Saturday, 24 January 2015

DAY 7/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (GIVEAWAY)


We've finally reached the end of the 7 day vegan challenge! Congratulations to everyone who took part. Whether you followed it religiously or had an off day or two, I hope you took a little something away from it. I hope you enjoyed the recipes and tips and whatnot. I was encouraged by a lot of the feedback I received from family and friends - you guys are awesome.

To mark the end of the challenge, I'm giving away some top-notch vegan snack hampers to two lovely people whose enthusiasm and participation made putting this challenge together feel so worthwhile!

Congratulations to: @quirkyyoungmum and @anemistyle. I'll be getting in touch soon with more details :)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, 23 January 2015

DAY 6/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (DATE AND COCONUT JUMBO OAT BARS)


It's been great to hear how people are getting on with the challenge so far. Particular shout out to some of my instagram family - @anemistyle @quirkyyoungmum @growinginchrist @mfoluwa @queenmoremi - and everyone else taking part. 

Today's recipe is simple, nutritious, sugar-free and a delicious breakfast or 'on-the-go' snack option.


Ingredients
- 2.5 cups jumbo oats
- 20 dried dates (soaked then chopped) or medjool dates (chopped)
- 5 tbsp desiccated coconut
- 2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
- 6 tbsp mixed dried fruit
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds or crushed nuts
- 750ml of water

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and allow to soak and infuse for 10 minutes.

Spread the mixture evenly into a large, rectangular baking pan.

Bake for 4 mins, gas mark 5 until lightly browned on top. Take it out, leave to cool for an hour, cut the bars into smaller rectangles, flip them over in the pan and double bake in the oven for another 15 mins.

Once cooled, store in an airtight container, keep in a cool place, and consume within 2-3 days.







Thursday, 22 January 2015

DAY 5/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (DETOX)


One of the great things I discovered after going vegan is that, when done properly, eating fresh plant-based food allows the body to detoxify naturally. Eliminating toxic waste in the body is so vital to maintaining good health and reaching a point of feeling consistently energised. This is one thing I tell people all the time when they ask me what benefits I've experienced - I simply have more energy! There's this myth that surviving on plant food alone will leave you feeling weak and looking drawn, skinny and malnourished. Anyone who's met me will tell you that I am far from that description :) The key is not to under-eat; the key is to eat abundantly of the foods that are good for you.

The initial phase of detox is not always pleasant. I can still remember the first few days after I gave up meat and dairy... Oh boy, it was like my brain and body went into freak-out mode. But this initial phase didn't last long. I started to feel better, lighter, the detoxification process slowed to a steady, calm pace. The main reason why the initial phase is usually unpleasant is because the body is having to readjust and mend itself after months or years of abuse in the form of poor nutrition or the excess intake of toxic foods such as processed food, artificial ingredients, and excessive meat & dairy. The extent of this initial discomfort when you start eating clean foods depend on how toxic the system is and how much waste needs to be eliminated.

Some of these discomforts may include: bloating (especially when large quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables are consumed), headaches, body aches, diarrhoea in some instances, and nausea. Any bloating and gas experienced is also likely a sign that the fresh produce is coming into contact with the accumulation of food debris in the body which need to be flushed out. Don't forget that fruits and vegetables with a high water content digest the fastest, while meat can take up to 2-3 days to leave your system. Imagine all that fast-digesting fruit & veg crashing into that pile. (This is also the reason why it is best to consume fruits and salads before heavier meals).

This might all sound a bit frightening - aches and pains and bloating? What the...? But in actual fact, these are all good signs in the initial phase. It means that the body is doing its part and eliminating waste. The discomfort usually passes after a couple of days (as was the case for me personally), after which you are left feeling more in tune, with more mental clarity and more energy to move about your daily life without feeling sluggish or foggy-brained.

All that is required is that you trust the process of detoxification. Continue to eat the right foods and drink plenty of water. Rest well and engage in calming activities to take your mind off it.

Have you been experiencing any detox symptoms during this challenge? Don't be alarmed. It's all good. It'll pass. Your body is simply doing the smart and right thing by you ;)

*Note: when the challenge ends, it's important to continue to eat as cleanly as possible in order to avoid undoing all the work of detoxification!

Top 10 detox foods:
Apples
Avocados
Beetroot
Broccoli
Cabbage
Garlic
Ginger
Grapefruit
Leafy greens (such as kale and spinach)
Lemons

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

DAY 4/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (CABBAGE ROLLS WITH A RED PEANUT SAUCE)


We're more than halfway through the vegan challenge!! I can't believe how fast this is going... Okay. So. Brace yourself for a truly flavour-packed recipe that's healthy, filling and the epitome of comfort food. Cabbage rolls exist in various forms but this is my take on it...I simply added things as I went along and hoped for the best. Good thing it turned out so delicous, even if I do say so myself ;) 

Have you experimented at all so far during the challenge? I'd like to hear all about it if you have!

Ingredients

(serves 2-3)
- 6 large cabbage leaves
- handful chopped peanuts
For the peanut sauce:
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 or 3 small chillies (chopped)
- 2 small red onions (cut into rings)
- 1 galic clove (finely chopped)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp peanut butter
- salt to taste
For the filling
- 1 small sweet potato (cooked, flesh only)
- 1 cup cooked beans
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Add the large cabbage leaves and blanch for about 8-10 minutes to soften the leaves a little. Take out and allow to cool. Then use a small knife to trim the thick part of the rind so that the leaf can fold easily.

Start to make the peanut sauce. Blend the chopped tomatoes with the red bell pepper and 2 chillies to form a slightly chunky sauce. Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan and sauté the chopped red onions and garlic for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Add the blended tomato/pepper sauce and some extra chopped chilli if you want the extra spice. Turn the heat to medium. Allow to boil for 5 minutes before stirring in a tablespoon of peanut butter. Season with a bit of salt, turn the heat down and allow to simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

To make the filling, mash all the filling ingredients together in a large bowl.

To assemble the cabbage roll, place about a tablespoon of the filling into the centre of the leaf, fold one side over and roll the cabbage into a parcel and tuck in the sides on each end to secure. Repeat the process with the rest of the leaves and filling. Arrange the cabbage rolls into a rectangular baking dish, seam side facing down.


Spoon the red peanut sauce evenly over the top. Bake in a pre-heated over, gas mark 6, for 15-20 minutes until piping hot.


Serve with some chopped peanuts sprinkled over the top!










Tuesday, 20 January 2015

DAY 3/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (HABIT)


Why do we do the things we do? That's a million dollar question; a question that sounds so familiar that it's lost its impact and become rhetorical...unanswerable...unless we pause for a second and truly start to analyse the internal and external conditions that shape who we are.

Why do we eat the things we do? We're all born into specific cultural contexts and our eating habits are shaped right from birth. We eat what's given to us and perhaps only start to question it - if at all - as time goes by and we are able to make our own choices. As trivial as a topic such as 'eating habits' might sound, it's staggering when we fully realise just how much of an impact it has on our lives - from the way we feel, to the way we look, to the way the environment and global population is affected, to the way certain industries thrive or decline. As consumers, we hold more power than most food advertising companies give us credit for and every day we can make the choice to buy foods that will love us back and do more good than harm to our bodies.

All that said, here are the top 5 eating habits I think are worth cultivating:

1. Eat at least one vegan meal a day: this is for the non-veggies :) I'm under no illusion that every single person taking part in the 7 day vegan challenge will decide to drastically alter their diet at the end of it. But perhaps the challenge might inspire you to eat less animal products and incorporate a plant-based meal or two into your day. Whether this is using almond milk with your morning cereal or choosing the potato salad option at a lunch buffet or having a hearty bowl of rice and vegetables for dinner. Every little choice makes a difference.

2. Cook with less oil: I struggle with this one. Did you know that 1 tbsp of oil contains about 120 calories? This adds up over time, especially if used in the way we Nigerians love to use it in cooking ;) I've started making oil-free salad dressings and cutting oil out completely in some meals during the week. Healthy fats from foods such as avocado, nuts and seeds are great in moderation and actually vital for Omega 3 and 6 which the body needs. That 10 gallon bottle of vegetable oil that we get through in a week? Not so much!

3. Cook with less salt: I'm not saying cook up tasteless meals but it's important to find the right balance. If you've ever suffered from water retention - bloated and puffy face, stomach etc. - then chances are that your sodium intake is too high. Here's the little bit of science behind this phenomenon: the more sodium is ingested, the more the body holds on to its water stores in an attempt to counter the imbalance. Aside from water retention, high sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure and osteoporosis. So, yeah, excess salt ain't so great.

4. Drink more water: this is the perfect follow-on from the last point. If the body doesn't receive an adequate daily supply of fresh water, then it holds on to the little it's got and also causes water retention and bloating. The wonderful thing about the body is that the more water it has coming in, the more excess water it is able to flush out. It literally flushes out the system and allows trapped fluid to escape more easily. Whether we lead an active or sedentary lifestyle, our bodies thrive on water! When I realised I needed to drink more water, I bought myself a large water bottle in my favourite colour which I now carry everywhere with me. If you find drinking plain water an issue, then flavour it with fresh fruit such as lemon slices, orange slices and berries.

5. Eat more whole foods: which is another way of saying ditch the processed stuff. Prioritising our health and caring for our bodies will always mean choosing the whole, fresh apple over a box of apple tarts. I'm trying this new thing where over 90% of my groceries come from the fresh produce section. I'm striving to always have a fridge that could give the rainbow a run for its money. Stock up on the whole, fresh, authentic stuff and experiment with formulating mouthwatering dishes from them.

Day 3 of 7. Hope you're doing great and feeling motivated!

Suggested reading: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer 

Monday, 19 January 2015

DAY 2/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (ALOE VERA AND MANGO SMOOTHIE)



Day 2! If you missed day 1, it's not too late to join in! Today I'm sharing this simple smoothie recipe that works great as a snack or breakfast. Aloe vera grows abundantly in Nigeria, but if you live abroad in a colder climate then you can probably purchase the leaves from any good health food store. 

Aloe vera is a medicinal plant and is known for its soothing and hydrating effect on the skin, hair and when ingested. Here are 3 top reasons to give aloe vera a try:

  • It is high in vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3 and B6, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium and copper.
  • It helps aid digestion by soothing and cleansing the digestive tract. It also helps to decrease the amount of unfriendly bacteria in the gut.
  • It helps with detoxification. The gelatinous nature of aloe vera means that as it passes through the intestinal tract, it absorbs toxins along the way which are then eliminated through the colon.

This smoothie is sweet, refreshing and packed full of good stuff. I've added coconut water because it is super hydrating and makes the smoothie taste that much better. If you can't get your hands on coconut water easily then use plain water instead.


Ingedients
- 4 large, ripe mangoes (chopped)
- 1 aloe vera leaf (peeled)
- 1.5 cups pure coconut water

To make the smoothie, you will need to scrape out the clear gel-like substance in the aloe leaf. To do this, trim along the spiky sides of the leaf, lay it down flat and use a sharp knife to thinly and carefully slice off the green top layer. Use a spoon to scrape out the gel. Place in a blender along with the chopped mango and coconut water. Blend until smooth and drink immediately.





Sunday, 18 January 2015

DAY 1/7 VEGAN CHALLENGE (MEAL PLANS)


Welcome to day 1 of 7 of the vegan challenge! How are you feeling? Excited? Nervous? Ready to try something different?

I'm sure you've heard the famous saying that goes a little like this: 'a goal without a plan is just a wish'. One of the key things I discovered shortly after adopting a vegan diet was that planning goes a long way in keeping me on track. This could take the form of making sure I source and stock all the staple food items I need at home so I'm not left fretting about what to eat or how to create a nutritionally balanced plate. Whether it's eating in or eating out at a restaurant, being prepared will always help you stay focused on making the best food choices for your health and well-being. As time goes by, of course, preparing meals and choosing places to eat at become second nature and there is more room for spontaneity.

To make it through the 7 day vegan challenge with as little hassle as possible, you might find it useful to take pen to paper and plan out your meals for the week. If you've gone ahead and bought the items on the suggested shopping list I shared in the previous post then you'll probably feel more at ease knowing what you're going to do with all those groceries in advance. Below is a suggested meal plan based on some of the recipes featured on this website (including snack and dessert options), but if you're in a brave mood then feel free to ignore it and do your own thing. Whatever works!

---

SundayPorridge with chopped bananas and dried fruits; Vegan salad; Creamy avocado pasta

Monday – Fruit smoothie; Cabbage wraps; Rice and caramelised stew

TuesdayAvocado/tomato toast; Boiled plantain and vegetable stew; Beans

WednesdayGreen smoothie; Sweet potato salad; Cabbage rolls with red peanut sauce (recipe coming soon)

Thursday – Porridge with fresh fruit topping; Spiced potato wedges and salad; Soup (pick your favourite)

FridayBreakfast bars; Couscous salad; Yam pottage

SaturdayBanana and raisin pancakes; Club sandwich; Jollof rice and steamed vegetables

---

Snack options - Unlimited fresh fruit and vegetables, popcorn, crackers, vegan biscuits

Dessert optionsChocolate mousse; Chocolate fudge cake; Coconut cupcake; Mint ice cream


Friday, 16 January 2015

7 DAY VEGAN CHALLENGE (SHOPPING LIST)



The suggested shopping list below is designed to make life easier for you as you prepare for the 7 day vegan challenge. You'll probably find that you have most of these food items at home already, and it will just be a question of supplementing what you already have. Fresh fruits and vegetables should make up the bulk of your purchase and I recommend having an abundant supply, not only to create delicious meals from, but also to have as a handy snack between meals. The quantities provided below are a rough estimate of what one person might use in a week (with some leftover for future use in some cases). If you're cooking for more than one, then obviously multiply the quantities where appropriate.

Wherever you are in the world, it might also help to take seasonality into consideration. Buy what is affordable and available to you. Simply follow the rule of thumb to stock up on majority fresh produce and then staple kitchen cupboard items such as grains and legumes.

Grains
Brown rice (500g)
Couscous (250g)
Porridge oats (500g)
Garri (250g)
Wholegrain pasta (500g)
Wholegrain bread (1 loaf)
Wholegrain flour (250g)

Legumes/nuts/seeds
Beans (any variety) (1kg)
Nuts (mixed; any variety) (250g)

Vegetables
Tomatoes (10)
Red peppers (5)
Carrots (5)
Sweet potatoes (1-2)
Yam (1)
Plantain (4)
Leafy greens (spinach, kale, etc.) (as much as you care for; the more the better)
Lettuce (2-3 packs)
Cabbage (1)
Cucumber (2)
Broccoli (1)
Onions (3-4)

Fruits
Apples (10)
Bananas (10)
Oranges/tangerines (5)
Mangoes (5)
Pineapple (1)
Lemons (2-3)
Avocados (3-4)
Dried fruit (including dates, raisins, sultanas, etc.) (500g)

Herbs and spices
Thyme
Curry
Mixed herbs
Ginger
Garlic
Scotch bonnet peppers/chillies

Extra (nice to have but not totally necessary)
Milk alternative (almond, soy, rice, oat - all great options)
Meat substitute (tofu, tempeh or seitan)
Vegan snacks (plantain chips, banana chips, popcorn, crackers etc.)
Hummus


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

7 DAY VEGAN CHALLENGE (INTRODUCTION)



Hey there,

Up for a challenge? 

With family, friends and non-vegan readers in mind, I've decided to give one of these countdown challenge things a go on the blog. Between the 18th and 24th January, why not step into the shoes of a vegan and see what all the fuss is about? This is for anyone who's always wanted to try a plant-based diet but never got round to it. This is for all the curious cats and sceptics. This is also for anyone who's up for experiencing some pretty cool health benefits: improved digestion, increased energy, better mood, and so on. To the vegan readers, you can get involved by sharing the challenge with your family and friends.

It's only 7 days. How hard could it possibly be? ;)

Why try vegan?
Health: energy, clearer skin, better digestion, increased nutrient intake from plant-based sources that are low in cholesterol and packed with antioxidants which help fight against a number of common diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

People: a plant-based diet does not require as much land as is needed to support a meat and dairy diet, which means it is a more sustainable way of feeding the global population.

Environment: by avoiding animal products, you can significantly lower your carbon footprint. One of the top sources of planetary greenhouse gases comes from raising livestock and food for livestock.

Animals: avoiding animal products is one of the ways you can take a stand against animal cruelty and exploitation.

More in-depth: Why go vegan?

What to eat:
Eat only plant-based food for 7 days. So no meat, dairy or eggs. Trawl through my recipe index for ideas or look up vegan recipes online; you'll be spoilt for choice! Fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts & seeds. They are your friends. Find vegan substitutes of your staples e.g. almond milk etc.

What I'll be sharing:
- 3 brand new recipes
- daily encouragement, tips and ideas
- a giveaway! (to be eligible, simply keep me updated on your progress via blog and social media comments)

Get involved!
I would love this to be as interactive as possible so if you decide to take the challenge then let's connect! Share what you eat in a day, ask me questions or leave me comments on any of my social media platforms. Simply tag me in your posts @vegannigerian or use the hashtag #vegannigerianchallenge 


4 days to go... :)

Friday, 2 January 2015

PLANTAIN FRIED RICE

As promised, here is the recipe for plantain fried rice, one of the components that featured on my 2014 Christmas plate. It's a quick and easy idea for a side dish or a main meal and with some boiled rice already on hand, will be ready in a matter of minutes. This is a great way to turn leftover white rice into something effortlessly delicious.

You will need a large wok for this recipe, or any old large frying pan.

I have no idea if plantain fried rice is officially a thing but if you've tried it before, let me know your variation of it in the comments below.
























Ingredients
(serves 2)
- 2 cups cooked rice (brown, white, long-grain, basmati...whatever you fancy)
- 1 plantain (diced)
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- 2-3 spring onions (chopped)
- light soy sauce
- dash of sesame oil (optional)

Heat the sunflower oil in a large wok or frying pan. Add the diced plantain and fry for a couple of minutes until the pieces are brown on the outside. Add half of the spring onions, stirring constantly to keep them from burning.

Add the cooked rice and turn the heat down to medium. Stir gently to evenly distribute the plantain through the rice and to avoid crushing the plantain pieces unnecessarily.

Add a generous few splashes of light soy sauce and continue mixing for a couple of minutes until the rice is piping hot. Taste as you go along until you have the right amount of saltiness from the soy sauce. For some extra flavour, you can add a dash of sesame oil.

Garnish with the rest of the chopped spring onions. Serve hot...or warm...or cold...tastes good any which way :)

Thursday, 1 January 2015

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Who's excited for the new year? I definitely am! Goals, dreams, ideas, action plans all at the ready!
I am currently in the middle of putting my blog calendar together for the first couple of months of 2015 and I can't wait to get started on some of the concepts and recipes I have!

Here's to a healthy, happy new year. What are your resolutions for 2015?
God bless x


Friday, 26 December 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS! (VEGAN CHRISTMAS DINNER)

Merry Christmas! Wishing you all a happy, healthy holiday season! :)
What did you have for Christmas dinner?
Here's a glimpse at my vegan Christmas plate this year. (Individual recipes to come in the new year: stuffed peppers and plantain fried rice).




Friday, 12 December 2014

RAW VEGAN MINCE PIES

My raw vegan interpretation of mince pies is so healthy it's almost embarrassing. But want to hear the best part? They taste insanely delicious! This idea came to me late at night when I was already tucked up in bed and ready to take a trip to the land of zzz's. Filled with this sudden burst of curiosity and excitement, I pulled my coat on and made my way to the local grocery store (only a 5 minute walk away, thankfully) to source out all the ingredients I'd need to create these beauties the next day. Interesting how most of my spontaneous acts involve food in some way. 

Forget waiting 12 hours for an almond flour/cashew nut base to solidify in a dehydrator (only to disintegrate at the slightest touch), this method is quicker, easier and delivers on flavour. It's gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, junk-free, but - in anticipation of any snarky sceptics out there - definitely not taste-free. I honestly had no idea how this would turn out and I'm going to be real with you: I was blown away by how amazing they turned out. I ate my way through 3 of these in one sitting, with not an ounce of guilt. 

As you can already tell from the picture, I used hollowed out apples for the 'crust'. I've used green apples in this case as they are not as sweet as the red varieties and therefore provide a nice contrast to the naturally sweet mince filling.

Give this a try yourself this Christmas season and let me know what you think! Don't forget to share if you like it and leave a comment with your feedback!

Wishing you all a delicious Christmas in advance.

[More pictures below]
























Ingredients
(makes 8-10)
- 2 cups mixed dried fruits (raisins, sultanas, diced apricots, cranberries)
- 1/4 cup desiccated coconut (plus extra for garnish)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1.5 tsp mixed spice
- 1/4 cup fresh apple juice
- 4-5 small apples
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice

To make the mince pie filling, place the mixed dried fruit, desiccated coconut, mixed spice, juice of 1/2 a lemon, and apple juice in a food processor and blitz on high speed for a couple of minutes until you have a chunky paste that holds well together.

To make the apple 'crust', remove the stem, peel the apple completely and cut in half. [You can also slice off an extra thin layer off the top of each half to use as a pie cover later]. Using a small teaspoon, carefully scoop out the inside of each apple half. If you're 99.9% percent sure that you won't slice a finger off, then use a small knife to assist with the hollowing out process, otherwise I strongly recommend that you stick with a small spoon. Coat the apple 'crusts' in generous lashings of fresh lemon juice to prevent unnecessary discolouration.

Don't worry about having to throw all the scooped out apple away. Simply discard the seeds and add the rest of the pulp to your mince pie filling, blending again for a couple of seconds to combine.

Spoon generous amounts of the mince pie filling into your apple 'crust'. If you sliced off any extra thin layers to cover the mince pie then go ahead and place that on top, otherwise you can also decorate with little shapes cut out from the apple peel (can be a bit fiddly, so don't worry about perfection).

If you have any leftover mince filling, simply place into a container, refrigerate and use within 2 days.







Tuesday, 9 December 2014

FESTIVE BRUSSELS SPROUTS

I got my hands on some organic brussels sprouts recently. Almost around the same time that I noticed some healthy conversations going on over at Aloha, and I thought I would join in! Brussels sprouts is a fitting recipe to share because not only have we crossed the threshold into the festive season (yay Christmas...!) but brussels sprouts is often relegated to the far, dark corner of any Christmas spread - not truly enjoyed, but present for old time's sake - and hopefully this recipe will show that sprouts can and should take centre stage; that a side dish as mundane as brussels sprouts can put a smile on your face and the face of your guests...unless maybe they're little kids, in which case, good luck trying to convince them!

There's nothing dull or bland about the festive season - think of all the lights and tinsel and bright smiles from strangers who are in a good mood for no reason. So why not bring that same sort of energy to your healthy vegetable side dishes? There's nothing worse than chowing on tasteless, soggy brussel sprouts. Spruce it up a bit! Add a dash of imagination! Make it delicious!

And speaking of delicious, if you'd like some more inspiration on tasty recipes that are also just downright good for you, then head over to Aloha and you won't be disappointed! You can also follow them on Facebook!

























Ingredients
- brussel sprouts (all you can eat...or fit in the pot)
- olive oil
- crushed chilli flakes
- mixed herbs
- sea salt
- hemp seeds or crushed peanuts

Steam the brussel sprouts for about 5 - 10 minutes. Avoid overcooking to prevent a bitter, unpleasant taste.

Drizzle the sprouts with olive oil and season with chilli flakes, mixed herbs and sea salt. Throw in some hemp seeds or crushed peanuts (as much as you want) and toss it all together until the sprouts are well-coated. Serve hot or warm as a side dish. Also makes a great meal on its own if you're in a particularly brussel-sprouty mood :)








Thursday, 4 December 2014

HEMP CREPES - GOOD HEMP REVIEW

Hemp products first caught my attention when I attended a handful of vegan/vegetarian events over the summer. If you'd asked me back then to tell you what this superfood is all about, I'd have scratched my head and given a blank stare. In many ways, I'm grateful that the kind people at Good Hemp Nutrition sent me a selection of their products to review because it has allowed me to delve a little deeper and learn a lot about the nutritional benefits of hemp seeds and its variations. And no, these hemp products won't make you high as they don't contain THC (the substance found in Cannabis)...It's all good! ;)
  • Hemp seed is naturally rich in omega 3 and 6
  • It is a COMPLETE source of protein, which is music to any vegan's ears
  • It contains a high amount of protein that is more easily digestible than other protein sources
  • It does not require any pesticides or herbicides to grow so is totally natural
  • Great for healthy hair and skin
  • Improves cardiovascular circulation and helps lower blood pressure
  • It reduces the symptoms of PMS 


The three products I received were: Good Oil, Good Hemp Milk, and Good Seed (shelled hemp seed). My first instinct was to bake something using all three ingredients, bringing them together in one harmonious tray bake or tower of seeded muffins. Alas, I happened to start craving crepes and this presented the perfect opportunity to experiment! Before tossing all the ingredients into my mixing bowl, however, I had a taste of each product individually. I appreciated the light nutty taste of all three but was particularly impressed with the milk which has a silky, creamy consistency and sweet aroma - something I can imagine using regularly in my cup of tea or bowl of porridge. 
The shelled seeds are soft and chewy, and while I wouldn't necessarily snack on them on their own (the taste is too intense and overpowering for me!), it's great for sprinkling over a number dishes - both sweet and savoury. Think cereal and porridge and soups and salads and desserts and...you get the picture. The crepes in this recipe are also infused with the shelled hemp seeds and worked great as a garnish, adding extra texture and flavour. 

The hemp oil also has a strong smell and taste, so a little goes a long way. I see this 250 ml bottle lasting me a very long time as I probably won't use more than a tablespoon per recipe - it is that flavourful! Good Oil is cold pressed, making it a healthy oil to use for cooking and in salad dressings. What's more, I discovered that hemp oil has 40% less saturated fat than olive oil and is rich in omega 3. When I asked readers on my Facebook page for tips on what to do with the products, one suggested using some hemp oil in smoothies and I must admit, I'm eager to try it out! 

Overall, I've been won over by the highly nutritious aspect of these hemp products and I would recommend that you try them out for yourself. If you want to find out more about Good Hemp Nutrition, you can visit their website or connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

Now, who's ready for some crepes!?

Ingredients
(serves 2-3)
- 1 cup plain flour (or gluten-free flour of your choice)
- 1.5 cups hemp milk
- 2 tbsp shelled hemp seeds (and extra for garnish)
- 1 tbsp hemp oil
- 1/2 banana (mashed)
- 1/2 banana (sliced, to garnish)
- pure maple syrup
- coconut cream






Mix the flour, hemp milk, hemp seeds, hemp oil and mashed banana in a large bowl until the batter is smooth and lump-free. 

These crepes are quite delicate so extra care and attention is needed to get them right. Make sure your frying/skillet pan is always lightly oiled to stop the crepes from sticking, or use a non-stick pan if possible. You will also need to keep an eye on the heat and make sure the pan never gets too hot. When this happens, take it off the heat for a couple of minutes between each crepe to cool down slightly. Don't worry if the first crepe turns out looking like its been run over by a truck and thrown against a concrete wall...this is normal...the first attempt is usually the worst one, and then it gets better!

Ladle some of the batter into the pan, swirling it round to coat the bottom and form a nice round shape (use the back of a spoon to spread it out more thinly, if necessary). Wait a few minutes for the top to start bubbling and until the crepe lifts easily around the edges. Flip it over and cook the other side until lightly browned.

Cook the rest of the crepes in this way until your batter runs out, remembering to keep an eye on the heat.

Serve with your favourite toppings. Here, I've sliced the other half of the banana and arranged that on top, with a generous sprinkling of hemp seeds, a dollop of cold coconut cream and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. Breakfast? Dessert? You decide!









Saturday, 22 November 2014

BREAKFAST #8 - BEANS ON PLANTAIN TOAST

It's a simple concept. Beans and plantain reunited yet again on a plate. Except this time, the context is a little different. Breakfast. The most important meal of the day. Or so they say.

When I spied the can of baked beans in my Hodmedod Vegan Box (see here for previous review), the idea for this recipe came instantly. I would create a simple fusion dish using a classic, everyday pantry item in a new way; pairing it with an ingredient that deserves its own spot in a foodie hall of fame: plantain! The fava beans used in the unique baked beans recipe by Hodmedod add an extra richness to the dish.. a highly satiating and nutritious start to your day. 
I used plain flour in this recipe, but you can also achieve a gluten-free version using gluten-free flour. I've added a range of these to my store, if you're wondering where you can find some.

When it comes to vegan cooking, I'll try anything once. If it doesn't work out, then so be it, but I'd rather always try something first and fail miserably than not to try at all. It's a good rule of thumb in the world of creative cookery, and probably also a good rule of thumb in certain areas of life too. Fearlessness. 
Before this post turns into a full-on ramble, let's get on with how to make this simple but scrummy breakfast dish.


Ingredients
- 2 ripe plantains
- 4 heap tbsp plain flour or gluten-free flour
- salt to taste
- pinch of chilli flakes
- coconut oil (to grease baking dish/tray)

Peel and roughly chop the plantains. Place in a large mixing bowl with the flour, salt and chilli flakes, and mash to a sorta smooth consistency.


Grease a medium-sized rectangular baking dish or tray with some coconut oil and pour the mixture in and spread nice and flat. Place in the oven for 45 minutes, gas mark 5, or until the mixture is firm, springy to the touch, and nicely browned on top.


Take out of the oven and leave to rest for a few minutes. Cut out as many square 'toast' pieces as you can get. For extra crispiness, place the pieces under a hot grill for 1-2 minutes, turning over once to grill the other side too.

Serve with a generous helping of warm baked beans. Enjoy!






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