Thursday, August 17, 2017

Blackberry bake

The hardest part of this recipe was knowing what to call it. I have taken an easy route and used the very generic 'bake'. As an adaptation of my blackberry chia muffins, this is really a cross between a cake and a slice. Because I cut it into triangles, I am also reminded of American style scones (although that may be where the resemblance ends as I have never eaten them). Terminology aside, this is a minimally sweetened but maximally tasty snack or breakfast option.

The adaptations to the original muffins were relatively minor: adding a banana, swapping the white sugar to coconut sugar, halving the sugar amount, and slightly reducing the oil. I also cut out the salt. These swaps were made with a 1-year-old in mind and Mini Bite did love these, although I can now say that if you give this to a child you will have blackberry stains everywhere (their clothes, your clothes, their hands, your hands...). The stains are worth it though, and to be honest, with a 1-year-old you will probably have stains everywhere no matter what you do.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Fig cacao balls

Thank you for your birthday wishes to Mini Bite. She has become an expert at spotting presents and cards, although is still just as interested in the paper (and more specifically, trying to eat the paper) than what may be hidden within.

With her birthday over and my sister returned to Australia (sob), normal routines are returning. I made these fig cacao balls during my sister's visit but they could just as easily be slotted into a normal weekend - the preparation time is minimal, they keep well, and they are easy to eat. They were even well received by Mr Bite, who supposedly doesn't like nuts or figs!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

In my kitchen - The first birthday edition {August 2017}

I am linking this in to the monthly In My Kitchen round-up, now hosted by Sherry of Sherry's Pickings.

It was this time last year that I introduced Mini Bite to the blogging world via an In My Kitchen post. It seems appropriate to mark her first birthday in the same way now. I will not even attempt to summarise the learning, highs, low, development, milestones and laughter-to-tears that accompanies the first 12 months of a babies' life. Instead, I will share a few recent pictures and showcase her two birthday cakes - a fruit based tier for her, and a vegan chocolate cake for us.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Golden couscous salad

It has been a while between couscous recipes. There is no particular reason for this, other than the usual one of my favoured foods going through cycles. I may be re-entering a couscous phase since reminding myself of how easy it is to make.

Today's salad is golden in lots of ways. There is orange in three formats (zest, juice, segments) plus grated carrot, chopped butternut squash and turmeric. Coriander, ginger and a dash of soy sauce round out the flavour mix, whilst chickpeas and spinach leaves round out the meal. It all comes together very easily and the result is hearty enough to stand alone as a meal, whilst also being well suited to picnic-style eating or a barbecue side dish.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

New (to me) vegan lunches and snacks

It's been an exciting week in the Bite-Sized household. My sister is visiting from Australia and it is the first time I've seen her in over 3 years. It's also her first time meeting Mini Bite, and the visit spans Mini Bite's first birthday next week. I'm still at work this week but have next week off for birthday and visiting celebrations. So, with all this happening, I hope you'll understand if this post is short and sweet!

I did want to share some recent phone-snapped photos (please forgive quality) of new-to-me vegan products. One of the benefits of being back at work is having access to a new range of vegan lunch options in London, and the excuse to buy lunch and snacks on the go again. There are a surprising number of new options given my absence of only a year. M&S and Pret a Manger have branches near where I live or visit regularly, so today's post covers some of the less widespread options, albeit not necessarily London specific.

First, and starting away from lunch, did you know that Leon restaurants now stock vegan baked goods from Ruby's of London? I raved about Ruby's products in 2014 when I encountered them at the Greenwich food market. Sadly I don't make it to Greenwich these days, so having access to the items in central London is fantastic. I stopped at the London Bridge Leon restaurant and they had an assortment of vegan iced baked donuts and cupcakes.

Iced rose and pistachio donut by Ruby's of London, courtesy of Leon Restaurants

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Vegan-friendly mint chocolate refrigerator slice

I struggled with the naming of this slice. I could have called it a tiffin, the English term for a no-bake chocolate slice with biscuits and dried fruit. However, I wasn't sure it was quite chocolatey enough. I could have called it a hedgehog, the Australian term for a no-bake chocolate slice with biscuits and coconut. However, I wasn't sure it was quite cake-y enough and it is definitely not coconutty enough (not coconutty at all, in fact). I could have called this a chocolate fridge cake, because that's what it was called in the recipe I adapted. However, my version is definitely a slice and not a cake. And so - refrigerator slice it is.

The good news is, it doesn't matter what you call this. The slice is delicious. It takes a simple concept (chocolate + biscuits in slice form) and adds mint to beautiful effect. I am not sure I'll go back to non-minty equivalents now.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Meal planning

For a long time, I have been someone who aspired to create a weekly meal plan, but who never did so. It has taken our current circumstances to push me from aspiration to realisation. You see, while I am back at work 4 days per week, Mr Bite is now home with Mini Bite. This takes advantage of the UK system allowing parents to take up to a year of parental leave between them. I was home for 11 months; Mr Bite is taking the last month to soak up time with Mini Bite and to ease the transition for her before she starts nursery in August.

To make life easier for all of us, I have taken to planning Mini Bite's meals and snacks for the week. We try and eat similarly to Mini Bite where possible during the day, so there are run-on plans for us too, and I am planning our evening meals separately.

To anyone else who has contemplated meal planning but not quite managed it - do it! It makes such a difference. Some of it will roll from one week into the next, so it is the first week that requires most thought. I don't plan Thursdays or Saturdays in detail, as Mr Bite has a take-away on Thursday (I make something easy at home as local vegan take away's aren't that inspiring, unless we've been out somewhere in the day where I can pick up a vegan meal). We then have burgers on Saturday.

I don't expect to share our plans every week, but I thought I would give you a peek into a week of menus. It reflects the day-to-day of plant-based eating as well as the more impressive meals and recipes that are more likely to make it online. At present we are relying a little more than usual on processed foods (like veggie sausages), but the plan below is a pretty accurate snapshot of how we regularly eat.

Chickpea flour pancakes with a tomato-bean filling

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

In my kitchen - July 2017

I am linking this in to the monthly In My Kitchen round-up, now hosted by Sherry of Sherry's Pickings.

Well. Hello. I didn't intend to drop off the blogging radar for a fortnight, although in hindsight I could probably have predicted it. The shift from maternity leave to work wasn't quite as monumental as the opposite transition a year ago (work to new motherhood), but it isn't far off. Time is short and time for blogging is not, if I am honest, at the top of my list.

Given all of this, I am pleased to be able to check in now and showcase my busy July kitchen.

Local strawberries, blackberries and cherries

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hummingbird cake revisited

I posted a recipe for hummingbird cake nearly 2 years ago, and remember thinking that I would be making the cake again before too long. It was well received by Mr Bite and I loved it myself. Indeed, hummingbird cake (featuring banana and pineapple with a cream cheese-style icing) is one of my favourite cakes.

As is wont to happen, time passed and I did not make the cake again until now. In the 21 intervening months, much has changed and this time I made the cake to take to a mother/baby group I've been attending with Mini Bite since she was roughly 2 months old. The group has been a regular feature on our Wednesdays and I have valued the opportunity to sit with other mothers, be brought a cup of tea, and have Mini Bite play with novel toys for an hour or so.

Today was our last group, because next Wednesday will be my first day back at work after maternity leave. Mini Bite is no longer a 2 month old infant and today she spent most of the morning crawling around, or cruising on furniture with the holding-on-walk that will no doubt become a real walk all too soon (she is currently 10-1/2 months).

Friday, June 23, 2017

Banana, pear and yoghurt ice lollies

Sticking with the summer theme, this week I made ice lollies for the first time since I was a child. I use the term 'ice lollies' in an effort to fit in with local (British) nomenclature, but in Australia I knew these treats as icey poles. I think Americans call them popsicles. Whatever term you use, they are a summer classic and lots of fun to make and eat.

As my pictures show, I need a bit of practice with my ice lolly making; I didn't fill the moulds high enough and was left with a gap at the bottom of the stick. Fortunately the lollies held together anyway and next time I will know better.

Predictably, these were a huge hit with Mini Bite too, even though the adult-sized moulds were  bit big for her little hands and little mouth. I have since bought some baby-sized moulds so you can expect more flavours to appear as I test out different combinations on her and for me. In the meantime, I can heartily recommend this banana, pear and yoghurt mix as a creamy, ice cream-like concoction that is as simple to make as it is tasty to eat.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Zucchini noodles with a creamy turmeric dressing

My last post welcomed summery weather. This post would moan about it, if it wasn't for my prickly awareness that at least I have a house to be hot within. Non-UK readers may not be aware of the London fire that hit Grenfell Tower block last week, killing an estimated 79 people and injuring many more. Hot weather isn't anything to complain about when placed in that context.

There is no avoiding, though, that it is hot in England this week. Weather records have been broken and it isn't even summer yet. Regular readers will know how much I dislike the heat (one of the key reasons for my move from Australia to England) and so dishes that keep me cool are high on my priority list right now. Ice cream is good. So are cold meals.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Overnight apple oats and a peanut butter green smoothie, for summer

It might not be the official start of summer here yet (although we are only a week off) but summer is very much in the air. The days are super long (it is light at 10pm!), the sun is shining, and the temperatures are tipping 25'C (hot for England!).

With this summery vibe, I have moved into hot weather territory for breakfast and snacking. In other words, I have re-introduced overnight oats and smoothies to my kitchen. Today's post shares the first of each for this summer season, and I hope you can draw some summer inspiration from them whatever your own weather is doing.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Chickpea scramble with hemp seeds - Two ways

When I mentioned my recent purchase of hemp seeds, several of you expressed interest in how the seeds could be used. Following on from my sweet recipe for orange and hemp seed energy balls, today's post features two variations on chickpea scramble that incorporate hemp seeds in the mix: tomato, paprika and turmeric scramble, and carrot and coriander scramble.

Tomato, paprika and turmeric scramble

I love chickpea scrambles for their versatility and often make them as part of a meal for Mini Bite. They are good for little hands to pick up and I like that they can be varied to include whatever ingredients I have in the house, whilst keeping a core base that provides carbohydrate and protein. By adding hemp seeds you get healthy fats too.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Vegan peanut butter cacao truffle balls - no food processor required

Do you like peanut butter cups (vegan or otherwise)? Yes, me too. However, they are pretty sickly sweet. Even with my capacity to put away a whole heap of chocolate, eating more than two of the commercial sort would leave me feeling a bit unwell. Homemade versions help offset the sugar hit (I've posted a vegan recipe before) but they can be a bit fiddly.

These cacao peanut butter balls keep the classic combination of chocolate and peanut butter, but cut out the sickly sweet aspect of commercial peanut butter cups, and avoid the fiddliness of homemade versions. They are a decidedly grown up, adult, semi-sweet treat that you can make in about 5 minutes. Win-win!

I adapted these from the peanut butter cacao energy balls I posted 2 years ago. In truth, the adaptations are minor, but these truffles are more peanut butter-y than my previous recipe and less fruity (the 2015 version had dried cranberries and goji berries). I like both versions and encourage you to figure out which one you prefer.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Microwave banana-raisin oatmeal cookies {vegan, wheat free + refined sugar free}

These cookies are adapted from the 2 minute chocolate chip and pecan cookie featured in the April edition of Vegan Life magazine, with inspiration also drawn from the breakfast cookies in Heather Crosby's YumUniverse Pantry to Plate. The result is a 2 minute, microwave-cooked cookie (biscuit) that is suitable for breakfast or snack time. With a dollop of coconut yoghurt it could even be dessert.

My recipe makes two medium-large cookies and is free of wheat and refined sugars. The cookies are still perfectly sweet thanks to coconut sugar and the banana and raisins - so much so that you could probably leave out the coconut sugar if you are so inclined. 

These cookies do not have the texture of traditional oven-baked cookies. I would describe the texture as between a cookie and a muffin - soft, but sturdy enough to hold together. I am certainly a convert now to this method of cookie production and expect you'll see more recipes in this theme before too long!

Friday, June 2, 2017

In my kitchen - June 2017

I am linking this in to the monthly In My Kitchen round-up, now hosted by Sherry of Sherry's Pickings.

June. The mid-point of the year, with long days and the commencement of summer. The weather is warming up and it won't be long before smoothies and frozen banana soft serve are present in my kitchen. They aren't here yet - but here are some things that are featuring this month.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A long weekend in Wales


We have just returned from a long weekend in Wales, a trip motivated by my cousin's wedding being held in Llangollen (North Wales) on Saturday. Our drive there was unexpectedly long (bank holiday traffic), we did our usual trick of illness on holiday (always) and the Welsh weather was characteristically variable (rain after sun) but the wedding was gorgeous and the surrounding countryside equally so. Until I am organised with a regular post, I thought I would share some pictures of the scenery...

Welsh walking

Blue skies and clouds = Welsh weather

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Vegan freezer-friendly meals - A round-up

It is 6 weeks today until I return to work from maternity leave. As you might imagine, I have mixed feelings about that, but they are not the subject of today's post. Rather, I thought I would share a round-up of vegan make ahead, freezer friendly meals. There are similar round-ups out there so this one has the idiosyncratic quirk of including meals I personally want to make! Consequently, this is also a short-ish round-up because I want to make all of the recipe I list below over the next month and a half. Angela shares a particularly useful summary of freezable vegan options, plus general freezing tips, on Oh She Glows if you would like further ideas.

The list below mostly has recipes from elsewhere, but I'm including a few links from Bite-Sized Thoughts too. As I've mentioned before, I tend to forget about my own recipes so this will prompt me to re-make some of my own tried and tested, and likely freezer-friendly, dinners.

I would love to hear your favourite freezable dishes too so please let me know if there are recipes you would recommend!

Cocoa and paprika split peas

Cocoa and paprika split peas from Bite-Sized Thoughts

Lentil meatloaf from The Live In Kitchen (made in muffin pans!)

Satay chickpea stew with grains from Bite-Sized Thoughts

Singapore street noodles from Once a Month Meals

Thai curry fettuccine from Vegan in the Freezer

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Orange hemp energy balls

It has been a long time between hemp seed recipes. Indeed, it has been a long time since I have had hemp seeds in my kitchen. I am pleased to have a bag on the go again now and suspect you will see more recipes featuring the seeds before too long.

I like hemp seeds for lots of reasons, including, if I'm honest, their amusing hippy connotations. I feel a bit like I should be living in a commune and wearing tie dyed clothes when I use them. They are also from the same species as cannabis and so (to a closeted, non-adventurous soul) it feels rather daring to pick them up in a local store. Those points aside, hemp seeds are fantastically nutritious - rich in healthy fats, protein, iron, and a whole host of vitamins and minerals. They also have a nutty, earthy flavour that I very much enjoy.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Easy lentil, spinach and tomato puff pastry triangles

I have previously posted a recipe for Indian-spiced lentil and vegetable pastry puffs. Today's post is basically a simpler and quicker version of that recipe. These lentil-filled triangles are not as extensively flavoured as their Indian counterparts but they are still very enjoyable.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Cookbook review + recipe: Earl Grey and Strawberry Granola from Heather Crosby's YumUniverse Pantry to Plate

I was provided with a copy of YumUniverse Pantry To Plate: Improvise Meals You Love – from What You Have in order to write this review. My opinions are my own.

I think we can all agree that there are a lot of cookbooks out there. What's more, many of us don't use the ones we have - especially if you are like me and struggle to follow recipes exactly. I will bookmark recipes in my cookbooks with the best of intentions, but even if I do make them (and often I don't!), I tend to adapt the recipe and use it for inspiration rather than as a step-by-step guide. In this context, I am truly delighted to share today's cookbook review. Heather Crosby has developed a novel "recipe playbook" that is perfectly suited to those of us who like to mix and match recipe ideas.

© Heather Crosby, 2017

YumUniverse Pantry To Plate: Improvise Meals You Love – from What You Have is a plant-based, gluten-free guide that provides 30 recipe templates as well as specific recipe examples. For example, Heather outlines the wet, dry and add-in ingredients you can combine to make breakfast cookies and then offers two specific cookie recipes for inspiration (Banana Chocolate Chip and Pumpkin-Pecan). In total, there are nearly 100 recipes to go with the 30 templates, across the following categories:

  • Breakfast scrambles
  • Granola
  • Pancakes and waffles
  • Muffins
  • Warm cereals
  • Breakfast cookies
  • Compotes and fruit butters
  • Coconut yogurt
  • Dairy free milks
  • Crackers
  • Amazeballs
  • Probiotic cream cheese
  • Dips and spreads
  • Crunchies (like roasted chickpeas)
  • Fermented veggies
  • Bites and tots
  • Veggie fries
  • Soups
  • Cheesy comfort food
  • Epic salads
  • Mmmaki (sushi rolls)
  • Tacos and wraps
  • 'Banzo bakes
  • Veggie burgers
  • Hand pies
  • Cookies
  • Nice crispy bars
  • Sneaky brownies
  • Nice cream
  • Crisps and crumbles

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mini avocado hot cakes

These mini hot cakes were inspired by my avocado scones with hemp seeds. They could also be called savoury pikelets (if you're Australian) or drop scones (if you're British) or just mini pancakes. Whatever you call them they are an easy and portable savoury snack or meal accompaniment.

I would have liked these to be greener but the avocado didn't give a discernible colour. In truth, it doesn't provide a strong flavour either, although you will know it is in there. Similarly, you can just about detect the other ingredients (chia seeds, nutritional yeast, tomato paste) but none of them are heavily present. I liked this as the result was a background of flavours rather than a single dominant taste. It also means you could spread these with toppings or serve them alongside a stew or soup if you so wished.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Mexican spiced roast potato and aubergine

I rarely post side dish recipes, for the simple reason that I rarely make them. I tend to include vegetables within dishes or prepare them very simply if served on the side (unless we are entertaining, but we rarely do that either!). Sometimes, though, I do make a specific vegetable side dish and today's is an example.

This is not the most attractive dish, but it is a tasty one. It's also not strongly Mexican but the use of paprika and dried coriander conjured up, to me, Mexican flavours. Nutritional yeast and tahini round out the flavour mix. If you were to make this truly Mexican, some chillies would be a pleasing addition.

I cheated a little with my cooking of the potato, microwaving it first before chopping and roasting. This cuts down on cooking time enormously and gives the potato a pleasing fluffy texture. If you prefer to cook fully in the oven just add extra time to the roasting stage - at least 30 minutes, or longer if using large pieces of potato.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In my kitchen - May 2017

I am linking this in to the monthly In My Kitchen round-up, now hosted by Sherry of Sherry's Pickings.

Despite the above photo, in my kitchen there are no more spring flowers. I was delighted to grow tulips for the first time this year, but they are finished and local daffodils are looking rather tired. We are fortunate to have lots of bluebells flowering near us, but it seems spring bulbs flower earlier each year and so finish before spring is over.

My In My Kitchen posts often feature novel products or treat items, and so I thought I'd share an insight into my 'normal' products this month. As the photo below shows, we are not one to have an empty fridge (!) and at any given time there will be several Tupperware-style containers filled with leftovers or washed fruit.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Zucchini noodles with orange and cashews

I was recently browsing my own Recipes page and was surprised to see, first, just how many recipes are on there (well over 200!) and, second, how many dishes I have made, loved, and then not made again. My various courgette / zucchini noodle dishes are a case in point. Whilst I haven't recreated one of them here, I was inspired to pull my spiralizer out again and make a new zucchini noodle dish to match the spring weather.

This salad is dominated, in a good way, by orange. It features an orange-soy-ginger dressing as well as orange segments. A scattering of cashews rounds out the dish and I also included tofu (ginger flavoured for good measure) that I enjoyed in the mix. If you left the tofu off this would be a nice side dish but with it you can easily consume the salad as a main meal.

My tofu was the new-ish sweet ginger tofu made by Cauldron foods. If you aren't in the UK or don't have access to that, any marinated tofu would work, although one that compliments an orange-soy-ginger dressing would obviously be best.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Make ahead blueberry chia and coconut oats

It has been a busy week in the Bite-Sized Thoughts household. My mother-in-law is visiting from Australia and we have enjoyed introducing her to Mini Bite. Mr Bite has taken the week off work to enjoy her company, and I took advantage of that to have a 'keeping in touch' day at work on Wednesday. It was the second time I'd left Mini Bite for more than an hour or so and I'm pleased to report that all went well - for her and for me. It was also rather lovely to have a day of adult company, complete with baby-free train rides into and out of my workplace. Reading a book with a cup of coffee never felt so good.

If you have a similarly busy schedule, this blueberry oat mix is a useful way to make a breakfast (or snack) option ahead of time. It is also adaptable and with a few small tweaks you could turn the recipe into one for blueberry oat balls instead - just omit the milk and use a little more oats to give a sturdier texture.

This does use a food processor and you may be wondering why you would bother with that when freshly made oats and blueberries provide a delicious combination without any meddling. Simply put, this is delicious in a different way. The blended mix is pudding-like and reminiscent of bircher muesli. It is also thick, easily portable, and (or course) can be made well in advance.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Vegan Life Magazine - issue 26 {April 2017}

I receive complimentary digital copies of Vegan Life, which allows me to post reviews with screenshots included. My reflections on the magazine are entirely my own.

This month's Vegan Life edition is jam packed with recipes I am keen to make. I often admire the ideas shared, but this month is particularly full of inspiration!

To start with savoury, I love the sound of these roasted vegetables with a lemon tarragon sauce. I imagine the sauce would make a delicious marinade for tofu too.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Banana, carrot and sultana mini muffins {vegan, no added sugar + non fat}

I was hesitant to put 'fat free' and 'sugar free' in the title of this post, because those labels may conjure up images of bland, flavourless muffins. The texture of fat free baked goods is often different too. However, these muffins are fully flavoured and beautifully textured. The use of lots of bananas and natural sugars simply removes the need for added fat or sugar. (For the sticklers among you, there is some fat in the oat milk and oats.)

I recently had lots of bananas to use up, thanks to my clumsiness when unpacking shopping and a bag of bananas being dropped on the floor. They all went a bit mushy and prematurely brown - good for freezing, smoothies and baking but not so good for eating in their natural state. These muffins used 3 of the bunch so they are good and banana-y!

Whilst I made these as mini muffins, you could, of course, make regular sized ones instead. Just increase the cooking time accordingly (adding 5-10 minutes at an estimation).

Friday, April 14, 2017

A carob recipe round-up {vegan}

I know, I know - if you aren't a fan of carob, you will be wrinkling your nose at this post (or skipping it altogether!). Carob is one of those products that seems to divide people into love/hate categories. Personally, as this post highlights, I adore the stuff. I have my mother to thank for this, as she gave us carob as children when trying to ration our chocolate intake. I love chocolate too but carob has a firm place in my heart alongside it.

Hazelnut and cherry carob cookies

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Herby lemon and pea fritters

At the risk of tooting my own horn, I am rather proud of these fritters. I made them on a whim, without a recipe, and surprised myself with how well they turned out. They taste of spring: fresh, lemon-y, light yet satisfying, and a little bit fluffy.

These take some of my staple ingredients (like besan flour and chia seeds) and give them a new twist, thanks to the lemon and fresh basil and parsley. The fritters come together quickly and make an easy meal if paired with salad. 

I used mashed sweet potato in these, but in future I would probably use regular potato. You can't really detect the sweet potato flavour and potato seems a better match for the other ingredients. However, either would work and you could even try mashed squash or celeriac.

I think these are best warm from the pan, but they will also keep for a few days in the refrigerator and are enjoyable cold or reheated.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sweet potato and spinach nuggets

'Tater tots' are one of those American products that I have heard of for many years without quite knowing what they are. (Other examples, although I set these ones to rest when I visited America a few years back, include graham crackers and Twinkies.) It turns out, according to Wikipedia, that they are "pieces of deep fried, grated potatoes". I am saying all of this because I adapted today's recipe from these spinach sweet potato tater tots on Physical Kitchness. I could have called my adaptation tater tots too, but as I am such a novice to the term and these don't feature frying or grated potato, I am using the more generic 'nugget' instead.

Terminology aside, these are delicious whatever you choose to call them. Since making them the first time, I have done a repeat batch with kale instead of spinach and they were just as good. They are a very easy side dish and, if you have children, perfect for little hands to grasp.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Loving this week {April 2017}

It has been too long between these posts. To make up for lost time, here are six things that I am loving at the moment...

1. Spring scenes. I think Spring may be my favourite English season. It is certainly glorious at the moment, with blue skies, sunshine and flowers everywhere. I am delighted to have flowers re-blossoming on my apple tree and tulips growing in my garden.

The longer daylight hours are wonderful too - the photo below was taken at 7.50pm!

Monday, April 3, 2017

In my kitchen - April 2017

I am linking this in to the monthly In My Kitchen round up, currently hosted by Lizzy of Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things.

Another month and another peak into my kitchen, thanks to the fun round-up currently hosted by Bizzy Lizzy.

It is officially spring in the UK and with the warmer weather comes an embarrassing amount of ice cream in my freezer. No, really, a truly embarrassing amount:

In my defense, all of the above items were new-to-me options that were dangled in front of me by Ocado. In an example of good marketing, Ocado offered me 3 months of free home grocery deliveries and, like a good consumer, I have made multiple orders that I otherwise wouldn't have done. (To non-UK readers, Ocado is an online grocery chain that offers lots of gourmet and vegan items.) I love all of the above ice creams, although the two Fry's tubs are not very sweet and Mr Bite was not a fan.

In addition to new ice cream flavours, the Fry's company have released some new frozen savoury items. I loved their stir fry strips made from rice protein and chia seeds (you can't detect either in the flavour, which is of rosemary and sage) and also enjoyed their Asian spiced burgers. Both are very faux meat-y and so aren't something I'd eat too regularly, but as faux meat products go they are excellent.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Coconut rough chocolates

Easter is on the horizon and with my love of chocolate, that provides a good excuse to indulge in chocolate making. I got in early with sharing my vegan creme bunnies / creme eggs and today's recipe provides an alternative Easter treat that would also go down well at other times of the year.

These chocolates were inspired by my recent discovery of the Waitrose dairy free Indian Ocean Dark Chocolate with Coconut. I mentioned in my March In My Kitchen post that the chocolate reminds me of a Golden Rough, but without the crunchy texture. (For non-Australians, a Golden Rough is a round milk chocolate disk studded with desiccated coconut.) Today's chocolates blend the crunchy texture of a Golden Rough with the dark chocolate tones I favour as an adult. The use of coconut oil adds an extra coconut tone and means that these are very easy to make.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Banana chia coconut bread

I will say upfront that I didn't expect to share this recipe. I made it on a whim, to use up bananas and some of my recent fig paste. Even by my standards it is very minimally sweetened. I hoped it would be suitable for Mini Bite and edible, but not necessarily exciting, for me. In the end, I loved the bread so much that I hastily scribbled down the recipe so I could post it here.

The star of this bread is not the banana or coconut, and in fact neither are a strong presence in the loaf. Instead, it is the chia seeds that make this wonderful, giving the loaf a fantastic texture and reminding me of poppy seed cakes. I will definitely be baking more chia loaded breads now!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Lentil potato cakes (version 2)

I have shared a recipe for lentil potato cakes before. This one makes a few tweaks to the original and offers much better photos! I am pleased to update my Recipe index with this new version.

My previous recipe involved cooking the cakes on the stove top in a frying pan. This version bakes them in the oven instead, which frees you up to do other things while the patties are cooking. I also used dried green lentils for these, although if you prefer the tinned variety it would be easy to swap back to using a tin. Dried red lentils would be nice too.

The potato cakes are seasoned with nutritional yeast, paprika, coriander, parsley, lemon and tahini. Most of these are regular seasonings in my kitchen and they come together beautifully here. The patties work well on top of salad but could be included in a burger for an even heartier meal. They are complemented nicely by chutney or tomato sauce, but will stand up on their own if you are condiment averse.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Satay chickpea stew with grains

This recipe is really an adaptation of Angela's Oh She Glows 'Soul Soothing African Peanut Stew'. I mentioned last November that I had tried and enjoyed that dish, and realised on making this that I was channeling Angela's flavours. My version is a little simpler than the hers though, and is designed to be served with grains rather than as a stand alone meal. I liked it a lot and am documenting it for my own future reference as well as to share with you!

To me, meals like this are the ultimate comfort food. As is obvious from this site, I love chocolate and desserts and they are comforting too in their own ways. However, there is something warming and comforting about a big bowl of full-flavoured vegetables and grains. It's like a wholesome hug.

I used tinned chickpeas for this, in part from laziness and in part because I wanted to use chickpea water to thicken the stew. If you cook yours from scratch, just reserve a little of the cooking water to add to the mix.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Life with a 7-month-old, baby led weaning, and four adult and baby friendly recipes

I have noted before that I have no intention of moving Bite-Sized Thoughts to a baby or family-focused site. However, it has been 4 months since my last baby-related post and much has changed since then. I thought I would share some updated reflections, as well as experiences to date with baby led weaning. For those of you who aren't interested in either topic, I also share four recipes that would suit adults and babies equally well - porridge fingers, carrot-chickpea mini pancakes, chickpea scramble with turmeric and paprika, and a simple avocado salsa. Simply scroll to the end if you want to skip ahead to those!

Chickpea scramble

In November, I spoke of the enormous adjustment that pregnancy and parenthood had required. My expectations of both were completely off and I will readily admit that the first three months of motherhood were, for me, hard going at times.

Fast forward to March and things look very different. It is probably obvious that life with a 3-month-old (as Mini Bite was in November) is different to life with a 7-month-old, but I didn't understand what those differences would look like until I navigated through them. These days, Mini Bite is a mini person as much as a baby. She is interactive, knows what she does and doesn't like, will smile and giggle, and shows great interest in her surroundings. I find the days infinitely more enjoyable now that this is the case - we are no longer in a loop of feeding, changing and settling with little feedback from her except basic cries. I take genuine delight in her laughs and smiles. We have a structure to our week, with most mornings featuring an activity (baby swimming lessons, parent/baby groups, parent/baby fitness classes...) and this makes a difference too.

Courgette noodles with avocado salsa