Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Introducing..... The Macaccino! - For those days when you fancy a coffee house brew

I know alot of people enjoy a coffee house tipple. Cappuccino, mochaccino, latte, and all the other sweet, frothy drinks that are out there. They do smell delicious and they look so pretty, it is easy to see why they're so tempting. I read once that the smell of freshly brewed coffee can help sell a house, so great is its power!

While I'm not saying coffee is evil or should be banished forever, it probably isn't a great idea to drink a coffee house beverage everyday (they are high in calories of the wrong kind!) and I also like to consider the nutritional power of everything I eat and drink. Personally I made the decision to only consume foods which nourish me which means take-away blended drinks are out! Luckily for me you can get some pretty delicious herbal teas in most coffee houses (Starbucks do a jasmine and orange one I am crazy about) but I thought it would be really fun to replicate a rich caramely coffee house drink at home, with all the taste of the traditional variety, but without the refined sugars, the caffeine and with added superfood goodness (bonus!).

And thus the Macaccino was born....

I am pretty sure this is the worlds first ever Macaccino, remember you heard it here first people!

I decided on maca in this recipe as it has a delicious caramely scent and taste. Be careful though, this root is a relative to the radish and if you use even a little bit too much, it totally overpowers anything it is in, and tastes quite bad. I'm not kidding. So with this recipe, stick with the amount I recommend! It is super rich in minerals, fatty acids and contains vitamin B1 & B2 (important for vegetarians/vegans) all the essential amino acids. It is said to help balance hormones and improve libido (a perfect valentines morning drink then? ;) )

To capture a really authentic tasting drink without compromising in quality, we use whole organic and unhomoginised milk. This milk has higher omega 3 levels than standard milk, meets higher welfare standards and has not gone through the harmful process of homoginisation making it the perfect choice. You can of course use any milk you like, almond would work extremely well, adding an extra sweetness to the drink.

Macaccino (serves 2)

2 cups of milk (500ml)
1 cup of water
1 flat tsp maca
2 1/2 heaped tsp instant roasted chicory or dandelion drink
6-8 drops of vanilla stevia (or 1/2 tsp alcohol free vanilla extract)
Sweetener of choice to taste* (xylitol, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar and brown rice syrup all work well)
Cocoa powder for sifting

In a small saucepan, bring the milk and water to a rapid simmer.
While this is coming to the simmer, add to a blender the rest of the ingredients, except for the cocoa.
Add the heated milk and water to the blender and blend on high until frothy and well combined.
Pour into cups and decorate by sifting the cocoa powder over the frothy top.

* Note, if using the vanilla stevia, you'll want to use much less sweetener. Also brown rice syrup is not as sweet as others so you may need to use more of this (around 1- 2 tbsp)

Friday, 27 January 2012

What to do with that nut milk pulp? Nut pulp pancakes, humous & intuitive cooking.

Making your own nut and seed milks is great, but what do you do with that leftover pulp? I've had a play around and come up with a couple of great recipes using leftover nut and seed pulp. This works with any pulp, just as long as the seeds had the husks removed before hand (eg in hemp). If you made your milk keeping seeds on (I often do with hemp milk as shell on hemp is cheaper) then I'm afraid the pulp is only good for the compost heap, but at least it gets back into the garden!

This morning I made nut pulp pancakes. It took about 2 mins to make the batter, at the very most, going at a chilled pace. Then as they were doing their thing in the pan, I was able to get on with other things like making their lunches, much the same way as you would while toast was grilling.

However, it was only that easy and quick because I have become an 'intuitive' cook. I learnt to recognise that if the batter looks a certain way, then I can be pretty sure it'll cook up into a lovely fluffy consistency no matter what. This is a skill that everyone can develop!

What do I mean by intuitive cooking? To sum it up, its cooking without recipes, without boundaries and limits on your creativeness. It is learning to recognise which flavours mix with others, how to recognise textures of foods by sight so you don't need to be so precise about amounts - which actually, in the long run helps you cook quicker so is a gem of a skill to acquire!

This is a subject I am really into but haven't used much on my blog for the reason that I really like to be able to post tried and tested recipes on here that means you guys don't have to waste time experimenting in the kitchen if you're busy. But...On the other hand, intuitive cooking is so much more fun and empowers people to feel more relaxed about cooking. Cooking shouldn't just be about sticking to recipes, it should also be a way to let your creative genius flow!

So lets start with intuitive pancakes!

Here are the tips you'll need to be able to make the best ever pancakes :)

1) Always add the dry ingredients first. I chucked in a pile of flour (a cup full ish) and the pulp from my left over nut milk first, then I added a pinch of salt and a pinch of bicarb.
2) Then comes the flax eggs.the more you use the more 'spongy' it will be! One tablespoon of ground flax to 3 of water is about right, leave to thicken before using.
3) Next add your liquid. I used the almond milk from which my pulp originated but, it could be any  non-dairy milk or even water. Add a little at a time, while stirring together until the consistency of the batter is like that of a cake mix. Firm enough to stay as 'dollops' in the pan, not so runny that it spreads all over the pan... it really is that simple! If you make it too runny, add more flour. Too firm, add a little more liquid just a splash at a time.
4) Make sure the pan gets really hot to save those first batch pancake disasters! Before I learnt this tip, my first pancakes always failed, it took me years to figure out it was just because the pan wasn't hot enough...
5) Add a little coconut oil to coat the pan, and then dollop the mixture away!
6) They're ready to flip when little air bubbles start showing on the top.

Go experiment, its SO much more fun that measuring all those ingredients out, and quicker too!

For anybody really wanting a recipe for these exact pancakes (as they are pretty yummy), I'll do a rough guesstimate now, and next time I make them I'll put the exact recipe up for you :)

Pulp protein power pancakes!

We had these for breakfast this morning and they were delicious. Fia ate 5- no kidding! Again as I only had a limited amount of time to whip these up this morning, I did not measure any amounts so this really is a guesstimate!

1 cup of kamut or spelt flour
1 cup of nut or seed pulp (nut works best, especially almond) or milk of choice
2 flax eggs
1/4 tsp alcohol and sugar free vanilla extract
1/2 cup of milk of your choice or water
pinch of sea salt
pinch of bicarbonate of soda

Heat up a pan on a medium temp while you prepare the batter.
In a large bowl, add all the dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle and add the eggs. Stir to incorporate lightly, and add a little of the milk, a splash at a time until you get a cake batter mixture. It should run off the spoon, but very slowly, in 'dollops'.
Add a tsp of coconut oil to the pan and swirl to coat the pan. Pour dollops of the batter in, I use a quarter cup measurement of matter for each pancake, it makes for lovely drop scone sized pancakes and cooks through perfectly.
Flip when little bubbles appear and cook for a further 30seconds to a minute until golden brown.
Serve with honey.

Handy recipe 2- make humous with that pulp....

Mix together the left over pulp from making nut 'milk' (around a cup full), a couple of tablespoons of tahini (pref raw), 2tbsp lemon juice (or to taste), olive oil, enough to loosen the consistency, a pinch of sea salt and a small clove of garlic crushed to a paste. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds and there you have a raw and lovely humous. I'll make it again soon and pop the measured and complete amounts up for you guys :)

Enjoy your creativity!

Veganized April 2016

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Easy seed and nut 'milks'

Following on from my super Mayan style chocolate recipe where hemp milk is the main ingredient, I thought I'd share with you my simple seed and nut 'milk' recipe. This is great in all sorts of drinks, smoothies and milkshakes and even on cereal and porridge. Mmmmmmm.

Nut and seed milks are a very nutritious and a delicious alternative to dairy milk but are pretty expensive to buy ready made from the shops. It is much cheaper to make your own, and I think they taste even better this way too.

Our favourite type is hemp seed milk. It has a mild, nutty and slightly sweet flavour that blends easily into recipes and seems popular with children (always a bonus). It is also amazingly good for you being high in omega 3 and 6, rich in amino acids, protein and packed with tons (well not literally tons, but it has alot) of vitamins and minerals.

It is also great for the planet! Hemp is a very sustainable crop that is very resistant to disease and pests, so the use of herbicides and pesticides is greatly reduced or not needed at all, making organic farming of a hemp a dream. Not limited to a food stuff, it can be made into food, fabrics, paper, building materials and fuel, so buy hemp for the environment I say! OK, sorry for going on, here ends my lecture on hemp ;)

Cashew and Brazil nut milks are my other favourites, and (like hemp) do not need soaking overnight which means that you can make the milk right when you need it. You can use pretty much any seeds or nuts to make milk though. We also like to use almonds and sesame seeds which are really full in flavour, but its better to soak these the night before first as this makes them much more digestible.

1 cup seed or nuts of your choice
1 litre filtered or spring water
Pinch of unrefined sea salt
1 tbsp honey or 4 soaked dates (optional)

Blend all together in a blender for a couple of minutes until the water has gone a 'milky' colour. 
Strain this through a nut milk bag or piece of muslin into a clean, deep container (I use a large preserving jar). 
At this point you can sweeten the milk if you choose by blending in the soaked dates or some honey. I usually don't as I use the milk in drinks that will be sweetened anyway, but your may prefer it this way!
I have kept hemp milk in the fridge for 3 days in a preserving jar and it was still wonderfully fresh so it is a great idea to make it in bulk so you have some on hand in the week.


Thursday, 19 January 2012

Super hot chocolate , the Mayan way :)

Hello from a drizzly and rather cloudy Oxfordshire!

When I wake up to mornings like this there is simply only one solution to start the day. And that is to make hot chocolate! This isn't just any hot chocolate though I assure you, this is the most warming, spicy and comforting hot chocolate you can imagine and it tastes out of this world. Even better than that, it is all of the above and amazingly healthy for you too. This delicious drink is a long standing family favourite and is both refined sugar and dairy free, you can't get much better than that right?

It was inspired from a love of Mayan history, especially their food history. It is a HUGE interest of mine and I have realised how much we can learn from them in this area, perhaps I'll blog about it one day.....
Traditionally, (before the conquistadors) this drink would have been made with water. The milk and sugar that we now associate with hot chocolate were later European influences, which I think spoil the delicious rich taste of this drink as well as having a negative effect on the powerful nutritional qualities of cacao. I use nut and seed milks in my recipe (which add to the nutrition of the drink) to adapt it to a modern palate and also so the girls enjoy it even more, but if it is just me drinking it then I often use water, so feel free to experiment!

Mayan Hot Chocolate (serves 4)

1 litre of homemade or store bought nut/seed milk of your choice (We like hemp)
2-3 heaped tbsp of raw cacao powder, or unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp masa harina or purple corn flour (or tapioca flour for a neutral taste as the masa is a very distinct flavour)
3/4 tsp mesquite powder** or 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon & 1/4 ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground allspice
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 vanilla pod
1 tsp cacao butter (optional)
4 tbsp coconut palm sugar or maple syrup

Pour your nut/seed milk into a small pan. 
Cut the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds into the milk. You can throw in the pod too to infuse extra vanilla flavour then bring it to a gentle simmer. 
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the cacao, (if using) flour and spices with just enough water to make a paste. Whisk this paste into the milk with the coconut palm sugar, salt and cacao butter if using, and bring to a rapid simmer. 
Cook for about 5 mins, until the hot chocolate has thickened up slightly to make a creamy hot chocolate, about the consistency of double cream. 

Leave on back door step to cool quick so you're not late for school....Guardian cat is a bonus.......

**Please note that if you live in the EU this food has been classed as a 'novel food' due to the Novel Foods Law. That means although we can buy it here, we are not supposed to eat it. So while US readers can go crazy with the mesquite, I am putting the cinnamon/allspice combo as an alternative for us on the other side of the pond.... ;)
Somebody do us a favour and ban McDonalds nuggets and cheese strings as 'novel foods' instead of a nutritious legume that has thousands of years of culinary use in the Americas.... Rant.