Vegan with a Vengeance!
I’ve been cooking vegetarian food for many many years. Although, I can always, always, learn more, I can usually put together a fairy tasty meal in a few, well maybe 20 minutes. However, I have been relying fairly heavily on eggs, cheese, and other dairy products, but no more, as we now have a vegan in the family. And she is deadly serious and for our planets sake I admire her tenacity and determination. We all know that the meat, dairy and fish industries are putting untold pressure on our fragile environment as are the now “year round produce” available in our supermarkets. Raspberries, strawberries and mangos whenever we so desire and yes, although I try never to shop in regular supermarkets, I too am guilty of purchasing out of season fruits and veggies! Oh, the greed of us human beings.
So, so much goes to waste everywhere, something that a local organization here in The Hague (DHiT) is trying to do something about by distributing slightly blemished fruit and veggies to the public at a very reduced rate. More on them and the scheme later.
For now though each recipe and packet is checked for eggs, dairy or honey – a sandwich with dubious mayonnaise will be rejected outright as will most pastas. So, of course experiments were in order. Here are some of the ones we really liked. What’s important is to have some good oil/fats, and proteins in each dish. Vegan proteins? Are there any? Well, yes, loads………
First and foremost, yes folks, veggies contain protein. One cup of cooked spinach contains about 7 grams of protein, now there’s a relief for you spinach lovers! But there is also nut butters: cashew, almond, and peanut butter will give you 4 grams per tablespoon approximately. We have also been using a lot of Quinoa, easy to cook and great to put into salads and casseroles. Tofu is a standby and we’ve been buying the organic tofu from Ekoplaza. We particularly like the the olive stuffed tofu there which is fantastic in the grill pan and tossed into salads, sandwiches and wraps. Lastly, we are using beans and lentils like there is no tomorrow. They are our very bestest friends! We love em because 1 cup of cooked chickpeas yields a wonderful 14.5 g of protein (sources self Nutritiondata.self.com) so chickpeas forever.
Here’s a basic salad recipe which can be adapted in many ways. The soaked date dressing lifts any salad, and will taste lovely even if you think you are not keen on dates, like me and my kids. Just chop those dates very, very finely!
Beluga Lentil Salad
serves 2 at least
1 cup of Beluga lentils (dark black shiny lentils resembling caviar of course)
half a cup of red quinoa
1 small onion, chopped
a good vegan stock, made up with 2 cups of boiling water
pomegranate seeds, fresh mint, flat leafed parsley, coriander.
dressing: 4 chopped dates, half a cup of rice vinegar, olive oil, lime or lemon and a little palm sugar ( I am using the Aernga Palm sugar from the Ekoplaza which claims not to involved in that hideous deforestation. It supports the Masarang foundation and is only grown in mixed forests – but if anyone knows more about this, let me know please.)
Fry a small diced onion in a heavy based pot in a little olive oil.Add 1 cup of lentils with some cumin seeds and 2 cups of a good stock. Add in half a cup of red quinoa. Boil gently until lentils are tender to the bite (about 15 mins). Make sure it doesn’t burn but do drain any extra water off if any when the pulses are tender. Set aside until cool. Add in pomegranate seeds, chopped mint, coriander, and/or flat leafed parsley after it cools. Can add in extra bulgar at the boiling stage!
Make the dressing with finely chopped dates soaked in rice vinegar, a little oil, lime or lemon juice and some dark brown sugar. Mix and set aside. Can add some pomegranate syrup as well for extra flavour.
Add everything together. Taste for the right combo of sweet, sour and salty. Also can add the olive tofu, fried in the grill for a few minutes on each side.
You can add in fried paneer, or some halloumi, or feta if you are not VEGAN! Garnish with herbs and edible flowers and enjoy.
Serve this with flatbreads and maybe some homemade hummus, a few salad leaves and you will be quids in for protein, fibre and taste!!!
I am still doing the Pop Up Cake Cafe at The Barbershop and try to include a vegan baked option everyday that I am there, Wed, Fri and Sats. More experimentation is needed but I find that the Morning Glory Muffin recipe adapts well to the No Egg substitute. And they have proved popular. Offering locals an alternative style of “more healthy” baked goods has been a huge learning curve and I continue to learn. What I have found is that most humans are looking for a creamy looking cupcake thing which is just the sort of cake we were trying to avoid. So I have been making a vegan frosting with soy yoghurt, loads of coconut, minimal icing sugar or a bit of agave and those lovely freeze dried New Zealand powders my dear sis sent me: mango and passionfruit. They make a lovely icing on top of the morning glorys! Crumbles are easy as well, using melted coconut oil just as you would use a butter, mixed with my banana bread granola, extra oats, coconut and maple syrup. That’s it for now, pop in and see me at The Barbershop & Co and do look at http://www.denhaagintransitie.org to see what’s going on with local food, gardening, relearning old skills such as preserving and more. A lovely group of people indeed and their work is just what we need. First Barbershop & Co shared kitchen workshop has a date and a title. We are running a Sushi Made Simple workshop on May 31st at 15.00 to 18.00. Message me via My School Lunchbox on facebook to reserve your place.