30 January 2017

Easy Chocolate Brownies, Vegan and Gluten Free!

This is a nice simple recipe, you'll need to have a small baking dish, as it just makes a small batch but being a small size, it doesn't take too long to whip these up for some friends coming round to tea and maybe you can cut them into bite sized pieces, for a tasty, sugary but not too over-indulgent treat. Balancing out the guilt of raw cane sugar is the secret ingredient of half a mashed up avocado, which has to be adding something good and beneficial to the overall mix.

I might also add that being a small size, these don't stay around for too long either.

1/ Preheat the oven to 180°
2/ Line a small baking dish, (mine is a 9" x 7")  with grease proof paper and then grease well with vegetable oil.
3/ Put the following ingredients into a large jug and stir well:
1/2 a cup of Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
1/2 a cup of raw cane sugar
2 heaped tablespoons of cocoa powder.
A pinch of salt
1/4 a teaspoon of Baking Powder
4/ After mixing the dry ingredients together, in another jug mash up half a rip avocado, then add 1/2 a cup of Almond Milk and a 1/4 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract and mix well.
5/ Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed.
6/ Add 1/2 a cup of smashed up dark chocolate into the mix.
6/ Scrape the batter out into the greased and lined baking tray and pop into the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
7/ Take the cake out of the oven and cover with foil, then bake for another 10 minutes, or until a knife stuck into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
8/ Leave the cake to cool, with the foil taken off.

18 January 2017

Vegan and Gluten Free Carrot Cake Recipe

Vegan and Gluten Free Carrot Cake with frosting.

Ok, everyone loves Carrot Cake, according to everyone on Facebook, that is! It's not something that particularly appealed to me, however, I have tasted my own slice of carrot cake before the frosting and I must say that it is absolutely delicious, it is warm, spicy and moist. So if you love carrot cake, you will love this recipe!

I can't wait to try it with the frosting on top too!

The Cake

1/ Preheat the oven to 180°
2/ Line a 9" x 9" brownie tin with greaseproof paper and then grease it with vegetable oil.
3/ Put the following ingredients into a large jug and stir well:
1 cup of Essential Buckwheat Flour
1/2 a cup of Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
1/2 a cup of raw cane sugar
1/2 a cup of dark brown sugar
1/2 a teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda
1/2 a teaspoon of Baking Powder
1 teaspoon of Cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon of Ginger powder.
4/ After mixing the dry ingredients together, add one cup of grated carrots and coat with the dry ingredients.
5/ Put the following wet ingredients into another jug and mix together:
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
3 tablespoons of apple puree
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons of Biona Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother
5/ Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed.
6/ Pour the batter out into the greased and lined baking tray and pop into the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
7/ Take the cake out of the oven and cover with foil, then bake for another 10 minutes, or until a knife stuck into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
8/ Leave the cake to cool, with the foil taken off.

The Frosting

1/ Soak 2 cups of cashew nuts in hot water and leave for at least 2 hours
2/ After 2 hours or so, drain off the nuts and but them into your blender.
3/ Add the following ingredients to the nuts in the blender and then blend into a creamy paste:
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil
1/3 cup of agave nectar
Add as little water as possible, when necessary to help the processing along.

Spread the creamy mixture over your cooled down cake!

You'll probably need only about half of the actual mixture for frosting, depending on how thick you like it. The other half can be poured into cup cake cases and frozen, then melt a little chocolate, dab in the centre and stick a frozen cherry on top, then you have created another little vegan delight!

Creamy Vegan Cherry Bites

9 January 2017

Our Veganuary Journey.

I am really enjoying a group on Facebook, called Veganuary, it is the official Facebook Group for Veganuary itself. There are conversations, recipes and inspirations. In fact this blog post is taken, with just a few tweaks from an original post that I was inspired to write on that group, to try and help others on their journey understand that they don't have to be so harsh with themselves and they don't have to fall out with their friends and family over what they are doing. 

I admire Vegan people but didn't think I could ever be one but Veganuary has given me the opportunity to have a go with no pressure, just one meal at a time. I decided to write about my decision on my blog and whilst I was writing inadvertently ate some milk chocolate coins, without thinking about it, so I just started again.

I actually thought I would find it hard but I am finding it delightful and interesting. I am in a situation where my partner is a 100% meat eater, one of our sons is the same and our other son has chosen to be pescatarian.

We run a family business, which is a coffee and health food shop. Right from the beginning we decided that our business would be 100% vegetarian, as we wanted to embrace all members of our community and not let religious dietary laws get in the way of socialising and feeling comfortable, we also knew that this would be a greener option, less damaging to our environment.

We have some very special customers who are vegan and very non-judgemental. They are inspiring, rather than challenging and we have a very special relationship with them. They have had us over for supper and we have even had a film evening in our shop showing Cowspiracy, with them bringing in amazing Vegan food. I respect them and their life decision so much and somehow or other they manage to respect us, despite our eating habits. They are away at the moment, so I am not even sure if they know that I am doing Veganuary. I call them 'My Vegan Family' and I am sure if they knew that I was doing this they would feel proud and be very supportive.

I feel the need to let you know what my story is because everyone doing Veganuary is at different stages and I know some of us are struggling with negative comments from family and friends, some of us have a meat eating partner, some of us have a whole vegan family, some choose to eat locally produced honey, some of us are wearing leather shoes maybe but as we are all trying.

In my story there are major areas of conflict, I am in a coffee shop pouring out cow's milk, buying cows milk but all our cakes are vegan, most of the products on our shelves are vegan. My partner eats meat, I don't (I am pescatarian normally). How does this fit together? How is this logical? Well it isn't logical and it isn't perfect but I am doing the best I can in these circumstances. If I were to reprimand myself for every imperfection, I wouldn't get very far but if I am kind and gentle to myself and look at all the positives, the chances are that I will get there in the end. My vegan friends haven't preached to me and they haven't been aggressive with their views, they are as kind and as delightful to me as they are to all animals and that is why I look up to them so much and find them so inspirational.

What I am trying to say is that if you find that your partner doesn't support you, if your friends challenge you, if you are judging yourself harshly, please don't get grumpy and argumentative. Build bridges, not walls. Be patient, be kind, be understanding and remember your choice may make other people feel uncomfortable with themselves. You do NOT have to justify yourself, or have intellectual debates, just as you will not ask others to justify themselves and their choices. Please don't let others upset you. I know it is hard, just remember this is about having a peaceful and kind existence, not about getting ourselves all emotionally upset and arguing with our nearest and dearest. 

Sending love and goodluck to you, no matter where you are in your journey. Xxxx

4 January 2017


Oh! I have just spontaneously signed up to this: VEGANUARY I am a pescatarian but I really admire the Vegan friends that I have made through our shop. They seem to me to be the most ethical of all the people that I know. When we first opened My Coffee Stop, nearly 8 years ago now, we made a commitment for everything to be 100% suitable for vegetarians. The reasoning behind it was inclusive eating and drinking, so that people could meet with their friends and all enjoy the same things without having to worry. A vegetarian diet leaps over many boundaries to eating communally that religious food laws may set up and we want people from all sorts of backgrounds and beliefs to enjoy coming together and we want to embrace people from all different backgrounds into our coffee shop community. We also had it in our minds that we wanted our business to make a positive contribution to our local and global community, so this meant being as green as we possibly could and eating meat and using animal products is just not good for the earth on any level.
Over the years, I have devised my own recipes for Vegan Cakes, Vegan Pizza and have a whole range of delicious Vegan hot drinks for people to enjoy and I am proud that just recently, we made the decision NOT to charge extra for using a plant milk, instead of cows' milk in a drink. That is a massive step forward for veganism, as logically why should we charge people extra for making an ethical choice, even when almond milk and the such like are more expensive to provide? Well, yes, looking at it on a business level, it's obvious we should charge more but taking a more holistic and worldly view, we shouldn't charge more for a decision that is a much better choice for the planet and for everyone. In fact, maybe we should be charging more for cows' milk maybe and putting people off it?
On a personal level, attempting to do Veganuary could be hard! I love eggs! I find them a really handy snack and surely, if they are unfertilised and the chickens are running free, then they are ok, aren't they? If you are going to comment on this blog post and correct my way of thinking, please be gentle, I am an animal too. I have just found out that I will be visiting my Mum and Dad next week, something to do with my extra work career, that I have just started recently, after having a break from the world of entertainment for a few years, whilst concentrating on our children and our coffee shop! Now, that is going to be full of pitfalls! I might have to bring along my own meals. What about protein, how do Vegans get their protein? I am scared of being hungry and then eating loads of sugary crap things. How do you prepare for that? On the other hand being Vegan and Gluten Free is easy isn't it? I mean, there's plants and vegetables and most dark chocolate is Vegan and Gluten Free! that should be ok then. Oh no! I have just glimpsed two gold coin wrappers on the side, I have just mindlessly put them into my mouth, whilst chatting to a customer and not even thinking about what I am doing, I have just EATEN MILK CHOCOLATE! NOT VEGAN and NOT GOOD! Ok, I am going to start again.....from NOW. Right NOW! I can see that doing Veganuary is going to be a FULL time occupation and I am going to have to be EXTREMELY mindful of what I am putting into my mouth, even more mindful than usual. I think that I am going to find this HARD! How about you? Will you join me on my journey?

Vegan Chocolate Cake topped with a Ginger and Chocolate Ganache.