Vegan Butter

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Vegan Butter Made by The Fat Foodie

One of the things I miss most about going dairy-free is butter. I love butter. I love it spread generously over hot toast, the melted butter dripping through the cracks of the bread to pool on the plate below. I love good salted butter on scones, with the cold, creamy saltiness of the butter providing a wonderful contrast with the sweet, fruit-laden jam draped across the scone. I love butter melted down and used to fry a base of onions and garlic before coating each tiny individual grain of arborio rice that forms the platform of a great risotto.

Yep, butter’s a damn fine ingredient all round, in my book. So you can see why I’d have a go at trying to make a decent dairy-free, vegan version of butter, right?

Since going dairy-free I’ve been using a Marks and Spencer’s sunflower spread which is really cheap at only £1 a tub, but it’s not particularly tasty. Nor is it particularly healthy for that matter, considering it’s largely composed of palm oil and contains such delights as E-number ’emulsifiers’ and ‘acidity regulators’. All in all, I’m sure you can understand why I’d prefer to try something a little more natural.

I came across this recipe for vegan butter on a blog called A Virtual Vegan and thought the recipe sounded quite good. It uses ground almonds as its base ingredient, with coconut oil and olive oil providing the essential fat content for the proper ‘butter effect’, and nutritional yeast and apple cider vinegar to provide the slight ‘dairy’ tang that is found in real dairy butter. It helped that I was able to use my Nutribullet high speed blender to mix all of the ingredients together because it resulted in a very smooth finished product. I suspect it would spoil the ‘fake butter’ effect if I came across little chunks of almond while eating my vegan butter.

I had planned on solidifying my vegan butter in a lovely little stoneware pot that I had left over from a pot of Stilton cheese from Christmas, but thankfully I gave it a sniff beforehand and discovered that the pungent smell of the Stilton had become impregnated into the pot even though I’d washed it thoroughly. Thank God I checked it before using it for my vegan butter!

I’m incredibly pleased with how this vegan butter turned out. Quite frankly I would describe it’s creator, Melanie McDonald (the Virtual Vegan) as nothing short of a culinary genius! This vegan butter has the soft, silky texture that you ordinarily expect of butter and it melts beautifully on toast and crumpets. I’m not going to lie, you can taste the coconut oil in it, so whatever you spread the butter on will have a slightly tropical-flavoured hint of coconut, but overall I think it’s worth it. I definitely think this vegan butter will be a new standby ingredient in my dairy-free life.

Get the ingredients list and method to make this vegan butter here at A Virtual Vegan’s website.

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Vegan Butter Made by The Fat Foodie

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Vegan Chilli Con Carne With Baked Tortilla Chips (Serves 4)

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Vegan Chilli Con Carne With Baked Tortilla Chips by The Fat Foodie

For a while now I’ve been hearing about people making their own low-fat and low-salt versions of tortilla chips by cutting tortillas into little triangles and baking them in the oven until they’re crisp and golden. I was making a vegan chilli con carne the other night and because I wasn’t in the mood to serve it with boring old white rice, I decided to make the baked tortilla chips to go with it.

It worked really well, with three tortillas making a small mountain of crisp, biscuity baked tortilla chips I could use to scoop up the chilli con carne. The baked tortilla chips were also very good with the salsa and guacamole dips I served alongside the chilli con carne.

I don’t like to keep bags of tortilla chips in the house because they’re not the healthiest of snack and let’s be honest, sometimes once you start munching them it’s hard to stop, so it’s great knowing that should the need arise and I fancy making something that would go well with some tortilla chips I can bake some within 15 mins.

This chilli con carne takes hardly any effort to make, but is very rewarding in the taste department and is fantastic as leftovers the next day because the flavours of the spices have a chance to marry overnight in the fridge. As you can see in the photo below, I served the chilli con carne and baked tortilla chips with ‘the works’ (hot salsa, jalapeños, guacamole, cucumber and grated dairy-free cheese). I’ll definitely make this again sometime because it’s a great recipe to have on standby for a quick dinner.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 red onion (diced)

2 chopped peppers (yellow, orange or red)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground smoked paprika

1 tin of kidney beans (drained and rinsed)

250g vegan mince

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

Method:

Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and put the tbsp of coconut oil in it. Once it’s hot add the diced onion and fry until soft.

Add the spices and chopped peppers and cook for 5 mins.

Add the vegan mince, kidney beans and chopped tomatoes and cook for 10 mins.

Taste the chilli con carne and add salt if required.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Using a pizza cutter, cut your tortillas into little tortilla-sized triangles, place on a baking tray and bake them in the oven until they’re golden brown and crisp. (I turned my baked tortillas over halfway through so that I could make sure they were really crisp.)

Serve the chilli con carne with the baked tortilla chips, guacamole, salsa, jalepenos, grated cheese and salad.

Vegan Chilli Con Carne With Baked Tortilla Chips

Vegan Chilli Con Carne With Baked Tortilla Chips by The Fat Foodie

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Fat Foodie Energy Balls (Makes 18)

Making Fat Foodie Energy Balls

Making Fat Foodie Energy Balls

Energy balls are incredibly popular at the moment, but apart from trying a Bounce protein energy ball once (which was very tasty indeed!) I’ve never actually tried making them myself. This all changed a couple of days ago after I’d been reading the latest Deliciously Ella cookbook Deliciously Ella With Friends which features a lovely sounding recipe for pistachio and orange truffles.

Now, I’m afraid you won’t find the recipe for Ella’s pistachio and orange truffles here because I didn’t have all of the ingredients to make them, but I did find myself wondering whether I could make an energy ball of my own creation with ingredients that I did have at hand, so I went ahead and had a bash. Thankfully they worked out very well!

I think the trick to good energy balls is to make sure the ratio of dry ingredients to wet is accurate. Too wet and they won’t hold their shape, too dry and they won’t form into a ball and will crumble apart. I also couldn’t have made these without my trusty food processor, although a Nutribullet or blender would probably do the same job if that’s what you’ve got in your kitchen.

When you bite into one of these energy balls the first thing that hits your taste buds is the smooth dark cocoa coating, but as you begin to chew, the sweetness of the dates and apricots merges with the bitter chocolate to create the impression of a sinfully decadent, but ultimately pretty healthy, sweetie. The nutty crunch of the crumbled seeds only adds to the overall enjoyment of the blend of flavours.

That’s quite the description, but it’s as accurate as I can make it and you could easily adapt the ingredients to suit your own tastes, such as using cinnamon in place of ginger, or using other dried fruits in place of the apricots. (You’d probably need to stick with using a base of dates though because it’s their fudginess which helps hold the energy balls together.)

This recipe makes around 18 large marble-sized energy balls and is well worth having a go at. If you do make them, let me know how you get on.

Ingredients:

300g dates (pitted)

100g dried apricots

50g pumpkin seeds

50g sunflower seeds

100g oats

2 tsps vanilla essence

4 tsps tahini

A pinch of salt

1/4 tsp. of ground ginger

1/2 an over-ripe banana

2 tbsps of melted coconut oil (possibly more depending on how the mix sticks together)

4 tbsps cocoa powder

Method:

Sprinkle your cocoa powder onto a plate and leave to one side, then lay a sheet of greaseproof paper out on your work surface.

Put all of your other ingredients into your food processor and blitz until it forms a thick paste. If you find that it’s not forming a paste add a little bit more melted coconut oil to the mixer until it does stick together.

Making Fat Foodie Energy Balls

Making Fat Foodie Energy Balls

Put the mixture in a bowl (so you’re not delving your hand into a food processor bowl and running the risk of having a finger meet a blade!).

Take a small portion (about the size of a large marble) and form it into a ball before rolling it around in the cocoa and placing it on the greaseproof paper.

Coating Fat Foodie Energy Balls

Coating Fat Foodie Energy Balls

When you’ve made all of your energy balls put them in the fridge to firm up. Once firm, enjoy!

Fat Foodie Energy Balls

Fat Foodie Energy Balls

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Roast Carrot and Sundried Tomato Hummus

Roast Carrot and Sundried Tomato Hummus by The Fat Foodie

Roast Carrot and Sundried Tomato Hummus by The Fat Foodie

I’ve been enjoying reading and cooking from Ella Mills’ new cookbook Deliciously Ella With Friends and I quite fancied making her roast carrot hummus. I’ve made The Happy Pear’s roast carrot hummus before and really enjoyed it, but I thought it’d be good to try a different recipe for a change.

I followed Ella’s recipe up to the point of blending all of the ingredients together in the food processor, but I baulked when I reached the point at which she asked for the addition of 10 tbsps of olive oil. That’s a lot of oil! And a lot of people can find that too much olive oil can have an, ahem, ‘loosening’ effect on the body, if you know what I mean…

The lads from The Happy Pear don’t use any oil in their hummus recipes so I thought I’d follow suit and adapt Ella’s recipe so that it had a lot less fat in it, using sundried tomatoes and a bit of their oil from the jar instead of copious amounts of olive oil.

The roast carrot and sundried tomato hummus turned out really nice with a good mellow kick from the roasted garlic cloves and a lovely tang from the sundried tomatoes. I had it in a Mediterranean herb wrap with some grated dairy-free cheese and salad and it was delicious.

This makes quite a lot of hummus (I’ve found that Ella’s portions in her new cookbook Deliciously Ella With Friends are extremely generous), but it freezes very well so I’ve portioned it up into small tupperware containers so I can take it out of the freezer as and when I need it. I think it’ll do very nicely for some iron and nutrient-rich packed lunches to take to work over the next month.

Ingredients:

3 large carrots (400g worth)

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 1/2 tsps. of paprika

A pinch of salt

3 garlic cloves

8 sundried tomatoes (and a bit of the oil from the jar)

Two 400g tins of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

3 tbsps. tahini

The juice of 2 or 3 lemons

1 tsp ground cumin

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Cut your carrots into coins about an inch thick and place on a baking tray. Coat the carrot pieces in 1 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt and roast for about 20 mins.

Put your unpeeled garlic cloves on the baking tray and roast alongside the carrots for 5 to 10 mins or until the carrots are soft.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Peel the garlic cloves and then place all of your ingredients in a food processor and blitz. I quite like my hummus to have a bit of texture, but if you prefer yours smooth just keep the food processor running until it’s very smooth.

I added a bit of fresh coriander to my hummus, but you can leave it out if you prefer.

Serve in sandwiches, with fajitas, chilli or with crisp baked tortillas.

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Roast Carrot and Sundried Tomato Hummus by The Fat Foodie

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Deliciously Ella’s Blueberry Pancake Stack (serves 4)

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Deliciously Ella’s Stack of Blueberry Pancakes cooked by The Fat Foodie

This morning I made Deliciously Ella’s Blueberry Pancake Stack from her new cookbook Deliciously Ella with Friends. I’ve only made a couple of things from her first cookbook in the past so I was interested to see how good her new recipes were and judging from this blueberry pancake stack I don’t think I’ll be disappointed in the rest of the book.

Part of the reason I chose this recipe to make first was because I had a large punnet of blueberries in my freezer that I’d had earmarked for using with pancakes one day anyway, so I figured I might as well try them in Deliciously Ella’s blueberry pancake stack. I bought the blueberries at a brilliant reduced price from Marks and Spencer one day and thought I’d freeze them to use another day. (The freezing process makes no difference to the taste of the berries whatsoever and is a good, handy way to make sure I have nice fruit at hand to add to recipes such as pancakes or muffins.)

I’ve never made pancakes with blended oats before, although I’ve heard that they’re a staple for people who can’t tolerate gluten, but I was quite surprised at how tasty they were. Don’t get me wrong, the texture is very different from normal flour-based pancakes because the oats are a considerably more dense ingredient, but they work quite well overall.

These blueberry pancakes are fairly easy to make and although they require 20 minutes at the start of the process to soak the chia seeds, once that’s done all of the ingredients can be thrown into your food processor or blender and whizzed together to create the batter (with the exception of your blueberries because you want those bad boys to be kept whole). If you’ve never heard of or used chia seeds before, they’re a tiny little seed which absorbs water really fast and turns into a thick, gel-like consistency, so they’re a really useful ingredient to use if you’re looking for an egg replacement.

In the book, the Deliciously Ella recipe states that you should cook the pancakes for 2 minutes on each side, but mine took way longer than that (and I cooked them over a medium-high heat too), so don’t be surprised if they take a wee while to brown. I suspect it’s because of the thick nature of the oaty pancake batter. Ella suggests serving the blueberry pancakes with caramelised banana, maple syrup and almond butter, but I just ate mine with a light drizzle of golden syrup and some hazelnut butter and they were lovely.

This Deliciously Ella recipe makes a generous stack of fat blueberry pancakes which are soft and fluffy in the middle, crisp around the edges, and laden with little blueberry bombs that explode in your mouth, flooding it with their sweet juice. With a description like that how can you possibly resist making them?

Ingredients:

2 tbsp chia seeds

200g oats

2 over-ripe bananas

3 tbsps maple syrup (I ran out of maple syrup so I used 1 tbsp of maple syrup and 2 tbsps of honey instead)

2 tbsps coconut oil (plus extra to fry the pancakes with)

A pinch of salt

150g blueberries

Method:

Put the chia seeds in a mug and cover them with 175ml of water. Leave the water to be absorbed into the chia seeds for at least 20 mins.

While you’re waiting for the chia seeds to plump up you can put all of your other ingredients (except the blueberries) into a food processor or blender, along with 100ml of water, and blend it all together.

Once the chia seeds are gel-like add them to the mixture and mix again.

Pour the mixture into a jug and add the blueberries (I just used mine from frozen and they worked fine).

Heat a tbsp of coconut oil in a frying pan and once it’s hot, cook your pancakes, using around 2 tbsps of mixture per pancake.

Let your pancake cook on one side for a while before peeking at its underside and if it’s brown then flip it over and cook the other side until it’s brown too.

Continue until all of the mixture is used up, keeping the cooked pancakes in the oven on a low heat, and serve with nut butters, maple or golden syrup, honey, fresh fruit, whipped cream or whatever takes your fancy.

Deliciously Ella's Stack of Blueberry Pancakes cooked by The Fat Foodie

Deliciously Ella’s Stack of Blueberry Pancakes cooked by The Fat Foodie

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