You know, I really do get people who think Valentine's Day is just a commercialised holiday designed to make money. I see that. People always expect me to be a really mushy V-Day singleton, but hey, I can be as cynical as the next person every now and then.
If you're in a relationship with someone you love why should one day pressure you to do the most (forced) romantic thing ever in the history of the world?
That said, I also can't help but smile when I see men walking down the street, a bunch of red roses in their hand and a smile on their face in anticipation of giving them to their gal.
I've always been single on Valentine's Day, and I'm okay with that. Just like I'm perfectly fine the other 364 days of the year too. So it may come of no surprise to you that I hate articles that bleat on about "survival tips" for singletons on Valentine's Day. Why can't I just be happy for the couples and go about my daily life?
That said, I'm a sucker for a) festivities and generally making a fuss, b) cute heart-shaped stuff, and c) breakfast. So when Hartley's got in touch asking if I'd like to make some Valentine's Day-themed breakfast treats I was unsurprisingly keen. Also: Hart-ley's. Like Heart-ley's. IT'S JUST TOO GOOD!
|Hartley's sent me this cute mug. It seems pretty standard at first...|
|...but fill with a hot drink and the message "I heart You" appears!|
Of course, they'd be wonderful all year round, but as it's nearly V-Day I've made each recipe heart-themed, because that's the mushy kinda gal I am.
Go on, treat yourself to something special.
PEANUT BUTTER PANCAKES
First up, I made pancakes. Hartley's sent me a heart-shaped mould and as I'm not a big egg girl, I figured it would be perfect for some cute pancakes.
Based on a Minimalist Baker recipe, these were some seriously tasty pancakes, if I do say so myself. That said, using the heart-shape was a bit fiddly, and in future I'll just make them normally. What's more, only having one mould means you can only make one at a time. And I don't know about you but I don't like waiting so long for my pancakes! Another reason to make these just for yourself.
The batter is thick so takes a little while to cook, but then you get a gorgeous fluffy texture, despite not using any eggs. This was my first experiment using what vegans call "flax eggs" - it's just ground flaxseed mixed with water but somehow does the same thing that an egg would. Magic!
|Perf sunny morning|
These pancakes are amazingly flavoursome - even the batter by itself was divine, which isn't often the case with pancakes. The combination of oat and peanut butter flavours is amazing, and there's a teeny coconutty note thanks to the coconut oil. I also love the slight wholegrainy flavour you get from the buckwheat despite it being totally gluten-free. Literally everything in these pancakes is good-for-you.
As the pancakes taste so sensational, you've got a pretty fertile ground for your toppings. Being a gal who struggles to choose, I had three different toppings on my three pancakes:
One with Choc Shot, one with maple syrup and one with the reduced-sugar strawberry jam Hartley's sent me. (All with banana and raspberries.)
Sure, the jam isn't sugar-free but it's all about the 80/20 rule, am I right?
I was genuinely surprised by the fact that the jam one was my fave! I suppose PB&J is a classic combo though. The jam tastes really fruity and this was such a winner.
1/2 tbsp flaxmeal
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tbsp agave syrup (or honey if not vegan)
1/2 tbsp all-natural smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 cup oat flour (ie. 1/4 cup oats ground up in a blender or food processor)
1/8 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup almond milk
Oil, cooking spray or (vegan) butter for greasing
1. Make the flax egg by mixing the flaxmeal with 1 tbsp + 1 tsp water in a little bowl and set aside.
2. Melt the coconut butter and honey/agave in a medium-sized bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, remove from the heat and mix in the "flax egg", peanut butter and vanilla.
3. Pop a nonstick frying pan on to a medium heat to warm up.
4. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet followed by the almond milk. Don't overmix or else your pancakes will be tough. Set aside for five minutes while you get all your toppings ready!
5. Drop a teeny bit of oil/butter into the pan and wipe it round with a piece of kitchen roll to absorb any excess. Use this to grease the heart-mould, if using.
6. Place the mould on to the frying pan (if using) and spoon a third of the pancake mix into it - the batter is thick so you'll need to spread it out with a spoon. Leave to cook for a good few minutes until the edges are turning dry/darker and bubbles appear in the middle.
7. Carefully remove the mould and flip the pancake over using a spatula. Leave to cook for a couple more minutes, but not as long as before. Cook until light brown then remove from the pan and place on a warm, covered plate while you make the other two: regrease and repeat!
8. Top with whatever takes your fancy! I thoroughly recommend banana and strawberry jam.
HEALTHY NUTELLA-BANANA PORRIDGE TOPPED WITH STRAWBERRIES
A lot of people think porridge is boring. I think those people are wrong. I don’t think I could ever get bored of porridge as it’s just so darn versatile ad there are so many amazing ways to make it even more delicious.
This version is sure delish. AND JUST SO DARN CUTE!
Chocolate and strawberries is one of those flavour combos that people always associate with luuurrrrve and Valentine’s Day. As far as I’m concerned it’s a year-round winner and this porridge is certainly too good to be made purely for special occasions.
It tastes super decadent, is rich and seriously filling. The bananas take on a new flavour when cooked and they go all soft and caramelly which adds to the indulgent feel.
I like strawberries to stay fresh so only use them as a topping. I also think they’re just too pretty to stir into the oats but you could if you wanted to.
Oh, and if you use normal Nutella and cocoa powder you may not need so much agave/Sweet Freedom as they’re much sweeter already. You may even find with Nutella you don’t need cocoa/cacao – it depends on your tastes so have a play around.
1 cup almond milk
1/2-1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 heaped tbsp healthy Nutella (I used the recipe from Deliciously Ella’s book but there are loads of different ones online)
Squeeze Sweet Freedom or agave, to taste
Strawberries, chopped into heart-shaped slices
1. Place the oats in a pan and soak in just boiled water with the lid on the pan for ten mins.
2. Stir in the almond milk and salt and place the pan on medium a heat - when it starts bubbling, turn the heat down. Stir occasionally as the oats absorb the almond milk and turn creamy.
3. Stir in the cacao and Nutella before the porridge is done, followed by the banana and agave. Cook for few more minutes (add more milk if it gets too thick).
4. Pour the porridge into a bowl and top with the chopped strawberries.
APPLE CINNAMON PECAN MUFFINS
The flavour combo of apple, cinnamon, pecans, oats and almonds is just too perfect, and these muffins have it all going on.
They're gorgeously moist and perhaps not as fluffy as your standard unhealthy muffin, but they're still darn delicious, particularly warm from the oven. The juicy apples and crunchy pecans are a match made in heaven.
To make these heart-shaped I used a silicone mould but of course they'd be just as divine in the normal muffin shape.
Recipe adapted from Healthy Happy Life.
Makes about 9.
2 cups oats
3/4 cup ground almonds
3/4 cup oat bran
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large apple (good if it's soft!), chopped into small chunks, no need to peel
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup almond milk
1 ripe banana
handful pecan nuts, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease/line a muffin tin. Blitz the oats and ground almonds in a blender or food processor until you have a flour-like mix. Pour into a bowl and stir in the oat bran, cinnamon, salt and baking powder.
2. Blitz half the apple chunks, maple syrup, almond milk and banana in a blender until smooth. Fold the wet mix into the dry then fold in the rest of the apple chunks and the pecans.
3. Fill your muffin cases with the mixture (they won't rise much) and sprinkle each muffin with a few oats. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool in the mould/tin before placing on a wire rack.
Happy breakfasting! I mean, happy Valentine's Day. Ahem.