Friday, February 28, 2014
While another surge of bitterly cold Arctic air is hitting North America this week making the temperatures drop to -15 degrees Celsius today, the call for staying indoors wrapped in a blanket with a cozy warm drink is not a mere craving — it's an urgent need! At the same time I had resolved myself to go an a two-week health kick with a boost of fruity smoothies and raw salads; you see, I thought it was going to warm up as we are stepping into the Spring zone.
Determined to stick to my initial (light) detox plan, I had no choice but to experiment with a warm spiced smoothie concoction. The aroma of this spiced tea strawberry-banana smoothie was more than enough to invigorate and cuddle me up.
The tea connoisseur in me really can't resist passing by a tea shop without stepping in. As a result, I had to buy some Chai along with some Assam varieties from Davids Tea the other day in the shopping mall close by. Both varieties are very flavoursome although I do have a preference for the assam. For some reason, my tastebuds prefer the chai variety in cooler beverages. The subtle yet quintessential aroma of this spiced tea added the perfect myriad of flavour to this otherwise classic strawberry-banana smoothie.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 tablespoon loose chai
4 - 5 strawberries
1 apple (peeled and cut into smaller pieces)
100 ml coconut almond blend non-dairy milk (can be substituted by any non-dairy milk)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Boiling water for brewing the tea
Brew the chai in 1/2 cup of boiling water for 3 minutes. Strain and let cool down until tea is warm.
Add tea to the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth.
Drink immediately and enjoy the aroma.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Meet Baltazar. That is how Sisterlovlie has named her new little friend. As I am picking up on more crochet skills and working on bigger projects like throws, I thought tackling amigurumis would be the next step. And Sisterlovlie being so fond of owls, I couldn't help but make my first amigurumi project an owl just for her. To my surprise, making these little stuffed cuties aren't as daunting as they seem. Their cute-factor surely helps in getting the project progressing at amazing speed.
This cute owl one was made using this pattern from Little Muggles. Amy, the author of Little Muggles sure got a whole world of crochet cutie plush, books and tutorials.
Just wanted to add a little note: I have used normal buttons that I've sewed on for the eyes. But if you are making these for children, make sure you use safety eyes which don't come off easily. That way the kids don't risk putting the buttons in their mouths and choke.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Monday is my favourite day to spend hours in the kitchen! Eh what? NOT at all. Who does anyway? So, here's my quick and easy go-to meal for Mondays and any days that can only allow for a 30-minute prep and cooked meal. And the best is that you can leave some of the veggies raw or half cooked if you wish, saving you time and keeping all the nutrition.
Ingredients (2 servings)
1 medium carrot (large if you like a lot)
1 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup bell peppers, sliced
1/2 cup baby bok choi greens
1/2 block tofu (or about 200g)
3 - 4 tablespoons shoyu soy sauce
2 tablespoons miso paste (I like the barley and soy miso)
200g noodles of choice (I used flat rice noodles, pad thai style but you can use a Japanese style noodle for a more authentic ramen)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or vegetable oil to sauté the tofu and veggies)
- Cut the tofu into long strips of about 5 mm thickness.
- Heat oil on medium heat, in a pan.
- While oil is heating, drench the tofu pieces in the soy sauce, allow excess to drip off.
- Place tofu in the heated oil. Cover and let cook.
- Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables:
- Wash all veggies.
- Slice the carrot and zucchini into ribbons using the vegetable peeler, keep peeling all the way across and lengthwise to make ribbons. Cut the broccoli into florets.
- Cut across the lower part of the stem of the baby bok choi to separate the leaves.
- Slice the bell pepper into thin strips.
- From time to time, turn tofu onto the other side for even cooking.
- Once tofu is golden, remove from heat.
- In the same pan, add in the broccoli, cook for 1 minute.
- Add the rest: peppers, carrot and zucchini. Toss and mix. Sauté for about 2 - 3 minutes.
- Lastly add the bok choi and turn off heat. The bok choi will cook with the heat of the pan.
- Meanwhile fill another pan with water and allow to boil, you can do this while the vegetables are cooking to save time. Place noodles in the water and cook until soft.
- While noodles are being cook, fill the kettle with water and put it on to boil.
To serve, place 1 tablespoon of miso paste into each bowl. Pour boiling water from the kettle until bowls are each half filled. Thoroughly mash and stir the miso paste into the water to make the soup.
Place noodles in the bowls, top with the veggies and tofu. Serve immediately. You can add a dash or two of soy sauce if you like.
Saturday, February 15, 2014
After a few months off blogging, I feel rather timid to be posting a recipe again. It's been like eons since my last post so much that I had lost hope of ever coming back onto the blogosphere. But you know what? My repertoire of unposted recipes was getting dusty; I needed to let them see the light (of my screen). Okay, I am still feeling rather shy so I'll keep it short but here's something full-o-taste! Add some punch to the oh-so-decadent chocolate cheesecake with a good dash of sweet Spanish paprika!
Ingredients (for one 10-inch pie dish)
2 cups crushed digestive biscuits (about 20 biscuits, some of the "value" brands are vegan)
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
4 tablespoons vegan margarine
2 cups chocolate chips
2 tablespoons coconut oil (you can substitute with vegan margarine (that is of rather solid consistency) but not liquid oil. We need this to firm the filling a little better, so an oil that won't harden in the fridge won't help).
1 pack firm silken tofu
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup soft brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika
More paprika for dusting
Here's the fun part! Just a few steps to decadence.
- Mix crushed biscuits with sugar and margarine.
- Line a pie dish with the mixture by pressing firmly around on the bottom and the sides.
- Melt the chocolate chips and the coconut oil in a double boiler. Mixing both together gently until smooth.
- Add all the rest on the ingredients together with the melted chocolate in a blender. Process until smooth. (I used a hand blender, so I placed everything in a glass jug).
- Pour the mixture onto the crust. Smooth out evenly.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.
Dust with paprika before serving.
Take a bite. Do you feel the extra oomph!
Monday, September 16, 2013
Quick Tips to Go Meatless
Green, clean, healthy eating is not a fad. With more cookbooks, chefs and restaurants veering to vegan and vegetarian dining, this herbivore diet is the way of the future. For many meat-eaters, however, turning from meat to veggies can be harder than thought. Thankfully, cooking shows guide amateur cooks through each step of the cooking process, while still allowing room for creativity and improvisation.
So how does one turn meat to meatless? Here are three easy techniques for enjoying a meat-free diet.
When it comes to cooking in general, experimentation is always a good idea. You will never know if something works, or if you like something, unless you experiment. Many great chefs like those on the Food Network or Cooking Channel, as well as many others around the country create new dishes by experimenting with old ones. Take Chef Chuck Hughes' Vegetarian Shepherd Pie. There is no beef involved in the homey remake of this classic, but lots of vegetables, which add big flavor. Your family won't miss the meat in this dish at all. When cutting out meat from other dishes, try to replace it with another hearty ingredient, like mushrooms, squash, eggplant or perhaps tofu or tempeh.
Spice It Up
People often claim that vegetarian cuisine lacks flavor. That statement could not be more false. When looking to exclude the meat but add flavor, just amp up the spices. If you think about it, popular cuisines like Mexican and Indian food are big on the spices. Take a simple enchilada recipe like this one. Although Rachael Ray's dish is amazing as is, you can easily replace the ground chicken for beans, crumbled tofu or tempeh. This recipe uses some big spices like coriander, cumin and paprika to add flavor to the chicken. That's not all you could add though; mix in some chili or chipotle powder for more flavor and heat. If you're looking to lose the meat, just add more spice for major flavor impact.
Trying new foods can be scary, especially if it includes an ingredient you are unfamiliar with. Take tofu for example. For some odd reason, this protein-packed ingredient often has people running for the hills. Perhaps it's habit, but old habits shouldn't stop you from trying or experiencing something new. When you open yourself up to experiencing new things, you may discover a food truly amazing. Take these vegan lentil burgers that sound incredible. Not only do they incorporate different foods like lentils, they have various spices to add a lot flavor. This point really encompasses the other two: experiment and add some spices. You won't regret it.
Don't limit your taste buds to the known. Open your mouth to the wonderful world of vegan cuisine and you too could be going meatless more often.
Thanks London, these are great tips and I must say I do abide by all of these myself since the very first day that I decided to follow a vegan lifestyle.
Sunday, September 15, 2013
August 2013 Vegan Food Swap revealed! My sender was the bubbly Becca Williams! Becca is such a firecracker! She absolutely made my day and that includes all the email exchanges we had over the past month. I couldn't but smile and laugh aloud while reading her emails. So the package contained some really nice goodies all individually wrapped...
accompanied by a long description letter!
Wow! This warmed my heart and I still remember the feeling while I was opening each item one by one. Each packet was labelled in the order they should be opened to match the labelled description on the letter. How thoughtful! Thanks Becca.
I really enjoyed what I found in each.
Gluten-free pretzel sticks. Yum! I opened the pack on the same day.
Sesame flavoured snack-size nori sheets. Seaweed is one thing that I could never be satiated with! I just love the sea taste. And Becca picked up on my strong liking for Japanese food to send me these!
Plantain chips. These were unsalted and unsweetened and I really loved them because I usually just find sweetened banana chips which send that sharp toothache feeling if these happen to glue onto the roots! eek! So these plantain chips, I loved.
Pumpkin seed clusters. I tried those despite my allergy. Dangerous move but the allergy didn't kick in, thankfully. And these were so tasty and addictive. But I can only have a little nibble at a time if I don't want to suffer the allergy attack.
Seeing this Vega sport gel,I was thinking whether that was a sign that I should get back on my regular gym training! I've been postponing my routine for a long time now! I've never had this product before and I haven't tried it yet but the ingredients seem a lot healthier that other brands out there. Becca's mum recommends it! So I will try it soon!
Raspberry liquorice! I've been seeing this a few times in the health store but never thought of buying it because I've never been a great fan of liquorice. I'm glad Becca sent this in the package, because they are actually good! I even went to buy some more at the store! These have become my newly adopted candy. So yummy! I've seen the blueberry flavour too which I haven't tried yet.
How could have Becca guessed I love ginger candy, I don't know! I had just bought a bag of soft ginger candy (in another brand) a week before receiving the food swap package. But hey, these are not too much! They will last me all winter and keep me warm!
Thank you for these wonderful goodies! That was a good swap.
By the way, you should really have a look at the awesome video Becca did featuring her chocolate lab named Gilmour! It sure did entertain me and at the same time sending a message out! Check it out here.
For my part I sent a packet to Jamie Hunter.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Is turmeric a regular ingredient in your diet? If not, you should really be looking into incorporating turmeric into your recipes. Turmeric is well known for its medicinal, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties. While in many cases, it is applied topically onto wounds as a disinfectant and healing agent, it is commonly found in a lot of Indian and other Asian dishes. You would most commonly find it in curries and sauces, although turmeric milk beverages is also a very popular way of consuming turmeric. I really enjoy it in a little warm oat milk with some maple syrup and ginger. It cures flu and cough.
Here are some more information on the benefits of turmeric on WHFoods.
Turmeric is always in stock in my pantry. I consume turmeric a couple or more times a week. If it's not going into a sauce or rice dish, it goes into my regular smoothies. A quarter teaspoon of turmeric powder into any fruit and non-dairy milk smoothie works well for me.
I try to make my smoothies seasonal and varied. Plums are in season at the moment and I bought a big pack of small yellow ones the other day. They have slowly been ripening on the kitchen counter, tasting nicer every day after the other. They are so refreshing to just pop one or two in your mouth whenever a little hunger hits. But soon they were ripening too fast! So, I've been putting them in my smoothies too!
Plum and Turmeric Sunshine Smoothie
Ingredients (Serves 1 - 2)
2-3 yellow plums
1-2 strawberries (optional)
2 medjool dates
1 tablespoon maple syrup (for the benefit of magnesium and zinc which are great for the immune system)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
Non-dairy milk as required to thin out consistency (I used rice milk)
Soak the dates in some warm water. In the meantime, peel and stone the plums and peel the banana. Chop into small pieces.
Pit the dates.
Place all ingredients (except) in a blender and blend until smooth.
Drizzle with a little maple syrup and serve!
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Biryani, a mouth-watering word indeed but then comes the thought of laborious cooking and time spent in the kitchen and something that is definitely not for a mid-week dinner.
Well, here's a quick and easy recipe that is not only quick to make as a mid-week dinner but is also a healthier version with the use of brown and wild rice. Okay, while this will not match a properly prepared biryani dish cooked on low heat for an hour or two in an oven or seal pan, it will however taste delicious nevertheless! It will actually look like you've spent a lot more time on it. And what a yet-another-great-way to use lentils in a vegan recipe.
So, with a little of ahead planning and using more than one cooking pan, this can be made in about 45 minutes or less. I am also not using a lot of ingredients with this one but feel free to add other vegetables to this if you feel like it. Some suggestions are potatoes which are added to the traditional Mauritian-style biryani, green beans and cauliflower florets.
Ingredients (serves 2 - 3)
1 cup mixed brown and wild rice
1 cup brown lentils
150g vegan mince meat (optional)
2 medium carrots, cubed (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon garam masala
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chillies
1 tablespoon ginger, minced or finely grated
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
5 - 6 whole cardamom pods
3/4 tablespoon tamarind paste (optional)
1 cup chopped fresh coriander and mint mix (I didn't have these today so I used some dried bay leaves instead)
Use two separate pans, wash and drain the rice and lentils separately. Fill with water until it reaches your first knuckle while the tip of your finger is just touching the rice or lentils.
Cook both on medium heat until soft but not mushy. You may need to add more water at some point if required. When done, drain water well and set aside to cool.
While rice and lentil are cooking, you can prepare your vegetables, i.e. chopping the carrots and grating / mincing ginger.
In a large deep pan, heat the coconut oil. Add the fenugreek, cardamom, garam masala, cumin and ginger. Roast lightly.
At this point the kitchen will be filled with a wonderful aroma! Can you smell it?!!
Add the vegan mince meat (if using) and let cook for about 8 - 10 minutes. Stirring to avoid burning.
Then add coconut milk and tamarind paste (if using).
Stir and let coconut milk thicken with the spices and mince until all is dry again.
Add the crushed chillies, the carrots and half of the fresh herbs. Cook for another 2 - 3 minutes.
Add cooled rice, lentils and frozen peas. Mix will with the spices. Add the rest of the herbs and give everything a final good stir!
Serve with your favourite Indian pickles and enjoy dinner!
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
So, let's get back to Jackie's package! She must definitely be psychic! She mentioned when sending out the package that it was going to be slightly different from her normal ones! That really got me intrigued. So today, I went to collect my package from the post office and as I got home, I couldn't wait!
Jackie got me a wonderful produce bag from Quirky! How could she have known I so much dig long-life grocery bags?! I think I almost collect them! Every time I see a nice looking produce bag, I do buy it! It kind of make the idea of buying a bag-for-life redundant!
The 'sweet' little card was heartwarming with a nice sweet note from Jackie.
Other things in the lot were a nice packet of red rice which I will certainly use in my salads or next time I make sushi, mixing a little with the sushi rice. She also got me some lemon tea from Earth Teaze! Tea is almost like the second liquid I drink the most after water! And despite this, in my assortment of teas and herbals, I was missing lemon tea.
Oh my! Thank you Jackie for this fabulous swap! And thanks to MeShell from meshell in your city for organising the Vegan Food Swap
I can't wait to go grocery shopping!
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
These days my creativity is really kicking in. I feel I could just sit and do all sorts of handmade crafts all day long. How I wish I could do just that sometimes but heck there's work to go to. But last night while chatting to Sisterlovlie on Skype, I started on this watercolor painting of a peacock. I've been wanting to paint a peacock in watercolor for quite a while now. But last night, I just took out the paint box and brushes and without much planning, I started layering water and paint onto paper. How good it felt!
Monday, July 1, 2013
Sunday (yesterday) morning debate (in my head):
Which should I make?
My all-time favourite scones or sweet potato bread (because I do have some sweet potato in the fridge that need to be used soon).
Hm, I was really in the mood for some bread baking to break my gluten-free fast. Yes, I've been reducing my gluten intake recently and have been feeling a lot lighter. But from time to time, I just love the smell of bread baking in the oven, as you may know by now of my love affair with homemade bread.
But it was rather warm today and I really didn't want to put the oven on for an hour, lest having Boyfriendlovlie (and myself!) complain about the unbearable heat. So, I was going to opt for some veggie pancakes instead when I thought about some stove top English muffins.
*hmm...thinking....thinking* They can be partly cooked on the stove then transferred 5- 8 minutes in the oven.
And also I realised that I had actually never featured any English muffins here. So, English muffins it was!
English muffins win my heart for their rustic homemade aspect. Not only do they taste great but they can be served just as much as a bread replacement or as a little afternoon tea-time treat. They are light, puffy and moist and despite being called muffins, they are very different to American muffins which are sweet small cakes.
The traditional recipe for English muffins usually call for milk which can easily be replaced with non-dairy milk. In this recipe I've used oatmilk, although I did not strain out the oat residue (as per my oatmilk recipe). I've left it in and I've found that it has actually improved the texture and taste.
Ingredients (8 - 9 muffins)
3 tablespoons porridge oats (dry flakes)
250 ml water
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or sugar)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 cups all purpose flour (I use a 220 ml cup measurement)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal (for dusting)
- Melt coconut oil (if not already liquid at room temperature). But do not heat, it should remain at room temperature. Leave aside.
- Mix the oats with the water and blend for one minute on high. You can alternatively use a hand blender.
- Pour oat mixture in a saucepan, add maple syrup or sugar and heat gently until it is lukewarm (not hot). We are going to use this as oatmilk but there is not need to strain out the oat residue for this recipe.
- Sprinkle yeast on the warm oatmilk. Whisk and mix. Let sit for a couple of minutes.
- Add the melted coconut oil and mix well.
- In a large bowl, add flour and salt. Mix well.
- Make a well in the center and pour in the oatmilk mixture.
- Start to mix and knead. If you feel the dough is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of warm water at a time (but it shouldn't be requiring more than 2 tablespoons extra).
- Continue to knead and the dough will come together.
- At this point you can continue to knead in the bowl or transfer onto a board and knead for another 8 - 10 minutes.
- Place dough in a large greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until double in size.
- When dough has doubled, divide into 2 and lay on a floured board. Lightly roll out to 2 inches thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out circles. You can then reshape and smooth out the edge with your hands to make a nicer plumper muffin.
- Sprinkle a baking tray with cornmeal and place the circles of dough with a little space around them.
- Repeat with the other half of dough. For the left over cut out dough, you can combine them and re-roll, then shape by hand.
- Let rise until each muffin is doubled in size.
You can then proceed into cooking this on a griddle in the oven (5 minutes on each side) or pan cook them first before baking for a few more minutes (5 - 8 minutes) in the oven.
I tried both and I prefer the pan cook ones because then gave a more authentic look and taste.
- Lightly grease a fry pan, place 1 muffin at a time or if you have a large pan, you can fit two or more at a time. Cook for 5 minutes on each side on low-medium until each side is golden.
- Then transfer to the baking tray and bake at 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Farenheit) for 5 - 7 minutes.
- Remove and let cool.
English muffins are best served warm. Try them with a sweet spread for breakfast or tea time.
Or you can fill them with any savoury ingredient for a great lunch. Make them for your barbecues and just reheat for great homemade muffin bread!