Saturday, 15 June 2013

How- to 13: Make Coconut" Bacon"

Coconut bacon with avocado and sprouts makes a simple salad into a meal!
This month's how-to is another useful vegan sprinkle for salads, soups and flans; one which I've seen all over the internet lately, even as a topping for some delectable-looking vegan butterscotch cupcakes at Post Punk Kitchen, cookbook author Isa Chandra Moscowitz's fantastic site. We are not into meat substitutes usually, as there are so many plant foods that are worthy of showcasing in their own right, but this one looked so delicious and versatile, we just had to try it out! Many recipes for coconut bacon contain an ingredient called Liquid Smoke, and I was all prepared to buy some online but I then found out there are some pretty serious health concerns with it, so I've stuck to smoked paprika instead.
These instructions make enough for a bowlful- keep any that are left (there may well not be; we could not stop munching on them long after the soup we served them with was gone!) in an airtight jar for next time...

2 cups (1 cup = 250ml) unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tab smoked paprika
2 tabs dark soy sauce/ Liquid Aminos/tamari
1 tab agave nectar/ maple syrup

1: Preheat your oven to 200C.

2:  Measure out the coconut and put it in a bowl. Stir in all the other ingredients.

3: Spread onto a shallow baking tray lined with baking paper or foil and cook for 10-20 minutes, turning with a spatula from time to time. Be careful not to overcook it as it will lose its flavour and just taste like charred coconut (which of course it is by this time). The "bacon" will crisp up as it cools down.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Millet Pilaff- vegan, gluten free

We served this topped with grilled asparagus and almond "Parmesan" .(Apologies for the rather rubbish photo- I was in too much of a hurry!)
It's great how not having one of your staple ingredients to hand makes you more inventive, isn't it? We are, at the moment, between wholefood orders and have run out of brown rice, so when I was racking my brains to come up with a grain for last Saturday's dinner I got really excited (sad but true) when I found some wholegrain millet in the back of the cupboard! At first I thought to make something with an African vibe, but then I realised I was also out of peanuts so I went for something Middle Eastern/ Mediterranean-ish instead- a pilaff. Where barley would probably be used (most of my family doesn't like it), I just substituted the millet. In this recipe, 1 cup = 250ml, and the amounts given here serve at least 6 people.

1 1/2 cups whole millet, washed, in 3 cups of water
1 large bell pepper
2 cups any other veg (you can use sweetcorn, white cabbage etc.)
1 cup cooked yellow chickpeas
1 tab dark soy sauce
1 tab paprika
1 tab smoked paprika
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
1/2 tsp coarse black pepper
1/2 tspm compound hing
1 tab olive oil
1 tsp salt

  • Add the olive oil and salt to the millet, and cook it pretty much how you would cook brown rice. It takes about the same amount of time (20-30 mins) but comes out more chewy; it's a really interesting texture, in fact.
  • When the millet is about half- cooked, throw in the veggies, the chickpeas and the other seasonings and simmer with the lid on until the vegetables and millet are cooked and the liquid is absorbed.
  • Serve as is, or dressed up with almond parmesan, fresh herbs, grilled asparagus etc. on top.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Thought milk was okay for you? - Think again...

We wanted to share with you this shocking expose of that dairy industry. We have already made the connection between  meat and dairy (cows from dairy farms are also slaughtered for meat) but in this video we learn just what undesirable stuff is in milk and its effect on our bodies. Because of blood and pus being present in milk, you may even question whether it is a vegetarian food any more or not! And all this is due to the cruel way humans are treating Mother Cow. Seems like the only way to ensure she is respected properly and that her milk is both cruelty-free and safe for consumption is to keep your own cows- forget about commercially- produced milk, cheese, butter and yoghurt.
We know many of you will be shocked, but at the same time reluctant to face giving up such a "staple" and widespread foodstuff; it's not an easy decision to make and you may find it easier to give up dairy gradually.There is a lot of good nutritional advice out there on the internet, however, and it is possible to become vegan whatever circumstances you find yourself in. We'd love to hear your views and experiences on the subject, so please feel free to use the comments. Do you keep cows yourself according to ahimsa (nonviolence)? Do you source your dairy from ahimsa cows? Are you already vegan or thinking of going vegan? Or are you a pure vegetarian who is happy with the idea of dairy in your diet? Do you eat both meat and dairy happily? Whatever you think, do let us know...

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Chia Fresca- Mexican lemonade with added pizazz

Chia fresca is a seriously refreshing drink on a hot day, and before excercising.
We are always on the lookout for healthy foods or drinks that can help us get out on our daily run after a tiring working day- see here for some more tips- so when, while researching the amazing nutritional benefits of chia seeds for June's Ingredient of the Month, I came across this Mexican drink, I couldn't wait to try it out! As unappetising as it looks, it's actually really delicious, and the perfect runners' drink as it's both hydrating and slows down the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream. It can be made with more or less chia seeds (we went for more) according to your taste. They do become gelatinous when mixed with water, but the thicker texture is actually quite pleasant- a bit like one of those coconut jelly drinks you get in cartons. Chia fresca is so easy to make, and this recipe makes 4 generous servings.

4 cups water (1 cup = 250ml)
4 tabs whole chia seeds
the juice of 8 lemons (or the equivalent amount in limes)
7 tabs agave nectar (traditionally honey is used, but agave nectar is also Mexican)
a few mint leaves and lemon slices to garnish
  • Whisk the chia seeds up with the water and set aside for the gel to form.
  • Meanwhile, squeeze the lemons and stir in the agave nectar. Agave dissolves really well in liquids, so just a quick stir will probably do.
  • Whisk the juice and agave into the chia and water and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint. You might want to stir it in the glass just before drinking to distribute the chia evenly.

...And while we're on the subject of chia seeds, why not join in this month's event?