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Nutty Vegan Choc Bites

Today I want to share a super quick and easy raw vegan chocolate recipe I think you will love. It is my “go to” recipe whenever I’m craving chocolate. It is delicious and very satisfying, chewy and tastes a bit like coconut-rough.  There’s something distinctly nostalgic about these beauties.

This recipe only has six ingredients and requires no cooking. You just need to make sure the coconut oil is in liquid form. If the oil is solid, you will need to heat it slightly either using a small pan over the stove or in the microwave.

I’ve made this a few times, already, using a variety of nuts and sweeteners, and they’ve all worked. Just keep in mind that you will get more fudgy texture when you use syrup or dates as opposed to sugar.

If you’re of the experimental mindset then you’ll love the recipe. It is quite foolproof so feel free to experiment with the sweetener/oat/nut component. Perhaps use desiccated coconut or quinoa flakes, instead of oats, or even a mixture of both. Or use cashews, macadamias or walnuts instead of almonds, or a mixture of your favourite nuts. The sky is the limit.

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Nutty Vegan Choc Bites

A super easy and quick recipe for deliciously nutty, raw, vegan, chocolate bites.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 16 -20
Author Keren

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1/4 cup of your favourite sweetener coconut sugar, coconut nectar, maple syrup, dates, stevia, Natvia, Norbu, etc
  • 1 cup rolled oats*
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds or your favourite nuts
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Process the oats, almond, sweetener (maple syrup, coconut sugar or dates) and salt in food processor until crumbly.
  2. Mix melted coconut oil with cacao powder. Add to the oat nut mixture and process again until combined.
  3. Scoop chocolate mixture into silicone mini muffin mould and flatten the surface using the back of a teaspoon. Alternatively, you can also pour into a baking pan (if you use a pan, make sure to cut them into squares before cooling).
  4. Pop in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to set.

Recipe Notes

You can really creative with this recipe: swap oats with desiccated coconut, rice puffs, or quinoa flakes and use your favourite nuts instead of almond.

If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram and share your creation. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x

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World’s Best Vegan Burger – Part 1

 

I’m on a special quest. I’m trying to make World’s Best Vegan Burger. I think I’m pretty close. This Vegan Bean Burger is the best I have ever had or made. And the fact it came from my kitchen just makes it taste even better. I knew the moment this burger materialised that I had a decision to make: keep this a trade secret, or share it with you all, my lovely friends and readers.

You’re welcome.

Best Vegan Burger

This vegan bean burger has so much protein you could slap it across peopless’ faces the next time they ask you that question about getting enough protein again. Okay, maybe not. That sounds too violent and we’re all about compassion here. Maybe, instead, you could make this for them so they can slap themselves in bewilderment as to how good it tastes. Seriously though, this is it! It’s the bomb.

Best Vegan Burger

The key to making the world’s best bean burger is to get the perfect texture and consistency for the bean mixture. Too dry and it won’t bind. Too wet and you’ll have sludgy bean patties that are un-flippable and will just break when on the frying pan. The trick is to slightly undercook some of the beans. This is where you’ll get the nice slightly chewy texture that we all love in a good burger. It’s genius, I know. I was proud of myself too.

The beans

Because we need such a specific level of done-ness (or cook-ness, if that’s a word), we can’t just use canned beans. Therefore you’ll need to use dried beans (both soaked and un-soaked to get the maximum flavour and texture) so it does take a while to make. So what? You don’t get to create the world’s best bean burger in less than 30 minutes. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I recommend you make this ahead of time because you can freeze the patties (this recipe makes you 16-20 patties) and defrost them whenever you feel like a burger. Cool? Let’s built Rome.

vegan-burger-1

World’s Best Bean Burger (makes 16-20 patties) 

Ingredients

Bean Patties:

  • 1 cup of dried blackbeans – unsoaked
  • 1 cup of dried chickpeas – soaked overnight
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 medium size onion, diced
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. cumin powder
  • ½- 1 tsp. salt (start with ½ a tsp and add as required)
  • 1 tsp. pepper

The Burger:

  • Burger bun or bread roll
  • Large swissbrown mushroom, grilled
  • Tomato, thinly sliced
  • Cos Lettuce, leaves shredded
  • Cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Vegan mayonnaise

Instructions

  1. Rinse and drain black beans. Place beans in a pot, add 1 tsp of salt and fill up with water until beans are submerged by about 2-3 cm of water. Cook for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
  2. Rinse and drain chickpeas. Place chickpeas in another pot, add 1 tsp of salt and fill up with water until beans are submerged by about 2-3 cm. Cook for 1 hour (notice the chickpeas’ cooking time is shorter than the black beans). It will look a tad undercooked but this is what we want.
  3. Meanwhile heat olive oil in a pan, add garlic and onion and sautéed until fragrant. Set aside.
  4. Place 1 cup of oats and 1 cup of water in small pot. Bring to boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Rinse cooked black beans and chickpeas with cold water and transfer them into the food processor. Add the sautéed onion and garlic, cumin, ground coriander, ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper. Pulse beans until resembles coarse crumb. Be Ccareful not to over-process the beans. I used my Cuisine Companion (with the chopping blade) and only pulsed 5 times. You want the mixture to still have chunks of beans or peas in there, not turn the whole thing into mush.
  6. Add more salt or pepper if required. Take a small handful of the mixture and shape into patties. Place on a tray and chill for about an hour.
  7. To cook the patties – lightly fry in olive oil for 2-3 minutes each side, turning once, or spray with cooking spray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, turning halfway.
  8. Assemble the burger. Layer the base with lettuce leaves and add grilled mushroom, slices of tomato, cucumber, salad a drizzle of your favourite vegan mayonnaise and top with the bean burger patties.

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and tag me so I can see your creation.

Keren x

 

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Zucchini Pasta with Coriander Pesto

I remember making my first raw zucchini pasta, also called zoodles (zucchini noodles). It was such a revolutionary and awesome moment, being able to transform a simple vegetable into something extraordinary. It’s true: We feast first with our eyes. I cannot believe how much more appetising my dishes looked after bland slices of zucchini were replaced by sexy curly strands. They looked a hundred times better. But they’re also a hundred times more nutritious than your regular noodles or pastas. They’re low carbs and low calories too, but who’s counting?

Zucchini Pasta

Zoodles are great in salads, but they’re also good for hot dishes – or more accurately, warm dishes. They tend to wilt in high heat so you’ll need to be careful not to overcook them. They just need a light toss over low heat until they become bright green, 2 – 3 minutes or so and you’re done.

This recipe is an excellent introduction to zucchini pasta or zoodles. It’s very simple to make, requiring only seven ingredients (including salt!) and is a nifty way to use up any excess zucchini you may have. You will need a spiraliser to make the noodles but you can also use a vegetable peeler or a mandoline which will give you slight

Why this Zucchini Pasta with Coriander Pesto is the bomb!

Apart from the simplicity of the ingredients, this dish is the bomb because it’s a light but satisfying. For me, flavour is everything and the coriander pesto definitely delivers the kick. The spiciness of raw garlic, the earthiness of pine nuts and the bold fragrance of coriander give this pesto that creamy texture with bold, fresh and punchy flavours, without any added dairy.

Zucchini Pasta-4

Zucchini Pasta with Coriander Pesto
 
Prep time
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Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Zucchini Pasta with Coriander Pesto
  • 1 bunch coriander
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup cashew nuts *
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • ½ - 1 tbsp lemon juice (I recommend using ½ tbsp to start with)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
Method
  1. Make zucchini noodles using spiraliser or cut into thin stripes mandoline
  2. Make pesto by putting all the ingredient in a food processor and process until smooth. Taste and adjust flavour by adding more salt for saltiness, or lemon juice for acidity.
  3. Heat oil in pan on medium heat
  4. Add zucchini and toss until warm, about 3-4 minutes
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in pesto and toss until evenly coated.
  6. Serve immediately
Notes
You can also replace cashew nuts with walnuts or macadamia nuts.

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture on Instagram and tag me in the picture.

Keren x

Zucchini Pasta-2

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Vegan Vegetable Frittata

Vegan Frittata

Who says that you can’t make egg-free frittata?

But honestly, if you asked me a year ago if I could make frittata without eggs, I would have said, ‘hell, no!’

Vegan Frittata

Frittata, by definition, is an omelette – specifically an Italian-style omelette filled with various ingredients. And as we all know, you need eggs to make omelette.

Or do you?

Vegan Frittata

Fast forward to the present day. I’ve learned that you can make egg-free omelette. And since you can make egg-free omelette, you can make egg-free frittata. Hallelujah.

Vegan Frittata

To make a vegan frittata you need to use chickpea flour, vegetable starch (I use arrowroot powder but you can also use corn starch or potato starch), nutritional yeast, onion, garlic and mustard powder. All of these ingredients are very important for both texture and flavours so don’t skimp or omit any of them. The recipe yields a texture similar to that the normal frittata, but slightly softer and tender, somewhat like scrambled eggs (without the eggs, of course).

Vegan Frittata

Why I love it: 

It really reminds me of egg frittata! I served mine with Sriracha sauce (I’m a bit of a Sriracha addict) and garnished it with some fresh parsley leaves. The leaves add freshness to the dish, and also make the frittata look pretty and stylish on the plate. It didn’t take long before I made a huge mess of the plate, though.

This vegan vegetable frittata recipe uses no oil apart from greasing the baking dish so it’s perfect for those who are looking to eating more whole foods as part of a plant-based diet. It is full of protein so it’s just like eating real frittata (minus the cholesterol and saturated fat)

Vegan Frittata

Vegan Frittata
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
Omelette batter
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp mustard powder, garlic powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 ½ cup vegetable stock
Fillings
  • 2 cups of chopped vegetables - I use:
  • ¼ cup chopped spring beans
  • ¼ cup diced red capsicum
  • ½ cup chopped asparagus
  • 1 cup shredded kale
  • Seasoning
  • ½ large red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • A pinch of black salt or Kala Namak (optional but highly recommended)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Vegan parmesan
Method
Cuisine Companion Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Chop red onion and garlic cloves using superblade on speed 8 for 20 sec. Transfer into a plate, rinse the bowl and blade and wipe dry.
  3. Add all the dry chickpea batter ingredients into the bowl. Mix for 5 seconds on speed 8.
  4. Add the vegetable stock and cook using speed 5 at 100 C for 5 minutes
  5. The mixture should be thick.
  6. Add the chopped veggies to the batter. Mix at speed 8 for 10 -15 seconds until mixed through
  7. Transfer batter onto greased pyrex pan. Even it out with spatula.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes and then cover with aluminium foil and bake for another 25 minutes or until the centre is not jiggly and the edges are lightly brown. Depending on the type of your vegetables you use you might need more or less time for the batter to cook. Just prick the centre with a fork to test done-ness.
  9. Stand for 10-15 minutes to set.
  10. Sprinkle with a bit of black salt for an eggy flavour boost.
  11. Serve warm with some freshly ground pepper, vegan parmesan, and your favourite hot sauce.
Manual Method
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat, cook onion and garlic until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add vegetable stock. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add the chickpea flour, arrowroot powder and the remaining dry ingredients
  5. Cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture becomes thick. Stir in the chopped veggies and mix.
  6. Transfer batter onto greased Pyrex pan and flatten the surface with spatula.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes.
  8. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for another 25 minutes or until the center is not jiggly and the edges are lightly brown. Depending on the type of your vegetables you use you might need more or less time for the batter to cook.
  9. Prick the centre with a fork to test done-ness. Stand for 10-15 minutes to set.
  10. Serve warm with some freshly ground pepper, vegan parmesan, a sprinkle of black salt and your favourite hot sauce.
Notes
Freeze leftovers for up to 4 weeks.
Sprinkle with some black salt before serving for an 'eggy boost'.

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture and tag me @passionatelykeren on Instagram .

Love and greens,

Keren Natalia

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Fragrant Superhero Fried Rice

When I received a call that my recipe was selected to be part of the Superfoods Kitchen Cookbook, I was over the moon…

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I can’t help feeling proud to have my recipe being featured in this cookbook. Around 200 recipe entries were submitted and reviewed, a number of those were tested and judged by the judging panel of nutritionists and naturopaths for taste and nutritional value and then around 70 recipes made it to the cookbook. I chose quite a difficult category to “veganise” (dinner category) and my most favourite naughty meal to “healthivise” (fried rice). I thought, everyone can make a healthy and delicious salad but I wanted to show how plant-based dishes can be the star of a meal, not just as a side dish, and how comfort food can be made healthy. I really didn’t think I would make the cut but I did so here we are.

The Superfoods Kitchen cookbook, although it is not strictly a plant-based cookbook, it features lots of vegan recipes and recipes which can be easily ‘veganised’. It has over 70 great recipes from savoury to sweets and it caters for all dietary requirements including gluten free, dairy free, nut free and of course, vegan. 

Now on to this fried rice recipe that made it through to the final.

Fragrant Superhero Fried Rice

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I called it fragrant superhero fried rice because when ever I think of the word superfood, it reminds me of the word Superman . So I thought, if Superman was vegan and eats fried rice, what would it look like? So I created the recipe with that in mind. I thought, this fried rice will give all the energy and nutrients a superhero needs to fight the villains and save the day. It’s clean and fresh tasting, simple and easy to make, 100% vegan and delicious, if I may say so myself.

fragrant superhero friedrice-6

The recipe features the amazing Brussel sprouts  for anti-cancer, bean curd for a hit of protein, coriander for digestion (and the fragrant aroma), carrots and bean sprouts for fiber, minerals and tasty crunch! It is also highly adjustable and almost foolproof. Use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge, the more the merrier.

Tips: Add the vegetables in order of their weight (heaviest first and lightest last) for even cooking. As long as you stir constantly, maintain the heat (high) and season well, you’ll end up with something tasty.

So here it is. Go and save the day :)

fragrant superhero friedrice

Superhero Fried Rice
 
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Fragrant and delicious supercharged fried rice to fuel the superhero in you.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Vegan, glutenfree
Serves: 4
Ingredients
Vegetables
  • 2 cups of baby Brussels Sprouts trimmed and cut into quarters
  • 1 cup of cooked Brown Rice
  • 1 cup of diced Extra Firm Bean Curd
  • 1 big handful of Bean Sprouts
  • 1 large Carrot, diced
Spices
  • 1 large Shallots, sliced
  • 1 knob of Ginger (about 2cm), grated
  • 2 Green Onions, sliced
  • 6 garlic Cloves, sliced
  • 1 small Red Chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped Coriander
Seasonings
  • 3 tbsp of Coconut Oil
  • 2 tbsp of Light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Vegetarian Oyster sauce
  • 3 drops of Sesame oil
  • ¼ cup Bioglan Chia seeds + 1 tablespoon set aside
  • A sprinkle of ground white pepper
Method
  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok; add chopped onions, grated ginger, garlic and stir-fry until onions turn a nice brown color, about 5 minutes; remove from wok and set aside.
  2. Add 2 tbsp oil to wok, swirling to coat surfaces; add sliced bean curd and stir-fry for 2 minutes until brown.
  3. Add brussels sprouts, carrots, and cooked onion; stir-fry for 3 minutes.
  4. Add brown rice, green onions, and bean sprouts, tossing to mix well; stir-fry for 3 minutes. If the rice is sticking on the bottom of the wok, add a few tablespoon of water (up to ¼ cup) to release it.
  5. Add all the sauces (2 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tbsp oyster sauce and 3 drops of sesame sauce) and ¼ cup of chia seeds to rice mixture
  6. Fold in; add ground pepper and chopped chilli if preferred, stir-fry for 2 minutes more; taste.
  7. Adjust the flavour by adding more sauce or season to taste.
  8. Fold in chopped coriander to finish. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp chia seeds to garnish.
  9. Set out additional soy sauce on the table, if desired.

 

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If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram and share your creation. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x

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How To Make Kale Chips

Sitting on my top list of healthy treats is this crunchy, salty and moorish snack – Kale chips. Kale chips are so big right now, but man, they’re so expensive to buy. It can cost anywhere from $5-$10 a packet and yet, they are so easy to make…once you get the hang of it.

Kale chips (3 of 4)

It never ceases to amaze me how many different variety of vegetables are out there. Even though I make a conscious effort to always try new vegetables, I always find stuff I never tried before (not knowingly anyway).

First of all, in case you’ve been living under a rock in the past few years and never tasted Kale at all, what is Kale?

Kale chips (1 of 1)-2

 

Kale is a type of leafy green vegetable (also comes with purple leaves)

  • It’s a superfood
  • It has more iron than beef and more calcium than milk per calorie
  • It is high in fibre, vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and beta carotene
  • It has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties

To environmentalists, Kale is the new ‘beef” as it is highly sustainable and can grow in most climates. If we all eat Kale in place of meat, we would significantly reduce our carbon footprint and global warming caused by meat production for human consumption.

OK, forget about nutrition, environment or animal welfare – let’s talk taste.

Well, when eaten raw, kale can actually tastes quite strong and too earthy to a lot of people. When baked however, it tastes kind of like feathery thin potato chips. It is super crunchy and can be quite addictive if I may say so myself. It’s almost tastes too good to be healthy for you.

Although it takes a bit of preparation (rinsing, de-steming, drying), making Kale chips is very rewarding. I’ve suffered through many batches of burned or soggy kale chips over the years but I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way and I’d love to pass my few tips along to you.

How to make perfect Kale Chips every time

  1. Play with your baking time. It may take less or more time to cook depending on the size of your leaves or the heat distribution of your oven. Every oven is different — mine is a fan force electric oven which tends to be hotter that most gas ovens. One piece of advice – Go low and go slow.

Before baking

Kale chips (1 of 1)

 

After baking… see how they shrink in size?

Kale chips (1 of 4)

  1. Make sure the leaves are dry prior to baking otherwise they might go soggy and;
  2. Try to have all the pieces approximately the same size for even cooking.
  3. That’s it! Let’s do it!

 

 

Kale chips (4 of 4)  

 

How To Make Kale Chips
 
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Kale Chips
Author:
Recipe type: Snacks
Cuisine: Glutenfree, sugarfree, soyfree
Serves: 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of Kale - washed
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and favourite dry herbs (i.e., cayenne, paprika) for seasoning
Method
  1. Wash and dry kale thoroughly. Use a salad spinner to drain most of the water and then dab dry using paper or kitchen towel. If the leaves are wet they will go soggy so make sure they're dry.
  2. Remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces.
  3. Toss in olive oil and seasoning (I used olive oil spray in cans).
  4. Place leaves on a baking tray lined with baking paper or foil.
  5. Bake in 150C oven for 15-20 minutes until crispy but not burnt - slightly brown on the outer edges but still mostly green. Turn the baking tray around halfway through for even cooking.
  6. Munch On!

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Easy Broccoli Soup

This soup is perfect for a post weekend detox. One bowl, a handful of ingredients and voila, a hearty and delicious bowl of soup that is super nutritious and delicious. And guess what, it’s oil-free too.

Easy Broccoli Soup - 4

Easy Broccoli Soup - 1 Cuisine Companion

Easy Broccoli Soup

 

 

Easy Broccoli Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 large broccoli (about 650g), roughly chopped.
  • 1 liter vegetable stock
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Pepitas, Vegan Parmesan and Kinda Bacon flakes (optional but they’ll make your soup tastier by an exponential factor)

Equipment: Tefal Cuisine Companion (see note)

Method

  1. Put all ingredients in the bowl (use the chopping blade)
  2. If using the Tefal Cuisine Companion, press automatic program soup (P1 100C 30 min).
  3. Do some shopping while the machine does its thing.
  4. Serve.

Note: You can also make this on the stove by putting all ingredients in a big pot. Cook on medium heat for 30 minutes or until the broccoli is tender and then blend the mixture using a hand blender.

Thick and scrumptious… just like a good soup should be.

Easy Broccoli Soup - 1

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Vegan Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes

I love pumpkin, and I love pancakes. So when I had some pumpkin leftovers from making pumpkin soup, I thought of making pancakes with them. And since I’m trying to bake more gluten-free stuff in general, I thought I’d try to make the pancakes gluten free too. And it worked. I crafted the recipe based on by Vegan 8 Life Changing Pancake recipe which by the way, is on my ‘must try’ list.

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I used almond flour, tapioca and potato starch mix for my gluten-free flour mix and the combination seems to work quite well. You can just use potato starch if you don’t have tapioca starch but I won’t recommend using just tapioca starch on its own as it will make your pancakes a tad tough.

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These pancakes are a bit dense and not as fluffy as wheat pancakes but I kinda like the denser texture. You might be tempted to use a bit more pumpkin puree here (I did) but try not to overdo it as it will make your batter too wet and you won’t get properly cooked pancakes (1 – 2 tablespoon extra should be ok). I also added a heap of spices in my batter because I like spiced pumpkin (who doesn’t). And don’t forget the salt: it brings out the flavour of all the different ingredients and makes them taste just that much better.

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VEGAN GLUTEN FREE PUMPKIN PANCAKES
 
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These are tasty, gluten–free, tender vegan pumpkin pancakes which are healthy, simple and easy to make. Perfect for chilly winter mornings.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Vegan, gluten free
Serves: 15
Ingredients
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ¾ cup non-dairy milk + 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup packed pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup tapioca starch
  • ¼ cup potato starch
  • 4 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • 1 teaspoon allspice/pimento
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Method
  1. Combine ¾ cup milk and lemon juice and let rest for 5 minutes to curdle. Then add melted coconut oil, maple syrup, pumpkin, vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
  2. Add flour, tapioca and potato starch, baking soda, baking powder, salt and all spices into Cuisine Companion equipped with the mixing blade. Mix using P9 for 5 second.
  3. Add the wet ingredients and mix using P7 for 10 second.
  4. If you don't have a Cuisine Companion, sift flour, tapioca and potato starch, baking soda, baking powder, salt and all spices together into a large bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir well until smooth.
  5. Let the batter sit for 15-20 minutes before cooking the pancakes. This gives time for the baking powder and starch to soak up the liquid, which in turn produces a fluffy, well cooked pancake.
  6. Heat up a non-stick pan over low heat. Your pan needs to heat up for ten minutes, so there is even cooking with each pancake.
  7. I used a 4.5 inch round cookie cutter to produce perfectly round and evenly cooked pancakes. If you do this, place the cookie cutter on the hot pan and then spray the whole of the inside with non-stick spray. You must use non-stick spray, or the pancakes will stick to the pan. Once ready, add about ¼ cup of batter to the pan and quickly smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the top is looking dry and the edges are dry and firm. Flip over and cook another 2 minutes. Let the pancake to cool down a little before serving to improve the texture.
  8. Serve with maple syrup, additional pureed pumpkin or whatever else you desire. The pancakes reheat well the next day in the microwave.

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Roasted pumpkin and lentil salad with shiso leaves

I’ve only started using purple leaves or shiso leaves (also known as perilla leaves) a few months ago when I discovered this interesting looking plant amongst all the familiar herbs in the vegetables section. It has a very fragrant smell and it has this striking purple colour on one side of the leaf and a deep green colour on the other side. If you’re familiar with Japanese or Korean food, you may have come across this item without realising it (which I did). It is very popular in Korean cuisine in particular and is usually served pickled.

pumpkin-salad-3

It tastes somewhat like coriander (has a fragant note to it) but not as strong. At first, I didn’t know what to use it with so I experimented a fair bit. It seems to work on a lot of things. At the very least, it never ruined anything to which I added the shiso leaves. It adds an interesting flavour to Chinese stir-fries and it gives any salad I make a nice herbaceous twist.

It turns out that shiso leaves are rich in dietary fibre, essential minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium, and vitamins A, C and riboflavin, and the leaf components are undergoing research for potential anti-inflammatory properties. Needless to say, there are many reasons to try this delicious herb.

pumpkin-salad-1

One night recently I was rushed for time and had to make something quickly for dinner. So I made pumpkin and lentil salad with shiso leaves (among a few other things) and I was really surprised with how well it turned out. There’s not much preparation involved with this. Just roast the pumpkin (you can even leave the skin on if you can’t be bothered peeling it), cook the lentils, chop the shiso leaves, and combine everything in the bowl with olive oil and some seasonings. It is a great salad to have when you need something quick but more substantial than just salad greens.

Roasted pumpkin and lentil salad with shiso leaves
 
A delicious and comforting salad that equally light and satisfying. It's low in fat, high in fibers, vitamins and minerals and full of fresh flavours and aroma.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Glutenfree, sugarfree, vegan and paleo
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Half of butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into big chunks
  • 4 sprigs of shiro leaves (about 10 medium size leaves)
  • 1 cup of green lentils, rinse well
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • ⅓ cup of roasted pinenuts (optional but highly recommended)
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked pepper
Method
  1. Place pumpkin onto a nonstick roasting pan. Drizzle with about 1 tablespoon olive oil and generously sprinkle with sea salt. Toss to mix. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C for 25 minutes or until cooked (if you can pierce it using a fork, it’s done).
  2. Meanwhile, transfer the lentil into a pan and cover with water, add ½ tsp of salt. Bring to a boil on medium heat. Turn down the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Drain and rinse in cold water
  3. When the pumpkin is cooked, remove from the oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes until cool enough to handle. Chop into cubes.
  4. Pick shiso leaves from the sprigs. To chop the leaves,stack them on top of each other, roll them into a cigar and then slice thinly.
  5. Transfer all ingredients into a bowl, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Devour!
Notes
To roast pine nuts:
You can roast them in the oven for 15 minutes at 170C but the quickest way is on the stove. Heat a dry non-stick pan (no oil, no nothing) over medium heat for a couple minutes and add the pinenuts. Allow the pinenuts to toast for 30 – 45 seconds and then toss them in the pan. Repeat this process every 30 seconds until you start seeing them just turning brown, then remove and let them cool.

Be careful not to burn them.  They can go from nicely browned to burnt very quickly, so keep an eye on them.

pumpkin-salad-8

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Simple Acai Berry Smoothie

Here’s another ‘superfood’ with which you should get acquainted. Açaí (ahh-sigh-ee) is a berry harvested from palm trees found in Brazil and Peru in Central and South America. It has become really popular due to its varied health benefits, as it is high in antioxidants, minerals, healthy fats, and vitamins.

 

Açaí berries come in several forms such as dehydrated in capsules, in frozen pulp, or as freeze-dried powder. I have only used the freeze-dried powders but I’m keen to try the frozen pulp form as it has a stronger taste, texture, and higher nutritional content. Though the freeze-dried form is very convenient to have laying around as you can add it to juice, smoothies, porridges, desserts, and pretty much anything which takes berries, to instantly boost the nutritional content of your meal.

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