Smoothies & Shakes, Snacks & Treats

Chocolate & Strawberry Dairy-Free Milkshakes

I don’t follow a dairy-free diet (I love Greek yoghurt, soured cream and cheese too much!), but, you know how much I love everything coconut-related! I was inspired to get my blender out and mess around with different milkshakes when I read an article in the latest Women’s Health magazine, which contained a recipe for a healthy burger, chips and milkshake. The addition of dairy-free ice cream in that milkshake I feel was unnecessary, and I tend to try and avoid using loads of substitute foods, so I concocted these two traditional-flavoured milkshakes, with a healthy twist.

Each of the ingredients images show enough for 1 large milkshake or two small ones, but I actually just made half of this (so 1 small milkshake in each flavour) as I was making both flavours. Regarding the amount of ice you use, well, that all depends on how you like it! The strawberry milkshake is thinner than the chocolate one, because of the addition of banana to the chocolate shake. You can add more ice to thin them out if you want, but I think this is a balanced amount to start with.

I almost feel like I’m copping out here. A recipe with only 4 ingredients? I know. I have been in an ‘Oh my god, what am I going to do with my life?’ kind of crisis. October marks the start of the final year of my PhD, and I never though I would feel so terrified of the real world approaching. I have to get a proper job after this. Oh god. To stop too much comfort food passing my lips, I’ve been sipping on the odd coconut milkshake. Mmmm, creamy coconut! Anyway, Liam and I have really been enjoying these milkshakes recently (and a tropical one – think banana and pineapple!) so I thought I would share it with you.

Although coconut milk contains loads of saturated fat (if you hadn’t heard!), it is the specific type of saturated fat in coconuts that is actually thought to have a beneficial effect. Long chain fatty acids, the bad type of saturated fat, are linked with heart disease. Medium chain fatty acids, for example lauric acid, are known to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial effects (and so help out our immune system). This is the main type of saturated fat in coconuts! Yippee! Lauric acid also increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, which lowers your chances of developing heart disease.

Pass me a straw!

Ingredients

(Each makes 1 large milkshake, or 2 small milkshakes (like the ones pictured)

Chocolate:

1/2 can coconut milk, refrigerated

150g or so of ice, crushed

2 tablespoons organic cocoa powder

1 banana

Optional extras to sweeten it a little: drop of vanilla essence and a squeeze of agave nectar (yum!)

 

Strawberry:

1/2 can coconut milk, refrigerated

150g or so of ice, crushed

100g strawberries

4 pitted dates

 

Directions:

1. If your blender doesn’t handle ice well (like mine), pop it in a bag (the ice, not the blender) and place on a chopping board, cover with a tea towel and give a good bash with a rolling pin. Quite therapeutic.

2. Add crushed ice, coconut milk, and either banana and cocoa powder, or strawberries and dates, to a blender.

3. Blend until smooth. Add agave and/or vanilla essence to the chocolate milkshake if using, to add sweetness.

4. Enjoy!

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Mains, Make-ahead

Cauliflower & Chickpea Malaysian Curry

I realised recently that I use a lot of coconut these days. Whether it’s coconut flakes in muesli or porridge, coconut oil in place of vegetable oils, or coconut milk in a whole variety of dishes, usually paired with lime, coriander or chilli (or all of them!). A little time ago I posted a recipe for sweet potato with coconut, pomegranate and lime, which only needs a teensy bit of coconut milk, and I found this recipe so as not to waste the rest of the tin!

I stumbled across a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for a Malaysian-style baked chicken curry, and, meat aside, it sounded really delicious!
When choosing the vegetables to substitute the chicken with, I didn’t want it too complicated, like I’d just thrown a bag of frozen mixed veg in there. Too many times now I’ve been out to a restaurant for what would have been a really lovely curry, only for that pleasure to be dampened by a rubbish mix of lank veg.
I’m not too picky when it comes to this, really! I chose cauliflower because I love the chunkiness in there, and chickpeas because, well, who doesn’t love a chickpea? It sounds more like the veg you might put in an Indian curry, but they really work great in this coconut-y curry too.

When we make meals in our house, 90% of the time we make sure there is enough for at least 6 portions so we can freeze the rest and save us a whole load of time in the future. This curry is another great one for that, as it makes 6-8 portions! We definitely need a bigger freezer! 
Another thing I like about this curry is that, because I make a big curry to give us more portions, I can put in a whole cauliflower and a whole can of chickpeas (or more if you want!). There is no wasted veg that will sit in the back of your fridge, rotting away, because you didn’t know what yo do with the rest, or you hadn’t incorporated an extra half a cauliflower into your meal plans. No waste = happy times!

Unlike Hugh’s curry, this one doesn’t require any browning or baking. Phew! Just one pot on the hob – perfect.

I just wanted to say – I had no idea how to photograph this! I like the first image, but it isn’t like any of my others. It was frustrating! Meals like curries, soups, stews and chillis aren’t very photogenic. Annoying! I tried my best. It tastes good, anyway!

Ingredients:

2 heaped tsp cumin seeds

2 heaped tsp coriander seeds

1 heaped tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp ground fenugreek

1 large (or 2 smaller) onion(s), peeled and roughly chopped

3 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

1 large chilli, roughly chopped

1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

400g tin chopped tomatoes

400ml tin coconut milk

1 cauliflower head, cut into florets

1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Basmati rice, to serve

Directions:

1. If you want, dry roast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a pan for a few minutes, until fragrant. Pop them in a pestle and mortar and grind into a powder, then mix them with the turmeric and fenugreek.

2. Add the chopped onion, chilli, ginger and garlic to a food processor, and blend to a coarse paste. You will probably need to scrape the sides down a couple of times to get it all blended nicely.

3. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the spices and cook for a minute or so, then add the onion paste and cook for about 5 minutes, until the paste has softened, stirring constantly.

4. Add the chopped tomatoes, coconut milk, cauliflower florets and chickpeas to the pan, season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer with the lid on for about 25 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked but not too soft. Stir frequently to stop it sticking to the bottom, and add a bit more water if needed.

5. Top with coriander leaves and serve with basmati rice.

 

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Mains

Sweet Potato with Coconut, Pomegranate and Lime

We absolutely love sweet potatoes in this household at the minute. They appear on our plates in all sorts of forms, from cakes, patties, wedges or chunks, to just simply baked, with delicious toppings such as in this sweet potato with pomegranate, coconut and lime recipe.

When I was on my way home after buying the ingredients for this, I took a little detour. I went trampling through the grass and trees, following rabbits and butterflies. It was a well-needed vacation for my mind, really. Without the comfortable feeling of familiarity, it have my mind space to breathe. It is really good to do this every now and again! I took some photos on my tablet while I was frolicking through the greenery.

After all the wondering around I did (check the pictures!), I’d worked up quite an appetite! In this meal, I was wanting to experiment with sweet and savoury flavours, something that I don’t do too often. So this is different to a lot of the food that I eat, but definitely something that I’m going to have again!

As me and Liam both love sweet potatoes, we always seem to have one kicking around in our cupboard. Like an emergency potato, or something. Usually emergency food isn’t the most nutritious, but sweet potatoes are! They contain a high level of beta-carotene that is required for making vitamin A, which is important for eye health and the immune system, and they also contain loads of dietary fibre, helping to slow digestion and steady our blood sugar levels.

Even though the sweet potato has a tremendously higher level of beta-carotene than the white potato, it is generally thought of as an overall healthier version of the bog-standard white potato. However, from what I have read, they seem to be pretty similar in carb and fat stats. I think the differences in healthiness of each really comes into play when to take into account what you eat with them. For example, with a white potato, you eat baked beans, cheese and coleslaw, while with a sweet potato you may have a dollop of soured cream, or due to their flavour you might just eat it on its own. Or… with coconut, pomegranate and lime? I thought so.

Just a little note: You may want a slightly smaller sweet potato than the smallest one Sainsbury’s had when I went shopping (pictured!). I was feeling rather defeated only half way through eating. If you can’t find a smaller one, just bake a large one for two people, or save the other half for lunch the next day (always a bonus when something can feed you for more than one meal!)

 

This is what you need:

Per Person:

1 Sweet potato (approx 250g)

2 tablespoons (full-fat) coconut milk

large pinch of coconut flakes

1/8 to 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (your personal preference)

1 teaspoon coriander leaves

1/4 lime

A pinch of sea salt

This is how you make it:

Preheat the oven to 210C (190 Fan) and bake your potato(es) for approx 45 minutes (although if they are as big as mine, you will need longer) until soft inside

Allow to cool for a few minutes, then make a slit in the centre and mash the potato slightly with a fork

Add coconut milk, then coconut flakes, pomegranate, and coriander. Squeeze the lime wedge over the potato, then season with a pinch of sea salt.

Enjoy!

Stay happy (Give your mind some space – get friendly with the grass and trees!)

Alice x

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