Ballerina and food blogger Saskia Gregson-Williams, better known as Naturally Sassy, shares some of her favourite healthy vegan recipes
As well as being a top food blogger, Saskia Gregson-Williams is also a trained ballerina, so she knows a thing or two about fuelling your body the right way. Originally getting by on a diet of low calorie, low fat foods paired with sugary energy drinks, Sassy was often ill and left dealing with dance injuries. That’s when she decided it was time to rethink her diet and cut out dairy, meat and refined sugar completely. Cue sad, tasteless salads and boring meal times? Not exactly – Saskia started her Naturally Sassy food blog and has just published her own recipe book to show people how easy it can be to make affordable, healthy vegan recipes that taste really good. Read on and try some of her recipes for yourself…
1. Brown Rice Pizza With A Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
220g (1 3/4 cups) brown rice flour
3 tablespoons arrowroot
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
20g (1/2 cup) roughly chopped parsley
350ml (1/2. cups) warm water
60ml (1/4. cup) olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Sun-dried tomato sauce
60g (1 cup) sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
60ml (1/4 cup) passata
Clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 medium-sized squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into small cubes
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of salt
150g (1 1/2 cups) sliced white mushrooms
2 sweet peppers (any colour), deseeded and sliced
1 handful of fresh basil, roughly shredded
30g (1/4 cup) pine nuts
50g (1/2 cup) pitted black olives
1 handful of rocket, to garnish
How to make
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5 and line a 30cm pizza tray or a baking sheet with baking parchment.
Place the squash in a roasting tin, drizzle over the olive oil and add a pinch of salt. Pop in the oven to roast for 30 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, place all the ingredients for the pizza base in a mixing bowl and mix until fully combined.
Scoop the dough out onto the prepared pizza tray/baking sheet and, with wet hands, flatten it out and mould into your pizza shape. You want a very thin crust, so it’s best to spread the dough out as much as possible.
Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden.
While the pizza base is cooking, place all the ingredients for the sun-dried tomato sauce into a blender and blend until smooth.
Remove the pizza from the oven and top with the sun-dried tomato sauce, mushrooms, peppers, basil, pine nuts and black olives. Cook for a further 10 minutes and serve, with the sweet potato cubes scattered on top and garnished with rocket leaves.
2. Pad Thai
3 carrots, peeled
5 asparagus spears, very thinly sliced
2 red peppers, deseeded and thinly sliced
50g (1/3 cup) whole almonds
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon water
3 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 thumbnail-sized knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
240ml (1 cup) full-fat coconut milk
80g (⅓cup) almond butter
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons tamari
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How to make
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.
To make the tamari-roasted almonds, combine the tamari and water in a bowl, add the almonds and coat well in the liquid.
Tip into a baking tray, spreading out evenly, then place in the oven to roast for 2–3 minutes, until the liquid has dissolved. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Next spiralise the courgettes and carrots with a spiraliser if you have one (see page 12) or peel them into fine ribbons with a vegetable peeler if you don’t.
To prepare the sauce, simply chuck all the sauce ingredients into a blender and blend!
To assemble the dish, place all the prepared vegetables into a large mixing bowl, add the tamari-roasted almonds, pour in the sauce and toss well together. Plate up and enjoy!
For the sauce, make sure you buy a standard brand of coconut milk. Some specialist brands can be very thin and watery, and we don’t want a watery sauce!
3. Caramel Mousse With A Raw Chocolate Ganache
-Makes 2 mousses
115g (1 cup) pecans
3 tablespoons raw cacao (or cocoa) powder
90g (1/2 cup) Medjool dates, pitted
Pinch of salt
125g (1/2 cup) cashew butter
45g (1/4 cup) Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon raw honey, agave or pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
60–120ml (1/4 – 1/2 cup) water – start with less and add more if needed
Raw chocolate ganache
2 generous tablespoons coconut oil, melted
30g (1/4 cup) raw cacao (or cocoa) powder
80ml (1/4 cup) agave or maple syrup
Despite being made from completely natural ingredients, this is one of the most indulgent desserts I have ever tasted. The base consists of a fudge brownie, with a hint of sweet pecan and a subtle caramel overtone from the Medjool dates. The middle is like a caramel mousse with hints of cinnamon and coconut. To top it all is a layer of raw chocolate ganache – sheer heaven!
Make the base by adding the pecans and cacao (or cocoa) powder to a food processor and process into a fine flour, then add the dates and blend again until it becomes a sticky dough.
Divide the dough in two and press into the bottom of a glass or jar.
Make the caramel layer by adding all ingredients to a blender and blending until smooth.
Pour on top of the base in each glass or jar.
To make the chocolate chocolate ganache, mix all the ingredients until smooth, then pour the chocolate on top of the caramel layer and place in the fridge to chill until you are ready to serve.
Extracted from Naturally Sassy by Saskia Gregson-Williams, Ebury Press, £16.99.
Photography by Matt Russell.