Friday, 9 March 2012

Coconut Cardamom Oat Squares (vegan flapjacks with coconut oil, agave nectar and xylitol

 Those of you who have been following my quest for the healthiest yet yummiest vegan flapjack will be interested to know that I think I've got one step nearer (though some modifications are still needed to improve the texture.) Look here, here and here for more flapjack recipes. I hesitate to call these flapjacks as they are soft and crumbly and not crunchy at all. You could use porridge outs instead of jumbo oats and they might hold together more. Key here is the flavour: with the oats is coconut with a hint of cardamom, which makes them a quite unusual combo of Northern European and Asian flavours. I have tried to keep the ingredients as healthy as possible: Coconut oil is the perfect substitiute for butter in baking, as it solidifies when cool, just like butter, but is way better for you (Medium-chain fatty acids protect the heart and lauric acid is antibacterial.) There is xylitol and agave nectar instead of syrup and sugar too.
Makes 12:
80ml agave nectar
190g xylitol
329 ml coconut oil
500g organic jumbo oats
100g desiccated coconut
2-3 tsps powdered green cardamom

  • Melt the xylitol and agave nectar together with the coconut oil in a large pan
  • Stir in the oats, coconut and cardamom
  • Press evenly into an oiled rectangular tin (such as a Swiss roll tin)
  • Bake at 180C for 20-25 minutes, pressing down with a spatula about half way through cooking. remove from oven when golden-brown.
  • Cut into 12 pieces when cool, and remove very carefully from the tin as it's rather crumbly.
My next job is to get this recipe so that the squares/ flapjacks don't break up quite so easily- any suggestions are very welcome!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Seitan Fajitas- vegan

Seitan fajitas- vegan and healthy...

I served these with salad and some brown rice with haldi for extra colour

Seitan is "wheat meat":  see here for how to make it. This is a really quick and easy recipe if you already made the seitan, but add another 1 1/2 hours if not. (Trust me: it's so worth making the seitan!) For those who are allergic to wheat and/ or gluten, you could try using corn tortillas and strips of tofu instead of flour tortillas and seitan. This recipe serves 4 -5 people.
Seitan made with 1.5 kilos plain white flour
4 bell peppers
3 medium-sized courgettes (zucchini)
 oil for roasting (for your health, please choose one with a smoke-point above 200C, like rice bran oil)
5 or more tortillas or chapattis
1 can chopped tomatoes
500ml stock (use the stock from the seitan if you have it, otherwise make your favourite vegetable stock. Any salt you use should be in the stock)
1 tab tomato puree
2tsps powdered cumin seed (jeera)
1/2tab paprika
chilli powder to taste
  • Cut your seitan into strips and lay the slices in a shallow roasting tin.
  • Prepare the peppers and courgettes by quartering lengthways and placing on a baking tray with some of the oil.
  • Mix all the sauce ingredients together and pour over the seitan slices.
  • Cook both seitan and veggies at 200C for 15-25 mins, or until seitan is browning and absorbing some of the liquid, and the veg is cooked but not overbrowned.
  • Cut the roast veggies into thin strips.
  • Serve the seitan and sauce with tortillas for wrapping, the roast veggies, and a nice crisp salad. (I included home-grown bean and seed sprouts, olives and sliced fennel in mine) If you want to make a more substantial meal, then serve with brown rice. 

Monday, 5 March 2012

How to make seitan (wheat gluten protein food)

Seitan: the finished product before using in a recipe
Here it is at last, the complete post on making seitan that I've had so many technical problems with!
"Seitan" is the name coined by macrobiotics in the 1960s for wheat gluten, originally found in the cuisines of Asia and Africa. It is often simply called wheat gluten or "wheat meat"- as you may have guessed by this name, it is a protein food. Nutritionally, it is high in protein, very low in fat, and even low in carbs (as all the starch is washed out of the wheat during processing). It's a great alternative to tofu/ TVP, although obviously off the menu for coeliacs and those with wheat intolerance. Since pre-packaged seitan almost invariably contains onion or garlic and it is so much fun to make anyway, I thought I would post some instructions on how to do it. The amounts I used here resulted in enough to feed 4-5 people as part of a main course.

800g plain white flour (no point using wholemeal; it's only the gluten you're after- and in any case, it's a pain to knead under water and reduces by a huge amount; I tried it!)
2 tsps seasalt
1 tab hing
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp coarse-ground black pepper

1: Mix the ingredients to a pliable dough with water

2: Knead well for at least 10 minutes

3:  until firm and elastic

4: You can see the gluten strands already starting to form
5: Next, either place the seitan in a clean sink or large bowl inside the sink and wash out all the starch by continuous kneading and rinsing, as shown below:
It will start to break up, but use your hands to keep it together  and after a while  it will become rubbery and easier to handle

6: This is what it should finally look like. The water will now be clear. Let it rest covered with water another 10 minutes or so while you get the stock ready. Stock ingredients: brown rice miso, hing, soy sauce/ Liquid Aminos, black pepper in enough water to cover your lump of seitan.

7: Bring to the boil and simmer for 50 minuter- 1 hour. Your seitan is now ready to use in a recipe. You could slice and bake it in a sauce, or fry it...  I'll be posting a delicious recipe for seitan fajitas tomorrow...