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Saturday, 13 April 2013

Gluten Free Vegan Carrot Cake

Jess and Tom here!

We were craving carrot cake, but struggling to find a gluten free vegan recipe for one that didn't require a long list of weird ingredients we didn't have to hand, we decided to wing it and make it up using the contents of Jess' cupboard. And it worked. It worked so well we ate most of it in one night. Now, as happens quite often in our joint kitchen ventures, the exact method and quantities got blurred a little by wine (now Jess is eating clean this should happen less now!). But anyway, these ingredients make a large, gluten free, vegan carrot cake. 

1 cup ground almonds
1 cup plain gluten free flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cider vinegar
2 carrots, grated
1 apple, grated
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
3 tbsp brown/demerara sugar
3 tbsp agave syrup
1/2 cup raisins/nuts (optional)
1-2 tbsp dairy free milk
2 bananas, mashed
1 orange, juiced and zested

I think the general gist of the method is to combine the dry ingredients, then the wet ingredients, then add them together. The mashed bananas, juiced orange and grated apple and carrots add plenty of moisture so no additional fat is needed.  Then, once this incredible smelling cake had come out of the oven, we decided it was too good not to be iced. So we made our own orange-almond frosting up:

1 cup icing sugar (probably more like 2 or 3 cups, we just kept adding til the consistency was right)
1 orange, juiced and zested
2 tsp almond butter
2 tsp dairy free butter/spread
1 tsp vanilla essence

Add orange juice and zest to the icing sugar and mix, adding the vanilla essence along the way. Then add the butters and beat them in until you have a glossy frosting. Add more icing sugar as required until you have the right consistency.

Please do let us know if you know of a better way to spend an evening than eating carrot cake, drinking red wine and watching Girls?

Anyway, sorry this isn't the most useful recipe in the world. But do give it a try and let us know if you come up with something as amazing as we did!

Apple Blueberry Protein Bars

Hey, it's Jess today!

So, in another attempt at this whole lose fat/gain muscle thing, I've started another diet. I'm on day 6 of it now and haven't yet failed - yay! This time, I'm following the LiveFit Trainer plan, created by Jamie Eason. Just look at her, and you'll see why this seems like a good idea. Sadly, I am going to have to start the plan again exercise wise as my back and knee have been giving me grief all week so I've had to rest early, so I will start again. But the basis of this plan as far as food goes is to eat clean, high-protein meals every 2-3 hours. Meals generally consist of a decent sized portion of lean protein, a restricted portion of clean carbs (think brown rice, sweet potato, does allow certain types of pitta bread etc. but we're keeping this gluten free too), and unlimited vegetables as long as they're grilled, boiled or steamed (OK, I kind of failed, I fried my broccoli last night because I couldn't face it boiled again). Oh, and you're meant to consume 10 egg whites a day. Which I am not, because that would involve spending £60+ a month on eggs which isn't feasible on my stipend. But anyway, I am trying. And clean eating feels good, I haven't been bloated for six whole days or felt guilty about anything I've put past my lips, which is always a good start :)

So one of the small meal options on this plan is homemade protein bars. A recipe for carrot cake bars is provided, as well as chocolate, lemon and pumpkin flavours, but all the recipes include sweeteners such as Stevia or Ideal, which I am really not a fan of using. So I adjusted the recipes to suit what i want to use, and went for apple blueberry flavour.

Makes 8 servings:

1 cup oat bran
2 scoops vanilla whey protein
4 egg whites
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking powder
125g blueberries (1/2 mashed, 1/2 whole)
1 apple, grated
1 tbsp milled flaxseed (optional)
2 tsp chia seeds (optional)
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
50g flaked almonds (optional)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Combine egg whites, mashed blueberries, grated apple and a tbsp or two of water. Mix two bowls. Pour into pyrex dish and bake for 20-25 minutes at 180C.

Simple enough. Divided into eight portions, one bar provides 141 calories, 12g carbs, 11g protein and 7g fat. All the ingredients are approved for livefit, I just edited the original recipes by leaving out the unnatural sweeteners and using blueberries instead. And I added flax and chia seeds to add some omega fats and fibre, and the almonds make them a little denser and add some protein. These could easily be left out though. Mine turned out great though and will definitely be having them as small meal/snack options throughout the day.

(Sorry, I don't know how to make this vegan, when on a diet that requires you to consume 10 egg whites a day veganism isn't something I can really think about :( )

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Dhal

Tom here,

This is a staple bulk recipe for me, being high protein and very filling without being too high calorie (I don't think it needs rice with it). I had a tub of it at work with me today, and unfortunately the lid of the tub was not as secure as I can guess the rest of what happened. However, when viewing my lentil covered bag all my supervisor could say was how good it smelled! So for Aliesha; (as promised) here is the recipe -

Ingredients: (serves around 5)

1 medium Onion
1 tbsp Oil (I use coconut but olive or anything will work fine)
4-5 cloves Garlic
1 inch fresh Ginger (or 2 tsp ground)
1 medium Red Chilli
1 small Sweet Potato
1 1/2 cups chopped Cauliflower
1/2 cup chopped Broccoli
1 small Red Pepper
1 cup Red Lentils
1 cup Green Lentils
1 tsp Tumeric
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Curry Powder
1 can Chopped Tomatoes
1/4 tin Coconut Milk/1 inch Creamed Coconut/3 tbsp Coconut Milk Powder (I have used all of these depending on what was in my cupboard)/equivalent quantity of coconut flavour
3 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 Stock Cube (Kallo vegetable is what I normally use)
Boiling Water (enough to cover your vegetables, probably around half a litre but will depend on the size of your pan)
1 cup Spinach

This recipe could work perfectly with meat (I would imagine chicken would go well), add this with the garlic, ginger and chilli and make sure you brown the meat all over before adding the vegetables.


Chop the onion into a pan and fry with the lid on until soft
Add the garlic, ginger and chili and fry for a couple of minutes (and meat if using)
Cube the potato and add with the cauliflower and broccoli
Sweat for ten minutes or so with the lid on.
Add the lentils and stir through, then add the spices and mix thoroughly
Sweat for another 5 minutes
Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes, then add the soy sauce, stock, coconut, water and pepper (and more salt if needed)
Mix everything and simmer for 20 minutes or so until everything is cooked (stab. The potato to see as this will most likely take the longest to cook)
Turn off the the heat and add the spinach
Leave to wilt for 5 minutes and then serve!

This freezes absolutely fine and is one of those meals that just gets better after a couple of days in the fridge (perfect for bulk cooking). Also the basic dhal can be spiced however you like, and any vegetables will work really! Let us know any suggestions at

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Bacon & Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Jess again!

Just a quick one today, as this is a pretty simple recipe. In my attempt to figure out how a paleo diet would work out for me, my one biggest issue was breakfast. Oats are my staple; porridge is my favourite thing ever. Am I really going to stop eating it for good? Of course not. But I wanted to at least have some paleo-friendly breakfast options, and I haven't got my head around eating eggs yet (I will try but right now, I really don't like them in any form) so I came up with this beautiful recipe. Bacon, sweet potato hash browns. Now this is an American hash brown, not an English one. When I ordered hash browns in Waffle House in America, I was pretty weirded out by the plate of fried potato they gave me, but I appreciate it is really the same thing as a potato-patty. This took me about 20 minutes to make, so I wouldn't make it every morning, but it's definitely one to try if you have a little time or at the weekends.

Ingredients (serves 1)
Bacon (I used 1/4 smoked gammon steak because that's what i had, but a couple of slices of back bacon would work too, or whatever you prefer)
1 small sweet potato (or half a large), grated
1 apple, half grated half chopped
Optional - spinach, paprika, salt & pepper to season, 1 tsp flaxseed

Heat a frying pan. Cut the bacon into thin strips and fry. I dry fried; use coconut oil if you want to, olive oil if you're not that fussed about it being paleo, whatever. Mix the grated sweet potato and apple together, and throw in the pan, spreading out so it covers the pan and ensuring the bacon is mixed in.
 <3 bacon

Fry on one side for about 3-4 minutes, then (as much as possible) flip it over in one piece and fry on the other side. Obviously adjust the cooking time depending on how crunchy/cooked you want it. Add the chopped apple and fry for another minute or so. At the end, I added a little paprika and spinach, and then some salt and pepper on top. I also added a tsp of flaxseed for a little nutritional boost but that's entirely optional.

It was amazing. I usually deny myself bacon but this was so worth it. The apple compliments the taste of the bacon and the texture of the sweet potato so well. And based on my ingredients, my portion was only 230 calories. Which is less than my porridge usually is after I've added all my fruit and nuts and seeds to it. I think this recipe could be varied based on what you feel like - an Asian inspired one with some spring onions, ginger and soy/tamari sauce would be great if you added some salmon. This recipe would also work fine without the bacon if you are vegetarian/vegan (or if you don't like bacon, but let's be honest here, you do). Let us know how it goes!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Jess Tries Paleo(ish)


So, I've become a little obsessed with going to the gym recently. For instance, last week I did three 3+ hour sessions (as well as normal length sessions on the other days) and I'm trying to take strength training a little more seriously (mainly because my knee hurt too much to run, it's feeling better now so I'll see how things pan out but I'm kind of enjoying improving my strength a lot more right now). I won't post about my training because I am utterly clueless. Maybe someday, I'll post one of those amazing before and after photos with a slightly chubby version of me on the left and me with my six pack on the right, but Tom will have to stop making me cupcakes before this is achieved.

Anyway, in an attempt to start seeing real results in the gym, I have to clean up my diet. So after a lot of research, I'm going to give a paleo diet a bit of a go (sorry vegans). I don't know if I'll ever be able to do it 100% and I certainly can't afford to keep up with the organic side of it right now, but I'm going to try to cut grains from my diet as much as possible (saying goodbye to my morning porridge is going to be the hardest thing I ever do food wise, even harder than giving up chocolate for lent has been). I'm not keen on eggs, but I'm going to attempt to make them work for me. Already being gluten free will make the transition a lot easier though, as I don't eat that many carbs anyway and sweet potato is already my favourite. Also, a lot of paleo recipes use bacon. And it's a long time since I allowed myself bacon, so this could be good.

Before you do anything else, have a look at some of the recipes on these two blogs and then you will realise why I want to try this diet. I want to try every recipe these guys have come up with. And maybe I will someday - pineapple stuffed chorizo burgers sound too amazing for words. But right now, I'm trying to come up with ways to replace porridge in the mornings and relatively cheap meals that don't require too much hassle because I don't have much time for cooking when I'm in the lab for hours on end and working out for the remainder of my waking hours.

My first consciously paleo meal today:

Baked Turkey with Roasted Pepper, Mushroom and Garlic Spinach

Now, when I made this, it didn't occur to me that agave nectar might not be paleo since it's vegan friendly. But apparently honey is more paleo friendly than agave. But anyway, I baked my turkey in agave and it was yummy.

Serves 2
2 turkey breasts
(optional - 2 tsp honey or agave nectar)
1 bell pepper
1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 cup spinach

Quite simply, coat the turkey in whatever you choose (1 tsp agave nectar per turkey breast worked great for me) and bake in the oven at 180C for 15-20 minutes (until its not pink inside but do not overcook).  Cut a bell pepper (I went for orange) in half and roast for about 15 minutes, until it is softened and starting to brown slightly. Then fry the roasted pepper, mushrooms and garlic in a little  oil (use coconut if you have it, I didn't) until softened. Then add the spinach and fry until wilted, this took me just 1-2 minutes.

 I added a bit of lemon, as I do to most things

Sweet and Salty Carrot Chips

I can't take credit for these, I found them on Gabby's G Free blog and they are a great little snack or meal addition. Just take as many carrots as you want to use, cut them how you want to eat them (I went for a mixture of rounds and batons) coat in cinnamon, salt and oil (I omitted the oil and added a tablespoon of tamari instead) and bake in the oven for 10-20 minutes (depending how crispy you want them). And there you have it, sweet and salty carrot chips. I served these, with mangetout, alongside my turkey and spinach and it was amazing.

This meal came to 280 calories, with approximately 40g protein. So a great post workout meal (and yes, I have saved the other half for tomorrow night after the gym).

I can't promise to stick entirely to paleo meals, because I will just end up giving in and gorging on grains. But I am going to try to phase them out gradually, and with meals like this maybe it won't be so hard. Let me know if you have any good paleo blogs or recipes! Hopefully Tom and I will find a way to combine vegan and paleo cooking somehow...wish us luck!

Zero Calorie Food!

Well, almost.

I was recently killing time in Selfridges in the Trafford Centre and I found the health food section (oh no). And it's pretty incredible. A great gluten free selection of pasta, bread, granola (maple pecan, passionfruit pistachio, mango macadamia...heaven) packet mixes and bits and pieces, along with a sports nutrition bit with protein supplements and a diet food bit. Which is where I found ZERO CALORIE noodles, rice and pasta. That's right. You may have heard of them before, but they're fairly hard to find. The noodles are made from Glucomannan fibre and the pasta is made from Moyu. I do not know what these things are and I am too scared to find out but I haven't read anything bad about them so I am assuming that they are healthy for human consumption. Here are the websites if you want to have a little look before you spend your money on these (they are expensive, obviously) : They are suitable for all dietary requirements, including gluten free and vegan, so they are obviously a great choice for Tom and I.

Now, as I wasn't sure what they would be like, I didn't waste my time making nice recipes to go with these bizarre things. I wouldn't be happy if I wasted an evening making a nice teriyaki sauce for it to go in the bin because my noodles were gross. So I cheated and used a Blue Dragon packet teriyaki sauce (which was a teeeny bit bland but fine) with the noodles and a Lloyd Grossman sweet red pepper and tomato pasta sauce (which is really nice).

To cook both the noodles and the pasta, you open the packet and drain the fluid off. At this point, do not smell it. It smells gross. Sorry. But once you drain and rinse the pasta/noodles, its completely taste and odorless. So drain, rinse and then boil for about 3-5 minutes. Then rinse again and leave to the side whilst you prepare your sauce.

 The noodles whilst cooking. They came out with a fairly normal noodle texture and just absorbed the taste of the sauce.

 Sorry, got a little excited and ripped the packet open before I took a picture.

For the noodles, I fried some courgette, mushrooms, mangetout and green pepper in coconut oil and teriyaki sauce and added prawns. For the pasta, I went for courgette and mushrooms with olive oil, with chicken added. I added a little paprika to the sauce too.

 Teriyaki Prawn Zero Noodles

Mediterranean Vegetable and Chicken Slim Pasta

The pasta was a slightly more unusual texture than the noodles, and I think in future I would stick to the noodles as they were both nicer and cheaper. Amazingly, these were both ridiculously filling. Obviously unless you eat them completely plain there will be calories in your meal (for mine, there was 176 in the pasta meal and 180 in the noodles) but this is significantly less than normal carbs. 

The verdict on these products? I like them, but I am a student and thus they will not become part of my weekly shop. I might buy them occassionally but they are expensive (in Selfridges, £1.89 for noodles and £2.99 for the pasta). However, they were fun to try out. They are probably not a great idea if you're exercising a lot because you do actually need carbs to replenish your body afterwards, but if you're pretty sedentary and on a diet (and rich) then definitely give them a go. I also still have slim rice to try which I haven't got round to yet. And Tom has some zero noodles too so hopefully he will add a nice recipe too. 

Let us know if you have any recipes using zero cal carbs!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Reece's Cupcakes

Tom and Jess today!

Okay so for various reasons (not least because of our ongoing and undying love affair with peanut butter AND the recent discovery that Sainsbury's basics peanut butter is both amazing and cheap) we decided that a drizzly saturday REQUIRED cupcakes - and what better way to adapt our newly formed muffin recipe than into the greatest sweet on the planet - reece's pieces. The icing alone was good enough, but combined with chocolate cupcakes - unbeatable.

This recipe has quite a few specialist ingredients BUT it is vegan, gluten free, protein-filled and overall not incredibly unhealthy (except for the icing, but trust us, it's worth every calorie).

You're going to need the ingredients for the garbanzo muffins but with a few extra tweaks: makes around 10 (fairly large) cupcakes

1/2 cup Gram Flour (or chickpea or garbanzo beans - these things have too many names)
1/2 cup Gluten Free Self Raising Flour (I use Doves Farm)
1/2 cup Oats
1/2 cup of Soft Brown Sugar
3 tsp Soya Protein Powder (or substitute for 1 tbsp Cornflour)
3 tbsp Carob Powder (or you can use cocoa powder if you prefer)
3 tbsp Soya Butter
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 ripe Bananas
1 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Distilled Vinegar
1/4 cup Peanuts
1/2 cup Almond Milk (or any other dairy free alternative)
10 1/2 tsp Black Cherry Jam
10 1/2 tsp Peanut butter

Make these in the same way as the garbanzo muffin recipe (, substituting the spices for the carob powder, the raisins for the peanuts and adding the peanut butter and jam to the centres.

Next you want to make up a batch of Jess' peanut butter frosting (the very definition of icing on the cake!) using:

1/3 cup Peanut Butter (use whatever type you prefer, other nut butters would work too if you wish!)
1/3 cup Dairy-free Butter
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste (this is an absolute necessity. And once again, worth every penny)
A few splashes of non-dairy milk (we used almond)
1 1/2 cups Icing Sugar
Optional - 2 tsp Maple Syrup (we used agave here)

For instructions see the second part of the recipe here (

Spread this on top in around a centimetre thick later, eat the rest of the bowl using you spoon/fingers/hands/face/tongue, and then enjoy!