Friday, 4 July 2014

Raw Vegan Tagliatelle Marinara with Cheese- low carb

My "noodles" are like tagliatelle,  but you can also make spaghetti or linguine if you use a spiralizer
I have been following a roughly 80% volume (as opposed to % weight or calories) raw diet for about 5 days now, and here's what I made for my first raw dinner:
It's quick and easy to make this alongside a more conventional cooked meal for the rest of the family, and it provides an appealing combo of textures and tastes. I was quite impressed with the courgette "pasta", although it's nowhere near as filling as the real thing so I did have to eat a bit more than usual. Nevertheless, this meal contains plenty of vitamins, minerals and protein from the cashew cheeze, and although it's low-carb it does satisfy. If you let it stand for a while, the "pasta" soaks up the sauce and gets even more noodle-like, too.

Serves 1-2:
1 med-lg courgette (that's zucchini if you are in the States)
2 large ripe fresh tomatoes
plenty of fresh basil leaves for sauce and garnish
a pinch of black pepper
1 tsp of miso
1 tab extra-virgin olive oil
a pinch of compound hing
fresh olives for decoration
slices of cashew cheeze and/ or vegan parmesan

  • Wash and de-end the courgette, and use a Y-shaped peeler to create pasta-like ribbons, Set aside.
  • Put the sauce ingredients (leaving out some of the basil for the garnish) into a food processor or blender, and after a few seconds you should have a nice smooth sauce.
  • To serve, pour the sauce over the noodles and top with generous amounts of vegan cheese (see above), olives and some fresh basil leaves.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Ingredient of the Month: Coconut Palm Sugar

This month we are featuring coconut palm sugar (aka coconut sugar, coco sugar, coco sap sugar), another natural alternative to cane sugar. Don't confuse this with palm sugar or jaggery, which is made from the sap of other types of palm tree. This sugar is made from the sap from the flowers of coconut trees which is collected by tapping the flowers then evaporating the liquid off in large wok-like pans until it is crystalline. So what makes this sugar a better choice than cane sugar?
First of all, coconut palm sugar is low-GI enough to be suitable for diabetics, so it won't give you those highs and lows and insulin irregularities that cane sugar does, even though it contains more sucrose than fructose. How so?- Well it also contains a fibre called inulin. It looks like inulin helps slow down the absorption of sugars.
Secondly, unlike cane sugar, coconut palm sugar contains nutrients: iron, zinc, calcium, potassium and antioxidants. Vitamins B1, 2, 3 and 6 are also in there.
How to use coconut sugar? It can be used as a substitute for cane sugar, weight for weight. It has a gently sweet, caramel-like taste that works really well in desserts. I did have a bit of a disaster trying to melt it one time, but I have since heard that you can liquefy it using a small amount of water.
Here's one recipe using coconut sugar  that worked really well, a delicious caramel-y, chunky, fruity icream based on coconut milk and coconut sugar:

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Chocolate Cherry Caramel Icecream- vegan, can be sugar free, can be raw

Possibly Probably the best ice cream we ever invented...
I was looking for a way to liven up a Sunday afternoon, and then the bowl of cherries caught my eye... plump, shiny and perfectly ripe, we had bought them at the market the day before and although most of them were destined for snacking, it seemed a shame not to mark their passing with their very own recipe. I remembered the various vegan and raw vegan versions of Ben and Jerry's "Cherry Garcia" (not that I've ever tried it, even in pre-vegan days) I'd seen all over the internet so I decided to try it out. Feeling like a lie-down in the sunny garden a little pushed for time, I used bought vegan dark chocolate, but had I used home made raw chocolate I think it would have been even better. Ready made chocolate tends to turn waxy and loses some of its flavour when frozen. Wanting to cut down on sugar, I used coconut palm sugar (see next month's "Ingredient of the Month") and the result was an unexpectedly attractive and delicious caramel colour and flavour. It's not the cheapest of ingredients, but much healthier than cane sugar, and I would certainly use it again- maybe to create coffee/ mocha/ salted caramel flavours (oooh; imagine caramel icecream rippled with salted date caramel...) When made with coconut milk that's not heat treated and raw chocolate, this icecream falls into the raw vegan category as well. The following recipe makes just under a litre.

2 cans coconut milk
1 3/4 cups coconut palm sugar (raw, healthy and delicate)
2 tsps natural vanilla essence
1 cup ripe cherries, stoned and halved
1/2 cup dark chocolate (bought or see this raw chocolate recipe)
  • Mix the coconut milk, vanilla and coconut sugar together and beat as much air into it as possible with a hand blender (called an immersion blender in the US?)
  • Put into the freezer and remove every half hour or so to beat more air in - unless of course you own an icecream maker, which will do it all for you.
  • When nearly set, stir in the chocolate and cherries, and return to the freezer until ready to eat.
I think my fantasy job is now to own a vegan ice cream parlour- what flavours would you stock?