Vegan Salted Chocolate Cashews – Going, Going …

FB963C8C-1363-40DC-A04A-3BC4D64FE136A quick post to tell all you raw chocolate lovers that my favourite Raw Chocolate Company has just brought out these raw chocolate smiles which they’ve called Vanoffee Salted Smoochies! All I can say is yum, yum, yum!! They are so smooth, lightly salted and still have a bite (often cashews go soft when used commercially).

If you like the idea, you have to hurry: these are a special edition, produced to gauge customer reaction and as of this afternoon only 20 bags left!

If enough of us give positive feedback and tell them how gorgeous they are (and the cashews ;-:) they may just bring them back permanently and in a swish new pouch to replace their basic temporary one. They really deserve some new clothes.

A note of caution, these are just as addictive as their Vanoffee Mulberries!

Raw Vanoffee Chocolate has a lightly malted flavour and is so smooth and ‘creamy’ on the tongue.

It was described by one of the Dragons on Dragon’s Den as the best chocolate he’d ever tasted.

All The Raw Chocolate Company products are Vegan, Organic, Gluten-free, Kosher and Sustainably Sourced. They use coconut blossom sugar, not refined sugar, and unlike with palm oil, no trees are felled. They are dairy-free, additive-free and unlike commercial dairy chocolate, raw chocolate contains lots of nutrients.

Full disclosure: Although my family has had a long association with the company and its founder, since before its inception, I always buy the products and am not requested or paid to review them. I buy them because I love them, it’s the only chocolate I eat.

This review is purely selfish: I want more Vanoffee Salted Smoochies!

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Ps There’s also New Vegan Chocky Cherries waiting to be tested. It’s a hard job, but someone has to do it!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

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My Guest Post: Vegan Gluten-free Wraps, Bread & Guacamole – as close as it gets to vegan fast food!

Some time ago, Esmé at https://cookandenjoyrecipes.wordpress.com kindly asked me to write a guest post and this is it! It’s not very Christmassy, I didn’t realise it would go out so near to Christmas, but at the same time it’s a review and recipe for vegan gluten-free fast-food which can be useful between the big feasts of Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve. I didn’t have room to mention the BeFree seeded sliced bread as I hadn’t tested it in time for the original post, but it was surprisingly fresh and easy to use for sandwiches. I kept it out, not in the freezer as I usually do, to see how long it would last and I was pleasantly surprised that on the fourth day I could still make a sandwich. Gluten-free breads usually go dry and break up very quickly. I have bought it again when there wasn’t time to make any, which I guess is an endorsement as I’ve never done that before.

The post also includes my recipe for Guacamole with Avocado, Coriander, Moringa & Chilli as well as a quinoa filling for the wraps. I hope you find it useful.

And if like me you hate supermarkets, maybe we can form a support group! Merry Christmas 🎄

EsmeSalon

Please meet our next Guest Chris McGowan @ pearsnotparsnipsdotcom giving us some insight as she put it in her own words, the Baffling World of Health and Nutrition!

Chris

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Guacamole with Avocado, Coriander, Moringa & Chilli

29666672_UnknownAs promised, here is the recipe I mentioned in my post Avocado: The Little Miracle Worker I eat guacamole often, with different herbs and spices but had never had it with moringa powder.

I use moringa powder regularly, mostly in smoothies, but recently received an order of Aduna Mango and Cashew Bars accompanied by a recipe for guacamole which included moringa powder. I gave it a go and loved it. It takes no time at all. This is slightly adapted, I used chilli powder instead of fresh chilli – bit of a wimp as far as chillies are concerned, I’m afraid! – and lemon juice instead of lime.

Moringa Powder is currently considered a ‘superfood’: it has more protein than hemp protein powder, is rich in calcium, iron and potassium and contains many more vitamins and minerals. It is also organic and gluten-free. I use the Aduna brand because they support small businesses in Africa, often run by women.

This guacamole tastes good and does you good: containing protein, healthy fats, vitamin C & E, minerals, B vitamins, lycopene, antioxidants and dietary fibre. It provides slow-releasing energy and is very filling.

Ingredients

(Organic where possible, all measurements approximate).

1 Ripe Avocado

1 Large Spring Onion, chopped

Chopped Tomato

Small handful of Coriander, chopped

Good squeeze of Lemon Juice (or Lime)

1/4 Tsp Moringa Powder

Chilli or Chilli Powder to taste

Black Pepper & Pink Himalayan Salt to taste

*

Mash the avocado roughly with a fork

Mix in all the other ingredients

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve with salad, crudités, in a wrap, on bread or crackers.

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Vegan Mixed Bean Salad While the Kitchen’s Under Wraps!

29134960_UnknownLast week, the kitchen was covered in dust sheets and all the appliances – juicers, blenders, pans, etc. – were scattered about in other rooms. HB had been painting the ceiling, walls and doors all day, the windows were closed because the Men in Orange were laying smelly tarmac on the drive and it was quite a hot sticky day too, so a quick, cool salad was in order for dinner at the end of a long day.

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The bottom layer of this nutritionally power-packed salald bowl is a combination of leaves: romaine, rocket, watercress and spinach – did you know romaine and rocket contain protein? Watercress and spinach are a good source of iron and Vitamin C, too. Vitamin C aids the absorption of iron in the body.

Layered over the leaves are chopped celery and cucumber, then celery leaves, chopped spring onion (a prebiotic for gut health), more protein and B vitamins in homegrown mung bean sprouts*, and topped off with basil leaves, which we grow on our kitchen windowsill. Basil is anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and rich in anti-oxidants.

Alongside, we have half a can of mixed beans, rinsed well – another source of protein and B vitamins, as well as dietary fibre.

The whole salad is then dressed with tamari and olive oil dressing, and sprinkled with raw hemp seeds* and plenty of black pepper. Hemp seeds are high in protein and a good source of healthy omega oils.

HB had a large baked potato with his!

*See also Shelled Hemp Seeds: Superfood or Psychogenic?!

Sprouting for Health, Energy and the Environment!

Crunchy & Satisfying Black Bean, Red Grape & Hemp Seed Salad

Mixed Beans with Avocado, Pomegranate & Wilted Spinach

Rocket (Arugula) Salad with Sweetcorn, Walnut Slaw, Crisp Red Apple & Lemon Tahini Dressing

Oh-So-Chocolatey Hemp Seed Coins

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Quick, Easy & Nutritious Leftover Meals from Veggie Lentil Casserole & Vegetable Protein Bolognese Sauce

You know when you’ve made too much and there’s not quite enough left over for another full serving next day? We always keep the smallest amount of leftovers and make sure it’s reused somehow. It might be my upbringing that renders me unable to throw food away, but regardless, I can’t bring myself to do it when so many go hungry. Anyway, last week, I had leftovers three days running. Twice! (But the second time from a different starting point, if you see what I mean).

The first basic meal was a Veggie Lentil Casserole with Peanut Butter Gravy (see below): sweet potato, cauliflower + stalks, green lentils (pre-soaked to ease digestion), chestnut mushrooms, leek + leaves, peas, vegetable stock, mixed herbs, low salt yeast extract, peanut butter.

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Next day, I had leftovers using just the ‘innards’ (as my dad used to call the solids in a stew) with quinoa and wilted spinach (sorry, forgot to take a photo), reserving most of the leftover gravy which was used on the third day when I had baked sweet potato, vegan sausages* and vegetables.

The Courgetti Bolognese below and Rice Bowl Leftovers (further down the page) resulted from an original meal combining a vegetable protein bolognese sauce with basmati rice and vegan parmesan cheaze** (see Courgetti Bolognese ft Hanna’s Vegetable Protein Sauce.)

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We cooked far too much brown basmati rice, too much sauce and blended a jar full of vegan parmesan, so I ended up having it in different forms for two more meals. This is the first, using the extra sauce and cheaze with spiralised courgetti spaghetti.

Pictured below is the second, a rice bowl using up some avocado leftover from juicing in the morning. I knew that despite covering it in lemon juice it wouldn’t last until next day, and there were also some mung bean sprouts that needed using up.

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They were all promptly turned into this rice bowl salad. The brown basmati rice is on the bottom, then we layered chopped cucumber, grated carrot, avocado, beansprouts and cherry tomato. A tamari and olive oil dressing was drizzled over it and the vegan parmesan sprinkled on top, as well as black pepper. And Bob’s your uncle! This recipe does what it says on the can: quick, easy and nutritious. If we hadn’t run out, I might have added pine kernels or pistachios too. Great for a satisfying lunch or light dinner.

And if you want a nutritional breakdown, you have protein, antioxidants (they help fight arterial plaque and disease), B vitamins, Vitamin C, minerals, Vitamin E, lycopene (helps prevent cancer), healthy fats, fibre and tons of slow-released energy.

*See Vegan Leek, Carrot & Ginger Sausages and Vegan ‘Cheesy’ Almond, Leek & Herb Sausages

*Vegan parmesan cheaze: blend blanched almonds which have been patted dry, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, black pepper and whatever spice you might like. It will keep for quite a while in an airtight jar in the fridge, I had the last of it a week later.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Mixed Beans with Avocado, Pomegranate & Wilted Spinach

img_2566We had a pomegranate and some spinach in our organic veg box that needed using, as well as some homegrown mung bean sprouts,* and this is what I came up with.

This is such a colourful, nutritious and satisfying salad, full of antioxidants, protein, fibre, B viamins, minerals and healthy fats.

Vegan, Gluten-free, Organic where possible.

Ingredients

Romaine lettuce leaves

Thinly Sliced Cucumber

Grated Carrot

Sliced ripe Avocado

Spinach

Tinned Mixed Beans, drained and rinsed

Mung bean sprouts (or any other sprouted beans or seeds, but not the commercially packed long beansprouts)

(See * Sprouting for Health, Energy and the Environment!  For how to make homegrown sprouts and their benefits)

Pomegranate seeds*

Tamari and Virgin Olive Oil Dressing

Black Pepper

Method

Arrange the torn Romaine leaves around the plate, leaving a space in the centre

Place the thin cucumber slices, then the grated carrot and avocado slices on top around the circle

Lightly warm the beans, stirring gently to prevent them sticking or over-heating, and gently wilt the spinach – this releases the iron in the spinach and makes it more bio-available.

Arrange them in the centre

A few twists of black pepper over the salad

Pour over some Tamari & Olive Oil Dressing

Scatter the Pomegranate Seeds around the beans**

Top with beansprouts

**To remove the seeds, gently roll the whole fruit between your hands, cut in half, invert over a bowl and whack the end with a wooden spoon. If it’s ripe, the seeds should fall out. Otherwise, scoop them out with a metal spoon. See The Healing Powers of Pomegranate + Recipes for the health benefits of this bejewelled fruit.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Sprouting for Health, Energy and the Environment!

Recently I published a recipe for Warming Stir-Fry with Avocado, Alfalfa and Sprouted Beans and was asked where to obtain the beansprouts. Well, the answer is, your kitchen counter!

It so easy to grow your own, takes no time or effort and they provide protein and oodles of more useable nutrients than cooked foods. Enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fibre and essential fatty acids (that burn fat and are usually in short supply in most diets) increase dramatically during the soaking and sprouting process and are more easily absorbed by the body.

Not only are homegrown sprouts good for body and soul (growing your own is a satisfying and life-affirming activity), but they are also good for the environment. Buy organic, untreated seeds, nuts, beans or legumes and you omit nasties: pesticides, additives and other unwanted chemicals. Ready grown sprouts are often treated with chemicals before packaging. (NB You need to buy seeds from a health food shop/supermarket or online eg Amazon etc NOT a gardening shop!)

They are inexpensive, 1 tablespoon of seeds produces several days’ worth of sprouts – depending on how often and how many people eat them! You can rotate the varieties and have your own little sprout garden in your kitchen, producing nutrient-dense plants for your salads, sandwiches and lunch-boxes and the children will enjoy the process of soaking, watering and watching them grow as well as benefiting from the foods themselves.

So, what do you need and how do you do it?

There are 3 methods: the third actually produces microgreens, a stage further on than sprouting and involves soaking seeds and sprinkling them on a tray of organic soil, watering and letting them grow. But we want to produce sprouts, so you need either a sprouting tower like this one:

This thirty-year-old tower has 3 sprouting trays, a lid that is ventilated to allow air to circulate and a bottom tray where the water drains off – if buying new, check it is BPA-free

or large, wide-mouth mason jars with either sprouting lids (available from healthfood stores or online), cheesecloth or muslin and a rubber band to keep it in place.

You can sprout most seeds, nuts, beans or legumes – except kidney beans, they are poisonous if eaten raw.

For either method, the first thing you need to do is wash your hands – hygiene is important, then rinse the seeds and pick out any grit or discoloured or broken ones and soak them overnight in pure water. For 3 trays, you could use 1-2 teaspoons of alfalfa or broccoli seeds between 2 of them and 1-2 tablespoons of mung beans in the third. Use 3 times as much water as seeds. (Broccoli seeds provide many times more nutrients than normal broccoli).

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(If using jars, you can put them straight into the containers). Next morning, drain them into the trays and rinse again (one type of seed per tray, they all grow at different rates).

Rinse and drain twice a day, pouring away the excess water.

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After Day 1, the mung beans have swollen and are beginning to sprout.

For the jars, cover and stand upside down, if possible at a slight angle, and rinse at least twice a day.

The sprouts will grow faster in warmer weather and in exceptionally hot weather may need an extra rinse. Don’t let them dry out but don’t overwater! Be sure to drain off the excess to prevent mould and bacteria developing.

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After 2 days, they are well on their way. These were growing during a very cold February.

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3 days and the mung beans are about an inch long and ready to use! The alfalfa needs another couple of days.

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When you harvest the mung beans, rinse and either store them as they are, covered in the fridge – they will last up to a week or more – or place in a bowl of water, swish them around and the green hulls will float off and can be removed if desired. Some people think they are a little bitter, but of course you will be discarding nutrients too.

The sprouts can be used in salads, sandwiches, with stir-fries or as garnish for warm soups (the less heat the more nutrients you retain).

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Sprouted seeds, beans, nuts and legumes are highly nutritious and are particularly rich in Vitamins A, B Complex, C and E, but alflafa is also a good source of Calcium, and a very good source of Vitamin K, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper and Manganese.

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Broccoli Sprouts

You can have a lot of fun with the kids using alfalfa sprouts:

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There have been comments in the media about the dangers of ecoli in beansprouts. Firstly, I would say commercial enterprises don’t much like us growing our own rather than buying their nutrient-poor, mass-produced products and secondly, providing you keep up your hygiene standards: wash your hands, drain off the soaking water and scrub out the trays/jars, then all should be fine.

We have been growing sprouts for 30 years and neither my family nor friends have had one problem with ecoli.

I hope this helps inspire you to start producing your first beansprouts.

Copyright: Chris McGowan