Vietnamese Cashew Noodle Salad with Chilli Lime Dressing

Vietnamese Cashew Noodle Salad with Chilli Lime Dressing

Even though it’s officially autumn here, this Vietnamese Cashew Noodle salad has been making a regular appearance on our table. I love it because it’s super easy to make, it’s deliciously fresh, and is bursting with exotic flavours that transport me to tropical locations far far away! It’s also completely plant-based, gluten and soy free.

The only equipment you need for this recipe is a peeler (ideally one that julienne’s but a regular grater would also work), a knife and a bowl of boiling water to soak the noodles. There’s absolutely no cooking required.

The flavours and textures are just amazing. Fresh ginger, lime, garlic and chilli form the base of the Vietnamese nuoc cham inspired dressing. I left out the traditional fish sauce element to keep this recipe completely plant-based, and instead substituted it with coconut aminos (aka coconut tamari sauce).

Bean thread noodles (aka glass noodles) form the base of this salad with their soft sparkly texture, and provide an element of protein. Add to that fresh carrot and cucumber strips for a some crunch, alongside bean sprouts and toasted cashews. Sping onions add a spike of green alongside fragrant coriander leaves.

This salad is so well rounded it’s perfect all by itself. But feel free to up the protein content by adding crispy tofu or tempeh or any other protein that takes your fancy. If you can’t find a particular vegetable, simply swap it for something similar, or just leave it out.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

Vietnamese Cashew Noodle Salad

Vietnamese Cashew Noodle Salad with Chilli Lime Dressing

Serves: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes 

2 bundles (approx 125g) bean thread noodles (glass noodles)
2 carrots
1/2 cucumber
1 cup mung bean spouts
2 spring onions
1 cup coriander leaves
1/2 cup cashews, toasted

Chilli Lime Dressing
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup coconut aminos (coconut tamari sauce)
2 limes, juiced
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cm piece ginger, grated
1 tsp chilli flakes

 

To toast the cashews, preheat your oven to 160C fan bake. Place the cashews on a lined baking tray in the centre of the oven and toast for approximately 10 minutes, or until cashews have turned golden brown.

Place the noodles in a large heat proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Stand for approximately 10 minutes, or until noodles are soft. Drain, then use scissors to cut them into shorter, fork-friendly lengths.

While the noodles are soaking, peel the carrot and use a julienne peeler (or grater) to shred into strips. Place strips into a second mixing bowl.

Wash the cucumber and julienne into strips (including skin) until you reach the seeds which you’ll have to discard, then add to the bowl.

Wash and drain the bean sprouts and add to the bowl.

Wash the spring onions, finely chop and add to the mixing bowl.

Wash the coriander, pick the leaves off of the stems and add to the bowl, along with the toasted cashews and noodles.

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight lid. Shake until well combined, pour over the salad and toss well.

Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days, although the coriander will start to wilt. So if you’re making this salad ahead of time, leave the dressing off until just before serving.

 

Vietnamese Cashew Noodle Salad
Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-free/Vegan)

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-free/Vegan)

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free & vegan)

 

These soft chocolate chip cookies were one of those recipes that took unexpectedly longer to perfect than normal. On reflection, I think it was because I was trying to incorporate too many elements into one cookie.

Last week I tried some new gluten-free, vegan, chocolate chip cookies at our local coffee shop and they were surprisingly good! I don’t usually go for soft cookies, but these had a perfect soft pillowy texture with a little bit of bite and lots of chocolate chunks. The only downside was they were pretty high in sugar (no doubt why they were so delicious!) and they also contained a mixture of gluten-free grain flours.

This of course naturally inspired me to try and reproduce them myself, and in doing so, make them bigger and better! By which I really mean, lower sugar, more protein and grain-free.

 

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free & vegan)

 

My first batch of cookies using entirely ground almonds instead of flour were delicious, especially eaten straight out of the oven! However, by the next day they’d all gone soft and had more of a whoopie cake quality than a cookie. This sent me down a trail of grain-free flour trials only to arrive back at the ground almonds because they taste the best and do create a great, soft cookie texture. I realised I just needed to add something to crisp the cookies up a bit which ended up being a small amount of gluten-free flour. The exact one is flexible depending on your tastes. If you don’t mind the taste of buckwheat then this is a great option, otherwise rice flour works well as does cornflour.

Six batches and WAY too much cookie tasting later, I had the recipe!

These chocolate chip cookies are definitely best straight out of the oven when they’re all soft in the middle, crispy round the edges and have chunks of melting chocolate. Once cool, the cookies stay soft in the middle and will slowly start to lose their outer crispness (and obviously melted chocolate quality) and by the following day they are soft all over and slightly chewy.

Looking back at my original inspiration for these cookies, they’re not very similar at all. Proof that flour really does make quite a difference to a cookies texture. But if you’re after a delicious recipe for low sugar, vegan, gluten-free chocolate chip cookie then you’ve found it!

 

Did you like this soft chocolate chip cookie post? Any questions or comments about the recipe? Leave me a comment in the section down below!

 

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free & vegan)

 

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free & vegan)

Makes: approximately 18 cookies
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes

100g coconut oil
40g almond butter
60g almond milk
100g ground almonds
50g rice flour or buckwheat flour or cornflour
50g coconut sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g dark chocolate, chopped (60-70% cocoa solids,dairy free)
sprinkle of himalayan pink salt for tops

Preheat the oven the 180ºC and line 2 oven trays with baking paper or silicone baking sheets.

Melt the coconut oil then combine with the almond butter and milk, stir well to mix.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the ground almonds, rice flour, coconut sugar, baking soda and powder and mix to combine.

Chop the chocolate into small chunks with a large knife, ideally you want a mixture of chocolate chunks and small shavings as this will add to the cookie texture and taste.

Stir the coconut oil mixture into the dry ingredients until well combined. Add the chocolate and ensure everything is evenly mixed.

Drop tablespoonfuls of mixture onto the prepared baking trays, leaving room for spreading. Press down lightly and shape into round cookies. Sprinkle freshly ground himalayan pink rock salt or flakes over the tops.

Place cookies in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. These cookies will rise a little and then spread and are ready when the edges turn a golden brown colour. Remove the cookies from the oven and leave on the trays to cool as they will still be quite delicate.

When cool enough to handle they are ready to be eaten! Any leftovers can be stored in a sealed container for up to 5 days but they are best eaten on the day they are baked.

 

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free & vegan)

 

Homemade Spicy Chai Syrup

Homemade Spicy Chai Syrup

Homemade Spicy Chai Syrup

 

Almond milk chai lattes are my weakness.

I love a good amount of creamy froth on top (not for everyone I know), so I should probably call my latte’s something more like “froth-a-chino’s” but I don’t think anyone would know what I’m talking about. I definitely prefer the spicy style chai as opposed to the sweet mild ones, and the type of almond milk is of course important too!

There’s one particular organic brand that uses activated almonds and only has a small amount of rice syrup added for sweetness. It has a lovely mild almond flavour and steams up beautifully to make a thick creamy milk. Fresh almond milk is amazing too if you have the time or inclination.

After reading the ingredients of all the chai syrups on the market I found the second ingredient is invariably refined sugar. This gave me great incentive to try and make my own healthier version.

My first few attempts didn’t turn out so well. They lacked the full flavour I was after which I’m pretty sure this was due to the alternative sweeteners I was trying to use.

My incentive to create my own chai syrup increased significantly after I was advised to avoid caffeine for a while. Despite not drinking coffee or black tea, I hadn’t considered chai syrup as a source of caffeine despite it containing black tea.

Determined not to give up my beloved chai lattes, I set about creating an amazing chai recipe without black tea or too much sweetener!

 

 

Homemade Spicy Chai Syrup

The winning chai syrup recipe is not overly sweet because it only contains a small amount of raw cane sugar. I ended up using raw cane sugar because the alternative sweeteners I tried didn’t match up flavour-wise. If you don’t want to use cane sugar then definitely feel free to substitute a sweetener of your choice. Raw honey or pure maple syrup would also be delicious.

The secret to the rich flavour of this chai syrup is the fresh ginger, cracked pepper and a pinch of cayenne. If you’re not into spicy, don’t let those ingredients put you off. This recipe isn’t one of those crazy, super spicy chai’s. The pepper and cayenne merely complement the other flavours. And of course, you can control how spicy you make your latte by the amount of chai syrup you add to your cup.

If you’re a traditionalist and don’t care about the caffeine, then by all means add the black tea. I’ve included this as an option in the recipe below.

This spicy chai syrup can be used for warm or iced drinks, and is delicious as a flavouring in baking and desserts.

Enjoy!

 

Homemade Spicy Chai Syrup

Makes: Approximately 750ml
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes

5 cups filtered water
1/2 cup raw cane sugar (or sweetener of choice e.g. raw honey)
10 cm piece fresh ginger, sliced thinly
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
6 cardamon pods, cracked open
2 tsp whole cloves
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1/4 tsp vanilla powder
pinch cayenne pepper

4 black tea bags (optional)

Place all the ingredients into a medium sized pan and bring to the boil (note if you’re using raw honey leave this out and add at the end when you take it off the heat). When the mixture starts to boil, turn the heat down and let simmer for 30 minutes or so – totally cooking time should be about 45 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and if using the tea bags place them in at this point. When the syrup is cool enough to handle, strain it through a piece of muslin, nut milk bag or fine sieve. Pour the chai syrup into a bottle, seal and store in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

The leftover spices can be used to make a second batch of chai syrup, simply add them to another 5 cups of water and 1/2 cup raw sugar. If it looks like you lost a lot of the ground spices in the sieving process simply add some more of these, and follow the cooking instructions above.

To serve hot: place approximately 30ml of chai syrup into a mug and top with heated/steamed milk of your choice.

To serve cold: place 40ml chai syrup into a blender jug with a handful of ice and 1 cup of milk of your choice, blend until smooth.

 

Homemade Spicy Chai Syrup

 

Super Green Smoothie

Super Green Smoothie

Super Green Smoothie

 

Smoothies are a fantastic way to get a lot of nutrients into you in one go, simply due to the volume of fruits and vegetables you are able to consume this way. Take a green smoothie for example, you can literally pack an entire salad or plate of greens into one glass, yet it’s easy to finish and you don’t feel overly full afterwards. The reason for this is the smoothie ingredients and their nutrients are partially broken down by the blender blades, which means they are more readily digested and absorbed by your body. This in turn means your body doesn’t have to put as much time and energy into digestion and can turn its attention to other important processes such as detoxification and healing.

The other great thing about smoothies is the ingredients are entirely raw so all the nutrients are in their original, unprocessed state. All the antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals remain intact, along with the foods inherent living enzymes which are often killed by heat. These living enzymes assist in the absorption of the nutrients which also helps to take some of the load off your digestive system. So by eating raw food in the form of a smoothie, you can maximise your nutrient intake in a very easy way.

One thing to keep in mind when choosing food that you’ll be eating raw is to consider buying organic, spray-free produce. Or an even better, much more affordable option is to grown your own if you can. The reason for this is produce that is covered in pesticides creates more work for your digestive system and liver, which essentially defeats the purpose of eating raw (easily digestible) food.

Making your own smoothies is much more cost effective than buying them and allows you to control the quality of ingredients and flavour combinations. One important thing to look out for if you are buying a smoothie (especially the pre-packaged type from the supermarket) is to check the label for added sugar. This can often be disguised as “fruit juice” or “juice concentrate” which is essentially fruit that has been stripped of it’s fibre and nutrients leaving a high concentration of fructose and not much else. Fructose can’t be used for energy by the body and can only be metabolised by the liver, which turns it into fat and stores it in the body. Alternatively by using whole fruit in a smoothie, the fibre and nutrients act to slow down the fructose absorption and the benefits of the vitamins, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and minerals far out weigh out any negative effects from fructose. Therefore if you are going to buy a smoothie, the best places to do so are those where you know the smoothie is being made from scratch using whole, raw fruit and vegetables, such as quality cafes, raw food eateries or smoothie bars.

If you are new to green smoothies you may prefer to ease yourself into them by starting off with a fruit base, rather than going straight to an entirely green vegetable smoothie which can be an acquired taste. A good way to start is by adding a little fruit like a pear, a small handful of fresh pineapple or half a banana.

The following minty green smoothie recipe is one of my favourites and is a nice mild option to start with. It’s a mix of greens, tropical fruit and coconut water. It tastes best when chilled, so one of my top tips is to chop up a bunch of fruit and store it in your freezer. That way your smoothies will always come out chilled, even after high speed blending, and you will always have a stash of frozen fruit ready for the next one!

Use this green smoothie recipe as a base, swapping in different fruits and greens to create your own favourite smoothie combinations. Enjoy!

 

Super Green Smoothie
 

Green Smoothie

Makes: 1 large smoothie
Prep time: 10 minutes

1 cup of coconut water or filtered drinking water
1 cup of spinach or kale, washed
1 2inch/6cm piece cucumber
1 cup of pineapple, chopped, preferably frozen
1 kiwifruit, peeled, chopped, preferably frozen
1/2 frozen banana
1 handful of fresh mint
1 handful ice
squeeze of lemon or lime

Place all the ingredients in the blender and slowly work up to maximum speed. You may have to stop the blender and give the ingredients a stir if you’re using frozen fruit, or use the blender stirring stick. Blend until smooth, pour into a tall glass and drink immediately. Alternatively this smoothie can be stored in the fridge in a sealed bottle for up to 2 days.

Note: This makes quite a thick, icy green smoothie. For a more liquid version just add extra coconut water or filtered drinking water, or leave out the ice.

 

Christmas Spice Cookies with Whipped Cashew Cream Icing

Christmas Spice Cookies with Whipped Cashew Cream Icing

Christmas Spice Cookies with Whipped Cashew Cream

 

Gingerbread cookies have become a Christmas tradition of ours over the past few years, and while I have a great classic gingerbread recipe using butter, sugar, golden syrup, treacle and wheat flour, I wanted to create a healthier type of Christmas spice cookie with a lot less sugar, and no dairy or wheat.

This Christmas cookie recipe actually started out as chocolate chip cookies (which I will share soon) and slowly had spices added, sugar reduced and chocolate taken out, until they eventually became spice cookies and I realised they would make the perfect Christmas Spice Cookie.

Even though I have called these Christmas cookies, they can be eaten any time of the year and cut in any shape you like. If you don’t have cutters or a rolling pin, instead of patting the dough out flat as specified in the method, roll them into logs, chill and then cut off rounds with a knife.

These cookies are so light and more-ish we managed to almost polish off the whole first batch in an evening. Several batches later, they only got more delicious and we may have eaten our weight in christmas cookies over the past couple of weeks! Luckily, they’re a lot healthier than your standard gingerbread cookie as they’re made with a much lower amount of unrefined sugar and contain ground almonds which add a protein element.

As it’s now the week before Christmas, I wanted to decorate these cookies as I would the traditional ones, so rather than using the standard royal icing which is a mix of icing sugar and egg white, I created a slightly heathier icing from whipped cashew butter, coconut oil and maple syrup. The cashew icing pipes almost the same as royal icing, and while it takes longer to set and doesn’t go rock hard, it’s a great option or people wanting to avoid refined sugars or raw egg.

I hope you give these cookies recipe a try over the holidays and if you post any pictures to social media such as Instagram or Facebook be sure to tag #swoonfood @swoon.food so I can come and admire them! Enjoy x

 

Any questions or comments about this recipe? Leave a note in the comments section below, I love to hear from you!

 

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Christmas Spice Cookies with Whipped Cashew Cream

 

Christmas Spice Cookies

Makes: Approximately 20 cookies
Prep time: 10 minutes Chill time: 30 minutes Cook time: 10-15 minutes

100 g ground almonds
100g rice flour
150g coconut sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch Himalayan pink salt
100g coconut oil, gently melted
1 egg, lightly whisked with a fork

Whipped Cashew Cream Icing

60g coconut oil, gently melted
30g pure maple syrup
30g cashew butter

Decorations

freeze dried raspberries, crushed
freeze dried black currants, crushed

To make the cookies: melt the coconut oil by placing it in a bowl set over a pan of steaming water. Combine the ground almonds, rice flour, coconut sugar, spices, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the melted coconut oil, stirring with a butter knife until evenly combined – the mixture should look like wet crumbs. Add the egg and mix until the mixture starts to come together.

Lay some cling film out on the bench, pile the cookie mixture into the middle and top with another piece of cling film. Pat the cookie dough down into a flat round shape, and use a rolling pin to roll it out to about 5mm thickness. Seal the sides and place on a flat surface in the fridge to chill for approximately 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170ºC fan bake and line two baking trays with baking paper or silicone baking mats.

Remove the chilled dough from the fridge and place on your bench top. Loosen the cling film from the dough by peeling it off and then lightly replacing it. Do this to both sides as this will stop the cookies from sticking to the cling film and make them easier to pick up. Peel the cling film off the top side entirely, cut out shapes using cookie cutters and place on the prepared trays.

When the tray is full place the cookies back in the fridge to chill for a further 10 minutes as this will help the cookies hold their shape when baking. Gather any cookie dough leftovers back together and re-roll the dough between two sheets of cling-film. If you work fast you don’t need to chill the dough again before cutting out the shapes. But if you find it sticking too much, return it to the fridge to chill for 10 minutes.

Once the cookies have chilled place them the centre of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Cooking times will vary depending on your oven and whether you like your cookies chewy (less time) or crispy (longer). The cookies are cooked when they have risen slightly, turned a golden brown and if you lightly press the tops lightly they should bounce back.

Remove from the oven and leave the cookies to cool on the trays, then transfer to a wire rack to decorate.

To make the whipped cashew cream: place the coconut oil in a heat proof bowl set over a pan of steaming water with the heat turned off. When the coconut oil has just melted remove it from the heat. Add the maple syrup and cashew butter and whisk to combine. The mixture will be liquid at the point and needs to cool down so that it can be whipped into a cream. Either place the bowl in the fridge for 15 minutes or freezer for 5 minutes until you can see it start to set around the edges. Use a whisk to whip it into a light caramel coloured cream. If it sets too hard before you can whisk it simply set it back on top of the pan of hot water for a few minutes and try whisking it again.

Spoon the whipped cashew cream into a piping bag and pipe decorations on the cookies. Place the crushed freeze dried berries on small plates and carefully dip the iced cookies into the powder.. The whipped cashew cream will take a couple of hours to set fully but can be stored in a single layer in an air-tight container in the meantime. These cookies will last up to 2 weeks iced or 1 month un-iced, whren stored in an air-tight container at room temperature.

Festive Christmas Cookie with Cashew Cream Icing

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