baked burmese shan tofu salad with sweet chilli sauce (paleo, vegan, soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, candida)

Tomorrow, I’ll be singing in front of the Queen.

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Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will be visiting our school tomorrow and the school’s honour choir and I will be singing for her. It’ll be the second time in my life that I’ll be singing for Her Majesty and I’m extremely excited! There’s nothing quite like the thrill leading up to such a momentous event – and the prospect of missing a day of school isn’t horrible either.

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Just kidding. About the ‘nothing quite like the thrill part’, that is – the Queen is really coming. There is something like the thrill, and it goes something like this: finding out that chickpea flour can be turned into tofu. Yes, really! Soft, squishy, flavour-absorbing tofu that can be baked into gorgeous golden loaves of deliciousness laden with a scoop of sweet chilli sauce.

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Piled on top of salad, of course. Because green stuff makes everything look deceivingly healthier! Thanks green stuff. Crunchy yet silky smooth, nutty squares intermingled with the sharp sweetness of chilli’s and the crunch of fresh organic vegetables makes one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten. Gently baked so that they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, these tofu pieces are so much better than normal tofu, but soy-free. Slightly nutty and comfortingly filling – I love them.

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Fit for the Queen!

baked burmese shan tofu salad with sweet chilli sauce

by Alessandra Peters

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2)

    For the Chickpea Tofu

    • 2 cups besan (chickpea) flour
    • 6 cups water, divided
    • 2 teaspoons salt

    For the Salad

    • 1 head cabbage, shredded
    • 1 carrot, julienned
    • handful mangetout, diced
    • handful roasted and salted cashews, chopped
    • handful parsley
    • 8 pieces chickpea tofu

    For the Sweet Chilli Sauce

    • 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
    • 4 large red chillies, chopped
    • 2 teaspoons maple syrup

    Instructions

    For the Tofu

    1. Whisk together the besan flour, salt, and 2 cups of water in a large bowl. Set aside. Generously grease a large 9×13 pan with vegetable oil and set aside.

    2. In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 4 cups of water to a simmer. While stirring with a large wooden spoon, add the besan flour mixture to the water.

    3. Mix until smooth and glossy, approximately 5 minutes.

    4. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, let cool until room temperature, and set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

    5. Drain away the water, then turn over the tofu block on a chopping board. Cut into bite-size pieces.

    For the Sweet Chilli Sauce

    1. Stir together all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat.

    2. Mix for 2-4 minutes or until combined and warm.

    For the Salad

    1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

    2. Arrange 8 tofu pieces on a baking sheet.

    3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.

    4. While the tofu bakes, combine the other salad ingredients and arrange them on a serving platter.

    5. Arrange baked tofu pieces on top of the salad. Serve with sweet chilli sauce.

    6. Enjoy!

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    double chocolate pecan salted caramel brownies (vegan, Paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, egg-free, primal)

    I turned fifteen yesterday.

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    Let me just reiterate that my birthday was on a Saturday.  I mean, that fact already makes it great, but with the house full of girls and boys I am lucky to call my friends for three hours, it was my greatest birthday yet. There was cake – if you didn’t know, I run a cake decorating business and it’s the only half artistic thing I’m capable of – and there was pizza. There was laughter, there was fun, and there was sunshine.

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    One year ago that day, I was admitted to hospital. On the morning of my fourteenth birthday, I boarded a plane with my mother and left behind my father and brother. We flew to Holland and took a taxi directly from the airport to the hospital. I recall the heavy curtain of sleep falling over me seemingly all the time; in the plane, the taxi, and even talking to the doctors. I was just so, so tired. For three months, in varying states of health, I walked around that small, disinfectant scented hospital room.

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    They never did find out what was wrong with me in those three months. They talked, they watched, they speculated. Celiac? Impossible. Food allergies? No way. After those three moths, I left that hospital no better than when I had entered it. But we didn’t give up. Doctor after doctor, we travelled around until we had an answer. And a year later, we have it, and I feel better than ever. Coeliac and fifty-three food allergies – most people offer their condolences upon learning about my allergies, but I’m determined to celebrate them. My life has changed so much for the better, and in a way I could never have imagined.

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    I mean, without my diagnosis I would never have made these brownies! And that would just have been detrimental to humankind everywhere. Chewy, fudgy, and rich chocolate cake studded with crunchy pecans drizzled with a sweet ribbon of dark salted caramel sauce and lashings of melted chocolate. They are exactly what a good brownie should be – fudgy and dense with a crispy top, sweet and deliciously salty with flakes of Maldon sea salt sprinkled over the top, and drizzled with caramel sauce.

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    Oh, and since it’s my birthday weekend, you totally have permission to eat two. Or three…

    Adapted from the wonderful Brittany!

    double chocolate pecan salted caramel brownies

    by Alessandra Peters

    Prep Time: 20 minutes

    Cook Time: 40 minutes

    Ingredients (serves 16)

      For the Brownies

      • 3 cups finely ground almond flour
      • 2/3 cup cacao powder
      • pinch salt
      • 1 tablespoon baking powder
      • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
      • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
      • 5 tablespoons water
      • 4 tablespoons melted coconut oil
      • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
      • 1/3 cup chopped pecans

      For the Caramel

      • 1/4 cup coconut oil
      • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
      • 3 tablespoons coconut cream from the top of a chilled can of coconut milk
      • 1/2 teaspoon Maldon sea salt flakes

      Instructions

      1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).

      2. Line a 8×8 inch pan with baking parchment.

      3. Mix together all brownie ingredients except chopped pecans and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Press mixture in to the lined pan.

      4. Bake for around 40 minutes or until slightly firm to the touch.

      5. Let cool for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with pecan pieces.

      6. To make the caramel, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk until everything is melted and combined. Let cool in a glass jar until slightly thickened.

      7. Drizzle the brownies with lashings of caramel sauce.

      8. Optional: melt some more chocolate chips to drizzle over the brownies.

      9. Enjoy!

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      healthy nutella (paleo, vegan, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free)

      Nutella used to be right up there with my favourite foods.

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      Every new house, every new country, every new bedroom to adorn with stickers throughout my childhood – I knew that there would always be Nutella. It sounds silly, a silky smooth myriad of chocolate and hazelnuts to placate me, but I’m quite certain that Nutella provides a certain emotional attachment to children. Who doesn’t remember seeing that squishy, soft, fudgy mass leaking out of the sides of a sandwich as tiny paint-covered fingers clutch it?

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      Rich, smooth, and soft, this healthier version contains just hazelnuts, cacao powder, a splash of vanilla, some almond milk, and some coconut palm sugar, and it really is incredible. Sweet, buttery, and crunchy hazelnuts laced with fierce, bold cacao, some speckled vanilla, smooth and creamy almond milk, and golden caramelised coconut palm sugar swirled together makes a mixture that would scare shop-bought Nutella right out of your house.

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      If we’re personifying Nutella here, that is. And I think we can all agree that there’s no time to be personifying Nutella here because it’s time for you to get in to your kitchen and make this right now. Just one warning.. don’t trust yourself alone in the house when this is in the fridge!

      healthy nutella

      by Alessandra Peters

      Prep Time: 10 minutes

      Ingredients

      • 2 cups hazelnuts
      • 3 tablespoons cacao powder
      • 3 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
      • 1/2 cup almond milk
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

      Instructions

      1. Roast the hazelnuts on a large baking tray at 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) for 8-10 minutes, or until their skin starts to crack.

      2. Roll the hazelnuts in a large tea towel until their skin comes off.

      3. Place the hazelnuts into a food processor or powerful blender and process for about a minute, or until a smooth paste is formed.

      4. Add the other ingredients, then process until smooth and combined, another 1-2 minutes.

      5. Spoon in to an airtight jar, then store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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      no-bake dark chocolate tarts with raspberries (vegan, paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free)

      “But when she turned her back to the lights, she saw that the night was so dark… she could not see the stars. The world felt as high as the depthless night sky and deeper than she could know. She understood, suddenly and keenly, that she was too small to run away, and she sat on the damp ground and cried.” – Shannon Hale, The Goose Girl

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      It feels like time is running away from me. On Monday, my little brother turned 13. Thirteen years of laughter, crying, bickering, loving. Thirteen years of fun, and I couldn’t be more grateful. In ten days, I turn fifteen. It will be 5475th day of my life on paper, but it will be just the 221st of my life. My real life; the life in which I feel I satisfy the definition of ‘the state of being alive’. Alive with fun, alive with smiles, alive with the people I love, and alive with health. Can I edit my birthday?!

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      Rich, gooey chocolate insides that curl up on  your spoon, caressed by a soft nutty crust with a plump, juicy, ruby red raspberry carefully set on top of a drizzle of chocolate. Dark and mysterious, decadent and creamy, yet soft and smooth, this really is a celebratory treat. My spoon glides in to it like a wave in to the ocean – carefully, yet boldly. Everybody needs some of this no-bake crust filled with lusciousness, berries so ripe they are about to burst scattered on top.

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      Let’s call it breakfast, shall we? That’s totally a deal.

       

      dark chocolate tarts

      by Alessandra Peters

      Prep Time: 30 minutes

       

      Ingredients

        For the Crust

        • 1 1/4 cup ground almonds
        • 3 tablespoons cacao powder
        • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
        • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

        For the Filling

        • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
        • 1/3 cup maple syrup
        • 1 cup cacao powder

        Instructions

        1. Blitz the crust ingredients in a food processor until well combined.

        2. Press the mixture in to four small tartlet pans or two quarter-loaf pans evenly to form a crust.

        3. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until hardened.

        4. To make the filling, combine the coconut oil and maple syrup in a food processor until combined. Add in the cacao powder and process until combined.

        5. Fill the tartlet crusts with the mixture, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon.

        6. Place in the fridge for an hour. To serve, let the tarts come to room temperature and stud with raspberries!

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        homemade fruit rollups (paleo, vegan, sugar-free, healthy, snacks, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free)

        When I was 7, fruit rollups were where it was at. Corn syrup, four different food colourings, hydrogenated cottonseed oil – are they really even worthy of the adjective ‘fruit’?

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        I think ‘sugary, unhealthy, processed’ rollups would be much more accurate. What if I told you that these homemade, natural fruit rollups, which are completely sugar-free and only have a single ingredient, are so much more delicious and so, so much better for you? I thought so.

        Even my 7-year-old self would have loved these, and that’s saying something since said self practically lived off sandwiches, Nesquik, and yoghurt-coated raisins.

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        I vacillate when it comes to my favourite fruits, but I think it might have to be peaches. Or watermelon.. or apricots.. or berries! Or crisp green apples.  But for today, it’s peaches. Their sweet, tender, brightly-coloured insides make for a chewy, nourishing snack which tastes delicious, too! It literally takes a few cups of whatever your favourite fruit, a blender, a baking tray, and a low oven.

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        Fruit rollups are still cool when you’re 14, right?! You know they totally are.

         

        homemade fruit rollups

        by Alessandra Peters

        Prep Time: 10 minutes

        Cook Time: 6-8 hours

         

        Ingredients (24 rollups)

        • 3 cups of your favourite fruit or a blend of fruit
        • herbs or spices, optional

        Instructions

        1. Preheat your oven to 90 degrees C (160 degrees F).

        2. Blend your fruit in a blender until it achieves a puree-like texture.

        3. Spread the fruit puree out on a silicone baking mat or plastic wrap, leaving an edge of about 1 inch on each side. The mixture will stick to parchment paper or foil, and because the oven is so low, plastic is perfectly safe.

        4. Bake for 4-6 hours, depending on your oven. The fruit rollups will be ready when the puree has thickened up and your finger doesn’t leave an indent anymore!

        5. Leave to cool for 15 minutes, then carefully transfer to a large piece of baking paper. Cut the edges to fit the the rollup, then carefully cut in to thin strips. Roll up each strip, tie with some string, and enjoy!

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        real deal chocolate ice cream with chocolate-covered espresso beans (vegan, paleo, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free)

        I screamed when I finally cracked this recipe. What can I say? I scream for ice scream.

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        I especially like to give a long, piercing cry of happiness for rich, smooth, ridiculously chocolatey ‘real deal’ chocolate ice cream sprinkled with crunchy chocolate-covered espresso beans which pack an intense coffee punch. With a side of chocolate-covered frozen banana slices topped with chopped salted peanuts. With a side of chocolate, naturally.

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        When it comes to vegan, Paleo ice cream, I’ve tried it all. Avocado, coconut milk, cashews – they were good, and they were definitely eaten, but they just weren’t right. A grainy texture, a funny aftertaste, or just simply odd, they didn’t live up to my chocolate ice cream expectations.

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        So, naturally, I tried about twenty different variations of chocolate ice cream. All in the name of research, of course. Call me fastidious, but this is some seriously good ice cream. And the chocolate-covered espresso beans? Don’t even get me started.

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        Rich, creamy, full of chocolate and deliciously healthy ice cream studded with bursts of full-bodied roasted Cambodian espresso beans. Silky smooth melt-in-your-mouth ice cream with crunchy nuggets of flavour – it really does call for the obligatory closed-eyed ‘mmm’ face. It only takes three ingredients, doesn’t require an ice cream maker, and is 87 calories with 2g of fat per serving. Read: you can eat the entire two-serving recipe without feeling the tiniest bit guilty.

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        What are you still doing reading this?!

         

        real deal chocolate ice cream with chocolate-covered espresso beans

        by Alessandra Peters

        Prep Time: 10 minutes

         

        Ingredients (serves 2)

          For the Ice Cream

          • 225ml unsweetened almond milk
          • 2 tablespoons cacao powder
          • 2 tablespoons agave nectar

          For the Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

          • 20 espresso beans, roasted
          • 50g dark chocolate, melted

          Instructions

          For the Ice Cream

          1. Whisk all ingredients together in a large microwave-proof bowl.

          2. Microwave for a minute, then whisk again until completely combined.

          3. Pour in to ice cube trays and freeze until solid, about 2-3 hours.

          4. Blend ‘ice cubes’ of chocolate mixture in a high-power blender until you get rich and creamy ice cream, scraping down as needed! It will turn in to a sort of chocolate shaved ice at first, but keep blending and it will come together.

          5. Freeze in an air-tight container until ready to use.

          For the Chocolate-Covered Espresso Beans

          1. Dip the espresso beans individually in to the melted chocolate, then set on a baking tray covered with parchment paper.

          2. When all of them are dipped, place the tray in the fridge for ten minutes or so until the chocolate sets.

          3. Transfer to an air-tight container and store in the fridge until ready to use!

          To Assemble

          1. Scoop large scoops of ice cream into bowls.

          2. Sprinkle with chocolate-covered espresso beans.

          3. Serve and enjoy!

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