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 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 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 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

 


 

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.