Saturday, 3 December 2011

Carob and hemp chewy bars

Bursting with energy and nutrients, these bars were the answer to my husband's recipe for Raw Apricot and Date Chewy Bars (see post 19.10.11), in a kind of "Bar Wars" :) I am on a quest to develop the ultimate yummy but healthy snack bar! They were a great addition to my lunchbox at work, though they drew some curiosity from colleagues. If you don't have a dehydrator, you could try a low oven- equivalent to145F or as near as you can get; it might take a long time, though. The following quantities made 8 bars:

100g semidried dates (called "fresh", but they come in a cardboard box)
100g sultanas
200g (including stones)whole  dried apricots (the small ones from Asian shops that look like Hunza apricots)
1 tab date syrup
1 tab carob powder (makes it quite strong- you may want a little less)
4 tabs hemp flour
4 heaped tabs desiccated coconut
200ml warm water

  • First, pre-prepare the dried fruit by soaking in the water and stoning the apricots when soft enough- keep the water.
  • Blend the soaked dried fruits with their water until you get a paste-like consistency.
  • Combine with the other ingredients 
  • Spread evenly onto a Paraflexx sheet and dehydrate at 145, turning onto the mesh tray and cutting as soon as they are dry enough. It takes around 10 hours, maybe a little more, but remember the thinner the bars the less time they will take. Remove from dehydrator when they are drier, firmer, and chewy.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Ingredient of the month 3: Nutritional Yeast

I think if yeasted bread and yeast extract are offerable to Krishna, then this should be too. Nutritional yeast is sometimes called "yeast flakes", "savoury yeast flakes", "Engevita", "Brufax", nooch or yeshi (Ethiopian for "for a thousand"). It is different from yeast extract, a strong-tasting brown paste, but can sometimes be used interchangeably. It also differs from brewers' yeast, which is truly impressive nutritionally but not very palatable. As well as being a great "cheesey" flavour, nutritional yeast is a very beneficial food- more about that later. It comes as either yellow flakes or powder, and is made from inactive ("dead") yeast, usually the same strain that is used in baking and brewing. I find that in the UK it's easiest to get hold of Engevita yeast flakes, which now come in a version with added vitamin B12 as well as the more familiar brown tub.

It is said that prisoners of war have grown their own yeast to prevent vitamin deficiency. Nutritional yeast is one of the richest sources of B-vitamins, especially when fortified with B-12. It is rich in protein, aminoacids (including glutamic acid- so be cautious of you are sensitive to monosodium glutamate), enzymes, minerals and trace elements and also low in sodium. A tablespoon and a half of nutritional yeast provides:
Thiamin – 640% RDA
Niacin – 280% RDA
Folic Acid – 60% RDA
Selenium – 32% RDA
Riboflavin – 565% RDA
Vitamin B6 – 480% RDA
Vitamin B12 – 133% RDA
Zinc – 21% RDA

I love to use nutritional yeast as a general condiment sprinkled on stuff like jacket potatoes, and also in mashed potato or toppings to baked savoury dishes, pasta and pizza. It makes a great "cheese" sauce with soya milk and a yummy salad dressing too. Apparently it tastes great with olive oil on popcorn, but I haven't tried that out yet. Nutritional yeast is such a versatile ingredient you are sure to have fun whatever savoury dish you're planning- go create!

PS: Anisha of Experiments! Life on the Road... and Flavours has won the first of the 3 cookbooks in my giveaway (see 27.11.11) All are excellent and interesting blogs, which I am now following; well worth a visit. If you would like a free copy of "Higher Taste" vegetarian cookbook, tell me in a comment, I will contact you and get your mailing address.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Mocha maple walnut birthday cake- no refined sugar

Well here's that slice of virtual birthday cake I promised you! If you want to make a real one, here's how:
800g self-raising flour
400ml soya milk
300ml rice bran oil
200ml maple syrup
200ml "Sweet Freedom" (or fruit concentrate)
4-6 tabs Barleycup/ coffee substitute
8 tsps baking powder
Topping and filling:
100g walnut halves, chopped/ crushed- but quarter a few for decoration
200ml tahini
100ml maple syrup
100ml date syrup (I ran out of maple syrup; you could use 200ml and omit the date syrup)
2 rounded tabs cocoa powder
Warning: this is a BIG cake! The mixture fills 2 round 10" moulds. The maple syrup flavour is hard to detect, but you could tweak the proportions to get more of it in. (But watch the texture; I found my maple syrup was runnier than the Sweet Freedom or date syrup.)
  • Mix all the dry cake ingredients together in a large mixing bowl
  • Combine all the wet ingredients, whisking briefly to ensure the syrup combines well
  • Beat wet into dry mixture
  • Put into moulds and bake for about 30mins in an oven preheated to 180C, or until a thin skewer inserted comes out clean.
  • Turn out onto a rack to cool
  • Meanwhile, beat all topping ingredients together apart from the walnuts.
  • When cake is completely cool, use half to sandwich the 2 cake halves together, along with the chopped walnuts.
  • Top with the other half and decorate with quartered walnuts. (My writing does not come under the "no refined sugar" banner, as it was made with white icing sugar piped using the wring nozzle for writing!)


I have now altered my giveaway to include readers from anywhere in the world! I hope if you read the original post in the last 3 hours before I altered it, you will see this amendment...

"Higher Taste" cookbook birthday giveaway!

Happy birthday to me! The Yogi Vegetarian blog is 1 year old today. ..   

...It hasn't exactly been a runaway success in terms of having lots of followers, but gets enough hits to make me feel it's worth carrying on, and has given me lots of enjoyment: I'm passionate about sharing both my recipes and the spiritual reasons for vegetarianism! I think most hits I get come from people searching for a particular recipe rather than following the blog. One thing that still blows me away, though, is the fact that through the internet I have reached out to readers in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, the US, Russia, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Thailand, South Africa and India. I'd like to thank my tiny little band of followers for their kind comments and loyalty over the past year; I've been really inspired by looking at all your blogs too- thank you; there are some wonderfully- made sites out there!

This year I've come to the belief that the internet is the best recipe book. (The pages never get dirty no matter how much you use them!) I have looked at so many great cooking blogs, and blogs that include recipes; it's very humbling. Having said that, though, I'm giving away 3 copies of the cookbook "The Higher Taste" to readers  to celebrate my first year of blogging.  It's a Hare Krishna classic: a sound discussion of the various philosophical, health and moral reasons to be vegetarian followed by some really yummy pure vegetarian (ie: lacto but no eggs) recipes from around the world. There are even menu plans to help you combine the dishes and create a feast. Many of the recipes are from world famous Hare Krishna chef Kurma Das, author of several popular cookbooks. If you would like a copy, please say so in a comment on this post and hit "follow"; I will follow you back if you tell me your blog's URL! I will post a book to the first three to apply and include their mailing address, and I'll announce the winners and give a quick plug to their blogs (if they have one) as soon as I see that three people have applied.

Over the next year, my resolution is to carry on blogging, branch out and use some more unusual/ exotic ingredients in my cooking, and start making some "how to" videos to add to my blog. I want to reach more and more people, and make more "blog friends" so I'm aiming to continue my trend of getting more hits with every month. Any tips from you guys on how to make a successful blog would be much appreciated! A big slice of virtual birthday cake to you all,
Looking forward to hearing from you,