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 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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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

 


 

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.

 

 

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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