Peaches and Custard Egg Free Cake

peachharvest

‘The countryside and nature are very important to me.  They keep me in touch with life in real time, the seasons and months, the change of weather and time ticking along.  And they also take me to the very roots of our food.

And here on the islands, fresh produce tastes clean and sweet because it is ripened to perfection by the sun that shines nearly every day of the year.

This is the month when peaches are abundant, at give-away prices in the greengrocers and in the weekends on the way to the seaside, trucks and vans line the roadside with the abundance of the land; colourful and nearly intoxicating with the fruity perfume of the peaches at their peak.

I like to use the best ingredients that I can get my hands on and fresh fruit always produces an amazing outcome.  I love to add stone fruits to my baking. For me, it is the obvious thing to do rather than decorate cakes, heavy with sugarpaste.  I like food that is as close as possible to its natural state, being able to see the bits of seed or skin set into the cake, I like the sensation of the different textures and the juice that oozes out while it is baking and then thickens as the cake cools down, nearly turning it into a bit of jam.

There is nothing better I can think of during this hot summer than biting into a ripe peach and waiting for the juices to gush into my mouth and drip down my lips, quenching the dryness.  There are so many varieties in the market and I counted at least 10 different varieties with yellow and white flesh during the last week.

This recipe brings me back memories as a child. The taste of old fashioned custard combined with peaches and yet this cake is egg free, because Mr. Bird created the custard to suit his wife’s allergies. And this reminds me once again that the ‘free from’ trend is nothing new and way back in 1837, Mr. Bird was certainly a pioneer’

Peaches and Custard Egg Free Cake

PeachesandCustardCake

Peaches and Custard Egg Free Cake, photos by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

You will need:

In the first bowl, mix well:

250g self raising flour, sifted twice
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt

In a second bowl, mix well:

500ml ready made Birds custard
1 tablespoon coconut oil
vanilla
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon apple organic vinegar
[1-2 tablespoons stevia or agave or honey if you like very sweet cakes]

In a third bowl:

2 large peaches [or 3 smaller ones], sliced with skin on

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Prepare the ingredients in three separate bowls. Fold in the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients by using a large metal spoon. If the mixture is too dry add a couple of tablespoons of water until you have a dropping consistency.

 

Prepare a cake tin with baking spray. Pour the batter into the cake tin and arrange the peach slices on top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes in a preheated oven and allow to cool before removing from the cake tin.

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV and you can follow the page on facebook

 

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Trade Enquiries:

Birds Custard by Premier Foods  at George Borg Ltd, Telephone 00 356 21 472 177
Fry Light Cooking Spray, Butter Flavour at Rimus Group
Baking Ingredients by Good Earth Distributors
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables by Big Fresh Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables Paola and Barbuto [Organic]

For a gluten free recipe use gluten free flour

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Cold Cured Salmon

gravlax 1 charles vassallo

Home made cold cured salmon, photo Charles Vassallo during a live tv show

‘I love to make Cold Cured Salmon because it is so economical in comparison to buying it prepared and sliced.  To get the best result you need to use very fresh fish.  If you are having a large crowd, this will be a big hit !

I made it during the tv show and it proved to be very popular.  You can keep in the the fridge for up to 4 days after curing it but it also freezes very well and it is always welcome in sandwiches, salads and to enhance a weekend breakfast or brunch.’

You will need:

50g sea salt
70g sugar
a large bunch of fresh dill
2 tablespoons vodka
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon apple organic vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon crushed pink peppercorns

A large piece of boneless salmon fillet with skin on [around 500g]

To serve:  Lemon Wedges and Seed Bread

Cold Cure Salmon home made

Home Made Cold Cured Salmon, photo Stefan Stafrace during a live tv show

In a bowl mix together the sea salt, sugar, fresh dill, pink peppercorns, tarragon, coriander seeds, apple vinegar, vodka and ground fresh pepper.

Place the salmon, skin side down, on a large piece of cling film.  Cover the salmon with the mixture of herbs and spices making sure that it is completely covered.  Place the bay leaves on top.  If the piece of salmon is very large, cut in half and place the two pieces on top of each other with the skin side outside.  Wrap the fish securely in the cling film and place it in a large container skin side down.  Place another large dish on top of the salmon and weigh it down with some food cans to compress the salmon while it is being cured.  Place in the fridge for 36-48 hours.

gravlax sliced

Thinly sliced salmon, photo Stefan Stafrace during a live tv show

To serve, remove the weights and unwrap the salmon.  Discard the cling film and remove any excess of the cure mix.  Place on a chopping board and use a sharp knife to cut thin diagonal slices and serve on a platter with seed bread and lemon wedges.

 

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV and you can follow on facebook

Trade Enquiries: Spices and dried herbs by Good Earth Distributors

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables by Big Fresh Mosta, Oscars Fruit and Vegetables Paola and Barbuto [organic]

Fresh Fish by Adam’s Gourmet Fish Shop Mosta

Apple Vinegar Monari Federzoni by J Calleja Import Export Ltd

Homemade Carob Milk and making other Plant-Based Milks

ricemilk
I was surprised to discover how simple the whole process is for making plant-based milks and drinks.  It takes about 5 minutes as long as the main ingredient is soaked overnight in plenty of water. You do not need any fancy appliances and can use a simple food processor or blender.

Homemade, dairy-free milk lasts for three to five days when refrigerated in airtight glass containers. Boiling this milk with sugar or an alternative sweetener and then simmering the mixture for around 45 minutes results in a thick consistency very similar to condensed milk.

Hemp seed and rice milk provide very good, creamy and nut-free alternative. The left-over pulp can be used as an ingredient for other recipes and I am including some ideas.

Carob fruit is rich in potatssium, magnesium and calcium. It is fibre rich and a good source of Vitamin E. The flavour of carob milk goes particularly well with coffee. Carob milk is not as creamy but I also make one combined with Oats for a creamier result.

For the Carob Milk, you will need:

250g Carob fruit
3 cups bottled or filtered water
2 dates
a pinch of salt

Thoroughly wash the carob fruit and completely immerse them in water in a large container. Allow them to soak overnight. Rinse them then place them in a large pot, add the filtered or bottled water and bring them to boil. Simmer for half an hour and remove from heat. Allow them to cool down completely. Break up the carob fruit into pieces and place in a blender or food processor.  Add the water that you have cooked them in together with the other ingredients and blend on high speed for 3 minutes until the mixture is milky and consistent.  Pour the mixture into a sieve covered with a clean dishcloth or use a nut milk bag.  Squeeze the milk bag so that the carob milk is extracted out of the pulp as much as possible.

‘The left-over pulp can be used in other recipes and during the tv programme I have made use of it by making pie crusts, energy balls and granola bars.  The possibilities are endless and I like the idea of making the most out of every ingredient, extracting the milk and using the pulp with absolutely no waste.  It is always best to use a milk bag to squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible’

milkbag

Almond Milk
You will need:
1 cup almonds
3 cups bottled or filtered water and more for soaking
a pinch of salt
2 dates


Soak the almonds overnight. Drain the water and rinse the almonds.
Place the almonds in a blender and add 3 cups of bottled or filtered water. Add the dates and a pinch of salt.
Blend on high speed until the mixture is well blended. The almonds must be totally ground and the mixture appears consistent.
Strain the almonds by placing them in a sieve covered with muslin or a clean dishcloth.
Squeeze out the almond milk into a container by wringing the dishcloth or muslin. Do not discard the ground almonds
Refrigerate the milk in airtight glass containers for up to 4 days.
Use Almond Pulp to make almond flour. Place the almond pulp on a flat ovenproof dish covered with baking paper and bake it in a cool oven at 150°C for an hour. Allow to cool down completely preferably overnight, then place in a food processor and grind to a fine texture.

Hazelnut Milk
You will need:
1 cup hazelnuts
3 cups filtered or bottled water and more for soaking
1 tsp organic apple vinegar
Pinch of salt


For sweetened milk add 1 date or 1 tbsp stevia and some vanilla
Place the hazelnuts in a glass container and soak them overnight with a pinch of sea salt and a tsp of apple organic vinegar. Drain and discard the soaking liquid and rinse the hazelnuts well.
Place the hazelnuts in the blender and add 3 cups of bottled water. For a sweetened milk add also 1 date or 1 tbsp of stevia and some vanilla.
Blend at high speed until the nuts are completely ground to a fine pulp. Place a piece of muslin or a clean tea towel over a sieve. Pour the contents of the liquidiser into the covered sieve and gently press the pulp down to squeeze the liquid through. Store the milk in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Use the hazelnut pulp to add to smoothies.
Hemp Milk
You will need:
½ cup hemp seeds
4 cups filtered or bottled water and more for soaking
2 dates
Vanilla

hemp seeds
Soak the hemp seeds overnight in a glass container. Drain and discard the water. Place the soaked hemp seeds in a liquidiser or blender and use a high setting to completely grind the seeds to a fine consistency. Strain the hemp milk by pouring it through a strainer covered with a clean tea towel. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Use the hemp seed pulp as an additional ingredient to make homemade energy bars.

Coconut Milk

coconutmilk

Fresh homemade coconut milk as seen on tv, photgraphy during the live show by Marconia Schembri      For the home made coconut milk you will need: 100g coconut, 5 cups of filtered or bottled water, a pinch of salt [1 date, optional].  Soak the coconut in water overnight.  Place in a blender or food processor.  Add the filtered or bottled water and blend on high speed for 4 minutes until the mixture is milky and consistenty.  Pour the mixture into a sieve covered with a clean dishcloth or use a nut milk bag.  Squeeze the rest of the coconut milk but wringing the dishtowel until you have extracted as much coconut milk as possible.

Rice Milk
You will need:
1 cup long grain rice. I like to use basmati
5 cups water and more for soaking
1 tbsp agave
Vanilla

oatmilk

Making rice milk during a live tv show, photography George Aquilina  Appliances by Kitchenaid at Forestals, professional wear Chefworks, nails by Jessica Camilleri using Max Factor Noisette No 145

Rinse the rice and place it in a glass container. Immerse completely in water and allow to soak overnight.
Drain the rice and place it in a blender with the rest of the ingredients.
Process the rice on high speed for about 3-4 minutes. Line a sieve with a clean dish cloth and place over a bowl. Pour the rice milk into it and squeeze as much milk as you can by wringing the dishcloth with your hands. Store in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Use the rice pulp to make a rice pudding. Place the rice pulp in a saucepan and cover with water. Add some cinnamon and honey or agave and 2 tablespoons of raisins. Bring to boil and reduce the heat. Stir constantly and when the liquid is absorbed, remove from the heat. Add more rice milk to achieve the consistency of your choice and serve warm.

Oat Milk

You will need:

1 cup oats
3 cups filtered or bottled water and more for soaking
1 date or 1 tbsp agave
A pinch of salt

oat milk george.jpg

Homemade Oat Milk, this photo was taken by George Aquilina during a live tv show, kitchenware by Tescoma

Soak the oats overnight in plenty of water. Drain and discard the soaking water and place the oats in a blender. Add the filtered or bottled water and the rest of the ingredients. Strain the oat milk by pouring it through a strainer covered with a clean tea towel. Use your hands to wring the tea towel to squeeze all the milk out. Refrigerate for up to 3 days. Stir the milk thoroughly before using it. This milk can be used to thicken a soup or dessert simply by adding heating it as it becomes thick and gelatinous.

‘The pulp from plant based milks can be used in a variety of recipes’

oat-pie-crust-illumina-media

Use your left over oat pulp to make pie crusts for tarts.  Photography Illumina Media during a live tv show.  Fresh fruit by Big Fresh Mosta

Use the oat pulp to make an oat flour crust for tarts.  Place the oat pulp on a flat ovenproof dish covered with baking paper and bake it in a cool oven at 150°C for an hour.  Allow to cool down completely preferably overnight, then place in a food processor and grind to a fine texture.  Then add it to your recipe to make a tart crust.  Ingredients: 200g flour, 200g oat flour, 100g ricotta,  1 tablespoon agave or honey, a few drops vanilla, zest of half an orange, 1 egg and cold water.  Method: Sieve the flour and add the oatmeal.  Add the ricotta and rub it into the flour and oatmeal using your fingertips
Add the other ingredients except the water and eggs and mix. Now add the beaten eggs, mix using a knife. Then add the cold water, start with one tablespoon and mix, then add a spoonful at a time until you form a dough. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for half an hour. Roll out onto a lightly floured surface.

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs daily on Smash TV and you can follow the page on facebook
Trade Enquiries: Ingredients by Good Earth Distributors

Healthy Vegan Slices [gluten free, no refined sugar]

 

veganslicesprunesandoats

Vegan Oat, Chocolate and Coconut Slices [gluten free with no refined sugar] Photography CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

Vegan Oat, Chocolate [Prune] and Coconut Slices [gluten free with no refined sugar]

For the bottom layer you will need:

2 cups oats
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
vanilla
1 tablespoon linseed OR 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons agave OR maple syrup OR stevia
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons water
For the middle layer:
400g dried prunes
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup coconut
vanilla
1 tablespoon chia seeds
2 tablespoon ground almonds
2 tablespoons maple syrup OR agave OR stevia
a pinchof salt
2 tablespoons water
Cooking Spray, [I used avocado oil]
For the top layer:
Coconut, as much as you fancy, more for a thicker layer
Preheat the oven to 160C.
Cover a square oven proof dish with baking paper.  Spray with cooking spray.
Start by mixing the ingredients for the base and placing all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix well until the mixture is uniform.  Place the mixture into the ovenproof dish and use a wet spoon to push down the mixture and smooth down the surface.
For the middle layer, place all the ingredients in a food mixer and process until the mixture is very smooth.  Place the prune and chocolate mixture on top of the oat layer and press down with a wet spoon ensuring that the surface is smooth.
For the top layer, scatter the coconut on the top and press down using a wet spoon making sure that the surface is smooth.  For a thin layer use a few tablespoons and increase the amount of coconut for a thicker layer, according to your preferences.
Bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the coconut layer becomes golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow it to cool down completely.  On tv we cut this without refrigerating but for the best result cover and refrigerate for two hours or more then use a very sharp know to cut into large or small squares.

 

apricot crumble slices squares

‘Another glorious Maltese summer is here to stay and with it comes an abundance of succulent and sweet summer fruits, slowly and naturally ripened by the Mediterranean sun making them so juicy and moist like no other greenhouse varieties.  They may appear imperfect, uneven in shape and size, sometimes slightly bruised but bursting with flavor.   After all beauty is not meant to be perfect and cloned.  

For this recipe I use a mix of fresh, ripe apricots and dried apricots. This is one of the easiest things to bake with a soft flapjack base made with poached fresh and dried apricots.  These are topped with fresh apricots and a crumble topping of ground almonds and coconut pulp.  

You can use any berries or stone fruit for this recipe.  Wash the apricots thoroughly and leave the skin on ‘

You will need:

For the bottom layer

250g ground almonds
250g oatmeal
120g soft dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons coconut pulp
For the middle layer
500g fresh ripe apricots
a pinch of salt
1 vanilla pod
For the top layer
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons stevia
150g dried apricots
To brush the top:  1 tablespoon of coconut oil mixed with 1 tablespoon of agave plus 75g nuts [I used cashew flakes]

apricot crumble slice dried apricots

Prepare an ovenproof dish by lining it with baking paper.  Spray it with cooking spray.

Remove the stone from the fresh apricots and cut into quarters with skin on.  Place half of them together with the vanilla pod in a saucepan.  Chop the dried apricots and add them to the saucepan.  Immerse in just enough cold water and bring to boil on low to moderate heat.  As soon as the mixture starts to boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes for all the fruits to soften up.  Remove from the heat.  Add the grated lemon zest.

Use a large bowl to place the ground almonds.  Mix the oat meal with it and then pour the melted coconut oil and softened coconut pulp.  Use your fingertips to rub in the coconut oil and pulp into the ground almond and oatmeal mixture.  Add the soft brown sugar and mixed spice and vanilla seeds.  Mix with a metal spoon so that the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Add two thirds of this mixture to the poached apricot mix and stir until it is has a smooth consistency.  Pour the mixture into the prepared ovenproof dish and use a plastic spatula dipped in water to smooth the surface.  If you have time cover the dish with cling film and place in the fridge for an hour.  [At this stage, you can also leave the dish in the fridge overnight and carry on preparing the rest of the recipe the following day.]

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Assemble the remainder of the chopped fresh apricots on top of the base.  Brush the surface of the fruit with the mix of agave and coconut oil.  Scatter the rest of the crumble mix on the top.  Do not press it down.

Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes then take out of the oven, brush again with the agave and coconut oil mixture and scatter the chopped nuts on top.  Return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Allow to cool and cut up into squares.

apricot crumble baked

Serve warm with ice cream or cut up into squares for lunchboxes and picnics or simply instead of a cereal bar for breakfast or a snack

Store in the fridge for up to 3 days in the summer and 5 days in the winter.  Freeze for up to a month although I do not like the thawed texture which becomes slightly soggy from freezing.

Trade Enquiries:

Fry Light  Butter Flavour Cooking Spray and Mornflake Oatmeal via Rimus Group

Ground almonds, naturally dried apricots, dried fruit, spices and baking goods via Good Earth Distributors Ltd

Coconut Oil and coconut pulp via J Calleja Ltd

My fresh succulent apricots come from Big Fresh in Mosta

Lea’s Good Food Everyday is aired on Smash TV every day and you can also follow on facebook 🙂  Photography by CJ Baldacchino during an unedited live tv show cooking in real time.

Quick Coconut and Lemon Muffins [diabetic friendly, gluten free, lactose free, no added refined sugar

COCONUT MUFFINS 1

Quick healthier coconut muffins, photography CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘these muffins have a deep and  intense coconut flavour from coconut oil, coconut paste, shredded coconut and coconut flour.  They are gluten free and perfect for lunch boxes or a healthy snack to take to work and eat at your desk.  The taste of these muffins improves the next day’

You will need:

50ml coconut oil
50g coconut paste
4 eggs
100g self raising flour [I used gluten free flour on tv but you can use regular self raising flour]
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
100g coconut
50g coconut flour
vanilla
a pinch of salt
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon stevia or 2 pellets stevia

COCONUT MUFFINS 1A

Preheat the oven to 190C.

Sieve the self raising flour, baking powder and coconut flour twice into a mixing bowl.  Add all the other ingredients and combine them with an electric mixer for one minute and not any more.  This is quite a thick batter.  Use two spoons to place the batter in the muffin cases.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Allow to cool before serving.  These muffins taste better the day after they are made.  They remain moist and dense, very much like coconut macaroons.


 

Healthier Salted Caramel Bars

caramel biscuits 3

Healthier Salted Caramel Bars, photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘these biscuits are gluten free, lactose free with no added refined sugar.  They can be stored in the fridge for a week and in the freezer for 3 months.  Today the feast of St Gregory is celebrated and I enjoyed the phone ins from our viewers in this morning’s show as they narrated their memories and shared the history of this feast day.  thank you x’

caramel biscuits 1

For the base layer you will need:

100g oatmeal or ground oats
25g ground almonds
50ml agave  [if not vegan you can use honey]
4 tablespoons coconut paste

Heat the oven to 180C.  Prepare a baking tray by lining it with baking paper. Place the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until it is consistent.  Bring the dough together with your hands and place on a clean surface.  Press and use a rolling pin to roll out then cut into rectangles [either 12 pieces or 18 smaller ones].  Place on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool completely.

For the salted caramel layer you will need:

200g chopped dates
1 tablespoon nut butter [I used hazelnut butter]
2 tablespoons coconut paste
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan with 50 ml of water.  Use gentle heat and stir until the dates are broken down.  If necessary add some more water.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Roll the mixture into small balls then press them down on to the cooled down biscuits.  Use a teaspoon to smooth it down.

And you will also need to coat the biscuits with :

250g melted chocolate to coat.  [I used lactose free, sugar free]
1 tablespoon olive oil

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or in the microwave.  Mix in a tablespoon of olive oil and stir until the mixture is smooth and shiny.

Gently dip the biscuits into the melted chocolate until they are fully covered.  Place on a dish covered with baking paper and allow the biscuits to set in the fridge for an hour.

Trade Enquiries: Coconut Paste by Govinda and Chocolate Valor both from J Calleja Import Export Ltd

Soft and Chewy Granola Bars with Sweet Potato

healthy granola bars.jpg

Healthy chewy oatbran granola bars.  Photography by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

healthy granola bars 4.jpg

‘These dense, moist and chewy granola bars can be made using your favourite cereal and putting in them exactly what you like.  They are loaded with seeds and I bind them by using a mix of dates and sweet potato.  The chocolate and nut topping is optional.  If you prefer a crunchier texture, cut the granola bake into bars when it cools down and bake them in a hot oven for 12 minutes on each side in the same way you would do with biscotti’

healthy granola bars 3

You will need:

300g dates
150g sweet potato
400g oatbran granola
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 vanilla pod
50g gogi berries
50g sunflower seeds
50g cocoa powder
100g pumpkin seeds
100g linseed [flaxseed]
30g Chia Seeds

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Spray a baking tin [20cm square or similar] with cooking spray and line it with baking paper.

Remove the stone from the dates and roughly chop them up.

Peel the sweet potato and roughly chop it.

Place the dates and sweet potato in a saucepan and cover with cold water.

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for about 7-10 minutes until the potato is soft and the dates are mushy.  Make sure that there is enough water during this process.

Remove from the heat, puree by using a hand held blender and allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl mix the granola with the gogi berries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds and chia seeds.  Add the mixed spice, vanilla and cinnamon.

Mix well so that the mixture is consistent.

Add the date and sweet potato mixture to the granola and seed mix and combine by mixing well.

Place the mixture in the prepared baking tin and use a spatula to press the mixture down.  Then use your clean hands to press down tightly.  Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Optional topping:

300g dark sugar free chocolate
1 tablespoon olive oil
250g mixed nuts

Chop the nuts roughly and use a very hot pan to dry roast them.

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie or in the microwave.  Add the olive oil and stir until it is smooth and glossy.

Pour the chocolate on to the granola bake and scatted the nuts on top.

Allow to cool and then cut into bars or squares.

You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

        I use Oat Bran Granola by Mornflake at Rimus Group, nuts, spices and seeds by Good Earth, olive oil by Costa D’Oro and sugar-free, lactose-free chocolate by Valor

Vegemince Loaf with Sweet Potato and Oatbran

vegemince loaf

Vegemince Loaf with Sweet Potato, a great wholesome weekday meal.  Photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘This vegemince loaf is healthy comfort food and proved to be a crowd pleaser satisfying many dietary requirements.  It is an very quick recipe to prepare and looks amazing when brought to the table.  It is also delicious served cold the next day’

Linda McCarthney's Vegemince

I use vegemince by Linda McCartney Foods to make my Vegemince Loaf with Sweet Potato and Oatbran

You will need:

400g vegemince
1 onion
1 clove garlic
250g tinned chopped tomatoes
150g fine oatbran
4 eggs
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon dried herbs of your choice
1 sweet potato
Butter Flavour Cooking Spray
some fresh mint leaves for garnish
Salt and Pepper to season
Large Loaf tin [900g]
baking paper

Use a spray oil to coat a large frying pan.  Chop finely the onion and garlic and cook in the pan over low heat, stirring frequently until the onion becomes translucent.

Add the vegemince and cook for a few minutes then add the tinned chopped tomatoes, and dried herbs.  Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In the meantime beat the eggs in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Prepare the loaf tin by covering with baking paper.

Add the oatbran to the vegemince mix and then the eggs. Combine and add the lemon zest. Pour the batter into the lined loaf tin and press down with a wooden spoon.

Wash the sweet potato and chop into thin slices with skin on. Arrange over the top of the loaf tin and press down again. Spray with butter flavoured cooking spray and use a brush to spread all over. Bake in a preheated oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the loaf tin by easing it out of the tin by pulling the baking paper. Place on a serving dish and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

 

Trade Enquiries:

Rimus Group for Linda MacCartney Food, X-Tra Polpa and Tomato Products, Fry Light Cooking Spray and Mornflake Stoneground Oat Bran

Good Earth  for dried herbs and spices

Big Fresh in Mosta for fresh fruit, eggs and vegetables

Deyma Shop Gzira: Table

Loft Naxxar: Tableware

Tescoma: Kitchenware

AMC: Baking paper and disposables

Lea’s Good Food Everyday is available in most bookshops and via Midsea Books

Cooking with millet

millet salad

I cooked a few meals recently during the tv show using millet, which is one of my favorite gluten-free foods. The grain-like seeds originated in Africa and have been eaten since prehistoric times. They are a pale yellow color and have an earthy taste. You can eat millet simply plain with a bit of olive oil or butter and it can also be added to soups, salads and stir-fried meals.

Millet is packed with nutrients and also makes an excellent breakfast in place of oats. It is rich in B Vitamins, magnesium and insoluble fibre, which promotes a good digestion and prevents gall stones.

Millet was rare to find some time ago but as quinoa has become so popular, other grains and seeds are more readily available in most supermarkets and grocery stores today.

To cook a cup of millet, add two cups of water or stock, ¼ teaspoon salt and either one teaspoon butter or a tablespoon olive oil. If you have time, lightly dry roast the millet seeds in a hot pan until they start to turn golden then add the rest of the ingredients.

Bring to boil, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to rest for 10 minutes in a covered pot before serving.

Three Bean Eggplants with Chicken and Millet

You will need:
200g cooked millet
2 eggplants
1 tbsp olive oil
200g diced cooked chicken breast
½ onion
1 clove garlic
¼ tsp smoked paprika
200g mixed cooked beans of your choice [I used a mix of pinto, haricot and lima beans]
a handful of baby spinch leaves
salt
2 tbsp grated Parmegiano Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 200℃. Brush an ovenproof dish with olive oil. Cut the eggplants in half and place skin side down on the baking sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes until the flesh softens up.

Allow to cool and scoop out the flesh and chop it.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Cook the onion and garlic on low heat and add the chopped eggplant flesh. Add the paprika and a pinch of salt.

Cook until the onion becomes translucent. Remove from the heat and add the chopped cooked chicken breast and mixed beans.

Use a large bowl to mix together the cooked milled and chicken and bean mixture. Add half the spinach leaves and mix gently. Season with salt.

Spoon the mixture into the cavity of the eggplants and top with grated Parmegiano Reggiano. Bake for 10 to15 minutes until the cheese melts. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with more spinach leaves.

This is a gluten-free, diabetic-friendly recipe.

Baked Breakfast Millet with Forest Fruits and Pistachio Nuts

You will need:
150g cooked millet
1 cup frozen berries of your choice
½ cup cashew milk
vanilla
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup stevia
2 tbsp honey
To garnish:  ¼ cup pistachio nuts.

Preheat the oven to 180℃.

In an ovenproof dish mix all the ingredients together. Stir and bake in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Top with pistachio nuts and serve.

For a vegan recipe use agave instead of honey. This is a gluten-free recipe.

Warm Salad of Millet and Beef

You will need:
200g cooked millet
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small white onion
250g sirloin steak
1 grated garlic clove
1 bay leaf
½ tsp coriander seeds
4 leaves kale or cavolo vecchio or kohlrabi leaves
1 large tomato
1 all-natural stock cube
1 cup water
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp freshly grated lemon zest
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmegiano Reggiano
2 tbsp olive oil
a pinch of salt

Chop the sirloin steak into strips and keep aside.

Peel the onion and finely slice. Chop the tomato and keep aside.

Prepare the leaves by removing the tough centre stem and chop the leaves. Keep aside.

Place a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan or wok. Cook the beef strips and remove from pan. Keep aside and in the meantime cook the onion on low heat. Add the garlic and crushed coriander seeds. Stir, then add the cooked beef strips. Add the stock cube dissolved in water and the bay leaf. Cook until the liquid reduces. Turn up the heat and add the chopped leaves and grated ginger. Stir for a few minutes until the leaves start to wilt then assemble the warm salad. Place the cooked millet in a large mixing bowl. Add the beef stir fry, the chopped tomato and the chopped parsley and gently mix the ingredients into the millet. Finish off by adding the freshly grated lemon zest and Parmegiano Reggiano. Serve while still warm.

This is a gluten-free, lactose-free and diabetic-friendly recipe.

Butternut Squash Soup with Millet

You will need:
1 medium butternut squash
2 medium carrots
1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 natural stock cube
5 cups water
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly grated ginger
Some fresh thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups cooked millet

Roughly chop the butternut squash with skin on. Peel and roughly chop the onion, garlic and carrots. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion, garlic, carrots and freshly grated ginger and cook for five minutes on low heat. Stir and add the stock cube dissolved in the water. Add the thyme and bring to boil and simmer for 35 minutes. Use a hand held immersion blender to puree the soup until it is very smooth. Serve and add a few tablespoons of cooked millet to garnish.

This recipe is a gluten-free, vegan and diabetic-friendly recipe.

Trade Enquiries:

Millet, dried herbs and spices, Kallo natural stock cubes by Good Earth Distributors Ltd

Olive oil by Costa D’Oro at J Calleja

Fry Light Cooking Spray and President Butter by Rimus Trading Agency

Fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables by Big Fresh Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables Paola and Barbuto for Organic produce

Fresh Meat and Poultry by Ta’ Cancu Butcher Zejtun and Majjal ta’ Malta

Lea’s Good Food Everyday airs on Smash TV Everyday and you can also follow on facebook . Photography by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show.

Nutrient-dense smoothie bowls

Escape Kiwi and dragron fruit smoothie bowls.jpg

Kiwi and Kale Smoothie Bowl with dragon fruit stars and chia seeds

Smoothie bowls are a big craze that started on Instagram with photos of the prettiest recipes that can possibly be created. They are eaten with a spoon to replace a light meal and provide a healthy food source that is quick to prepare.

As there is some chewing involved, this triggers the digestion process to release enzymes which assist to digest our food. Drinking smoothies does not set off the chain of digestion.

To make a smoothie bowl with the right consistency, it is necessary to add frozen fruit and reduce the liquid content. Freeze ripe fruit in zip lock bags and store in the freezer to use in smoothie bowls. Select fruit that is ripe to add natural sweetness. You can also freeze a plant-based milk in an ice cube tray and blend the frozen milk cubes with your other ingredients.

Choose a deep bowl and chill it overnight. Enhance the colours by adding purple carrots and beetroot for a purple smoothie bowl and kale and baby spinach to make a more vibrant green result. Pureed pumpkin and butternut squash can be blended with mango and pineapple and garnished with a choice of colourful toppings that are nutrient dense such as nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, shredded coconut, dried fruit, no-added sugar granola and toasted oats.

Prepare all the ingredients and topping before you start the blending process.

Black Forest Smoothie Bowl

Photos: CJ Baldacchino

You will need:
½ purple raw carrot
½ cooked beetroot
4 dates
2 kale leaves
¼ peeled apple
2 frozen bananas
2 cups mixed frozen cherries and cranberries
1 tsp agave
2 tbsp aronia concentrate
2 cups cashew milk
3 tbsp oats

For the topping: 100g fresh cherries, 50g dry roasted flaked almonds and 50g melted dark sugar free chocolate, baby chard.

Chill clean smoothie bowls in the fridge overnight. Add all the ingredients to the blender and combine until it is a smooth consistency. While you are doing this melt the dark chocolate in a bain marie.

Pour into a bowl. Arrange the fresh cherries on top of the smoothie mix. Add some dry roasted flaked almonds.

Pour melted chocolate on the surface of the smoothie mix. It will solidify to form a delicious chocolate topping. Garnish with baby chard.

This is a gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan recipe.

Kiwi and Kale Smoothie Bowl

You will need:
1 ripe frozen banana
½ avocado
3 kale leaves
3 ripe kiwi fruits
½ cucumber, peeled
½ tsp spirulina
½ tsp chia seed
1 tbsp oats
½ cup frozen cashew milk

For the topping: 1 dragon fruit cut into star shapes, a mix of raspberries and blackberries, ½ tbsp chia seeds.

Place two bowls in the fridge overnight. Peel the fruit and vegetables. Roughly chop them together with the frozen banana. Add all the other ingredients. Blend on high speed until the mixture is smooth and consistent.

Pour the thick puree into chilled bowls and garnish with a mix of berries. Peel a dragon fruit and slice it. Use a cutter to cut out star shapes. Sprinkle some more chia seeds and serve immediately.

This  is a gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan recipe.

Passion and Pomegranate Smoothie Bowl

You will need:
1 ripe frozen banana
½ cup cooked pumpkin
1 cooked carrot
50g cooked sweet potato
½ cup frozen cashew milk
⅛ tsp fresh turmeric
¼ tsp maca powder
Vanilla
Pinch of cinnamon

For the topping: Seeds from one passion fruit, 3 tbsp pomegranate seeds, ¼ tsp linseed, 1 physalis.

Place two empty bowls in the fridge overnight. Peel the fruit and vegetables. Roughly chop the frozen banana and the vegetables and place together with the other ingredients in a high speed blender. Blend until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Remove the bowls from the freezer and pour the smoothie mixture into them. Top with passion fruit, pomegranate seeds, linseed and physalis and serve immediately.

This is a gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan recipe.

Chocolate Berry Smoothie Bowl

You will need:
½ cup oats
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup frozen cashew milk
1 ripe frozen banana
1 tbsp agave or stevia
150g dark sugar-free chocolate
75g frozen cranberries

For the topping: 75g mixed blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, fresh mint leaves.

Place a smoothie bowl in the fridge overnight. Place the oats, raw cacao powder, cashew milk and grated zucchini in the blender with the frozen cashew milk, frozen banana and cranberries, agave and sugar-free dark chocolate. Blend on high speed until the mixture is smooth and consistent.

Serve in individual bowls and top with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

This is a gluten-free, vegan and diabetic-friendly recipe.

Photography by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

Trade Enquiries:

Seeds and nuts by Good Earth Distributors

Fruit and vegetables come from Big Fresh in Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables in Paola and Barbuto for Organic.