Vegan cheese creamy vegetable bake

Since giving up dairy I’ve developed a thing about creamy and cheese based sauces. This is slightly ridiculous as I was never bothered about them before,  and I bet I wouldn’t like them if I tried the real thing now.

So, for the last few months I’ve been working on perfecting a recipe for a creamy cheese sauce.   I have finally cracked it!

This recipe is really quick and easy to make – perfect for a mid-week supper.

There are many good vegan cheese sauce recipes out there,  but unfortunately most are high in saturated fat due to containing lots of nuts or they contain processed oils or that dreadful investion vegan margarine.

This recipe does have nuts,  but the quantities below will give 4 servings of sauce as a little goes a long way. It works out at under 3g of sat fat per serving. I’m happy with that from an OMS perspective as it all comes from super healthy plant-based sources. I just wouldn’t have it on a day I was eating lots of other nuts.

Last night we had this with roasted cauliflower,  broccoli and mushrooms so that’s the recipe I’ll give you,  but this would work just as well with pasta. Just boil some pasta, add the sauce and pop it in a pre-heated oven for ten minutes.

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Ingredients

For the sauce:
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1 cup of cashew nuts
– 1 and 1/4 cups of unsweetened almond milk
– 1/3 cup of nutritional yeast
– juice of a lemon
– pinch of turmeric
– pinch cayenne pepper
– teaspoon chilli flakes
– teaspoon of yellow mustard
– pinch of salt
– pinch of xanthan gum

For the roasted vegetables:
– 1 head of cauliflower
– 1 head of broccoli
– a few handfuls of mushrooms

Method

1.  Chop the vegetables into bite size pieces.

2. Spread the cauliflower and broccoli in an oven proof dish and roast them in the oven at 180c in the oven for 20 minutes.  Halfway through add the mushrooms.

3.  Whilst the vegetables are cooking pop all the ingredients for the sauce except the xanthan gum in a food processor.  Blitz until smooth. Add the Xanthan gum and blitz again – this will thicken the sauce to a good consistency.

4.  Remove the vegetables from the oven, spread the sauce over the top and pop the whole lot back in the oven and give it five minutes to heat the sauce through.

5. Serve and enjoy!

I told you that this one was easy…. thirty minutes from start to finish.

I may just be a little addicted to this sauce – it’s delicious.

Pancake Day (without the dairy, eggs or gluten)

Pancake Day (or more properly Shrove Tuesday) is practically a national holiday here in the UK.  Ok, we don’t get the day off work, but it is pretty much obligatory to devote one day of the year (or a week if you’re me) to eating pancakes.

(For the benefit of those outside the UK I should clarify, we’re not talking fluffy buttermilk-esque pancakes, we’re talking crepes.)

Pancakes aren’t just about the eating. There’s a whole social side to the day too.  Whether you enjoy them with family, or have a pancake party with friends, pancakes are the perfect excuse for a get-together.  They’re not the kind of food you can cook in advance and present to your guests perfectly arranged on your best crockery– they require standing around in the kitchen, sharing the highs and lows of the efforts to get the batter just right and to master the perfect flip.

So whilst I normally can’t wait for Pancake Day, this year it’s been looming a little ominously on my calendar.   The four things you need for pancakes? Eggs, milk, flour and butter or oil to cook them in.  How on earth was I going to make pancakes that are dairy free, egg free, gluten free and oil free? Huh.

It was really important to me to crack this one.  I believe you can eat OMS without feeling deprived, but if there was no such thing as OMS-friendly pancakes then this theory would be blown out the water.

So with three days to go I started googling.  I had high hopes for the vegan blogs yielding some decent recipes I could use.  I should have known better.  Whilst vegan recipes are obviously dairy and egg free, they so often contain oils and/or vegan margarine.  Even the wholefood vegans who avoid the margarines etc tend to at least use coconut oil – another no-go.  When am I going to learn?

So this afternoon I set out to figure it out for myself.  I experimented with various concoctions and methods and finally settled on a recipe that is pretty easy to make, and most importantly actually created pancakes that taste like pancakes should.

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Now I’m going to confess, this recipe isn’t my holy-grail pancake recipe.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s OMS-friendly and the results are delicious, but it sort of feels like cheating  as I had to admit defeat and use a commercial egg-replacer.

Mr Multiple Scrumminess tells me that I shouldn’t let that stop me blogging it, so I’m sharing it for all my fellow OMS-ers who need a pancake hit this coming Tuesday.  We’ll certainly be eating plenty of them ourselves…

In the background though I’m going to keep working on this one until I find a version without egg-replacer. I’ll keep you posted, but I may be some time…..

Ingredients (makes about 6 pancakes)

  • Two cups of unsweetened almond milk (I used Alpro)
  • One and a half cups of plain flour (I used Dove Farm’s plain gluten free flour blend – if you use a different flour you might have to adjust the flour/milk ratio slightly – see how you get on and adjust it until you are happy with the results)
  • Two teaspoons of Orgran No Egg – Egg Replacer mixed with 4 tablespoons of water

Utensils

  • A hand-held balloon whisk is going to make your life much easier, but you could use a fork if you don’t mind putting in the extra effort.
  • A really good frying pan (see further below).
  • A flexible flat turner – this is going to let you get underneath the pancakes and free them up if they stick
  • A ladle – if you have one this makes portioning out the batter and adding it to the pan much easier.  It also allows you to be quick, which is the key to cooking pancakes without oil.

Method

1.  Mix the egg-replacer with the water in a large bowl.

2. Whisk in the flour and the almond milk until thoroughly combined.

3. Heat your saucepan up until it’s really hot.

4. Once the pan is ready, ladle enough batter for one pancake in to the pan.    The moment the batter is in you need to pick up the pan and tilt it around so that the batter runs around and forms a thin layer over the entire base.  Speed is of the essence here. You want the layer as thin as it can be, whilst still covering the pan. If you do it too slowly it will start cooking before it can spread – so be brave.

It might take you a few tries to work out the perfect amount of batter and the amount of tilting you need, but perserve.  I had a few sacrifical attempts before I mastered it, but I consider it effort well spent – now I’ve got the knack they’d dead easy to make.

5.  Return the pan to the heat.  After a minute or two you’ll notice the pancake starts to lift off the pan a little, or at least it will look like air bubbles are forming. At this point use the rubber turner to free it up, and then either turn or, if you’re brave, toss!

6.  Cook the other side for a minute or two – then serve, top and enjoy!

A few points to note –

If your pancake gets stuck add a splash of water to the pan – this is normally enough to free it up.

If they keep sticking try turning the heat up – in my experience if you cook them quickly enough they don’t really stick.

Serve and eat as you go – pancakes are best fresh from the pan.

Toppings

This is always a tricky one: Do you go with traditional lemon and sugar? Or are you more adventurous? In our house I’m afraid it’s always maple syrup – Mr Multiple Scrumminess’s Canadian roots shine through here – the thought of pancakes with anything else is sacrilege – but I’m more than happy to oblige….

Frying pans

Seriously, if there is one thing that you buy to make your OMS cooking easier, this should be it. Frying without any oil is kind of like trying to light a fire without matches.  You can do it by rubbing sticks together, but it’s going to be frustrating and time consuming.  Or you get yourself some decent equipment that will make the job a whole lot easier.

Anyway, I digress, a good frying pan. Yes.

I’ve recently invested in a Rio pan by Green Pan.  It has a ceramic coating, so is wonderfully non-stick,  and is made without PFOA, or PTFE, so is supposedly healthier.  Better still, it seems to stand up to some serious scrubbing.  A reality of OMS cooking is that sometimes you’re going to get it wrong.  On occassion the lack of oil means you’re going to weld something on to even the non-stickiest of non-stick pans.  The problem with traditional non-stick pans is they don’t take kindly to a vigorous scrubbing.  This pan seems pretty tolerant – a sprinkling of Bar Keepers Friend seems to dislodge even the most stubborn stuck-on food without destroying the non-stick coating – result!

I’m sure there are plenty of other excellent ceramic pans out there, but I’d recommend reading plenty of reviews to help you pick the right one for you.

I also have an Analon frying pan, and it’s good (in fact I used to rave about it), but it’s not quite as forgiving as my Green Pan seems to be.

So happy Pancake Day everyone – let me know how you get on,

Mrs Multiple Scrumminess xx

Carrot cake

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Pre-MS I loved baking. Making cakes is good for the soul.  The weighing, the beating, the folding-in, that moment it all comes together and is ready to go in the oven, the wonderful smell that fills your house, and the satisfaction when your creation comes out the oven.  And that’s before you even eaten it.

My love of baking made adjusting to OMS tricky.  None of my favourite recipes were an option any more.

To start off with I foolishly thought I’d just need to find some good vegan recpies.  How wrong I was.  The vast majority call for vegan margarine.  Many others use canola oil or sunflower oil.  All of this before I’ve even tried to facter in Mr Multiple Scrumminess’s gluten intolerance and my preference to avoid refined sugars.

So I began trying to create my own recipes.  It took quite some time to work out what substitutions I could and couldn’t get away with, and how to create something that still tasted like cake!

This recipe was the first real winner – it’s dead easy to make.  Better still it is dairy free, egg free, gluten free and free from refined sugars.

Ingredients

200g carrots (about two or three medium carrots)

150g of raisins (or whatever other dry fruit you have to hand)

3/4 cup of maple syrup plus a seperate tablespoon

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I like Organico EVOO)

two clementines (or an orange)

175g self raising flour (I use Dove Farm’s gluten free SRF – you could use normal if you prefer)

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

3 mashed bananas

Method

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees c -(EVOO shouldn’t be heated above 160, I set to 150 just in case my oven is wrong – paranoid? moi?)

2.  Prepare a square baking tin – Personally I just take a big bit of baking parchment and push it down and into the edges to line the tin.  If you can be bothered and you want to do it neatly then you can cut the baking parchement in to two rectangles which you cross over to line the tin – this will give the cake a slightly more ‘finished’ look than the crinkly edges my method provides!

3.  Grate the carrots. If you have a food processor with a grater attachement use that as it’s much simpler than faffing around grating them by hand.  You could probably get away with just blitzing them to a pulp too!

4. In a large bowl combine the 3/4 cup of maple syrup, the olive oil, the cinnamon and the nutmeg.

5.  Grate the peel of the clementines and add that to the bowl.  Set the clementines aside for later.

6.  Stir in the grated carrots, mashed bananas and dried fruit.

7.  Fold in the flour.

8.  Pour the mix in to the tin and pop it in the oven.

9. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes – you’ll know it’s ready when you can push down in the middle and it has a little spring to it.

10.  Leave the cake to cool whilst you prepare the topping.  Juice the clementines and mix with the remaining tablespoon of maple syrup.  Pour the mixture over the cake whilst it is still in the tin.  Leave the cake in the tine to cool.

11.  Once the cake is cool, cut, serve and enjoy!

Fish pie (so creamy you might forget it’s dairy free)

Generally I love the way we eat now – I feel so much healthier and happier than I did before.  If I’m honest though, one of the things that I began to really miss a few months in was comfort food.  Creamy, rich and delicious comfort food.  Before long my comfort food craving turned to fish pie.  I needed the delicious fish pie like I remembered from my childhood.

It was a daunting prospect, and it took a few attempts, but I think I’ve finally cracked it.

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This recipe is pretty simple to make.  It does admittedly call for the odd ingredient you might not already have in your cupboard, but trust me, they’re worth buying.  Xanthan gum and nutritional yeast are definitely your friends if you’re OMS or just dairy-free.

The recipe below will make enough to feed four hungry adults.  Often I’ll double it and make little individual fish pies with the extra. I make them in little round individual size dishes and pop them in the freezer before they go in the oven.  They make a perfect OMS ready meal for the days you can’t be bothered to cook!

Ingredients

  • approx. 500g of fish pie mix (I get mine from Ocado and it’s delicious – a mix of cod, salmon and smoked haddock – don’t worry if your pack size varies a bit)
  • 625ml dairy-free milk plus a splash for the mashed potatoes  (I use Alpro unsweetened almond milk – I’m sure other types will work, just check for oils if you’re OMS)
  • 2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum (I use Dove Farm)
  • 2 heaped tablespoons Nutritional Yeast (I use Marigold Engivata  from Ocado or Goodness Direct)
  • teaspoon of mustard (Coleman’s yellow mustard is OMS friendly)
  • tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric (you could use paprika instead, but turmeric is anti-inflammatory so I prefer to use that)
  • pink of salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • five or six good sized potatoes

1.  Put the oven on to heat to 200 degrees centigrade

2.  Peel your potatoes, chop them in to even size pieces and set them to boil until they’re ready to mash (this takes about 20 minutes – you’ll know they’re done when you can spear them with a knife and the potato falls back off easily).

3.  In the meantime gently warm the almond milk in a saucepan.  Using a whisk gradually mix in the Xanthan Gum whilst it’s heating.

4. Whisk in the nutritional yeast, mustard, balsamic vinegar, pinch of salt and turmeric (or paprika if that’s what you’re using) until thoroughly mixed.  Your sauce should now be nice and thick – set it to one side.

5. Spread the fish mix across the base of an oven proof dish (I use a 20cm square ceramic dish)

6.  Pour the sauce over the fish and set aside.

7.  Once the potatoes are cooked through drain them and return them to the pan or a bowl.  Add a good splash of almond milk (or alternative dairy-free milk), a pink of salt and a good grinding of black pepper.  Mash thoroughly.

9.  Spread the mashed potato over the top of the fish and sauce mix.  You might find it easier to dollop bits of potato on and then push them down with a spatula rather than put all the potato on and then try and spread it out (which can make quite a mess).

10.  Pop in the oven for 20 minutes, and then serve!

Unfortunately this isn’t going to go all lovely and golden brown due to the lack of dairy, but I promise it still tastes great.

Tonight we had ours with cavolo nero.  It’s really easy to cook – strip the leaves from the stalks and pop themin a pan with a decent splash of water, a pinch of chili flakes and a few splashes of soy sauce.  Heat gently for ten minutes until the cavolo nero is wilted and tender.

Leftover fish pie will serve for a couple of work lunches for the hubby this week.

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