turmeric banana smoothie

This has to be my all time favourite smoothie. Sweet, creamy, filling and down right good for you too. If you haven’t met Mr Turmeric yet, I suggest you introduce yourself.

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This little root is a nutritional powerhouse. It looks a little like ginger, but is much smaller and has a bright orange flesh (handle with caution if bright yellow fingers ain’t your thang), with a spicy, warm and earthy aroma. It’s the stuff of bright yellow Indian curries, and you have probably encountered it in powdered form.

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Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and has long been used in traditional Indian medicines. Inflammation in the body is bad, as it represents an autoimmune response to something within your system, and anti-inflammatories can help remedy the pain and discomfort.

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It’s the curcuminoids in turmeric that give it its kick ass anti-inflammatory powers, and these are boosted 200 times over if combined with piperine, found in pepper, so always make sure to add some.

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I love the taste of turmeric in sweet foods, and this smoothie never fails to keep me going until lunch. The warming combination of turmeric and banana is killer, sweetened with cinnamon and with the added protein kick of peanut butter it tastes pretty decadent too. Don’t forget the twist of pepper, and you’ve got one heck of a breakfast.

turmeric banana smoothie

  • 1 large, ripe banana
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric root, grated
  • 200ml almond milk
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • a few twists of ground black pepper
  1. Whizz it up in a blender and enjoy!

chocolate and peanut butter swirl banana ice cream

3 ingredients. That’s all this beautiful ice cream takes. It’s criminally easy, so you’ll be wondering why you haven’t tried it already. If you ever needed a reason to be my friend, this is it, as there’s a huge tub of it sitting in my freezer and I might give you some if you’re nice.

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Did you have any idea that if you froze bananas and blended them in a food processor you’d end up with ice cream? I didn’t. Until it started cropping up on one of the 1,000,000+ food blogs inhabiting my Instagram feed (if any of you have seen it, you’ll know exactly what I mean).

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I’ve recently moved into a new pad down Easton way and praise the Lord Every. Single. Day. that I have Matter Organic round the corner. They sell heaps of super ripe, bordering on more-black-than-yellow bananas which are ideal for peeling, breaking into chunks and freezing whether for smoothies or, more importantly, this ice cream. I’ve rabbited on before about the wonders of having a freezer and a food processor when it comes to speedy, easy cheap food in minutes, and I think you will too once you’ve tried this.

If I didn’t tell you, I think you’d struggle to tell this wasn’t regular ice cream. It’s smooth, creamy, sweet, and tastes indulgent even though all you’re eating is a load of fruit with some cacao and peanut butter blended in. It’s so good for you I’ve been eating this for breakfast. Well there is a heatwave?!

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To freeze bananas, peel them, break them into 1 inch chunks and pop into a big freezer bag. I find it best to try and freeze them flat in a layer, rather than all clumped up as it makes it much easier to break them into individual chunks once frozen. You could actually get a baking sheet and freeze them on there but that seems a bit faffy, and who can fit a baking tray in their freezer when it’s full of veggie burgers/neglected frozen veg/stale bread/gin (delete as appropriate)?

Be sure to take your banana chunks out of the freezer about 30 minutes before you make the ice cream as it makes them a lot easier to blend.

 

chocolate and peanut butter swirl banana ice cream

makes 1 litre

  • 8 very ripe bananas, frozen in chunks
  • 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder

 

  1. Add the banana chunks to the bowl of your food processor with the blade attachment. Blend the chunks for about 30 seconds at a time, stopping to use a spatula to scrape down the sides and push down chunks of banana which haven’t blended. You might need to stop the blender and do this 5-10 times until all of the chunks have broken down and eventually the banana mix will get smooth and creamy the longer you blend it.
  2. Pour half of the mix into a freezer container and smooth over, and put half of the remaining mix into a bowl and set aside. (Pop these in the freezer if your kitchen is warm and they’re starting to melt)
  3. Add 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter to banana mix still in the food processor and blend until combined. Dot this over the banana mix in the freezer container.
  4. Put the bowl of banana mix you set aside into the food processor and add 1 tbsp cacao. Blend until combined and then dot over the banana mix in the freezer container.
  5. Use a knife to ripple the plain, chocolate and peanut butter mixes together until you’ve got a nice swirled effect. Put the banana ice cream back into the freezer to firm up (about 1 hour) and enjoy!

 

You can all sorts of different flavours to this ice cream. Frozen berries, cinnamon, chocolate chunks, the only limit is your imagination!

raw vegan banoffee pie

You might have noticed that I’m pretty obsessed with food. It started at an early age and I think can only truly be attributed to gluttony. I used to eat as much as I possibly could (why wouldn’t you? Food = the best) and have to lie down until the nausea from over-eating subsided. There are countless pictures of the damage which ensued if I was left to feed myself when I was small, food everywhere, all over my face, all over the floor, all over my clothes, as if I simply didn’t have the patience to bother with accuracy in the rush to get as much food into my mouth as quickly as possible.

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Things haven’t changed much. As I sit here in my pyjamas I can see avocado, turmeric, and chai stains all over my clothes. I’ve have got a bit better at getting food into my mouth without smearing it over half of my face, which is particularly handy now I’m an adult(ish).

But the obsession continues, and it deepens, given that my work now revolves around food too. Sometimes it feels as though every waking moment is geared towards it. It’s certainly not a bad thing though, although I do wonder how it must appear to other people sometimes. Frankly I can never understand why other people aren’t as obsessed as I am, it simply makes no sense to me.

I’ve found writing about food to be a particularly perilous line of work, as inevitably I have to think about food. A lot. And when I think about food I want to eat food. It’s a wonder I’m not fatter than I am (a friend high-fived me for working in food and not being fat the other day, hmm).

A recent assignment saw me writing about pies, and then I wanted to eat pie, naturally. I’d had this idea about making a raw banoffee pie for a while, replacing the refined-sugary base and caramel with something a little more wholesome. So a little procrastination time ensued and a banoffee pie was born! It’s a delicious layered up pie with a raisin and almond base, a date and peanut butter caramel, fresh banana slices and coconut cream on top.

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I love tinkering with a classic to see if I can come up with a healthier version, and whilst not always successful it feels great when one works out. I’ve discovered that some sweet treats simply can’t be beaten in their traditional fat/flour/sugar/butter-laden form (I’ll have my brownie around the 500 calorie mark, thanks), but the crumbly base teamed with the rich and gooey caramel layer and creamy topping in this banoffee pie feels truly indulgent. It’s worth keeping in mind though that although I might have taken out the nasties, this is certainly one rich dessert and you should probably still exert a little self-restraint before you cut yourself a mega slice. Whilst dried fruit, nuts and coconut cream might be good for you, they still pack a calorie punch. Not that it stopped me eating this bad boy for breakfast. Several times.

To make the coconut cream layer for this pie, you need to make sure you’ve bought a good quality coconut milk with as few additives and stabilisers as possible as this can stop the coconut milk from separating into its solid and liquid layer. You should be able to shake the can of coconut milk and not hear any liquid sloshing around, this means that the fatty coconut cream layer and the coconut water have separated. You will have to bear looking slightly odd as you stand in the aisle listening to coconut milk tins but it’s worth it!

Apologies for the frugal/unimaginative photography of late, life’s been pretty hectic and it’s the best I can do to snap a few hasty pictures before I get down to the serious business of eating!

raw vegan banoffee pie

  • 250g raisins or mixed vine fruit, soaked for 1 hour in water and drained
  • 100g almonds
  • 5 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 20 dates, soaked for 5 hours in water and drained
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1 large, ripe banana
  • 1 can of coconut milk, chilled for a few hours
  • A couple of pinches of good quality salt
  1. Add the raisins, almonds, 3 tbsp of melted coconut oil and a pinch of salt to a food processor and blend until blended but still retaining a slightly grainy texture, and the mixture should clump together when pressed. Press this mixture tightly into a round cake tin lined with clingfilm, creating a slight ridge around the edge. Chill for an hour and clean the food processor bowl.
  2. Add the soaked dates, peanut butter 2 tbsp of melted coconut oil and a pinch of salt to the food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Once the base has chilled for an hour or so, take it out of the cake tin and remove the clingfilm, it should hold together by itself. Spoon the data caramel layer onto the base and smooth over with a spoon, making sure you fill right up to the ridge of the base you created earlier.
  4. Chop the banana into slices about 1cm thick and spread evenly over the caramel layer.
  5. Open the can of coconut milk, and using a spoon remove the solid coconut cream layer and place in a bowl. (You can drink the remaining coconut water). Beat the coconut cream layer until smooth, and then spoon over the banoffee pie. Dust with cocoa if you’re feeling retro, then chill for an hour and tuck in.

Sauerkraut = Powerkraut

There’s been something brewing round these parts, or, should I say, fermenting.

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We had 3 or 4 cabbages lying around thanks to our weekly veg box, and I had an evening with an urge to make something, and this urge nearly always results in something edible. Whilst I love getting a veg box, I do sometimes resent the way that the produces piles up if we’ve been having busy weeks or not enough time to get creative with all the veg in the kitchen. And creative you have to be if you’ve got 4 cabbages and a million beetroot. One way around it I’ve found is to turn the vegetables into something people can pick away at from the fridge, already prepared and perfect for lunches, such as pickled beetroot, carrots and kohlrabi, or in this instance sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut is a powerhouse of goodness, packed with gut enhancing bacteria that keep tummies happy, as well as tasting darn good. It’s basically cabbage which as been fermented after being broken down with salt, and it has a delicious, slightly sour taste. It’s the pickley-tasting stuff on your hotdog or in a rueben sandwich. Might be a bit of an acquired taste if you’ve never tried it, but try it you must! Fermented foods are so good for you.

I had a google for a sauerkraut recipe, and found that none were really particularly precise when it came to quantities, methods, or length of fermentation, and so I embarked on this as something of an experiment. I’m pretty good when it comes to improvising in the kitchen. Years of culinary successes and failures have given me something of an intuitive knowledge of what’s likely to work or not, but when it came to fermenting shredded cabbage in salt to make sauerkraut, I’ll admit I was slightly at a loss.

I could get to grips with the basic idea of shredding cabbage, massaging it with salt until the cells broke down and the salt drew out the moisture, but I couldn’t seem to find a definitive answer about how to store the cabbage as it ferments, how long to do it for, and what to look out for to know if it’s working properly.

Sounds a bit silly, but I even started trying to find out if fermentation could ever lead to anything dangerous, or poisonous. I guess my fear arose form not really knowing anything about the fermentation process and what it would produce, and it might sound mad, but I’ve read about certain processes in food storage which can produce botulinum which is the paralysing toxin used in botox (and people pump this into their faces why?). But fear not! I found nothing dangerous to keep an eye out for. Panic over. I’ve eaten some and I’m still here. Shut up neurotic Ceri brain. Hushhh….

So, to the sauerkraut! I wasn’t sure how much sauerkraut 2 cabbages would make, and in the end i used about 3 to fill the big jar in the picture. It will look like too much cabbage to begin with, but as it releases its moisture it really shrinks down.

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I used three cabbages, the green sort that are actually pretty pale and tightly packed in the middle once you’ve taken off the outer leaves. I removed the outer leaves, shredded the cabbage pretty finely, added it to a big bowl and then added 2 level tablespoons of salt. Then the hard work began. You need to massage the salt into the cabbage for a good 10 minutes or so, crushing the cabbage between your fingers and forcing the moisture out. It takes a minute to work but stick with it. After 10 to 15 minutes (and very sore hands and wrists on my part) you’ll end up with some pretty soggy, limp cabbage.

Take a big jar and pack the cabbage in reeeaallllly tightly. You want to eliminate any air bubbles and really press it down. I was basically punching it down with my fist to get it tightly packed, and you’ll know you’re doing it right when a layer of juice covers the surface. Pack it in all the way to nearly the top of the jar, and you should have a bit of juice covering the top.

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This next bit was the bit I was confused about, and that was how to cover the sauerkraut. I read that you needed to keep the sauerkraut submerged in its juices as otherwise it could go off, and at the same time it needed to be pressed down but open to the air for fermentation to take place. I managed to find a small glass ramekin which just fitted in the top of my jar with a little space around it, and when I pressed this down the cabbage was submerged and the liquid came a little way up the side of the ramekin without spilling out of the big jar. I weighted it down to keep it in place and loosely covered the whole thing with some clingfilm.

I read that you can let the sauerkraut ferment for anything from 3 days to 4 weeks, but 3 days seemed pretty brief and others said that for the full fermentation process to take place you need to wait the full 4 weeks, and so I did. I kept an eye on it every few days, weighting down the ramekin more if I needed to to keep the cabbage submerged in liquid.

I tested the sauerkraut at 2, 3 and 4 weeks and you could really taste the difference. Week 2 was basically salty cabbage with a faint tang, whilst four weeks was really delicious sauerkraut with the authentic sour flavour and (I hope) packed with gut boosting bacteria!

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I took out the ramekin, put the jar in the fridge to stop the fermentation process and now I can dip in and add a big spoonful to my salads and dinners throughout the week. I really recommend giving fermentation a go if you’ve never tried it, my next project is likely going to be kimchi (korean fermented cabbage, plenty of chilli!). Fermentation requires a bit of patience but I can promise you it’s worth it for the results.

Pickling is much quicker and another way to get through a glut of vegetables, so I’ll cover than in another post, but right now I need to get outside because the sun is shining and it feels like SPRING!

peanut butter caramel chocolates

This one’s been a long time coming, I must have made these tasty little buggers before Christmas but ya know, life.

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I’m sat here nibbling on some incredible apricot and cardamon raw chocolate pie (no idea where the pie bit came from) whilst procrasturbating hard at work (sorry boss) so I figured I might as well be semi-productive and do a flippin’ blog already.

I haven’t however been neglecting my writing duties entirely though, I’ll have you know, I’ve started writing for a food magazine which is all working out rather nicely. Have a looky if you likey. Work’s all great, doing four days a week on the wonderful festival I’m involved with, plus other odds and sods. Days are full of wonderful people, crazy ideas and big dreams!

Now, to chocolate. These are inspired by these dudes from My New Roots which I’ve made a few times, and I love the reaction you get every time a friend tries them. People think making raw chocolates must be hard but they’re honestly the easiest, most fool-proof thing to make with maximum yum-effect. I work to the 1:1 ration of melted fats (either coconut oil or cacao butter, or a mix) to raw cacao, plus sweetener to taste and a little salt (trust me). I sometimes up the cacao powder to have a firmer chocolate as these babies like to melt all over your fingers, not that there’s anything wrong with a little finger licking.

The key to these chocolates is making your filling first, then making up the chocolate mixture and setting the outer shell of the chocolate first, which you then place the filling into and then cover up the remainder of the mould with the left over chocolate. You don’t have to use soppy little heart moulds, ice cube trays would do, but let’s spread the love, people.

The addition of peanut butter to the raw caramel filling makes them really addictive and I had a load of filling spare which I kept in the fridge and regularly attacked with a spoon. The picture above was when I’d only just taken the chocolates out of the fridge so they’re lacking a little of the ooey-gooeyness of caramel but trust me, at room temperature the caramel filling is everything you dreamed of, and more.

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Cacao is packed with antioxidants, coconut oil is a healthy fat, peanuts butter is full of protein, and honey is just yummy. What’s not to love about these chocolates? Go make them already.

raw peanut butter caramel chocolates

for the chocolate

  • 100g cacao powder
  • 100g coconut oil (or cacao butter, but it’s pricier)
  • 30g honey or maple syrup (or to taste, use whatever liquid sweetener you have or like)
  • pinch of himalayan pink salt

for the caramel

  • 50g dates, soaked for a few hours to soften them (saves using expensive medjool dates, but use these if you have them! probably won’t need soaking)
  • 30g peanut butter
  • 30g honey or maple syrup
  1. First, make the filling. Blend the dates, peanut butter and honey in a blender until smooth.
  2. Make the chocolate by melting the coconut oil over a really low heat, then take off the heat and combine with the cacao powder, honey and salt.
  3. Get your chocolate mould and pour a little chocolate mixture into each, making sure you cover the whole of the mould shape to make the outer shell of the chocolate. Put in the fridge or freezer until set.
  4. Once set, remove from the fridge and place a little of the caramel into each mould, then cover with the remaining chocolate.
  5. Put back into the fridge until set, then turn out of the mould and enjoy!

kale crisps + staying busy

Only a quick one today folks. Life is busy but wonderful, it’s a really nice feeling when your days are full of work you enjoy and people you admire. I’ve been playing catch up big time as I was down flu a few weeks ago, and I’m talking proper flu. It started off with muscle aches that I thought meant my abs were growing (yessssss…) turned out to be sweaty, shivering, painful, nasty, flu (nooooo…). Not very fun. But it was weirdly refreshing to fully take two weeks out to recover at my parents house and get back to Bristol with a clear head. It was a lovely feeling to be really itching to get back too, it’s a great thing to really love your life and the city it’s a part of.

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We’ve finally got round to organising an organic veg box delivery, and business in our flat has meant that getting through the glut of veg we get every Tuesday has been a little bit of a challenge at times. A good challenge, though.

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There was some kale going a bit sad the other week and I was on a snacking mission so fixed up some kale crisps. They’re so easy to do and have a really satisfying crunch, plus you can amp up the flavour with whatever you feel like or have on hand. I used a za’atar mix that’s been sitting around for ages.

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Simply set your oven to its lowest setting, you want it around 50 degrees I’d say, so that the kale dries out slowly and doesn’t catch. Massage with a tiny bit of oil and your flavourings, spread on a tray, pop in the over, turn the leaves every 10 minutes or so and check crispness, then just whip them out when they’re done. Easy! You can pay through the teeth for them in fancy packets from health food stores but save your pennies and make them instead.

It’s a great way to get through a glut of kale, I’d say I got through 6 big stalks in 5 minutes flat once they were crispified!

Some ideas for other flavourings… salt, pepper, chill, garlic, smoked paprika, curry powder, lemon zest, parmesan, sesame seeds… possibilities are endless.

rawish brownies + life is good

So you’re probably wondering how my month of No Fun went (You’re probably not, but let’s pretend).

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Coffee? I managed to give it up for over 2 weeks and I felt so much better. Day one was tough. I went to work and felt a little bit like crying. Ok, a lot like crying. I could barely function; I couldn’t count, I was putting on coffees for customers and forgetting to put a mug under the machine, I was hella spaced out, and it hurt. But, after a few days I really did feel so much better and I just didn’t want a coffee at all. I missed the taste, sniffed the smell like a glue addict, but I didn’t want one and I certainly didn’t need one. I feel like my body has learned to wake itself up without caffeine now, whereas before it wouldn’t bother even trying to reach semi-consciousness.

Bread? I went without for over three weeks, and now I barely touch it. I wasn’t much of a bread eater before, but since I’ve relapsed I’ve been far more aware of how sluggish it makes me feel. Giving it up also made me seek out alternatives, and I’ve discovered an incredible loaf from Hart’s Bakery in Bristol. It’s call the Good Loaf, and is made mostly of nuts and seeds bound with a mixture of flax, chia and psyllium husks. It’s a similar mix to this one I’ve made before from My New Roots, but to be able to buy it ready made and without having to shell out on a pile of rather pricey ingredients has been a revelation.

Booze? Well. The less said about the booze the better. Put it this way, I haven’t had a day off work for the last 2 weeks, and I think alcohol has provided my main source of calorific energy for the duration. I’m not one for late nights, hangovers, dehydration or sluggishness, but the prospect of two weeks solid without a break sent me into overdrive and I apparently subconsciously decided that if I was going to make it through then I couldn’t allow myself to stop or slow down. But for all that, I’m not feeling too bad, and I’ve had a pretty incredible time along the way. New friends, great nights out, and a pretty full heart too.

Bikram? As you can probably guess, that didn’t happen either. I didn’t really plan ahead when I signed up for it, and hadn’t clocked that I had such a mental work schedule coming up. I did make it to 6 days in a row in my first week, and something similar the next week, and my practice has really benefitted. I’m more flexible, stronger, my postures are much deeper and I have fallen in love with standing head-to-knee pose which I had previously believed to be a form of torture.

So the conclusion? I’m not at all disappointed with how my month went. In committing to sorting out my life, life really delivered and took me in a totally different but totally amazing direction. I read a beautiful quote yesterday which really summed it up.

You must be willing to let go of the life you planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for you.

Mm-hmm. Happy Ceri.

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And as to what I’m eating right now, I whizzed up some raw-ish brownies which are keeping my happiness levels topped up. i’m a sucker for a raw brownie and if you’re ever in Bristol you have to hunt down Radek’s raw chocolate brownie = Life changing. Wild Oats or Harvest are usually stocked up.

My brownies are raw-ish as I used cocoa as opposed to cacao. Cacao is the raw form of ground cocao beans and has a slightly brighter flavour, whereas cocoa powder is roasted giving it a fuller and richer taste. Cacao would have been my chocolate form of choice as it’s packed to the rafters with antioxidants but I had cocoa on hand and wanted a treat. If this month has taught me anything, its to go with the flow and just take what life gives you, and if it’s cocoa and not cacao I think I’ll get over it.

raw-ish brownies

  • a jam jar full of cashews, soaked overnight in water, drained
  • 12-15 dates, depending on size
  • raw coconut chips
  • 3 tablespoons of cocoa/cacao
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • cacao nibs
  1. First, blend the cashews and dates in a food processor until they’re well blended and crumb-like. If your dates are quite firm this might take a while (mine took a while) but if you have soft medjool dates it will be much quicker and easier on your processor.
  2. Add the coconut chips, cocoa and coconut oil and blend until the mixture is well combined and clumps into a ball by itself, or sticks together when pinched.
  3. Turn out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and shape into a block.
  4. Sprinkle the top with cacao nibs or anything else you fancy.
  5. Wrap the brownie tightly in the paper and chill for a few hours.
  6. Remove from the fridge and cut into bitesize chunks (or bigger if you’re feeling greedy)
  7. Enjoy:)