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)

 

Festive Christmas Granola

Festive Christmas Granola

Festive Christmas Granola

 

I regularly make a batch of granola each month, so as it’s December I thought why not make a batch of festive Christmas granola! When I think of Christmas the colours red, green and white come to mind so I tried to incorporate these into my original granola recipe by way of pistachios, cranberries, freeze dried plums and white coconut flakes. I added christmas spices to create that nostalgic Christmas smell and flavour, and while it was baking the house literally smelt like Christmas cookies!

We have been eating this granola since the beginning of December and there’s nothing like starting your day with a bowl of Christmas cheer to put you in a festive mood. I think we’ll also be eating this granola on Christmas morning (although I suspect I will need to make another batch before then!) as the oats and nuts are nice and filling yet light enough that I know we’ll still have room for all the celebratory food ahead of us.

This Christmas granola would also make a fabulous gift, especially for someone who appreciates handmade gifts. You could seal it in a cellophane bag and tie with a festive ribbon or even better, pile it into a couple of mason jars, tie some ribbons around the tops and attach a hand written label with the recipe on it.

If you do give this recipe a try and post any pictures on Instagram I would love to see them – tag @swoon.food #swoonfood so I can come and admire them! Enjoy x

 

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

 

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Festive Christmas Granola

 

 

Festive Christmas Granola

4 cups oats
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup pistachios (shelled, unsalted)
1 cup walnuts
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1Tbsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1tsp cloves
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp himalayan pink salt
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup freeze dried plums (or red fruit of choice)
2 cups coconut flakes

Preheat the oven to 160ºC and line two baking trays with silicone mats or baking paper.
Gently melt the coconut oil by placing in a heatproof bowl over a pan of steaming water.
Place the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pistachios and walnuts into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl mash the banana and combine with the honey, melted coconut oil, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and salt.
Add the banana mix to the oat mix and stir well to combine, then use your hands to rub it all together. Sprinkle the granola mixture evenly over the lined baking trays, then place in the centre of the oven to bake for 20- 30 minutes, stirring halfway.
The granola is ready when it starts to colour, it will still be soft when you removed it from the oven but should crunch up as it cools. If not, return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Place the baking trays on cooling racks and allow the granola to cool. When the granola is cool enough to handle, add the cranberries, freeze dried plums and coconut flakes.
When completely cold, transfer the granola to airtight containers and store at room temperature in the pantry. This granola will last up to 6 months if stored in an airtight container.

 

Festive Christmas Granola

Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

 

This raw strawberry tart was inspired by some amazing extra large, juicy strawberries that were leftover from a birthday party. These strawberries were the really delicious sweet kind and were exactly what you’d imagine the perfect strawberry to look and taste like.

When I think of strawberries I naturally think of cream, or in the case of a tart, a vanilla custard cream. I decided to go one better and make this tart with a white chocolate custard cream. And by cream I really mean cashew cream as this is a gluten, dairy, egg & refined sugar free tart of goodness!

Fresh fruit flan used to be my mum’s go-to dessert when entertaining, and it would always receive many complements. What no one knew was it was a flan case made from store bought pastry that she filled with a vanilla “pastry cream” made from vanilla instant pudding with a bit of whipped cream folded through.

She topped her flans with fresh seasonal fruit (or occasionally tinned), and glazed it with apricot jam. The finished flan always looked spectacular and fooled many a guest into thinking that it was made from scratch. Mum was all about quick and easy desserts and this one never failed to please.

So for nostalgia sake, I have loosely based this raw strawberry tart recipe on those traditional fruit flan flavours. The base is reminiscent of a vanilla biscuit base and is made from almonds, brazils, cashews, coconut and dates. It’s very easy to prepare, simply blend it all in a food processor and then press it into your flan tin. I used a large 26cm flan tin but this recipe would work equally well with a standard springform tin or individual flan tins.

 

Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

 

The white chocolate custard cream is made from soaked cashew nuts (I’ve added some notes on soaking below), as they create a lovely creamy base. I combined them with raw cacao butter which brings the white chocolate element, vanilla for flavour, pure maple syrup to sweeten, coconut oil for setting and coconut milk for consistency. This may sounds complicated, but once you’ve soaked the cashews it’s simply a case of blending all the ingredients in a high speed blender and pouring the white chocolate cream into your tart case to set.

Once the custard layer is set the tart is ready to for the strawberries. I kept the strawberry arrangement really simple by just standing them on top of the custard ensuring there were as little gaps as possible. But you could also slice the strawberries in half and arrange them lying down, or you could cut them into slices and arrange them in spikes to create a more art deco style flan.

Of course the decoration is entirely up to you, and if you’d prefer to use another type of fruit entirely, by all means do. Raspberries, blueberries or blackberries would all be amazing, and if you wanted to get really creative you could make a mixed fruit flan using all your favourite seasonal fruits.

This raw strawberry tart will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, although it’s best eaten fresh on the day it’s made. I think it would make a fabulous celebration dessert, and would be perfect for Christmas day!

I hope you give this recipe a try and if you post any photos to Instagram be sure to tag @swoon.food #swoonfood so I can come and admire them!

Any questions about this recipe? Do you have a favourite strawberry recipe? Leave your comments in the section below, I would love to hear from you!

 Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

 

Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

Makes: 1 x 26cm/10 inch tart or 6-8 individual tarts
Prep time: 1 hour Soaking time: 2-4 hours Chill time: 1 hour

Base

3/4 cup desiccated coconut
3/4 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup raw brazil nuts (or cashews)
pinch sea salt
8 medjool dates, pitted
2 Tbsp coconut oil, gently melted (see note below)

White Chocolate Custard Cream

2 cups cashews, soaked (see note below)
1 cup coconut milk (I used Little Islands Original Coconut Drinking Milk)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence, or powder or 1 scraped vanilla pod
pinch himalayan pink salt
1/4 cup cacao butter, gently melted (see note below)
1/4 cup coconut oil,  gently melted (see note below)

2 extra large punnets of strawberries, washed and dried

Start by soaking the cashew nuts. Place 2 cups of raw cashew nuts in a bowl, cover with filtered water and leave to stand for 2-4 hours. Drain off the water and rinse the cashews well.

To make the base, gently melt the coconut oil by placing it in a heatproof bowl over a pan of steaming water with the heat turned off (see notes below). Place the coconut, almonds, brazil nuts and salt into a food processor and blend until the mixture looks like chunky crumbs. Add the medjool dates (ensuring you have removed the pitts!) and blend until they are well combined. Lastly add the melted coconut oil while the motor is running. Lightly grease the bottom of your flan tin with a wipe of coconut oil. Press the base mixture evenly into the tin and up the sides, then place in the fridge to set.

To make the white chocolate custard cream first gently melt your coconut oil and cacao butter using the method as above. Place the soaked and drained cashews into a high speed blender (e.g. Vitamix/Blendtec) along with the coconut milk, pure maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt, and blend until smooth. You may need to use your blender stirring stick to ensure it’s evenly blended. When the mixture is smooth, add the melted cacao butter gradually through the top of the blender while the motor is running, followed by the coconut oil. These should blend in completely and you should end up with a smooth thick cream. Pour the white chocolate cream into the tart base, smooth with a spatula and place in the freezer to set for approximately 30minutes to an hour depending on your freezer. You can also place the tart in the fridge to set, but it will take much longer.

Once the white chocolate cream is set, remove the tart from the freezer and pop it out of the tart tin onto a serving plate. Prepare the strawberries by washing thoroughly, removing the greens and patting dry. Arrange the strawberries on top of the tart with as few gaps as possible. Return the finished tart to the fridge until ready to serve. This raw strawberry start will keep covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Raw Strawberry Tart with White Chocolate Cream

How to activate nuts: activating is the process of soaking nuts (or seeds) in water to remove the natural inhibitor enzymes on their skins to make them more digestible. The cashews in the cheesecake filling of this recipe are therefore activated. If you also wanted to activate the cashews and almonds in the base for this recipe they would need to be soaked and then dried. Ideally this would be in a dehydrator at 41ºC for 1 1/2 – 2 days, or in an oven on the lowest fan bake setting with the door ajar for about a day. The aim is to keep the nuts below 41ºC so the nutrients remain unaffected by heat and the food still deemed raw.

How to melt raw ingredients: to ensure ingredients remain in their raw form and their nutrients fully intact, they must not be heated above 41º. When melting raw coconut oil or raw cacao butter, do so by placing the bowl of ingredients over a pot of steaming water with the heat turned off. This should ensure the ingredients do not heat above 41ºC.

How to choose a good coconut oil: it is important which type of coconut oil you choose. A lot of the cheaper coconut oils are heat or chemical processed which destroys the inherent nutrients that have made coconut oil so popular recently. Look for ‘cold pressed, extra virgin, organic’ or ‘unrefined raw’ coconut oil. Even though it may cost a little more, it is WAY better for you. Coconut oil contains high quantities of lauric acid which has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. It boosts your immune system and metabolism, lowers blood pressure and helps with the absorption of minerals. Even though coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is considered a ‘heathier’ fat because lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid. This means it is easily digestible and processed by your body in the same way as carbohydrates as a direct source of energy.

How to choose a good maple syrup: make sure you get the real deal! There are quite a few maple syrups out there that are just maple flavoured sugar syrup, full of additives and often high fructose corn syrup. Pure maple syrup lists only “pure maple syrup” under ingredients and is made by a natural process of extracting the sap from maple trees, evaporating off excess water and filtering to remove impurities. Pure maple syrup is an unrefined sugar and has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar. It contains minerals and antioxidants such as calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and zinc, unlike refined sugar which contains none. Maple syrup is still a form of sugar however, so while it is better choice than refined sugar it is still best used in moderation. Feel free to use less in this recipe if it suits your tastes and if you do decrease the amount of maple syrup, replace the quantity you leave out with an equal amount of coconut milk.

 

Raspberry Passion Smoothie Bowl

Raspberry Passion Smoothie Bowl

Passionfruit & Raspberry Smoothie Bowl

 

I don’t know about you, but when life gets busy I find myself eating the same breakfast day in day out, without any thought to whether it’s something my body actually needs that day or not.

So this year I’ve been making an effort to get more creative with my breakfasts to ensure I have a good rotation of recipes on hand so that I don’t get bored or lazy!

My ideal breakfast is something made from whole foods, that’s nutrient dense and low in sugars, to give me the energy I need to go about my day.

I started the year eating my Maple and Cinnamon Buckwheat Granola alternated with avocado and/or almond butter on paleo seed toast.

As the days got colder I got creative with porridge recipes, and in the weekends we’d cook poached or scrambled eggs or blueberry coconut pancakes.

Now that the weather’s warmed up again, I’ve got back into cold breakfasts like chia puddings, bircher muesli, chia bircher, and smoothie bowls. Which brings me to today’s recipe for this raspberry passionfruit smoothie bowl.

A smoothie bowl can be a much more filling breakfast option that a standard smoothie. By using frozen fruit you can create a thicker spoonable smoothie, and by adding nut butter, protein powders or seeds, you can increase the protein content and create a really satisfying, nourishing breakfast. The other bonus about a smoothie bowl is being able to add toppings and the possibilities really are endless.

This raspberry passionfruit smoothie bowl is one of my favourites, not just for it’s pretty pink colour! Hope you enjoy it and let me know your favourite breakfast in the comments below.

 

Raspberry Passion Smoothie Bowl

Serves: 1
Prep time: 5 minutes

1 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup frozen passion fruit
1 frozen banana
1 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp cashew butter
1 Tbsp flaxseed or vanilla protein powder

Topping ideas

Dried coconut
Flaxseed
Sunflower seeds
Freeze dried raspberries
Activated muesli
Edible flowers

Place all the smoothie ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Take care not to over blend as you want the smoothie to remain lovely and thick and spoonable.
Pour the smoothie into a bowl and sprinkle with your favourite toppings.
Eat immediately with a spoon!

Note: The nut butter, seed and protein powders listed above are just suggestions – feel free to get creative with different varieties to find your favourite combination!

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