Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chocolate for Breakfast

Things are a little bit hectic in my world at the moment and I’m sorry for the lack of posts that are a direct result of that. Instead of procrastinating productively (such as writing for this blog!), I have turned to the likes of Twitter and Tumblr to entertain and distract me…

However, yesterday and today I [unintentionally] experimented to come up with what I thought are two delicious sweet treats. They are also quick and easy, as well as adaptable; have them for dessert, or even breakfast! 



Raw Chocolate Chip Pudding
Serves 1-2

Ingredients:
1 quantity raw chocolate milkshake, OMITTING the frozen banana 
Chia seeds
Cacao nibs

Directions: Make up the milkshake (you can also keep the banana in if you’d really like to), adding the desired amount of chia seeds and cacao nibs (I used quite a lot of both). Pour/scoop it into a serving glass(es) and place it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so to let the chia seeds absorb the moisture in the chocolate shake mix. Devour.



Hot Chocolate Porridge
Serves 1

Ingredients:
1 serve cooked rolled oats
Chia seeds
Milk of choice
Honey
Cacao powder

Directions: Once you’ve cooked your oats (I usually stir in the chia seeds halfway through the cooking process), poor on your desired amount of milk, honey and cacao and STIR! I know this sounds vague but I literally just dumped stuff out of the carton/jar… I’m known to like my hot chocolates quite bitter so I used quite a bit of cacao, relative to the amount of milk and honey. You could also use cocoa but I find cacao gives it a nice smooth and gloopy (that’s probably not quite the right word to use and seems a bit contradictory) texture that is just irresistible.

^ All I can remember from primary school French is learning that French children had hot chocolate with their breakfast while the parents drank coffee, so that was my rationale behind this one.

I’m really excited to write about our new beehive but it’s that end of semester where everything seems like an extra stressor so it may have to wait until after exams are over. In the mean time, I implore you to waste time looking at pictures with funny captions… it’s very good for one’s mood and hilariously unproductive! Like when someone offers me a snack while studying... 


- Matilda

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tofu Quiche

The topic of my Nutrition tutorial at uni the other week was proteins and the importance of consuming complementary proteins at each meal, particularly for people who are vegetarian or vegan. 

Nine of the 20 amino acids (monomers of protein) are considered to be essential because the human body is unable to synthesise them from the breakdown of other amino acids and, for this reason, these nine amino acids have to be consumed in the diet. Complete protein sources such as meat and eggs contain all nine of the essential amino acids but other sources (e.g. soy beans) may be limited by one or more particular essential amino acids. This is where complementary protein pairing - combining in meals foods that have different limiting amino acids -  and the tutorial exercise came in: plan a vegan diet for one day using data on limiting amino acids provided for certain foods.

It was with great pride and confidence that I suggested "tofu quiche" as part of my dinner menu, which was something that had featured on mine not two days beforehand. Unfortunately there was some other girl who completely outdid me by conjuring up a ridiculously gourmet salad. I must admit that I joined my classmates in inadvertently licking my lips when she read it out of her tute book. Damn her. 

I can't for the life of me remember what the salad contained either, which just makes it that much more frustrating. However I'm pretty certain that it contained Brazil nuts because they contain plenty of methionine, the amino acid lacking in soy protein. 

Hmm but maybe you could serve her salad with my quiche? The quiche is extremely light so it definitely does need a side dish to make it a complete meal. However, I reckon that if you kept your mouth shut, no-one would ever know it doesn't contain cream, milk, eggs or any of the other traditional quiche ingredients... they won't even be able to tell it's tofu. Promise.

Crustless Tofu Quiche (adapted from Fatfree Vegan)
Serves 3


Ingredients:
Olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ cup capsicum
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 green onion
Black pepper to taste
350g firm silken tofu, drained of water
¼ cup plain soy milk
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp tahini
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 190˚C and prepare a 6” round cake pan or quiche dish (or 12 regular sized muffin cups for mini quiches).

2. Heat some oil in a frypan and sauté the onion over medium heat until just soft. Add the garlic, capsicums and mushrooms and continue to sauté over medium heat until the mushrooms just begin to exude their juices. Stir in black pepper and remove from the heat.

3. Place the remaining ingredients into a food processor and process until completely smooth. Add the tofu mixture to the vegetables and stir to combine. Spoon it into the pan and level out the top (it should come up about half way)

4. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 30minutes or until the tops are golden (I probably got a bit excited with the 'golden' part) and a skewer/knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

5. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the quiche to cool for about 10 minutes before being a glutton and devouring the whole lot - alone - in one go.


One of the girls who lives in the house at the garden is vegan and some of the conversations I've had with her have been extremely stimulating, forcing me to think about my own family's food intake. Documents such as the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating are great reference points but I think that eventually, we all have to become aware of what it is that our body needs and eat accordingly. Personally, I don't think I could ever be vegan because I love my eggs, fish and poultry and they contribute to my satiety levels - something that I know that non-animal proteins can't do most of the time. 

I suppose it's all part of the journey of growing, preparing, eating and appreciating food, as well as the people we eat it with. On that note, I’ll finish up with a quote from Greek philosopher Epicurus. I happened across it in a magazine the other day and thought it was quite beautiful, as well as fitting for what my family tries to practice:


“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or wolf.”


- Matilda

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Belated St Valentine's Day

Fact: I have never celebrated Valentine’s Day.

I mean, honestly, why should there have to be a designated day for us to celebrate those that we love? It’s sort of like Mother’s Day (which I can never remember which weekend of May it is supposed to be), Father’s Day, etc, etc. We should show our love for the special people in our lives every day, not just when society tells us that we should.

In spite of this, I will admit to sometimes nearly being sucked into the hype that surrounds days like those of St Valentine’s. I have always wanted to do something like bake cupcakes or biscuits for friends and wrap them up in pretty gift paper... I apologise for how corny that sounds! 

Only three months ago, I was half contemplating giving a small present to a lad who had caught my eye. I didn't do it. No, I wasn't chicken, I just thought it best not to subscribe to such commercial scams. Ahem.

I did, however, eventually end up making the chocolate that I was considering giving to this particular boy. Thank goodness I didn’t make it for him though, because:

a) It looks hideous; and,

b) It tastes too good to give away.


Raw chocolate fudge: for times when assessments are looming and you need a little bit of a healthy endorphin kick to keep you chugging along. As well as for keeping your mind off the opposite sex, of course. The combination of raw, organic ingredients in these little gems is truly remarkable.


In order to love others you have first got to love yourself, yes? So make up some of these and enjoy some self lovin’.


Raw Chocolate Fudge (adapted from My New Roots)

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cup of buttery coconut oil
½ cup raw cashew butter (I didn’t have any so I improvised by blending roasted cashews into a butter)
¾ - 1 cup raw honey (from the most recent extraction!)
¾ cup raw cacao powder
Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

1. Using an electric hand mixer, mix the coconut oil and cashew butter on a low speed so as not to over-mix it (apparently it becomes soapy if you do).

2. Pour in the honey and mix again, before adding the cacao powder and salt. Continue to mix until the mixture becomes uniform throughout. 

3. Spoon the mixture into silicon muffin cups or silicon ice cube trays and pop them in the freezer.

4. Leave them in the freezer until set and then enjoy! The coconut oil hardens with the cooler temperature but the other ingredients keep it supple enough that there’s no need to defrost them before consumption.

 I went and bought my first piece of silicon kitchenware after I made these (ugh) so I used regular ice cube trays. It wasn’t really a problem, apart from the fact that I experienced a little bit of difficulty when it came to getting them out (hence their not-so-pretty faces). 

Also, I experimented a little bit by leaving one tray plain and in the other tray, putting different things in each cube – almonds, coffee beans, sultanas, etc. I had no idea what filling was in which piece of fudge so it was like a lucky dip! It just made eating it that much more exciting :-D

- Matilda

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Green Juice - Kale, Apple & Lemon

The first time I ever tried kale was about this time last year. I had never even heard of - let alone seen - this strange brassica before then. If you have a look around though, you might see it around in the supermarkets as 'Tuscan cabbage' (the most common variety around). 

When we first met this vegetable, everyone in my family was a little bit suspicious. For starters, it looks kinda scary. Secondly, lots of people in the "health freak" community are obsessed with the thing. Surely just this latter  reason  would drive any reasonable person away!!

As it turns out though, kale is delicious. Fry it, steam it, stew it, blanch it... the possibilities are endless. It's also packed full of vitamins (A, C and K particularly) and minerals such as iron, potassium and calcium. 

Browsing through David and Luise's recipes on Green Kitchen Stories made me realise I could also juice  the thing. The only problem was, I thought I didn't have access to a juicer. It turns out though that our blender also comes with a juicer attachment, which had been hidden by my mother many years ago. After three times through the washing machine and as many hand scrubs, my white ‘Doctor Who’ t-shirt is starting to know why. It's ok, I have another one. It also makes an extremely comfy pyjama top :-) 

David and Luise claim this slightly-funky-looking (mine was anyway) yet refreshing juice can cure colds and hangovers alike. I am a responsible citizen so shall be drinking it for the former reason. 

A toast: to the first kale harvest of the season! 

Green Juice - Kale, Apple & Lemon (from Green Kitchen Stories)
Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:
5 small [organic] apples
2 cups fresh kale, thick stems removed
½ lemon, peeled
1" fresh ginger, peeled
Ice

Directions: chuck all the ingredients in the juicer and turn the thing on! Taste it and if it is too sweet, add more ginger and lemon. If it is too tart, add more apples. 

As nice as this was, I don't think I'll be disturbing the juicing contraption again anytime soon. It was far too much work as far as I was concerned... although that might have something to do with the fact that the blender/juicer is over 20 years old now. Maybe when it finally breaks down I'll invest in a more user-friendly juicer so I can drink this sort of stuff more often. It would definitely be worth the cost! 

Matilda