We're here, 2016! I hope you've had an amazing year. We're over on Waiheke Island for the summer, which I absolutely love. It's the perfect combo of holiday plus work, without that feeling one often gets at home to 'need' to do things (the washing, tidy the garage, remove items from wardrobe that haven't been worn for years etc etc). All that's here is a kitchen (which I spend a lot of time in), a DVD player, numerous bush walks, and a gorgeous view of the valley and beach. So while Mila's gone down for a quick morning snooze, here I am looking out at the view, perched at my laptop with a cup of tea and bowl of my favourite Bircher Muesli, feeling grateful for life's precious small moments.
I do love this time of year. Of course it's summer in New Zealand which helps, and we're often away on holiday, but there's also something about these first few weeks of January that feels so fresh and reinvigorating. The perfect time to relax, reset, reminisce on the year that's been, and make plans on how to make the coming one even more filled with love, happiness and fulfillment.
It's also the perfect time to reflect on what you've achieved - and yes, you have achieved lots! Most of us are so busy during the year with our every day tasks of living that we often forget to pause, breathe, and take in all the amazing experiences and moments we're privileged to enjoy. So if you're still on holiday right now, or even if you're back at work, I hope you'll take some time for yourself to reflect on a few things that have put a smile on your face this year just been.
For us, it's been a fulsome but fantastic 2015. We had our baby girl Mila who we'd been trying for for an age, moved into our first home and got stuck into a bunch of house renos, I finished another year of my Nutrition and Naturopathy degree, was honoured to be asked to speak at a number of amazing events on plant based nutrition, filmed a cooking segment for a TV show (coming out next February!), and of course had the pleasure of writing another year of blogs and recipes to you.
To celebrate the year that's been, I wanted to share a few of your favourite recipes from the year. I love going through these at the beginning of the new year, it often really surprises me which recipes and blogs you've actually enjoyed the most! So here they are - a delicious Chocolatey Espresso Fudge Brownie, a lovely creamy Maple Walnut Ice Cream, a super summery Pomegranate Cauliflower Couscous Salad, my favourite Chocolate Raspberry Tart, and a gorgeously moist Pear and Ginger Cake. All 100% plant-based and vegan, with no dairy, eggs or refined sugars. And all made with lots of love from me to you.
I hope you've had the chance to try a few of my recipes during the year, and that they've helped you move one step closer to incorporating more plant-based whole foods in your life. Maybe your health has improved, you've gained more energy, your allergies have cleared up, you've moved closer towards your optimal weight, or you just feel better knowing you're feeding yourself and your family with food that's better for your health, animals and our planet.
Thank you so much for reading my blog, leaving your kind and often hilarious comments, liking and sharing my posts on Facebook, pinning my recipes on your Pinterest boards, and posting photos of your fantastic recipe recreations on Instagram. It puts a smile on my face every time one of you takes the time to share your journey with me, and it certainly keeps me wanting to continue writing!
So here's to 2016, may it be another amazing year for you. Not without its ups and downs as life always is, but hopefully done with much joy, laughter and gratitude. Thank you again, and I look forward to hearing more from you in 2016!
Much love, hugs and gratitude,
The clear favourite from 2015, is of course, chocolate! This lovely Chocolate Espresso Fudge Brownie is a close cousin to my original Raw Afghan Brownie and just as delicious. It uses creamy walnuts as its base, which have one of the highest omega 3 contents in the nut and seed world, as well as being packed full of plant-based protein and skin-loving vitamin E.
These brownies have a delicious chewy and soft fudge-like texture, which is enhanced by keeping and eating them straight from the freezer. Combined with the walnut base is raw cacao (rich in antioxidants and iron), a hint of pure vanilla bean, a pinch of sea salt to bring out the sweetness, and a touch of herbal 'espresso'. The perfect afternoon tea treat with a cup of tea. Or bring them out for dessert with some sliced banana and my Coconut Cashew Chia Cream - chocolate, coffee, banana and cream is such a great combo!
To get my Chocolate Espresso Fudge Brownie recipe, click here.
My favourite ice cream recipe from 2015 uses frozen banana and coconut cream as its base, combined with walnuts again and a dash of coconut nectar for a maple syrup flavour. With only seven simple ingredients, most of which you probably have in your kitchen right now, this is a recipe I definitely recommend making this summer. Maple walnut ice cream is another one of those matches made in heaven I think!
Here's what some of you had to say about this delicious ice cream:
"Awesome recipe! Totally cured my ice cream cravings - maple walnut is one of my favourite flavours. Thank you so much, I love that this is guilt free in all aspects!" ~ Starsh
So many of you made this gorgeous tart for Christmas and shared your amazing photos and comments with me, I was blown away! So thank you. There’s not much else to say about it other than (a) it’s amazing, and (b) you have to try it! Chocolate and raspberries have long been one of my favourite chocolateering combos (along with our chocolate espresso brownies above, choc orange here and here, chocolate hazelnut and chocolate coconut). Yes ok you got me - I love chocolate. Luckily cacao is one of the highest antioxidant foods available, especially when kept in its raw state, which this tart does perfectly.
This tart uses cashews in the filling so it’s quite rich and decadent, perfect with a pile of fresh berries on the side and a dollop of coconut yoghurt or cream. It would make a brilliant dessert to take to a summer lunch or BBQ, and it tastes so amazing no-one will know it’s actually full of health-giving plant-based ingredients. Naughty tasting but secretly healthy = optimal dessert magic I reckon!
"A hit in our house! It was awesome thank you Buffy." ~ Britt
To check out my Chocolate Raspberry Tart recipe click here.
Another one you guys went crazy for over Christmas! And I'm so glad - this gorgeous Pomegranate Cauliflower Couscous Salad is hands down one of my favourite salad recipes yet. The perfect blend of juicy pomegranate seeds, crunchy almonds, chewy golden raisins, creamy avocado and flavoursome fresh herbs. All blended with a lovely light cauliflower base which soaks up the flavours brilliantly.
Here's a couple of lovely comments you made about this festive dish:
"I made your wonderful Pomegranate Cauliflower Couscous Salad and it was a HUGE success. Everyone loved it ... the Christmas colours, the taste, the crunch .... YUM." ~ Karen
"I loved the flavour combinations. It tasted like summer. Thanks for the recipe!" ~ Deborah
Try out my Pomegranate Cauliflower Couscous Salad recipe here.
One of the only 'baked' cakes I made this year, but boy is it a goodie. Cooking and nutrition for me is all about placing the fruit and vegetables centre stage, with everything else simply working to elevate these lovely little bits of earth-grown nourishment. This lovely Pear and Ginger cake definitely does just that, with the lovely subtle flavour of pear coming through an incredibly moist and tasty base. Most cakes are held together with eggs, butter, refined sugar and refined white flour, and whilst it's easy to replace one of those at a time with a healthier alternative, removing all four together is a definite challenge! Which is why I was so pleased with this recipe - none of those ingredients and yet all the moisture and flavour of the cakes you're used to.
As with most of my cakes, I recommend serving this lovely Pear, Almond and Ginger Cake with some freshly sliced fruit and a generous dollop of something creamy on the side - whipped coconut cream, coconut yoghurt, my Coconut Cashew Chia Cream or Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.
"I tried this cake and it was very nice...thanks for the recipe - delicious." ~ Melissa
"Thanks for the recipe this cake is absolutely beautiful!" ~ Kristin
To try my Pear, Almond and Ginger Cake recipe click here.
I hope you'll pick one of these five recipes and give them a try this coming week. I'd love to hear what you think, so do leave me a comment below or take a snap on Instagram and tag me @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics - it's so awesome to see your in-house versions!
Thanks again for being with me this year, and here's to a fantastic plant-powered happiness-filled 2016. x