July 14 2017

Banana, Peanut Butter Vegan Smoothie Bowl

This super delicious vegan smoothie bowl is an ideal breakfast or snack at any time of the day. It is a very adaptable recipe and the ingredients can very easily be customised to suit whatever you have to hand. Like regular drinkable smoothies, smoothie bowls are a great day to fit a large amount of nutrition into one meal and to disguise disliked vegetables and other items such as seeds or nuts. Smoothies are often a great way to get children eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables as many flavours can be hidden. Foods such as beetroot or spinach can alsobbe used to add an appealing splash of colour or to create ‘alien’ juice or ‘purple princess’ smoothies 😉

The toppings can be added to or varied to suit your own tastes. Whole nuts can be used in place of the chopped version and fruits other than banana can be used. Apple slices would be nice with the peanut butter and chocolate combination. Or these could be served on the side and dipped in. The flaxseed could be swapped for any ground seed and a scoop of protein powder could be added if you fancy an extra boost!

This recipe makes one generous serving.

 

Banana and Peanut Butter Vegan Smoothie Bowl Recipe

2 bananas – approx. 180g (6.3oz)
½ cup of soya milk
2 tbsp peanut butter
10g spinach (0.3oz)
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp ground flaxseed
1 tbsp chia seeds
½ banana, sliced – approx. 40g (1.4oz)
25g (0.9oz) granola
1 tsp chopped mixed nuts

1. Blend the bananas, soya milk, peanut butter, cocoa, ground flaxseed and chia until completely smooth. The finished smoothie will be quite thick but do not worry; this helps to stop the toppings sinking and makes the smoothie easily to spoon.

2. Pour the smoothie and arrange the toppings as desired.

 

vegan smoothie bowl

 

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June 25 2017

Gluten Free Vegan Cheesy Spinach Lasagne

This is a quick and easy recipe for a delicious gluten free vegan lasagne. I have used a bought white sauce in the recipe but you can use homemeade if preffered, just keep the quantities the same. I used a creamy cheddar style cheese spread but this can be changed to suit your tastes or what you have available.

The finished gluten free vegan lasagne will serve up to four people if served with a side dish such as garlic bread, salad, vegetables or chips. It can be frozen at the end of the preparation steps and cooked straight from frozen at a later time. It is an ideal recipe for batch cooking or make ahead meals. If you wish to freeze the lasagne to cook later, assemble it in foil or other oven proof trays as it can then be easily cooked straight from frozen.

 

Spinach

Spinach belongs to the chenopodiaceae family which also includes beets, chard and quinoa. This highly nutritious leaf is in season in the spring but is generally available all year round.

Spinach has long been regarded as an excellent choice for restoring energy levels and for healthy blood and circulation. It is rich in iron, which helps red blood cells to function correctly and carry oxygen around the body. This leafy green is also a good source of vitamin K, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin B, manganese, magnesium and folic acid. It’s dark green colour is due to the fact that it contains high levels of chlorophll and carotenoids such as beta carotene and lutein. These phyto chemicals have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancerous properties making spinach an excellent food choice.

Fresh spinach can be stored in the fridge for around four days and can also be successfully frozen. When cooking spinach steaming, sautéing and microwaving are better choices than boiling as they help to retain more nutrients. This leafy green veg is also a green addition to green smoothies.

 

spinach vegan lasagne

 

Cheesy Spinach Gluten Free Vegan Lasagne Recipe

480g (17oz) dairy and gluten free white sauce (either homemade or bought)
225g (8oz) dairy free cheese spread
300g (10.5oz) fresh spinach
8 gluten free lasagne sheets (dairy and gluten free)
A handful of cherry tomatoes or 2 tomatoes
Grated dairy free cheese to top

1. If needed prepare the lasagne sheets according to the packet instructions. Some recommend a short pre-boiling before use.

2. Chop the spinach finely using a food processor or by hand and place into a bowl.

3. Melt the cheese spread in a large saucepan over a low heat. Once melted stir in the jar of white sauce and combine well. Finally stir in the chopped spinach and mix well to complete the filling.

4. Spoon a layer of filling into the bottom of an oiled dish (or several small ones for individual portions). Place a single layer of lasagne sheets on top of the filling, cutting or snapping them if required to fit.

5. Continue to layer the filling and lasagne sheets until they have all been used, finishing with a layer of the cheesy spinach filling.

6. Slice the tomatoes and place them on top of the cheesy filling. Top the lasagne with grated cheese.

 

Note – if you wish the lasagne can be frozen at this point. Allow it to cool, cover, label and freeze until needed.

7. Cook the lasagne at 200C (400F/Gas Mark 6) for 15 – 20 minutes, until the lasagne sheets are tender and the filling is bubbling. If cooking straight from frozen the lasagne will need to be cooked for approximately 40-45 minutes.

gluten free vegan lasagne

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May 31 2017

Gluten Free Vegan Sausage Trial

gluten free vegan sausage, mash and peas

 

This morning I have been making a gluten free vegan sausage recipe I found on Pinterest With all the rain and dull weather we’ve been having I felt like cooking something hot, tasty and comforting for dinner. My first thoughts were roast dinner or sausage, mash, peas and gravy. If I had a meat replacement with a roast it would be sausages so for me the main difference in the two meals would be the amount of vegetables, so not much at all. I don’t many veggies in at the moment so decided on cooking sausage mash and peas.

Then I realised that the only non-meat sausages we have contain wheat as I bought them for my daughter. Our local Tesco sometimes have the Linda McCartney red onion sausages in but Idon’t think they are that great to be honest. When it comes to sausages of that type I prefer the ones from Morrisions, but we don’t have one nearby. My first choice would be Secret Sausages or Taifun tofu sausages but to get either I would have to get a bus into town. So, trusty Pinterest to the rescue as I search for a gluten free vegan sausages recipe and then a tofu sausage recipes. I decided to go with this recipe as I had all the ingredients or suitable subs in the house and it meant that I could save the half block of tofu I had to make tofu scrambled eggs for Rowan and I. I had planned to make that for lunch yesterday but we had pasta instead. It will be the first time trying them made with black salt but if the smell is anything to go buy I can see why people say it is great for adding an eggy flavour.

 

The ingredients for the gluten free vegan sausages are:

  • garlic powder
  • fennel
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • sweet paprika
  • smoked paprika
  • red pepper flakes
  • oregano
  • allspice
  • olive oil
  • mushrooms
  • onion
  • garlic clove
  • black-eyed beans
  • sun dried tomato paste
  • nutritional yeast
  • brown rice flour
  • xanthan gum
  • gluten free, vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • liquid smoke

I made a couple of swaps with the ingredients based on what I had already. My paprika didn’t state if it was sweet or smoked but I used that in place of both. I used baby chestnut mushrooms as they are my favourite (never thought I would say I have a favourite mushroom!) and regular tomato paste. I also swapped the black-eyed beans for haricot beans and the Worcestershire sauce for tamari. I didn’t use the liquid smoke and then later realised I did in fact have some in the cupboard. Nevermind, I’ll add that next time.

 

I followed the recipe and subbed in my choices were needed. The spice and bean mix smelt yummy.

gluten free vegan sausages

 

The finished mixture all wrapped up in foil and ready to be steamed. The recipe stated that the recipe should be divided into four pieces but I scooped out an amount that looked about right and went with that. I also kneaded the mixture a little in my hands before rolling it out and wrapping in foil.

 

gluten free vegan sausages

 

Finished gluten free vegan sausages all wrapped up and steaming.

 

gluten free vegan sausages

 

As stated in the recipe I left the sausages in the fridge for a few hours before unwrapping them. I had been a little worried about getting the foil off in one piece but when the time came, it unwrapped easily and the sausages kept their shape and stayed nice and firm. I cooked my sausages in the oven for 15 minutes and had no issues with them breaking or being crumbly.

The sausages were really lovely. This morning I didn’t really feel like getting into cooking anything major but now I am glad that I did. They had a great flavour and nice texture, with a crisp outer and soft middle. The full sausage recipe can be found at The “V” Word and is certainly worth the time making.

 

finished vegan sausage

 

I had six sausages so had two at dinner, two will be for lunch tomorrow with leftover mash and peas and then the last two I will freeze for another day. I will definitely be making these gluten free vegan sausages again. If they are as good after freezing I am planning to make a larger batch and making them my on hand-go to sausage. I think they would be nice crumbled into tofu scrambled eggs and am also thinking that the mixture would be nice made into meatloaf or burger patties. The herbs and spices could also be swapped for different flavours. I wonder how a similar mixture would come out if I used tofu instead of beans. Lots of ideas to experiment with another day.

 

gluten free vegetarian sausage

 

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May 24 2017

Gluten Free Vegan Avocado Chocolate Tart

avocado chocolate tart

 

Avocados are a fruit that is native to Central and South America and are believed to have been cultivated for over 10,000 years. They are a highly nutritious food and contain lutein, protein, vitamin E, iron, potassium, niacin and healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Although avocados are mostly known for their use in savoury dishes such as salads and the dip guacamole, they can also be used to produce a delicious and creamy filling for vegan desserts.  They can be used in desserts such as mousse or to produce a cheesecake like topping that is more nutritious than a standard dairy based versions.

When buying avocados they should be firm but give slightly if gently squeezed. Only chose fruits that have unblemished skins. Hard, unripe fruits will take 7-10 days to ripen but this process can be accelerated by placing them into a paper bag with a banana. Keeping avocados in the fridge will slow down the ripening.

 

avocado chocolate tart

 

This avocado chocolate tart is a delicious vegan dessert that is also gluten free. The base is created using nuts but this could also be created using biscuts as you would for a traditional cheesecake. The tart can be topped with grated chocolate, chocolate curls or fresh fruit.

 

Ingredients for the Avocado Chocolate Tart

  • 300g (8.5oz) mixed nuts (these can be any nuts and you can use just one type  if preferred)
  • 200g (5.5oz) medjool dates
  • 4 medium ripe avocado
  • 200g (5.5oz) cocoa powder
  • 2 vanilla pods, seeds only
  • small amount of raw chocolate, (optional)

1. Any type of container can be used to make the tart as it does not need to be cooked. Unless you are using a loose bottomed cake tin any container will need to be lined with cling film (plastic wrap) so that the tart can be removed. Line the container by using long lengths of cling film that can be laid over the tart as it sets and then held to lift in out when you are ready to serve.

2. Using the pulse function if possible grind the nuts in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Add the dates to the food processor and process until the mixture sticks together.

3. Press the nut and date mixture into the lined container to form the tarts crust and cover with cling film. Place into the fridge while you prepare the filling.

4. Remove any crust crumbs from the food processor bowl. Place the avocados, vanilla and cacao powder into the food processor and blend until smooth and well combined.

5. Pour the filling over the base and then place the tart into the fridge overnight to set. If preferred it can also be set by placing in the freezer for an 1-2 hours.

6. The tart can be topped with some grated raw chocolate, a sprinkling of cacao powder or fruit if you like or served with soya cream or ice cream.

 

avocado chocolate tart

 

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May 20 2017

Vegan Chocolate Bark with Cranberries and Almonds

vegan chocolate bark
Vegan chocolate bark is one of my favourite quick and easy recipes to make. This version with cranberries and almonds is delicious and bursting with goodness. My daughter likes to make chocolate bark too but I have to admit we don’t always opt for such wholesome additions. Chopped up chocolate bars and sweets such as jelly beans and vegan marshmallows often feature in our other vegan choacolate bark recipes. But hey, there’s no harm having tasty vegan friendly in sweet treats sometimes!

 

In recent times more and more people are opting for a vegan or more plant based diet. This is often based on health concerns or may be due to a changing views on animal rights and enviromental concerns. When it is well chosen and balanced, a diet containing no animalproducts can provide all the nutrition the body needs. Following a vegan diet can reduce the risks of many medical conditions including cancer, diabetes and heart disease and can be helpful if you wish to lose weight. Eliminating animal products from your diet also means that many unhealthy and highly processed foods are no longer suitable to eat and so can cut down significantly on the amount of sugar, refined flours and saturated fats you are consuming.

Despite eliminating many common foods a vegan diet does not need to be boring or limited. There are many, many foods that are naturally vegan and a huge range of vegan cookbooks and recipe websites for inspiration. Health food shops and some supermarkets stock delicious vegan treats such as cakes, chocolate and ice creams or you can opt for making your own. Many recipes are simple and quick to make and by making your own you can tailor the finished items to your own tastes and know exactly what went into making them.

This recipe for vegan chocolate bark is quick and simple, requiring only three ingredients. Any vegan chocolate can be used and a combination of vegan milk and dark chocolate is particually nice. This is a great recipe to make and give as gifts. Once the chocolate has completely set, the bark can be wrapped in tissue paper and placed in gift boxes or bags. The vegan chocolate bark can also be packaged in cellophane bags and sealed with ribbon.

 

Cranberries

vegan chcolate bark
Cranberries are a fruit that is often overlooked in favour of other varieties. These red berries are a delicious and health choice that can be eaten in a variety of ways.

Cranberries have a quite a tart taste and so are often used cooked as sauces, jams and jellies or in cakes. They can also be juiced and drunk alone or mixed with other fruits. Cranberries can be eaten fresh if you can tolerate their tartness. To help lessen this they can be mixed with sweet fruits in a fresh fruit salad or tossed with a little sugar shortly before eating. Raw cranberries retain more of their phytochemicals and antioxidant properties than when they have been cooked in any way.

Cranberries have long been known to be a very effective treatment for urinary tract infections. It can be a helpful treatment if you wish to avoid using or cut down on use of antibiotics . They may also be successful in cases where prescription medications have failed to clear uo the issue. Some research studies have also shown that cranberries may help protect against the arteries hardening and narrowing and so reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke. Cranberries are also believed to be able to inhibit the development of breast and colon cancers due to being a rich source of the flavonoid quercetin. Eating this tart fuit may also decrease the production of the bacteria responsible for cavities and plaque in your mouth.

 

Almonds

Almond vegan chocolate bark

Almonds are a very versatile nut that can be eaten as they are or used in cooking a range of recipes As well as being available as whole peeled or unpeeled nuts, almonds can be bought chopped, flaked, ground and as a flour. These nuts are believed to reduce the risk of heart attack and to lower blood cholesterol levels.

Almonds contain riboflavin and L-carnitine which boost brain activity. According to Ayurveda principles they nourish the nervous system and help to increase intellect and longevity.

 

Dark Chocolate

vegan chocolate bark

Chocolate is an incredibly popular food that is enjoyed all over the world. Despite this many people do not know that by switching to eating dark chocolate they can also reap many health benefits. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids which act as antioxidants to protect the body from aging and damage cause by free radicals. This can help to protect against heart disease and help to lower blood pressure.

Dark chocolate also contains the vitamins and minerals potassium, copper, magnesium and iron. These help protect the body against strokes, cardiovascular ailments, anaemia and high blood pressure.

 

Recipe for Vegan Chocolate Bark with Cranberries and Almonds

 

Yields: An approximately A4 sized slab of chocolate bark

200g dark or vegan chocolate
50g dried cranberries
50g sliced almonds

 

  1. Line a baking tray with cling film or greaseproof paper.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place into a bowl. Melt the chocolate in short bursts in a microwave oven or over a pan of boiling water.
  3. Once the chocolate has melted stir in about one-third of the cranberries and almond slices.
  4. Spread the chocolate mixture thinly over the covered baking tray. It should be only a few millimetres thick. Sprinkle the remaining cranberries and almonds over the top.
  5. Leave the chocolate to cool and harden and then snap into pieces.

 

vegan chocolate bark

Photo Sources
Cranberries – Namiwoo (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Almonds – Caduser2003 at ml.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons
Dark chocolate – John Loo (Flickr: Chocolate) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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May 15 2017

How to Cook with Beans. A Healthly and Versitile Ingredient

How to cook with beans

 

Beans come in a range of varieties and are easy to prepare. When you cook with beans they can be added to a wide selection of recipes, from salads and stews to cakes and desserts and so can be used as part of most diets. Dried beans are a very economical food, though they do require some planning in advance and preparation before use. Many varieties of beans such as butter, haricot and kidney beans can be bought in tins and are ready for use.

 

Ten Benefits of Eating Beans

1) Choosing to cook with beans even once or twice a week can help to save money on your weekly food shop. Beans can be used as the main base of a meal, such as in a vegetarian chilli or added to meat and other ingredients to make them stretch further. For example: if you add beans to a meat chilli con carne you will need less meat to feed the same amount of people.

2) Beans are a good source of protein and so a healthy choice, especially for vegetarians and vegans. Beans supply around the same number of calories as the same weight of grain but also provide 2-3 times as much protein.

3) Beans have a low glycemic index and so are good at keeping blood sugar levels stable.

4) Beans are high in fibre. One serving can contain as much as half the recommended daily intake of fibre for adults.

5) Beans are high in complex carbohydrates which provide the body with slow release energy. They are also a good source of B vitamins, iron, copper, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium.

6) It is rare for people to be allergic to beans and so they are a good choice for people who suffer with food allergies and intolerances. They are naturally free of many common allergens such as gluten, wheat, egg, milk and nuts.

7) Eating less meat has been shown to have positive benefits for health and is beneficial to the environment.

8) Beans are low in cholesterol.

9) Beans can help regulate colon function and aid constipation and other bowel problems.

10) Beans are high in isoflavones. These compounds are similarly structured to estrogen and are also known as phytoestrogens. Many people believe that these have various health benefits for humans including easing the symptoms of menopause, preventing some forms of cancer, preventing heart disease and in improving bone health.

 

Varities of Bean

Although genetically beans are very similar, they come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colours. Due to their similarities beans are generally interchangeable in a recipe which adds even further to their versatility. Not liking a particular bean or having forgotten to buy them doesn’t have to stop you making your favourite recipes and is unlikely to have a great effect on its success. In some cases changing the type of bean used may change the taste of a finished recipe. The texture may also be a little different, especially when swapping a larger bean such as broad or butter beans for smaller varieties. These changes may be welcome or you may prefer the original, depending on your tastes.

It is often the case that a certain type of bean is used in a recipe: for example kidney beans are generally used in chilli con carne but do not be afraid to try other types instead. Cooking with beans allows for lots of experimentation and makes adapting recipes to suit your tastes easy. Personally I prefer haricot beans in a chilli and my mum always used a tin of baked beans in hers.

Some variety of beans are available to buy fresh although there availability and price may be affected by the season. Types such as runner and French beans can be grown fairly easily at home in the garden and even in tubs and other containers. These will supply you and your family with delicious fresh beans for very little financial outlay, time or effort. Some supermarkets sell bags of frozen beans such as broad or edamame beans. You may also find these in Asian food shops.

 

 

Green beans – These quick to cook, round and thin beans are used in many countries. They are available fresh in most supermarkets. These beans can also be bought frozen and are sometimes called haricots verts.

Runner beans – Long flat beans that grow on climbing plants that also have pretty red or white flowers. The pod and red/black patterned beans are consumed, normally by slicing thinly and boiling or steaming. They are commonly grown up a tee pee shaped frame constructed of bamboo canes. Stringless varieties are now sold but in the case of others, the tough ‘string’ that runs along each side of the pod needs to be removed before cooking. This can be done with a vegetable peeler or a special bean tool which also slices the beans ready to cook.

Soya beans – Soya beans are consumed in many forms such as milk, tofu and the textured vegetable protein that is used in some meat substitutes. The beans can also be eaten fresh or cooked and are also known as edamame beans. Soya beans can be bought frozen and store well this way.

Broad beans – These beans are larger than most varieties but only need a short cooking time. Broad beans are at their best when they are young and very fresh. Like runner beans, broad beans can be grown quite successfully at home and take up little space.

Flageolet beans – These beans feature greatly in French cooking and are the pods of under ripe haricot beans. They are a small oval bean that has a mild flavour.

Butter beans – Butter beans are a larger bean. They can be easily overcooked and then become overly soft and unpleasant. They are often used in stews or mashed/pureed to use in dips or as a vegetable accompaniment.

Cannellini beans – Also known as great northern beans. These white, soft, oval beans have a soft texture and are a common tinned variety.

Black-eyed peas – A small bean that has a black mark in its centre. Black-eyed peas are common in southern America cooking.

Adzuki bean – Small red beans that originated in China and Japan. They are often used to make a sweet paste that is then used in cooking and making confectionary and sweet bread products.

Kidney beans – Kidney beans have a stronger flavour and firmer texture than many other beans. They hold their shape well when cooked and are common in chill con carne.

 

 

Cook with Beans

Many varieties of beans are available in dried and tinned forms. Although dried beans are more economical they require a soaking time of at least eight hours before use. Because of this you need plan ahead in your cooking and so it may be the case that tinned beans are not only more convenient but can also help save waste if you then cannot cook or have changed your mind about cooking the beans.

Tinned beans can be a useful standby item to have in the cupboard as they will remain fresh for a long time. They can be used a base for quick and health meals when you are short on time or do not feel up to cooking. Tinned beans can be used in cooked recipes, can be added to salads or used to make dips. One way to benefit from the convenience of tinned beans but save money is to prepare and cook dried bean in batches and then freeze in appropriate portions for use. The beans can be added to cooked dishes frozen or defrosted for other uses.

 

How to Cook Dried Beans

Soaking dried beans is necessary in order to speed up the cooking process. Soaking the beans rehydrates them before use meaning that they take less time to cook and require less liquid to be added to recipes. Secondly, soaking beans helps to remove some of the more indigestible elements of the bean and reduce the flatulence many people experience when eating them. It is worth noting that this effect does tend to lessen the more your body becomes accustomed to eating beans.

To soak beans simply place the required amount into a sieve and rinse well. Pick out any damage beans and pour the remaining beans into a bowl. Cover the beans with water and allow to stand for 8-12 hours. After this time drain and rinse the beans. Do not use the soaking liquid for cooking the beans or you will add the flatulence inducing carbohydrates back into your meal. Once the soaking has been completed the beans can be cooked and used. Kidney beans should always be carefully soaked and never eaten raw as they contain a toxin that can cause symptoms of food poisoning when not properly cooked.

Note – If a recipe asks for tinned beans and you only have dried: as a rough guide dried beans will double once they have been soaked so you need half the weight in dried beans. On the other hand if your recipe asks for dried beans and you have tinned then use double the amount. It is important to also take note of the drained weight of any tins you buy rather than the total weight. This total also includes the fluid that surrounds the beans and not just the weight of the beans themselves.

 

 

black bean stew. cook with beans
Black Bean Stew

 

Tinned Beans and Aquafaba

When using tinned beans they will need to be drained first. The liquid present around the beans is known as aquafaba and can also be used as a cooking ingredient. Aquafaba is an excellent substitute for eggs and can be used in baking and even to make an egg free meringue. This can be very useful for vegan cooking or for anyone that has an allergy to eggs. 3tbsp of aquafaba is roughly equal to one egg and this useful liquid can be kept in the fridge for several days or frozen to use later. I freeze in tsbp portions for easy use later.

 

Storing Beans

Beans store well and can be dried or frozen successfully at home. Beans can be stored on their own, in mixes or as part of cooked meals. Many meals featuring beans such as soups, burritos, stews and casseroles can be batch cooked and frozen to eat at a later date. These could be used as lunches for work or as healthy pre-prepared dinners for busy nights that stop you reaching for a take away menu or grabbing food on the run. Fresh beans store well covered in the refrigerator for several days and can be frozen for up to six months.

 

Photo Sources

1. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

2.  SummerTomato [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

3.  Christine Johnstone [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

4. mdid (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

5. “Blackbeanstew” by Badagnani – Own work, [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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May 3 2017

Gluten Free Vegan Pear and Polenta Cake

Back before having to go wheat and dairy free I once made a delicious pear and polenta cake. Annoyingly when I thought to make it again I couldn’t find the recipe or remeber which book it was in. I having  feeling it may have been from a carribean recipe book I borrowed from our local library.

Fast forward a few years and three out of the five of us are having to avoid wheat, gluten and eggs. I had some fruit to use up including three pears and this cake came to mind. Gluten free vegan pear and polenta cake is born 😀 I can’t remember how it compares to the original cake but this version was light, soft and yummy.

 

gluten free vegan pear and polenta cake

 

Aquafaba

Aquafaba is a versatile ingredient that can be used as an egg replacer in many recipes, such as cakes, cookies, meringues and sweets. It can also be used as a binder for burger and is ideal for people who suffer with egg allergies or intolerances or anyone who is avoiding eating animal products. Although aquafaba sounds like a fancy, hard to find or expensive ingredient in fact nothing could be further from the truth. This unusual sounding liquid is in fact the liquid that is found in cans of chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) and other beans and something that is normally thrown away without a second thought. It is also possible to use the liquid that is left from cooking dried beans.

The name aquafaba has been created using the Latin words for water and beans, aqua (water) and faba (beans). It is believed that the proteins and starches in the liquid enable it to be used in this way due to the fact that they closely resemble those found in traditional egg whites. Generally 3 tbsp of aquafaba should be used to replace one egg. It can also be stored in the fridge for several days or frozen. Freezing in ice cube trays in tablespoon measures is an ideal way to do this, making the liquid easy to defrost and use at a later date.

 

Pears

Pears are a delicious and healthy fruit that are available in many varieties. They contain a range of vitamins and minerals including niacin, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and zinc.

Some health benefits of eating pears include:

  • Pears are a good source of dietary fibre, containing approximately 8% of fibre per 100g.
  • They are a good source of nutrients such as beta-carotene and lutein which can help protect against harmful free radicals.
  • Pears help to boost the immune system due to the fact that they contain antioxidants such as vitamin C and copper which help to fight off disease.
  • The fibre content in pears helps to promote good colon health and reduce the chances of cancer.
  • They are one of the least likely foods to cause an allergic reaction.
  • The potassium in pears helps to keep your heart healthy and muscles working well.
  • Boiling the juice of Chinese pears with honey creates a warm tea that is very healing for the throat and vocal cords.

 

Polenta

Polenta is a cornmeal grain that has many uses in cooking. It is often cooking in water and then left to set solid before being sliced and baked grilled or fried. It can also be used in baking in place of other grain flours and adds a pleasant sweetness and texture.

Polenta is made from milled corn and is an excellent source of carotenoids and is a low carbohydrate food. It is a source of including vitamins A and E and as corn is gluten free it is ideal as a replacement for wheat flour in baking or for breading foods such as chicken or fish. This food also contains traces of the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and zinc.

 

Gluten Free Vegan Pear and Polenta Cake Recipe

 

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp liquid from canned beans or chickpeas (aquafaba)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 soft pears (tinned can be used), peeled, quartered and cored
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup gluten free flour blend such as Doves Farm
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup fine polenta
  • Sprinkle cinnamon
  • Sprinkle sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and grease or line a 7 inch cake tin.
  2. Whisk the aquafaba as you would eggs.
  3. Lay the pear quarters in the bottom of the cake pan. Sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar over the pears.
  4. Mix together the aquafaba, vanilla extract and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the oil.
  5. Sift the flour, polenta and baking powder into the wet mixture and stir to mix well.
  6. Beat in water to create a smooth batter.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack before turning over and serving.

 

 

Photo source – free photos, [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

 

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