d given me the recipe (hand written of course) so as a tribute to her, I decided to make some before I ditched the processed rubbish for good. It’s kind of poetic and yet ironic: I’ll never see my mum again, and I’ll never buy custard powder again, so I’ll actually never make these biscuits according to this recipe again either. Even though they tasted SO GOOD…

My ‘obligatory’ changes to her original recipe, included opting for gluten free flour and vegan-friendly coconut oil instead of butter, and they turned out entirely different to Mum’s biccies, but still ridiculously more-ish. I have to add however, that some custard powders are NOT gluten free so check the ingredient list on the product packaging carefully.

My ingredient list included ⅔ cup Buckwheat flour, 125gm almond meal, ½ cup coconut sugar, 2 tablespoons custard powder, 90gms coconut oil (liquefied), 1 teaspoon vanilla (I used my homemade essence), approx 45gm almond milk.

The method is VERY simple. It takes less time than the oven takes to pre-heat (to 180ºC, by the way)! Because I’m a (proud) Thermomix owner, I freshly milled most of the dry ingredients first: placing the (⅔ cup) Buckwheat seeds and coconut sugar in together (approximately 10 seconds, Speed 9) then setting aside, so I could mill the (125gm) almonds into meal. I added the buckwheat & sugar mix back in to the Thermomix bowl, with the custard powder and mixed on speed 4 for a few seconds. For Non-Thermies, basically all you have to do is (sift &) mix all your dry ingredients together.food fervour

Add the vanilla, coconut oil & milk and mix well (Thermies 30 seconds, Speed 4-5) then mould spoonfuls onto oven trays lined with baking paper, with a little space between as they will flatten & spread during the cooking process. Bake for 10-20 minutes, depending upon your oven. Because of the high oil content, they will remain soft & ‘chewy’ even after cooling. Deeelish!

 

Deconstructed Apple Crumble

I have to admit I became a little distracted in my yoga class this afternoon. Somehow apples popped into my head (go figure?!) and my Samadhi was lost; the ‘Train of Thought’ left the station and a Craving was born. I was mulling over ideas for a warm apple dessert, but I knew an apple pie was out of the question. Waaaay too much time and effort.

So when I got home I looked up apple recipes in the Thermomix Recipe search engine, knowing that I was really looking for something ‘apple-crumble-ish’, to make it quick (minimal time between making and eating) but I realised they all still required oven baking. Pshhh!

So I decided to go with a ‘deconstruction’. As long as it was warm, I didn’t care.food fervour

For a single serve, one apple is plenty. I chopped it up roughly and threw it in the Thermie for a quick ‘Turbo’ smash-up (keeping the skin on – the more fibre the better!) then added about 10gms of water and set it to ‘stew’ for 3 minutes, 70ºC, Reverse Speed 2.

I popped the stewed apple straight into my serving dish (Thermie owners could put it in their Thermoservers to keep VERY warm, if you could be bothered to wash another item) showering it with ground cinnamon, then put 50gms walnuts in the bowl and chopped for about 6 seconds on speed 5-6. Adding 30gms coconut oil, 5-10gms coconut sugar and roughly a tablespoon (5gms) of psyllium husk I set it to cook for 2 minutes at 100ºC, Reverse Speed 2.

Scooping it straight into the dish with the apple, I poured in some fresh cream, garnishing with shredded coconut, then mixed it all up before taking the first spoonful. SO yummy. SO quick. SO satisfying. Instant gratification!

Gluten Free Fruit & Seed Loaf

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Raisin toast is loaded with sugar so I need to create a GF version minus excessive added sugar…

I used to have a real weakness for fruit toast. But I knew before I went off gluten that fruit loaves are full of sugar so I began limiting my ‘splurges’ anyway.

But I do miss ‘raisin toast’ from time to time, so my quest is to try to create a gluten free version that’s as similar to the ‘real thing’ as possible, minus the excess sugar of course. Trial and error is the only way, with the aid of heaps of research – Googling & others’ blogs! – and the courage to ‘alter’ (or ‘bastardise’ as I like to say) recipes. That kind of courage I definitely do not lack.

The loaf I just made was the result of an adaptation of Cyndi O’Meara’s gluten free bread recipe included a couple of Thermomix recipe books. I altered the dry ingredients a fair bit (due to both lack of some & preference for others), added a selection of spices, seeds, preservative-free dried fruits (these worked to sweeten the loaf more than the meagre amount of coconut sugar I opted for) and the kicker: I replaced xanthan gum & egg with soaked chia. I’d discovered this idea on a blog somewhere recently and then saw it used in a complimentary recipe on the Thermomix website.

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served up warm with my homemade butter

So… it turned out heavier than your typical commercial wheaten fruit loaf, but toasted up, I think it made the grade: particularly considering the vast majority of ingredients I used were unprocessed, which as far as I’m concerned is the most important thing.

If you don’t have a Thermomix the recipe should still work (you’ll have to buy your flours pre-milled) but will involve a lot more elbow grease in the mixing stages! Here’s what I used this time around:

2 tbspn chia seeds, 8 tbspn water, 280gm whole buckwheat, 100gm brown rice, 40gm dried chickpeas, 1 heaped tspn whole cloves, 35gm cornflour, 1 tspn cinnamon, 1 tspn nutmeg, 1 tspn garam masala, 10gm instant yeast, pinch (Himalayan) salt, 20gm coconut sugar, 400gm lukewarm water, 30 gm macadamia oil, 1 tspn vanilla essence, 1 tbspn apple cider vinegar, 80gm chopped dates, 80gm sun raisins, 45gm pumpkin seeds (pepitas), 40gm sunflower seeds.

Firstly I put the chia seeds and 8 tbspn water in a jar, shook it up and left it to ‘absorb’ while milling the buckwheat, brown rice, chickpeas & cloves in the Thermomix (1 minute, Speed 9). I added the remaining dry ingredients (cornflour, the powdered spices, yeast, salt & coconut sugar) and mixed lightly (15-20 seconds, Speed 4-5) before adding the water, oil, vanilla, vinegar and chia seed gel for another 15-20 seconds on Speed 5-6. I finally added the dried fruit & seeds, mixing gently on Reverse, Speed 1-2 for 20-30 seconds (to be honest, I can’t recall how long). Ready to empty the ‘batter’ into my greased & lined loaf tin, I placed it directly into the cold oven so it could ‘prove’ for the 15-20 minutes it takes to heat up to 180º. (The appliance in my rental home is ‘ancient’ & even though it is fan-forced, it’s pretty ‘slow’.) So from go to whoa, it should take about an hour: 20 minutes proving + 40 minutes cooking @ 180ºC.

Don’t expect a sweet cake-loaf: as I said earlier the meagre amount of coconut sugar is literally swamped by the other ingredients. So much so that the next time I cook this (or something similar) I’ll leave it out altogether and simply up the dried fruit content. Oh and nuts, I’ll definitely add chopped nuts. I’ve also read that the longer the dough (in this case ‘batter’) proves the better, so next time I might let it sit for longer before turning the oven on… I’m not sure if this applies to heavy gluten-free-grain-and-seed-floured doughs but if someone out there knows, please speak up!

 

Dessert for Breakfast

So there’s this Thermomix recipe that I’m in love with. It’s classed as a ‘breakfast’ dish, but to my mind, it’s TOO luscious and (here comes the Health Nazi) not really packed full enough of nutrients to constitute an everyday healthy meal. (I’ll talk about my typical breakfast choice another time.)

But it’s Sunday. And while I am waiting for my first attempt a gluten free fruit loaf to cook, I have to put something in the belly.

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The first time I made CADA I fell in love with it

CADA stands for Coconut, Apple, Date & Almond. It’s incredibly simple. You throw all of these ingredients in and Turbo a few times. Voila! The recipe asks for coconut flesh which personally I never have on hand, so my version replaces it with shredded coconut after the mix hits the serving dish. Then I add cinnamon and thick greek yoghurt and I swear it’straws just like eating apple pie with cream. Or apple crumble. Kind of.

food fervourToday I dropped the coconut in favour of some strawberries. For this single serve, I used ½ a green apple, approx 30gms (6-8) dates, 35gm roasted almonds and a handful of fresh strawberries. I’d recommend (Thermie user or not) you blast the almonds, dates and apple first then add the strawberries for the final ‘wazz’ since they’re too soft to withstand a heavy beating. Topped with 2 substantial dessertspoons of Greek yoghurt and about a teaspoon of coconut sugar, it was to die for! Next stop will be the blueberry version….

Green Smoothies Don’t Have to be Green…

Take this for example:food fervour

In fact, I’d say most of the green smoothies I make are brown. Because I LOVE cacao. Why not have a chocolate flavoured smoothie if you have the choice?

Cacao is the raw form of cocoa and therefore even more nutrient dense. And its (delicious) strong flavour helps disguise the bitterness that many kale varieties posses. The smoothie I just made (pictured) had 4-5 kale leaves in it and it only took 2 heaped tablespoons of cacao powder (oh ok, and the dates) to camouflage the acrid (but oh-so-healthy) green.

You really can have a lot of fun experimenting with green smoothies. If you are new to them, work off the ratio of 60% fruit to 40% greens until you acquire a taste.

For this particular smoothie (it made enough for two, by the way) I threw 2 bananas in the Thermomix, with 4-5 de-stemmed kale leaves, about 2 heaped tablespoons of cacao powder, 4-5 dates, a handful of (frozen) blueberries and approximately 300mls coconut water and blended it all on for about 40 seconds on Speed 9. For non-Thermies, blend for as long as you need to on the highest speed (to really break down the dates and kale).

I shouldn’t have any muscle cramps for the rest of the day, with the amount of magnesium (thanks to the Cacao & coconut water) in this drink. 😉