Vegan talks and cooking inspirations!

 

“Let the food be your medicine and medicine your food” (Hippocrates)

Thanks to a positive demand for sharing the recipes of her vegan creations, our Mayka finally put this blog entry together. Enjoy!

It took me a while because there are simply so many recipes I could share that would create the whole cook book (maybe a future project) and it was challenging to choose. I like simplicity and although cooking is my hobby and passion, I spend only a very reasonable time in the kitchen. Therefore, I selected the recipes for dishes which I prepare the most often as they are quick, simple and represent a signature of my kitchen. The upcoming festive season is a nice opportunity to introduce a new dish to your cooking repertoire and share new tastes with many friends and relatives during the dinning gatherings.

A few words before we start cooking.

I am not good with measuring of quantities! I learnt through experiments with downloaded recipes and random improvisations and I encourage everyone to do the same. The measures in the recipes are approximate only.

Also, if some spice or ingredient does not sound good to your taste buds (e.g. chilies), simply skip it and/or add something else. Follow your own cooking instinct and adapt it to your own tastes (and share with me your alternatives later).

You may need to pop-in a grocery store for some ingredients. All of them used in the recipes are widely available (as I said, simplicity!). I take it for granted that everyone MUST have these somewhere in the kitchen but I am aware of the possible opposite. These ingredients form a fundamental basis for many dishes I cook and are always around! They are “these little things” which give the signature flavors and it is always great to have them on hand for adding a different taste to maybe a usual dish you cook.

Here is the must-have shopping list:

Mustard seeds, crushed coriander, cumin, turmeric, chilly flakes, fresh chilies, Indian spice mix for veggies (Indian “Vama” shop on the right hand side if you go straight down the Oxi roundabout) or just simple garam masala and curry powders, light soya sauce, sesame oil, grape seed oil (lighter than olive oil but I use both widely), tins of chopped tomatoes, coconut milk (for cooking, in a tin), sundried tomatoes, mixed seeds (e.g pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, chia, sesame), leak and spring onions, spinach (I have a little obsession with it!) garlic, fresh ginger  and a the unique Hing (Asafoetida, only optional! A pinch is added to every cooked dish as a digestive aid and flavor enhancer #Indiainspired).

And the last thing before we hit the recipes. Wondering why vegan? Some insights:

I was a vegetarian for 14 years (trigger point: my pet duck ended-up on a Sunday lunch menu when I was an early teenager…) and it spontaneously led to veganism. I stopped buying dairy products without even realizing after my India/Nepal road trip where their consumption was minimal and where I did not miss them. I have not missed them ever again. It sometimes seems that I have been vegan since I was born, so natural and good it feels. I was lucky because it was very easy for me. Not a great story of an activist though but I do believe in the vegan ethic principles and I am happy leading a cruelty-free life. A life which can contribute to the non-violence and well-being of all living things.

Apart from the vegan diet, I also skip the majority of carbs and wheat foods like savories, bread, pasta and I don’t like potatoes (not the sweet ones which I love). I consider these foods unnecessary for the body (let the food be the medicine..). Again, my choice because I feel great this way. And yes, I do eat honey…and yes, I do take some food supplements like Spirulina, multivitamins and probiotics. This is what works for me and everyone can find a balanced way which serves his/her purpose the best. There is no need for a label or any categorization.

Now, do you think you would never invite me for a dinner? Hehe, I don’t blame you but let me try to give you some hints.

Starter Dishes:

Addictive Hummus

The title is self-explanatory. I can live on it!

We need:

1 tin of chickpeas, drained (or equivalent amount if you boil your own)
6 tablespoons olive oil and 5 of water
juice of one lemon
1,5 tablespoons tahini
1-2 cloves of garlic, diced
1,5 teaspoons ground cumin
small fresh chilli (optional); salt and pepper

Note: For a slightly different taste if bored with the classic one, you can add for example: 3-4 sundried tomatoes; fresh basil; raw beetroot; roasted peppers or carrots or eggplants! I have never had enough of hummus` variations!

Place all of the ingredients into a good food processor and blend until smooth. If the dip is still thick, add more water. You can make larger quantity and store in the freezer too. Any unexpected guest will be satisfied. Serve with whatever you like to dip. It tastes great with below baked beetroot and other root vegetable; with roasted vegetables, hot pitta bread etc.

Baked beetroot

…super easy-healthy-yummy- a favorite one of the male crowd

We need:

Hard raw beetroots according to amount of persons, I usually do 4

Garlic (appr. 1 clove for 2 beets, but add more if you like)

2-3 spring onions

olive oil, salt, pepper

Keep it simple or add any other herbs of your preference (dry mixed herbs, paprika, chilly flakes, fresh chilly..)

Pre-heat the oven on 200 degrees, grill mode. Peel the beets (enjoy the lovely color on your hands hehe), cut a cross in the middle and gently open them (but don’t let them separate into 4 pieces). Place the beets onto a big sheet of aluminum folia. Stuff the beets with chopped spring onions and diced garlic (I also add fresh chilly), sprinkle with salt, pepper, any other herb and olive oil. Wrap the beets into the folia without leaving any hole so they can cook nicely (I just grab all corners of the folia and squeeze it in the middle into a little “package”). Bake for approximately 45 minutes after which you carefully open the pack and see if the beets become soft. You can bake more or less, depending on how soft you like them. By the way, don’t forget that the beets can be eaten even raw! You can serve them sprinkled with fresh coriander or parsley.

Aromatic Samosa soup

(“Samosa” is an Indian popular pastry with various spicy filling. The mix of spices included in this recipe remind the taste of samosas).

A perfect warm-up in the winter!

Note: the soup is not really hot unless you add chilies. I would describe it as aromatic, rather than spicy-hot.

We need:

1 onion or few spring onions, chopped

1 leak, chopped

Few tablespoons of olive oil or grape seed oil or coconut oil

4 cloves of garlic, diced (or less for more neutral “aroma”)

1 tablespoon turmeric powder, chopped fresh ginger and cumin powder

1 teaspoon mustard seeds and coriander powder

½ Teaspoon of cinnamon powder

Chili flakes or fresh chili is optional

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped

2-3 big carrots, peeled and chopped

1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 vegetable cube (Kalo Organic is nice)

5 cups of water or more if you prefer more liquid consistence

Salt and pepper to taste, fresh coriander and mix of seeds to serve (croutons may also be nice)

Warm the oil in your medium pot and add the onion, leak, garlic, ginger and all the spices. Cook them for a minute (the smell is divine) and add sweet potato and carrots, stir for couple of minutes, add water, vegetable cube, chickpeas, cover and bring to boil. Lower the heat and let the vegetables become completely soft (overcooking is allowed here). Put the pot aside and let it cool down. Add everything into your blender and puree it. I always blend it in batches, not all at once.  Once blended, return the soup back to the pot and run through boil once for the flavors to melt completely. I usually spare few whole chickpeas from the tin and add them in the end, just to have some “pieces” to find in the soup. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and/ or mix of seeds or anything you prefer. It is really a heart-warming soup!

Mains Dishes:

Chickpea-spinach-tomato curry

After the hummus, this is my 2nd most frequent dish, providing many tasteful variations. The tomato version can be changed into coconut, just by using coconut milk for cooking instead of chopped tomatoes. Instead of chickpeas, you can use red lentils which you cook separately with vegetable cube. You can stir them in the dish just before the last boil, the end. For even richer and more filling option, feel free to use both, chickpeas and lentils.

We need:

1 tin of chickpeas, drained (400g)

1 head of broccoli, broken into small flowers (or cauliflower, even courgettes –squash and sweet potatoes go well)

250g of frozen spinach leaves or 3-4 stacks of fresh spinach

1 tin of chopped tomatoes or 6 ripe tomatoes, chopped

2-3 spring onions

2 garlic cloves, diced

Small piece of ginger, diced

2-3 tablespoons of oil (olive, grape seed or coconut)

1 teaspoon of cumin, ground coriander, mustard seeds, turmeric; Indian spice mix (or curry powder) pinch of chili flakes or fresh chili (optional)

For topping: sesame seeds/chopped cashews, fresh coriander, ½ lemon

Poppadoms (papadums) for serving (see further below)

Note:  Because I pass on the majority of side dishes, I usually serve everything with roasted vegetables (eggplants, courgettes, peppers, carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, squash etc.). But this beautiful dish also goes perfectly with rice, quinoa, couscous, millet, even noodles.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add onions, garlic, ginger, chili (if using), mustard seeds and fry for few seconds. Then add all the other spices and a little bit of water and sauté the mixture. Add broccoli and cook covered for few minutes until broccoli softens. Stir in spinach, cook for few minutes again until it is soft (you may need to add a bit of water) and then add tomatoes (or coconut milk), salt and pepper. Cook covered for a few more minutes. You can add any of the spices at this point if you like stronger taste. Poppadoms are great for serving-Indian thin crisp “bread” made of lentil or chickpea flour (gluten-free). Get it form the Vama shop or you may be lucky and get it from any random grocery shop with Asian food corner. Namaste to Indian flavors.

Stir-it-up in Thai style

Another easy dish for a quick lunch or dinner. For richer version, you can add tofu, the recipe below is without. My meat eating partner appreciates it as a side dish for his meat fillet (yes, our household is in harmony as long as we can balance the opposites. An open-minded vegan should tolerate the choices of the others as much as the others tolerate his/hers. I don’t agree with vegans forcefully imposing their lifestyle on others. Show a different way, educate and inspire but let them live their life!)

We need:

1 tin of bean sprouts, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots

1 courgette, chopped

1 leak

2-3 spring onions

2-3 garlic cloves, diced

A small piece of ginger, diced

Fresh chili or chili flakes-optional

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

2-3 tablespoons of light soya sauce

1 teaspoon of mustard seeds and ground coriander

Peanuts and sesame seeds for topping

Noodles of your preference or rice to serve-I use the organic bean “noodles”

Heat the oil of your preference in a wok or a large saucepan and fry the onions, leak, garlic, ginger, chili if using and mustard seeds. You may now note the pattern of the “base” mix which is used for almost every recipe.  Add chopped courgettes and little bit of water and cook for few minutes until soft (if you are using tofu, chop it into cubes and add at this point). Meanwhile, open your tins and drain the contents. Add them all to the pan, stir well and add sesame oil, soya sauce and coriander, salt and pepper. Keep stirring for all the flavors to merge and feel free to add more soya sauce or sesame oil for stronger taste. Let the stir-fry cool down and serve on the bed of noodles with sprinkled sesame seeds and peanuts.

Dessert:

Vegan chocolate mousse

My all time favorite treat, mainly for breakfast thanks to its super-food, nutritious nature but it can be used as a dessert too. It is very filling so I can imagine it served in small, tiny glasses.

Note: Many people don’t like avocado so you may want to keep the know-how for yourself

We need:

1 very soft avocado

2 bananas

3 tablespoons of raw cacao powder

½ cup of a milk alternative of your preference (almond, coconut, hazelnut)

Pinch of cinnamon

½ of vanilla pod (or rather, the “inside content” of the pod)

Honey or agave syrup for sweetening-quantity is up to your sweet buds

Option: add frozen berries of your choice!

Top with shredded coconut, nuts, seeds, berries, whatever you like on your dessert

Note: if eating the mousse for your b-fast, add chia/hemp/flax seeds, I sometimes add psylium fiber too

Just put everything to the food processor and blend until smooth, mousse-like beautiful consistency is achieved. If you can still taste the avocado, add more cacao and berries if using.

Veganism is not a "sacrifice." It is a joy.”  Gary L. Francione

So would you re-consider inviting me for a meal now?

Bon Apetite!

Your Mayka