Saturday, 11 February 2012

Carrot and Gobo Kinpira

If someone has a bag of carrots and they’re asked what they would do with it, I bet most would consider ‘carrot cake’ or ‘carrot juice’.  However, being a lover of all things super-nutritious, I would think “Kinpira!” 
Kinpira is a Japanese cooking style which describes the method of sautéing and then simmering until desired result.  This usually gives the vegetables a wonderful colour and a great depth of flavour. 

 Today’s recipe uses the beautiful carrot and strong, earthy Gobo-root, or otherwise known as Burdock root.  If you haven’t seen a Gobo-root before, you must check it out at your local Asian grocers or macrobiotic restaurant.  The vegetable is light brown in colour and resembles a root-like, wooden mop stick!  When picking your Gobo you want one that is paler in colour and that is strong and thick. The lengths vary with each one but I like to take smaller ones because I hate to waste it if it weren’t used up in time. 
I love this dish because of how healing it really is.  Gobo has been known to purify blood and in Chinese culture, we use Gobo in soup or tea to combat diseases such as Gout (which happens to be related to the consumption of meat, dairy, excessive sugars and even coffee!). 
You must try this at home fellow readers, I promise you this dish will go down well with your family members.  Serve this up with any Asian inspired protein of your choice and a good helping of rice.  Itadakimasu! 

Recipe [2-4 Servings...depends on your appetite!] 

·         300g of Gobo cut into matchsticks
·         300g of carrot cut into matchsticks
·         2 large tablespoons of sesame oil
·         A small pinch of salt (I like Pink Himalayan salt for added nutritional benefits.
·         4 tablespoons of Shoyu (natural soy-sauce) or Braggs liquid Aminos
·         A pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
·         A sprinkle of black sesame seeds (or white if you prefer)
·         A large pinch of sugar (or even a drizzle of brown rice syrup)

Once you have cut up your Gobo and Carrot, you will want to heat up your wok or skillet on a medium-high heat.  After 30 seconds, add in your sesame oil letting the oil heat through.  Then throw in your vegetables and toss in the pan to coat evenly.  There should be a healthy sizzling sound whilst you cook the veggies; sizzle until everything looks golden and crisp. 
Next add in the salt, sugar and then the shoyu and coat evenly.  Put a lid on top of your pan and let steam/simmer for 3 minutes or until veggies are tender.  The end result should be tender with a nice bite; it will not be as nice if it is too soft!
Lastly toss in the chilli flakes if using and then plate up.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and serve hot (or even cold if you roll that way!)

Easy huh?  Enjoy everyone and I hope you get to know and love your Gobo! 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Creamy Avocado Cacao Chia Pudding with Blueberries

There is a popular dessert in East Asian cuisine made with Sago  and while recipes vary, my favourite involves coconut milk, cooked taro chunks and sweet potato.  The sweet, creamy nature is so satisfying and I must show you the recipe one day.  However today's recipe is something  reminiscent of sago but more simple, more nutritious and with a hell of a lot less sugar (in fact there is no added sugar to this recipe!).
Chia seeds are found is Mexico and can be found either ground up as flour or as the tiny seeds itself.  Luckily for me I can now pop into my local Holland & Barretts and find these on the shelves.  They are packed with protein, anti-oxidants, healthy fats and omega-3s!  Eating these little power house seeds will keep you full, young and energetic.  The really exciting thing about Chia is that the seeds become gelatinous when they are soaked in a liquid and they become translucent - a lot like sago!.. This way they are even easier to digest (apparently the seeds are more digestible than flax seeds anyway) and perfect to make puddings or breakfast.  
This recipe was a dessert but can easily be eaten for breakfast.  Once you get the hang of it, the variations are endless.  You can even warm this up (which is what I did with the remaining Chia) and serve with Vegan chocolate shavings, or dessicated coconut for a tropical hit.  

Recipe [2-3 Servings] 
Prep time: 5 Minutes
Overall time: 35 minutes

Main ingredients
·         100g Chia Seeds
·         Large handful of blueberries
·         A few chunks of avocado

‘Marinade Sauce’
·         40ml Soya cream
·         260ml Soya milk
·         Five dates
·         Half a small avocado
·         20g cacao nibs

Blend together the all the marinade sauce ingredients in a blender until smooth.  This mixture should be taste like chocolate with a delicate sweetness.  If you want it sweet you can either add more dates or perhaps some maple syrup; I like it this way but others can sweeten it whilst they are eating it too so don’t worry too much! 
Pour the mixture into the bowl of Chia seeds, cover the bowl and refrigerate. 
Stir the mixture every ten minutes or so and after half an hour, the pudding should be ready.  Serve with blueberries on top and additional chunks of creamy avocado (or whatever the hell you like!)

Enjoy ^_^

Monday, 6 February 2012

Barley Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

Shrove Tuesday is approaching us on the 21st of February, and it's time to get our pancakes on.  The following recipe was inspired by the excess amount of barley I had hanging around the kitchen.  I decided to use my Vitamix to blitz up some barley flour and it turned out better than I thought.  My flour is actually a combination of pearl barely, raw barley grain and barley flakes.  You can use any barley you like but I found all of them turn into flour easily.  
Barley flour does contain a low amount of gluten but you'll find actually it gives the pancakes an extremely soft (even slightly gooey) texture, rather than a floury dry bite.  It also lends a beautifully nutty flavour too which I think is mind blowing.  What's more is that barley flour is high in fibre so these pancakes will keep you satisfied as well as healthy.  
I added in pumpkin seed oil to the mixture to boost up the omega content and also to push that nutty flavour to another level; it also seems to give the brown pancakes a slight green tinge which I think is wonderful.  The brand that I use is Gea which I picked up last year at a Taste of London festival.  If you can get your hands on it I totally recommend as it's fabulous in salads and apparently pancakes.
Lastly I think the maple syrup is a good choice because the sweetness is not over-powering.  In fact this recipe isn't that sweet at all but nutty, wholesome with a hint of syruppy hum.  The accompanying strawberry sauce offsets it all with a fresh, zingy sweetness thanks to the squeeze of fresh lime.  

My family couldn't get enough of them.  Enjoy.

Barley Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce (Makes 10-12 medium pancakes)

Pancake Ingredients

·         300g of Barley Flour
·         200g Plain Flour
·         2 Tsp Baking Powder
·         1 Tsp Cinnamon powder
·         Large pinch of salt
·         700ml Dairy-free Milk
·         1 Tbsp Pumpkin seed oil
·         1 Tbsp maple syrup Vegetable oil for frying

 Strawberry Sauce Ingredients

·         A large handful of strawberries
·         Juice is half a lime
·         1 tsp of Barley Malt (or maple syrup or Agave nectar)
·         1 tsp of warm water

You are most welcome to use shop bought barley flour even though, where I’m from, it’s kind of hard to come by.  In fact, you can substitute barley flour with any other flour of your choice (such as spelt or even buckwheat)! If you don't have maple syrup at hand, try thinning barley malt or even use Agave Nectar if you use it.  In this recipe I used Soy-m

Sift and measure out the flours into a bowl and stir in the baking powder, cinnamon powder and salt. 
Pour in the dairy-free milk, pumpkin seed oil and maple syrup into your food processor (if you are not using a blender or food processor, you would use a mixing bowl). 
After, add in your dry ingredients and then blend at high speed (whisk either manually or with electric whisk otherwise).

The texture should be smooth but the consistency is entirely up to you.  To produce thin crepe-like pancakes you can blend in some water or more milk to create a thinner batter mix. If you want heartier, thicker pancakes then make sure the mix is smooth yet stodgy. 

Grease a frying pan with the fat of your choice (I used vegetable oil but I imagine some vegan butter would make the pancakes even more delicious).  Ladle or pour in your batter mix, small batches at a time on a medium heat. 
You will notice the bottom side will seal whilst the surface facing you will bubble...don’t let curiosity get the better of you!  Once the bottom seems ‘sealed off’, lower the heat and let that side crisp up.  Once you are confident that the bottom can slide around easily, flip the pancake and bring up the heat to a medium fire.  Once again as it seals, lower the heat to let that side crisp up.  Here is a tip: using your spatula, press the pancake down for a sizzle to create extra brown crispiness. 

For strawberry sauce, blitz up a large handful of strawberries with a squeeze of lime juice.  In a bowl, mix warm water with the barley malt and add to the strawberries.  Blend then chill.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Say 'NO' to sachet flavourings!

Recently my Mum, who isn't vegan and actually has a relatively poor diet, bought back a lot of 'Wonton seasoning' and presented it to me at the kitchen table.  Needless to say I was absolutely horrified!  For those who are unaware of this vile sachet of powder, it's commonly used in 'instant soups' for Chinese Wonton bases.  Traditionally Wonton soup is made from meat stock and ground dried fish but these days people are too lazy, instead using readily 'prepared' sachet powders akin to the Cup-a-soups and Nesquik milkshakes.  
I don't know about you but I am really wary of anything that is 'instant'.  I believe from time to time it's not going to harm our sturdy human bodies, but I do think it's unnecessary and puts a lot of strain on our health if eaten regularly.  The salt, sugar and mono-sodium glutamate content in 'instant' products go through the roof, and some people wonder why they're bloated and dehydrated!  
Unfortunately it's not just the Chinese who like to use instant soup bases but the whole world is beginning to get wrapped up in being fast, instant and unnatural.  It's a shame as much of this comes from busy lifestyles and poor food addiction.  Despite working 6 days a week, I put food as my utmost priority when it comes to health, which is why I won't be touching those soup sachets any time soon.

Now when it comes to seasoning I prefer to keep it simple using pinches of sea salt, natural soy sauce, maple syrup or even sesame oil.  The list goes on but it's a whole adventure looking into clean seasoning and natural flavours.  Gone are the days when I will use instant powders and prefer to make my own veggie broth or kombu soup.  This way, I can feel the power surging through my body and I get less of a hangover the next day.
This leads onto a picture I wanted to share with you... behold my bunches of fresh dill and flat leaf parsley that I picked up at the vegetable market!

In the summer I keep a really pretty herb garden on our window sill but when it comes to the winter, I'm very bad at up-keeping it.  That's why I buy a lot of fresh cut herbs and I make sure they are strong, vibrant and fragrant.  Dill is absolutely fantastic with vegan cheese and goes well with capers, olives and onions.  I love parsley in everything from carrot soup to Tabbouleh.  Right now I enjoy it in my vegetable juices as it gives it another dimension.  It's like drinking a delicious, gourmet salad!

I'm off to the farmers market tomorrow to see what organic goods I can pick up.  What are your favourite natural flavourings?


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Power of the Vegan Heart

If Veganity was a real religion, I bet kindness, forgiveness, gratitude and empathy would all be apart of it, as would discipline, hard work and endurance.  If Veganity was a real religion, there would be get-togethers where love is shared and appreciation was shown, and probably some good food.

I can't speak for any others out there but for me, becoming Vegan wasn't just a health conscious choice, but a conscious change in attitude and outlook.  I've spent a lot of my time growing up in anger and in pain; my parents split up in a bad way, my relationships with my large family fell apart, bad romantic relationships left me insecure and my body image was rapidly torpedoing down hill.  Recently in 2011, I also spiralled into depression whereby everyday was a blur and a smile was non existent on my face.  Those were truly dark days and some really dark periods.  I just don't want to live any more of my short life like that, ever again.

What's wonderful about being 'Vegan' is that you just seem to walk lighter in the world.  I noticed this when I did become Vegan in 2010 and when I started slipping and choosing all the bad choices, I spun into depression.  Go figure, it's hard to explain but I know that there is a direct correlation!  
Despite this I don't want my food to be the decider of my attitudes.  I want to be the good person I know I am  and if I can be kind to animals then I definitely can be kind to humans. The greatest way a person can be is to act through kindness and be good natured, staying positive and loving those around them.  This is how the God of Veganity would want it, I'm sure.  The greatest challenge is to curb jealousy and learn to hold your own tongue, keeping negativity to a minimum and spreading the love you have within you to others.  Lastly, forgiveness is something I must work on and I hope my journey will see me let go of all the anger in my past.  Hopefully as time passes, I'll be walking so light I'll be floating...

Stay kind everyone,


I wanted to share with you a photo of some really delicious plums we picked and ate at Garson's Farm last Summer 2011.  Something about this picture makes me feel wonderful.  

Monday, 16 January 2012

Overnight Apple Oats

If there's one thing that's great about being Vegan, it's the breakfasts that I can indulge in.

My favourite?

Overnight oats soak in apple juice! 
Here is a quick recipe:

  • 1-2 Apples (I like pink ladies, perhaps golden delicious too, also it depends on size), chopped roughly 
  • 300g of Oats (though this depends on your appetite)
  • 500ml of apple juice (not from concentrate)
  • Three large table spoons of non-dairy yoghurt (I like Alpro Soy Vanilla)
  • A teaspoon of Agave Nectar

Here is how to:
Take your oats and soak them over night in the apple juice, the next day they will be plump.  Place in the fridge
When it's breakfast time, take out your oats and mix in the rest of the ingredients, adding or subtracting whatever you want.  Easy.

This is also nice if you soak some raisins in but then I would leave out the Agave.  For a nutrients boost, trying sprinkling on some pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Have a wonderful start to your day,


Do you make moral, informed choices?

I'm going to get the ball rolling by discussing my favourite topic -Informed Choices.  

My decision on becoming Vegan was based on the research and information I had found out through books and trusted sources - it was an informed choice.  I've said this before, it was one of the best choices I've ever made.  
It is because I am informed (but not as much as I could be) that I have chosen to live my life the way it's going and I am at peace knowing this.  It's the truth to say that my choices are based on being moral to animals, humans and the Earth.  With that said, I would class myself as a good person.  So is someone a 'bad' person if they are making informed choices that are immoral?

A good friend of mine, let's call him Ron, and I had a particularly heated debate today about Veganism and it's got me thinking all night.  To be fair I wouldn't say Ron was informed at all about anything; everything he knows is what he's been told by his Mum and what's he's seen on the TV.  It was, however, an eye opener for me and it reminded me that not everyone is willing to accept the truth or even want to understand it. 
Ron was absolutely certain that slaughtering animals is natural and that he was still a good person because he was not the one who was killing them.  I made my 'are you stupid?' face at him.

I continued to question his theory and Ron went on to say that he was bought up knowing between right and wrong.  He was most definitely in the right because he was not harming any animals.  He even proudly told me he would never eat an animal if it were alive in front of him.  Ah, what a good boy.  
This is completely crazy. Eating meat is not only condoning the act of killing but it drives the supply and demand that is causing people to become sick and obese, not to mention the slave labour in the Third World. Cheap, hormone injected, poor quality animal meat is being churned out every second or every minute and what makes me sick is that barely anyone knows exactly where their food is coming from. 
How can he think that just because he's not the one with the stun gun and knife that he is all clear of 'sin'?  Absolute rubbish.  I think in some ways it's probably worse seeing as he's the one who is paying the slaughter houses to run their corrupt corporation the way that they are.

When I tried to explain to him what was so wrong about all the things he was saying, he announced that he didn't really care much for it and that all animals are to die anyway.  My heart saddened at this point.

Back to my original question; if someone makes informed immoral choices, does that make them a bad person?  Ron is a great Dad and good husband to his wife, he is a wonderful friend and great colleague.  There is little bad about him.  
Being informed doesn't mean that you will automatically make the right choices.  Yes it does count to know and it does count to understand but I believe that what really means anything is how you act upon it.  

I just can't bare to look at someone who is truly informed and doesn't do the right thing.   Luckily, Ron will remain blissfully ignorant to it and he will continue to be a friend nonetheless.

What are your choices based on?