Crispy Ginger Tofu with Greens – Vegan and Gluten Free

June 25, 2013 § 2 Comments

I don’t cook with tofu very often but someone gave us a pack of the lovely organic Tonzu firm tofu and so I threw this together for the kids’ dinner while my baby was napping. Don’t be put off that they didn’t eat it, it really was yummy, I’m sure it was because they’d had a big lunch….bonus was I got to eat it allllllll.

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Crispy Ginger Tofu with Greens (gluten free, vegan, nut free)

Marinade
3 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp sesame oil1 heaped tsp sweetener (I used coconut nectar, but could use maple syrup or agave)
1 heaped tsp stoneground mustard
1 heaped tsp tahini
1cm fresh ginger, finely grated

Tofu
Half a pack of firm tofu
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (I used gluten free ones from the supermarket)
2 handfuls of finely chopped greens (I used kale and baby spinach)
1 tbsp cooking oil (I used avocado)

Combine all marinade ingredients in a shallow bowl and whisk until combined. Cube the tofu and add to the marinade, turning over so all pieces are covered. Place in fridge for a couple of hours. Place breadcrumbs on a flat plate and once tofu has marinated for a while place each piece on the breadcrumbs and gently cover in the breadcrumbs. Heat the cooking oil on a medium skillet and once warmed place all pieces of crumbed tofu in the pan. Let it fry until crisp on one side then flip over and add the greens to the pan. Once the other side is crispy too give the whole pan a gentle stir so the greens can wilt. Place onto a bowl of rice or quinoa or serve as is!

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The Basics: Coconut Yoghurt Tutorial and Raw Breakfast Salad

June 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

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There are plenty of great coconut yoghurt recipes on the web, but I wanted to share the way I’ve learned to make it, mostly because it’s been a bit of trial and error to get it just right and now that I have EVERYONE SHOULD DO IT.

If you’re vegan or just don’t eat dairy for whatever reason this is a great yoghurt substitute and relatively easy to make too. It does involve young coconuts, however, and I know these aren’t easy for everyone to find. Until very recently I was using the big white ones wrapped in plastic (that are also coated in chemicals to stop them going mouldy) that I found in one supermarket (Vic Park New World, Auckland) that come all the way from the Philippines or Thailand or similar. But all of a sudden the New World near my new house in Ellerslie has fresh young coconuts that haven’t been wrapped – so they’re still hairy and cute. I hope these will start being stocked around the country because they are so sweet and beautiful, and they cost around $2.50 each, which is cheaper than any others I’ve found.

If you find the white wrapped ones, this is the best video I’ve seen that first taught me how to open one properly – click on this link then scroll down to the bottom where it says ‘Click here to watch a video of Tracey showing how to open a fresh young coconut.’

As for these new ones, it’s pretty much the same thing – hack away at the rounder end (not the end with the top on it) until it ‘cracks’ then prise it open in a bowl so you don’t lose any of the water.

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Some of these coconuts are a little older than others, meaning the shell is harder and the flesh is a lot thicker and hardier – this is fine as it makes for a very thick yoghurt, but it is also a little harder to hack open and to scoop out of the shell. I use a strong metal spoon, and occasionally a sharp knife to score it if need be but be careful, I’ve had some near misses.

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See the flesh on the left one is a lot thinner (and softer) than the one on the right, which was so thick the shell came away from the flesh on opening.

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Once you’ve scooped out all the flesh, pop it in your high speed blender (you could probably do this in a normal blender or food processor too but only with the soft flesh ones I imagine, the harder flesh needs a lot more power to break it down) with some of the water.

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It’s up to you how thick or runny you like your yoghurt, I like mine just before Greek yoghurt consistency, which often means the flesh of two coconuts with about a cup of coconut water (it thickens up a little on culturing). You can always start with a little, like a quarter cup, then whizz it up and if you want it thinner add a little more until it’s the right consistency for you. I’ll save the rest of the info for the actual recipe:

Coconut Yoghurt (raw, vegan, gluten free, nut free, soy free)

2 young coconuts
2 probiotic capsules (or half a tsp powder)

Combine the flesh and 1 cup of the water from the coconuts in a high speed blender and blend until well combined. Add the powder from the capsules by pulling them apart and shaking in. Blend again until well combined. Pour into a clean glass jar and place lid on top, then place jar in a warm place, like a hot water cupboard. If you have a large dehydrator you can remove the trays and put the jar inside and set it for 90degF for 6 hours. I place mine on the mantlepiece above our gas fireplace for the evening while it’s going, and then leave it there overnight once it’s turned off where it’s normally done by the morning. You can also wrap it in a small towel to help keep it warm. It really only needs 6-8 hours of being at 25-30degC (around 70-90degF) to culture enough to have a bit of tang. By a heater would probably work too. If it starts going really pink on top it hasn’t started the fermentation process fast enough and the not so good bacteria have taken hold. I have still eaten it when it does this but I don’t think you’re supposed to. Will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Add-ins: pimp your yoghurt with anything that takes your fancy – think berries, nut butters, cacao nibs, stewed fruit – let me know what you try!

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Which brings me to breakfast salad – not a new idea, in fact one of my all-time favourite bloggers Gena Hamshaw from Choosing Raw made an excellent one last year – but it has been a revelation for me. Going gluten free (more on that to come soon – have decided to try life with gluten again) meant trying all sorts of grawnolas, gluten free toasts and of course multiple pudla recipes for most breakfast, but I wanted something easy to make, light on the tummy and packed full of nutrition. This is a versatile recipe and one I love because it takes me so little time to make, which is always at a premium with little ones. Make up a big batch of the ingredients in a jar for the week and you’re sorted, or if you want a single serve, recipe below. Mix and match depending on what you have in your pantry – there are no rules!

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Breakfast Salad (raw, gluten free, vegan, soy free)
A handful each of:
Goji berries
Walnuts
Coconut shreds
Dried mulberries
Sesame seeds
Sunflower seeds
Cashews
Cacao nibs
2 handfuls of baby spinach or chickweed. You could probably use finely chopped red Russian kale leaves too – anything mild tasting and not too tough.

Combine everything in a bowl and serve with a dollop of coconut yoghurt, a sprinkle of hemp seeds, a spoonful of nut butter or stewed fruit and a splash of homemade milk (or storebought rice milk, because I’m lazy).

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Raw Vegan Satay Noodles

June 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Raw vegan desserts that mimic their omni and cooked counterparts are, more often than not, mind-blowing – think cashew cheesecakes, rich cacao chocolates, mousses and ice-creams and…well, if I could live on raw vegan desserts I’d be pretty darn happy, if not healthy.

Raw vegan mains that mimic their omni and cooked counterparts on the other hand, I gotta say, I’m no convert. Blended salads or ‘soups’ taste like cold sick. I’ve tried so many recipes and they all made me gag. Raw vegan lasagne, aside from taking hours to make, is verrrrry intense with all the sundried tomatoes and cashew ricotta and layers upon layers. Really, my favourite raw vegan dish is simple: salad. All manner of salad. I have one or two a day because they’re fast, easy, healthy, filling and delicious. And you can throw almost anything in.

Then along came this. Satay noodles. Raw. Vegan. And an actual dish. Although it was borne out of a salad. Well, a salad dressing to be precise. I was craving a good satay sauce but subbed almond butter for the usual peanut butter (that whole aflatoxin thing) and then found a great recipe to mimic here, and cracked out the spiraliser because, well, normally I can’t stand courgette (zucchini), but if you merely change the way they’re presented they totally don’t taste like the rubbery half cooked slabs served at my local Thai. (Now to find a way to do this with mushrooms, which I haven’t eaten since pretty much ever, because they’re DEVIL FUNGUS even though now they’re apparently cancer-curing superfoods, but whatever.)

Ok so none of this is new in the raw vegan world, raw pad thai especially is all the rage, and in fact I’ve tried a couple of different noodle salads like this before, but this one ticks all the boxes – it’s uncomplicated and easy to make, it’s filling, and it tastes at least as good as the real thing – and even better when it’s been warmed slightly (for those who are strictly raw you could probably do this in the dehydrator to make sure it doesn’t get too hot).

If you don’t have a spiraliser, use a peeler and make strips instead (fettuccine satay?), and the sauce makes a great salad dressing too, not to mention a dip, or any other ideas you might have for a creamy dreamy sauce.

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Satay Noodles (raw, vegan, soy free, gluten free)

Satay sauce
1/3 cup nut butter (I used homemade almond, brazil and walnut)
3-4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-2 tbsp coconut aminos (or tamari/soy sauce if having soy)
1 tsp grated ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
Hot water
Optional – hot sauce or chili flakes

Noodle salad
1 large courgette, spiralised
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup cabbage, finely sliced
1/2 cup greens, finely chopped (I used spinach, chickweed, rocket, kale)
2 tbsp karengo fronds or similar (seaweed)
Coriander and cashews to garnish

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until well combined. Add a little hot water until it becomes a thick, just pourable consistency. Add more vinegar or coconut aminos to taste if you prefer it stronger.
Combine all salad ingredients except coriander and cashews in a bowl, then mix in half of the satay sauce and stir in well. If you prefer it warmed, pop in a pot on the stove on a low heat until just warmed. Serve garnished with plenty of coriander and a few cashews.

 

The Ultimate Vegan Potato Salad – with an Easy Oil-Free Mayo

June 4, 2013 § 3 Comments

Warning: rant ahead.

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I used to loooooove mayonnaise, especially that Heinz one that would never go off and tasted so great mixed with ketchup and chips on a Monday night with Game of Thrones. I love me some ritual. But I don’t love where the eggs come from, or the company who uses them.

More than sustenance or taste, food is habit, it’s social, it’s memory, it’s integral to everything we do and are. It’s a necessity but decent food is so often a luxury. Food deserts, loss of cultural and historical knowledge, the agro-industrial complex and its concomitant advertising and lobbying – these are not minor factors to overcome in a search for more local, organic, nourishing and (for me) cruelty free food choices. Because it’s not mainstream, because there is so much at stake in the world of food ownership, because what you can buy at the local dairy is probably not going to help you live a long healthy life but will fill a belly, eating well, vegan or not, is becoming less and less attainable.

Food is political. As consumers we make choices every day that are political, whether we’re aware of them or not. Growing your own food, supporting local growers, teaching others to grow their own food, such as the inspirational Hand Over a Hundy organisation are doing here in Aotearoa – this is activism. Not buying brands like Heinz is activism. I still have some of their products in my pantry – and I still find it hard to not switch off when I go shopping.

Bearing all of this in mind (well, only in retrospect, at the time I just wanted to eat some potatoes) here is my vegan version of potato salad, a dish intimately connected with memories of summer beach time and family for me, and also with one of my favourite combos: potatoes and mayo. It’s full of locally grown veg and no animal exploitation. And it packs a nutritional punch with beany protein and alkalising greens. I wanted a vegan sauce that came close enough to mayonnaise without having to make an oil based one that (knowing my skills) would split and also because who needs that much oil anyway? I’d rather use nature’s fat…mmm avocado. The beans mean there is a very faint graininess to it, but you don’t notice it in the salad. And you can use the leftover mayo as a salad dressing – I’m going to massage mine into some kale tomorrow. Who doesn’t like getting intimate with plants?

Also, this salad is VERY flexible – add in what you like (diced tomato/sundried tomato, olives etc), omit what you don’t – really whatever you have on hand is great. Everything goes with potatoes. And no, it’s not technically mayonnaise. But this potato salad tastes better than the one I used to bring to the beach.

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The Ultimate Vegan Potato Salad (vegan, gluten free, oil free, nut free, soy free)
3 medium potatoes
1 medium kumara (sweet potato)
1/2 cup broccoli florets
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup finely chopped red cabbage
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 large gherkins, diced
3 tbsp capers
2 handfuls finely chopped greens (I used watercress, baby spinach and the celery leaves)
1/2 large avocado, chopped into cubes
Handful chopped coriander
Handful seeds (I used sunflower and pumpkin)
Ground black pepper

Chop potato and kumara into cubes and boil in water until tender. If you have a steamer you can pop on top, put the carrot and broccoli in this while the potato cooks, otherwise steam separately until tender. Drain potatoes and, once cooled, combine all ingredients except avocado, coriander and seeds in a bowl. Add half or more of the mayo and mix well, but gently. Add avocado and and combine gently. Sprinkle coriander and seeds on top and serve with a healthy grind of black pepper.

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Easy Oil-Free Vegan Mayo (vegan, oil free, gluten free if using gluten free vinegar and mustard, nut free, soy free)
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 large avocado
Salt – up to 1/2 tsp
Apple cider vinegar (or whatever vinegar you have) – up to 1/4 cup
1 tsp maple syrup (or any other sweetener)
2-3 tbsp stoneground mustard (if using a stronger kind, be careful!)

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until well combined. Start conservatively with your measurements – a pinch of salt, a few tablespoons of vinegar, a tablespoon of mustard (or less if using a hot one) and gradually add more to taste. I like mine strong, so I used the full amounts.

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