April 21 2017

How to Make Vegan Sushi at Home

Sushi is a delicious and nutritious Japanese food. Many varieties of vegan sushi can be created using ingredients such as carrot, cucumber and beetroot matchsticks, beansprouts and dairy free cheese.

Vegan sushi rolls can be prepared at home. They can be customised with a variety of fillings to suit your tastes and require very little in the way or special equipment and ingredients. A sushi rolling mat can be bought cheaply online or from some supermarkets even if you do not have an Asian foods shop nearby. It is also possible to buy moulds for making sushi .Or you could have a try at making it without either as shown in this post from The Minimalist Baker (http://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-sushi-without-a-mat/).

There are several types of rolled sushi including:

• Hosomaki – “thin roll” – rice on inside, nori on the outside

• Chumaki – “medium roll” – rice on inside, nori on the outside

• Futomaki – “thick roll” – rice on inside, nori on the outside

• Uramaki – “inside-out roll” – rice on outside, nori on the inside

• Temaki – “hand roll” – cone-shaped roll)

 

vegan sushi

 

Vegan Sushi Recipes

I have included a selection of vegan sushi recipes. These can also be made gluten free by using tamari instead of soy sauce.

Nori Maki (Nori Rolled Sushi)

Su-meshi (vinegared rice) is used to make this tasty and increasing available food. It is essential to use sushi rice as other types of rice such as basmati and long grain are not sticky enough to properly hold the rolls together. Sushi rice can be purchased from specialist food stores and some supermarkets. It is often  in the world found isle or in the specialist ingredients section.

A bamboo sushi mat (Makisu) is used to roll the rice and filling covered nori (seaweed sheets) into tubes. It is then sliced into pieces. Fillings can essentially be anything you choose that can be sliced into sticks or strips.
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Temaki

These small sushi rolls are easy to make and are ideal for people unfamiliar with sushi making or for party food.

½ cup sushi rice
2 tbsp soy sauce
½ cucumber (1 cup) peeled, seeded and cut into matchsticks
3 tbsp sesame seeds
4 sheets of toasted nori
Small amount of water in a cup
1. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions. Allow the rice to cool, covered in the saucepan.

2. Toss the cucumber sticks in the soy sauce and set to one side.

3. Cut each of the sheets of nori into 3 strips.

4. Place one strip of nori in front of you on a flat dry surface. Place 1 tbsp of rice onto one end of the nori strip. Flatten the rice a little and add 5 or 6 cucumber matchsticks and sprinkle over a pinch of sesame seeds.

5. Pick up the corner of the nori underneath the rice. Roll the strip tighly until it has all been wrapped around the rice and cucumber. Use a little water to join the nori strip and hold the sushi together.

These rolls could also be made using other vegetables such as carrot matchsticks, beetroot, beansprouts, Enokitake mushrooms or sliced onion. A combination of vegetables could also be used. Vegan cheese spread can also be used as a filling, with or without vegetables.

 

vegan futomaki

Futomaki (Thick Rolled Sushi)

Futomaki are wider rolls made in the same way as Su-meshi. These generally contain more than one filling but can also be made using a larger amount of one filling if preferred.

Serves 4

4 cups of sushi rice, cooked according the packet instructions
4 nori sheets
8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, cut into matchsticks
Cucumber, cut into matchsticks
Carrot, cut into matchsticks

Soy sauce and/or wasabi, optional to use as a dipping sauce.

1) Lay the bamboo mat on a flat surface and then place one sheet of nori on top.

2) Spread a quarter of the rice evenly over the nori sheet, leaving a margin of approximately 1cm at the edge furthest from you. The rice should be about 1cm thick.

3) In the centre of the rice make a shallow indent all the way across horizontally.

4) Fill the indent with the sliced mushroom, carrot and cucumber matchsticks

5) Lift the bamboo mat at one end and use it to roll up the nori sheet around the rice and fillings. Gently roll the completed futomaki roll in order to firm it.

6) Slice the completed roll into 8 pieces with a sharp knife. This can be spaced easily by cutting the roll in half, then cutting each half into half and then half again.

 

Photo credits
Vegetable sushi – anokarina, [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Flickr
Vegetable futomaki – Alpha [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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April 15 2017

Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Fridge Cake (Dairy Free No Bake Cake)

No bake cakes are quick and easy to make and this vegan and gluten free chocolate fridge cake is no exception. These are good activity for young children as they do not require an oven to be used. Fridge cakes can be varied in many ways to suit your individual or family’s taste. Other items such as dried fruits, vegan marshmallows, chopped or whole nuts and flavourings such as mint or orange essence could be added to the mixture.

The finished vegan and gluten free chocolate fridge cake can also be decorated in a variety of ways: for example with fresh or dried fruits, nuts, piped icing (made using icing sugar and water), grated vegan chocolate, vegan chocolate buttons or with any commercially available cake decorations that are vegan and gluten free such as sprinkles or edible glitter.

 

Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Fridge Cake

 

Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Fridge Cake

  • 200g (7oz) vegan and gluten free biscuits
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 tbsp vegan margarine
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup or agave nectar
  • pinch salt
  • 100g (3.5oz) vegan dark chocolate, (or vegan milk chocolate if preferred)
  • Strawberries, halved, to decorate

 

  1. Line a container with foil or cling film.
  2. Put the biscuits into a mixing bowl and break into small pieces using the end of a rolling pin.
  3. Melt the margarine, syrup or agave and chocolate over a low heat, stirring.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the biscuits pieces and mix well so that they are all coated.
  5. Pour the mixture into the lined container and press down firmly. Place the halved strawberries on top.
  6. Cover and place in the fridge for 3 hours (or overnight is fine).
  7. When you are ready to serve, remove the container and foil/cling film and cut the cake into squares with a sharp knife.

If you have made my vegan and gluten free chocolate fridge cake it would be great to hear what you think or what variations you have given a try. I really like the cake made using mint dark chocolate as I am a big mint fan. My son loves marshmallows so is always happy when we have some to add. Honeycomb is also a really nice addition and makes the cake extra crunchy!

 

Ingredients Profiles For Vegan and Gluten Free Chocolate Fridge Cake

Cocoa

Cocoa is the substance that is left after cocoa butter is extracted from cacao beans and is also known as cocoa powder, cacao or cocoa solids. This brown powder contains several minerals including calcium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc as well as being rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are believed to be helpful in preventing illness such as heart disease and stroke. Cocoa contains phenethylamine which acts as a mood lifer and natural anti-depressant. Cocoa may also have the ability to boost endorphin and serotonin levels which both increase feelings of happiness.

The flavonoids in cocoa are part of a group of antioxidants called polyphenols. These are particularly high in minimally processed and raw cocoa powder as they have bitter taste and so are removed in some products. An article in Science Daily stated that drinking cocoa can help to fight cancer and heart disease. Cocoa may also be useful in lowering LDL cholesterol, reducing the risk of blood clots, lower high blood pressure and in boosting cognitive performance.

In contrast to all its potential health benefits cocoa does contain caffeine which can have a negative effect on the health of many people. Caffeine can cause insomnia, increase heart rate and blood sugar levels and can result in a physical dependence if used regularly, especially in sensitive individuals.

 

Dark Chocolate

When eaten in moderation dark chocolate has a number of health benefits. Studies have shown that eating a small amount of dark chocolate 2-3 times a week can help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow and help to prevent the formation of blood clots. It may also help to protect against hardening of the arteries. The phenethylamine content of dark chocolate encourages your brain to release endorphins which increase feelings of happiness.

Dark chocolate has been shown to improve blood flow to the brain and so may aid cognitive functions. It does contain caffeine; however it is much less than is found in coffee. 1.5oz of dark chocolate contains approximately 27mg of caffeine compared to the 200mg of caffeine contained in an 8oz cup of coffee.

The mild stimulant, theobromine is found in dark chocolate and has been shown to lower the risk of dental cavities (as long as good dental hygiene is followed) as it hardens tooth enamel.

Dark chocolate contains several vitamins and minerals that are needed for good health. These include potassium, copper, magnesium and iron. Iron helps to prevent anaemia, magnesium helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease and copper and potassium are known to protect against stroke and heart ailments.

 

Strawberries

Strawberries are a commonly used and loved fruit, popular with children and adults alike. They are rich in vitamins and minerals including folate, potassium, manganese, fibre, magnesium and vitamin C as well as antioxidants.

Strawberries contain flavonoids, phenolic phytochemicals and elagic acid, all of which help to ensure good eye health and help prevent eye damage and problems caused by harmful oxidants. The potassium found in these berries can also help to correct any issues relating to the pressure within the eyes.

The vitamin C in strawberries is a great boost to the immune system and is a well-known cure for common coughs and colds as well as having a role in the healing of infections. Vitamin C helps the body to neutralise free radicals and prevent healthy cells from becoming diseased or cancerous. The flavonoids present in strawberries have excellent antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties.

Strawberries are a rich source of potassium and magnesium which are both good at lowering high blood pressure. Potassium eases the flow of blood around the body by relaxing the arteries and so helps to keep cells oxygenated and working to their full potential.

 

vegan and gluten free chocolate fridge cake
Photo source – AgelessVisionsPhoto, [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

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April 3 2017

Millet and Bean Gluten Free Vegan Falafel

gluten free vegan falafel

I created this gluten free vegan falafel recipe as I really like falafel and find them a versitile food. They can be served in pitta bread with salad, with chips and veg, with salad or even in a sauce as you would meatballs. Unfortunatly I have a mild allergy to chickpeas and so rarely eat them. They also often contain wheat flour, especially when bought. I started out making this gluten free vegan falafel and then decided I could boost these delicious balls some more with the addition of millet. I chose the healthier option of baking rather than frying the falafel and squished them flat a little but you can leave them the more traditional ball shape if prefered.

 

Health and Nutritional Benefits

Millet

Millets are a group of grasses that are grown as cereal crops for animal and human foods. Millet can be eaten as a grain and is also available as flour. Millet is rich is iron, copper, manganese and phosphorus and has a similar protein content to wheat. However it does not contain gluten so is a useful choice for anyone who wishes or needs to avoid gluten.

Millet has a good level of B vitamins, especially niacin, B6 and folic acid. Millet can be used in a similar way as rice and can be eaten hot or cold (cooked and then cooled). Millet is easy to digest and can help prevent constipation.

Haricot Beans

These beans are also known as navy or Boston beans and are generally very easy to find in the United Kingdom and USA. Haricots are a small, oval white bean and contain a high percentage of protein as well as other nutrients including carbohydrates, fibre, calcium, zinc, potassium and iron. They are low in fat and 1 half cup of cooked beans contains approximately 100 calories.

Onions

Onions have a great range of nutritional and health benefits. They are high in chromium which can help to maintain good hormone levels and be effective in treating pre-menstrual tension symptoms. Studies on diabetes have also shown that chromium can also be helpful in decreasing fasting blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance, lower insulin levels and decrease triglyceride levels. Eating raw onions also encourages the production of good cholesterol (HDL) which can help to keep your heart health.

There are also many natural remedies that use onions. One of these is too apply onion juice to bee stings in order to reduce pain and the sensation of burning. Rubbing a raw onion on mosquito bites is also said to help relieve the itching and any allergic reaction. This is due to the anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties contain in the onion.

gluten free vegan falafel
Knoblauch 2995, [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Garlic

Garlic has been long valued for its culinary use and health benefits. Sanskrit records show that garlic was used it remedies as far back as 5000 years ago and stories suggest that a daily garlic ration was given to the pyramid builders in Ancient Egypt in order to help keep them fit and strong. Garlic contains many vitamins and minerals including manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, copper, selenium, phosphorus and calcium.Garlic is useful for fighting bacterial and fungal infections as well as viruses. Allergies and adverse reactions to garlic are rare though some people may experience indigestion, intestinal gas and diarrhea when eating or using large doses of garlic in remedies.

 

Gluten Free Vegan Falafel Recipe

  • 1 400g (15oz) can haricot beans, drained
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup millet, cooked
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp millet flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/360F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Pulse the beans in a food processor until there are no more whole beans.
  3. Fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until they are soft and cooked through.
  4. Combine the pulsed beans with the onion, garlic, millet, millet flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  5. Shape heaped tablespoons of the mixture into balls and flatten slightly.
  6. Place the falafel onto a greased or lined baking tray and cook for 10 minutes at 180C/360F/Gas Mark 4.
  7. Once thoroughly cooked serve the falafel with salad and gluten free pitta bread or wraps.

 

Recipe Notes

Other gluten free flours can be used to replace the millet flour if you wish.

The water content of the beans and other ingredients can vary so if you find that the falafel mixture is too wet to shape stir in more flour a little at a time. If the mixture is too dry add more water a teaspoon at a time.

Beans other than haricot can also be used in this recipe but may change the final taste. Dried beans can also be used but will need to be soaked overnight and then cooked first.

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March 29 2017

Sweet Potato, Bean and Spinach Vegan and Gluten Free Curry

My favourite plant based curry is sweet potato, chickpea and spinach. A restaurant we sometimes go to has a delicious one on their menu so although they don’t have many vegan and gluten-free options I don’t mind so much. However, a few years ago I discovered that I have a mild allergy to chickpeas and although it’s not serious and medication does help, I prefer not to eat them very often. Sometimes I make this vegan and gluten free curry and just leave out the chickpeas, but it’s never quite the same. In several other recipes I have successfully swapped chickpeas for beans so I decided to give that a try here. It’s not exactly the same, of course but the beans help to keep the look and texture very similar and it’s still super yummy.

 

vegan and gluten free curry

 

The recipe makes two good sized portions and would most likely stretch to three if served with rice, nann bread, chapatis or poppadoms.

The baby broad beans can be swapped for any type of beans you like. I have used tinned haricot beans in the past or you could cook your own from dried. I had these frozen baby broad beans in the freezer left from another recipe and so thought this was a good opportunity to finish them off. This vegan and gluten free curry could also be cooked in a slow cooker so is great for busy days. So nice to come home to the smell of home cooked food and know you can eat a tasty nourishing meal. If cooking this way you can skip the frying if you wish. Add all of the ingredients except the spinach to the slow cooker and cook on high for approximately 3 hours or low for 5 hours. Add the spinach 20 minutes before the end of cooking.

The finished curry can be frozen and used at a later date.

 

Sweet potato, bean and spinach curry

 

Sweet potato, Bean and Spinach Vegan and Gluten Free Curry

150g (5.3oz) sweet potato, cubed (approximately 1cm cubes)
50g (1.8oz) red onion, diced
400g (14.1oz) tin of chopped tomatoes
200ml (7fl oz) tinned coconut milk
60g (2.1oz) spinach
150g (5.3oz) frozen baby broad beans
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 cloves garlic
Oil for frying

1) Fry the onion, sweet potato and spices in a little oil for three minutes, stirring.

2) Add all of the remaining ingredients except the spinach and simmer, covered for 30 minutes or until the sweet potato is cooked.

3) Add the spinach and stir into stew. Cook for 2 minutes.

 

vegan and gluten free curry

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February 28 2017

How to Use Common Herbs in Herbal Remedies

Herbs have been long used all over the world to enhance health and illness and disease. In our modern world,  the introduction of conventional medicine has led to less people knowing how to make and safely use herbal remedies.

Sadly lots of misinformation has spread and many people have come to believe that herbal remedies are unsafe or uneffective. In most cases herbal remedies are safe to use the extra care should always be taken with babies and young children, the elderly and pregnant or breastfeeding women. If you are already taking a prescribed medication it’s wise to check with your doctor or another specialist, as although natural herbal remedies can have dangerous implications on some illnesses and also may interact with prescribed medications affecting how they work. It is important to always keep in mind that just because something is natural doesn’t mean that it is automatically safe.

Over on HubPages I have written a selection of articles on herbal remedies and ways in which they can be used. One, How to use Common Herbs to Heal and Promote Well-being and Good Health, lists five common herbs and spices and the benefits to health that they posses.

The hub features simple instructions showing you how to create a tincture and infusion and information on using:

  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Cayenne pepper (Capsicum annuum)
  • Caraway (Carum carvi)
  • Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
herbal remedy- lavender
Lavender flowers are well loved by bees and have excellent relaxant properties. Source: tfengreen, [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

Five Herbal Teas to Improve Digestion and Ease Digestive Issues is full of information regarding creating herbal teas. The teas can be drunk to help soothe and treat issues such as bloating, gas, indigestion, digestive upset and to help increase the speed and thoroughness of digestion. For example, peppermint has antispasmodic and relaxant properties which make it an excellent aid to digestion and in relieving digestive upsets and disorders.

Instructions are included on how to make the teas as well as how much should be consumed. The herbal teas included in this hub are:

  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
herbal remedies - peppermint
Peppermint is an excellent choice of herb to treat digestive issues.
Source: Mark, [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

 

The information packed hubs can be found on my Hubpages profile here or by following these links:

http://hubpages.com/health/How-to-use-Common-Herbs-to-Heal-and-Promote-Well-being-and-Good-Health

http://hubpages.com/health/Five-Herbal-Teas-to-Improve-Digestion-and-Ease-Digestive-Issues

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February 21 2017

Gluten and Dairy Free Ranch Dip Recipe

I’ve never had ranch dip but often see it mentioned in recipes or as an accompliment for chips or vegetable sticks. For those I would normally make yoghurt and mint dip or some homemade hummus. Yesterday I decided I would have a go and see if I could adapt a recipe and create a dairy and gluten free ranch dip. As always I wanted the recipe be made quite simply and quickly and without the need for too many complicated ingredients. Everything used in the recipe can be bought in most regular supermarkets now.

To make my gluten and dairy free ranch dip I used violife cheese spread, which surprisingly has been in the fridge since Christmas. I kinda overbought on cheese for Christmas (is there such a thing as too much cheese?) Fortunately they have a long date so have lasted okay rather than ending up wasted. My soya milk with the sweetened one from Tesco’s in a blue cartoon. It’s the one my son likes best so it’s what we had in the cupboard. The mayo I used was Mayola brand. I’m not that keen on the taste of that particular one on its own, so i have been trying to use up the bottle I had in other recipes. It was really nice in the big batch of home-made coleslaw i made recently, after I realised I hadn’t had it in ages.

Having never had ranch dip before, I cant be sure that this one tastes authentic. But it is delicious anyway. Perfect with Kettle chips and cucumber sticks 😀

gluten and dairy free ranch dip

 

Homemade Gluten and Dairy Free Ranch Dip Recipe

60ml (1/4 cup) soya milk mixed with 1tsp lemon juice
150g (5.5oz) dairy free cheese spread
40ml (2.5 tbsp) dairy free mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, chopped
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp chopped chives
1tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped dill
1/2tsp paprika
1tsp mustard
Salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well combined

Alternatively, if you do not have a food proccesor:

1. In a large bowl, mix together the soya milk, cheese spread, paprika, mustard and mayonnaise until completely combined and smooth.
2. Chop the garlic, chives, parsley and dill small and combine with the olive oil. Mix well.
3. Mix together the herby oil and cheese mixture.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 

gluten and dairy free ranch dip

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December 2 2016

Vegan Cranberry and Almond Chocolate Bark Recipe

vegan chocolate bark

There is no need to be boring or limited when eating a vegan diet. Many foods are naturally vegan and there is a huge range of vegan cookbooks and recipe websites. Health food shops and some supermarkets stock delicious vegan items such as cakes, chocolate and ice creams or you can opt for making your own. Many recipes are simple and quick to make. My making your own you can tailor the finished treats to your own tastes and know exactly what went into making them.

My delicious recipe for vegan chocolate bark packed with healthy almonds and cranberries can be found here. The article includes information on the health benefits of the ingredients and a step by step easy to follow recipe. This vegan chocolate bark recipe can be used to create delicious gifts for friends and family. The recipe can also be used to make chocolate bark as an alternative to shop bought treats. The bark can be kept fresh in an airtight container. Try experimenting with other types of nuts and dried fruit to create a selection of great tasting vegan chocolate barks. Vegan varieties of milk and white chocolate can also be used instead of dark chocolate.

Vegan Cranberry and Almond Bark Recipe

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