TRIED AND TESTED: SUPERNATURE INFUSED OIL

Real Foods, online health food retailer, sent me this Supernature cold pressed lemongrass infused rapeseed oil to try and let you all know what i thought and here is my verdict. To tell you a bit more about the product it is an infused rapeseed oil which comes in a 100 ml bottle which is a good size easy to store. It really smells like lemongrass and lends itself very well to asian inspired dishes and for flavour and part oil substitute in vegan baking.

Rapeseed oil has many perks such as being low in saturated fat, more rich in omega 3 than olive oil for example and has a burning point at 230 degrees celsius making it good for cooking and baking. With a very palatable flavour in itself rapeseed oil can also be used for dressings, marinades and kale massaging which this lemongrass infused oil is fun for as it adds some flavour. Supernatures infused oils also come in lime, coriander and chilli which could all be fun for cooking and dressing foods.

The ingredients listed are: cold pressed rapeseed oil and lemongrass oil. This sounds pretty innocent to me which is a good first impression, however this product is not organic which is something I usually look out for and use. The rapeseed oil is produced nearby, in Scotland at Carrington Barn Farms, which is a plus. And for the more vain analysis the packaging is nice as well as petite and I’d be happy to leave this product on the counter which helps in a kitchen as packed as mine. And it’s pretty reasonably priced for something a bit fun and different at £2.45.

The taste test shows that uncooked the oil has a strong lemongrass flavour and as mention it is good for dressing salads and marinating for example tofu especially combined with spices like chilli, ginger or garlic. When using it in cooking and baking of course quantity will decide the potency in the dish but I think using a relatively small amount goes a long way with this product. See two of my recipes, one sweet and one savoury, using the oil below.

Lemongrass infused stir fry (3-4 portions)

3 tbsp lemongrass infused rapeseed oil
1 inch ginger, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 generous pinch chilli flakes
1 red onion
1 red capsicum/pepper
15 broccoli tender stems
10 small mushrooms of choice (I used button chestnut)
Corn from one cob or equal from can
Handful kale, destemmed and in pieces
Tamari/Liquid aminos to taste
Noodles of choice (I used 2/3 packet soba noodles)

Boil a large pot of water.

When boiling add noodles and drain as instructed on packet.

Place oil in wok pan on low heat and add sliced onion, ginger, garlic and chilli flakes.

When fragrant and before any of the garlic burns add chopped capsicum and broccoli as well as a generous splash of tamari/liquid aminos.

Turn heat up and fry for roughly 2-3 min whilst cleaning and halving mushrooms.

Add corn kernels, kale and mushrooms and fry for roughly another 3-5 min.

Add noodles when drained and the vegetables are tender.

Add a splash of tamari/liquid aminos, combine noodles and veggies – serve!

Lemongrass and ginger banana muffins (makes 8)

1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp water
1 cup almond ground almonds/almond meal
½ cup ground pure oats/pure oat flour
½ cup brown rice flour
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
⅓ cup coconut sugar
1 banana (mushed)
1 cup almond/rice milk
2 tbsp lemongrass infused rapeseed oil
2 tsp ground ginger
½-1 inch ginger (grated)

 

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Line a muffin tray with baking paper or grease it.

Combine ground flaxseed and water, set aside.

Combine all dry ingredients and spices, mix.

Mush banana and mix with lemongrass infused oil, grated ginger and plant milk.

Add flaxseed mixture and combine.

Pour into muffin tray.

Bake for roughly 20-25 min or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 min.

You can find Supernatures lemongrass infused oil here: http://www.realfoods.co.uk/product/27017/lemongrass-infused-rapeseed-oil


EATING OUT: AREPA & CO., HAGGERSTON

To start off my series of restaurant recommendations I will tell you about one of my favorite places close to home, by that I mean close to my physical home in east London. Arepa & Co is a venezuelan arepera serving traditional food in a contemporary and very colourful environment. Situated by the canal just a couple of minutes walk away from Haggerston station you can see the canal boats passing by as you enjoy your meal.

Arepa & Co offer arepas which are a bit like pitta bread but made out of corn flour and with a crispier texture. For now the flour the arepas are made with might contain traces of gluten as the factory it is produced in produces other flours but I was told that in March next year it will be completely free from any gluten!

The arepas come with a variety of fillings just like their cachapas which are pancakes, however these are not vegan. I guess this is the time to mention that this is not a solely vegan restaurant but why I love it is because they offer choices and allow you to alter their menu to fit your personal needs and wishes.

The menu extends further than these two corn meal based dishes with a more choices for vegans, veggies and gluten frees. There is black beans and rice, cassava chips (yuca), a heart of palm salad with avocado and plantains. Quite a bit of choice I think and one can order a few dishes to share for a venezuelan feast!

So to my favourites. My favorite arepa is a “Jardinera” which is filled with roasted veg and usually goats cheese but I swap the cheese for plantains and it’s delicious. The staff are very accomodating and friendly when it comes to altering so dont be shy. My second favorite arepa is the “Mulata” that is filled with warm blackbeans and plantains (as well as cheddar which I ask the waiting staff to leave out).

Along with the arepa I love to share some cassava chips and/or the palm of heart salad with my company. The cassava chips come with a mayonnaise but I ask for guacamole instead or their fantastic avo and veg dressing (also used to drench my arepa) which comes complimentary with the meal. And don’t forget the chilli oil! To finish of what I started, back to the sides. Cassava is a root which is indigenous to South America and lends itself very well to chip making, it comes out a bit sweet and crispy. The salad is super light with lots of leaves, some tomatoes, avocado and the best part the heart of palm which is something fun and different to what most of us have at home.

To drink Arepa & Co offer freshly made guava, passion fruit and mango juices which you can mix as you like. I love this and always mix all three which makes a vibrant exotic blend. They also serve a sugar cane lemonade which is a nice treat. For those of you who drink alcohol this is the place to come for rum cocktails! Unfortunately the only beer they serve is sol which isn’t vegan nor gluten free but I don’t think you’ll miss your beer with all the other lovely drinks on offer. There is also coffee from nude espresso and some (not so vegan or gluten free) cake.


TANGY HOT COLESLAW W. CORIANDER

We all know what cabbage can do to our stomach but a little bit can’t hurt, right? Besides it has fantastic health benefits and tastes amazing too if you do it right and I think I nailed this one, at least my partner thinks so. This recipe is inspired by the restaurant Boho Mexica on Commercial road who do a fantastically hot and tasty slaw. I tried to recreate the flavours and it ended up being this tangy and hot coleslaw with tabasco and coriander!

In this recipe I combine both green/white and red cabbage because I think it looks beautiful together, and even more so when you add the darker coriander to the mixture. The truth is however that red cabbage has more protective phytonutrients due to its deep red colour but it’s great to eat all colours of the rainbow so why not mix!

Cabbage is full of fibre. It is also rich in vitamin K as well as anthocyanins which is great for brain function. These two prevent nerve damage as well which means they can be a preventer of alzheimer’s disease and dementia. These again are richer in red cabbage.

Cabbage has so many fantastic benefits so I can’t go in depth about all of them but here is a quick info bomb: high in sulfur – great for skin and detox, a lot of vitamin C – immune booster, contains cancer-preventive compounds that stimulate enzyme activity and can inhibit cell growth, rich in potassium, betalains (in red cabbage) regulates blood sugar and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Phew, many reasons to why you and I should eat some cabbage!


Makes one generous bowl, enough for the whole family, and if there’s only one or two of you you’re lucky because you’ll have a great salad base for days.

Cooking time: tops 15 min.

Ingredients:

¼ head red cabbage
¼ head white/green cabbage
⅓ cup coriander
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice from one lime
Rind from ½ – 1 lime
½ tsp apple cyder vinegar
20 squirts green jalapeno tabasco
Salt and pepper to taste

Grate the zest of the lime into a generous mixing/serving bowl.

Add oil, lime juice, vinegar, tabasco and spices and mix.

Slice cabbage thinly and add to the bowl.

Roughly chop coriander and add to bowl.

Toss, toss, toss.

Eat! Or leave in fridge for an hour (or days) and then eat!

Enjoy as a side (especially good with mexican food) or as a base in salads!



SWEET AND HOT AVOCADO AND MANGO DIP

Some occasions require a good dip. This one is sweet, hot and creamy all at once. It goes well with South American food, Caribbean food and I think even with traditional English oven chips. Avocado has heaps of healthy fats and a bit of protein and mango has fibre and a yummy sweet flavour, and they actually go really well together – try for yourself!

Requires a food processor (or a blender if onions are chopped before blending).

Makes roughly one cup.

 

Ingredients:

¼ red onion
1 ripe avocado
½ ripe mango
Juice from 1 lime
½ – 1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp pepper

 

Place onion in food processor and process until chopped.

Add all other ingredients and process until mainly smooth.


Enjoy with veggie sticks or cassava chips like I did!



SPICY THYME CASSAVA OVEN CHIPS

I love trying new food from all over the world and getting inspired by the diverse cultures that inhabit London. Not long ago I tried cassava chips and I love them just as much as I love changing things up. They are not necessarily healthier or unhealthier than white potatoes but they are different! They have a sweeter and “drier” character which is perfect for oven roasting.

Cassava, or yuca/tapioca/manioc as it’s also called, is a root which is indigenous to South America but also grows in Asia and Africa. It is one of the most common sources of carbohydrates worldwide. I had never heard of it until I visited Arepa and co in Haggerston. It is a venezuelan restaurant serving authentic venezuelan food and they make fantastic cassava chips!

Cassava is drought resistant root that grows in tropical or sub-tropical climates. Therefore here in the west we should probably not eat it every week as it must be shipped but one can have a little bit now and again I think. In some parts of Africa this is the staple food and most of the imported roots originate from Nigeria.

The roots are a good source of calcium and vitamin C. As a vegetarian/vegan it can sometimes be tricky to find a good source of calcium but here is one. What I am trying to put across that there is nothing extra special about this root in comparison to other staple foods like potato or sweet potato but it is a fun substitute to try and play around with! Remember however that you should never eat cassava uncooked due to its toxic profile in its raw state.

But don’t be scared, it’s yummy and completely harmless cooked!


Makes enough for 4-5 servings.

 

Ingredients:

2 medium cassava roots
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp thyme
¾ tsp chilli powder or less if you are sensitive
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius.

Peel cassava using a knife.

Split cassava in half and then each half into quarters.

Remove the center of the root by cutting of the inner corner of each quarter.

Part quarters into thin wedges.

Place wedges in oven tray and drizzle with oil.

Sprinkle the wedges with spices.

Mix.

Roast in oven for roughly 45-50 min, turning them mid-way.

Enjoy as a side to South American or Caribbean inspired dishes or as a substitute to your regular wedges, this dip is a great condiment!



RAW SPROUTING LASAGNE ROLLS

Raw food has been a hype for a while now, with good reason, and I am not a complete raw food vegan but I like to play around with raw recipes and do think that eating raw is a great way of fueling your body. Cooking food, especially fruit and veg, diminishes some nutrients which you take benefit from eating foods raw. These lasagne rolls are great canapes or sides to a rainbow salad or maybe the rainbow salad would be a great side to these rolls. Either way they are filled with raw nutrition and are packed with flavour!

One fantastic benefit from eating raw food is preserving the natural enzymes which foods contain. Enzymes aid in food digestion and our own bodies create enzymes. However it is beneficial to eat foods with a high enzyme content for ultimate digestion from when food enters your mouth until it exits your body. Another benefit from raw food is high fibre contents which is also great for the digestive tract.

 

This recipe contains cashews and walnuts which contain a heap of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals as well as being a great source of plant protein. Another fantastic ingredient is nutritional yeast which offers a cheesy flavour which is used to make “cashew cheese”. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast meaning it doesn’t grow when activated and it is high in vitamin B12. A vitamin many people are deficient in, especially vegetarians and vegans. It also has a high protein content.

 

This dish is fresh but still has a flavorful character due to the spices used when preparing the nut cheese and mince as well as naturally from the sundried tomatoes and basil. It has great plan protein and being raw all the nutrients and enzymes are preserved. There are loads of reasons to try this festive recipe!


Requires a food processor.

Requires a mandolin or a lot of patience.

Makes roughly 20 rolls.

Ingredients:

20+ toothpicks
2 courgettes
1 packed cup sundried tomatoes
30 basil leaves
½ cup alfa alfa sprouts
1 cup cashews
3 garlic cloves
Juice from a ½ lemon
1 sprig rosemary (or 2 tsp dried)
⅓ cup nutritional yeast
Water if needed
1 cup walnuts
4 tsp tamari
2 tsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
Pinch of chilli
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak cashews and walnuts over night (or whilst at work) in separate containers.

Place garlic in food processor until chopped.

Drain and add cashews.

Add lemon juice, yeast, rosemary, salt and pepper and process until smooth, if not smooth add a little water.

Remove and place in fridge.

Place walnuts, tamari, olive oil, cumin, paprika, oregano, chilli and salt and pepper in food processor.

Pulse until the mixture looks like mince and remove from processor, place in fridge.

Process sundried tomatoes and 5-10 basil leaves in food processor until it is a ‘bitty’ sauce.

Mandolin/Slice courgette lengthways thin enough to roll without breaking.

Spread a tsp of tomato sauce on one side of the courgette slices, roughly 1-2 tsp walnut mince and 1-3 tsp cashew cheese.

Place one basil leaf at one end and some sprouts on top of it.

Roll each slice, starting from the basil leaf, and place a toothpick into it.

Enjoy treating your friends and family to something special crafted with care!



GLUTEN FREE SPICED COURGETTE BREAD

Bread in all shapes is something which was an everyday food as I grew up. When you have to or choose to be gluten free it’s not so easy to pick up breads from the store or bakery anymore and choices, if there are any, are usually very limited. But making your own bread doesn’t have to be complicated and when you bake your own there are no strange additives and unnecessary sugar. This semi-sweet courgette/zucchini bread does require a few ingredients but is dead easy to make and tastes yummy for breakfast!

Courgette adds a moisture to the bread which is sometimes hard to create when baking both gluten free and vegan. It also adds a really interesting flavour which I find slightly savoury and smooth.

I don’t often use gluten free flour blends as they tend to mainly contain a variety of starches. Instead I mix a few different flours when I bake to achieve the consistency and flavour I want. I like adding almond meal to my breads to give it a nutty flavour but it can be changed to more buckwheat and rice flours and the almond milk can be replaced by rice milk for a nut free alternative.

Buckwheat is a naturally gluten free, and is actually not even a grain but a seed. Research has shown that it can help keep a clean cardiovascular system and prevent heart disease as the flavanoids in buckwheat have a positive impact on our cholesterol. In comparison to wheat breads it also has a more positive effect on our blood pressure and insulin levels, keeping them level rather than spiking them. Therefore it can be a better choice for people with diabetes.

I added some dried spices which for me are flavors of autumn. Ginger, cloves and cardamom all have warm connotation to me and add some flavor to this bread. Ginger in itself is great for the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties which also make it perfect for colder times.


Requires a loaf tin.

Makes one large loaf.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup almond meal
¾ cup brown rice flour
3 tbsp chia seeds
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp gf baking powder
1 tsp cardamom
½ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp water
1 cup almond milk
⅓ cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 – 2 ½ cup grated courgette (roughly 1 large courgette)
⅓ cup blueberries (optional)
Coconut oil for greasing

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Grease a loaf tin with coconut oil (or other if you wish).

Mix flaxseed meal with water in a small cup and set aside.

Grate courgette.

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.

Mix all wet ingredients except for courgette in a larger bowl.

Pour dry ingredients into wet whilst whisking.

Mix in soaked flaxseed meal which should now be gelled.

When smooth fold in the grated courgette.

If using blueberries fold them in when courgette has been combined with the previous mixture.

Pour into the loaf tin.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, checking up on it mid-way.

Enjoy for weekend breakfasts with lots of nut butter and fresh fruits!



TURMERIC QUINOA SALAD W. SPROUTED PULSES AND FENNEL

This turmeric quinoa salad with sprouted beans and fennel ticks many health boxes which is great as the seasons are changing and colds take over the western hemisphere. Such a simple and nutrient rich dish which works well for both lunch and dinner, as a side or as a main. Turmeric and quinoa are both hot on the superfoods list so let’s combine them!

Quinoa is a seed which is packed with complete protein making it a very good addition to any vegan diet. It also suits a gluten free diet as I always used to find myself looking for substitute to glutenous and white grains. Quinoa is also high in manganese which aids in metabolising of cholesterol, carbs and amino acids and even wound healing functions in the body.

The addition of sprouted beans makes this dish a protein powerhouse and adds a raw element which has been activated to offer its most potent state in terms of nutrition. Further I included fennel because it’s something which helps me keep my stomach on track. It also has strong antioxidant activity which pairs up nicely with turmeric.

Turmeric is the real show stopper in this dish though! It is an anti-inflammatory agent, can prevent alzheimers, neutralises free-radicals and boosts antioxidant enzyme activity to protect your cells and keep them healthy. This effect on the cells can help during cancer treatment or prevent it in the first place.

One last little note, turmeric is absorbed easier when consumed with pepper!


Feeds 3-4 people.

Active cooking time 20 min, all in all 35 min.

 

Ingredients:

¾ cup uncooked quinoa
1 ½ cup filtered water
2 tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Leaves from 1 rosemary sprig (or dried herbs of choice)
1 red onion
1 cup sprouted beans (chickpeas, mung beans, lentils etc)
1 medium fennel bulb
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 clove garlic
½ tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 bag peppery rocket

Rinse quinoa under running water until completely wet.

Place in pot with water and spices on high heat.

Let it come to a boil and then turn to low heat for a 20 min simmer (or until all water is gone).

Turn off heat and place a tea towel underneath the lid to absorb steam.

Chop onion finely.

Rinse the sprouted beans.

Remove sprigs and the end of the fennel bulb and slice finely.

Place pan over medum heat and add coconut oil.

Sautee fennel until it looks shiny and soft.

Mix fennel, sprouted beans and onion with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Add quinoa and mix again.

Rinse rocket.

Serve warm on top of rocket leaves and save leftovers for a lunch box base.

Enjoy knowing you’re giving your body lots of plant protein and amazing health benefits!



MAPLE ROASTED SWEET POTATO W. FIGS AND NUTS

I love the colours of this dish which is perfect for early autumn as both sweet potato and figs are still in season. The sweet potatoes are roasted with maple syrup to enhance their natural sweetness and sprinkled with fresh rosemary and chilli for some heat. Paired with fresh figs which are again a sweet addition but a different texture and chilli roasted nuts and seeds for some spice crunch. A great side dish or yummy lunch with some houmous on the side.

Sweet potatoes are very high in beta-carotene which transforms into vitamn A in the body which in turn becomes a superfood for your skin! But speaking about skin, you mustn’t peel your sweet potatoes as much of its nutrition is stored there.

Sweet potatoes are also a great source of vitamin C, a good source of folate (B9) and minerals like calcium and potassium as well as a low GI carb. Low GI carbs are good because they gently rises the blood sugar levels at a steady pace so that we don’t have high highs and low lows. Sweet potatoes are less calorific than white potatoes but both are delicious and healthy. However definitely go for organic when it comes to potatoes (and as many other foods you can find and afford) as they can be heavily treated with pesticides.

Figs are not just a beautiful fruit but high in potassium which help regulate blood sugar levels. They are also rich in soluble fiber which can help reduce cholesterol and even contains omega-3 and -6. Remember that fresh and dried fruits have different nutritional profile where dried fruit is higher in sugars and thereby carbs but can also be more fiber dense.

I have gone through the benefits of nuts and seeds before but lets just say they are good for you in so may ways: healthy fats, plant protein, minerals and vitamins, anti-oxidants.

You name it, it’s in there pretty much.


Feeds up to 4 people. Active cooking time 20 min, complete cooking time 35 min. Ingredients:

3 medium or 2 large sweet potatoes
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 rosemary sprig (leaves from)
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp coarse sea salt

 

⅓ cup almonds
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil (for pan)
2 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper

 

2-3 fresh figs

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Cut sweet potatoes into wedges (see image).

Place wedges in bowl and add remaining ingredients – mix.

Pour flavoured wedges onto an oven tray and roast for 35 min, flipping them halfway.

Cut figs into wedges, 4-8 depending on size of figs.

Place pan over medium heat and add coconut oil.

Place nuts and seeds in pan and add spices.

Stir and roast nuts and seeds until pumpkin seeds are popping.

Serve layered on a serving dish.

Enjoy on a chilly autumn evening with your favorite houmous and maybe some tempeh!



NUTTY SALTED CARAMEL PROTEIN BITES

Everyone needs a good snack for when they get the nibbles. It just so happened that the other day I was craving salted caramel for some strange reason and I was completely out of grab and go snacks so I decided to make these protein bites. A high protein snack is great for all us veggies who need to make sure we get enough daily but also when you work out and need an extra protein boost these bites are perfect.

Almonds: Good source of healthy fats which promote “good cholestorol”, lots of minerals, packed with vitamin E for protection of cell membranes and glowing skin as well as vitamins from the B-complex group for good memory, anxiety relief and a stable mood.

Pumpkin seeds: Very similar profile to almonds but much more protein dense!

Pecan nuts: Contains important phytochemicals which can remove toxic oxygen-free radicals to protect the body from infections, diseases and cancers. Again rich in minerals, vitamin E and B-complex vitamins.

Flax seeds: Rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids which due to their anti-inflammatory action can help prevent clogged arteries, stroke and cancers like breast, colon and prostate. Minerals, vitamin E and B-complex vitamins.

Chia seeds: A complete protein, has a very low GI which helps to control blood sugar levels, rich in anti-oxidants and due to its outer membrane promotes smooth bowel movements.

I added hemp protein for an extra complete boost and maca powder to promote endurance, energy and hormone balance.

All great reasons to make your own nutty bites!


Requires a food processor.

Makes 18-24 bites depending on required size.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup activated pecans
2 heaped tbsp flax seeds
4 soaked medjool dates
1 ½ tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp maca powder
2 tsp sea salt

 

1 ½ cup activated almonds
½ cup pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
8 soaked dates
3 heaped tsp hemp protein powder

 

Desiccated coconut for rolling

Activate (soak in water and little lemon juice) nuts over night to remove enzyme inhibitors which have a negative effect on our digestion.

Soak dates for 30 min.

Pulse pecans and flax seeds until chopped (see picture above).

Add the rest of the ingredients for the first mixture and process until combined in a firm sticky mixture.

Place in bowl and keep in fridge until second mixture is finished.

Pulse almonds, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds until chopped.

Add remaining ingredients and process until combined.

Place in bowl in the fridge.

On a baking sheet, roll first mixture into six rolls, 10 cm long.

Flatten second mixture in a rectangle 60x10cm.

Place one roll at the time onto flattened mixture and roll into the flattened mixture.

Cut flattened mixture when roll is covered, and roll in desiccated coconut.

Enjoy for a daily snack with plenty of water, but don’t eat too many at ones as they are power houses in all aspects!