Spiced Vegetable and Lentil Loaf

Its been pouring all day here and the air is a little cooler. So tonight I felt like some comfort food. This recipe is adapted from Lentil Loaf by The Vegan Stoner. I recently came across their recipes and I really like them. They are simple to follow and the drawings are really cool.

I changed the recipe by using oats instead of crackers and added some extra spices. Mine was not as firm as I would of liked, but that was probably because I didn’t mash the lentils.  It tasted delicious and I got to make use of my dried organic green lentils and organic frozen vegetables from Woolworths, which have been waiting to be used for a while. I just served it with some simple roasted vegetables and added a little bit extra ketchup to serve.

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Spiced Vegetable and Lentil Loaf (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked green lentils

1 red or brown onion

1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

1/4 cup organic instant oats

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, roughly chopped

4 tablespoons apple sauce

2 tablespoons ketchup sauce

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and prepare a loaf tin with baking paper.???????????????????????????????

2. In a mixing bowl combine green lentils, onion, walnuts and oats and stir through. Mash the lentils, if you want a more firmer consistency. ???????????????????????????????

3. Then add sea salt, black pepper, cardamon, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, garlic powder and cayenne, stir through.

4. Lastly add the frozen vegetables, apple sauce and ketchup, stir through.

5. Press the mixture into a loaf pan and cook for 40-50 mins, or till golden brown on top.

* Serves 6

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My highlight of today was receiving my long awaited Chloe’s Vegan Desserts recipe book, that I purchased as soon as I found out it was coming out. To celebrate I made Chef Chloe’s Peanut Butter Cookies. I burned mine a little because silly me though I should put two trays of cookies on the same rack. Nevertheless they were so delicious. I used coconut sugar, so I didn’t feel so guilty eating them too. They really tasted like professorially baked cookies as well. I can’t wait to try so more of her recipes!

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Butternut Pumpkin Gnocchi, Cinnamon and Cumin Spiced Pumpkin seeds and Banana Gelato

I love gnocchi. In fact ‘gnocchi’ was my first word, when I was a baby. I don’t eat it as much anymore since the store-bought gnocchi has heaps of nasty preservatives and usually gnocchi from restaurant are not dairy free. So tonight I decided to make my own. I’m running out of food at the moment, but luckily I had some butternut pumpkin left in the fridge.  So I thought I would try using them to make gnocchi. I decided to roast the pumpkin with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg and bind the dough with a bit of vegan butter and flour. The mixture was very sticky, so I added a truck load of more flour. To form the balls I had to roll them on the board with  flour, so that the mixture wouldn’t stick to my hands. Other then being a bit sticky they were really easy to make. I just served them with a simply olive oil, herb and mushroom sauce, so that the pumpkin would be the star of the dish.

Tonight I also made some Cinnamon and Cumin Spiced Pumpkin seeds. The last two batches I have made got severely burned. Luckily tonight I didn’t forget them in the oven and they were a success. I only found out last year that I can cook pumpkin seeds. I use to always throw them out. They are so delicious and healthy and a great snack when you are waiting for dinner.

Lastly, I made my first vegan gelato. I read a while back about making gelato with frozen bananas, but I never got around to it. Luckily last week mum had a whole heap of bananas, which were going brown and I remembered to put them away in the freezer. I was a bit skeptical that frozen bananas could be turned into gelato. However, I was pleasantly surprise. I can’t believe how much it tasted like real gelato. After living in Italy for 5 months and eating gelato  just about every day, I certainly know what it taste like. This recipe gives the same texture of gelato, which is like a custard that is cold but not quite frozen. So if you haven’t tried this I really recommend it. Now all I can think about is all the new flavours I’m going to try to recreate.

Butternut Pumpkin Gnocchi  (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

800 g butternut pumpkin

olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons vegan butter

2 cup unbleached plain flour (use gluten free flour if you prefer)

3 garlic cloves

1/2 cup dry shitake mushrooms (pre-soaked for 15 mintues)

handful of herbs (I used sage, tarragon and thyme)

sea salt to taste

Method:

Chopped pumpkin, before roasting

1. Preheat the oven 200 degrees.

2. Chop butternut pumpkin into thin slices and place on a tray with baking paper.

3. Add olive oil and sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt. Cover the baking tray with aluminium foil and cook in the oven for 30 mins or until pumpkin is soft.

Roasted pumkin

4. Wait until pumpkin stops steaming (I put mine in the fridge for 10 mins) then put into the processor with 1 cup of flour and vegan butter. Blend until all the ingredients are combined into a dough.

Dough

5. On a floury board, add more flour to dough so that it is not too sticky. Then form small balls and place on baking paper. Press a fork on the top of the balls so that they form an oval.

Uncooked gnocchi

6. In boiling salted water cook gnocchi for 3 mins or until they are floating on the top of the water. Then strain and put to the side (rinse with cold water to stop them cooking).

7. In a large pan heat olive oil and add garlic, mushrooms and herbs. Cook until garlic is browned and herbs are crispy.

Cooked gnocchi

8. Add the gnocchi to the pan, add salt and cook till heated through, then serve.

* Serves 4-5. If you have extra gnocchi, don’t cook it. Just put it in a tray and place in the freezer for 10-15 mins. Then put gnocchi into a freezer bag.

Cinnamon & Cumin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

pumpkin seeds

olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

sea salt to taste

Method:

1. Rinse and clean pumpkin seeds.

2. Take a tray with baking paper. Add pumpkin seeds, olive oil, cinnamon, cumin and sea salt.

3. Cook in oven at 200 degrees for 4-5mins or until golden brown. (Careful not to burn!)

Banana Gelato (vegan, raw, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

3 frozen bananas

1 can coconut cream

3 tablespoons maple syrup

Method:

1. Roughly chop up the banana and place into the processor

2. Spoon out the cream from the coconut cream (discard the water) and place into the processor.

3. Turn on processor and while it is mixing add the maple syrup.

4. Serve once all the banana has been blended and eat immediately!

*Serves 4

Sweet Potato and Walnut Cinnamon Buns with Maple Glaze

I’ve been looking forward to make this recipe, since I first saw it and promise myself I would do it after uni was less busy. This afternoon I started making these cinnamon buns and we finally got to enjoy them tonight. I didn’t realise they were going to take so long to make, but it was worth it. The original recipe can be found here, Sweet Potato and Pecan Cinnamon Buns with Maple Glaze. The recipe is very easy to follow and pretty simple to make.

I didn’t use bread flour, I used plain flour, which was a big mistake. Although mine were still good, they did not have the fluffy texture of bread and barely rose. I thought the yeast would make them bread-like, but clearly it didn’t. I have never used bread flour or cake flour before. They have started appearing in the supermarket, so I think I better buy some if I intend trying something like this again. I only other thing I did differently was used walnuts, instead since I didn’t have any Pecans. Other then that everyone loved them.

Sweet Potato Dough (Before rising)

Roll out dough (After it has risen)

Spread Cinnamon-Walnut Filling on dough

Roll up dough

Cut roll into 12 slices

Cinnamon Buns before baking

Maple Glaze

Glaze the warm Cinnamon Buns

Ready to serve

The canned tuna debate and the Bake Sale at the Green Edge

This week I admit I’ve had a few slips up with my diet. There is this one brand of tuna that has beans in it, which me and Marco were addicted to. I have probably only had it twice this month. However I would really like to stop eating it in general. Why? Well there are two reasons. Firstly, many of the canned tuna’s we buy does not use sustainable fishing methods and destroys marine life. I just found out that Sole Mare, the brand that were buying regularly has the worst  rating out of all the canned tuna’s in Australia for the 2011 Canned Tuna Ranking. This is quite disappointing that they are not transparent with how they produce their tuna.

Another big reason to give tuna the flick is the  Bisphenol A (BPA), from can products and the mercury. BPA is synthetic estrogen, which companies use in lining of the can’s to avoid deterioration. This can leach out of the food and when consumed is really bad for our own natural estrogen. It has been known to cause men to have a decrease of 20% in sperm count and create problems for woman in regards to PMS and menopause (Natural & Organic Health). According to Choice, in Australia we do not have set in limit to the amount of BPA that can be present in the food from a can. The only brands that currently have no BPA are Eden Organic and Spiral. Nakula coconut cream does use BPA lining, however it has proven that it does not leach into the food. As far as I know the big supermarkets do not carry these brands, but I have seen them at independent health food shops.

So if that’s not deterring enough, there is also mercury problem. According to PETA, “Tuna fish accumulate toxic mercury in their flesh as a result of industrial pollution, and the side effects of mercury poisoning include finger curling, cognitive impairment, and coordination problems. A California boy, who was the subject of a front-page Wall Street Journal article, went from being a star athlete and honor student to being unable to concentrate or catch a football because he ate canned tuna. Even if he had eaten only half a can of albacore tuna a week, he still would have consumed 60 percent more mercury than is considered “safe” by the U.S.government.” So that convenient little can of tuna, doesn’t sound so good any more.

Other challenges I’ve had is eating out at friends places. These are the first friends that have dared invite me to dinner, with my dietary requirements of no dairy and most vegan. I guess its daunting to people. I know a few years ago someone told me they were vegetarian and I was like oh so you still eat fish right? Then when I had to give up the dairy I think I cried for 2 days. I didn’t know what else was out there. Most of us are alot more in the know about food, with all these cooking shows, but pretty much all of this knowledge is based in food from animals. Anyway, last night our friends invited us to a lovely Indian dinner at their place. The food was great and really authentic. I tried to only eat the vegetarian dishes, but I couldn’t help try their meat specialities as well. For the most part I felt really rude not trying it. Ok I was curious as well. It makes me worry about what will happen when I do make the complete stand that I will not consume animal products. I guess gradually I will pick up tips along the way that will help me to avoid meat. Its still early days and I think I am doing well.

Half a Veggie Burger from Green Edge

On brighter news, today I went to Green Edge with my boyfriend and our Mums’ for the bake sale for World Animal Day! We were really hungry when we arrived so we all shared a burger, well not 1 burger between 4, but 2 between 2. We all ordered the Veggie burger, which was a lentil pattie with mango chutney, aioli, tomato and lettuce. It also came with a side salad. It was really good and I was annoyed that Marco ordered 1 to share. We also all got their blueberry smoothies. I don’t know what they put in them but god they were good! The reason we ordered so little was we were really there for the sweets. They had carrot cake, raspberry chocolate brownies, cupcakes and heaps of different biscuits. I sampled 3 different ones, all for the animals of course. So it was definitely worth the trip. For all you guys in Brisbane, if you want a nice place to have coffee and really great brownie or cheese cake, I really recommend this place. Trust me you wont know its vegan! It has Marco’s tick of approval. For all the vegan desserts I have tried to make at home, that he has says “it’s nice, but I’d still prefer…”. These desserts are as he says ‘at the top of their game’. The staff are really friendly as well and can answer any questions you have and give great advice on what products taste the best. It’s also a supermarket, so its a wonderland for animal free products, including cheeses, ice creams and mock meat products.