Summery Green Smoothies

Raw, Vegan, Refined Sugar and Gluten Free

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 I finally did it! I’ve jumped on to the green smoothie bandwagon. I know, I know. Green smoothies are so 2013. But if it helps, I actually made this smoothie way back when in November last year! I’ve been away so long I haven’t posted it until now. How’s that for a time warp! Helloooo from the paaaast. There’s only so many stunning photographs of fresh, healthy looking green smoothies a person can take before you absolutely have to try making one. Even if it does look like Shrek’s pond juice.

I decided to play it safe for my first foray into green smoothies and look at some recipes. They all seem to follow a similar guideline, but one helpful person (which I’ve completely forgotten where I read it…I’m sorry!) warned against diving into green smoothies head first. So I decided to leave out the cucumber and celery and avocado for the first time. Instead this green smoothie is packed full of baby spinach, kale and a big handful of mint. Yum!!
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This green smoothie was so so good. It was rich and creamy from the coconut juice and flesh, plus the whole banana. Lots of recipes said to use frozen banana, but I would instead suggest just a very cold banana and an ice cube or two. When you freeze and then defrost bananas they lose their creaminess and become kind of…weird. Watery and super runny. Great in a banana bread, gross in a drink.

You could get a bit creative with this. It’s a very simple recipe! I used mango and banana as sweeteners but you could use apple if your blender was powerful enough, or add in some berries (they might make it go brown though). Try throwing in a couple of dates or agave nectar for a sweeter breakfast experience. Add chia, chopped nuts, pineapple, whatever your heart desires. And tell me how you go with that celery…
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Try and use organic greens in these smoothies, not just because they’re good for the environment! They’re also better for you. I’m conflicted about buying organic because it’s unsustainable on a large scale, but chemicals are so yucky and just bad for our bodies. When you’re drinking something as healthy and antioxidant packed as a green smoothie, I feel like you just have to go organic. It’s just one of those things.

And if you can’t get your hands on a whole coconut, using just coconut water is fine. (Not coconut milk. Ew). If you can, cut off the top and put some of that coconut meat in the smoothie! By the way does anybody know of an adjective describing the inside of a coconut that isn’t “meat” or “flesh”? It’s just creeping me out… so meaty. Enjoy your green smoothies! Perfect for a new year.
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Green Breakfast Smoothie:
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup de-ribbed kale
handful of mint (don’t leave out the mint!)
1 banana from the fridge
half a mango
1 whole coconut, juice and flesh, or one cup coconut water
a few ice cubes

Blend everything together in a powerful blender. (If you don’t have one, borrow your friends. You can’t really make the greens break down in a piddly blender) Drink while it is still cool, or store in the fridge for an hour or two.
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Apple, Almond and Raspberry Crumble Cake

Gluten Free and Refined Sugar Free, opt. Vegan

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 The first cake I ever made was a peach upside down cake. I was on holidays at Jervis Bay and me, my sister and friend were thinking of something to do. It was raining, so we couldn’t go swimming or bike riding. And it was still those olden days when kids didn’t have Iphones or laptops until they were at least thirteen. So we decided to make a cake. We cut up a peach and put it in the bottom of a cake pan. Then we got a Green’s cake mix and added the water and eggs, then poured it over the top. Pretty impressive for some little kiddies right? If only we’d buttered the pan. 

I remember making that cake was the first baking I’d ever seen or done in my life. No one baked in my family and we didn’t even really eat sweets, besides for cream and jam sponge cake on our birthdays. I thought the cake was incredible! The peaches sunk into the cake and made a crispy, jammy layer on the bottom of the pan. The cake was raw in the middle and overflowing at times, but it was a real cake! Full of fresh peaches no less. It made me think of all the other possible things you could try to put in a cake. It made me realise that cakes don’t have to only be one flavour! Recipes are just a guideline ripe and ready for adapting!

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 While it can be fun to follow a recipe exactly, especially a complicated one, and come out on the other side with the perfect chocolate mousse or the perfect meringue, making your own way usually leads to the most memorable desserts. This cake/crumble/fruit blob today is the perfect example of where deviating from the recipe can end up in something way yummier and more exciting than you originally intended. I had been dreaming of these rhubarb crumble bars for ages, and was planning on making an apple and rhubarb version with cinnamon instead of coconut. And then I lost the rhubarb…apparently it was in the drinks fridge. (Yes, the most plausible place to keep rhubarb, I agree) But I’d already cut up all my apples!

I used London Bakes Blackberry and Oat Crumble as a base and decided to adapt it to make some gluten free raspberry and apple crumble bars. Everyone likes raspberry and apple right? But when the “bars” came out of the oven, bars they were not. I’d added too much fruit to base ratio to start with, and the crumble was freestyling all over the place, more like an apple crisp than a bar! Oh no! But then I tried it. Wow. It was so rich and almondy and tart from the berries, gooey and sweet from the apples, crunchy and coconutty, cinnamon flecked, vanilla scented, heaven. I wouldn’t change a single thing in this recipe. It’s the perfect comforting bowl of crumble, because there’s a nutty almond base that tastes exactly like the filling in an almond croissant! And it soaks up all those pesky fruit juices. Vanilla Ice Cream is the only thing that should accompany a big, steaming serve of this apple and raspberry almond…cake? Crumble? Let’s just call it pudding. 

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Apple, Almond and Raspberry Crumble Cake: Adapted from this recipe

300g (2.5 cups) chopped apple (about 3 medium)

50g (1/3 cup) raspberries

30g (2 tbsp) demerara sugar

50g (1/2 cup) almond meal

55g (1/2 stick) butter or coconut butter, cold and cubed 

30g (1/4 cup) oats

20g (2 tbsp) mixed seeds and slivered nuts

 

110g (1 stick) butter or coconut butter

160ml (3/4 cup) honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs or 2 tbsp chia seeds mixed with 4 tbsp water and left to gel

100g (1 cup) almond meal

1 tsp baking powder

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Use your fingers to crumble the 50g almond meal, 50g butter and raw sugar into a bread-crumb like consistency. Stir in the oats and seeds. Preheat the oven to 160C (340F). Line a 20cm x 20cm (8 x 8 inch) pan with baking paper. Beat the 110g butter and honey together until smooth and fluffy. Add in the chia eggs or normal eggs and beat until smooth. Add in the vanilla, then the almond meal and baking powder. Mix until smooth. Pour into the bottom of the tin and smooth down. Sprinkle over the chopped apple (you can leave the skin on) and the raspberries. Sprinkle over the crumble mix. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the fruit is soft and oozing and the cake edges are set. Eat warm with ice cream! 

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Orange and Poppyseed Ricotta Cupcakes

Gluten Free and Refined Sugar Free

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 The orange and poppy seed party continues! I think with these cupcakes I’ve officially won the yellow award. I mean seriously. Has anyone in the room seen a yellower cupcake? If so, shh. These still win because they are in gold cupcake cases!!! So there. Party cupcakes! 

These mini cheesecakes were actually birthday cupcakes for my beautiful friend Anna, way back in November! Anna means so much to this blog. She was the first subscriber! She was always the one to encourage me, and to send me helpful messages when I put up a post with no photos, or sometimes no words. She helped me so much with the photography! The reason your eyes aren’t bleeding right now is because of her. Serious. 

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Anna has been a bestie of mine for years now so I knew for her birthday I wanted to make something she’d really like. I knew she loved ricotta, because she eats it almost every day. And I knew she liked honey, because she eats her ricotta every day with honey. And she liked poppy seeds too! So these cupcakes seemed like the perfect idea. 

I based the recipe on David Lebovitz’ ricotta and orange cake, switching the double cream for yogurt and the sugar for honey. And adding a butt-load of poppy seeds.

The result was sweet and zesty little cupcakes that were crunchy from the poppy seeds, and slightly tangy from the yogurt. Feel free to sub back in the cream for a richer version, and the sugar too. Honey worked surprisingly well as a substitute. I was worried the extra liquid would change the consistency! I used raw honey though, which was slightly crystallised. So hopefully that wasn’t the only reason.

IMG_7894 If ever you try one of my recipes and something doesn’t work, please let me know in the comments! Sometimes ingredients can react super differently depending on the oven or brand, so it’s good to know which ones can cause problems. Also I often write up the recipes in about ten minutes just before switching my computer off and running out the door, so mistakes are bound to be included every now and then.

These little cakes are super light and delicate, perfect for those recovering from the holiday season. They will inevitably deflate a little, as is the nature of ricotta cheesecakes. Just cool them down slowly and fill the muffin cups more than you normally would.
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Orange and Poppyseed Cheesecakes: Adapted from this recipe
1kg (2.2 pounds, 35 ounces) ricotta cheese (full fat)
60g (1/2 cup) natural yogurt
zest of 1 orange
5 eggs, at room temperature
130ml honey
80g (1 cup) poppyseeds
1 tbsp gluten free flour (you could try corn, almond or oat flour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
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Preheat the oven to 180C (355F) and line 12 muffin holes with large papers. Mix the ricotta, yogurt and eggs together well. Mix in the zest, vanilla extract, flour, salt, honey and poppyseeds. Stir to completely combine. Pour even spoonfuls into the muffin cups to 3/4 full. Bake in the middle of the oven for 17-20 minutes, until risen and golden on top. Cool with the oven off and the door open before taking them out.
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Fluffy Orange and Poppy Seed Pancakes

Optionally vegan and wholemeal

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I have a weird thing with pancakes. I love making them, and I love eating them. But I don’t really like making and eating them. Does anyone else have this strange dilemma?!?! Going out for breakfast to a cafe and ordering pancakes is the best thing ever. Eating hot pikelets with jam and cream at my grandma’s is my idea of heaven (oh my god I need hot pikelets now that I said that). But standing over a hot stove flipping pancakes for half an hour and sitting down and eating them. Ew… Something must be wrong with me, but I just prefer making pancakes for other people. Or getting made pancakes by someone else. Hint hint. 

I made these orange and poppyseed pancakes for my sister, because she always likes pancakes, and she doubles as pancake decorator as well. I feel bad whenever I make her pancakes for the blog as well, because I spend half the time roaring at her to stack the pancakes evenly, drape her fruit more artfully and suspend the bite in midair so I can capture the dripping syrup.

Don’t worry, I wasn’t trying to gain forgiveness for anything through butter and flour like with these apple pancakes, I just wanted to try yet another recipe in the Three Blue Ducks cookbook. Any day now I’m going to get an email telling me to stop spamming all their recipes all over the internet. I can’t help it! They always taste so yummy! I adapted their orange and yogurt pancakes to make orange and poppy seed pancakes, because we had soo many oranges we could literally last the winter on them. 

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 Whipping up the egg whites separately might seem like a big hullabaloo for breakfast cooking but believe me, you won’t regret it. They’re the only rising agent in this recipe and they make the pancakes so fluffy and light. The vegan version using chia or flax eggs makes denser pancakes, especially if they’re wholemeal. It’s kind of a completely different route that works surprisingly well! The addition of poppy seeds made the pancakes slightly crunchy and textural, and kind of made them taste like orange poppyseed cake. But for breakfast!  

I feel very conflicted about photographing pancakes. On the one hand, when I make pancakes I know they’re going to be eaten. I’m pretty sure I have a phobia of wasting food. Seriously, some of the blogs I read say things like “the first time I made the cake batter it was too lumpy, so I scrapped that and tried adding blah blah…”. Sentences like that upset me! If I made a lumpy cake batter and knew I had to fix it, lets be honest here. I’d probably eat it. Or blend it with an egg of something in a poor attempt to fix it. I would adjust the recipe and try again at some point before I posted it, but probably not until a week later when the first cake had been satisfactorily eaten down. 

But pancakes really have to be eaten hot. You can pop them in the oven for a quick warm-up, but not if you’ve already dolloped on the toppings. And I can’t photograph without toppings, people! So I always end up trying to photograph at the table whilst people are already eating it, and more often than not they turn out horrific. I’m not too happy with these photos today, but again the recipe makes it necessary I post about them anyway. There you go. Laugh as you please! Send me beautiful photos of your pancakes so I can see how it’s done. 

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 If I’m a little slow replying to comments or if there are any major flaws in this post, please forgive me! I am away and am trying to update from overseas.

Want to see some other awesome pancake recipes I’ve been reading this week? Here are three of my favourite:

I know it’s not Easter but PLEASE someone make me Joy the Baker’s hot cross pancakes

These Honey and Oat Pancakes from Top with Cinnamon look so good I want to weep

Holy moly ricotta has never looked so evil! Wit and Vinegar yum times 100000

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Orange and Poppy Seed Pancakes: Adapted from Three Blue Ducks

3 eggs, separated (or 3 tablespoons of chia seeds mixed with 6 tablespoons of water)

50g (1/4 cup) caster sugar

zest and juice of two medium oranges

120g plain flour, sifted (can substitute half for wholemeal)

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

150g natural yogurt (or coconut/soy yogurt)

Orange segments and coconut yogurt or ricotta, to serve

 

Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form (not too stiff!) Whisk lightly the egg yolks, sugar, and orange zest until combined. Whisk in the yogurt and orange juice. Whisk in the flour and poppy seeds until almost smooth, don’t over whisk! Fold in the egg whites until completely combined, without beating out the air too much. If using chia seeds, blend the chia gel with the coconut yogurt and orange, than fold in the other ingredients. Heat a fry-pan with some coconut butter or oil over a low-medium flame and cook the pancakes for a few minutes on each side, using a large ladle to get even sizes. Serve with desired topping and eat hot for the love of God! 

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Vanilla Mango Frozen Yogurt

Gluten Free, optional Vegan and Refined Sugar Free

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 I hope you all had a Merry Christmas everyone! New Year is just around the corner and this is a super easy light dessert you can make in advance, for guests, or for you and you alone. I won’t judge.

I think I have a serious addiction to frozen yogurt. It started with lemon curd frozen yogurt, which was so rich and tangy I still dream about it sometimes. Then there was the berry and honey frozen yogurt, so sweet and refreshing. And the epic cinnamon and banana frozen yogurt! It seriously tasted like banana bread. I could not deal. But my favourite flavour by a million miles is todays recipe: mango frozen yogurt. My two loves combined in a beautiful marriage. 

I wondered whether or not I should post this recipe because it’s so damn simple and easy. I’m pretty sure a blind person with no hands could make this if pointed in the direction of the fridge. But I make it so often I realised it would be plain silly not to share it with the world. So go out there! Get some mangoes and full fat yogurt and get ready!

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I use mangoes because they’re my absolute favourite fruit in the world. And besides, the frozen yogurt in the photos was made with three mangoes out of thirty that had somehow entered our house with no purpose or reason…But you can substitute peaches or nectarines, berries or even banana. Just taste the fruit and adjust the sweetness accordingly. Look how yellow it is! I didn’t even adjust the saturation in these photos! Is that yellow or what?!?!

Now for the nerdy part. I sweetened my frozen yogurt with honey, which is a mixture of glucose and fructose sugars. Because of the levels of glucose, honey shares lots of properties with invert sugars (sugars that have been heated to the point that they remain in liquid form). Invert sugars don’t freeze solid, which is why lots of recipes call for glucose syrup in things like sorbet and icing. If you are one of those people that hates hard-freezing homemade ice cream and sorbet, you may want to add glucose syrup to your recipes. It’s a super high concentrated sugar so I don’t use it, but if you’re making something full of sugar anyway then I can appreciate the futility of also adding a natural sweetener like honey. Honey will contribute to a softer frozen yogurt, as will taking it out of the fridge 10 minutes before eating it, and chilling it thoroughly before churning. 

For glucose syrup, I’d start by adding about 25mls per litre and going from there. I’m not an expert in the matter at all! I haven’t even used it! But I’ve read recipes that suggest a ration like that with great success. Otherwise just leave it out and enjoy some naturally sweetened deliciousness with me! 

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 Vanilla Mango Frozen Yogurt:

3 very ripe medium mangoes, peeled and cut into chunks

650g (1.5 pounds, 23 ounces) natural full fat yogurt (or full-fat coya for vegan)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tablespoons honey

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If your mango pieces are frozen, let them thaw or microwave on medium until they’re soft. Blend up your honey, vanilla and mangoes into a smooth puree. Either add your yogurt and blend until combined, or use the fruit puree to swirl through the yogurt, whichever you prefer. Chill the mixture thoroughly before freezing in an ice cream maker, depending on the machines instructions. Eat either straight away, or take out of the fridge a while before trying to scoop. Enjoy!!!

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Orange and Cinnamon Chocolate Truffles

Raw, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Vegan

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There’s something about chocolates in the shape of a ball that is seriously addictive. It’s like eating grapes. Who ever saw a bunch of grapes and thought, oh…I’ll just have one. I’ll just have one grape please. Who does that? No one. It’s obligatory that you have at least five. I feel the same way about chocolate balls. Maltesers, M&Ms, Smarties, Jaffa Balls, all the balls. It’s impossible to show any kind of self control and just have a single malteser! Plus, people would think you were weird. Who only eats one ball! Ok,  time to move on from the subject of balls… these chocolate orange truffles are pretty much where it’s at with addictive chocolate. 

I go all kinds of crazy in Christmas season (who doesn’t, please.) and bake/ice/eat at a velocity of 1000x more intense then the rest of the year. Last year I made three kinds of ice cream, a Christmas fruit cake, gingerbread men, custard and sugar cookies all for Christmas Day. And I was not assigned to dessert. Christmas lunch at my family’s house is always an intense eating marathon that we all look forward to for the entire lead-up. 

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Lunch is always AMAZING! Heaps of seafood and ham and prawn cocktails. But I never fill up on these trivial things. I just sip my water and eat my tasty salad patiently, waiting for the big guns. Dessert. Oh my gosh. I dream about it. My grandma always makes a multi-layered trifle covered in cream and passionfruit that makes me weep with joy. We always have a prune pudding (do not judge! It is the food of the Gods!) and ice cream and fruit skewers and more cream and custard and wow. It’s really a beautiful moment. 

And at the end of the day there’s always a box of chocolates on the table, usually one of the many Christmas gifts received over the previous weeks. These chocolate truffles are for that moment. They’re the perfect Christmas gift because they’re full of Christmassy flavours like cinnamon and orange, and they look nice and ‘rustic’ and homemade. You can feel the love right? 

ImageChristmas is a little bit sad this year because I’m not with my family to celebrate. I’m going to miss seeing all my beautiful cousins and aunts and uncles! And my hilarious grandpa wearing his cute little Christmas paper crown. But then again, hopefully by that point in my travels, I’ll be celebrating Christmas with my boyfriend in an apartment in Paris! So I doubt I’ll be that sad.

These chocolate truffles are super healthy and easy to make for all your family and friends this year. They’re similar to the chocolate coconut balls I made, but with a seasonal twist. Made out of dried organic apricots and walnuts, they are packed with protein and potassium and vitamin C from the orange juice! Way healthier than the usual standard truffle, keep these in the fridge or freezer for a yummy snack or wrap them up in cellophane and send around the Christmas cheer 🙂 IMG_7634

Orange and Cinnamon Chocolate Truffles
1 cup walnuts
1 cup dried organic apricots
juice of 2 oranges
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
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Soak the apricots for half an hour in the orange juice. Drain them, reserving some juice, and cut into strips. Pound up the walnuts and throw in the blender with the cinnamon, cocoa powder, and apricots. Blend until smooth, adding a teaspoon or two of orange juice as you go if the paste is too thick. Scoop into a bowl and use two teaspoons to roll out even balls. Pour a little cocoa powder in a small bowl and drop the balls in the bowl. Use your fingertips to roll the balls around until evenly coated. Once dusted, place in a container and keep in the fridge until they firm up. Happy holidays!
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Healthy Chocolate Banana Fudge Cakes

Gluten Free, Vegan, and Sugar Free

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 The other day I was looking after the kids I babysit every week. The youngest boy was playing video games and singing to himself. At first I was just tuning him out and trying to read my book, and then I started listening to what he was singing.

What do you do with an annoying sister

What do you do with an annoying sister

What do you do with an annoying sister

(This is where he turned to me and locked eyes intensely)

Stick a fork up her BUM HOLE. 

Where do kids get stuff like that?!? I blame free TV! No, seriously. Kids amaze me sometimes. Their little brains just work on a completely different, fascinating level. The other day I caught myself debating with them what would happen if people’s faces got transplanted to their bums and their bums transplanted to their faces. It got ugly! I think all this babysitting is turning me into a giant kid.

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If, like me, you find yourself staring at a fruit bowl one day humming to yourself “what do you do with a million bananas, what do you do with a million bananas…” I can now tell you a decent answer. You make these little gluten free, sugar free, optionally vegan heart shaped cakes out of them. It’s just that obvious. On my birthday recently a family friend made us the most amazing flourless chocolate cake. It had raspberries scattered on top and we ate it with vanilla ice cream! Oh mercy. It was beautiful. The nicest cake I have ever had. Today with these little chocolate cakes, I wanted to do something along the chocolate and almond theme. 

But healthified. 

The recipe is the same one from Petite Kitchen that I used in these orange fudge cupcakes. Instead of orange though, I used banana! I was worried that the difference in fruits would make the recipe come out really strange and possibly lumpy…but my fears turned out to be futile. 

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As soon as a had my first peak in the oven I knew good things were happening. They smelled amazing! And the tops looked so crispy and light. I had no idea how long they’d take to cook so there was a bit of oven door opening going on, but I worked out a decent time in the end for you lovely people. But by then some of the hearts had cracked. They looked so sad! 

The cakes came out really moist but light as well. You could put in some chocolate chips to make them more chocolatey, but to be honest they tasted amazing as they were. These cakes are so rich and dark you could make them for dessert. Serve them with some serious vanilla ice cream or custard, or chocolate ice cream if you’re anything like me. They’re also great for any other time of day as well, including breakfast if you know what I’m sayin! 

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Also the REALLY exciting news! I got a new lens for my camera! It’s a 100mm 1.28L IS USM macro lens (I have no idea what I just said…) I think, and it’s the most amazing thing EVERRRR. I’m still learning how to use it. Only half the photos in this post are taken with it because I love me an overhead shot, and I’d seriously need a ladder with this thing to get the whole cake in the frame. It is so close! The detail is just amazing. 

I’ve been watching the CD instruction manual and reading up on the internet and it is actually starting to make sense. I’m so excited to start putting way more effort into each post when I get back from overseas! Making one post a week gives you so much more time to think and plan, rather than three or four posts a week which I’ve been doing recently. (I’m speaking to you from the past if that made no sense…hellooooo!! spookyyy). These little cakes may be simple, but they’re a total winner. I was so happy with how they turned out. So make them! Especially if you have some bananas lying spare.

I have to admit I used eggs instead of chia seeds here because we had a lot of eggs and no chia…but I’ve made this exact recipe with oranges and chia, and it turned out great. Denser, but great. So try what suits your needs and tell me how it goes!

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 Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Cakes: Adapted from Petite Kitchen

300g (2 cups) almond flour

35g (5 tablespoons) cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

90ml (6 tablespoons) maple syrup or agave nectar

5 tablespoons chia seeds mixed with ten tablespoons almond milk OR 5 eggs

3-4 bananas, mashed to make one cup

Optional: chopped nuts or chocolate chips

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Preheat the oven to 170C (340F) and grease ten muffin or friand moulds with coconut butter or oil. Mash your bananas well, and mix with the chia seeds and almond milk to form a smooth paste. Blend all the ingredients together thoroughly until combined. Pour until 3/4 full in to each muffin mould. 

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes, checking after 12. Makes ten to twelve chocolate cakes. Dust with cocoa powder and serve warm with ice cream for the best chocolate cake experience ever. 

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