Knowing Nut Bars Giveaway
A pack of Knowing Bars wonderfully modelled by my handsome assistant.
A pack of Knowing Bars wonderfully modelled by my handsome assistant.
Tamales. For those that have been following this blog for a while you will already know my love of Mexican Food and my soft spot for fragrant, steamy, carb loaded tamales! My first ever tamale experience was on a road trip and a hastened ready meal by Amy’s Kitchen. I then blazingly stalked La Guera Tamalera for her amazing tamales when I visited Los Angeles. I even managed to find vegan tamales when I was in travelling in Mexico. I’ve been making my own tamales ever since. Whenever I can get my hands on corn husks. Or I just use organic non-bleached parchment paper if I am really desperate for a tamale fix.
It was on my travels in Mexico that I discovered huitlacoche, a corn fungus (stick with me!) whilst at a farmers market in Oaxaca. Mesmerised I watched the deft hands of a beautiful Mexcian woman form a ball of pale corn dough into tortillas and then with one hand slap them onto a pale earthware, drum shaped griddle. A comal. Fired from underneath, a traditional Mexican cooking method as old as time. The smells that rose from the hot surface were intoxicating. My two months of Spanish lessons taken whilst in Argentina and followed up in Mexico (since forgotten by lack of use) paid off and I was able to string the words together to enquire if she could feed a hungry vegan. A passing American expat saved me when she scooped up a mass of a shining black ingredient. She passed a spoon in front of my nose, spoke a word I did not understand. ‘It’s corn fungus..nothing to alarm you. Delicious. Try it’. The tanned Texan said, encouragingly. The woman spooned sautéed spinach, the exotic corn fungus (known as huitlacoche) and decanted vibrant green salsa onto two tortillas with a flourish. A minute to warm it through and it was wrapped and handed to me with a smile. It cost barely anything.
I sat at a long communal table under the shade of a tree and experienced corn fungus for the very first time. It tasted faintly of corn, and mushrooms, but with a mildly tart, earthy flavour note completely new to me. After a split second..I was hooked.
I hope you can buy huitlacoche where you live. The flavor is perfect nestled inside warm, fluffy, steamed masa dough. If not, there are substitutions listed for you below.
For the vegan tamales recipe you will need;
3 cups masa flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (gluten free it that’s appropriate for you)
1 teaspoon Himalayn salt
4 tbs coconut oil, melted
2 cups of water (approx…gradually add and just use enough to make a dough)
1 package dried corn husks
For the filling
1 can huitlacoche – if you are unable to obtain this where you live then substitute with crimini, portabello or shiitake mushrooms
2- 3 pinches of chilli flakes
salt & pepper as needed. The huitlacoche is salted but you may wish to add a little more.
optional – spinach or kale sautéed in olive oil and garlic
Whilst your corn husks are soaking in hot water for 30 mins (use a large pan and use a lid to hold them under water), prepare your masa dough.
Mix the flour with the melted coconut oil, salt and baking powder. Add water.
Spread the masa dough onto the soaked corn husks. Place a line of your filling into the centre.
Bring the sides of the husks together, gently rolling the dough to enclose the filling. Use the husks to gently squeeze and roll, making a seal. Fold the top and bottom of the husks over to close. Tie with torn strips of the husk (easier said than done) or string. Or just fold and gently place in the steaming basket. When all jostled together the tamales will not really need tying. And anyway, I can never get the husk string to hold. Something I still need to learn!
Use a steaming basked in a large pan. Have about 2 inches of water in the bottom. Make sure it doesn’t rise above the steamer basket. Keep an eye on the water level. Steam for about 35-40 mins. Leave to cool slightly before serving as they will of course be hot to handle.
I served these with a spicy guava and cilantro salsa.
Let us know in the comments below how your tamales turn out!
People regularly rave about beet burgers. They bandy words around like ‘meaty’, flavoursome and hearty. Not sure about all those but they are oddly ‘beefy’ and quite juicy. These smokey beet burgers sit inside a bun quite a treat.
Upon fixing up my debut batch I did some research and 4 medium beets (beetroot) seemed to be the magic number used in most recipes, and who am I to swim against the tide?! I made them gluten free of course, and also omitted the brown rice used in many recipes. A few reasons for my slighting of the grain. One – rice tends to steal flavours and hide them away somewhere. Two – I did not have any. Three I don’t really eat it. Four well, let’s make it more paleo friendly. I adapted this The Kitchn recipe and made it my own. This looks like a great recipe from the Minimalist Baker, too, though I’ve not tried it.
4 medium sized fresh beetroot
1 flax egg (1 tbs ground flax)
1 can of mixed beans in water (you can also use green lentils or black beans)
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup almond flour
3 cloves garlic – diced
1 medium sized red or white onion diced
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbs smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
oil for cooking (I used walnut oil)
optional – serve with vegan cheese, baby leaves, tomatoes and mango chutney or mustard.
Make the flax egg by mixing your flax meal with 2 tbs warm water. Mix and leave to congeal.
Diced the onions and sauté in a little oil until caramelised. Throw in the garlic and cook for a further minute. Careful not to let it burn. Take off heat and leave to cool.
Peel and grate the beetroot into a bowl.
Drain the beans pop into a separate bowl and mash them with a stick blender or a potato masher. Stop just short of them becoming a puree, leave so a small amount remain whole, then add to the beets.
Add all the other ingredients and mix with your hands.
Line a plate or sheet pan with parchment paper and then using your hands form the mix to something resembling a burger. Think something akin to the size of a tea mug and about 1 inch thick. Pop each one on the parchment as you go. Then leave to rest in the fridge for at least an hour. They firm up nicely and make them easier to handle.
You could brush a pan with oil and bake in the oven for 30 mins on 190 degrees if you want them super healthy. I think they are healthy enough and I like the charred crispy edges you get in a fry pan. Just a little oil in the bottom, heat and then gently place in your burgers. Fry on a medium heat for about 5-6 mins each side until cooked and slightly charred.
Serve immediately. In a bun or not. Add your preferred fixings. On this occasion they were topped with vegan cheese, drizzled with tahini sauce, topped with cherry tomatoes, baby leaves and a generous spoon of lime chutney.
Any remaining can be cooled and then kept in the fridge for 3 days or frozen.
I hope you enjoy. Let us know how you dress yours!
finely dice the onion. sauté in the olive oil. add tempeh and break it down to crumbles with a fork
I spied the cute packaging of Rice Mice at the Allergy & Free From Show, in London this past weekend. I’d been grazing (gorging) for hours and I was getting close to a self imposed food ‘time out’. So, these tiny, size of a 10p, biscuits were a perfect vegan morsel to test.
Listed as being 100% organic and free from all 14 EU recognised allergens (notably free from soy, milk, egg, peanut, gluten) and marketed towards children. Based on rice instead of cows milk. With no preservatives or ingredients with a number or you can’t pronounce. Rice Mice cookies come in 3 flavours. Apple & Cinnamon. Vanilla – Lemon, and good ole chocolate.
I took some packets home to taste test. On Sunday morning, whilst staying at my mother’s house, it is a ritual that I wake up before my mum, take her up tea in bed, then trot back downstairs again for a spot of yoga. This morning, my step-sister was also staying over and had jumped in my mum’s bed. They were busy gossiping and giggling like school girls. I very carefully took up a tray pilled with my mum’s 45 year old tea set. And lay out a selection of the bite sized biscuits for them to try (I felt like I was a school girl again, feeding my dolls and playing with my tea set!). So, seeing as we were all acting like kids, I thought it ok to review them… for kids. Also, I have had first hand knowledge of being a child so I qualify there too.
All of the biscuits had wonderfully bright, non-artificial flavour, and were snappy and crunchy from the texture of the rice flour and the cane sugar. They both loved them and said they were just as good, if not better, than conventional biscuits made from white, gluten containing, flour. Avoiding sugar as I do, I tried these and thought them a little too sweet.
They retail at £2.99. You can buy them online at Free From For Kids Amazon and AuraVita among others. Also sold in health food stores.
I also tried their Zero Zebra Rice Choc Bar and their Safari Animal Party Chocolate shapes. The chocolate bars come in Original, Strawberry & Crispy Rice. I acted like a total child and bit the heads off the animals! £1.49 from Ocado
With all of their products I wish they’d also make them sugar free, and use coconut sugar which has a lower GI and doesn’t effect your endocrine system, xylitol, or stevia which is zero calories and doesn’t disrupt the body like white sugar. Making them suitable for diabetics too. We all know sugar isn’t great for us. But, for those just transitioning to allergy friendly, gluten free foods these would be ideal.
He hits me with some statistics..
’79 billion eggs laid in US every year. 95% of them are laid by hens in battery cages so small they can hardly move. They are pumped with antibiotics’. 1/2 billions eggs recalled because of food poisoning in 2011 in the US. What about eggs impact on human health?
The NewYork Times published a report by Dr. Stanley Hazen of Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute. that eggs may provoke bacteria that increases the risk of heart disease. University Of Western Ontario likened the consumption of eggs to that of the effects of smoking cigarettes.
You’ll agree it’s an area in need of change.
Beyond Eggs is gaining some notable interest. Articles have appeared in Bon Appetit & Food & Wine. Countless articles are dotted around the internet, even Tony Blair, ex-Prime MInister of that thumbnail sized island,GB. Bill Gates has taken a shine to the companies ideas. On his blog The Gates Notes, where he highlights his concern for the impact on the environment and how we can feed a population that is expected to hit 18 billion by 2050, Gates listed Hampton Creek Foods as one of the 3 companies that are shaping the future of food. He says,
Bill Gates took the taste test, cookie challenge and couldn’t tell the difference between the cookies with egg and the cookies with Beyond Egg’s egg substitute.
The building is open to the street, open to each department and one another. The office dog and company mascot, Jake, lolls in the sun in the greeting area. Their state of the art laboratory is a field of stainless steel. On one wall a row of ovens. Behind vast doors are shelves stacked with jars of creamy mayonnaise, trials and tests. The food scientists and biologists work diligently, and with admirable dedication to emulate the properties of the egg. Which is, after all, all that is going on. The egg served a purpose. The effect doesn’t have to come from an egg. They have worked out just how the proteins molecules give rise in cakes and bakes, aerate, bind and thicken, and emulsify our dressings. Beyond Eggs have a product that can do all of these things. Eggs may have been a cheap source of protein but they are full of harmful cholesterol. Josh and his team have cracked the code to do what the egg did by using pea, potatoes, sunflower lecithin, rapeseed, and natural gums extracted from tree sap. They offer it 18% cheaper (which will no doubt interest the large food manufactures), with reduced storage costs and longer shelf life, and it’s sustainable and kinder to boot.
The strength of the team is all apparent. I half expected the theme tune to the A-Team to kick in as Josh introduced me. All looked under 30, with that special California glow.
Chris Jones a chef and molecular gastronomist was poached from Chicago’s award winning restaurant, Moto..
He was sporting a bandana and standing over something whirring in the corner. It must be the largest stick blender/food mixer in the world, and it was busy creating a swirling vortex of snow white mayonnaise. I asked him why he came to work for the company, he gave an impassioned reply. Noting, he wants his family to have a future. Chris said of his work, ‘The egg was the first thing. This is the next thing’. He showed me his floor to ceiling wall of experiments. His job to is work with different components and proteins. Testing for shelf life. Stability. They regularly enlist the help of employees from Yelp & Google, as taste testers.
Director of Bakery Innovation is Shweta Rao. She was positively charged with self motivated enthusiasm for Beyond Egg and the concept of what it will achieve. Shweta and her colleague Megan both told me they have a sense that what they are doing goes beyond cookies and cake and stretches into making a big difference in the world. They are fulled by this. They’d wanted to fuel me, with cookies. They’d baked some for me to try. Two neat rows of blond and chocolate chip cookies sat waiting for me on a platter. They were left untouched. Damn my bloody intolerance for gluten!
A team of scientists work full time, surrounded by a wall of purple gloves, test tubes, machines spinning ingredients in centrifuge, and other wizardly gadgets and gizmos. I’ve not the faintest idea what they were for. But they excited me nonetheless. The team are currently working on replicating the egg white and working with gluten free flours so products can be produced that are free of the main allergens and suitable for celiac sufferers.
At this point I really start to see what impact this company will have. As did Khosla Ventures. Venture Capitalists, based in Palo Alto, California, who’s tagline is ‘ We care about genuine issues: a healthy environment. Sustainable power‘. They back Josh’s vision, and made an investment of a cool $3 million in Hampton Creek Foods.
|The team at Hampton Creek Foods|
Want to know more?
What do you think of the future of our foods? Leave your comments and views below. Just click on the comments tab.
I am amazed today. I failed to curb my scepticism. And I am amazed. Truly rocked.
I trialed a product today that had been on my radar for a while. The Vegg. A fat free, dairy, soy, gluten, EGG, and animal free substitute. For egg.
What?! I wanted to know more!
What is it made from? Nutritional yeast flakes and a salt, widely used in Indian cooking, named kala namak. It also goes by the name of black salt. It amazingly, mimics eggy flavour with aplomb.
Who masterminded The Vegg?
Was it his background in biology, a love and respect for animals, or an obsession with eggs that drove Rocky Shepheard to spend 6 months, ‘tooling around’ in his kitchen to produce a pretty good and healthy imitation of an egg yolk? Well, I asked him, and it turns out it’s all of the above. Rocky stopped consuming meat in 2003. Seven years ago an ephipany made him switch to a vegan diet. He suddenly came to the full realisation that it was completely unnecessary to harm any living creature, for humans to thrive. He also saw that consuming animal products was actually the main cause of poor health in our society. BUT, some people, though they want to adopt a healthier diet, they sometimes have a sticking point. Rocky’s had been the egg. He loved eggs. Problem – vegans don’t eat eggs. But he concluded he loved chickens more. He began experimenting, for his own uses, but once he’d hit on the answer to perfecting the yolk, he soon realised he could benefit so many, offer a cholesterol- free, and fat-free alternative to the egg, and in doing so help to end animal cruelty.
There are already egg replacers on the market. What is so special about The Vegg?
The Vegg is the only one that is great for those with egg, soy or gluten allergies. Heart-friendly. NO Cholesterol, unlike a real egg. And, to my amazement actually smells and tastes like an egg!
I had to try it.
So, what to make? I decided on a frittata. Enlisted a couple of carnivorous taste testers and set about creating my first Vegg recipe. The website has a ton of recipes but I decided I’d tinker with my own. Starting out with following instructions to first hatch The Vegg. Take 4 tsp of product to 1 cup water. Blended in a blender (this is crucial, a fork won’t do the trick). Not got a blender? Want to take The Vegg on a road trip? A Vegg lover suggested using an empty pop bottle to prepare the mix. Just shake it up. Try it. Let me know if it works.
So today, I gathered all the necessary ingredients and set to work in the kitchen. I’ve been travelling a while, far from my home kitchen. It felt so good to actually be making a new recipe!
Verdict? I was seriously impressed. Shocked actually!
This recipe is amazing and you should make it. I served it with a handful of massaged kale to my waiting and hungry non-vegan friends. They were unanimous. It was DELICIOUS! They concurred they’d never know it wasn’t loaded with eggs.
Spinach, Gourmet Mushroom & Lemon Thyme Frittata
Creating The Vegg is a simple process.
4 tsp The Vegg, blended with 1 cup water.
1 cup gluten free flour – I used a blend of: garbanzo, fava, potato starch, tapioca starch and sorghum flour. Bob’s Red Mill A great flour, with great flavour. (depending on flour mix you use – some absorb more water than others – you may need to add more water at this point to create a batter like consistency. Incorporate gradually)
1/2 lemon’s juice
3 cups TOTAL of your choice of mushrooms:
1 cup of fresh organic spinach
1 medium shallot
1 large clove garlic finely chopped
a few sprigs fresh lemon-thyme
olive oil for frying
lashings of freshly cracked black pepper
Himalyan rock salt – to taste
Wipe clean the mushrooms to remove any dirt and fry them in olive oil in a large, oven proof (no plastic handles) fry pan. Do not overload the pan as the mushrooms will kind of boil rather than fry if they don’t get space.
Remove once turning golden and put aside.
To the same pan, add finely chopped shallot, add a little more oil if needed. Saute.
Add the chopped garlic and sauté lightly.
Add the mushroom back to the pan and add the thyme.
Fry gently for a minute.
Saute the spinach briefly in a separate pan to wilt. If you use frozen (don’t use frozen but if you have to then, ok. gone on) then ensure you squeeze out all the excess water.
Mix spinach with the mushroom ingredients and then pour the The Vegg and flour mix on top.
Cook until you can push the sides from the pan easily with a spatula. The pop the pan under the broiler/grill until it is golden on top and cooked through.
|Watching the broiler/grill. Waiting for the top to turn golden.|
Rocky. What plans do you have for future products?
In July, Bang Publishing are to launch a cookbook of recipes from The Vegg fans from all over the world, together with recipes cooked up in Rocky’s kitchen. Due to be released via Amazon. Stayed tuned. I’ll be reviewing the book, once it is launched and in my hot little hands. Exciting news too, The Vegg is poised to release handy cartons of Scrambled Vegg, once they can find appropriate investors get on board. Vegg mixed with tofu and tasting just like your favourite breakfast food. Eventually a soy free version will also be available. They hope for this to be a reality in a year or so.
Where can I purchase it?
The Vegg is currently sold in 13 countries. Germany Rocky’s number one export, with Australia coming a close second. In the last year sales have risen by 20%!
It is already in 40 stores in the US, mainly focussed on the East & West Coast. I want to get it in Whole Foods, New Leaf and Trader Joes in the US. Contact them. Tell them you want it. Stores to listen to you. Do you want to see it on the shelves in your country? Contact your local grocer and say you want to give the product a go. If the grocer then contacts The Vegg, they will sell the store a dozen packs (with no shipping costs) so they can try it out on their customers (you!). That way you can get to try it without having to pay the shipping costs and hopefully get your store to stock it.
Lots of recipes on the Website. Some include: chocolate fudge cake, custard, ice-cream, fresh pasta, French toast, egg-based sauces, for example hollandaise & sabayon, scramble and binder for ‘breaded’ recipes. The mixed product will store for 2-3 weeks in the fridge.
Fascinating use of molecular gastronomy can be used to form an acutal yolk that would fool a hen! Trust me, I only bring you the best products.
A final tip from Rocky. The Vegg is great used as a FAT FREE melted butter substitute. Try it warm, poured over a baked potato.
Have you tried The Vegg? What did you make? Did you like it as much as I did? Let us know. Leave a comment below.
be well. eat well. live well.
India leigh xx
I am always keen to inform you of GREAT VEGAN PRODUCTS that are low fat, sugar free and allergen free. And tasty. ALWAYS tasty. I know being vegan and STAYING vegan is better for planet, animals, health, economy. BUT sometimes people can feel it is a challenge, especially if they feel like they are missing out. No one wants to miss out. Right?! Carrot sticks are great but so are chips!
I am a self-confessed Crunchaholic. It is a vice I have no intention of embarking on a 12-Step programme for. If my day hasn’t had a savoury, culinary crunch..well, it’s a day devoid of teensie weensie bit of joy. Being a health junkie, I am always looking out for an alternative to potato chips, or simple carbohydrate – fat loaded crunch of any kind. And I LOVE me some flavour, so when I heard about BEANS N RICE Chips I was falling over my hessian shopping tote to get some bleeping through the till. Once tasted, then of course, I couldn’t wait to tell you about them!
They have 5 flavours. NACHO. SALT N PEPPER. PICO DE GALLO. SEA SALT. UNSALTED I’ve crunched on them all. I steered clear of the 6 ounce bag (when not in sharing company) as I’d eat them all in one sitting..and got the 1.5 oz, handbag (and man-bag, for you guys) size packet. At only 140 calories, 5g of fat and packing twice as much protein and fibre as most tortilla chips, they get 2 perky thumbs up from me.
They are a bit of a phenomenon too. Both crunchy and delicately mouth-melty all at the same time. The NACHO & PICO DE GALLO (my favourite) are dusty with spices and really flavoursome. One small bag really fills you up. Satiation factor 10!
ALL of the chips are free of the most common food allergens. GMO free.
I chatted with Liza from the family owned company and she told me the company is family run. Founed by Reed Glidden (together with his brother Roy and wife Liza) Reed is a “Persistent Entreprenuer”. He started out making banana splits in his pa’s Freeze Truck. It fostered in him a learning by doing attitude to business. A vegetarian from 18 years old he was working in construction but always held a dream to own a health food business. In his late 30’s he left the construction industry and his dream began, in a way..via a Natural Foods brokerage. It wasn’t until he took early retirement that he realised he wasn’t ready to stop, he hadn’t quite reached his zenith. His wife Liza one day cooked up in their kitchen, the idea of a chip Reed had been tossing around for a while. Excited by what they tasted. His entrepreneurial spirit soared and pretty much there and then, Rice n Beans was formed! I quote Reed..’I’m happy to be in the natural foods industry, helping people love my favorite foods -rice and beans. To me, promoting beans (the most water efficient source of protein on the planet) and helping America find a better way to snack is WAY more fun than being retired’.
The chips are only available in America. Grown here and produced here. Great for the planet, in so many ways. Beans are cheap to store. Requiring no refrigeration. Growing beans is soil friendly too as beans fix all important nitrogen into the soil.
It’s not just me that thinks these chips are life changing and awesome. Voted ‘Best of Show‘ in 2012 at the Natural Products Expo West, by Vegnews.
I love Beans N Rice. Now I am just wondering whether to use the space in my suitcase, when I leave for the UK, for clothes.. or chips!