vanilla-chai bircher with cashew milk, figs + buckinis

Milky chai, in its most traditional form, laden with honey and sweet milk, is purely satisfying in both its spice and richness. It wraps me up, parts the clouds for a mere moment. So what on earth am I doing sharing such a warming, nurturing recipe in the heat of summer? See, this is where I blow your mind. This bircher has the delectable flavour of chai interwoven with vanilla and cashew, yet it’s served cold. Neat, huh? Of course, come winter, when your bones are a snowflake away from being pure ice, you can warm this up in the pan, adding a little more milk to loosen it up. Soaking the oats and seeds overnight will assist with digestion, allowing nutrients like vitamin B, magnesium and iron to be readily absorbed into your body, perfect for sensitive tummies. Plus, who doesn’t like having breakfast ready the moment they roll out of bed?

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I love the creamy richness the cashew milk imparts, and I find it to be gentler on my tummy, but feel free to indulge in any other nut milk or full cream dairy. It’d work especially well with almond milk, even coconut milk. If you can’t get a hold of those magical, fresh figs (say, from a neighbours overhanging tree), sub in any other stonefruit, or in the winter months, oranges would team nicely. And try to get your hands on either pre-made buckini’s or make them yourself (super easy), you won’t regret the cinnamony-crunch they add. This recipe is totally adaptable, it’ll change with the seasons. It’ll become like a good friend to you, honest.

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vanilla-chai bircher with cashew milk, figs + buckinis – serves 1

you’ll need…

  • 1/3 cup oats (not the quick-cooking type)
  • 1 tsp flaxseeds/linseeds
  • 1/2 tbsp pepitas/pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup cashew milk (I make mine with a ratio of 1 cup of soaked nuts to 3 cups of water)
  • 1/4 cup strongly brewed black chai (my all time fave is Prana Chai’s masala blend)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • to serve – caramelised buckinis (to make your own, you’ll find the recipe I used here), fresh figs, natural yoghurt, extra milk if preferred

here’s what you do…

  1. Combine the oats, seeds, vanilla and salt in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add the cashew milk and mix to combine, ensuring all the ingredients are wet.
  3. Dissolve the honey in the tea, then add to the bowl of oats, mixing thoroughly.
  4. Soak overnight and sleep tight.
  5. The next morning, slice up your figs and top the bircher with them along with the buckinis, yoghurt and a cheeky drizzle of honey, should your heart so desire. If it’s cold, heat the mix in the pan gently before adding the toppings.
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coconut, banana + spelt bread

You know those soft, spotty bananas sitting in your fruit bowl? They’re crying out. Literally, crying out to be mashed, folded, and baked into this recipe. I know it’s a fine line between calling it a ‘bread’ and calling it ‘cake’, but this sits somewhere in the middle – pleasantly sweet but not overly, with the wholesome goodness of wholemeal spelt flour and rapadura sugar. It’s also dairy free, with coconut cream providing the lovely moistness and rich coconut flavour. Sold?

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Your bananas really need to be close their death though. None of those firm, yellow guys. The longer they linger on your bench, the sweeter and more satisfying this loaf will be. Spread it with almond butter, yoghurt or labne or for a little indulgence, team it with a maple butter. Surely, you’re sold by now.

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coconut, banana + spelt bread – adapted from taste

you’ll need…

  • 1.5 cups wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1/2 cup rapadura sugar
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 cup almond meal (I use the leftover, dehydrated meal from making almond milk)
  • 270ml can Ayam coconut cream (It’s the only brand I’m yet to find that is pure coconut extract – no additives!)
  • 2 free range eggs
  • 1 cup super-ripe, mashed banana
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp vanilla powder

here’s what you do…

  1. Preheat your oven to 170C/150C fan forced. Lightly grease and line a 1L loaf pan.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarb soda into a bowl. Add the sugar, coconut and almond meal, stirring to break up lumps.
  3. Place coconut cream, eggs, banana and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Fold into flour mixture until just combined.
  4. Spoon into the prepared pan and bake for 50 min/1 hour or until skewer comes out clean.
  5. Stand in the pan or 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  6. Slather in whichever toppings tickle your fancy, or eat straight from the oven as is.

choc almond mylk

I often get a craving for nesquik-esque choc milk, the stuff from my childhood. Or even a carton of choc milk from the deli. But once I glance at the ingredients list, I run away scared like a mouse that’s seen a cat-shaped ghost. Alas, when you are pregnant, cravings need sorting out, am I right? I’m 100% right.

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This choc almond mylk is way more nutritious and delicious than the contents of those edible memories shoved all the way in the back of your head, amongst the dust and cobwebs. Healthy monounsaturated fats, magnesium boost from the cacao and naturally sweetened with dates, what can go wrong? Perfectly plant based, making it perfect for vegans. Bottoms up!

choc almond mylk – serves 1

you’ll need…

  • 1 cup almond milk (preferably homemade – soak 1 cup of almonds for 8-12 hours, rinse then blend with 3 cups of filtered water and strain through cheesecloth, saving the meal for baking)
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao (or cocoa)
  • 2 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean/1 tsp vanilla bean paste)
  • pinch of sea salt

here’s what you do…

  1. Place all ingredients into your blender, and blend until smooth. Serve immediately, or keep in the fridge for up to 4 days (providing your almond milk is fresh – it has a 4 day lifespan so work it out!). You might need to give it a shake if you’ve stored it in the fridge, as contents will settle.

buckwheat, corn + chive fritters with crispy bacon

Oops…it’s been a while. But I’m more than making up for it with these nuggets of gold, cross my heart! I’m a big fan of brunch, because it’s that cheeky little meal you can fit in between my favourite meal of the day (breakfast) and lunch, and who isn’t partial to an extra meal? Or is it only us pregnant folk?

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These arose because of my need to use up excess buckwheat flour, and I know they’ll be making a regular appearance in my kitchen. Light and fluffy, teamed with tangy relish and thick sour cream, these also hit the nutritional nail on the head with protein-rich buckwheat, fresh vegetables and healthy fats from the avocado. You’ll be weak at the knees and may even stand at the bench devouring fritter after fritter until you look slightly pregnant (that’s me covered!).

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buckwheat, corn + chive fritters with crispy bacon – adapted from Supergrains by Chrissy Freer; serves 4 for a light brunch, or 2-3 for a more substantial meal

you’ll need…

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup white spelt flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 zucchini (approx 90g), coarsely grated, excess moisture squeezed out
  • 70g crumbled goats feta
  • 3 tblsp chopped chives
  • olive oil, to cook
  • bacon, chopped avocado, baby spinach, sour cream and tomato relish (I recommend Beerenberg Burger Relish) to serve

here’s what you do…

1. Whisk the milk and egg yolks together in large bowl, then gradually whisk in the flours and baking powder until smooth. Stir through corn, zucchini, cheese and chives.

2. Using an electric mixer (or whisking by hand) whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks, then fold gently into the batter until just combined.

3. Fry the bacon on medium-high heat until crispy then set aside to keep warm, leaving the fat in the pan. Turn down the heat to medium and pour 1/3 cup of mixture into the pan, cooking 3 fritters at a time. Flip after 2-3 minutes and cook for a further 2-3 minutes, or until brown. Keep the fritters warm by placing on a plate in the oven, covered loosely with foil.

4. Plate up! Place the fritters on a plate, smear with sour cream, dot with avocado and relish and add bacon and spinach.