Thursday, 15 August 2013

How-to 15 : Make Seed and Nut Butters- vegan, free from added oils

l-r: Peanut, pumpkin seed and peanut and hempseed butters

Warning: home made seed and nut butters are seriously addictive- this is not just a recipe, it's a lifestyle! 

This month's how-to is all about making your own seed and nut butters without the need for added oils. The other advantage of making your own is that you can decide the level of salt (if any) and if you like it sweet you can choose a natural sweetener. It also tastes unbelievably fresh; even wholefood organic brands will pale in comparison, I guarantee. -Oh, and it's cheaper too! We've been making our own for quite a time now and our kids won't eat any brand of bought nut butters any more, young foodies that they are. All you need to make this life-changing step is a decent food processor such as a Magimix, (Maybe a Vitamix will also do it, but we've never been lucky enough to own one) some nuts and/ or seeds and 15 minutes or so. Are you ready?
To make about a kg of the crunchy peanut and hempseed butter pictured here, you need 900g whole raw peanuts, 100g whole hemp seeds (we find unshelled is fine for this) and half a tsp seasalt. (This may sound like a lot, but you'll be surprised how quickly you eat it all! In any case, it keeps very well in an airtight jar or tub in a cool, dry cupboard.) If you want to vary the ingredients, try pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, walnuts, mixed nuts, sunflower seeds- any nut or seed you like, in fact! Different combinations produce different flavours and colours and after a bit of experimentation you'll soon decide on your own favourites that you'll want to make regularly.

1: Roast the peanuts for about 15 minutes at 170C on an unoiled baking sheet. The skins should be starting to crack, but they should not be overbrowned.

2: Grind the hemp seeds, shells and all, as finely as possible.

3: Now add the hemps seeds and 600g of the peanuts to the food processor.
(Add all of them if you want a smooth butter.) 

4: This picture shows what it should look like when about halfway done. The nuts and seeds are finely ground and just starting to stick together. Scrape the nuts down from the sides of the bowl from time to time.

5: When fully processed, the oil will be released from the peanuts and you will have a smooth butter.
Set this aside while you make the crunchy bits...

6: .. which are just the rest of the nuts chopped in the food processor.

7: Finally, simply stir in the chopped nuts. This closeup shows the texture of the finished butter.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Walnut Zucchini Bread/ Courgette cake- vegan, no added sugar

Apologies for the rushed photo!

It being the season of plenty as far as courgettes and Summer squashes are concerned, this cake was a must. The first version I made was a bit too generous with the courgettes and liquid with the date paste, resulting in it taking an hour and fifteen minutes to bake and still coming out more like bread pudding :/  It was edible, and actually quite nice, but not really cake. To spare you this experience, then, I had another go using date syrup, a bit less courgette and no flax eggs and this recipe is the result:

400g self-raising flour
100g chopped walnuts
4 tsps baking powder
2 cups (1 cup = 250ml) grated courgette, loosely packed rather than jammed in
2 heaped tsps cinnamon
200ml date syrup
150ml oil; we used extra-virgin olive, but coconut, cold-pressed sunflower or ricebran oils are good too
400ml of your preferred plant milk, unsweetened (we used soya this time)

  •  Mix together the flour, walnuts, baking powder, cinnamon and grated courgette in a large bowl.
  • Measure out the oil, date syrup and milk in another bowl or jug, whisking to mix.
  • Add the liquid to the dry ingredients, combine thoroughly and place in a prepared tin/ silicone mould.
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 180C for about 40m minutes-test with a skewer to be sure. When cool, cut into squares, slices or wedges.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Strawberry Banana Icecream- vegan, no added sugar

A guilt-free treat...
Need a change from smoothies or fruit salads? Want a treat that's both healthy and low in fat?- This might just be what you are looking for! With only two ingredients, this is barely a recipe but so yummy that it deserves to be posted anyway. Who could fail to be tempted by the lovely bright pink colour and smooth texture?
If you read our Banana Icecream last Summer, you'll remember that frozen banana makes a surprisingly sweet and velvety "icecream" with no need to add anything else. Today I decided to throw in some strawberries for good measure and I'm glad I did, because it was delicious! The water content of the strawberries doesn't result in quite the velvety texture of plain banana icecream and maybe next time I would drizzle in a little agave nectar for extra sweetness; but that's  probably just me being  a culinary perfectionist picky. For one large/ two regular portions, you will need:
one large, ripe banana
about 5 large, ripe strawberries
  • Break up the banana, halve the strawberries and freeze them.
  • Whizz to a smooth consistency in your blender or food processor. (Tip: Be kind to your blender; let them start to defrost before you switch it on.)
  • Spoon into a bowl(s) and eat before it melts. Don't tell anyone what you're up to unless you're prepared to share!