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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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 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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October 7 2016

Allergy Friendly Potato Croquettes. Gluten, Dairy & Egg Free

Allergy Friendly Potato Croquettes

These potato croquettes are a great way to use up leftover mash potato and vegetables, even if you only have a small amount. They are allergy friendly as the recipe is gluten, dairy, egg and nut free as well as being vegan and vegetarian. I used a coconut spread to make the mash but any dairy free spread will work fine. If you need the recipe to also be soya free, substitute the soya milk for an alternative of your choice.

It is hard to give exact amounts of ingredients for these allergy friendly potato croquettes as it will be based on how much mash potato you have and how wet it is at the start. You can also make these using small frozen mixed veg. You can make your own breadcrumbs using a suitable bread or it is possible to buy them ready made.

Mashed potato
Finely chopped veg such as carrots, peas and sweetcorn
Fine corn meal
Nutritional yeast
Soya milk
Gluten, dairy and egg free breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper (optional)

1. Add the corn meal a tablespoon at a time to the mashed potato until it begins to come together into a ball.

2. Add 2 -3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (or more depending on your tastes) and knead into the potato ball. Add more corn meal as needed.

3.When you have a fairly solid ball of potato mixture you can begin to make the croquettes. Shape heaped tablespoons of the mixture using your hands.

4. Roll the croquettes in the soya milk and then in the breadcrumbs until they are coated.

5. Place on a plate and continue to create croquettes until all the potato mixture has been used.

6. Chill in the fridge until needed. This step isn’t essential but it helps the croquettes be less fragile. They can also be frozen.

7. Cook at 200C/390F/Gas Mark 6 for 12-15 minutes, until browned turning half way through. If frozen the croquettes make take longer to cook.

gluten, dairy and egg free potato croquettes

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April 1 2016

Beany Veg Pie (vegetarian, vegan, gluten, dairy, egg, wheat and nut free recipe)

Beany Veg Pie (vegetarian, vegan, gluten, dairy, egg, wheat and nut free recipe)

This veggie recipe is based on a traditional shepherds or cottage pie. The meat has been replaced with delicious and nutritious vegetables and beans to create this hearty and comforting dish. The baked beans could be replaced with a tin of drained haricot or cannelloni beans if preferred. I have also made the pie and substituted some of the potato for sweet potato or butternut squash for variation.

You can find the complete recipe as well a some facts about potatoes and haricot beans here.

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February 29 2016

Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup (vegan and Gluten Free)

This recipe is perfect for the cooler autumn days and is not only a healthy choice full of fresh ingredients but is also gluten, wheat, milk, egg, nut and soya free. The recipes is also suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

The finished soup can be successfully frozen as a whole or in portion sizes, which is particularly useful if you are the only person following a gluten free, dairy free, vegan or vegetarian diet in your household as it means you can have a nutritious meal or snack ready in a short time. The soup can be served on its own or with croutons, bread or toast for a more substantial meal. The consistency can be adjusted to suit your tastes simply by adding more or less of the vegetable stock at the blending stage. If you are unsure how much to add it is always best to add a small amount, blend and test. You can always add more if the soup is too thick but cannot take it back out easily if you add too much and end up with a thin watery finished soup.

This healthy butternut squash and tomato soup would also be delicious made a little thinner and served in mugs as a cup a soup on chilli autumn nights or around a bonfire.

Serves 6
Large butternut squash
10 ripe tomatoes
2 red onions
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 red chilli (remove the seeds for less heat)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 litre (2 pints) vegetable stock (check for gluten and milk ingredients if needed)
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5. Peel the butternut squash and cut it in half, remove the seeds and chop into 2cm cubes.

2. Halve the tomatoes, and peel and thickly slice the onions.

3. Place the butternut squash, tomatoes, onions, chilli and garlic into a roasting tray, pour over the oil and mix well to coat the veg. Cover the tray with foil and bake for 30 minutes, checking after 20 minutes.

4. Once the vegetables are tender place everything into a food processor or blender with half of the vegetable stock. Blend until smooth. Check the soup for thickness and add the rest of the stock or part of it as required to achieve the desired consistency.

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