Beetroot and black cherry rice pudding (dairy free, vegan): A guest post from Baby Led Blog

Beetroot-black-cherry-rice-pudding-recipe

This is a guest post from Faye over at Baby Led Blog. Thanks Faye!

I made rice pudding balls when Dexter was around seven months and he really enjoyed them. I’ve tinkered around with the recipe and pimped it up with lots of extra iron and fibre from the beetroot. I’ve also added a black cherry chia jam to go with it. This rice pudding is filling, pink and full of fruit and veg fun. The recipe below makes a substantial amount – enough for a family dessert. Feel free to halve the recipe for a smaller quantity.

Recipe:

200g rice (I personally use risotto rice but pudding rice would also work)
250ml (approx.) coconut milk
150ml (approx.) boiling water
1 beetroot (I used the vac pack stuff but you can use fresh – just don’t get the pickled one in the jar)
75g black cherries (frozen ones are perfect for this)
1 ½ tsp chia seeds

Method:
1. Use a large pan on the hob. Chop your beetroot into tiny bits and mix in with your rice – it will stain it an awesome pink colour! Then, a ladle-full at a time, add your water and stir until it is absorbed; a bit like you would with a risotto. 

Beetroot-black-cherry-rice-pudding-recipe

2. Keep this up until you have used all your water. Then switch to your coconut milk, doing the same thing, until the whole lot is absorbed. The coconut milk will lighten the shade of pink slightly. The process should take around 30 minutes

Beetroot-black-cherry-rice-pudding-recipe

3. To make the jam, put your cherries in a small pan with a splash of water and heat until softened. 

Beetroot-black-cherry-rice-pudding-recipe

4. Stir in your chia seeds and leave to cool. This will create a ‘jam’ to serve with your pudding. 

5. Now, you have three options. Serve the pudding as it is, warm with some jam splodged in the centre:

OR! Cool it quickly by plunging the pan in cold water. Mix in the jam. Then roll into balls and coat in crushed up cornflakes for a yummy finger food snack. 

Beetroot-black-cherry-rice-pudding-recipe

Finally, leftovers can by mixed with yoghurt for a lighter breakfasty version! How lovely would this be layered up with fruit in a glass?!

Beetroot-black-cherry-rice-pudding-recipe

So, there you have it – my Sneaky Veg inspired pudding! Hope you enjoy.

Faye xxx

Wow - thanks so much Faye - I can't wait to try this! Check out more of Faye's recipes and ideas for baby led weaning over at babyledblog.com

Beetroot and black cherry rice pudding recipe - great for baby led weaning - a guest post by Faye from Baby Led Blog
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Homemade un-baked beans with hidden vegetables

Homemade-unbaked-beans-with-hidden-veg

If you'd like to make your own homemade baked beans but don't have time to make a traditional baked beans recipe which needs several hours in the oven then this is for you. It's a really easy, one pan recipe that doesn't take long to cook, but can equally be made in advance, or frozen. Usually baked beans are simply haricot beans and tomato sauce baked with spices. I've added in some butternut squash and some yellow pepper - partly to make the sauce more orange, and therefore a bit closer to what comes out of a tin, and also to help my kids along the way to eating five portions of fruit and veg a day - something we are still seriously struggling with.

So how did they go down? Well, they certainly weren't fooled that this was the same thing that comes in a tin. R, 6, immediately said "are these homemade?" - which unfortunately to him means not as good. But two out of three kids ate them which in my book counts as a success! And I'm much happier knowing that Baby S in particular has had these homemade beans, with some extra veggies and no added salt or refined sugar, than beans from a tin.

These homemade un-baked beans make a great weekend brunch or lunch served with toast but they're also lovely served as part of a more substantial meal, such as alongside sausages.

Homemade-unbaked-beans-with-hidden-veg

The recipe below makes quite a large quantity of beans, so depending on your family's size you can freeze a portion, or two, or perhaps even more. Alternatively you could halve these quantities.

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
150g piece of butternut squash, roasted or steamed
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
3 x 400g tins of haricot beans, drained and rinsed.

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion over a medium heat until soft. Stir through the garlic, cook for a further minute then add the diced pepper.
2. Cook for 10 minutes or until the pepper has softened, before adding the mustard powder, oregano and maple syrup.
3. Stir well then add the cooked butternut squash and the chopped tomatoes. Blend until you have a smooth sauce - I find a hand held stick blender is ideal for this.
4. Stir through the haricot beans and warm through.

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Homemade un-baked beans with hidden vegetables
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No-bake passionfruit, sweet chilli and ginger cheesecake

Passionfruit-sweet-chilli-ginger-no-bake-cheesecake-sneaky-veg-heinz

This recipe for passionfruit, sweet chilli and ginger cheesecake is a sweet and creamy dessert, packed full of tangy passionfruit flavours and a gentle hint of Heinz sweet chilli.

It's a really easy recipe to throw together and it doesn't require any baking - you just need to make it a couple of hours in advance so it has time to set in the fridge.

We absolutely loved this - the sweet chilli is mild enough for the kids and the cheesecake looks so pretty with the passionfruit and red chilli flecks decorating the top. Heinz have a whole range of different chilli sauces to explore. Find out more about Heinz sauces.

Passionfruit-sweet-chilli-ginger-no-bake-cheesecake-sneaky-veg-heinz

Here's how to make no-bake passionfruit, sweet chilli and ginger cheesecake:

Ingredients
200g ginger snap biscuits
80g butter
300g cream cheese
150ml double cream
110g icing sugar
6 passionfruits
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Heinz sweet chilli sauce

1. Grease a 20cm flan dish. 
2. Place the biscuits into a food processor and pulse until they've turned into crumbs. Alternatively place them in a bag and bash with a rolling pin.
3. Melt the butter and stir into the biscuits until well combined. Press into the base of the flan dish. Place in the fridge.
4. Sift the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat with the cream cheese until thick and thoroughly mixed. Pour in the cream and beat again until thick and creamy. 
5. Cut open four of the passion fruits and scrape out the juice and pulp. Stir into the cream mixture.
6. Remove the biscuit base from the fridge and pour the creamy mixture over the top, smoothing the top. 
7. Cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours, or longer, until set.
8. Place the honey, sweet chilli sauce and the juice and pulp of the remaining passion fruits into a small saucepan. Heat gently over a low heat until the honey has dissolved and the sauce has thickened, this will take around five minutes.
9. Allow to cool slightly, then spread over the top of the cheesecake.
10. Return to the fridge for another 30 minutes or so to allow the topping to set.

No-bake-passionfruit-sweet-chilli-ginger-cheesecake

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post with Heinz.

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Simply Ice Cream handmade ice cream review

Simply-Ice-Cream-Review

Where can you get handmade ice cream, made with real fruit that contains no added preservatives or colouring? The answer is Simply Ice Cream.

Made by hand in Kent, Simply Ice Cream is as good for you as real ice cream gets. Don't get me wrong - it still contains plenty of cream and sugar - but if you're looking for the real deal, without any of the nasties, then this is for you.

We were sent four ice creams (coconut; strawberry; raspberry; and mango, passionfruit and lime) to try and two sorbets (lemon and raspberry) to try.

In my opinion, the mango, passionfruit and lime was the best - I absolutely love those flavours and it was sweet, creamy and packed full of tropical flavours. Miss R, 4, loved the raspberry and strawberry but for R, 6, who prefers an ice lolly to an ice cream, it was all about the sorbet. Apparently the lemon sorbet tastes "just like that lime Calippo I had in Spain". The kids are still dreaming about the week this summer when they were allowed an ice lolly with Daddy every day after dinner while I put Baby S to bed.

As well as the fruity ones, the company make a range of nut ice creams and some seasonal flavours such as Christmas pud. Their honeycomb ice cream has won several awards and is next on my list to try!

Simply Ice Cream review

Simply Ice Cream products are available to buy in a range of shops and pubs and cafes in London and the south east. You can also get them in selected John Lewis and Waitrose stores. See the full list of stockists.

Disclaimer: we were sent some Simply Ice Cream products to try. All opinions are honest and are our own.

 

Vegetarian Yorkshire puddings filled with pease pudding, roasted cauliflower and caramelised onions

Mini-Yorkshire-puddings-pease-pudding-cauliflower-onions-vegetarian

What to serve with a vegetarian roast dinner is always a challenge. Some opt for nut roast, some for veggie sausages, some for pie, and others still for nothing at all - believing that the potatoes, veg and trimmings are enough as they are. This was the first time that I've added fillings to a Yorkshire pudding but I'm pretty sure it won't be the last as this turned out to be one of the most delicious roast dinners we've ever had. 

This delicious recipe for a filled savoury Yorkshire puddings is the perfect centrepiece for a vegetarian roast. It was inspired by last week's Great British Bake Off. Batter week was a first for the show and I for one enjoyed seeing how the contestants tackled the challenge of making savoury Yorkshire puddings, lace pancakes and churros. There was zero chance of me making lace pancakes and I'm not really a fan of deep frying so Yorkshires it had to be.

I'm joining in with the Great Bloggers Bake Off organised by Mummy Mishaps. Check out her recipe for Toffee Apple Yorkshire Puddings (how good do they sound?!) and see the recipes that have been linked up by the other talented bloggers who are joining in with the challenge.

Here's how to make my vegetarian Yorkshire puddings filled with pease pudding, roasted cauliflower and caramelised onions:

Ingredients

For the Yorkshire puddings
110g plain flour
a pinch of salt
1 tsp caraway seeds
2 eggs, beaten
290ml milk
2 tbsp olive oil

For the pease pudding
110g yellow split peas
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
A small handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

For the cauliflower
1 small cauliflower, broken into small florets
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp nigella (black onion) seeds

For the caramelised onions
1 large onion, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

To make the Yorkshire puddings
1. Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl. Stir through the caraway seeds. Make a dip in the centre and pour in the eggs. 
2. Using a wooden spoon beat them, gradually drawing the flour into the mix.
3. Beating all the time slowly add the milk until the batter is smooth. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/200°C/gas mark 6.
5. Pour the oil into a non-stick muffin tin. Heat in the oven until very hot. It's meant to be smoking but I've never managed to achieve this - quite possibly sunflower oil isn't quite up to the job.
6. Pour in the batter and bake for around 25 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Resist the temptation to open the oven door!

To make the pease pudding
1. Place the split peas in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer until soft. The time this takes can vary and could be up to 90 minutes. Add more water if necessary. When cooked drain.
2. Heat the oil in a small frying pan. Add the onion and caraway seeds and cook over a medium heat until soft. Stir into the cooked split peas with the parsley and mash together. You're aiming for a slightly soupy consistency so add a tiny bit of water if necessary.

To make the cauliflower
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/200°C/gas mark 6.
2. Place all the ingredients into an ovenproof dish and mix well. Cook for around 30 minutes, stirring halfway, until the cauliflower is golden and soft.

To make the caramelised onions
1. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the onions and the balsamic vinegar and cook over a low heat until the onions are soft and sweet.

When everything is ready serve two or three Yorkshire puddings per person. Place a spoonful of pease pudding inside, then a couple of small cauliflower florets and top with caramelised onions. Serve with roast potatoes, vegetables and lots of gravy.

The Yorkshire puddings recipe is based on one from the Leiths Cookery Bible.

I am adding this post to the following blog challenges:

Mummy Mishaps
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Brand new flavours from My Little Piccolo

My-Little-Piccolo-new-flavours

My Little Piccolo is a relatively new company on the UK baby-food scene. Their organic pouches are full of fruits and veggies and are suitable for babies of six months and above. While we no longer have a baby in the house, as Baby S is now 20 months going on 4 - honestly you should see some of the things he tries to do in the playground (e.g. the fireman's pole - eek), we still use these pouches as a quick and convenient dessert, breakfast or snack. My older two kids love a fruit pouch as well. R, 6, who won't eat any fruit will happily swallow the contents of one of these in seconds!

The founder of My Little Piccolo, Cat Gazzoli, believes strongly in good, honest and natural food. Her Mediterranean upbringing, combined with a career in food education, has inspired her to bring this Mediterranean goodness to the babies of the UK. Mediterranean cooking typically champions fresh ingredients and great flavours, lovingly prepared to be shared with friends and family. All of My Little Piccolo's recipes are available on their site so you can see exactly what goes in them or recreate them at home.

The My Little Piccolo range has recently expanded to include four lovely new flavours: mango, pear and kale; raspberry and apple; sweet potato, beetroot, apple and pear; and banana, strawberry and peach. Baby S can be seen above having his first taste of kale. His absolute favourite though has been the sweet potato, beetroot, apple and pear one. He is obsessed with beetroot to the extent that he always eats it first if it's on his plate and shouts at anyone else who has some on their plate until they either give it to him or eat it themselves!

In the interests of research I shared a few My Little Piccolo products with a friend of mine who has a seven-month-old baby. He's one of those babies who has taken to eating like a duck to water and is now pretty much having three full meals a day and getting the most gorgeous chubby cheeks to prove it! By all accounts he loved his My Little Piccolo pouches as well.

My-Little-Piccolo-new-flavours

His second favourite has to be the spring greens one, from their original range. This one contains spinach, courgettes, peas, apples, pears and mint and also disappears in seconds.

My Little Piccolo products are available to buy in Waitrose and Whole Foods amongst others and will be available to buy online in the next few weeks.

See the full list of stockists.

Disclaimer: we were sent some My Little Piccolo products to try. All opinions are honest and our own.

BBQ Whole Head of Broccoli, Harissa and Charred Spring Onion Aioli

Photo: Joshua Katz

Photo: Joshua Katz

In London this week we're having some absolutely glorious weather and all around the city, barbecues, that we didn't expect to see again until next summer, are being fired up.

As a vegetarian it can be a challenge to know what to stick on the BBQ beyond a pack of veggie sausages. This recipe by chef Josh Katz uses Heinz salad cream to make broccoli the vegetable centrepiece of a BBQ. It's perfect as a veggie main, or as a side dish alongside other items.

Here's how to make barbecued broccoli with Harissa and charred spring onion aioli:

Serves two as a vegetable main, or can be shared between four as a side

Ingredients
1 head of broccoli
20ml olive oil
½ tsp black pepper, coarse

For the charred spring onion aioli
80ml Heinz salad cream
50g crème fraiche
2 spring onions, blackened on the grill and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced or finely chopped
15ml olive oil
15ml lemon juice

For garnish
2 tbsp harissa
1 tbsp toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Start by blanching the whole head of broccoli in boiling water for three minutes. Remove from the water and refresh in a bowl of iced water.

Make the charred spring onion aioli by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl thoroughly. 

Fire up the barbecue for direct grilling over high heat. Whilst the fire is coming to temperature, roll the broccoli in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the broccoli atop the burning coals until lightly blackened and crisp all over.

Remove the broccoli from the grill and serve on a base of the charred spring onion aioli, with some reserved for spooning over the top, along with the harissa and the chopped hazelnuts. 

Season to taste.

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post with Heinz

Four delicious little bakes and #CookBlogShare Week 37

Welcome to this week's #CookBlogShare linky. #CookBlogShare is a place for food bloggers to share their posts. If you're a food blogger you can join in at the bottom of the page. If you're not a blogger then please check out some of the linked recipes - you'll find everything from delicious lunch and dinner ideas to yummy cakes.

Cook-Blog-Share-round-up-week-37

Before I share this week's linky however I want to share with you some of last week's lovely recipes. The linky last week was hosted by Eb over at Easy Peasy Foodie  - thanks Eb! Perhaps it's the effect of watching biscuit week on the Great British Bake Off week before last, but I'm enjoying making little cakes and biscuits much more than large cakes at the moment. These recipes all fit the bill perfectly.

Mocha cupcakes with speculoos cream cheese frosting

Now onto this week's linky. You can link up any foodie post that you have - both old and new posts are welcome. We just ask that you:

  • Comment on this post
  • Add the badge so others can find us (you can find the code below)
  • Comment on some of the other recipes linked up
  • If you tweet me at @sneakyvegblog with your recipe I will retweet them throughout the week
  • I will comment on and pin all posts.

By linking up you are giving us permission to use one of your photos in a round-up next week if selected.

I can't wait to see what you've all been making! Next week's linky will be hosted by Kirsty at Hijacked by Twins.

 

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Chocolate, hazelnut and cranberry soda bread

Chocolate-hazelnut-cranberry-soda-bread-recipe

This recipe for chocolate, hazelnut and cranberry soda bread is so easy to put together and is absolutely delicious. It's inspired by this week's bread week on the Great British Bake Off. I decided to opt for a simpler soda bread, rather than creating a more traditional dough with yeast etc, as I am much more likely to put something like this together on a weekend morning as a treat for the kids than something that requires hours of kneading and proving.

Apart from the sugar in the cranberries and chocolate chips there isn't any added sugar but you don't need it - this soda bread has the perfect balance of sweet and nutty flavours. I'm not sure whether Paul and Mary would approve of my non-traditional approach to their chocolate bread challenge but it certainly won the approval of the Sneaky Veg kids, two of my friends who visited today and their respective children.

I'll be adding this to the Great Bloggers Bake Off link hosted by Jenny at Mummy Mishaps. Take a look at her cherry and chocolate bakewell nusszopf twisted loaf recipe and scroll down to see what the other bloggers taking part have been making - there are some simply amazing recipes there.

Here's how to make chocolate, hazelnut and cranberry soda bread:

Ingredients
300g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100ml milk
200ml plain natural yoghurt
50g chocolate chips
50g dried cranberries
50g chopped hazelnuts

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C (fan)/gas mark 6. Prepare a non-stick baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof baking paper.

2. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together into a large mixing bowl. 

3. In a separate bowl beat together the yoghurt and milk. Pour into the flour mixture and beat until well combined.

4. Stir through the chocolate chips, cranberries and hazelnuts.

5. Spread out onto the baking tray shaping it as you wish. Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Best eaten on day of cooking but will keep for another day or two stored in an airtight container.

Chocolate, hazelnut and cranberry soda bread recipe
Mummy Mishaps
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Baked bean and cheese mini pies with Flora

Baked-bean-cheese-mini-pies-lunchbox-flora

What do you put in your kids' lunchbox? My older two children are both in the infants still which means (here in the UK)  that they get free school meals - so I don't make a lunchbox on a daily basis at the moment. But I have spent four years making lunchboxes for pre-school and often make them for days out in the holidays or with my little one.

And I am often stumped. R, my six-year-old, doesn't really like any sandwich fillings apart from jam or honey. Which might be ok as a one-off, but certainly isn't ideal for a daily lunch! Baby S isn't all that keen on sandwiches either. Sometimes I do pasta, sometimes soup (messy!), sometimes falafels and hummus. 

Baked-bean-cheese-mini-pies-lunchbox-Flora

While some bloggers are doing amazing things with their children's lunches - check out these ideas by Faye over at Baby Led Blog for example - I don't think I'm alone in drawing a blank with making lunchboxes exciting. Some research conducted by Flora and Leeds University has shown that a mere 1.6% of lunch boxes meet standards set for healthy school food. 83% of lunchboxes contained sandwiches, with fillings more or less the same as the last survey - which was undertaken ten years ago.

There's so much pressure on parents - even getting three children breakfasted, dressed and out of the door on time without forgetting anything is hard enough. I know from experience that after a few weeks of carrot sticks, pots of homemade hummus and rice salads coming back untouched and slightly sweaty in a lunchbox at the end of the day it's all too easy to fall into the trap of putting in the safe options, the items you know they'll eat, that will stop your child from leaving school at the end of the day in a seriously 'hangry' mood. No-one does grumpy better than a knackered five-year-old who hasn't really eaten since breakfast. 

Flora are hoping to make it easier for parents to provide healthier lunch boxes for their kids and they've provided some useful their lunchbox tips and recipe suggestions.

When I was planning this recipe I thought long and hard about what I could put in a lunchbox that my kids, well R in particular, would actually eat. I got to thinking about some of the things that he likes and baked beans are right at the top of the list. I remembered a dish I'd made a few times as a cash-strapped student and so these baked bean and cheese pies were born. I love the idea of making a big batch of something that you can freeze and therefore have a ready-made stash of lunches.

I've made these using tinned baked beans but to make them a bit healthier you could make your own. Try my smoky baked beans with aubergine for example. You only need a tiny amount for this recipe so it's a great way to use up a few leftovers. The pastry is made with spelt flour,  which is believed to be more nutritious than wheat flour, although it does still contain gluten. You could use plain flour or wholewheat flour instead if you prefer.  

And the verdict? R and Baby S loved these but Miss R only ate the pastry (she's not keen on baked beans).

Baked-bean-cheese-mini-pies-lunchbox-Flora

Here's how to make these baked bean and cheese mini pies.

Ingredients (makes 10)
For the pastry

75g Flora
200g spelt flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g cheddar cheese, grated
4 tbsp milk
1 egg yolk, beaten

For the filling
1/2 tin of baked beans or a small (200g) tin
75ml milk
1 egg white
60g cheddar cheese, grated

Place the spelt flour and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl and combine with a whisk. Chop the Flora into small pieces and rub into the flour until you have a mixture that resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir through the cheese. Beat the egg and milk together and gradually pour into the flour mixture, stirring as you go until it's combined to become a dough. Knead for a couple of seconds then wrap in clingfilm and place in the freezer for half an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C (fan)/gas mark 6. Prepare a non-stick muffin tin by either greasing liberally or lining with silicone muffin cases. Paper ones can stick a little - I got the best results when I used my silicone cases.

Remove the dough from the freezer and roll out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut circles with a pastry cutter or saucer and press into your prepared muffin tin. Bake blind for 10 minutes, remove the beans and return to the oven for five minutes.

Once done remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 180°C/160°C (fan)/gas mark 4. Add a teaspoonful of baked beans to each pastry case. Beat together the egg white and the milk. Pour a tablespoon's worth over the beans then top with grated cheese. Be careful not to overfill the cases.

Bake for a further 20 minutes or until the top has set and turned golden brown.

Can be served warm or cold and they freeze beautifully.

These baked bean and cheese mini pies are perfect for lunch boxes. The pastry is made with cheese, Flora and spelt flour making them a healthier choice.

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post with Flora.

Win a copy of A Happier Healthier You ebook

A Happier Healthier You is a brand new e-book by MyNutriCounter. It's full of simple recipes that you can make in half an hour or less. Every recipe is designed to nourish your body and improve your health and wellbeing.

The first thing that struck me about the book was just how colourful it is. The recipes are accompanied by stunning photography and show how you really can eat a diet that reflects all the colours of the rainbow.

The book is broken up into chapters for different meal times and each recipe is clearly marked as vegetarian, gluten free, vegan or dairy free. It's not a vegetarian book but there are plenty of veggie recipes in there and those that aren't use plenty of vegetables as well, which I was delighted to see.

There are also some useful ideas at the start of the book for simple changes you can make to your diet to improve your health - for example using ground almonds instead of nuts. 

Top of my list to try are these incredible looking raspberry ruffles.

raspberry-ruffles

And I have to try this beetroot pizza.

Beetroot-pizza

The book has proved really popular and recently topped the best seller charts on Amazon. MyNutriCounter have given me one copy of the book to give away. For your chance to win please enter the giveaway below.  

Win-healthier-happier-you-ebook

 For your chance to win please enter via Rafflecopter below. You can see the full terms and conditions next to each entry option. If you haven't used Rafflecopter before check out this useful guide by Super Lucky Me

More competitions at ThePrizeFinder

I love how the recipes in this book are packed full of veggies. What's your favourite vegetable to cook with? 

Vegan apple and cinnamon Viennese whirls

Vegan-apple-cinnamon-viennese-whirls

I make quite a lot of biscuits so I felt quite confident at recreating something from this week's Great British Bake Off. Then I saw what the bakers had to make and no longer felt so sure of myself! It was a choice of 24 identical decorated biscuits, Viennese whirls or a colossal gingerbread construction. Decoration has never been my strong point and the only time I've tried to make a gingerbread house it fell apart. And that was just a house, not a pub, church or city skyline as some of the contestants attempted! So Viennese whirls it had to be.

I decided to make a vegan version of the whirls with an apple and cinnamon filling, rather than the traditional raspberry jam. They turned out really welI, the only problem being that I think I used the wrong piping nozzle as they didn't quite look right! So Mary and Paul may not have passed them but I think they taste great. My kids loved them too, perhaps unsurprisingly as I usually give them sugar free biscuits!

I'll be joining this post up with the Great Bloggers Bake Off hosted by the lovely Jenny at Mummy Mishaps. If you get a chance go over and take a look at what the other bloggers have been making this week. The Great Bloggers Bake Off is sponsored by Tesco. Visit the
Tesco baking site for lots of recipes and ideas if you fancy getting your bake on too.

Here's how to make vegan Viennese whirls:

Ingredients (makes 16)
For the apple filling

1 large cooking apple
1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the biscuits
250g dairy free spread
50g icing sugar
250g plain flour
50g cornflour
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the buttercream
50g dairy free spread
100g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

First make the apple filling. Peel and chop the apple. Place in a small saucepan with the maple syrup and ground cinnamon. Cover and cook over a low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you have a sauce-like consistency. Remove the lid and continue cooking for a further five minutes to thicken. You don't want it to be too runny.

To make the biscuits first pre-heat the oven to 170°C (fan) and line two baking trays with baking paper. Next place the spread and the icing sugar in a stand mixer or mixing bowl and beat until light and creamy. You might need to scrape the sides down a couple of times with a rubber spatula. Add the flour, cornflour and vanilla extract and continue to beat well until light and well combined.

Put half the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Pipe 16 biscuits on each tray leaving a little space in between. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Allow to cool on the tray for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the buttercream whisk the spread, icing sugar and vanilla extract together until light and fluffy.

To assemble the biscuits, turn them all over. Cover half with a little buttercream and half with a little apple mixture, before sandwiching them together.

This recipe is adapted from one by The Hairy Bikers.

Recipe for vegan apple and cinnamon Viennese whirls inspired by the Great British Bake Off Biscuit Week 2016

Disclaimer: This post is kindly sponsored by Tesco. 

I am joining this post up with the following link ups.

Mummy Mishaps
CookBlogShare

Chocolate Jaffa Oat Bars

Chocolate-Jaffa-Oat-Bars-GBBO-2016-healthy-refined-sugar-free-recipe

Did you watch the Great British Bake Off last night? I'm so happy to have it back on our screens again, summer just hasn't been the same without it. If you're not in the UK, Bake Off is a televised baking competition that is the TV series of the year (in my opinion). In fact, it's pretty much the only thing I watch on TV!

Every year, Jenny over at Mummy Mishaps hosts a Great Bloggers Bake Off, where food bloggers bake along with what the contestants on the TV show bake each week. This week the options were a drizzle cake, Jaffa cakes or a mirror glaze cake. I decided early on to make Jaffa cakes, but I wanted to find a way to make them a little healthier. Jaffa cakes are traditionally little sponge cakes topped with orange jelly and chocolate. Many of the contestants on the show didn't do a great job at recreating them - they are definitely trickier than they look! Having gone through many different options in my head, I took the bold move at 6am today when up with my toddler, to do something that wasn't a cake at all.

These chocolate Jaffa oat bars are full of chocolate orange flavours, but are just a little bit better for you. There is no refined sugar in the oat part at all, so if you had a very young child you could just make the bar part. As a treat though, I don't mind my toddler having a little bit of chocolate and he certainly enjoyed these a lot. I did have to change his t-shirt afterwards though as it was so chocolatey! 30 degrees plus heat and chocolate treats don't mix well. These bars are also dairy free and vegan - just be sure to buy vegan chocolate.

Here's what to do if you fancy having a go at making these yourself:

Ingredients
120g oats
50g nuts (I used hazelnuts)
100g chopped dates
Juice and zest of one orange
35ml sunflower oil
3 tbsp orange marmalade
100g bar of dark chocolate

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C fan. Grease and base line a 20cm square cake tin.

Place the oats, nuts, dates, orange juice and zest and oil into a food processor and pulse until well combined. 

Spread smoothly over the base of the tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until firm and golden brown.

Remove and allow to cool completely. Melt the chocolate. While it's melting spread the marmalade over the top of the oat cake. Pour the melted chocolate over the top, allow to cool slightly then pop in the fridge to set. If you want to avoid the chocolate cracking remove the cake from the fridge after half an hour or so and cut into squares or bars.

Chocolate jaffa oat bars recipe
Mummy Mishaps
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Trunkaroo monthly subscription boxes for kids - a review

A Trunkaroo is a monthly subscription box for children aged 3-8 with an art and science focus. Your Trunkaroo arrives through the post, addressed to your child, in a letterbox-sized box. The box may be small but it's jam-packed with a lot to do.

How the Trunkaroo looks when first opened

How the Trunkaroo looks when first opened

Our Trunkaroo arrived at the start of the summer holidays, which really couldn't have been more perfect! R, 6, has long had the world's shortest attention span. In fact when he was a toddler I even started a blog called Stir Crazy Toddler, which documented some of the things we got up to. He's getting a little bit better at sticking with an activity for more than two minutes but nonetheless I was delighted to have something new, fun and educational for him and Miss R, 4, to do.

The kids getting started with their Trunkaroo

The kids getting started with their Trunkaroo

The Trunkaroo focuses on science, technology, engineering, art and maths. It's completely gender neutral, and is designed to appeal equally to girls and boys. This gives it a massive thumbs up in my book - while I accept that R is obsessed with lightsabers, Miss R (still) loves Frozen and Baby S can't get enough of things with wheels, they don't need to believe that these are the only options available to them.

The theme of the box we tried out was Growing Seeds. There were two main projects - seedling city and flower pots. Seedling city involved growing cress and radish seeds. It was perfect to do with a six-year-old and a four-year-old as the different tasks lent themselves really well to their different levels of education. There was a little bit of writing for R to do, including labelling and some observation charts where he could measure and record the growth of the seedlings. And Miss R was delighted to be sprinkling seeds and watering them every day with a pipette. She even ate her cress (on toast with raspberry jam - her idea). Whether any radishes get eaten remains to be seen. It's been lovely to see them both nurturing their seedlings and checking on their growth every day. I really must do more gardening with them.

The kids were so proud of their seedlings - this was after just a couple of days

The kids were so proud of their seedlings - this was after just a couple of days

The second activity, My Flower Pots, was a craft project. All the materials were provided for the kids to decorate some flower pots, including some paper flowers to put in the pot. Actually there was only one pot but we used the watering cup from the seedling city project as a second, and there were plenty of materials to fill two flower pots. The finished pots are sitting proudly in the lounge now. They both thoroughly enjoyed this part too, although it took up much less time than the first activity.

The finished flower pots

The finished flower pots

In the box was also a little Discoveroo magazine, with 12 pages of extra activities and ideas. This also had a good range of things for both kids to do - some pattern decorating, drawing and spotting the odd one out for Miss R - and some code breaking and science experiments for her big brother.

The whole box was beautifully presented and all instructions were clear and well-written. Following instructions is something that I have serious problems with. Honestly, since having children it's like that part of my brain disappeared somewhere. Put me in a room with some flat pack furniture or a Lego X Wing and you'll find me sobbing in frustration within five minutes. I had no such problems following the Trunkaroo instructions, so they must be good!

A Trunkaroo would make a lovely gift for any child in your life. A one-off box costs £19.99, and the price reduces if you sign up for more, depending on the length of the subscription.

Find out more at trunkaroo.com

Disclaimer: we were sent a Trunkaroo to try out for the purposes of this review. All opinions are honest and are my own.

Olympics round up and Cook Blog Share Linky Week 34

Welcome to this week's #CookBlogShare linky. #CookBlogShare is a place for food bloggers to share their posts. If you're a food blogger you can join in at the bottom of the page. If you're not a blogger then please check out some of the linked recipes - our bloggers are a talented lot!

Before I share this week's linky however I want to share with you some of last week's lovely recipes. The linky last week was hosted by Eb over at Easy Peasy Foodie for the first time. Eb did a fantastic job - thanks so much! 

Did you enjoy the Olympics? We were on holiday in Spain for the second week and the TV seemed to only show water polo, handball and rhythmic gymnastics. So I don't quite feel like I got my fill of watching the British athletes. But I enjoyed watching it nonetheless! It looks like #CookBlogShare bloggers felt the same as last week's linky featured some lovely Brazilian-inspired meals. One of them doesn't actually say Brazilian in the title, but it features bananas which grow plentifully in Brazil so is the perfect addition to this round up.

Brazilian Coconut Dessert (Quindao) by Only Crumbs Remain

Now onto this week's linky. You can link up any foodie post that you have - both old and new posts are welcome. We just ask that you:

  • Comment on this post
  • Add the badge so others can find us (you can find the code below)
  • Comment on some of the other recipes linked up
  • If you tweet me at @sneakyvegblog with your recipe I will retweet them throughout the week
  • I will comment on and pin all posts.

I can't wait to see what you've all been making! Next week's linky will be hosted by Kirsty at Hijacked by Twins.

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