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Friday, 17 October 2014

As Fit As Popcorn Can Get!

Popcorn Indiana Review

When it comes to vegan snacks, it can become quite a challenge in my case with my nuts-and-seeds allergy. While I do often make my own tasty homemade snacks, sometimes I just want the convenience of a store-bought one. So, when Popcorn Indiana offered to send on a sample of their popcorn for my review, I just couldn't refuse. Now, not all of their popcorn range is vegan but they do have a few varieties that are. But what really caught my attention is that Popcorn Indiana uses only non-GMO corn. I rarely ever buy even fresh corn, let alone popcorn, on this part of the planet namely because I cannot be sure they are non-GMO.
So, when I received a bag of Popcorn Indiana in the Fit range that was non-GMO, I was pretty excited.

Popcorn Indiana Review

As the name suggests, the Fit range has lower fat content with only 37 calories per cup.

Popcorn Indiana Review

This won my heart! Not only was this popcorn tastier and lighter than a few other brands I've tried before but it was also low in fat calories. And that's a big plus for me.

Popcorn Indiana Review

Well, I was happy to find out that this brand was available at my local grocery store. Quite a few packs have landed in my shopping cart. However, I guess I've been munching on these tasty fluffs a little too much; popcorn can be quite damaging to teeth if the bits of shell get stuck in between. I have learnt my lesson (or maybe not quite): too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Well, not too bad though. Happy munching if you find some Popcorn Indiana on your way. I am hoping they will introduce some more vegan options in other flavours.

Popcorn Indiana Review

Disclosure: All opinions are my own. I received the above mentioned product for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was received from Popcorn Indiana for the review.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Gooey Chocolate Crème Dessert sans the Fat! (can be made sugar-free too)

Fat-free Chocolate Sauce, Vegan Dessert Recipe

Fall is quite the time to be lured into rich chocolatey finger-licking indulgence. And believe me I've got one recipe that is just right for this time of the year plus (and that's a big plus) it comes sans the fat! But that is not the only plus, it can also be made sugar-free if you use stevia or date syrup (for a lower glycemic index). We all know that being vegan is not automatically synonymous with "skinny" and when it comes to that, I am one of those who have always carried a few extra pounds. Going vegan has actually made the extra pounds to accumulate a little more -- vegan food is so delicious! So, while I don't try to eat a low-carb diet, I do however considerably cut down on fat. I do believe that the fat that we get through natural foods like bananas, avocados, seeds is by far superior to processed oils and margarine. Oils are however not completely eradicated from my recipes; I try to use the healthier ones like coconut oil as far as possible. However, when I can avoid them, by all means, I do.

So, this fat-free chocolate dessert sauce has quite literally become my favorite dessert while I am binge-watching Doctor Who after dinner! Are you a Doctor Who fan by the way?

Back to our chocolate sauce, I make it at least twice a week when I want a warm creamy dessert.

Fat-free Chocolate Sauce, Vegan Dessert Recipe

Basil Seeds aka Tukmaria
One other ingredient that I have blogged about before - basil seeds (which are actually the holy basil variety) or tukmaria - is one common addition to a lot of my recipes: drinks, desserts, breakfast and sometimes as an egg replacer/binder. They look like Chia seeds and swell when soaked. Apparently, they are very good for digestion and regulate the blood sugar level. Some people actually consume them as part of a weight loss program by taking a tablespoon in a glass of water just before each meal. Apparently it stops excess fat from being absorbed in the body. I couldn't testify whether this works or not because I haven't tried them for that purpose.

Where can you buy tukmaria?
I buy my basil seeds at the Indian store close to my place but you can find them in Asian/Indian stores in general. If not, they can be found online (although a little more expensive) here.

So, are you ready for guilt-free indulgence? I won't keep you on your toes any longer, here is the recipe video. Ooey-gooey chocolatey goodness -- quick, easy, simple ingredients and low calorie! What more could I ask for. Really, I don't have much to say about this except that you should definitely give this a try and let me know of the results.

For the chocolate sauce:
300 ml homemade oat milk
1 - 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
Pinch cinnamon
2 - 3 tablespoons maple syrup (or to taste)

  • Heat the oat milk in a saucepan on low-medium heat.
  • Add the cocoa powder, coffee, cinnamon and maple syrup.
  • Stir and mix well.
  • Increase the heat to medium and keep stirring.
  • The mixture will thicken gradually. Turn off heat when it reaches the consistency that you like.
  • A thinner consistency is great for ice-cream but thick creamy texture is perfect for fruits.

For the dessert:
Any fruits that you like, chopped up into small pieces (I used bananas)
1 tablespoons basil seeds + water to soak
Toasted coconut flakes or nuts/seeds for toppings

  • Place the basil seeds in half cup of water and allow to soak until swollen.
  • To serve the dessert, place some fruits in a bowl, top with the soaked basil seeds.
  • Next pour in the warm chocolate sauce and top with the coconut flakes or nuts.

Et voilà! Eat while still warm.

Fat-free Chocolate Sauce, Vegan Dessert Recipe

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Vegetable Fritters Unfried

Baked Oregano Vegetable Fritters

After school tea time snacks, when I was a kid, varied from French pâtisserie to deep fried fritters, not forgetting, when time permitted, Mum's delicious homemade treats. Although we only had these greasy fritters only about once a week, thinking about them today make me cringe. While I do shallow or pan fry occasionally, deep frying is almost non-existent as a means of cooking in my kitchen nowadays. The only time that I do deep fry is when I am make these dal chili cakes that I have yet to develop a baked version for.

Deep fried fritters — (above mentioned) dal chili cakes, bhajis, samoosas, assorted vegetable fritters to mention a few — are sold as a popular street food in Mauritius. Even though they are very much part of the food culture, I cannot bring myself to enjoy them with peace of mind. Food culture or not, I cannot resound to them anymore. A baked version sounds a lot more appealing. And, turns out, they were even tastier.

Baked Vegetable Fritters

Ingredients (about 12 fritters)
5 medium potatoes
2 carrots
3 mushroom
3 stems fresh oregano (or other fresh herbs: coriander, parsley, thyme...)
1 tablespoon oat pulp* (or 2 tablespoons chickpea flour)
2 tablespoons chickpea flour (besan)
1 teaspoon Cool Runnings Seafood Seasoning (if you don't have this, use 1 teaspoon dry vegetable bouillon powder, it will taste different but still good)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
Salt to taste

*Oat pulp is the oat fibres that are left after straining oat milk. I keep the pulp to use in many recipes.

  • Grate potatoes and carrots, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let sit for about 10 minutes then squeeze the liquid out.
  • Cut mushrooms into very small pieces.
  • Mix all the rest of the ingredients.
  • Form balls (the size of a pingpong or just slightly larger), flatten.
  • Heat a pan with a thin coating of oil. When oil is medium-hot place the patties in the pan. You don't want to overcrowd the pan, so leave some room so that you can easily flip the patties on the other side.
  • Pan fry until slightly crisp and golden on either sides.
  • Transfer to the oven and bake at 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Farenheit) for 35-40 minutes, turning the fritters on the other side after 20 minutes.

Baked Oregano Vegetable Fritters

Spicy Bean Dipping Sauce

1/2 cup white cannellini beans, boiled (or chickpeas)
1/3 cup water
1 bird eye red chilli (or 1/2 teaspoon of a chilli paste. I use this one)
1/2 teaspoon paprika powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (or 1/2 teaspoon miso paste)
1/4 teaspoon olive oil (or sesame oil if not allergic)
Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add water if required to thin out the sauce.

Tip: if you want a quicker version, use ready-made humus with the chilli paste, maple syrup and nutritional yeast (you actually don't need a blender then). Dilute with water to a dipping sauce consistency. This takes the boredom out of humus, although it is probably uncommon to get bored of humus (at least in my case with a low-fat or fat-free homemade version).

Baked Oregano Vegetable Fritters

On a sidenote, this powerful video, featuring the Allegory of the Long Spoons, reminded me that sometimes we are so busy with our own lives that we forget to realise how much we really need one another in this world. Caring and reaching out for others can only do us good tenfold.

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