Category Archives: Vegetarian

Vegucated

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I just finished watching Vegucated – a film by Marisa Miller Wolfson.¬† I’ve always made a lot of vegetarian choices, lately have been making more and more, and after seeing the film today I have decided that I need to start making a lot more vegan choices.

I loved the film – and I greatly appreciated a lot of what the participants said – one poignant statement that stuck in my mind was “Veganism is not a religion.” – I think that’s where I fell done before – I was so “religious” in my veganism that any “slip” – intentional or unintentional – would send me sprawling with guilt. And it resulted in a crash and burn. The film brought home the reality that veganism is not a religion – or really that we shouldn’t allow it to be a religion. I’ve taken that on board. I can’t go at it with the mindset of “It’s all or nothing”. I need to start with accepting that any changes I make, make a difference – and the more changes I make the bigger difference I will make. I mustn’t allow the self-sabotaging “purist” attitude to emerge again. Rather, my new outlook must be one of conscious eating, mindful eating – and above all, of ownership: owning my choices in life, not least of which are my food choices.

We all want to make the world a better place – for ourselves, for our fellow human beings and for the other creatures that we share the planet with. I realised after seeing the film that choosing “ethically raised” meat and dairy products still ends in tragedy for the animal – in commercial farming businesses, when an animal’s days of giving milk or eggs is over, they are still brutally slaughtered. So I have to rethink my dairy and egg consumption. We all know Red Tractor standards are a complete joke. Freedom Food animals may have a better life – but how horrific is their death?

I have to find some good vegan cheeses – who knows, maybe I will transition to no cheese at all, but right now I am rather addicted. I like soya milk (and can get good non-GMO organic soya milk easily) and I can buy (and have successfully made) delicious soya yoghurt. I’ve cut out butter already and eat coconut oil or olive oil instead. Eggs in baking are occasionally a challenge depending on the recipe – I’ve tried egg substitutes (chia seeds, flax) with varying success – maybe I could get some rescue chickens, allow them to lay as many or as few eggs as they wish, give them a loving environment to end out their days, and when they pass on, bury their little bodies with respect?

Oh the thoughts they are a swirling ūüėČ

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Spelt Bread with Figs and Walnuts

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The origins of this recipe stem from a Dove’s Farm recipe which I then modified.* It makes a ¬†delicious, firm-textured loaf that is delicious sliced,¬†toasted and spread with butter. It is equally tasty with a sweet or savoury topping (e.g. jam and cheese both work well!). A fabulous accompaniment to baked beans. In short – it rocks!

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Ingredients

1 tsp yeast (slow acting “traditional” yeast)
45 ml (3 Tbsps) warm water
500 grams wholegrain spelt flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp honey, sugar or agave syrp
300 ml lukewarm water
15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil (cold-pressed virgin preferably)
130 grams dried figs, chopped to 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) dice
80 grams walnuts broken up a bit (not too finely!)
60 ml (4 Tbsps) orange or apple juice

Method

1. Mix the yeast with 3 tablespoons of lukewarm water and leave for 15 minutes.
2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, and sugar.
3. Mix together the yeast mixture, olive oil and the 300 ml of lukewarm water.
4. Knead well for about five minutes until you have a smooth and pliable dough. I use my Kitchenaid mixer for this as I am lazy and it has a bread hook.
5. Leave the dough in a bowl covered with a cloth, in a draught-free place, to double in size.
6. Meanwhile put the chopped figs, walnuts and orange or apple juice in a small bowl and leave them to soak in the orange juice.
7. When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, add the soaked figs and walnuts and work them through the dough, kneading firmly for several minutes.
8. Shape the dough and put it into an oiled 1kg/2lb bread tin or place it on an oiled baking sheet. I love a round loaf so I bake it in a small round spring-form pan which I lightly oil with olive oil.
9. Cover & leave dough to rise for about 40 minutes in a warm place. On top of your water heater, above the fridge, the airing cupboard, etc., are all great locales that are usually warmer than the rest of your regular living space. At about the 30 minute mark, if the bread is rising nicely, you should turn your oven on to start pre-heating it.
10. When it has risen to a lovely size, it is time to bake – remember, once you put it in the oven the heat kills the yeast and it will not rise any further, so don’t put it in the oven until it is the size you are hoping for!
11. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes.
12. Remove from oven, COOL IN PAN for 10-15 minutes, then gently turn out onto rack to finish cooling.

Store in thick ziplock plastic bag or other airtight receptacle.

Re: Oven Temperature 

Oven 425¬įF¬†(220¬įC)
Convection (Fan) oven: ¬†425¬įF (200¬įC or Gas 7)

I baked it at about 375¬įF¬†(fan oven) as it was browning too quickly – the baking temperature is not set in stone – everyone kind of knows their own oven and its idiosyncrocies , so adjust temperature (lower) as you see fit.

* The original recipe is found here: http://www.dovesfarm.co.uk/recipes/fig-and-walnut-bread/

Delicious Raw Fruit and Nut Bars

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The other day I bought one of these.

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It was quite tasty. It has two ingredients, in pretty much 50-50 proportions: cashews and dates. That’s it. I paid 75p for it – that’s about $1.38 CAD ($1.10 US). For a 35 gram bar.

Looking at the ingredients, I thought, “I can make this myself. And it won’t cost even a fraction of that. So I did. I modified the recipe to what I had in the house already: a bag of organic brazil* nuts, a cranberry-raisin-date mixture, and some chia seeds. I threw everything into the food processor, shaped them, rolled them in unsweetened coconut and guess what? They taste even better than name branded raw cookie bars. Scrummy.

90 grams of dates (or mixed dried fruit)
130 grams brazil nuts
30 grams chia seeds
Unsweetened coconut (optional)
Whir in food processor until finely ground, sticking together and able to be shaped. (Depending on how moist the fruit is you may need to add a few drops of water.

Measure them out (about 35 grams per serving)
Shape into little logs. Optional – roll in unsweetened coconut. Keep covered in refrigerator.

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Those of you with a cat will be thinking what I’m thinking, but hey, they taste fabulous!

Do you make your own raw cookies or bars? Please share!

* Brazil nuts (like all nuts) are high in calories, but they are also high in a lot of trace minerals (in particular, selenium). And nut oils are good for you. So enjoy these treats in moderation.

Veggie Burgers – Fast and delicious!

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Delicious, nutritious comfort food for a chilly day. veggie burgers

These are Jaime Oliver’s “Happy Cow” burgers. Moo. Enjoy.

Veggie Burgers

Ingredients: throw into food processor:

  • 1 cup (240 grams) of mixed cooked beans (garbanzo, borlotti, kidney, cannelini, etc)*
  • 200 grams frozen broad beans
  • A clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
  • One small red onion – very finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 heaped tablespoon flour
  • Some grated zest of lemon (not too much)
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper as per your liking
  • Chopped fresh parsley or coriander (a good handful)

:

Whir in food processor until chunkily combined.  Divide into four equal portions, form into patties (coat hands with a little flour to keep mixture workable)

Heat about 1 tsp (5ml) olive oil in a non-stick or ceramic frying pan.

Fry until golden. Serve on buns that have been gently warmed in the oven. Top with garnishes: lettuce, sliced tomatoes. sliced pickles, crumbled feta, thin onion slices Рwhatever you like on your burgers!  Lovely served with homemade coleslaw on the side.

* If using canned beans, ensure that you drain them well (and rinse as well if there are preservatives present). A 400 gram can will yield 240 grams of beans when drained.

The Best Ratatouille Recipe

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Method

START COOKING

Halve the courgettes lengthways, slice the aubergine into 1cm thick rounds and place both on the griddle pan, turning when charred. Don’t be shy – the more charred the better the flavour!

Meanwhile, head the oil gently in a deep pot.  Throw in the red onion (peeled and roughly chopped), chopped peppers, crushed garlic, harissa, anchovies and 1 teaspoon of their oil. After about 5 minutes add the passata and tomatoes. Simmer, stirring occasionally.

Remove the charred courgettes and aubergine from the griddle pan as they are finished grilling and set aside onto a plate. When all grilled to perfection , roughly chop into big chunks and add them to the main pot. Stir and simmer for a few minutes, then add the balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs. Serve with a dollop of yoghurt. Nice with regular steamed or saffron rice.

*Omit for vegan recipe. Vegetarians that eat yeast may substitute vegetarian umami for the anchovies.

Drink your lettuce!

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We just got back from camping in the beautiful Lake District (more on that later, including camping recipes!) to find that the garden has gone crazy!

Suddenly the peas are profuse, the lettuce is huge Image

and the rainbow Swiss Chard is, well, stunning to say the least. Image

Of course fruits and vegetables are best eaten fresh, but when you have a glut in the garden, you have to preserve…. peas can be frozen, as can Swiss Chard, but lettuce? Erm, no. So.

What to do with all these lovely lush green lettuces? Even I can only eat so many salads! Answer? Juice it!

Romaine (aka Cos) lettuce is one of the most nutritious of lettuces and the type I grew (Parris Island) is one of the most nutritious of all. High in beta carotene, folate, lutein (an anti-oxidant), potassium ¬†and Vitamin K, picked fresh and juiced immediately, it is a powerhouse of nutrition and very tasty as well! I juiced two heads, two apples and threw that into the smoothie machine with some red maca powder and golden flax seed. Delicious. I didn’t get a photo of it but it looks just like my spinach juice:

The Green Stuff

Lemon Balm Pesto

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pesto-bowl

Blend it as rough or as smooth as you like.

Gone are the days when pesto* is made strictly with basil, pine nuts and olive oil. Nowadays savvy cooks are experimenting with a plethora of flavours and ingredients: coriander, parsley, cashews, almonds, various oils, etc. I have copious amounts of lemon balm growing wild in my garden and thus the following pesto recipe is a favourite of mine that I whip up when the lemon balm springs up and I am in the mood for a delicious light fragrant delight!

Lemon Balm Pesto is delicious on pasta (particularly if you are serving it with shrimp, chicken or fish), vegetables, green beans, fish, etc. You can keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week – or freeze it in ice cube trays to use as required.

Lemon Balm Pesto

Ingredients

  • 60 grams (2 cups) fresh lemon balm leaves**

    Pesto on the way!

    Throw everything into the food processor.

  • 60 grams (about 3/4 cup grated) Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese
  • 4-6 cloves garlic
  • 60 grams pine nuts, cashews or almonds (or a combo)
  • 1/2 tsp (3 grams) sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Chuck all of the above into your food processor.

The next item you need is:

  • 1/2 to 1 cup good quality olive oil

Method:

Whir the pesto ingredients in the food processor, slowly dripping in the olive oil, until the mixture reaches the consistency you prefer. You can use anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup of olive oil, depending on your preference.

Note: I like my pesto quite garlicky and also a bit “rougher” than usual, so I use the 6 cloves of garlic and process it minimally. There is no right or wrong and as long as you get the ingredient measurements more or less correct, it is going to be absolutely delicious!

Re: All that Olive oil:
I suspect (although I have never tried) that if you were trying to make a lower fat version, you could also use 1/4 cup oil and thin it the rest of the way with water. Having said that, my philosophy is that you only live once , so treat yourself to the heart healthy olive oil and go for a walk after dinner if you are concerned about the calories.

pesto-icecube

Spoon into ice cube tray and freeze.

It freezes well – just spoon it into an ice cube tray and freeze it!

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*Pesto (Italian pronunciation: [ňąpesto], Genoese: [ňąpestu]) is a sauce originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy (pesto genovese) and traditionally consists of crushed garlic, basil, and European pine nuts blended with olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese), and Fiore Sardo (cheese made from sheep’s milk).¬† The name is the contracted past participle of the Genoese word pest√Ę (Italian: pestare), which means to pound, to crush, in reference to the original method of preparation, with marble mortar and wooden pestle. The ingredients in a traditionally made pesto are ground with a circular motion of the pestle in the mortar. This same Latin root through Old French also gave rise to the English word “pestle”.¬† Thus sayeth wikipedia¬† ūüėČ

** Weigh lemon balm after you have stripped the leaves from the stems, and BEFORE washing. Spin it well dry in your salad spinner or tap it dry with a clean cloth. You may well be able to use tender stems as well – I never have, so cannot say with certainty.