Tuesday, 29 April 2014

THE VEGAN NIGERIAN STORE

I get quite a lot of e-mails from readers asking where to find specific ingredients or appliances that I've used in creating some of my dishes. With that in mind, I've incorporated an online store (courtesy of Amazon - you will need an Amazon account btw) into the website, which I hope you will find useful and convenient.

I've hand-picked a selection of food items that I use fairly regularly - beans, rice, almond milk, peanut butter, egusi etc, along with other items that you're guaranteed to find in the [vegan-friendly] Nigerian kitchen. It's basically a one-stop place to find your kitchen cupboard/fridge essentials. I'll keep adding to the inventory as time goes on.

Aside from food, you'll also find some kitchen items, such as the amazing julienne peeler I used for my "Vegetable Spaghetti" recipe, and regular ol' blenders for whizzing up those smoothies or making a batch of red pepper mix.

Lastly, there are sections for Books, DVDs and other fun miscellaneous items. The books and DVDs in particular are resources that have personally helped me along my vegan journey. Guides, recipe books and hard-hitting documentaries that explain why veganism makes sense ;)

Just scoot on over to the 'Shop' tab at the top of the page and take a look. Got any product suggestions? Get in touch! (vegannigerian@gmail.com)

Happy browsing!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

VEGAN SNICKERS

Who says you have to give everything up once you go vegan? This post is inspired by This Rawsome Vegan Life's all-natural raw snickers candy bars. I've changed it up to create my own version, with fewer ingredients and with peanuts instead of almonds and pine nuts. Dates are naturally sweet and have a caramel-like taste so they mimic the caramel and nougat layer in the regular snickers bar perfectly without the need of added processed sugar or syrup. 

These turned out fantastic - gooey, crunchy and chocolaty all at once - but they are sooo rich that I think I'll only make them once in a blue moon. Snickers bars happen to be a family favourite, so perhaps I'll be able to convince my family to switch to this vegan version.

*Also, check out this interview I did for Vegivoirienne's blog recently :)


Ingredients
(makes about 10)
- 2 bars dark chocolate (about 100 g each)
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 1/4 cup fresh pineapple
- 1/2 cup salted peanuts

Start by lining a rectangular plastic container or small tin with some greaseproof paper.

Melt the first bar of chocolate. Simply break the bar up into small pieces in glass bowl, place the bowl over a saucepan of steaming hot water and stir until the chocolate has melted completely. Pour the melted chocolate into the greaseproof-lined container/tin, making sure it spreads out to form an even layer and covers the base of the container/tin completely.

Evenly distribute the salted peanuts onto the melted chocolate. Place in the freezer for a few minutes until the chocolate hardens.


To create the caramelly-date filling, place the dates and fresh pineapple into a food processor/blender and whiz to form a gooey paste. (The pineapple is added to provide a bit of moisture, but you'll hardly taste it in the finished product)

Take the container out of the freezer and spread the date mixture evenly over the first layer of chocolate. Place in the freezer for another few minutes.

In the meantime, melt the second bar of chocolate in a clean glass bowl (repeat the process outlined above).

Take the container out of the freezer again and drizzle the second layer of melted chocolate over the top, making sure to cover the date filling completely. Don't worry if it looks a little bumpy or whatever, it's all part of the home-made charm ;)

Place the container in the freezer one last time for about 20-30 minutes so that all the layers harden sufficiently. 

Lift the chocolate out of the container/tin and peel back the greaseproof paper. Use a large knife to cut the chocolate into 10 little bars of roughly equal size. You can trim the outer edges if you want it to look all neat and extra fancy. Share and enjoy!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

VEGETABLE "SPAGHETTI" AND BOILED PLANTAIN

I'm in love. With a kitchen utensil. Not even kidding. Here's how it all began... 

As I alluded to in a recent post, it is currently exam season and I've got my French listening exam coming up soon. As a result, I have been binging on a bunch of French YouTube videos - on topics ranging from French culture to politics to literature. All that good stuff. Once in a while, however, I end up watching videos on le végétalisme (veganism) and looking up recipe videos. Not exactly exam material, but at least I'm still absorbing some vocab, right? Culinary vocab, at least... 

Anyway, I was browsing through all these French vegan recipe videos when I came across this one! The food vlogger makes spaghetti from cucumbers. I thought I'd seen it all, but this was something else. Using an appliance known as a spiral vegetable cutter, she was able to turn long vegetables such as carrots and courgettes and cucumbers into what look like spaghetti/noodle strands. I was enamoured with the idea. But because I can be a bit of a cheapskate sometimes, I wasn't ready to invest in a spiral cutter just yet. Thankfully, I came across an alternative way of creating vegetable spaghetti, using what is known as a julienne peeler. I ordered one almost immediately and have been using it almost every day since. It's like being able to indulge in pasta as much as you want without the consequences of overdoing the heavy starch. This little utensil has revolutionised my kitchen. In this recipe, I've used one whole courgette, but it works just as well with a couple of carrots or cucumbers too.

A real tour de force of nutritious vegetables, bright colours and most importantly, taste. If I had to make one little modification, it would be to throw the veg "spaghetti" into the pan towards the end of the cooking time, rather than at the beginning as I did, just so it doesn't wilt as much. I've reflected this adjustment in the instructions below.



Ingredients
(serves 1)
- 1 ripe plantain 
- 1 courgette (or two large carrots)
- 1 tomato (diced)
- 1/2 red bell pepper (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 4 button mushrooms (optional) (chopped)
- 1/2 tbsp palm oil / olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

Cut the ends off the plantain and discard. Chop the plantain into three large pieces (skin left on) and boil in some water for about 10-15 mins or until the plantain is soft all the way through (check by sticking a fork through it). Drain the water and leave to cool before peeling off the skin and cutting the plantain into chunky rounds.

Peel the courgette or carrots into long strands using a julienne peeler. If using a courgette, stop peeling once you reach the seeds at the centre (the centre is too soft and mushy for 'spaghetti' strands - just cut it up into small pieces and throw it in with the rest of the meal so you don't waste it).


Heat the oil in a large pan and add all the chopped vegetables. Stir for a minute or so until they are cooked through. Add the vegetable "spaghetti" strands and keep stirring until they soften. Season with season salt and pepper. Add the chunky rounds of boiled plantain and combine with the veg and "spaghetti". 

Serve hot with more freshly ground pepper over the top. Enjoy!
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