Month: November 2014

Easy Vegan Cheese (No Soy, Heart Healthy)

Easy Vegan Cheese

Why make cheese when you can go to the supermarket and buy it? Well vegan cheese is pretty good these days, it melts, it grates, it slices, it tastes good – everything cheese should do but without the dairy. In my opinion, I think everyone should be trying the alternatives and not being all cheese-snobbish about the whole thing ” but it’s not even real cheese”. We all know cheese is a love for many people (in fact virtually everyone I know), so creating this vegan version is something to be proud of.

Easy Vegan Cheese

Not only is it delicious, it’s heart-healthy – it’s made with almond milk and olive oil, grates beautifully over ya beans ‘n’ tacos and slices up a treat in a sandwich toastie with some fresh organic wholemeal bread. There’s no dairy and no soy, just flavour and a nice solid block of cheese.
This recipe is simple, it’s quick and needs nothing more than five minutes of love and care, plus a bit of space in your refrigerator. Nice.

Easy Vegan Cheese

Looking forward to attempt number two at this cheese, a few changes for flavour perhaps or a few changes for colour perhaps..?

Easy Vegan Cheese

Easy Vegan Cheese

2 cups almond milk
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon hot mustard
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
4-6 tablespoons nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons agar powder
1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)

Method:

  1. Throw all the ingredients into a pan in no particular order + whisk away for 5 minutes on a low to medium heat until the mixture thickens.
  2. Transfer thickened cheese mixture to your preferred moulds and refrigerate until set. It’s really this easy.

Wholegrain Pumpkin Vegan Sushi Rolls

Pumpkin Vegan Sushi
These pumpkin sushi rolls have been something we’ve been just dying to try, not for the pumpkin necessarily (although this time of year is all about the root veg) but because:
a). they’re vegan (and everything vegan rocks!)
b). there’s a first time for all experienced sushi rollers and this was that time in our household. Of course, this now means we’re going to become ‘experts’…

Pumpkin Vegan Sushi

The pumpkin idea is simple, Halloween has been and gone and there’s a few leftover edible pumpkins left in the supermarkets (although not many) and as pumpkin is an autumn/winter seasonal veggie, why not put some in the sushi?

But, this isn’t just any kind of sushi – your standard white rice kind, these pumpkin vegan sushi rolls are made with uber-healthy organic brown short grain sticky rice. That’s what makes this extra special, knowing you’re getting all that organic wholegrain into your sushi life. When you’ve got the choice, go brown over white every time.

Pumpkin Vegan Sushi

Brown sticky rice notes:
One rinsing will do before cooking,
Allow more cooking time (according to packet, around 40mins),
Brown rice does not have to be drained (unlike white),
Works best with a handing rolling mat (rice on the inside of the nori seaweed too).

Some nutritional bits for you about brown rice:
*Easier to digest as it’s much ‘lighter’
*Low GI, reducing insulin spikes (slow-release sugar)
*High in Manganese
*High fibre – good for weight loss
*A ‘whole grain’
*Rich in antioxidants
*Perfect baby ‘first food’ as it’s nutrient rich (ideal as we’re new parents!)

Pumpkin Vegan Sushi

Armed with the raw ingredients including avocado, red pepper & green onion as well as a brand new rolling mat, it was time to get stuck in. It’s quite calming really once you’ve got the hang of spreading the rice thinly and evenly, as it’s something to keep a busy mind distracted as you gotta concentrate. It’s a situation whereby once you commit, you have to go the whole way much like walking into the (cold English) ocean up to your waist: 3, 2, 1 under! I found the trick was once you start rolling don’t be afraid, just carry on – who cares if it’s not perfect, that’s what the other 4 sheets of nori in the packet are for…to make more delicious sushi.

Pumpkin Vegan Sushi

These sushi rolls are gluten, dairy, egg, nut, and soy-free (as long as you leave out any tofu and no tamari for dipping). However, we jazzed the serving up with a generous squeeze of wasabi and some organic tamari…just yummy. This made a great weekend lunch, and yes we’ll be making again and using some more of our 10kg stash of brown sticky rice!

Pumpkin Vegan Sushi

Choose your fillings and enjoy!

Wholegrain Pumpkin Vegan Sushi Rolls

(makes 5 rolls)

1 cup of uncooked short grain brown rice, cooked according to packet instructions
5 nori sheets
1 cup roasted pumpkin, mashed
1 tablespoon wasabi
1/3 cucumber, sliced into strips
1/2 red pepper, sliced into strips
2 spring green onions, sliced into strips
1 avocado, sliced into strips
(any other filling that takes your fancy)
serve with the usual wasabi, pickled ginger + tamari

  1. Mash the roasted pumpkin + wasabi to a smooth consistency.
  2. Arrange all your prepared vegetables including your pumpkin paste, rice + nori sheets on a chopping board.
  3. Lay out your nori, spread rice thinly + evenly (rolls better that way) and lay filling on the top of the rice not quite half way up the nori sheet. Using your sushi mat start rolling your sushi according to the package instructions. Most packets have instructions, but this video was pretty useful.
  4. Slice up each roll + devour with condiments.

Go Plant Based – Get Healthier, Happier + Richer!

Who doesn’t want to be healthy, happier, richer?
I do, and it’s too easy ‘cos all you gotta do is get involved with some plants. Plant based food rocks and you don’t have to be a full blown vegan to get stuck in. It’s all about the small steps and anyway, life’s a journey hey? By adding a few extra veggies into our daily diets we’d all get a bit happier, a little healthier and life would be good…..man. Seriously, eating less meat and more plants is easier than you think.

There really is no reason to miss meat when there are endless tasty and exciting ways to create truly amazing food entirely from plants and whole foods. This is not about recreating, substituting or missing meat but rather a way to enjoy a world of plant based nutrition and making any recipe work! Being a vegan shouldn’t (and doesn’t) mean you’re missing out – quite the opposite really. It’s an opportunity to try something completely different, discover new flavours, experiment and share new meals safe in the knowledge that you are doing yourself the world of good. If you are just starting out on a plant based diet it can be a struggle at first but here are a few of my suggestions to make life easier and to offer a little inspiration.

Going plant based:

  • Learn to love your beans and of course lentils too! I’m bean mad and urge you to experiment with them. Beans are amazing in casseroles, curry, bakes, lasagnes, dips and of course most veggie burgers are bean based. There’s such a variety out there, why not try a different bean each week until you find your favourite? My top two are haricot and black turtle beans. A mexican is never complete without black beans.
  • Red, green + yellow lentils = staple store cupboard ingredient. The humble lentil has a bad rep but they are deliciously creamy and carry taste better than anything else. They’re perfect for replacing minced meat in Italian and Greek dishes and a sturdy foundation for a veggie burger. You can easily replace meat ingredients with lentils. They work a treat in lasagnes, shepherds pie too and a marriage made in heaven in curry.
  • Fancy that pumpkin sausage casserole? Why not replace the sausages with the meaty texture of chestnuts, portobello mushrooms, butter beans or simply replace with use some veggie sausages.
  • Mushrooms not only have that all important umami flavour but have that ‘meaty’ texture. There’s such a variety in the supermarkets these days just waiting for some experimentation. Pulse them up or slice them to imitate slithers of meat in a casserole or pasta sauce for that deep, rich flavour.
  • Tofu. Drain and press (with a heavy weight) for several hours to minimise water content. Slice into quarter inch strips add a robust sauce and bake. This is a great way to utilise an otherwise tasteless product. Tofu is fantastic not only in stir fries, curries and baked versions but is brilliant for making sweet treats like cheesecakes and mousses. Tempeh, Seitan (gluten wheat powder) is great for making veggie sausages and equal protein to lean meat. I’m not a huge fan of faux meat products but they can be a good solution if you’re struggling every now and then.
  • Use FLAVOUR to enhance your meals! Strong and distinctive flavours are the best way to adapt your recipes and create deeply rich layered flavours. I find that smoked paprika is perfect for replacing chorizo and a great way to add a rich Spanish flavour. Liquid smoke gives a fabulously smokey tastes to salads, beans, burgers sausages, dips, well anything really. Try it! Also, dried fruit and preserved lemons are great for creating that authentic North African and Middle Eastern flavour in stews and tagines. Indian food utilises an array of rich, warm and healing spices that lend themselves fantastically to vegan food. Veggie friendly umami flavours, chipotle, smoked paprika, harissa, garam masala. Of course the vegan umami flavours; mushrooms, fermented foods, sea vegetables, tamari and tomatoes are key in creating that all key satisfying flavour.
  • Just leave the meat out and use more of an alternative ingredient. Don’t sweat the whole protein (most people actually get way over recommended daily amounts, even by eating JUST veggies) thing anyway but if you’re concerned about levels just add some nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, quinoa or dairy alternatives to cheese. Anyway, what about some scrambled tofu……
  • Get bang into blogs. There’s lots of easy veggie recipes for endless inspiration in the blogosphere.
  • Just let your creative side take over and get involved. Fill your plate with colourful produce and creative dishes. Some of my favourite meals have been on the spot, open the fridge and make it up as you go!

plant based
Converting to a plant based diet is a wonderful opportunity to experiment with flavours and get in touch with our creative sides whilst getting healthy and reducing harm to our environment and of course, the animals.

Can you believe I’d never even purchased smoked paprika, liquid smoke, chipotle chilis or nutritional yeast (the list is endless) before I went veggie. Gosh, I really was missing out! So if you haven’t already added a few meatless meals to your week, challenge yourself and see how easy, delicious and feel good it really is. Peace 😉