Sunday, 27 July 2014

Recipes Revisited: Rhubarb and Custard Ice Cream with Ginger- vegan, sugar free, gluten free

Serve with fresh fruit for a perfect summer dessert!

 The heatwave shows no sign of abating just yet, so in between watering the garden and harvesting your summer veggies, chill out in the sun with a bowl of fruity, refreshing vegan icecream- guilt-free, of course! Ice cream is fast becoming my favourite thing to make- so many flavours to experiment with...
This recipe is a refinement of the rhubarb and custard ice cream we posted last year, the main difference being that this time we used agave not sugar. We also ditched the crystallised ginger in favour of powdered ginger (but next time I won't be quite as puritanical about the sugar content and I'll add it back in!) and doubled up the quantities to make it yield the best part of 500g; you can never have too much ice cream, can you?

800ml (2 cans) coconut milk
2 tabs custard powder
4 tabs agave
Rhubarb compote:
2 cupped chopped rhubarb
4 tabs agave
1 tsp ginger powder (more if you want the ginger to come through strongly)


  • Simmer the rhubarb and agave gently together until soft and pulpy.
  • Make the custard following the instructions on the tub. (Take a little coconut milk from the pan, whisk up with the custard powder and agave, then add the boiling coconut milk and whisk until thickened somewhat.) Leave to cool.
  • Using a hand blender, beat plenty of air into the custard and put in the freezer (still in its mixing bowl).
  • Take out and beat again from time to time; this breaks up the ice crystals and keeps it from getting too hard.
  • Finally, swirl in the rhubarb compote, pile into a lidded tub and freeze until solid but scoop-able.




Friday, 25 July 2014

10 Life Hacks for Better Health



So you have a shelf full of vegan and raw vegan recipe books, a Vitamix, a dehydrator, a cupboard full of natural supplements and superfood powders and a pantry full of organic produce... great! Now all you have to do is get it all inside you. Regularly. In decent quantities. And that's where a few life hacks might come in handy, because it may seem a tad daunting to incorporate all of this into your busy daily life. But do it you must, if you want to glow with health and vitality, (not to mention getting your money's worth out of all that specialist equipment). Now I don't want to come across all smug and self-righteous because I struggled to organise myself into healthier habits for years and it was only really when I met my fabulously wholefoodie husband that I began to get to grips with it all. I'm probably not completely there yet either... So here are a few tips to get you into- and keep you in- those healthy habits:

  1. Look at your relationship with food: Do you really listen to your body? Do you only eat "healthy" because secretly you're afraid of putting on weight? Do you eat just for the flavour or do you love the energised buzz from something like a glass of kale juice? Don't be afraid to eat in quantity, especially if your diet is mainly raw. Let me explain: If your going to get all the nutrients your body needs daily, let alone what it needs to go beyond just maintenance and into healing and health promotion, you'll have to eat a variety of different foods daily. Yes, you will take in calories on the way, but that's okay because we need calories to function. As long as you don't eat junk foods and get extra "empty" calories, and you get some excercise, your figure will not suffer. Studies are now showing that it's not so much the calories per se but which food groups you get them from that counts*. (500 calories from chips is not going to be assimilated in the same way as 500 calories from an avocado and banana smoothie with rye bread toast.) Humans are designed to be active so fuel up, be active, rest, refuel, then go and run around some more...
  2. Plan when you can: Approach your daily nutrition as you would any other routine task if you were at work and organise carefully. Then carry it all out conscientiously.  At first, you may even need to have a list on your fridge door (or in your head) of when you are going to have which foods/ meals to eat, when you are going to make that litre of hemp milk or what times you need to water your beansprouts. This way, it's much easier to keep up those good health routines. Most importantly, don't forget to eat/ drink all that good stuff at regular intervals! You may want to do certain things in the morning that will set you up for the day's healthy eating, like make plant milks, filter tap water, grind or toast seeds, water sprouts, make bread etc. Perhaps there is an afternoon or evening which you can devote to stocking up on home made vegan cheese, raw crackers, kale chips etc. for the week ahead. If you fall in through the front door exhausted after a day out at work and head straight for the biscuit tin or the crisps to keep you awake (like I do if I'm not careful!) make sure you have fruit, nuts and seeds in whatever form you like (dried fruit bars, roasted and spiced etc.), kale chips, a smoothie or some chia pudding in the fridge. Even if they are left over from that morning or the night before, it's still better than junk food. After a while, it will all come together seamlessly, with hardly a second thought, and your body will be so happy with what you're putting into it you genuinely won't crave junk any more.
  3. Water:  Water is vital to all life, and we generally don't drink nearly enough pure water. When you are properly hydrated, you feel more alert, you have less of a tendency to get headaches, your organs function better and your eyes and skin look fantastic. Under normal circumstances, aim for 1 1/2 to 2 litres of water daily. Carry a water bottle around with you, especially at work or school. Stainless steel/ glass bottles are best; avoid aluminium or plastic. Keep it by your bed and reach for it first thing. Do whatever you feel you need to do to your water to make it cleaner and more palatable- filter, ozonate, etc. If you don't like drinking plain water, then squeeze a little fresh lemon or lime juice in for flavour.
  4. Smoothie time: If you have decide to have a smoothie every day for breakfast, which by the way is an excellent way to get plenty of nutrients in one go, don't be daunted by the washing up or noise of the blender; have a smoothie bowl instead. This simply involves throwing everything you would have put into the blender into a bowl with maybe some wholegrain cereal like oats or muesli, picking up a spoon and eating it. Simple!
  5. Get sprouting: If you grow your own sprouts and put love and care into them, you are much more likely to eat them than if they were rotting in the fridge in a little plastic bag from the shop. Your own sprouts will be fresher and more vitalising than anything you can buy. And just how hard is it to grab a handful off the windowsill and munch on them?
  6. Fruit bowl: Make sure you have a bowl of fresh and tempting fruit where you can easily get to it if you fancy a snack. It's amazing how many kitchens/ dining rooms don't have this, so if yours is one of those, put it right. Now.
  7. Use probiotics: You can buy live soya or coconut yoghurts, kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut and live miso. These all help alkalise the body, combat candida yeast infection and populate the gut with "friendly" bacteria that help digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Traditional societies who take probiotic foods tend to be freer from disease and live longer on average, like the Hunza and the Maasai peoples of The Himalayas and Africa respectively. If you are on a budget, making some of these things yourself can be a thrifty and rewarding option, as long as you make sure you actually find time to do it. (See no. 2.)
  8. Omega wisdom: Omega oils are essential for good health. Get the right balance of these every day by making our four seed mix. This is ground hemp, flax, chia and pumpkin seeds which you can make and keep in a jar in the fridge. Even if this is the only healthy habit you do regularly, you will see the difference in your skin, hair and hormone regulation.  Add it to breads, sauces and soups, or sprinkle into cereals, fruit salads, yoghurt and smoothies. Use at least a tablespoon of this daily. Easy!
  9. Exercise: Yes, we all know that exercise benefits your cardiovascular health, your joints and pretty much everything in your body. But how many of us are actually doing enough? According to the NHS, adults under 65 need at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise per week. You don't have to join a gym or tennis club or yoga class if that's not your thing- it can be as simple as walking a bit more, going swimming regularly, or getting those trainers on and going for a run. Or get into gardening. Or put some favourite music on and dance like no-one's watching. (These last 3 things are free, so there's really no excuse now, is there?)
  10. Make the commitment: Yes, you are worth it! And so are your loved ones. Once you have started out on your healthier lifestyle, take regular note of the benefits you are feeling and you'll want to continue.
*Patrick Holford: "The New Optimum Nutrition Bible", Piatkus Books Ltd, 2004

Hope these tips are helpful, and if you have any health-related life hacks, please share!