Friday, 3 August 2012

Breakfast Supersmoothie- vegan, sugar free

This takes literally seconds to make (not counting washing up!) and is a really filling and nutritious breakfast that will keep you going for hours. You might want to put a couple more dates in; my husband tried this smoothie and said he would like it sweeter. If you read my last recipe post,  Raw Hemp Milk, you may want to use that hemp milk here.
This makes 2 large servings, for you and a friend...
3 dates, roughly chopped
1/4 avocado (optional)
150g fresh fruit (I used peach and pineapple, but you could use any soft and sweet fruit)
150ml raw hemp milk
200ml water
  • Now take all the ingredients anf just whizz them in your blender until you have a thick smoothie.
  • Serve straight away, or chill awhile in the fridge first.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Ingredient of the Month 11: Avocado

Beautiful ripe Hass avaocados!

Avocados are a delicious and versatile superfood- need I say much more? There's nothing quite like diving into a rich, smooth avocado half, with a sprinkling of seasalt or black salt and a dash of lemon juice. My daughter was fed lots of avocado as an infant and toddler as they are the perfect baby food- even coming in their own biodegradeable packaging (ie: the skin)! I'm  featuring avocado here this month because it has so many health benefits and is so quick and easy to prepare for meals and snacks. Take a look here, here , here  and here for some avocado recipes from this blog.
Avocados, otherwise known as alligator pears because of their pear-like shape and green skin, are native to central Mexico. The avocado tree belongs to the same family as bay, camphor and cinnamon trees. They are now cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates all over the world, including California, Indonesia, Brazil and Israel. There are many different cultivars of avocado grown today, including Choquette, the buttery and knobbly-skinned Hass, Fuerte, and Monroe. I think Hass must be my favourite for its smooth ans nutty flesh and ease of peeling; the Fuertes you get in the UK are often under-ripe and tasteless, and never seem to ripen to a good flavour.
I always store avocados at room temperature and watch carefully for the perfect time to use them, ie: when they are soft but not squishy. The flesh will gradually turn bitter and brown if you leave them for too long, and will be hard and indigestible if you use them too early. If you do buy your avocados slightly under-ripe, a couple of days on a sunny windowsill or on top of a fridge should do the trick. Br careful how you handle ripe avocados, as they will bruise easily.
Avocado contains the toxin persin, and the leaves, bark and seeds are deadly to many species of animal. However, raw avocado is completely harmless to humans (unless you happen to have an allergy). When heated, avocado can become rather bitter, so if you cook it don't overheat- in fact, some say that this bitterness means that toxins are present in cooked avocado- although I couldn't find anything definitive about this in the short internet search I did to write this post. Anyhow, I always eat avocado raw- it seems like the right way to have it. I'm sure the health benefits are maximised this way, too. Here are the main nutrients in avocado:
  1. Protein: Avocado contains all 18 aminoacids which enable the body to form  "complete" protein. It is easier to digest than, say, meat, because of the plant fibre.
  2. Good Oils: Avocado oil  contains HDL chloresterol which can prevent diabetes and also reduce "bad" (LDL) chloresterol as effectively as statins. It also contains oleic acid and Omega-3 fatty acid.
  3. Carotenoids: It's not just orange and red produce that contain these, and avocado is an excellent  source. Carotenoids give you Vitamin A, which helps eye health, the immune system and the reproductive system. They are fat soluble, so easily absorbed from avocados.
Other Health Benefits:
  • The combination of Vitamins C, E and carotenoids, selenuim, zinc, phytosterols and Omega-3 fatty acids found in avocados means that eating them regularly may prevent/ alleviate both osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis. 
  • The oil in avocados is good for your heart; it contains oleic acid, which has been shown to improve cardiovascular health, and Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help prevent heart disease.
..So knowing all this, who wouldn't leave some calorie- space in their regular diet for amazing avocados??

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Raw Hemp Milk

Thick and "creamy" raw hemp milk

I have always felt a little uncomfortable about using soya milk in so many recipes; the brand we get is cheap, but it's most likely made with GM beans, and it's a very refined product- maybe not that healthy. Other bought milks such as oat and rice milk are rather expensive for our household budget especially considering they are lower in protein than dairy or soya milk,  so when we got our Magimix and started making seed and nut butters, the possibility of seed and nut milks also opened up to us. You can look out for nut and seed bargains and easily make these milks for yourself. This raw hemp milk is ridiculously quick and easy to make and nutrient-dense. It is not a cheap option, however, and still pricier than soya milk even if you do what we did and buy a large quantity of shelled hemp seeds at wholesale price. My local supermarket sells hemp milk for £1.59 a litre and I think this homemade one works out a bit cheaper than that- plus it's organic. I made just over 1 litre of thick creamy hemp milk. (You could add more water and thin it to make even more.) Here's how:

300g organic shelled hemp seeds
4 semidried dates, pitted and halved
600ml water

  • Whizz up the seeds and dates in your food processor for a minute or so- just until the seeds start to break down.
  • While it's still running, add the water.  Stop and scrape the seeds down the sides of the bowl towards the blades if you need to.
  • Pour into a suitable container and keep in the fridge. It keeps up to 5 days. It may separate when stored, so just shake it up before use of this happens.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Avocado Chocolate Semifreddo- vegan, raw(ish), no cane/ beet sugar

This was taken before I froze it, but it looks pretty much the same when frozen. You could freeze it in ramekins and turn it out onto a plate.

Who would have thought this luscious semifreddo is vegan and the magic ingredient is avocado?

We had some lovely ripe avocados sitting on the kitchen windowsill, and I wanted to do something different with them so I went online to see what desserts people make from avocado and came across a great avocado chocolate pudding one. It had agave nectar and vanilla essence which I didn't have- but I did have a jar of date syrup in the cupboard and some organic Green and Black's cocoa, so I made my own version. Having made it, I thought it needed something else so I froze it, and the result was a really rich and chocolatey dessert, but somehow freezing seems to take the edge off the richness so it isn't overwhelming. The amounts here make about 4 portions- or maybe more if you serve it with something else. For a really gourmet no-sugar vegan raw -ish ("-ish" because of the cocoa, and date syrup may be heated too; you could make it with raw agave nectar) dessert experience, why not try a scoop of this plus a scoop of banana icecream with a mango and coconut cookie?
2 ripe medium-sized avocados
3 rounded tabs cocoa powder
75ml date syrup
125ml soya (or other) milk
  • Whizz everything together in a blender or food processor until smooth and creamy.
  • Freeze; but not so that it gets too hard. (If it does, remove and refridgerate before serving). And that's all!