Matcha Latte

Drinking matcha latte has become a morning and afternoon ritual for me. It’s soothing and comforting, not to mention smooth, creamy and delicious. The act of making the tea itself is very calming, especially on a very busy day. It brings me back to me. It allows me to pause, breathe and enjoy a moment of calm among the bustle. I’m here, right now, alive. Life is good.

Why I love my Matcha Latte

Unlike green tea where leaves are discarded after they are infused into the hot water, with matcha you’re drinking the actual leaves. It’s rich in antioxidants and nutrients. But above all, I love the taste of matcha, especially matcha latte. Matcha itself has a very strong earthy taste but it becomes a lot milder after you mix it with milk (soy milk in my case). It also has a high amount of caffeine (similar to a cup of coffee) but unlike coffee, it doesn’t cause adrenaline spikes. It creates a rather calm alertness with no spikes and crashes. It comes on gently and leaves just as gently. It’s beautiful.

I currently use organic matcha tea powder from Kenko Tea, which are pure stone ground tea leaves with slight sweetness, and grassy tones with a slight tannin. This is one of the best tasting matchas I’ve had here in Australia. Yes, it may seems quite expensive at first at $44 per 30 grams, but it’s actually cheaper than a buying a cup of latte. 30 grams gives you around 30 cups of matcha latte so it works out to about $1.50 a cup.

Matcha latte-6

This is how I make my matcha latte almost every day. It’s nothing fancy and it’s probably not the best way to do it, but it works for me. I don’t use a sieve and most days I don’t even use a milk frother (though it will taste even better if you do). But honestly, you can just use warm or hot milk and it would be just as nice. You really can’t mess it up. Matcha latte is amazing and I hope you will try it one day, if you haven’t already.

Matcha Latte

Matcha Latte
Recipe Type: Drinks
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 1 scoop of organic matcha tea powder
  • 1/4 cup of hot water
  • 1 cup of soy milk
Instructions
  1. Add matcha tea powder to cup.
  2. Add a bit of hot water and whisk the powder with the bamboo whisk until pasty.
  3. Then add the remaining water and whisk vigorously to dissolve and make lots of air bubbles.
  4. Heat soy milk on the stove on in the microwave for 40 second on ‘high’.
  5. Add to the matcha tea and stir the surface using the bamboo whisk to make air bubbles (I’m not very good at this).
  6. Sip and enjoy the moment :)

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 with the hashtag #littlegreenhabits.

Love and (matcha) greens,

Keren Natalia

Vegan Choc Chip Hot Cross Buns

Vegan Choc Chip Hot Cross Buns

With Easter just around the corner (and very early this year) I thought it’s time for me to share this recipe. I remember my first Easter as a vegan and I struggled finding vegan hot cross buns, especially the chocolate chip variety. So I went and made my own, and I’ve been making them ever since for Easter.

Friends, this is what Easter is made for…

 

Why I love these vegan choc chip hot cross buns

Aside from the sensation of biting into warm gooey chocolate, these buns smell as delicious as they are tasty. The added spices give them that traditional hot cross buns smell and taste, but with a sprinkle of chocolate magic.

Vegan Choc Chip Hot Cross Buns
Author: Keren
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 9
Ingredients
  • Dough
  • 2 tsp instant dried yeast (1 sachet)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup of soymilk (or your favourite non-dairy milk)
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 all spice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of salt
  • 100g dairy-free dark chocolate, finely chopped (or dark chocolate chips)
  • 2 tsp organ egg replacer (equivalent of 2 eggs)
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • Flour Paste for Crosses
  • 2 1/2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • Sugar Glaze
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoons boiling water
Instructions
  1. If you’re using cold soymilk, heat the milk microwave for 20 seconds until lukewarm but not hot to the touch (you can also use the stove to do this).
  2. Mix sugar and soymilk. Add yeast and mix. Stand for about 10 mins until frothy. If the yeast doesn’t froth at this stage, it’s not active and you’ll have to get some fresh yeast.
  3. Whisk egg replacer powder and 4 tablespoons water in a small bowl until thick and frothy.
  4. Sift flour, salt and spices into a big bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture, egg replacer mixture, and then the chopped dark chocolate. Knead for 5-10 mins or so until it becomes a smooth, elastic dough. Use a mixer with dough hook attachment to speed up the process. It took me 2 minutes to do this using the Tefal Cuisine Companion.
  5. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave to rise in a warm space for an hour (an oven with the light turned on works a treat).
  6. Turn dough out and divide into 9 portions. Roll them into balls and place them on a baking tray. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place till nearly doubled.
  7. Preheat oven to 180C
  8. Make the flour paste by mixing ingredients together until smooth. Pipe crosses on buns using a piping bag.
  9. Bake buns for 20 mins or until light golden brown.
  10. Make the sugar glaze by mixing all the ingredients together. Brush glaze over hot buns.
Notes
Use dairy-free milk chocolate if you like it sweeter.[br][br]For the traditional hot cross buns, replace chocolate with mixed dried fruits.

Vegan Choc Chip Hot Cross Buns-6

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and don’t forget to share a picture on Instagram and tag me. I’d love to see your creation.

With love,

Keren

 

Taste of Sydney 2016

Last Thursday night I was invited to Taste of Sydney opening gala. I didn’t take a lot of pictures but I did manage to create a short clip from the opening night.

The event was held at Centennial Park as has been the case the last few years. It was a cloudy day so I was worried that it might rain. It actually happened to me on the first TOS event several years ago where I ended up soaking wet. Thankfully this time it didn’t. The weather was on my side.

Taste of Sydney 2016-2016

I started the night sipping cocktails at the Etihad Platinum tent. It was a lovely set up with an indoor and outdoor area and plenty of finger food, cheese and crackers to keep everyone entertained. Unfortunately, though unsurprisingly, most of the food was not vegan friendly.  I did have some lavosh with prune and walnut log from Simon Johnson, and they were divine. They did have a live electro-harp music playing inside tent, however. It was very cool. I didn’t even know such thing existed!

Taste of Sydney 2016-1

One major attraction was the Dimmi’s Butterfly Room, which is a small room, built right in the middle of the event field, filled with 200 Wanderer butterflies. The idea was so people could experience their first date butterflies all over again. It’s cool, but my bleeding heart couldn’t help wondering about these little guys… Are they ok in there, are they being looked after?

So I went inside the room to check it out. There was a butterfly specialist inside the room, keeping a watch of the people and the butterflies. At least there’s someone in there making sure no one is stomping on these little creatures. The butterfly specialist carefully picked one of the butterflies using a butterfly version of lolly stick, which is a stick with a Gatorade soaked-sponge (apparently they like Gatorade). He then handed it over to me to hold. It was amazing. The Wanderer butterfly is so beatiful… Being in a room full them was incredible. I couldn’t stop admiring them, and hoping for their safe release once this event was over.

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Food wise, I started to see more and more products being labelled vegan which is certainly a good thing. A couple of exhibitors I visited and liked were: The Ginger People (powerful ginger lollies), Pic’s Peanut Butter (peanut butter), Fehlbergs Peppadew (pickles), Sealand Birk (water from birch tree), and Goan Cuisine (relishes, curry and pickles with Indo-European flavours unique to the formerly Portuguese, Goa in India). I honestly didn’t know anything about Goan Cuisine until last weekend so I was excited to learn about this exotic cuisine.

Taste of Sydney 2016-3

Though the vegan options were still limited but they’re getting better (I think). There were plenty of nibbles and drink to keep me entertained, though wished I couldn’t smell the BBQ or hear people rave about how good the meat and cheese were. It’s not exactly fun in my book listening to and smelling these things, but it reminded me how I myself was before I went on this journey. These sorts of experiences certainly help to keep me grounded. Everyone has their story and everyone is on their own journey.

Taste of Sydney 2016-04809

Taste of Sydney 2016-04805

The highlight of the night was actually a drink. A Gin and Tonic from Fever Tree which I had at the Platinum tent. It was amazing! All in all it was a pleasant experience and it seems to be getting better (and busier) every year.

Taste of Sydney 2016-2

Disclaimer: Little Green Habits was invited as a Platinum guest by Taste of Sydney. This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.

xKeren

12 Tips For Better Vegan Cooking

A lot of people think that vegan cooking is either boring or super difficult. I don’t blame them. I used to think the same thing. I mean, with eggs and butter being the main ingredients in most baked goods, and meat being the centre of many traditional cooking recipes, you wonder if you could make anything decent without meat stock, bacon, eggs, butter, cream or cheese.

But you can! Just Google your favourite dish, adding the word ‘vegan’ in front of it, and you see endless possibilities. I’ve made stir fries, pastas, soups, burgers, casseroles, omelettes, breads, cakes, quiches, cupcakes, muffins, and even meringues without any animal products. Vegan cooking is not as difficult as you think, it’s just a little bit different. Just as Japanese cooking is different to Mexican, or when your apple pie’s recipe may be different to your grandma’s.

It’s easy once you know the basic principles. The biggest learning curve is getting used to alternatives and the ingredients essential for successful vegan cooking.

I’ve collected all the things I’ve learned over the last couple of years. Here are my top tips for mastering the art of vegan cooking.

12 Tips for better vegan cooking (1)

12 Tips For Better Vegan Cooking

1. Buy local and in-season

Invest in good quality, locally grown, in-season fruits and vegetables.

When you have great-quality ingredients, you can have great-tasting food with overloading it with seasonings and without needing, animal fat or meat. Great quality vegetables can be minimally prepared, steamed, roasted or even eaten raw in salads with a just a sprinkle of salt and pepper, a little drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Always buy local whenever possible and always buy in season. It’s not just that they’re cheaper when they’re in season, they also taste much better and fresher than when they are off-season or imported.

2. Experiment with plantbased milk

Plantbased milk is the gateway ingredient to your vegan cooking adventure. Any plantbased milk can replace dairy milk most of the time. Often, you can’t even tell the difference. Just make sure you buy the plain/un-flavoured and un-sweetened variety, unless you don’t mind the flavour and the sweetness in the dish you’re making. With so many available these days (coconut, soy, rice, quinoa, oat, hemp milk, etc), choose your plantbased milk with your final dish in mind. For example, I use coconut milk in curry and Asian dishes when I don’t mind tasting some coconut flavour in the food I’m making. For soups or pasta dishes, soy and almond are my go-to nut milk as they have a milder and more delicate flavour that won’t interfere with the taste of my dish.

See my Cashew Milk recipe for easy dairy-free milk.

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3. Go bold with herbs and spices

Some of the best vegan dishes I’ve had are those with big, bold flavours. Herbs are awesome in filling in for flavours you normally get from meat. Match the herbs with a plantbased protein source such as legumes and you won’t miss your meat. Experiment with different herbs and spices starting with something you’re already familiar with, such as garlic and onion. Double the amount next time you make a meat-free dish and taste the difference.

4. Replace butter with coconut oil

This works in most recipes which call for butter such as pasta, casseroles, roasts, and many baked goods. The reason why coconut oil works better than other plantbased oils is because coconut oil is spreadable, like butter, at cool temperatures. No adjustment is necessary so you can replace butter with it using a 1:1 ratio. The only thing you need to remember is to make sure you use refined coconut oil if you don’t want your dishes to impart any coconut flavour. If you’d like your dish to have a more pronounced coconut flavour, coconut oil or virgin coconut oil are good for this purpose.

5. Make friends with tofu

Tofu is the best. It’s a great replacement for meat. It’s full of protein, very low in fat and contains zero cholesterol. I use it a lot in cooking – in stir-fries, soups, barbeques, grills, and salads. Some people tell me that they don’t like tofu but I think they just haven’t found the tofu they like. Like pasta, there are different brands of tofu and different kinds of tofu. There’s medium-firm, firm, extra-firm, soft, silken, and dried firm beancurd or tofu gan (my favourite). The beauty of tofu is that it’s like a sponge. It absorbs the flavour profile of your dish so you can use it for just about anything, even ice cream. So, if you had a bad first date with tofu, don’t give up. Your special tofu might just be around the corner.

Tempeh Bacon

6. Make friends with tempe

This one is close to my heart. Tempeh, or tempe, is fermented soybean originally from Indonesia. The fermentation process transforms the soybean into a cake or patty form with a firm texture and an earthy mild flavour.

Tempeh is one of my favourite sources of plantbased protein. It also contains iron, probiotics and B12. When I came to Australia a while ago, tempeh was almost non-existent. Now it’s in most local supermarkets and grocery stores, mostly in the frozen section, and in many health food stores. It can be grilled, steamed, fried and baked, just like meat. Tempeh also soaks up flavours well and will benefit from being marinaded before cooking. I usually just drizzle mine with some soy sauce and oil before baking in the oven.

7. Experiment with nutritional yeast

If you haven’t had nutritional yeast before, let me tell you that it is life-changing. Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast, which is different to your normal brewer’s yeast. It is sold in the form of flakes or as a yellow powder. It has a strong nutty and cheesy flavour, rich in B vitamins and is sometimes fortified with vitamin B12 (the same vitamin that you get from meat).

I use nutritional yeast to make cheese sauce, to sprinkle on popcorn, pasta, rice, potato, tofu scramble, anything savoury, really. It adds a somewhat cheesy flavour to the dish, like an ‘umami’ taste. It’s definitely a must have ingredient for any vegan kitchen.

Tofu Scramble-11

8. Use cashew cream in place of dairy cream

Every aspiring vegan cook must try to make their own cashew cream at least once in their culinary journey. It’s great as a replacement for dairy cream and you won’t taste the difference. It even thickens when cooked. Making cashew cream is very easy: you just blend 1 cup of soaked cashew (soak for 4 hours) and 1/2 to 1 cup water, starting with 1/2 cup and thinning it out as required. It is so versatile and you can use it to make sweet or savoury cream depending on what you need.

9. Experiment with Kala Namak

Kala Namak, or Black Salt, is an Indian salt that smells like egg and taste like egg… it also proves that God exists. Because I love eggs and He knows it. A sprinkle of this pink coloured salt on your tofu scramble, egg-free omelette or frittata, will take them to the maximum level of eggy-ness.

Vegan Frittata-8

10. Experiment with liquid smoke

Use a couple of drops with BBQ sauce on your tofu and tempeh to transform your dish from good to epic. A drop goes a long way and I personally put it on everything and anything I want to taste ‘smokey’ like pasta sauce, soup, tofu scramble, tempeh, grilled veggie, nut cheese, and so on.

11. Experiment with plantbased eggs

Flax-egg, Chia-egg, egg replacer mix, and ‘Vegg’, are your best friends for baking. For every baking recipe that calls for eggs, there’s a plantbased substitute depending on your need.

  • Flax/chia egg is made by whisking 3 tablespoon of water with 1 tablespoon of either ground flaxseed, or chia seed. This is equivalent to one chicken egg and is great for use in muffins and pancakes.
  • For egg replacer mix, I use Orgran brand. I find it’s great in bread and other baked goods that require leavening.
  • Vegg is your plantbased yolk solution, which is super amazing both in taste and texture (looks like yolk, tastes very much like yolk). Get your hands on this as it will completely transform your cooking. I got mine from The Crueltyfree Shop.

12. Experiment with Aquafaba

Aquafaba is all the rage at the moment and rightly so. It is a super cool vegan ingredient that has gained massive popularity amongst vegan food aficionados. It is basically the brine of chickpeas (yes, the liquid you normally throw out from a can of chickpeas). It’s rich in protein and behaves just like egg whites. You can use it with a 1:1 ratio (by weight) to replace egg whites when baking. Whip it with sugar to make delicious meringues (I’ll post a recipe soon) and the best thing is, no one will tell the difference! Check out the Facebook group dedicated to aquafaba for recipes and tips on how to use this magic brine in cooking and baking.

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As you can see, experimentation is the name of the game when it comes to vegan cooking. And it’s mainly because you’re not used to cooking this way (unless you were born and raised a vegan). Know that it is a learning process. Know that there will be hits and misses. We’re all winging it. Some of us are better than others. I for one have made many stuff ups over the last few years. I’ve made rubbery donuts and flat pancakes, added too much liquid smoke to my soup making it taste burnt, wasted my precious cashews making inedible vegan cheeses and many more. Life goes on.

If there’s one thing I particularly like about vegan cooking is that it’s clean and fresh – no blood on the chopping board, no smell of death, and no fear of contamination. It’s actually a lot simpler than cooking with meat in a lot of ways. For me, cooking has never been so peaceful and enjoyable.

From my vegan kitchen to yours, I hope you find these tips useful in helping you cook better vegan food. Experiment, have fun, and take it easy.

P.S. If you have any questions or any other vegan cooking tips you wish to share, feel free to enter them in the comments below.

Love and greens,

Keren