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Saturday, 25 August 2012

Where Do I Get My Iron? Molasses.



Molasses is something that reminds me of many childhood memories. There was one particular molasses fudge that was available at the deli counter of one particular store in Mauritius. Back in the days, we wouldn't go there often but whenever Mum would take us, it was really something we looked forward to. However, as time passed, this store no longer made the molasses fudge and seemed to have replaced the ingredient with just brown sugar, or so it tasted like it.

Mauritius is a sugar producing country and you would think molasses would be readily available in the stores. Ironically enough, it is not. And still the biggest irony is that I can find molasses here in Europe, produced in Mauritius! Yep, this is how it goes. If I were in Mauritius, I wouldn't readily find molasses. The only way you can get hold of some molasses is if you know someone working at a sugar mill.

Well, I am thankful that I can find it here at least because molasses is one thing I really love! It lends a distinctive flavour into many baked goodies; I always put a tablespoon or so in my chocolate cakes or cookies. I sometimes add it to my smoothies but particularly love it in oats porridge too. Recently I've tried it drizzled on some oranges and grapefruit and it makes a distinctly tasty fruit snack! If you don't like the bitter taste of grapefruit, try it with some molasses. Somehow both the slight bitterness in molasses and that in the grapefruit counteracts each other to make one definitely tasty combo!

I've found molasses to be particularly helpful in relieving cramps during exercise and strenous physical activity. So, do try it if you haven't already!

But if you've tried it and don't like it, give yourself a second chance: try everything twice! Also, check out Lysa's Breakfast Bouddha Bowl. It got me drooling!



So, Why Should We Eat Molasses?

Carbohydrates

Molasses is an excellent source of carbohydrates. A 1/4 cup serving supplies nearly 250 calories of energy in the form of simple sugars. Providing your body with enough carbohydrates enables it to make proper use of your dietary protein. Since your dietary proteins are spared, the body can utilise them to maintain your muscle mass.

Magnesium
Magnesium assists in keeping the immune system healthy and also helps maintain the nerves, muscles and bones. A 1/4 cup serving of molasses supplies about 200mg of magnesium which is half or more of the daily recommended allowance for magnesium (which is between 310 and 420 mg).

Manganese
Manganese is required in the body as a co-factor for many metabolic enzymes and also aids in anti-oxidant reactions. A 1/4 cup of molasses contains 1.3 mg of this trace element and the body requires between 1.8 and 2.3 mg of manganese daily. This is more than 50% of the daily requirement.

Copper
Copper assists in the metabolism of iron and also in extracting energy from the foods we eat. It is an integral component of the nervous system. 1/4 cup of molasses provides almost half of our daily need for copper which is 0.9 mg.

Iron
Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia. Regular consumption of molasses can help maintain the iron level in the body at an optimum level.
Molasses contains 4 mg of iron per 1/4 cup. This amounts to between 25 and 50 percent of your daily requirement, depending on your age and sex.

Potassium
Potassium assists in many functions in your body. These include transmission of nerve signals, muscle contraction, regulation of blood pressure, maintenance of fluid balance and proper heart function.
Molasses is rich in the mineral potassium, with 1/4 cup providing more than 1,200 mg, or 25 percent of the amount you need each day.

Reference:
Livestrong.com

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Lentil Veggie Burgers



With so many vegan burger recipes on the internet and recipe books nowadays, why would we need another recipe? Simply because we can't get enough of veggie burgers and they are just so tasty!

I am going to tell you a funny story. This actually happened to me a while ago. Boyfriendlovlie and I were invited at a wedding and our hosts were especially considerate to provide vegan food for us. So, at the buffet table there were burgers but the vegan ones were not labelled and we weren't sure we could have them; they could have been just vegetarian with eggs in them. But anyway, these burgers looked a lot more attractive than the other non-vegan food that was there and they soon disappeared! Later I went to ask about the vegan food and they said it was those burgers and there were none left. I was so disappointed but the chef agreed to bring out some more. And when I tasted them, I understood why they went so quickly! They were actually really tasty. Even omnis preferred them to the meat burgers on that day. Yep! That's what happens with vegan food most of the time I've found, they are devoured by omnis as well as vegans.

So here you go. We will never get tired of veggie burgers hence another yummy recipe to enjoy in burger buns or flat breads! These ones are baked and may be a bit dry if you are having them on their own. So, make sure you have a salad and some dressing to go with them if you are omitting the bread.

Ingredients (8 burgers, depending on size)
200g (1 cup) dry black lentils
2 medium (approx. 450g) potatoes
1 courgette (zucchini), shredded
100g frozen mixed sweetcorn and peas
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder (substitute by cayenne or cajun spice or paprika for a milder taste)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 small bunch (about 10g) coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

  • Boil lentils, according to packet instructions, until tender but not mushy. Drain water if there is any left in the pot.
  • In another pot, put potatoes to boil covered in water. When soft with a fork test, turn off heat and allow to cool. Then peel and mash the potatoes.
  • Squeeze out the juice from the shredded courgette. (You can drink this juice if you want or mix it in your smoothies. But in any case don't throw it away, it's very nutritious). We are squeezing out the liquid here so that the burgers don't break with the juice coming out of the veggies while they are cooking.
  • Mix all ingredients together into a big bowl (including boiled lentils and potatoes).
  • Take a small quantity (like 2 - 3 tablespoons) and shape into balls then flatten into burgers. Leave them a little thick; you can flatten them later in the pan.
  • Drizzle a non-stick pan with some oil. Heat the pan.
  • Place a few burgers and cover. Cook for about 6 minutes on medium heat on one side. A golden crust should form, then turn and cook covered for another 6 minutes on the other side.


  • Afterward you can either:

    turn again and keep cooking in the pan for another 8 - 10 minutes, turning occasionally but carefully to avoid breakage. Adjust heat (lower the temperature) as required so that burgers don't burn but are allowed to be cooked inside,

    Or, you can transfer the burgers onto a greased tray and bake in the oven for about 15 - 20 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius or until firmer and done.


Burgers are ready, serve in burger buns or pita bread, with salad and your favourite sauce.

One thing I like to do with veggie burgers is to freeze them for later use. It makes it so convenient and a real time-saver. After the first pan fry of about 6 minutes on each side, remove gently from pan and allow to cool completely. Then simply arrange into freezer proof boxes (I love using my empty icecream tubs for that matter, instead of buying new boxes), separate each burger with a layer of plastic to avoid them sticking to one another when frozen. For the plastic bag, you can use a sandwich bag. Cut off the sealed base then cut through to open the bag into a single layer. This can be reused again and again.



Then, simply take out from the freezer and cook in the oven for 20 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.



Nutrition facts per burger:

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1 serving (123.0 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories
160
Calories from Fat
21
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
2.3g
4%
Saturated Fat
0.3g
1%
Trans Fat
0.0g
Cholesterol
0mg
0%
Sodium
305mg
13%
Total Carbohydrates
27.4g
9%
Dietary Fiber
10.0g
40%
Sugars
2.1g
Protein
8.3g
Vitamin A 6% Vitamin C 30%
Calcium 3% Iron 14%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Rougail (or Rougaille) Morisyen (Mauritian Rougaille)



"What’s Mauritian cuisine like?", this is a question that I get quite often when I come across people from other countries.
Well, Mauritian cuisine is primarily an exotic mix. All continents gather to offer a myriad of colours and flavours. Infact it is more than common for a combination of cuisines to form part of the same meal.

Mauritius, by default, is composed of a mix of cultures and races that came from mainly Africa, Asia and Europe. A little bit of history would take us back to the days of slavery (the years preceding 1835) when the first African slaves were brought to the island, by the English and French, to work in the fields. Later, after the abolition of slavery, indentured labourers were brought from India. Then, some Chinese migrants came as well and opened businesses. Nowadays, we have a mix of all these races and cultures along with a few Europeans.

The best thing about this mix is undoubtedly the rich food culture! Over the years, the cuisines from these different continents have adapted to give the Mauritian cuisine its picturesque aspect and authenticity while still keeping some of their vivid origins. From the French patisserie and other delicacies to the Indian curries without forgetting the ever so popular Chinese noodle, rice and dumpling dishes and tasty African dishes.

Many other Mauritian dishes have been featured on this blog before, although as you may have noticed already, I do not exclusively write about Mauritian food. Well, quite simply because I love food, and for everything new and that seems attractive, I will give it a try or two, then adopt or adapt!

Today, I'm presenting the Mauritian Rougail (or Rougaille). The rougail is undoubtedly a dish that wins the heart of every Mauritian and is sure to win yours too! A Creole-style tomato based sauce with the common addition of sausages, fish and other meat, the rougail also presents itself in a popular vegetarian version too (which happens to be vegan). The vegetarian version is locally called "rougail touni", literally translated as "naked rougail". Naked because nothing else is added to the base which basically consists of tomatoes, garlic, onions, ginger and fresh herbs. Then some people like to add their own twist to it like peas and different herbs and other spices.

While the origin of this dish is not exactly known, variations of it can also be found in Reunion island (which is a French island, neighbour to Mauritius), where they make a raw fruity green mango rougail and in Madagascar where they also make a delicious raw version used as a condiment.

The Mauritian rougail however, is a cooked dish and the best part is that it is ridiculously easy and quick to make and does not require a long list of ingredients. Most ingredients would be staples in your kitchen I would think. The plain "naked" version is made in less than 20 minutes (including preparation time), quicker that it took me to write up this post and the recipe!

The rougail is commonly served over rice or with bread but a lot of Mauritians (including myself) enjoy it over plain boiled noodles as well. And there you have a great combination of different cuisines as part of the same meal!

One more thing, since I personally have reduced the consumption of onions and garlic for probably almost a year now, I have adapted the recipe for myself without them. However, I have included onions and garlic in this recipe as I used to make it before for you to get the authentic version. I've also used tofu in this one but really anything can be added to the tomato base: beans, veggies or even some coarsely crumbled dal chilli cakes!

Ingredients (Serves 2)
4 - 6 medium tomatoes
1 teaspoon minced ginger root
3 - 4 green chillies (I used a few red ones too)
1 small onion (if using), sliced or chopped
1 - 2 garlic gloves (if using), finely chopped
Sprig curry leaves
Sprig thyme
1 teaspoon oil

150 g tofu (cut into cubes)
5 - 6 mushrooms, cut into chunky pieces
2 tablespoon frozen peas
1 tablespoon oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Coriander for garnish (optional)

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a non-stick pan. (I find a 28-cm wok style pan works best for this).
  • Add the tofu pieces and pan fry until golden and slightly crispy.
  • Remove, set aside.
  • Meanwhile, cut tomatoes into rather chunky wedges or cubes.
  • Depending on your heat tolerance, you can either slice the chillies in half lengthwise or leave them whole.
  • In the same pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil.
  • Add onions (if using), garlic (if using) and ginger. Sautee for 1 minute.
  • Add curry leaves and chillies. Toss and sautee for a few more minutes.
  • Add tomatoes and thyme.
  • Stir and simmer for 5 - 7 minutes or until tomatoes have started to form a lightly creamy sauce. Add a little water if required.
  • Then add mushrooms and tofu pieces.
  • Add frozen peas.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Stir and cook for a few more minutes until mushrooms are cooked and tofu have absorbed a bit of the tomato juice.
  • At this point you can decide to add a little water and simmer to make up some sauce or leave it somewhat dry (as in the photo).
Variation: I like to leave the tomatoes somewhat chunky so I don't actually allow it to completely become a sauce but some people do make more sauce and in this case you can add more tomatoes and simmer for longer.

Serve over basmati rice or plain boiled noodles.

Bon app├ętit!



Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1 serving (541.8 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories
297
Calories from Fat
141
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
15.7g
24%
Saturated Fat
2.5g
12%
Trans Fat
0.0g
Cholesterol
0mg
0%
Sodium
112mg
5%
Total Carbohydrates
25.3g
8%
Dietary Fiber
8.2g
33%
Sugars
13.1g
Protein
19.4g
Vitamin A 48% Vitamin C 71%
Calcium 31% Iron 17%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet

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