Raw Lime and Coconut Tarts (vegan and gluten free)

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 I had the scariest nightmare the other day. It was so weird! I woke up in this parallel universe where everything was almost exactly the same as real life, but something was….different. I couldn’t put my finger on why everyone was slightly stranger than normal and why my house looked so different. And then it hit me. Everyone was RAW VEGAN! The whole human population! There were no ovens or stovetops, just built-in blenders and chopping boards.

Don’t get me wrong I think foregoing animal products is a great lifestyle, I basically am vegan myself. But raw vegans scare me. I didn’t even realise quite how scary I found them until my nightmare. I literally woke up feeling really weird and almost went down just to check we still had an oven. 

I know it’s a really healthy lifestyle. I mean have you seen raw vegans? They practically glow. They look like superhuman aliens that have come to earth to live forever and take over the future. But eating only raw products for the rest of my life…makes me want to cry. Very slightly steamed broccoli with some lime juice is the best thing ever. However completely raw broccoli is disgusting. Roasted pumpkin in cumin and olive oil is like heaven to me. But raw pumpkin is disgusting. I guess I just don’t see why it all has to be raw. Why the broccoli?! Why??

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 Well, I think these tarts could possibly change my mind. The other day I made the girl I babysit lime slice for her birthday, and as I was making it I couldn’t help fantasise about a completely natural version using avocado as the filling. It was one of those things where I thought the first time I made it would end in me throwing the entire thing in the bin, but something magic happened in my blender. 

They came out so nice! I took a little taste of the filling and actually went ‘huh!’ in surprise. It’s super creamy and sweet from the banana and agave syrup, and somehow the tiniest pinch of salt just makes it really moreish. I promise, it’s nothing like guacamole. It was hard to ignore the fact that the recipe was very similar…but just turn a blind eye to that green colour. And who would put banana in guacamole? No one that’s who. 

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 The base is the typical walnut/sultana/coconut base I made for my mango and banana coconut tarts and chocolate tarts, which I just pressed into tart moulds and froze for half an hour while I made the filling. I’m just going to put it out there, I could eat the filling with a spoon. You could definitely just make an avocado lime mousse and forget the tart base altogether for a simpler dessert, but it really does taste pretty good assembled as the full thing. 

You can top it with berries too. I piled on heaps of frozen blueberries to two of them and ate it in about 10 seconds flat as soon as I finished photographing them. You may or may not want to try that for yourself…

If you have any raw vegan friends coming over for dinner, this would be the ultimate thing you could make them. Or if you are a raw vegan, first of all I’m sorry for saying I was scared of you, and second please accept this tart recipe as a peace gift. Have a great weekend everyone 🙂 

One Year Ago: Chocolate and Raspberry Layer Cake

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Raw Avocado and Lime Tarts:

1 cup walnuts, crushed

1 cup sultanas, briefly soaked in water

2 tbsp desiccated coconut

1 large fully ripe avocado

juice of 2-3 limes (taste as you go)

3 tbsp agave nectar (the light kind)

1/2 a ripe frozen banana

pinch of salt

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Method:

Blend the walnuts and sultanas together until crumbly. Add in the coconut and blend until a dough forms. Press into 5-6 small tart tins that have been lined with plastic or foil, to make them easier to remove. Keep in the freezer until ready to fill and serve. 

Blend the avocado, lime juice, agave, banana and salt until smooth and creamy. Spoon into the tart tins and keep refrigerated or even in the freezer until ready to serve. These tarts will last a while, but they look/taste best within the first three hours. You can keep them in the freezer and eat them the next day though, they will just lose their bright green colour.

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A Healthier Spiced Carrot Cake with Maple Orange Icing

Optional vegan, low fat and refined sugar free

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 I was craving carrot cake like a wild woman this week. Every day at uni I would walk past the cafe eyeing those dodgy wrapped carrot cake slices covered in buttercream and almost ALMOST  buy one. 

But I managed to hold out partly because they don’t use cream cheese in the frosting (who even are they?!) and partly because I had no money…

By the end of the week, it was carrot cake time. At first I was thinking to myself you can’t make that, you’ve already made a banana carrot cake to end all carrot cakes on this blog. It was mile high and adorned with chopped nuts and creamy ricotta frosting! But that was a carrot BANANA cake. Subtle difference my friends. And a very different recipe too!(Perfect for Easter!!)

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When I was first coming up with this recipe I mainly wanted a carrot and cinnamon centred vehicle to transport cream cheese frosting in my mouth. I looked at lots of recipes trying to gather together the best of all, and I couldn’t believe how unhealthy most carrot cake recipes are! For something made of carrots I was surprised.

Just to be clear, my definition of ‘healthy’ is definitely not low fat or low calorie! Wholemeal grains, real fruit and unprocessed sweeteners plus some natural fats from avocados and nuts are much more my scene. However I’m aware that some people want to have their cake and they want to eat the whole thing too, without spending an extra hour at the gym. So this is my fat-free (almost) and refined sugar free carrot cake!

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 Sweetened with maple syrup and the natural sugars of the carrots, this carrot has no butter or oil in it (none!). I was feeling daring so when the recipe called for ‘butter’ I just subbed in a whole load of buttermilk. The recipe is based on the Moosewood carrot cake recipe, which is already a very wholesome and tasty loaf to begin with. It came out so cinnamon scented and warm and delicious, I could not even deal. Carrot cake heaven. 

The best part of carrot cake is the icing (can I get an amen please) so I didn’t skimp on that. Instead of using low fat or substitute; the cream cheese is mixed with half ricotta, which is naturally low in fat and high in calcium and protein. Mixed with maple syrup and orange zest it was so delicious! I ate quite a bit of it with a spoon (shh). Topped with naturally delicious and healthy nuts, this cake is perfect for breakfast as well as the best dessert ever. 

Also vegan friends, I’ve given substitutions below for how to make the cake completely free of animal products. I’ve made the cake without eggs and buttermilk before and it worked well, but I haven’t tried it low fat so if you do try that method, tell me how it goes!!

One Year Ago: Sweet Plum Jam

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 Healthy Carrot Cake with Orange Maple Frosting: Adapted from here

1/2 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup buttermilk (or for vegan, sunflower oil or half oil half vegan yogurt)

2 eggs (for vegan, 2 tbsp chia seeds mixed well with 4 tbsp water)

1 finely zested orange

1/2 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and 1/4 tsp allspice

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup wholemeal flour

1/2 cup plain flour

1 + 1/4 cup carrot, grated

Frosting:
250g each ricotta and cream cheese OR cashew/coconut cream for vegan
1 finely zested orange
1/3 cup maple syrup
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For the Cake: Preheat the oven to 180C (356F) and line a loaf tin with baking paper. Whisk the 2 eggs until pale and fluffy. Mix the remaining wet ingredients (buttermilk or oil, maple syrup) together well. Stir in the orange zest. Stir in the grated carrot. Sift the flours and baking powder, plus the spices. Stir the dry into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour into tin and bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden on top and a skewer comes out clean.
For the icing, blend together all the ingredients well and ice the cake once completely cool. Top with chop nuts if you want!
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Warm Carrot Cake

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 Last night the mild Sydney weather transformed into a cold, cruel beast. It was so, so, bone chillingly cold. You know that kind of cold where it doesn’t matter that you have a thick coat on, or how many layers you wear, the wind feels like a slop of icy water enveloping your entire body. 

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 Whenever the weather is like that there’s nothing better than climbing into bed under a thick doona and curling into a ball to keep warm. Soon enough you’ve forgotten you were cold at all. 

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This carrot cake is for cold weather and rainy mornings. It is rich, dense, and covered in lime and cream cheese icing. You can add walnuts, raisins, chocolate chips, whatever makes you feel happy. The gently heated spices and sweet, scented orange will warm you through. 

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Warm Carrot Cake: (barely adapted from Jamie’s Recipes)

Ingredients:

285g (1 +1/3 cups) of soft brown sugar

285g (2.5 sticks, 1 + 1/4 cups) soft salted butter

5 eggs, separated into yolks and whites

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp each nutmeg, ginger and ground cloves

zest and juice of 1 orange

285g (2 + 1/2) medium carrots, peeled and grated

170g (1 cup + 1 tbsp) self-raising flour, + 1 tsp baking powder

115g (1 cup) almond meal

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350F). Grease and line a 22cm (9 inch) square cake tin. Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, and slowly incorporate the egg yolks one by one. After this stir in your orange zest and juice, your spices, sifted flours and carrots. Beat egg whites until firm, then slowly fold into your carrot batter. Pour into your tin and bake for 50 minutes, until golden brown and firm to touch. 

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Icing:

Beat together 340g (12 ounces, 1 + 1/2 cups) cream cheese, the zest of two limes and the juice of one lime, and 85g (3/4 cups) icing sugar until combined. Spread over your cooled cake and eat it.  

Plum and Coconut Upside Down Cake

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This Saturday morning I grossly overestimated how many plums it would take to make five jars of plum jam, so instead of buying one kilo ended up buying eight! This turned out to be a very good thing, as it resulted in this coconut and lime scented upside-down plum cake. The original recipe is from Women’s Weekly and calls for frozen raspberries as the topping. (I’m not entirely sure why they have to be frozen…) I doubled the coconut in place of some flour and increased the lime juice and zest as well. 

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The result was so good! My grandpa, who claims he is not a sweet man and will very rarely indulge, ate two large slices and tried to sneak the rest of the cake home. The coconut makes the cake crumbly and the lime scents your entire house with the most delicious pina colada vibe. This cake said it would serve eight but it was demolished by four in one afternoon. 

Plum and Coconut Upside-Down Cake: (Adapted from Women’s Weekly Cakes)

160g (2/3 cup) butter, cubed

2 eggs

250g (1/4 pound or 9 ounces) plums, sliced (about 5)

50g (1/4 cup) caster sugar

juice of 1 lime (about 3 tablespoons)

2 tsp lime zest

150g (3/4 cup) caster sugar

125g (1 cup) self-raising flour

100g (1 1/4 cups) desiccated coconut

2 tablespoons lime juice, extra

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180° C (350 F), Grease a 20cm round cake pan and line with baking paper. Combine plum segments with the lime juice and sugar in a small bowl, and lay slices over the base of your cake pan. Beat the butter, lime zest and extra sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time slowly. Fold in sifted flours, coconut and extra lime juice and stir until just together. Spread mixture over your plums and bake for about 50 minutes, until golden brown and and risen. Invert on a serving platter once your cake is cool and eat at once! 

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